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Title: Flora Lyndsay - or, Passages in an Eventful Life
Author: Moodie, Susanna, 1803-1885
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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http://www.pgdpcanada.net



    FLORA LYNDSAY;
    OR,
    PASSAGES IN AN EVENTFUL LIFE.

    BY MRS. MOODIE.

    AUTHOR OF “ROUGHING IT IN THE BUSH,” “MARK HURDLESTONE,”
    “LIFE IN THE CLEARINGS,” ETC.


    IN TWO VOLUMES.
    VOL. I.


    LONDON:
    RICHARD BENTLEY, NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
    1854.


    LONDON:
    R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HILL.


    TO

    MISS GOODING,

    OF CROMER, IN THE COUNTY OF NORFOLK,
    THESE VOLUMES ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED
    BY HER ATTACHED FRIEND,
                            SUSANNAH MOODIE.

    BELLEVILLE, UPPER CANADA.



CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

                                                              PAGE
    CHAPTER I.      PAGE
    MATRIMONIAL DIALOGUE                                         1

    CHAPTER II.
    THE OLD CAPTAIN                                             10

    CHAPTER III.
    THE OLD CAPTAIN IN PERSON                                   16

    CHAPTER IV.
    A VISIT OF CONDOLENCE                                       25

    CHAPTER V.
    THE TRUE FRIEND                                             37

    CHAPTER VI.
    FLORA’S OUTFIT                                              43

    CHAPTER VII.
    HOW MISS WILHELMINA CARR AND FLORA BECAME ACQUAINTED        51

    CHAPTER VIII.
    MISS WILHELMINA CALLS UPON FLORA                            65

    CHAPTER IX.
    FLORA GOES TO TEA WITH MISS CARR                            79

    CHAPTER X.
    OLD JARVIS AND HIS DOG NEPTUNE                             100

    CHAPTER XI.
    FLORA IN SEARCH OF A SERVANT, HEARS A REAL GHOST STORY     113

    CHAPTER XII.
    THE LAST HOURS AT HOME                                     141

    CHAPTER XIII.
    THE DEPARTURE                                              152

    CHAPTER XIV.
    AN OPEN BOAT AT SEA                                        163

    CHAPTER XV.
    ONCE MORE AT HOME                                          173

    CHAPTER XVI.
    THE FOG                                                    179

    CHAPTER XVII.
    THE STEAM-BOAT                                             188

    CHAPTER XVIII.
    A PEEP INTO THE LADIES’ CABIN                              196

    CHAPTER XIX.
    MRS. DALTON                                                209

    CHAPTER XX.
    EDINBURGH                                                  219

    CHAPTER XXI.
    MRS. WADDEL                                                226

    CHAPTER XXII.
    CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN                                      237

    CHAPTER XXIII.
    THE BRIG ANNE                                              247

    CHAPTER XXIV.
    A VISIT TO THE SHIP OWNER                                  257

    CHAPTER XXV.
    FLORA’S DINNER                                             266

    CHAPTER XXVI.
    FEARS OF THE CHOLERA—DEPARTURE FROM SCOTLAND               273

    CHAPTER XXVII.
    A NEW SCENE AND STRANGE FACES                              285



CHAPTER I.

A MATRIMONIAL DIALOGUE.


“Flora, have you forgotten the talk we had about emigration, the morning
before our marriage?” was a question rather suddenly put to his young
wife, by Lieutenant Lyndsay, as he paused in his walk to and fro the
room. The fact is, that he had been pondering over that conversation for
the last hour.

It had long been forgotten by his wife; who, seated upon the sofa with a
young infant of three years old in her lap, was calmly watching its
sleeping face with inexpressible delight. She now left off her maternal
studies; and looked up at her husband, with an inquiring glance,—

“Why do you ask, dear John?”

“Are you turned Quaker, Flora, that you cannot give one a _direct_
answer?”

“I have not forgotten it. But we have been so happy ever since, that I
have never given it a second thought. What put it into your head just
now?”

“That child—and thinking how I could provide for her, in any other way.”

“Dear little pet! She cannot add much to our expenses.” And the mother
bent over her sleeping child, and kissed its soft, velvet cheek, with a
zest that mothers alone know.

“Not at present. But the little pet will in time grow into a tall girl;
and other little pets may be treading upon her footsteps; and they must
all be clothed, and fed, and educated.”

Flora, in her overflowing happiness, had dismissed all such cruel
realities from her mind.

“Emigration is a terrible word, John. I wish that it could be expunged
from our _English_ dictionary.”

“I am afraid, my dear girl, that you are destined to learn a practical
illustration of its meaning. Nay, don’t look so despondingly. If you
intended to remain in England, you should not have married a _poor_
man.”

“Don’t say that, John, or you will make me miserable. Our marriage made
me rich in treasures, which gold could never buy. But seriously, I do
not see this urgent necessity for taking such a hazardous step. I know
that we are not rich—that our expectations on that score for the future
are very limited. We are both the younger children of large families,
whose wealth and consequence is now a thing of the past. We have nothing
to hope or anticipate from rich relations; but we have enough to be
comfortable, and are surrounded with many blessings. Our little girl,
whose presence seems to have conjured before you the gaunt image of
poverty, has added greatly to our domestic happiness. Yes, little Miss
Innocence! you are awake, are you? Come, crow to papa, and drive these
ugly thoughts out of his head.”

The good father kissed fondly the young thing seducingly held up to him.
But he did not yield to the temptation, or swerve from his purpose,
though Flora kissed _him_, with eyes brimful of tears.

“We are indeed happy, love. Too happy, I might say. But will it last?”

“Why not?”

“Our income is _very_ small?” with a deep sigh.

“It is enough for our present wants. And we have no debts.”

“Thanks to your prudent management. Yes, we have no debts. But it has
been a hard battle, only gained by great self-denial, and much pinching.
We have kind friends, too. But Flora, I am too proud to be indebted to
friends for the common necessaries of life; and without doing something
to improve our scanty means, it might come to that. The narrow income
which has barely supplied our wants this year, without the incumbrance
of a family, will not do so next. There remains no alternative but to
_emigrate_!”

Flora felt that this was pressing her hard. All her affectionate
ingenuity could not furnish an argument against such home truths. “Let
us drop this hateful subject,” said she, hastily; “I cannot bear to
think about it.”

“But, my dear girl, we must force ourselves to think about it, calmly
and dispassionately; and having determined which is the path of duty, we
must follow it out, without any reference to our own likes and dislikes.
Our marriage would have been a most imprudent one, had it been
contracted on any other terms; and we are both to blame that we have
loitered away so many months of valuable time in happy ease, when we
should have been earning independence for ourselves and our family.”

“You may be right, John,—yes, I know that you are right. But it is no
such easy matter to leave your home and country, and the dear friends
whose society renders life a blessing and poverty endurable—to abandon a
certain good for an uncertain better, to be sought for among untried
difficulties. I would rather live in a cottage in England, upon brown
bread and milk, than occupy a palace on the other side of the Atlantic.”

“This sounds very prettily in poetry, Flora; but, my dear girl, life is
made up of stern realities, and it is absolutely necessary for us to
provide against the dark hour before it comes suddenly upon us. Our
future prospects press upon my heart and brain too forcibly to be
neglected. I have thought long and painfully upon the subject, and I
have come to the resolution to emigrate this spring.”

“So soon?”

“The sooner the better. The longer we defer it, the more difficulties we
shall have to encounter. The legacy left you by your aunt will pay our
expenses out, and enable us, without touching my half-pay, to purchase a
farm in Canada.”

“Canada!”

Flora’s eye brightened.

“Oh, I am so glad that it is not to the Cape of Good Hope!”

“In this decision, Flora, I have yielded to _your_ wishes. My _own_
inclinations would lead me back to a country where I have dear friends,
a large tract of land, and where some of the happiest years of my life
were spent. You are not wise, Flora, to regard the Cape with such
horror. No person would delight more in the beautiful and romantic
scenery of that country than yourself. You have taken up a foolish
prejudice against the land I love.”

“It is not that, dear John. But you know, I have such a terror of the
wild beasts—those dreadful snakes and lions! I never should dare to stir
beyond the garden, for fear of being stung or devoured. And then, I have
been bored to death about the Cape, by our good friends the P——’s, till
I hate the very name of the place!”

“You will perhaps one day find out your error, Flora; and your fears are
perfectly absurd! Not wishing to render your emigration more painful, by
taking you to a country to which you are so averse, I have made choice
of Canada, hoping that it might be more to your taste. The only obstacle
in the way, is the reluctance you feel at leaving your friends. Am I
less dear to you, Flora, than friends and country?”

This was said so kindly, and with such an affectionate earnestness for
her happiness more than his own—for it was no small sacrifice to Lyndsay
to give up going back to the Cape—that it overcame all Flora’s obstinate
scruples.

“Oh, no, no!—you are more to me than all the world! I will try and
reconcile myself to any change, for your sake!”

“Shall I go first, and leave you with your mother until I have arranged
matters in Canada?”

“Such a separation would be worse than death! I would rather encounter a
thousand dangers, than remain in England without you! If it must be, I
will never say another word against it!”

Here followed a heavy sigh. The young husband kissed the tears from her
cheek, and whispered—

“That she was his dear, good girl.”

And Flora would have followed him to the deserts of Arabia.

“I have had a long conversation with a very sensible, practical man,”
continued Lyndsay, “who has lately come to England upon colonial
business. He has been a settler for some years in Canada, and the
accounts he has given me of the colony are so favourable, and hold out
such encouragement of ultimate success and independence, that they have
decided me in my choice of making a trial of the backwoods. I promised
to meet him this morning at the Crown Inn (where he puts up), to look
over maps and plans, and have some further talk upon the subject. I
thought, dear, that it was better for me to consult you upon the matter
before I took any decided steps. You have borne the ill news better than
I expected: so keep up your spirits until I return, which will not be
long.”

Flora remained in deep thought for some time after the door had closed
upon her husband. She could now recal every word of that eventful
conversation, which they had held together the morning before their
marriage, upon the subject of emigration. In the happy prospect of
becoming his wife, it had not then appeared to her so terrible.

Faithfully had he reminded her of the trials she must expect to
encounter, in uniting her destiny to a poor gentleman, and had pointed
out emigration as the only remedy for counteracting the imprudence of
such a step; and Flora, full of love and faith, was not hard to be
persuaded. She considered that to be his wife, endowed as he was by
nature with so many moral and intellectual qualities, with a fine face
and noble form, would make her the richest woman in the world: that
there was in him a mine of mental wealth, which could never decrease,
but which time and experience would augment, and come what might, she in
the end was sure to be the gainer.

She argued thus:—“Did I marry a man whom I could not love, merely for
his property, and the position he held in society, misfortune might
deprive him of these, and a disagreeable companion for life would remain
to remind me constantly of my choice. But a generous, talented man like
Lyndsay, by industry and prudence may become rich, and then the most
avaricious worlding would applaud the step I had taken.”

We think after all, that Flora reasoned wisely, and, acting up to her
convictions, did right. The world, we know, would scarcely agree with
us; but in matters of the heart, the world is rarely consulted.

They were married, and, retiring to a pretty cottage upon the sea-coast,
confined their expenditure to their limited means, and were contented
and happy, and so much in love with each other and their humble lot,
that up to this period, all thoughts upon the dreaded subject of
emigration had been banished from one mind, at least. Flora knew her
husband too well to suspect him of changing a resolution he had once
formed on the suggestion of duty. She felt, too, that he was right,—that
painful as the struggle was, to part with all dear to her on earth, save
him, that it must be made. “Yes, I can, and will dare all things, my
beloved husband, for your sake,” she said. “My heart may at times rebel,
but I will shut out all its weak complainings. I am ready to follow you
through good and ill,—to toil for our future maintenance, or live at
ease. England—my country! the worst trial will be to part from you.”



CHAPTER II.

THE OLD CAPTAIN.


Flora’s reveries were abruptly dispelled by a gentle knock at the door;
and her “Come in,” was answered by a tall, portly, handsome old lady,
who sailed into the room in all the conscious dignity of black silk and
white lawn.

The handsome old lady was Mrs. Kitson, the wife of the naval officer,
whose ready-furnished lodgings they had occupied for the last year.
Flora rose to meet her visitor, with the baby still upon her arm.

“Mrs. Kitson, I am happy to see you. Pray take the easy-chair by the
fire. I hope your cough is better.”

“No chance of that,” said the healthy old lady, who had never known a
fit of dangerous illness in her life, “while I continue so weak.
Hu—hu—hu—. You see, my dear, that it is as bad as ever.”

Flora thought that she never had seen a person at Mrs. Kitson’s advanced
stage of life with such a healthy, rosy visage. But every one has some
pet weakness. Mrs. Kitson’s was always fancying herself ill and
nervous. Now, Flora had no very benignant feelings towards the old
lady’s long catalogue of imaginary ailments; so she changed the dreaded
subject, by inquiring after the health of the old Captain, her husband.

“Ah, my dear, he’s just as well as ever,—nothing in the world ever ails
him; and little he cares for the sufferings of another. This is a great
day with him; he’s all bustle and fuss. Just step to the window, and
look at his doings. It’s enough to drive a sensible woman mad. Talk of
women wearing the _smalls_, indeed! it’s a base libel on the sex.
Captain Kitson is not content with putting on my apron, but he
appropriates my petticoats also. I cannot give an order to my maid, but
he contradicts it, or buy a pound of tea, but he weighs it after the
grocer. Now, my dear, what would you do if the _Leaftenant_ was like my
husband?”

“Really, I don’t know,” and Flora laughed heartily. “It must be rather a
trial of patience to a good housekeeper like you. But what is he about?”
she cried, stepping to the window that overlooked a pretty lawn in front
of the house, which commanded a fine view of the sea. “He and old Kelly
seem up to their eyes in business. What an assemblage of pots and
kettles, and household stuff there is upon the lawn! Are you going to
have an auction?”

“You may well think so; if that were the case, there might be some
excuse for his folly. No; all this dirt and confusion, which once a
week drives me nearly beside myself, is what K—— calls clearing up the
ship; when he and his man Friday, as he calls Kelly, turn everything
topsy-turvy, and, to make the muddle more complete, they always choose
my washing-day for their frolic. Pantries and cellars are rummaged over,
and everything is dragged out of its place, for the mere pleasure of
making a litter, and dragging it in again.

“Look at the lawn! Covered with broken dishes, earless jugs, cracked
plates, and bottomless saucepans,” continued Mrs. Kitson. “What a dish
of nuts for my neighbours to crack! They always enjoy a hearty laugh at
my expense, on Kitson’s clearing-up days. But what does he care for my
distress? In vain I hide up all this old trumpery in the darkest nooks
in the cellar and pantry—nothing escapes his prying eyes; and then he
has such a memory, that if he misses an old gallipot he raises a storm
loud enough to shake down the house.

“The last time he went to London,” pursued the old lady, “I collected a
vast quantity of useless trash, and had it thrown into the pond behind
the house. Well, when he cleared the decks next time, if he did not miss
the old broken crockery, all of which, he said, he meant to mend with
white lead on rainy days; while the broken bottles, forsooth, he had
saved to put on the top of the brick wall, to hinder the little boys
from climbing over to steal the apples! Oh, dear, dear, dear! there was
no end to his bawling, and swearing, and calling me hard names, while he
had the impudence to tell Kelly, in my hearing, that I was the most
extravagant woman in the world. Now, _I_, that have borne him seventeen
children, should know something about economy and good management; but
he gives me no credit at all for that. He began scolding again to-day,
but my poor head could not stand it any longer; so I came over to spend
a few minutes with you.”

The handsome old lady paused to draw breath, and looked so much excited
with this recapitulation of her domestic wrongs, that Mrs. Lyndsay
thought it not improbable she had performed her own part in the
scolding.

As to Flora, she was highly amused by the old Captain’s vagaries.
“By-the-bye,” she said, “had he any luck in shooting this morning? He
was out by sunrise with his gun.”

The old lady fell back in her chair, and laughed immoderately.

“Shooting! Yes, yes, that was another frolic of his. But Kitson’s an old
fool, and I have told him so a thousand times. So you saw him this
morning with the gun?”

“Why, I was afraid he might shoot Lyndsay, who was shaving at the
window. The captain pointed his gun sometimes at the window, and
sometimes at the eaves of the house, but as the gun always missed fire,
I began to regain my courage, and so did the sparrows, for they only
chattered at him in defiance.”

“And well they might. Why, my dear, would you believe it, he had no
powder in his gun! Now, Mrs. Lyndsay, you will perhaps think that I am
telling you a story, the thing is so absurd; yet I assure you that it’s
strictly true. But you know the man. When my poor Nelly died, she left
all her little property to her father, as she knew none of her late
husband’s relations—never was introduced to one of them in her life. In
her dressing-case he found a box of charcoal for cleaning teeth, and in
spite of all that I could say or do, he insisted that it was
_gunpowder_. ‘Gunpowder!’ says I, ‘what would our Nelly do with
gunpowder? It’s charcoal, I tell you.’”

“Then he smelt it, and smelt it—‘’Tis gunpowder, Sally! Don’t you think,
that I know the smell of gunpowder? I, that was with Nelson at
Copenhagen and Trafalgar?’

“‘’Tis the snuff in your nose, that makes everything smell alike;’ says
I. ‘Do you think, that our Nelly would clean her beautiful white teeth
with gunpowder?’

“‘Why not?’ says he; ‘there’s charcoal in gunpowder. And now, Madam, if
you dare to contradict me again, I will shoot you with it, to prove the
truth of what I say!’

“Well, after that, I held my tongue, though I did not choose to give
up. I thought to spite him, so for once I let him have his own way. He
spent an hour last night cleaning his old rusty gun; and rose this
morning by daybreak with the intention of murdering all the sparrows. No
wonder that the sparrows laughed at him. I have done nothing but laugh
ever since—so out of sheer revenge, he proclaimed a cleaning day; and he
and Kelly are now hard at it.”

Flora was delighted with this anecdote of their whimsical landlord; but
before she could answer his better-half, the door was suddenly opened
and the sharp, keen face of the little officer was thrust into the
room.



CHAPTER III.

THE OLD CAPTAIN IN PERSON.


“Mrs. Lyndsay, my dear; that nurse of yours is going to hang out your
clothes in front of the sea. Now, it’s hardly _decent_ of her, to expose
female garments to every boat that may be passing.”

The Captain’s delicacy threw poor Flora nearly into convulsions of
laughter—while he continued, rather pettishly—

“She knows no more how to handle a rope than a pig. If you will just
tell her to wait a bit, until I have overhauled my vessel, I will put up
the ropes for you myself.”

“And hang out the clothes for you, Mrs. Lyndsay, if you will only give
him the treat—and then, he will not shock the sensitive nerves of the
sailors, by hanging them near the sea,” sneered the handsome old lady.

“I hate to see things done in a lubberly manner,” muttered the old tar.

“Oh, pray oblige him, Mrs. Lyndsay. He is such an old woman. I wonder he
does not ask your permission to let him wash the clothes.”

“Fresh water is not my element, Mrs. Kitson, though I have long known
that _hot_ water is yours. I never suffer a woman to touch my ropes, and
Mrs. Lyndsay borrowed those ropes this morning of me. Don’t interrupt
me, Mrs. K.; attend to your business, and leave me to mine. Put a
stopper upon that clapper of yours; which goes at the rate of ten knots
an hour—or look out for squalls.”

In the hope of averting the storm, which Flora saw was gathering on the
old man’s brow, and which in all probability had been brewing all the
morning, she assured the Captain, that he might take the command of her
nurse, ropes, clothes, and all.

“Mrs. Lyndsay,—you are a sensible woman,—which is more than I can say of
some folks,” glancing at his wife; “and I hope that you mean to submit
patiently to the yoke of matrimony; and not pull one way, while your
husband pulls the other. To sail well together on the sea of life, you
must hold fast to the right end of the rope and haul in the same
direction.”

His hand was upon the lock of the door, and the old lady had made
herself sure of his exit, and was comfortably settling herself for a
fresh spell of gossip at his expense, when he suddenly returned to the
sofa on which Flora was seated; and putting his mouth quite close to her
ear, while his little inquisitive grey eyes sparkled with intense
curiosity, said, in a mysterious whisper, “How is this, my dear—I hear
that you are going to leave us?”

Flora started with surprise. Not a word had transpired of the
conversation she had lately held with her husband. Did the old Captain
possess the gift of second-sight? “Captain Kitson,” she said, in rather
an excited tone; while the colour flushed up into her face, “Who told
you so?”

“Then it is true?” and the old fox rubbed his hands and nodded his head,
at the success of his stratagem. “Who told me?—why I can’t say, who told
me. You know, where there are servants living in the house, and walls
are thin—news travels fast.”

“And when people have sharp ears to listen to what is passing in their
neighbours’ houses,” muttered the old lady, in a provoking aside, “news
travels faster still.”

Flora was annoyed beyond measure at the impertinent curiosity of the
inquisitive old man. She felt certain that her conversation with her
husband had been overheard. She knew that Captain Kitson and his wife
were notable gossips, and it was mortifying to know that their secret
plans in a few hours would be made public. She replied coldly, “Captain
Kitson, you have been misinformed; we may have talked over such a thing
in private as a matter of speculation, but nothing at present has been
determined.”

“Now, my dear, that won’t do; leave an old sailor to find out a rat. I
tell you that ’tis the common report of the day. Besides, is not the
_Leaftenant_ gone this morning with that scapegrace, Tom W——, to hear
some lying land-shark preach about Canada.”

“Lecture! Kitson,” said the old lady, who was not a whit behind her
spouse in wishing to extract the news, though she suffered him to be the
active agent in the matter.

“Lecture or preach, it’s all one; only the parson takes his text from
the Bible to hold forth upon, and these agents, employed by the Canada
Company, say what they can out of their own heads. The object in both is
to make money. I thought the _Leaftenant_ had been too long in a colony
to be caught by chaff.”

“My husband can judge for himself, Captain Kitson. He does not need the
advice, or the interference of a third person,” said Flora, colouring
again. And this time she felt really angry; but there was no shaking the
old man off.

“To be sure—to be sure,” said her tormentor, without taking the smallest
notice of her displeasure; “people are all wise in their own eyes. But
what is Canada to you, my dear? A fine settler’s wife you will make;
nervous and delicate, half the time confined to your bed with some
complaint or other. And then, when you are well, the whole blessed day
is wasted in reading and writing, and coddling up the babby. I tell you
that sort of business will not answer in a rough country like Canada. I
was there often enough during the American war, and I know that the
country won’t suit you,—no, nor you won’t suit the country.”

Finding that Mrs. Lyndsay made no answer to this burst of eloquence, he
continued, in a coaxing tone—

“Now, just for once in your life, my dear, be guided by older and wiser
heads than your own, and give up this foolish project altogether. Let
well alone. You are happy and comfortable where you are. This is a nice
cottage, quite large enough for your small family. Fine view of the sea
from these front windows, and all ready furnished to your hand,—nothing
to find of your own but plate and linen; a pump, wood-house and
coal-bin, and other conveniences,—all under one roof. An oven—”

“Stop,” cried the old lady, “you need say nothing about that, Kitson.
The oven is good for nothing. It has no draught; and you cannot put a
fire into it without filling the house with smoke.”

“Pshaw!” muttered the old man. “A little contrivance would soon put that
to rights.”

“I tried my best,” retorted the wife, “and I could never bake a loaf of
bread in it, fit to eat.”

“We all know what bad bread you make, Mrs. Kitson,” said the captain. “I
know that it can be baked in; so hold your tongue, Madam! and don’t
contradict me again. At any rate, there’s not a smoky chimney in the
house, which after all is a less evil than a cross wife. The house, I
say, is complete from the cellar to the garret. And then, the rent—why,
what is it? A mere trifle—too cheap by one half,—only twenty-five pounds
per annum. I don’t know what possessed me, to let it so low; and then,
my dear, the privilege you enjoy in my beautiful flower-garden and lawn.
There is not many lodging-houses in the town could offer such
advantages, and all for the _paltry_ consideration of twenty-five pounds
a-year.”

“The cottage is pretty, and the rent moderate, Captain,” said Flora. “We
have no fault to find, and you have not found us difficult to please.”

“Oh, I am quite contented with my tenants; I only want them to know when
they are well off. Look twice before you leap once—that’s my maxim; and
give up this mad Canadian project, which I am certain will end in
disappointment.”

And with this piece of disinterested advice, away toddled our gallant
naval commander, to finish with Kelly the arrangement of his pots and
kettles, and superintend the right adjustment of the clothes-lines, and
the hanging out of Mrs. Lyndsay’s clothes.

Do not imagine, gentle reader, that this picture is over-charged.
Captain Kitson is no creature of romance, (or was not, we should rather
say; for he has long since been gathered to his fathers); but a brave,
uneducated man; who during the war had risen from before the mast to the
rank of Post Captain. He had fought at Copenhagen and Trafalgar, and
distinguished himself in many a severe contest on the main during those
stirring times, and bore the reputation of a dashing naval officer. At
the advanced age of eighty, he retained all his original ignorance and
vulgarity; and was never admitted into the society which his rank in the
service entitled him to claim.

The restless activity which in the vigour of manhood had rendered him a
useful and enterprising seaman, was now displayed in the most ridiculous
interference in his own domestic affairs, and those of his neighbours.
With a great deal of low cunning, he mingled the most insatiable
curiosity; while his habits were so penurious, that he would stoop to
any meanness to gain a trifling pecuniary advantage for himself or his
family.

He speculated largely in old ropes, condemned boats and sea-tackle of
all description, whilst as consul for the port, he had many
opportunities of purchasing wrecks of the sea, and the damaged cargoes
of foreign vessels, at a cheap rate; and not a stone was left unturned
by old Kitson, if by the turning a copper could be secured.

The meddling disposition of the old Captain, rendered him the terror of
all the fishermen on the coast, over whom his sway was despotic. He
superintended and ordered all their proceedings, with an authority as
absolute as though he were still upon the deck of his war-ship, and they
were subjected to his imperious commands. Not a boat could be put off,
or a flag hoisted, without he was duly consulted and apprised of the
fact. Not a funeral could take place in the town, without Kitson calling
upon the bereaved family, and offering his services on the mournful
occasion, securing to himself by this simple manœuvre, an abundant
supply of black silk cravats and kid gloves.

“Never lose anything, my dear, for the want of _asking_,” he would say.
“A refusal breaks no bones, and there is always a chance of getting what
you ask.”

Acting upon this principle, he had begged favours of all the great men
in power; and had solicited the interest of every influential person who
had visited the town, during the bathing season, for the last twenty
years, on his behalf. His favourite maxim practically carried out, had
been very successful. He had obtained, for the mere trouble of asking,
commissions in the army and navy for all his sons, and had got all his
grandsons comfortably placed in the Greenwich or Christ Church schools.

He had a garden too, which was at once his torment and his pride. During
the spring and summer months, the beds were dug up and remodelled,
three or four times during the season, to suit the caprice of the owner,
while the poor drooping flowers were ranged along the grass-plot to
wither in the sun during the process, and

    “Waste their sweetness on the desert air.”

This he termed putting his borders into ship-shape.

The flower-beds which skirted the lawn, a pretty grass plot containing
about an acre of ground, surrounded by tall poplar trees, were regularly
sown with a succession of annuals, all for the time being of one sort
and colour. For several weeks, innumerable quantities of double crimson
stocks flaunted before your eyes, so densely packed, that scarcely a
shade of green relieved the brilliant monotony. These were succeeded by
larkspurs, and lastly by poppies, that reared their tall, gorgeous heads
above the low, white railing, and looked defiance on all beholders.

Year after year presented the same spectacle, and pounds of stocks,
larkspur and poppy seeds, were annually saved by the eccentric old man,
to renew his floral show.

Tom W——, who was enchanted with the Captain’s oddities, had nick-named
the marine cottage _Larkspur Lodge_.



CHAPTER IV.

A VISIT OF CONDOLENCE.


The news of Lieutenant Lyndsay’s intended emigration spread like
wild-fire through the village, and for several days formed the theme of
conversation. The timid shrugged their shoulders, and drew closer to
their own cosy fire-sides, and preferred staying at home to tempting the
dangers of a long sea-voyage. The prudent said, there was a
_possibility_ of success; but it was better to take care of the little
you had, than run the risk of losing it while seeking for more.—The
worldly sneered, and criticised, and turned the golden anticipations of
the hopeful and the benevolent into ridicule, prophesying
disappointment, ruin, and a speedy return. Lyndsay listened to all their
remarks, endeavoured to combat unreasonable objections, and remove
pre-conceived prejudices; but as it was all labour thrown away, he
determined to abide by the resolution he had formed, and commenced
making preparations accordingly.

Flora, who, like many of her sex, was more guided by her feelings than
her reason, was terribly annoyed by the impertinent interference of
others, in what she peculiarly considered, her own affairs. Day after
day she was tormented by visitors, who came to condole with her on the
shocking prospects before her. Some of these were kind, well-meaning
people, who really thought it a dreadful thing, to be forced, at the
caprice of a husband, to leave home, and all its kindred joys, for a
rude uncultivated wilderness like Canada. To such Flora listened with
patience; for she believed their fears on her account were genuine—their
sympathy sincere.

There was only one person in the whole town whose comments she dreaded,
and whose pretended concern she looked upon as a real _bore_—this was
Mrs. Ready, the wife of a wealthy merchant, who was apt to consider
herself the great lady of the place.

The dreaded interview came at last. Mrs. Ready had been absent on a
visit to London; and the moment she heard of the intended emigration of
the Lyndsays to Canada, she put on her bonnet and shawl, and rushed to
the rescue. The loud, double rat-tat-tat at the door, announced an
arrival of more than ordinary consequence.

“O!” sighed Flora, pushing away her desk, at which she was writing
letters of importance, “I know that knock!—that disagreeable Mrs. Ready
is come at last!”

Before Mrs. Ready enters the room, I may as well explain to the reader,
what sort of an intimacy existed between Flora Lyndsay and Harriet
Ready, and why the former had such a repugnance to a visit from the
last-mentioned lady.

Without the aid of animal magnetism (although we have no doubt that it
belongs to that mysterious science) experience has taught us all, that
there are some natures that possess certain repellent qualities, which
never can be brought into affinity with our own—persons, whom we like or
dislike at first sight, with a strong predilection for the one almost
amounting to love, with a decided aversion to the other, which in some
instances almost merges into downright hate.

These two ladies had no attraction for each other: they had not a
thought or feeling in common; and they seldom met without a certain
sparring, which, to the looker-on, must have betrayed how matters stood
between them.

But why did they meet, if such were the case?

It would be true wisdom in all such repellent natures to keep apart.
Worldly prudence, and the conventional rules of society, compel persons
to hide these secret antipathies—nay, even to present the most smiling
exterior to those whom they often least respect.

The fear of making enemies, of being thought ill-natured and capricious,
or even of making the objects of their aversion persons of too much
consequence, by keeping them aloof, are some of the reasons we have
heard alleged for these acts of mental cowardice.

Mrs. Ready was a low-born woman, and Flora belonged to a very old and
respectable family. Mrs. Ready wished to rise a step higher in the
social scale, and, thinking that Flora might aid her ambitious views,
she had, after the first calls of ceremony had been exchanged, clung to
her with a pertinacity which all Mrs. Lyndsay’s efforts to free herself
had been unable to shake off.

Mrs. Ready was a woman of great pretensions, and had acquired an
influence among her own set by assuming a superiority to which, in
reality, she had not the slightest claim. She considered herself a
beauty—a wit—a person of extraordinary genius, and possessed of great
literary taste. The knowledge of a few botanical names and scientific
terms, which she sported on all occasions, had conferred upon her the
title of a learned woman; while she talked with the greatest confidence
of her acquirements. _Her_ paintings—_her_ music—_her_ poetry, were
words constantly in her mouth. A few wretched daubs, some miserable
attempts at composition, and various pieces of music, played without
taste, and in shocking bad time, constituted all her claims to literary
distinction. Her confident boasting had so imposed upon the good
credulous people among whom she moved, that they really believed her to
be the talented being she pretended.

A person of very moderate abilities can be spiteful; and Mrs. Ready was
so censorious, and said when offended such bitter things, that her
neighbours tolerated her impertinence out of a weak fear, lest they
might become the victims of her slanderous tongue.

Though living in the same house with her husband, whose third wife she
was, they had long been separated, only meeting at their joyless meals.
Mrs. Ready considered her husband a very stupid animal, and did not fail
to make both him and her friends acquainted with her opinion.

“There is a fate in these things,” she observed, “or you would never see
a person of _my_ superior intellect united to a creature like _that_.”

The world recognised a less important agency in the ill-starred union.
Mrs. Ready was poor, and had already numbered thirty years, when she
accepted the hand of her wealthy and despised partner.

No wonder that Flora, who almost adored her husband, and was a woman of
simple habits and pretensions, should dislike Mrs. Ready: it would have
been strange indeed if persons so differently constituted, could have
met without antagonism.

Mrs. Ready’s harsh unfeminine voice and manners; her assumption of
learning and superiority, without any real title to either, were very
offensive to a proud sensitive mind, which rejected with disdain the
patronage of such a woman. Flora had too much self-respect, not to say
_vanity_, to tolerate the insolence of Mrs. Ready. She had met all her
advances towards a closer intimacy with marked coldness; which, instead
of repelling, seemed only to provoke a repetition of the vulgar, forcing
familiarity, from which she intuitively shrank.

“Mrs. Lyndsay,” she was wont to say, when that lady was absent, “is a
young person of some literary taste, and with the advice and assistance
of a friend (herself of course) she may one day become an accomplished
woman.”

Lyndsay was highly amused at the league, offensive and defensive,
carried on by his wife and Mrs. Ready, who was the only _blue stocking_
in the place; and he was wont to call her Flora’s Mrs. _Grundy_.

But _Mrs. Grundy_ is already in the room, and Flora has risen to meet
her, and proffer the usual meaningless salutations of the day. To these
her visitor returns no answer, overwhelmed as she is with astonishment
and grief.

“Mrs. Lyndsay!” she exclaimed, sinking into the easy chair placed for
her accommodation, and lifting up her hands in a tragic ecstasy—“Is it
true—true, that you are going to leave us? I cannot believe it; it is so
absurd—so ridiculous—the idea of your going to Canada. Do tell me that I
am misinformed; that it is one of old Kitson’s idle pieces of gossip;
for really I have not been well since I heard it.”

Mrs. Ready paused for breath, and applied her handkerchief to her eyes.

Flora remained silent and embarrassed. What could she say? She placed no
confidence in the grief of the weeping lady, and despised the
affectation of her tears—till she gasped forth—

“Do not leave me in suspense; I would rather hear the truth at once. Are
you really going to Canada?”

“I believe so. That is, if no untoward circumstances arise to prevent
it.”

“Good heavens!—And you can regard such a dreadful event with such
stoical indifference? Why does not your mother exert her authority, to
make you give up such a mad project?”

“My mother would never interfere with my husband’s wishes, particularly
when she considers them reasonable, and knows that no real objections
can be offered on the subject.”

“But think of the dreadful sacrifice!”

“Such sacrifices are made every day. Emigration, Mrs. Ready, is a matter
of necessity, not of choice. Mr. Lyndsay thinks it necessary for us to
take this step, and I have no doubt that he is right. Did I consult my
own feelings, I should certainly prefer staying at home.”

“Of course you would, and you affect this unconcern on purpose to hide
an aching heart. My dear, you cannot deceive me; I see through it all. I
pity you, my sweet friend; I sympathise with you, from my very soul; I
know what your _real_ feelings are; I can realize it all.”

Flora remained silent. She certainly did wish that Mrs. Ready occupied
any other place in the United Kingdom at that moment than the
comfortable seat in her easy chair. But what could she do? She could not
inform the lady that she was tired of her company, and wished to be
alone. That would be considered an act of ill-breeding of the most
flagrant description; in common courtesy she was compelled to act a lie.

Rather irritated at the small impression her eloquence had made upon her
companion, Mrs. Ready removed the cambric screen from her face, on which
not a trace of grief could be found, and clasping her hands vehemently
together, continued,—

“Your husband is mad, to draw you away from all your friends at a
moment’s warning! I would remonstrate—I would not go; I would exert a
proper spirit, and force him to abandon this Quixotic expedition.”

“You speak hastily, Mrs. Ready. Why should I attempt to prevent an
undertaking in which I most cordially concur, and which Mr. Lyndsay
thinks would greatly benefit his family?”

“Nonsense! I hate, I repudiate such passive obedience, as beneath the
dignity of woman! I am none of your soft bread-and-butter wives, who
consider it their _duty_ to become the mere _echo_ of their husbands.
If _I_ did not wish to go, no tyrannical lord of the creation, falsely
so called, should compel me to act against my inclinations.”

“Compulsion is not necessary: on this subject we both agree.”

“Oh, yes, I see how it is!” with a contemptuous curl of the lip, “you
aspire to the character of a good, dutiful wife,—to become an example of
enduring patience to all the refractory conjugals in the place, myself
among the rest. I understand it all. How _amiable_ some people can be at
the expense of others!”

Flora was thunderstruck. “Indeed, Mrs. Ready, I meant no reflection upon
you. My words had no personal meaning; I never talk _at_ any one.”

“Oh, certainly not! You are not aware,” with a strong sneer, “of the
differences that exist between Mr. Ready and me (and which will continue
to exist, as long as mind claims a superiority over matter); that we are
only husband and wife in name. But I forgive you.”

“You have nothing to forgive, Mrs. Ready,” said Flora, indignantly; “I
never trouble my head with your private affairs—they cannot possibly
concern me.”

This gave rise to a scene. Mrs. Ready, who lived in an element of
strife, delighted in scenes.

“Oh, no,” she continued, eagerly clutching at Flora’s last words, “you
are _too_ selfishly engrossed with your own happiness to have the least
sympathy for the sorrows of a friend. Ah, well!—It’s early days with
you _yet_! Let a few short years of domestic care pass over your head,
and all this honey will be changed to gall. Matrimony is matrimony, and
husbands are husbands, and wives will strive to have their own way—ay,
and will fight to get it too. You will then find, Mrs. Lyndsay, that
very little of the sugar of love, and all such romantic stuff, remains
to sweeten your cup; and in the bitterness of your soul, you will think
of me.”

“If this is true,” said Flora, “who would marry?”

“It is true in my case.”

“But fortunately there are exceptions to every rule.”

“Humph!—This is another compliment, Mrs. Lyndsay, at my expense.”

“Mrs. Ready, I do not wish to quarrel with you; but you seem determined
to take all my words amiss.”

A long silence ensued,—Mrs. Ready smoothed down her ruffled plumes, and
said, in a pitying, patronising tone, very common to her—

“You will be disgusted with Canada: we shall see you back in less than
twelve months.”

“Not very likely, if I know anything of John and myself.”

“What will you do for society?”

Flora thought, solitude would be a luxury and Mrs. Ready away—and she
answered, carelessly, “We must be content with what Providence sends
us.”

“Ah! but you may be miles from any habitation. No church—no schools for
the children—no markets—no medical attendant—and with your poor
health—think of that, Mrs. Lyndsay! And worse, far worse, no friends to
sympathise and condole with you, in distress and difficulty.”

Now Flora was answering all these objections in her own mind; and, quite
forgetful of Mrs. Ready’s presence, she unconsciously uttered her
thoughts aloud—“These may be evils, but we shall at least be spared the
annoyance of disagreeable visitors.”

Imprudent Flora—to think aloud before such a woman as Mrs. Ready. Who
will venture to excuse such an eccentric proceeding? Would not the whole
world blame you for your incorrigible blunder? It had, however, one good
effect. It quickly cleared the room of your intrusive guest; who swept
out of the apartment with a haughty “Good morning.” And well she might
be offended; she had accidentally heard the truth, which no one else in
the town dared have spoken boldly out.

Flora was astonished at her want of caution. She knew, however, that it
was useless to apologise; and she felt perfectly indifferent as to the
result; for she did not care, if she never saw Mrs. Ready again; and
such a decided affront would render that event something more than
doubtful.

“Thank heaven! she is gone,” burst heartily from her lips, when she
found herself once more alone.

It was impossible for Mrs. Lyndsay to contemplate leaving England
without great pain. The subject was so distressing to her feelings, that
she endeavoured to forget it as much as she could. The manner in which
it had been forced upon her by Mrs. Ready, was like probing a deep wound
with a jagged instrument; and after that lady’s departure, she covered
her face with her hands, and wept long and bitterly.



CHAPTER V.

THE TRUE FRIEND.


Flora Lyndsay was aroused from the passionate indulgence of grief by two
arms being passed softly around her neck, and some one pulling her head
gently back upon their shoulder, and kissing her forehead.

“Flora,” whispered a sweet, gentle woman’s voice; “Dear Flora. I am come
home at last. What, no word of welcome? No kiss for Mary? In tears, too.
What is the matter? Are you ill? Is the baby ill? No—she at least is
sleeping sweetly, and looks full of rosy health. Do speak, and tell me
the meaning of all this!”

Flora was in the arms of her friend before she had ceased speaking. “A
thousand welcomes! dear Mary. You are the very person I most wished just
now to see. The very sight of you is an antidote to grief. ‘A remedy for
sore eyes,’ as the Irish say. You have been too long away. When did you
arrive?”

“By the mail—about an hour ago.”

“And your dear sister—?”

“Is gone to a happier home,” said Mary Parnell, in a faltering voice;
and glancing down at her black dress, she continued, “she died happy—so
happy, dear Flora, and now—she is happier still. But, we will not speak
of her just now, Flora; I cannot bear it. Time, which reconciles us to
every change, will teach me resignation to the Divine will. But ah! ’tis
a sore trial to part with the cherished friend and companion of our
early years. We were most attached sisters. Our hearts were one—and
now—”

There was a pause. Both friends wept. Mary first regained her composure.

“How is Lyndsay? Has he finished writing his book?”

“The book is finished, and accepted by Mr. Bentley.”

“That is good, excellent news; and the darling baby?”

“Little Dormouse. There she lies at the end of the sofa, covered by my
shawl. She has been sleeping ever since breakfast. I think she only
wakes up to amuse papa. But she is beginning to stretch herself, and
here comes the head-nurse himself.”

“Our dear Mary, returned!” cried Lyndsay, entering the room. “It seems
an age since you left us.”

“It has been a melancholy separation to me,” said Mary. “This parting I
hope will be the last. My father has consented to come and live with my
brother; and now that dear Emily is gone, I shall have no inducement to
leave home, so you will have me all to yourselves, whenever I can steal
an hour from my domestic duties; and we shall once more be so happy
together.”

Lyndsay looked at Flora, but neither spoke. Mary saw in a moment that
there was some hidden meaning in that quick, intelligent glance; and she
turned anxiously from one to the other.

“What mischief have you been plotting, during my absence?” cried the
affectionate girl, taking a hand of each. “Some mystery is here—I read
it in your eyes. I come to you striving to drown the remembrance of my
own heavy sorrow, that we might enjoy a happy meeting: I find Flora in
tears, and you, Lyndsay, looking grave and melancholy. What does it all
mean?”

“Has not Flora told you?”

“Told me what?”

“That we are about to start for Canada.”

“Alas! no. This is sad news—worse than I expected. But are you really
determined upon going?”

“Our preparations are almost completed.”

“Worse and worse. I hoped it might be only the whim of the moment—a
castle, not of the air, but of the woods—and as easily demolished.”

“Let us draw back,” said Flora. “Lyndsay, dearest; the trial is too
great.”

“It is too late now, Flora. Depend upon it, love, that God has ordered
it, and that we act in conformity to the Divine will, and that all is
for the best.”

“If such is your belief, my dear friend,” said Miss Parnell, “far be it
from me to persuade you to stay. God orders all things for good. The
present moment is the prophet of the future. It must decide your fate.”

“I have not acted hastily in this matter,” returned Lyndsay. “I have
pondered over it long and anxiously, and I feel that my decision is
right. The grief poor Flora feels at parting with her friends, is the
greatest drawback. I thought that she possessed more strength of
endurance. As for me, I have passed through the ordeal before, when I
left Scotland for the Cape of Good Hope; and I now look upon myself as a
citizen of the world. I know that Flora will submit cheerfully to the
change, when once we lose sight of the British shores.”

“This then means the cause of Flora’s tears?”

“Not exactly,” said Flora, laughing. “That odious Mrs. Ready has been
here, tormenting me with impertinent questions.”

“Flora, I’m ashamed of you,” said Lyndsay, “for suffering yourself to be
annoyed by that stupid woman.”

“And worse than that, dear John, I got into a passion, and affronted
her.”

“And what did _Mrs. Grundy_ say?”

“Ah! it’s fine fun for you. But if you had been baited by her for a
couple of hours, as I was, you could not have stood it much better than
I did. Why, she had the impudence to insist upon my acting in direct
opposition to your wishes; and all but insinuated that I was a fool not
to take her advice.”

“A very serious offence, indeed,” said Lyndsay, laughing. “Instigating
my wife to an act of open rebellion. But I am sure you will not profit
by her example.”

“Indeed, no! She’s the very last woman in the world I should wish to
imitate. Still I feel angry with myself for letting my temper get the
better of prudence.”

“What a pity, Flora, that you did not fight it out. I would back my good
wife against twenty Mrs. Grundys.”

“She would scratch my eyes out, and then write a horrid sonnet to
celebrate the catastrophe.”

“Nobody would read it.”

“Ah, but she would read it to everybody, and bore the whole town with
her lamentations.”

“Let her go, Flora. I am tired of _Mrs. Grundy_.”

“Indeed, I was glad enough to get rid of her, which reconciles me to the
disagreeable manner in which I offended her.”

“Let us talk of your Canadian plans,” said Mary. “When do you go?”

“In three weeks,” said Lyndsay.

“So soon! The time is too short to prepare one to part with friends so
dear. If it were not for my poor old father, I would go with you.”

“What a blessing it would be!” said Lyndsay.

“Oh! do go, dear Mary,” cried Flora, quite transported at the thought;
and flinging her arms about her friend’s neck. “It would make us so
happy.”

“It is impossible!” said the dear Mary, with a sigh. “I spoke without
thinking. My heart will follow you across the Atlantic; but duty keeps
me here. I will not, however, waste the time still left to us in useless
regrets. Love is better shown by deeds than words. I can work for you,
and cheer you, during the last days of your sojourn in your native land.
Employment, I have always found, by my own experience, is the best
remedy for aching hearts.”



CHAPTER VI.

FLORA’S OUTFIT.


Having once matured his plans, Lyndsay hastened to take the necessary
steps to carry them into execution. Leaving Flora and her friend Mary to
prepare all the indispensables for the voyage, he hurried to London, to
obtain permission from head-quarters to settle in Canada, to arrange
pecuniary matters for the voyage, and take leave of a few old and tried
friends. During his absence, Flora and her friend were not idle. The
mornings were devoted to making purchases, and the evenings to convert
them into articles for domestic use. There were so many towels to hem,
sheets to make, and handkerchiefs and stockings to mark, that Flora saw
no end to the work, although assisted by kind sisters, and the
indefatigable Mary.

The two friends held a grand consultation over Flora’s scanty wardrobe,
in which there were articles “old and new;” but it must be confessed
that the old and the unfashionable predominated over the new and
well-cut. Flora’s friends were poor, and she had been obliged to
dispense with a wedding outfit. An old and very rich relation of her
father had presented her with a very elegant wedding-dress, shawl, and
bonnet, which was all the finery Flora possessed. Her other dresses were
very plain, and composed of common materials; and if it had not been for
the unexpected bounty of the said rich lady, our bride must have done
without a wedding-garment at all; for she had earned the few common
necessaries she took with her to housekeeping with her own hand, in
painting trifles for the bazaars, and writing articles for ladies’
magazines. One small trunk contained Flora’s worldly goods and chattels,
the night she entered the neatly-furnished lodgings which Lyndsay had
prepared for her as his wife.

Flora felt almost ashamed of the little she possessed; but her
high-minded, generous husband took her penniless as she was, and
laughingly assured her that they could never quarrel on the score of
riches; for his wardrobe was nearly as scanty as her own; and, beyond a
great chest of books and music, he had nothing in the world but his
half-pay. Many a long afternoon Flora spent during her quiet honeymoon
(for the month was April, and the weather very wet) in looking over
shirts and socks, and putting them into the best habitable repair. She
was thus employed, when an author of some distinction called upon them,
to enjoy half-an-hour’s chat. Flora hid up her work as fast as she
could; but in her hurry, unfortunately, upset her work-basket on the
floor, and all the objectionable garments tumbled out at her guest’s
feet.

He was young, unmarried and a poet; and this certainly was not a
poetical incident. “Mrs. Lyndsay,” he cried, in a tragic horror—(it
would have been more in good taste to have said nothing about it)—“Are
you forced to devote your valuable time to mending old socks and
shirts?”

“They were meant for my _private_ hours,” said Flora, laughing, as she
collected the fallen articles, and stowed them once more into their
hiding-place. “With _such_ the public has nothing to do.”

“Well, if ever I marry, I’ll take good care to give away every old thing
I have in the world. No wife of mine shall have it to say that she was
forced to mend my rags.”

“Wait till the time comes,” said Flora quietly. “You don’t know what may
happen yet. There are more disagreeable things in every-day life than
mending old clothes. Industry and perseverance may soon replace these
with new ones; but it is useless to throw away old friends until we are
sure of obtaining others as good.”

Flora had often thought of this scene, and in her overflowing happiness
had blessed God that she had been permitted to share Lyndsay’s poverty.
Mending the old clothes had become a privilege.

Thirty pounds was all that she could now afford to lay out upon herself
and her little one. A small sum, indeed, to the rich, who would have
expended as much in a single article of dress, but very large in her
estimation, whose wants had always been regulated more by the wants of
others than her own.

Ignorant of the nature of the colony to which she was about to emigrate,
and of the manners and customs of the people among whom she was to find
a new home, and of whom she had formed the most laughable and erroneous
notions, many of her purchases were not only useless, but ridiculous.
Things were overlooked, which would have been of the greatest service;
while others could have been procured in the colony for less than the
expense of transportation.

Twenty years ago, the idea of anything decent being required in a
barbarous desert, such as the woods of Canada, was repudiated as
nonsense.

This reminds one of a gentleman who sent his son, a wild, extravagant,
young fellow, with whom he could do nothing at home, to grow tame, and
settle down into a quiet farmer in the Backwoods. The experiment proved,
as it always does in such cases, a perfect failure. All parental
restraint being removed, the young man ran wild altogether, and used his
freedom as fresh occasion for licentiousness. The prudent father then
wrote out to the gentleman to whose care the son had been consigned,
that he had better buy him a wild farm, and a _negro and his wife_ to
keep house for him.

This, too, after the passing of the Anti-Slavery bill! But, even if
slaves had been allowed in the colony, the horror of _colour_ is as
great among the native-born Canadians as it is in the United States. So
much did this otherwise clever man know of the colony to which he sent
his unmanageable son!

Flora had been led to imagine that settlers in the Backwoods lived
twenty or thirty miles apart, and subsisted upon game and the wild
fruits of the country until their own lands were brought into a state of
cultivation. Common sense and reflection would have pointed this out as
impossible; but common sense is very rare, and the majority of persons
seldom take the trouble to think. We have known many persons just as
wise as Flora in this respect. It is a fact, however, that Flora
believed these reports, and fancied that her lot would be cast in one of
those remote settlements, where no sounds of human life were to meet her
ears, and the ringing of her husband’s axe alone awake the echoes of the
forest.

She had yet to learn, that the proximity of fellow-labourers in the
great work of clearing is indispensable; that man cannot work alone in
the wilderness, where his best efforts require the aid of his
fellow-men.

The oft-repeated assertion, that _anything would do for Canada_, was
the cause of more blunders in the choice of an outfit, than the most
exaggerated statements in its praise.

Of the fine towns and villages, and the well-dressed population of the
improved districts of the Upper Province, she had not formed the
slightest conception. To her fancy, it was a vast region of cheerless
forests, inhabited by unreclaimed savages, or rude settlers doomed to
perpetual toil,—a climate of stern vicissitudes, alternating between
intense heat and freezing cold, and which presented at all seasons a
gloomy picture. No land of Goshen, no paradise of fruits and flowers,
rose in the distance to console her for the sacrifice she was about to
make. The ideal was far worse than the reality.

Guided by these false impressions, she made choice of articles of dress
too good for domestic drudgery, and not fine enough to suit the rank to
which she belonged. In this case, extremes would have suited her better
than a middle course.

Though fine clothes in the Backwoods may be regarded as useless lumber,
and warm stuffs for winter, and good washing calicoes for summer, are
more to be prized than silks and satins, which a few days’ exposure to
the rough flooring of a log-cabin would effectually destroy; yet it is
absolutely necessary to be well dressed when visiting the large towns,
where the wealthier classes not only dress well, but expensively.

In a country destitute of an hereditary aristocracy, and where the
poorest emigrant, by industry and prudence, may rise to wealth and
political importance, the appearance which individuals make, and the
style in which they live, determine their claims to superiority with the
public, chiefly composed of the same elements with themselves. The
aristocracy of England may be divided into three distinct classes,—that
of family, of wealth, and of talent,—all powerful in their order. The
one which ranks the last should hold its place with the first, for it
originally produced it; and the second, which is far inferior to the
last, is likewise able to buy the first. The heads of old families are
more tolerant to the great men of genius than they are to the
accumulators of riches; and a wide distinction is made by them between
the purse-proud millionaire and the poor man of genius, whose refined
tastes and feelings are more in unison with their own.

In Canada, the man of wealth has it all his own way; his dollars are
irresistible, and the money makes the man. Fine clothes are there
supposed to express the wealth of the possessor; and a lady’s gown
determines her right to the title, which, after all, presents the lowest
claims to gentility. A runaway thief may wear a fashionably cut coat,
and a well-paid domestic flaunt in silks and satins.

Now, Flora knew nothing of all this; and she committed a great error in
choosing neat and respectable every-day clothing. The handsome, and the
very ordinary, would have answered her purpose much better.

If “necessity is the mother of invention,” experience is the handmaid of
wisdom, and her garments fit well. Flora was as yet a novice to the
world and its ways. She had much to learn from a stern and faithful
preceptress, in a cold, calculating school.



CHAPTER VII.

HOW MISS WILHELMINA CARR AND FLORA BECAME ACQUAINTED.


Among the many persons who called upon Flora to talk over her projected
emigration was a Miss Wilhelmina Carr—a being so odd, so wayward, so
unlike the common run of mortals, that we must endeavour to give a
slight sketch of her to our readers. We do not possess sufficient
artistic skill to do Miss Wilhelmina justice; for if she had not
actually lived and walked the earth, and if we had not seen her with our
own eyes, and heard her with our own ears, we should have considered her
a very improbable, if not an impossible, variety of the human species
feminine. We have met with many absurd people in our journey through
life, but a more eccentric individual never before nor since has come
under our immediate observation.

Flora’s means were far too limited for her to entertain company. Her
visitors were confined entirely to her own family, and a few old and
chosen friends, with whom she had been intimate from childhood. How,
then, did she become acquainted with this lady? Oddly enough; for
everything connected with Miss Carr was odd, and out of the common way.

There was a mystery, too, about Miss Carr, which had kept the gossips
busy for the last four months, and clever and prying as they were—quite
models in their way—not one of them had been able to come at the
solution of the riddle.

One hot day during the preceding summer, Miss Wilhelmina walked into the
town, wearing a man’s broad-brimmed straw hat, and carrying a cane in
her hand, with a very small dog trotting at her heels. She inquired at
the first hotel in the town for lodgings, and hired two very handsome
apartments of Mrs. Turner, who kept very respectable lodgings, and was
patronised by the best families in the neighbourhood. Miss Wilhelmina
paid three months’ rent in advance; she brought no servant, and was to
find her own table, engaging Mrs. Turner to cook and wait upon her.

Some days after her arrival, two large travelling trunks, and several
well-filled hampers full of wine of the best quality, were forwarded to
her direction, and Miss Carr became one of the lions of the little
watering-place.

Who she was, or from what quarter of the world she emanated, nobody
could find out. She had evidently plenty of money at her command, lived
as she liked and did what she pleased, and seemed perfectly indifferent
as to what others thought of her.

Her eccentric appearance attracted general attention, for she was no
recluse, and spent most of her time in the open air. If your walk lay
along the beach, the common, or the dusty high-road, you were sure to
meet Miss Carr and her dog at every turn.

The excitement regarding her was so great, that most of the ladies
called upon her in the hope of gratifying their curiosity, and learning
something about her from her own lips. In this they were quite
disappointed, for Miss Wilhelmina Carr, though she was sitting at the
window nursing her dog, did not choose to be at home to any one, and
never had the courtesy to return these ceremonious visits. An old
practised propagator of news waylaid Mrs. Turner in the street, and
cross-questioned her in the most dexterous manner concerning her
mysterious lodger; but the good woman was either seized with a fit of
unusual prudence, or, like Horace Smith’s mummy—

    “Was sworn to secrecy.”

There was no getting anything out of her beyond the astounding facts,
that Miss Carr smoked out of a long pipe, drank brandy-punch, and had
her table served with all the dainties of the season. “Besides all
this,” whispered the cautious Mrs. Turner, “she swears like a man.” This
last piece of information might be a scandal, the ladies hoped that it
was, but believed and talked about it as a shocking thing, if true, to
all their acquaintance, and congratulated themselves that the dreadful
woman had shown her wisdom in not returning the visits of respectable
people.

The person about whom all this fuss was made, was a tall, and very stout
woman of fifty years of age; but active and energetic looking for her
time of life. Her appearance was eccentric enough to afford ample scope
for all the odd sayings and doings in circulation respecting her. She
had a satirical, laughing, jolly red face, with very obtuse features;
and, in order to conceal hair of a decidedly carroty hue, she wore an
elaborately curled flaxen wig, which nearly covered her large forehead,
and hung over her eyes like the curly coat of a French poodle dog. This
was so carelessly adjusted, that the red and flaxen formed a curious
shading round her face, as their tendrils mingled and twined within each
other. Her countenance, even in youth, must have been coarse and vulgar;
in middle life, it was masculine and decidedly ugly, with no redeeming
feature, but the large good-natured mouth, well set with brilliantly
white teeth—strong, square, even teeth, that seem to express their
owner’s love of good cheer; and silently intimated, that they had no
light duty to perform, and were made expressly for eating.

Miss Carr, though she sported a man’s hat and carried a cane, dressed
expensively, her outer garments being made of the richest materials;
but she wore these so ridiculously short, that her petticoats barely
reached below the middle of her legs; leaving exposed to general
observation, the only beauty she possessed—a remarkably handsome and
neatly made foot and ankle.

Now, we don’t believe that Miss Carr cared a fig about her handsome legs
and feet. If they had belonged to the regular Mullingar breed, she would
have shown them as freely to all the world; simply, because she chose to
do so. She was a great pedestrian, to whom long petticoats would have
been uncomfortable and inconvenient.

If she was vain of anything, it was of her powers of locomotion. She had
made the tour of Europe on foot and alone, and still continued to walk
her ten or fourteen miles a day, let the weather be what it would. Hail,
rain, blow, or snow, it was all one to Miss Carr. “She was walking,” she
said, “to keep herself in practice, as she was contemplating another
long journey on foot.”

Ida Pfeiffer, the celebrated female traveller, was unknown in those
days; or Miss Carr might have taken the shine out of that adventurous
lady; as easily as the said Ida destroys all the romantic notions
previously entertained by stay-at-home travellers, about the lands she
visits, and the people who form the subjects of her entertaining
matter-of-fact books.

When Miss Carr made her _debût_ at church, with her masculine hat placed
resolutely on the top of her head, and cane in hand, people could not
say their prayers, or attend to the sermon, for staring and wondering at
the uncouth apparition which had so unceremoniously appeared in the
midst of them. This was not diminished, by her choosing to stand during
those portions of the service, when pious females bend the knee. Miss
Wilhelmina said, “that she was too big to kneel—that her prayers were
just as good in one attitude as another. The soul had no legs or knees,
that she could discover—and if the prayers did not come from the heart,
they were of no use to her, or to any one else. She had not much faith
in prayers of any kind. She never could find out that they had done her
the least good, and if she had to go through a useless ceremony, she
would do it in the most convenient manner.”

Flora had heard so much about this strange woman, that she had not
called upon her on her first arrival in the town, though it must be
confessed, that her curiosity was as much excited as her neighbours’. In
her walks to and fro from her mother’s house, who resided within a short
distance of the town, Flora had often encountered the sturdy pedestrian
stumping along at full speed, and she had laughed heartily with her
husband at her odd appearance; at her short petticoats, and the resolute
manner in which she swung her cane, and planted it down upon the ground.
She had often wondered how such an elephant of a woman could move so
rapidly upon such small feet, which looked as if she had lost her own,
and borrowed a pair of some child by the way.

She was always followed in all her rambles by a diminutive nondescript
kind of dog—a tiny, long-haired, silky looking creature, the colour of
coffee freshly ground, no bigger than a large squirrel, with brilliant
black eyes, bushy tail, and a pert little face, which greatly resembled
that animal.

Often, when moving at full speed along the dusty highway, its mistress
would suddenly stop, vociferating at the top of her voice—“Muff! Muff!
where are you, my incomparable Muff?” when the queer pet would bound up
her dress like a cat, and settle itself down upon her arm, poking its
black nose into her hand, or rearing up on its hind legs, to lick her
face. They were an odd pair, so unlike, so widely disproportioned in
size and motion, that Flora delighted in watching all their movements,
and in drawing contrasts between the big woman and her small four-footed
companion.

By some strange freak of fancy, Lyndsay and his wife had attracted the
attention of Miss Carr, who never passed them in her long rambles
without bestowing upon them a gracious bow and a smile, which displayed,
at one gesture, all her glittering store of large, white teeth.

“I do believe, John, the strange woman means to pick acquaintance with
us,” said Flora to her husband, one fine afternoon during the previous
summer, as they were on their way to spend the evening with her mother
at —— Hall. “Instead of passing us at her usual brisk trot, she has
loitered at our pace for the last half-hour, smiling at us, and showing
her white teeth, as if she were contemplating the possibility of an
introduction. I wish she would break the ice; for I am dying with
curiosity to know something about her.”

“You are very foolish,” said Lyndsay, who was not one of Miss Carr’s
admirers, “to trouble your head about her. These eccentric people are
often great bores; and, if you get acquainted with them, it is not easy
to shake them off. She may be a very _improper_ character. I hate
mystery in any shape.”

“Oh, bless you!” said Flora, laughing: “she is too old and ugly for
scandal of that sort. I should think, from her appearance, that she
never had had a sweetheart in her life.”

“There’s no telling,” returned Lyndsay. “She may be lively and witty.
Odd people possess an attraction in themselves. We are so much amused
with them, that they fascinate us before we are aware. She has a good
figure for her very voluminous proportions, and splendid trotters, which
always possess charms for some men.”

“Now, don’t be censorious, husband dear. If she should speak to us—what
then?”

“Answer her civilly, of course.”

“And if she should take it into her head to call upon us?”

“Return it, and let the acquaintance drop.”

Flora’s love of the ridiculous was her besetting sin. She continued to
watch the movements of Miss Carr with mischievous interest, and was as
anxious for an interview as Lyndsay was that she should keep her
distance. Flora pressed her hand tightly on her husband’s arm, scarcely
able to keep her delight in due bounds, while she whispered, in a
triumphant aside, “John, I was right. She is shaping her course to our
side of the road. She means to speak to us,—and now for it!”

Lyndsay looked annoyed. Flora with difficulty repressed her inclination
to laugh out, as Miss Carr came alongside, and verified Mrs. Lyndsay’s
prediction, by commencing the conversation in a loud-toned, but rather
musical voice,

“A bright afternoon for your walk.”

“Beautiful for the time of year,” said Flora.

“Rather hot for stout people like me. You seem to enjoy it amazingly.”

“I am fond of walking. I do not find the heat oppressive.”

“Ah, yes; you are thin. Have not much bulk to carry; one of Pharaoh’s
lean kine. It requires a warm day to make your blood circulate freely. I
like winter and spring best for long rambles.”

“I should think you would prefer riding,” said Lyndsay; “yet I see you
out every day on foot.”

“I never ride: I hate and detest riding. I never could be dependent upon
the motions of an animal. Horses are my aversion; jackasses I despise.
God, when He gave us legs of our own, doubtless intended us to make use
of them. I have used mine ever since I was a baby, and they are not worn
out yet. I got upon my feet sooner than most children, and have kept
them to their duty ever since. I am a great walker; I have been walking
all my life. Do you know that I have walked over Europe alone, and on
foot?”

“So I have heard,” said Lyndsay. “It must have been an arduous
undertaking for a lady.”

“Far easier than you imagine. Women are just as able to shift for
themselves as men, if they would follow my example, and make the trial.
I have scarcely sat still for the last twenty years. There is not a
remarkable spot in Europe that I have not visited, or mountain but what
I have climbed, or cavern that I have left unexplored. Three years ago I
commenced a pedestrian tour through Great Britain, which I accomplished
greatly to my own satisfaction. When I take a fancy to a place, I stay
in it until I have explored all the walks in the neighbourhood. Directly
I grow tired, I am off. ’Tis a happy, independent sort of life I lead.
Confinement would soon kill me.”

“Your friends must feel very anxious about you,” said Flora, “during
your absence.”

“Friends! Fiddlesticks! Who told you I had any friends who care a fig
for me or my movements? I am gloriously independent, and mean to remain
so. There is but one person in the world who is related to me in the
most remote degree, or who dares to trouble their head about me or my
doings, and he is only a half brother. He has opposed himself against my
freedom of thought and action; but I don’t care that”—(snapping her
fingers vigorously)—“for him or his opinions. He has made war upon my
roaming propensities all his life. As if a woman has not as much right
to see the world as a man, if she can pay her own expenses, and bear her
own burthen, without being a trouble to any one. It is certainly no
business of his how I spend my money, or where and how I pass my life.
Not long ago I heard that he was going to issue a writ of lunacy against
me, in order to get me and my property into his possession. This is
mean; for he very well knows that I am not mad; and he is very rich, so
that there is no excuse for his avarice. Fortunately, he don’t know me
personally—never saw me since I was a child—and as I never go by my real
name, it is not a very easy matter for him to discover me. I don’t like
this place, but it is quiet and out of the way. I think I shall remain
where I am, till he gets tired of hunting me out. I trust to your
honour, young people; you must not betray my secret.”

Both promised to say nothing about what she had so frankly communicated.

“I take you at your word,” continued Miss Carr; “I like your appearance,
and would willingly improve my acquaintance. I often watched you from my
windows; and yesterday I asked Mrs. Turner who you were. Her account was
so much in your favour, that I determined to introduce myself the first
time we accidentally encountered each other. I know your names and where
you live. May I come and occasionally enjoy an hour’s chat?”

“We shall only be too happy,” said Flora, in spite of a warning pinch
from Lyndsay, which said, as plainly as words could have done, “She’s
mad; as mad as a March hare.” But Flora would not understand the hint.
She felt flattered by the confidence so unexpectedly reposed in them by
the odd creature; and vanity is a great enemy to common sense.

“Mind,” said Miss Wilhelmina, turning abruptly to Lyndsay, “I don’t want
to see you at my house. I’m a single woman, and, though not very young,
I’m very particular about my character. I never allow a male creature to
enter my doors. I’m not fond of men—I have no reason to be fond of them.
They never were commonly civil to me; and I hate them generally and
individually. When I come to see your wife of course I don’t expect you
to hide out of the way, or peep at me through crannies, as if I were a
wild beast. I shall call to-morrow morning, and so, good day.

“Muff! Muff!—My incomparable! my perfect!—What are you doing? Frisking
beside that ugly black cur! He’s no companion for a dog of your breeding
and degree. Away, you vulgar-looking brute.” And running across the
road, she seized hold of a pedlar’s dog, who was having a great game of
romps with her favourite, and gave it a most unjust and unmerciful
belabouring with her cane.

The pedlar, who was by no means pleased with this outrage against his
cur, now interfered.

“Don’t lick my dorrg, ma’am, in that ere sort o’ fashun. What harm can
that hanimal ha’ done to you, or that whiskered cat-like thing o’
yourn?”

“Hold your impertinent tongue, fellow! or I’ll thrash you, too,” cried
Miss Wilhelmina, flourishing aloft her cane.

The man eyed her sullenly. “Maybe, you’d beest not try. If you warn’t a
’uman I’d give it to ’un.”

“A lady, sir,” with great dignity, and drawing herself up to her full
height.

“Ladies don’t act in that ere way. You be but a ’uman, and a mad yun,
too; that be what you be’s.”

The next moment Lyndsay expected the cane to descend upon the pedlar’s
head, and was ready to rush to the rescue of the fair Wilhelmina. But
no; the lady dropped her cane, burst into a loud fit of laughter,
stooped down, patted the offended cur, and, slipping a shilling into the
hand of the angry countryman, snatched Muff to her capacious bosom, and
walked off at full trot.

The pedlar, looking after her for a minute, with his eyes and mouth wide
open in blank astonishment, and then down at the silver glittering in
his hand, cried out,—

“I knows you bees a lady now. If you delights in licking o’ do’rrgs,
ma’am, you ma’ thrash Bull as much as you please for sixpence a licking.
That’s fair, I thinks.”

He might as well have shouted to the winds; Miss Wilhelmina was out of
hearing, and Flora and her husband pursued their walk to the hall.



CHAPTER VIII.

MISS WILHELMINA CALLS UPON FLORA.


The breakfast things were scarcely removed the following morning, when
Miss Carr walked into the room, where Flora was employed at her
work-table, in manufacturing some small articles of dress.

“Your husband is afraid of me, Mrs. Lyndsay: he started off the moment
he saw me coming up to the door. I don’t want to banish him from his own
house.”

“Oh, not at all. He has business in town, Miss Carr. You have favoured
me with a very early visit.”

“Too early? Just speak the truth plainly out. Why the deuce do people
tell so many stories, when it would be far easier to speak the truth? I
assure you, that you look so neat and comfortable in your morning
costume, that you have no reason to be ashamed. I like to come upon
people unawares,—to see them as they really are. You are welcome to come
and see me in my night-cap, when the spirit moves me. When I’m not out
walking, I’m always at home. Busy at work, too?” she continued, putting
a tiny cap upon her fist. “That looks droll, and tells tales.”

“Oh, don’t!—do spare me,” cried Flora, snatching the article from her
odd companion, and hiding it away in the table-drawer. “I did not mean
that any one should catch me at this work.”

“Don’t think, my dear, that I am going to criticise you. I am no judge
of sewing,—never set a stitch in my life. It must be a dull way of
spending time. Can’t you put your needle-work out?”

Flora shook her head.

“Too poor for that? Mrs. Turner’s daughter takes in all such gimcracks.
Send what you’ve got over to her, and I’ll pay for the making.”

“Miss Carr!” said Flora, greatly distressed.

“What, angry again?”

“No, not exactly angry; but you wound my pride.”

“It would do you no harm to kill it outright,” said Miss Carr,
laughing—such a loud, jovial peal of merriment, which rang so clearly
from her healthy lungs, that Flora, in spite of her offended dignity,
was forced to laugh too.

“You feel better now. I hope the proud fit is going off, and we can
enjoy a reasonable chat. These clothes—what a bore they are, to both
poor and rich,—the rich setting their heart too much upon them, and the
poor despised because they have not enough to keep them warm,—and those
mean and old. Then, this is not all. There are the perpetual changes of
the fashions, which oblige people to put on what does not suit them, and
to make monstrous frights of themselves to dress in the mode. You must
have a morning-gown, a dinner-dress, and an evening costume; all to be
shifted and changed in the same day, consuming a deal of time, which
might be enjoyed in wholesome exercise. I have no patience with such
folly. The animals, let me tell you, are a great deal better off than
their masters. Nature has provided them with a coat which never wants
changing but once a-year; and that is done so gradually, that they
experience no inconvenience. No need of their consulting the fashions,
or patching and stitching to keep up a decent appearance. It is a
thousand pities that clothes were ever invented. People would have been
much healthier, and looked much better without them.”

“My dear madam, did not God himself instruct our first parents to make
garments of the skins of animals?”

“They were not necessary in a state of innocence, or He would have
created them like cows and horses, with clothes upon their backs,” said
Wilhelmina, sharply. “It was their own fault that they ever required
such trumpery, entailing upon their posterity a curse as bad as the
thorns and thistles. For I always consider it as such, when sweltering
under the weight of gowns and petticoats on a hot day; and I rate
Mother Eve roundly, and in no measured terms, for her folly in losing
the glorious privilege of walking in buff.”

“You must have been thinking of that,” said Flora, rather mischievously,
and glancing down at Miss Wilhelmina’s legs, “when you cut your
petticoats so short.”

“You are welcome to laugh at any short petticoats,” said Wilhelmina, “as
long as I feel the comfort of wearing them. Now do tell me,
candidly,—what impropriety is there in a woman showing her leg and foot,
more than in another woman showing her hand and arm? The evil lies in
your own thoughts. You see the Bavarian buy-a-broom girls passing before
your windows every day, with petticoats cut three or four inches shorter
than mine. You perceive no harm in that. ‘It is the fashion of her
country,’ you cry. Custom banishes from our minds the idea of
impropriety; and the naked savage of the woods is as modest as the
closely covered civilian. Now, why am I compelled to wear long
petticoats drabbling in the mud, when a Bavarian may wear hers up to the
knees, and nobody think the worse of her? I am as much a free agent as
she is; have as much right to wear what I please. I like short
petticoats—I can walk better in them—they neither take up the dust or
the mud, and leave my motions free and untrammelled—and what’s more, I
mean to wear them.

“I have tried trowsers; but they fettered me. It is difficult to stow a
large figure like mine away into trowsers. I felt as if my legs were in
the stocks, and kicked them off in disdain—simply remarking—‘what fools
men are!’ So, you don’t like my short petticoats? and I hate your long
ones. First, because they are slatternly and inconvenient; secondly,
because they make your stockings dirty; and thirdly, because they give
you the idea that they are intended to conceal crooked legs. So don’t
say one word in their favour.”

“It is but a matter of taste and opinion,” said Flora; “we will not
quarrel about it. I think it wiser, however, in order to avoid
singularity, to conform to existing fashions.”

“Mrs. Lyndsay, I can prove to you in less than two minutes, that you
transgress daily your own rules.” Flora looked incredulous.

“You do not wear a _bustle_, which is now considered by all ladies an
indispensable article of dress.”

“You are right: it is a disgusting fashion, which destroys the grace and
just proportions of the female form. A monstrous piece of absurdity,
that I have never adopted, and never will.”[A]

    [A] During twenty years Flora kept her word.

“Bravo! Bravo!” shouted Miss Wilhelmina, clapping her hands in an
ecstasy of delight. “I have conquered you with your own weapons. There
is no slipping past the horns of that dilemma. You refuse to wear a
hump on your back, and I decline the honour of the long petticoats. Let
us hear how you can justify yourself?”

“You have gained an advantage by my own admission,” said Flora; “but I
can’t consider myself beat.”

“Fairly out of the field, my dear—fairly out of the field. Acknowledge
the defeat with a good grace. Let us shake hands, and drink a glass of
wine together in token of peace.”

“I never keep wine in the house,” said Flora, rather embarrassed, at the
request, particularly at such an early hour of the day.

“Never keep wine in your house! Why, how do you contrive to keep up your
spirits, without a glass of wine now and then?”

“We are young, and require no artificial stimulants, to render us
cheerful and happy.”

“Well, I require stimulants,” said Miss Wilhelmina, “with the violent
exercise I take. I do not object to a glass of brandy-and-water, or even
of gin, when I feel exhausted.”

“If you feel ill, Miss Carr, I will send out and get some.”

“Ill! Lord bless you! I never was ill for an hour in my life. So, you
cannot afford a little luxury like wine? My child, I pity you: I am sure
you require it. I wish you were better off.”

“I shall never quarrel with Providence, from whom we have received so
many blessings, on that account,” said Flora; “I am very grateful for
the real comforts we enjoy.”

“Poor comfort!” quoth Miss Wilhelmina. “My ideas of comfort are always
associated with wealth. I maintain, that no one can really be
comfortable without it. What should I be, without money? An antiquated,
despised old maid—and with all my expensive habits, and queer notions,
the very boys in the village would hold me in derision. For even boys
know the importance of money, and let me pass unmolested through the
midst of them.”

“I perceive that you are very popular with the young folks,” said Flora.

“All bribery and corruption, my dear. Boys are but men abridged and
cramped down into skeleton jackets. When I come to a town, I throw a
handful of small silver coin into the middle of the first group of boys
I find in my path. The next time they see me coming they cry out
lustily, ‘Off with your hats, boys: here comes the rich lady!’ Off go
the tattered hats and caps, and my small coin pays for the compliment.”

“Your plan is an expensive one,” said Flora; “no wonder the boys regard
you with such favour.”

“I never found money fail but in one instance,” said Miss Wilhelmina
thoughtfully. “Mind, it is not to every one that I would communicate my
experience. People like to talk of themselves—to tell portions of their
history; it relieves their minds. There are very few to whom I have ever
told mine; but I think it will amuse you. The follies of others are
always entertaining.

“My father was Scotch—my mother Irish. The two nations don’t amalgamate
very well together. The children of such an union are apt to inherit the
peculiar national failings of both. My father united to a love of
science a great deal of mechanical genius. He was a clever, prudent,
enterprising man, and amassed a large fortune. My mother I never
knew—she died when I was an infant. My father hired a good-natured, easy
kind of woman, to be nurse. She was a widow, without children, whom he
afterwards promoted to the head of his table. She was his third wife. He
had one son by his first marriage, who had been born in Scotland, and
adopted by a rich uncle. He afterwards got an appointment in India; and
I never saw him above half-a-dozen times in my life—and only when a
child. He was a handsome, proud man, very Scotch in all his words and
ways. We never took to one another. He thought me a spoilt,
disagreeable, pert child; and I considered him a cross, stern man; and
never could be induced to call him brother.

“I inherited a good property from my mother, which made me a very
independent little lady, in my own conceit. I knew, that the moment I
became of age, I was my own mistress. Perhaps it was this consciousness
of power which made me the queer being I am.

“My step-mother was very fond of me. She spoilt me shockingly—more than
most mothers indulge their brats. She always seemed to retain a sense of
the inferior position she had held. Not a common failing, by-the-by:
persons raised unexpectedly to wealth, from the lower class, generally
measure their presumption by their ignorance. She always treated me as a
superior. My father was very fond of her. These passive women are always
great favourites with men. They have no decided character of their own,
and become the mere echoes of superior minds. A vain man loves to see
his own reflection in one of these domestic magnifying glasses: it is so
gratifying to be the Alpha and Omega in his own house. His former wives
were both handsome, conceited women, who thought so much of themselves
that they could reflect no perfections but their own. In this respect I
resembled my mother—from a baby I thought fit to have a will and
opinions of my own.

“My step-mother always yielded to my masterly disposition when a child,
generally ending the brief contest with the remark, ‘What a pity Willie
was not a boy! What a fine spirited boy she would have made!’ When I
grew a tall girl, I became more independent still, and virtually was
mistress of the house. My father sent me to school. I learnt quickly
enough; but I was expelled from half a dozen for striking my teacher
whenever she dared to raise her hand to correct me. At length my
education was finished, and I returned home for good, as wild and as
fierce as an untamed colt.

“My step-mother had a nephew—a lad whom my father had befriended very
much. He had paid for his education, had bound him to an eminent
surgeon, and, when his term expired, had enabled him, from the same
source, to walk the hospitals and attend the necessary lectures. Henry
was attending the last course which was to fit him for entering upon his
profession; and during that period he made our house his home.

“He was not handsome, but a well-grown, high-spirited, clever young
fellow. Not at all a sentimental person, but abounding in frolic and
fun, full of quaint, witty sayings, and the very incarnation of
mischief. We took amazingly to each other; and he enjoyed all my odd
freaks and fancies, and encouraged me in all my masculine propensities.

“I grew very fond of him: he was the only creature of his sex I ever
loved;—but I did love him, and I thought that he loved me. I considered
myself handsome and fascinating. All young people think so, if they are
ever so ordinary. It belongs to the vanity of the age, which believes
all things—hopes for all things, and entertains no fears for the
result.

“The girls at school had told me, that ‘I was a perfect fright;’ but I
did not believe them. They laughed at my snub nose and carrotty locks,
and said ‘that it would take all my money to buy me a husband.’

“Now, by way of digression, I’m a great talker, Mrs. Lyndsay, and love
to ramble from one subject to another. Do just tell me, why a _snub_
nose should be reckoned vulgar, and red hair disgraceful?”

This was an awkward question. It was, however, put point blank. Flora
could not avoid giving something in the shape of an answer.

“It is impossible to account for these things,” she said. “Any deviation
from a recognised standard of taste and beauty is always open to
objections. But there are a great many modifications of these rules.
Elegance of form, grace of manner, charms of expression, and even
sweetness of voice, will render plain persons not only agreeable, but
highly so.”

“You reconcile me to my snub nose and red hair,” said the odd woman.
“But few people possess a nice sense of discrimination; they are quick
at finding out defects, slow at discovering graces. The world is full of
unjust partialities. My snub nose would have been considered a beauty in
Africa. My red hair would have been admired in Italy; but there is no
struggling against national prejudices; and these bull-headed English
are the most prejudiced animals under the sun—and I was remorselessly
branded as a fright by a pack of sneering girls, half of whom had noses
as bad as my own. I had my private opinion on the subject, in which I
flattered myself my cousin (as I called Henry), would perfectly agree.

“He never told me he loved me. I felt certain that he did, and that it
was gratitude to my father, for all that he had done for him, which kept
him silent. This was a foolishly romantic notion of mine. But there was
a touch of romance about me in those days. I was green—very green. I can
laugh at myself now. But it has always been rather a sore subject.

“Henry did not speak himself. So I thought I would break the ice, and
speak for him. You look surprised. Well, I know it is not exactly
according to the general rules observed in such matters, which ties a
woman’s tongue, and obliges her to wait with all humility, until she is
asked by some man, whom perhaps she does not care a fig for, to be his
wife. I never lived within rules, and I thought I had as much right to
please myself, and ask a man to marry me, as a man had to ask me to be
his wife.

“I made Henry an offer of my hand, heart, and fortune—and—it is no use
being ashamed at my time of life, of a thing which happened such a long
time ago—I was _refused_!—without any softening of the matter—down
right, positively refused.

“The ungrateful varlet did not even thank me for the honour. He briefly
told me, ‘That I was a very amusing girl, but the last woman on earth he
should wish to make his wife; that as to money, it was certainly a great
inducement, but not enough to compensate for the sacrifice of his
principles. He had a good profession, and hoped to earn by it wealth and
independence.’

“Ah! how I hated him while he told me all this. How I have hated all his
sex from that hour, for his sake!

“However, my dear, it had this good effect,—it cured me of all such
ridiculous weakness then and for ever. I shook off the love fit, and
Wilhelmina was herself again.

“My step-mother died shortly after this, and I became the mistress of my
father’s house. He was old and very infirm, and completely wrapped up in
his scientific studies. I only saw him occasionally, and then my
nonsense amused him. He pined after my step-mother; and very shortly
followed her to the grave. I had just attained my majority when he died,
and I came into a fine property, and found myself at my own disposal.

“Nobody cared for me, and I cared for nobody. I wished to take a peep at
the world, and determined to travel over as much of its surface as I
possibly could; and please myself as to the method I employed to effect
my object.

“I have been in a great many foreign countries, and seen a great many
strange people; and been an actor in many extraordinary scenes; and I
have come to the conclusion, that the world after all is not such a
terrible bad world to live in, and that the very worst of its
inhabitants are not entirely without some good.”

As she finished this sentence, the church clock proclaimed to the whole
town the hour of one. Miss Wilhelmina sprang from her chair, exclaiming,
“Holloa! that’s my dinner-hour. It will take me ten minutes to get home,
and the fish will be quite spoilt. Excuse me, Mrs. Lyndsay, and come and
take tea with me, like a good soul, to-morrow evening. I never take tea
later than six.”

Miss Wilhelmina vanished. Flora laughed over the interview until her
husband came home, and then they had a good laugh together.



CHAPTER IX.

FLORA GOES TO TEA WITH MISS CARR.


The following evening, at the primitive hour of half-past five, Flora
took her work, and went across the green to take tea with Miss Carr.

She found that eccentric lady seated by the window, looking out for her,
and Muff standing on her shoulder, catching flies off the panes of
glass. The evening was cold and raw, though the month was August, and
threatened rain. Such changes are common on the coast. The dreary aspect
of things without was relieved by a small but very cheerful fire, which
was burning away merrily in the grate. A large easy chair, covered with
snow-white dimity, was placed near it, expressly for Flora’s
accommodation, into which she was duly inducted by Miss Carr, the moment
she had relieved herself of her bonnet and shawl. Everything looked so
comfortable and cosy, in the neat lodging-house, and the tame mad woman
received Mrs. Lyndsay with such hospitable warmth of manner, that the
former regretted that her husband was not allowed to share her visit.

“You are late,” said Wilhelmina, drawing a small sofa up to the fire,
and placing it opposite to Flora’s easy chair, so that a pretty
work-table stood conveniently between them; “I told you to come early,
and I have been waiting for you this hour.”

“I am sorry for that. I thought I had come unfashionably early.”

“Fashion! What have you or I to do with anything so absurd as fashion?
You are too poor to attend to the whims and caprices which sway the mind
of the multitude, from which I presume emanate the fashions of the
world; and I am too independent to be swayed by any will but my own. We
will therefore set the fashion for ourselves. This is liberty hall while
I am mistress of it. I do as I please; I give you full permission to do
the same. But what kept you so late?”

“A thousand little domestic duties, too numerous and too trifling to
dwell upon,” said Flora, drawing her work from her bag; “since you give
me the privilege of doing as I please, I will resume my work, while I
listen to your lively conversation.”

“You will do no such thing,” returned Wilhelmina, twitching a frill
which Flora had commenced hemming, from her hand, “I will have no
stitching and sewing here, but as much conversation as you please.” Then
ringing the bell, she handed over the frill to Mrs. Turner, “Give that
to your daughter, Mrs. T., to hem for me, and tell her to do it in her
very best style.”

“Why, la, ma’am, ’tis a very small affair,” said Mrs. Turner, with a
meaning smile.

“A nightcap frill for Muff,” said Miss Carr. “The cold weather is
coming. I mean Muff to wear caps in the winter.”

“You are a droll lady,” said Mrs. Turner retreating; “it’s a pity you
had not something better to make an idol of, than a dog.”

While Miss Carr was speaking to Mrs. Turner, Flora glanced round the
room, and was not a little surprised to find a pianoforte making part of
the furniture, an open drawing-box, of a very expensive kind, with
card-board and other drawing materials, occupied a side-table. These
were articles of refinement she had not expected from a man-like woman
of Miss Carr’s character.

“Are you fond of drawing?” she asked, when they were once more alone.

“Passionately, my dear: I am a self-taught genius. Other people drew,
and I was determined that I would draw too. What should hinder me? I
have eyes to see, and hands to copy what pleases me; and the school from
which I derive instruction is the best in the world, and furnishes the
most perfect models—that of Nature. I never bent my mind to anything
that I wished to accomplish, and failed. But you shall judge for
yourself.”

Miss Wilhelmina sprang from her seat, and bouncing into a closet, soon
returned with a large portfolio, which she placed on the table before
Flora. “There are my treasures; you can examine them at your leisure.”

Flora did not expect anything delicate or beautiful, but she was
perfectly astonished, not at the skill and taste displayed in these
drawings, but at the extraordinary want of it—nothing could be worse, or
indeed so eccentrically bad. The first specimen of Miss Carr’s talents
as an artist which she drew from the splendid velvet-covered portfolio
puzzled her not a little. What the picture was meant for, Flora, for the
life of her, could not tell, until glancing down to the bottom of the
sheet, she read with great difficulty the following explanation, written
in a vile hand:—

“_Portrait of the Incomparable Muff, taken while picking her bone at
breakfast._”

It was a good thing she had discovered a key to the hieroglyphic, for
Miss Carr’s keen eyes were fixed intently upon her, as if they were
reading her inmost soul.

“Is it not beautiful?” she cried, anticipating Flora’s admiration.

“Muff is a very pretty animal,” said Flora evasively.

“Muff pretty!” exclaimed Miss Carr indignantly, “who ever thought of
insulting Muff by calling her _pretty_! She is exquisite—the perfection
of her species. I have, in that spirited picture, hit her off to the
life. Look at the action of that tail—the life-like grasp of those
paws. You might almost fancy you heard her growl over the delicious
broiled mutton-bone.”

Flora thought the picture would have suited the _Ornithorhyncus
paradoxus_ quite as well as the incomparable Muff. The drawing was too
bad to praise; she could not flatter, and she abhorred quizzing.

Miss Carr waited for her answer. Flora was dumb-foundered; fortunately
the offended vanity of the artist soon relieved her from the painful and
embarrassing silence.

“I perceive that you are no judge of good paintings, Mrs. Lyndsay, or
you must see some merit in the one before you. I showed that sketch to
an Italian artist of celebrity when I was at Rome; he said, ‘That it was
worthy of the original,’ which I considered no mean praise.”

“Doubtless, he was right,” said Flora. “His judgment must be more
correct than mine. Muff is so unlike the generality of dogs, that it is
difficult to recognise her as such.”

“She’s a fairy!” cried Wilhelmina, forgetting her anger, and hugging
Muff to her breast.

“A Brownie,” suggested Flora, delighted to find the conversation taking
a turn.

“Brownies belong to an inferior order of immortals,” quoth Wilhelmina,
still caressing her dog. “My Muff is among the aristocrats of her
species. But you have not seen the rest of my sketches. You will find a
great many original pieces in the portfolio.”

Flora wished them all behind the fire, and turning with a rueful
seriousness to the sacred repository of _genius_, she drew forth several
daubs that were meant for landscapes, the contemplation of which would
have provoked the most indifferent person to mirth; but it was no
laughing matter to examine them while a being so odd as Miss Carr was
regarding you with a fixed gaze, hungry for applause and admiration.

Flora thought she had discovered the maddest point in Miss Carr’s
character. At length she stumbled upon a portrait. The figure was meant
for that of a boy, but the head was as big as the head of a man, and
covered with a forest of red curling hair, and he held in his hand a
bunch of blue flowers as big as himself. “What an odd looking creature!”
burst involuntarily from her lips.

“Ah, my beautiful Adolphe!” cried Wilhelmina. “He was odd like myself—he
stood alone in the world in my estimation. I must tell you the history
of that child while you have his charming face before you.”

Flora quietly slipped the portrait back into the portfolio. Her
inclination to laugh became almost irrepressible. Miss Wilhelmina laid
her right foot over her left knee, and, patting it almost as
complacently as she would have done the silky brown back of her pet
dog, gave Mrs Lyndsay the following passage from her history:—

“That boy, with the education I meant to bestow upon him, would have
become a great man—a second William Tell, or Andrew Hoffer—and I should
have been the foster-mother of a man of genius. But it was not to
be—there is a fate in these things.”

“Did he die?” asked Flora.

“Die! that would have been nothing out of the common way; everybody must
die, some time or other. Oh, no, he may be living yet for what I know—it
was far worse than that.”

Flora became interested.

“First—I like to begin at the beginning—I must tell you how I came by
Adolphe. I passed the summer of ’28 in a small village among the Alps.
Every fine day I rambled among the mountains,—sometimes with a guide,
sometimes alone. About half a mile from the village I daily encountered,
upon the rocky road, a red-headed little boy of eight years of age, who
never failed to present me with a bunch of the blue flowers which grow
just below the regions of ice and snow. He presented his offering in
such a pretty, simple manner, that I never accepted his flowers without
giving him a kiss and a few small coins. We soon became great friends,
and he often accompanied me on my exploring expeditions. Whether it was
his red head—God bless the mark! or a likeness I fancied I saw between
him and me, I cannot tell; but at last I grew so fond of the child that
I determined to adopt him as my own. His father was one of the mountain
guides, and resided in a small cabin among the hills. I followed Adolphe
to his romantic home, and disclosed my wishes to his parents. They were
very poor people, with a very large family, Adolphe being number twelve
of the domestic group.

“For a long time they resisted all my entreaties to induce them to part
with the child. The woman, like the mother of the Gracchi, thought fit
to look upon her children as her jewels,—Adolphe, in particular, she
considered the gem in the maternal crown. Her opposition only increased
my desire to gain possession of the boy; indeed, I was so set upon
having him that, had she remained obstinate, I determined to carry him
off without asking her leave a second time. My gold, and the earnest
request of the child himself, at last overcame her scruples; and after
binding me by a solemn promise to let them see him at least once a-year,
she gave him into my charge with many tears.

“Having accomplished this business, greatly to my own satisfaction, I
set off with Adolphe, on a tour on foot through Germany. He was not only
a great comfort to me, but useful withal. He was sturdy and strong, a
real son of the hills, and he carried my small valise, and enlivened the
length of the road with his agreeable prattle.

“When we put up for the night, the people always took him for my son; a
fact I thought it useless to dispute in a foreign country. It would have
had a more significant meaning in England. A red-headed, single lady
could not have travelled alone, with a red-headed child, without
disagreeable insinuations. Abroad I always passed myself off as a widow,
and Adolphe of course was my orphan son.

“Matters went off very pleasantly, until we arrived at Vienna, and I
hired a neat lodging in a quiet part of the city, where I determined to
spend the winter. The next morning I went out, accompanied by Adolphe,
to examine the lions of the place. By accident we got entangled in a
crowd, which had collected in one of the principal thoroughfares, to
witness a fire. While striving to stem my way through the heaving mass
of human forms that hedged us in on every side, I suddenly missed my
child. To find him among such a multitude, was, indeed, to look for a
needle in a waggon of hay; yet I commenced the search in utter
desperation.

“I ran hither and thither, wherever I could find an opening, frantically
calling upon Adolphe. I asked every person whom I met—‘If they had seen
my boy?’ Some pitied—some laughed; but the greater number bade me stand
out of their way. I was mad with fear and excitement, and returned to my
lodgings late in the evening, starving with hunger, and worn out with
fatigue of mind and body. I hoped that the child might have found his
way home, and was waiting me there. Alas! Adolphe had not been seen, and
I went to bed too much vexed to eat my supper.

“Early the next morning I resumed my search. I hired the public cryer to
proclaim my loss; I borrowed a large bell from my landlady, and went
through all the streets crying him myself, hoping that he would
recognise my voice. Alas! alas! I never saw my child again!”

“Never?” said Flora. “Was he irrevocably lost?”

“Lost, lost, lost!” said Wilhelmina, shaking her head. “This comes of
adopting other people’s brats. Had he been a worthless, spoilt imp of my
own, I should have been more successful. I stayed in Vienna all the
winter. I advertised him in the papers. I had placards, offering a large
reward for his discovery, pasted on the walls of the principal streets;
but I failed in recovering my poor Adolphe. To console myself for his
loss, I painted that portrait of him from memory. ’Tis an admirable
likeness. No one who had ever seen the original, could mistake it for
another. It was just a week after I lost my child, that the mistress of
the house, in compassion for my distress, presented me with my
incomparable Muff. Fortune owed me a good turn, for the ill-natured
trick she had played me. It would not have been difficult for me to have
found another red-headed boy, as amiable as Adolphe; but such a prize as
Muff is only to be met with once in a life.”

“And the parents of the poor child,—how did they bear his loss?”

“To tell you the truth, my dear, I never knew. I never wish to know;
for, without Adolphe, I never mean to venture into their neighbourhood
again.”

“Let us hope,” said Flora, “that the child found his way back to his
native mountains.”

“Hurra!” cried Miss Wilhelmina, starting from her seat, and giving Flora
such a hearty embrace that she nearly choked her. “I never thought of
that possibility before. Yes—yes; he had money in his little purse. I
have no doubt that, on missing me, he returned by the road we had
travelled to his native place. That demon won’t haunt my dreams again.
But here comes the coffee, and Miss Turner’s delicious cakes and
home-made bread and butter. I hope you are fond of coffee, my dear? I
detest tea;—it is a sort of nervous, maudlin, sick-chamber trash, only
fit for old maids and milk-and-water matrons.”

“I prefer coffee,” said Flora. “I have quite an Asiatic taste in that
respect.”

“Don’t talk of Asiatic coffee,” said Wilhelmina: “wait till you have
tasted it. The nauseous stuff! I have drank enough of it at
Constantinople, but never could get it down without a grimace. I have it
made in the French style.”

The coffee and cakes were served on a small silver tray, which was
placed on the table between them. The coffee was fragrant and
exhilarating; the bread and butter and cakes richly deserved the praise
Miss Wilhelmina had bestowed upon them. Flora had dined early, and did
justice to them.

“I like to see a person enjoy their meals,” said Miss Carr. “I hate
affectation in eating, as much as I hate affectation in speech. Some
mince with their food as if they were ashamed of putting a morsel into
their mouths before people. They ask for the least piece of this, and
for an imaginary crumb of that; and make their entertainers
uncomfortable by their ridiculous fastidiousness; while, if we could see
these very delicate masticators in their own homes, perhaps we should
find them grumbling for Benjamin’s share of the daily meal. For my own
part, I always eat in public as if no eye was upon me, and do it in a
hearty, natural way. You may be sure, when you see persons, whether male
or female, give themselves great airs at table, that they have never
been used to good society at home.”

Flora thought there was a great deal of truth in some of Wilhelmina’s
remarks. But she felt that it would be dangerous to take the doings of
such an odd mortal for precedents in any case; and she was justified in
her opinion by Miss Carr, the moment the table was cleared, calling for
hot water, brandy, and wine.

“Do you smoke?” she cried, producing a box of cigars from the closet,
and a long Turkish pipe. Then, drawing down the window-curtains, she
tucked her legs under her upon the sofa, and commenced filling, from a
beautiful inlaid silver box, her hooker, with its finely-ornamented bowl
and amber mouthpiece.

Flora looked her astonishment, as she said,—

“Miss Carr, do you _really_ smoke?”

“Do I know what is good?” said Wilhelmina. “Did you never see a woman
smoke before?”

“Yes, Irish barrow-women in London; and I thought it odd, even for
them.”

“They were wise women, my dear, and knew how to appreciate the merits of
the weed. The Irish are a clever people—a very clever people. You
remember, that I am Irish by the mother’s side, and have retained one of
the national tastes. But it was not in Ireland, nor in the streets of
London, sitting upon a fruit-woman’s barrow, that I learned the
pleasures of smoking. It was in the East, with all its pretended
romance, and real humbug, that I acquired what you consider an
unfeminine accomplishment. I saw fat, turbaned men sitting cross-legged
in every bazaar, dozing over their huge pipes, in a sort of dreamy
helplessness; and I determined to fathom the mystery of their enjoyment,
and find out the grand secret.

“The first few whiffs I took made me very sick and stupid. ‘Courage,’
said I, not in the least disheartened—

    “‘Pleasure cometh after pain,
     Sunshine cometh after rain—
     Wilhelmina, try again.’

And I did try, for I was determined not to be beaten by these
long-bearded, long-petticoated men; and the next trial was crowned with
complete success.

“Now, Mrs. Lyndsay, is it not a shame that these selfish men should be
tamely allowed by us foolish women to monopolise all the good things of
life, and make that criminal in a female which they cannot deny
themselves? You don’t know how much you lose, by being frightened by
their blustering into passive obedience, and persuaded that what is good
for a man is quite out of keeping with a woman. Do, just by way of
illustration to my argument, try one of those fragrant cigars. They are
of the best quality—real Havana—’pon honour.”

“You must excuse me,” said Flora, laughing—as Miss Wilhelmina’s head
dimly loomed through clouds of smoke—“I have no wish to acquire such a
taste.”

“You’re a little fool,” puffed forth Wilhelmina. “But I hope to make
something out of you yet. Take a glass of wine.”

“I never drink anything but water, excepting at breakfast and tea.”

“Water! Fiddle-faddle. A tumbler of hot punch will do you no harm. I am
going to mix some in the most scientific manner.”

“Only think what Lyndsay would say,” cried Flora, “if he should come in,
and find me smoking a cigar, and drinking brandy punch? He would never
forgive me—I could never forgive myself.”

“All stuff and nonsense; I am certain he would neither refuse one of
these cigars, nor a tumbler of this excellent punch. Does he never
smoke?”

“Oh, yes; a cigar, sometimes.”

“And takes a glass of toddy—or he’s no Scot.”

“Occasionally, with a friend.”

“A male friend, _of course_. He takes snuff, for I have seen him do it;
and this, between ourselves, is a far dirtier habit than smoking. I hate
snuff; it always reminds me of a lecture I once heard upon that subject
in America. The lecturer was a methodist; and he spoke very vehemently
against the use of tobacco in any shape; but snuff-taking seemed to
rouse him up, and inflame his indignation to a pitch of enthusiasm. ‘If
the Almighty,’ he said, ‘had intended a man’s nose for a dust-hole, he
would have turned up the nostrils the other way.’ These were his very
words; and to me they were so convincing, that I discarded from that
moment all idea of becoming a snuff-taker.”

Wilhelmina emptied her tumbler of brandy and water, which she as quickly
replenished. These strong potations began to take effect—her eyes danced
in her head, and she became so strangely excited, that Flora wished
devoutly that she was safe at home. Presently her odd companion laid
aside her pipe, pushed from before her the now empty tumbler, and,
rising abruptly, exclaimed—

“I’ve had enough.”

Flora thought that she might have come to that conclusion half an hour
before.

“I’m not intoxicated,” she said: “I only drink enough to raise my
spirits, and drive away the blue devils. And now for a little music.”

She sat down to the piano.

“I play entirely from ear, Mrs. Lyndsay; I leave you to judge if I have
not an exquisite taste. Here is a march I composed this morning for
Captain Lyndsay’s black regiment—Hottentot of course. You say he plays
well himself. He cannot fail to admire it. I will write it out for him
to-morrow.”

Of all Miss Carr’s strange whims, the idea she entertained of her being
a great musician, was the most absurd. She rattled over the keys at a
tremendous rate, striking them with such force that she made the
instrument shake. It was a mad revel—a hurricane of sound, yet, not
without a certain degree of eccentric talent. In the midst of a
tremendous passage there came a knock at the door.

“That’s my husband,” said Flora, rising, glad to get away.

It was only the maid.

“You are no prophet,” said Miss Carr, rattling on; “you must stay till I
give you _Napoleon’s Passage of the Alps_. I wrote it on the spot. It is
a grand thing. I mean to publish it one of these days.”

Flora said, “that she should be happy to hear it some other time. It was
late. She was anxious to get home.”

“Be off with you then,” said Wilhelmina, laughing, “and don’t tell me
any white lies, or try and convince your good man, that I have been
endeavouring to corrupt your morals.”

Lyndsay was amused, but not much pleased, with the account his wife gave
him of her visit to Miss Carr.

“You must drop that woman’s acquaintance, if possible,” said he.
“Whether insane, or only eccentric, any particular intimacy with her
must be attended with unpleasant consequences.”

Flora was willing enough to follow his advice; but to get rid of Miss
Carr was sooner said than done. Flora did not go to that lady’s house,
but Wilhelmina chose to come to her; though she gave her neither pipes
to smoke, nor brandy to drink, her odd guest never failed to step in
once or twice a week.

“You are an ungrateful creature, Flora Lyndsay,” said Wilhelmina, one
day to her—“very ungrateful. You know I am fond of you; but you are such
a mental coward, that you are ashamed of my acquaintance, because the
world finds fault with me, for not living in accordance with its lying
customs. You are afraid lest people should sneer at you for tolerating
my eccentricities, as they please to term a person leading a true
life—or say, that Mrs. Lyndsay smokes, and drinks, and swears, because
Miss Carr does; and your sense of propriety is shocked at such an idea.
I do drink and smoke; but like Poll, in the sailor’s song, ‘_I seldom
swear._’ It gives me no pleasure; and I never do anything gratuitously
bad.”

Flora could not deny, that these were among the objections she had to an
intimacy with Miss Carr; but she wisely held her tongue upon the
subject.

“Ah, well,” said Wilhelmina, after waiting a reasonable time for an
answer, and getting none. “Your silence is very conclusive evidence of
the accusation I have brought against you. I give you credit for being
honest, at least. You are no sneak, though I am rich, and you are poor.
I verily believe, that you are prouder of your poverty, than I am of my
wealth. I know many persons who hate me, and would yet fawn to me before
my face, while they abused me like pickpockets behind my back. You are
not one of them, and I love you for that.”

Flora had a kindness for Wilhelmina. She believed her to be mad, and not
accountable for her actions, and she tried to persuade her to give over
her rambling propensities, and accept the protection of her brother’s
roof. This advice greatly displeased Miss Carr. Flora might as well have
striven to confine a hurricane within the bounds of a cambric
pocket-handkerchief, as to lay the least embargo upon that lady’s
freedom of speech or action.

“Mind your own business! Mrs. Lyndsay,” she said, angrily. “I suffer no
one to interfere with me, or my matters.”

For many months Wilhelmina never entered the house, though she walked
past the window every day, to give Flora a hint that she was still in
the land of the living.

In February Mrs. Lyndsay’s little girl was born; and for a very long
time she was too ill to stir abroad. Miss Carr sent Mrs. Turner every
day to inquire after her health; and testified her regard in a more
substantial form, by sending her two dozen of old Madeira wine, which
she said would strengthen and do her good. Flora was very grateful for
these little attentions, and felt ashamed of the repugnance she had
shown for Wilhelmina’s society. But they never met again, until Miss
Carr came to bid her farewell.

“You are going to Canada,” she said, shaking Flora heartily by the hand.
“You are wise. In that wild country you will enjoy the glorious
privilege of living as you please. I would go too, but I am afraid the
cold winters would not agree with Muff, and her comfort has to be
considered as well as my own. I spent a winter in New York; and I liked
the Americans first-rate. But as to pure democracy, my dear, that’s all
a humbug. No well-educated, wealthy persons, ever consider themselves
upon an equality with their servants. But they are pleasant, kind,
intelligent people to live with, if you have plenty of money, and dress
well. I know nothing of Canada; it was too insignificant to awaken
either interest or curiosity. I shall regard it with more complacency
for your sake.”

Flora took the opportunity of thanking Miss Carr for her kindness during
her illness.

“What a serious matter you make of a trifle!” said Wilhelmina, laughing.
“Don’t thank me. It was neither out of love nor charity I sent it, but
just to make you confess that wine was a good thing after all, and much
better to take than the doctor’s stuff.”

“The doctor had recommended wine, but we could not afford it. I never
told Lyndsay a word about it, for fear he should lay out the money we
wanted so much for our voyage, in such an expensive remedy. I am certain
that it did me a great deal of good.”

“Doubtless,” said Wilhelmina. “I am glad to have rendered you a service,
however trifling. You are a clear, prudent creature, but want spirit to
live as you please. I leave this hum-drum place to-morrow. Perhaps some
of these days we may meet again; if not, you may live to learn that you
slighted the friendship of one of the greatest geniuses that has arisen
in this age.”

Miss Carr left the town on foot, as suddenly as she had entered it. Who
or what she was remains a riddle to this day: we are almost inclined to
believe that she was a _myth_.



CHAPTER X.

OLD JARVIS AND HIS DOG NEPTUNE.


“Ma’am, old Jarvis is in the kitchen. He has brought some fish, and
wants to see you,” said Flora’s maid one morning, as her mistress had
just finished washing and dressing the baby.

“The poor old man! I thought he was dead,” said Flora. “I have not seen
him for such a long time!” and, with baby in her arms, she followed the
girl into the kitchen.

David Jarvis was a fisherman, well known upon that coast,—an active,
energetic son of the sea, though somewhat time-worn and weather-beaten.
The person of the old man had been familiar to Flora since she was a
little child; and many a stolen trip had she taken with her brothers in
his cockleshell of a boat, which, tough as its master, had stood the
wear and tear of the winds and waves for many years.

Since she came to reside at ——, she had often watched that little boat
dancing over the waves, carried onward by a stiff breeze,—now hiding in
the green valleys of the sea, now mounting aloft, like a feather
floating on the ridge of some toppling surge. The old man seemed to
bear a charmed life; for at all seasons, and in almost all weather, the
little wiry seaman, with his short pipe in his mouth, and his noble
Newfoundland dog, Neptune, in the bow of his boat, might be seen
coasting along the shore, following his adventurous calling.

That large, deep-chested, powerful dog, was the admiration of all the
children in the town. It was considered a privilege by the young fry to
pat Neptune’s buff head, and call him the “dear, good, old dog!” and
well did the fine animal deserve the title.

The good dog had, at different times, saved nine seamen from a watery
grave, as the collar he wore round his neck recording the fact could
testify.

Next to his two fine sons, Nep was the delight of the old man’s heart.
They were never seen apart. In storm or shine, Nep accompanied his
master in the boat; or, if fishing on the beach, he sat up on his
haunches, with a calm, sagacious air, watching the accumulating pile of
fish entrusted to his care. Sociable, affable, and gentle, he submitted
good-humouredly to the caresses of all the youngsters who passed that
way; but if any one dared to lay a finger upon the fish, the lion-like
nature of the animal was roused into instant action. His mild eye became
red and fiery, and his deep voice bade defiance to the incautious
intruder on his master’s rights, to protect which Nep was ready to lay
down his valuable life.

Jarvis and his dog enjoyed a great degree of popularity in an humble
way; and were decidedly among the lions of the place. Gentlemen had
offered large sums for the buff Newfoundland dog, which Jarvis had
rejected without a second thought; declaring, that he would as soon sell
a child for money, as his faithful Nep.

During the past year the old seaman had been severely tried. Misfortune
had followed upon misfortune; until the hardy veteran looked like the
spectre of his former self. His only daughter, a pretty girl of
eighteen, was engaged to marry the ostler at the Crown Inn, a
fine-looking young man, who had lately come from London. He saw Nancy
Jarvis, became enamoured of the fisherman’s daughter, told his tale of
love, and was accepted. The old man was rather averse to the match; for,
in his eyes, no man was worthy of his Nancy, who was not a genuine son
of the sea. Robert Green at last succeeded in overcoming his nautical
prejudices; and a day was fixed for the wedding. Nancy’s rosy, artless
face was all smiles and sunshine, as night after night she sauntered
past Flora’s windows, leaning upon the arm of her betrothed. Only two
days previous to the one appointed for the wedding, the father learned
from old captain P——, whose vessel had just returned from London, that
Robert Green had a wife and two children in the great city; that the
poor young woman, hearing that his vessel was from the Port of ——, had
come on board, to make some inquiries respecting her faithless husband;
and that she and her little ones were now on their way to join him.

This distressing intelligence was rashly communicated without any
previous warning, to Nancy Jarvis. The unfortunate girl, seized with a
sudden frenzy, rushed to the pier and flung herself into the sea, when
the tide was running out; and her distracted parents never succeeded in
recovering the body of the poor maniac. The worthless libertine, on
whose account this desperate act was committed, decamped in the night;
and so escaped the vengeance of the old fisherman and his sons.

Davy Jarvis, the old seaman’s youngest son, a fine lad of sixteen, was
drowned in the month of July, only a few weeks after the tragical death
of his sister. Flora and Lyndsay had been eye-witnesses of this fresh
calamity. Every fine afternoon the young Davy was in the habit of going
off with another boy, of his own age, in his father’s boat. When they
had rowed a couple of miles from the shore, they lay to, stripped, and
went into the water to swim, diving and sporting among the waves, like
two sea-gulls taking their pastime in the summer ocean.

Lyndsay had often watched them, and admired the dexterity with which
the younger Jarvis would tumble himself from the water into the boat,
which was left rocking upon the billows, and steady it for his comrade
to get in. They would then resume their garments, and row to the beach.

One afternoon they went off as usual. The day was bright and cloudless,
with a stiff breeze. Lyndsay was reading aloud to Flora, as she sat at
work at the open window which commanded a view of the whole bay.

“There’s Davy Jarvis and his comrade, putting off their boat, for a
swim. They must mind what they are about,” said Lyndsay; “the wind is
rather too blustering for their water frolic to-day.”

He put down his book, and continued to watch the lads with some
interest. The boys reached their accustomed track among the waves; and,
leaving their boat as usual, seemed to enjoy their sport with more zest
than ever. Whilst in the water, the breeze freshened, and it was with
great difficulty, and not without hard swimming, that the lads regained
their boat, which driven before the wind, seemed determined to reach the
shore without them. They succeeded at last, dressed themselves, and
stood in for the land. A long line of heavy surf was beating violently
against the beach, and by some mismanagement, the boat got capsized
among the breakers. One lad was thrown on shore, but Davy Jarvis got
entangled in the surf, which beat continually over him, and rendered
all the efforts of himself and his comrade fruitless; and the brave boy
was drowned before the sailors who hurried to his assistance could
rescue him from his perilous situation.

Flora had watched the scene with a degree of excitement so intense, that
it almost deprived her of breath. She could not believe that the lad
could perish within the reach of help, and so near the shore. The
shrieks of the mother, and the mute despair of the old fisherman, who
had been summoned to the spot, too clearly corroborated the report of
Lyndsay, that the lad was indeed dead.

After this fresh calamity old Jarvis appeared an altered man. His sinewy
frame became bent and attenuated, his step fell feebler, his hair was
bleached to snowy whiteness, and his homely, tanned features assumed an
expression of stern and patient endurance. It was evident to Flora that
his heart was breaking for the loss of his children.

Neptune seemed to understand it all—to comprehend in the fullest sense
his master’s loss and his present sufferings. He would walk slowly by
the fisherman’s side, and whenever he paused in his unsteady aimless
ramble along the beach, Nep would thrust his nose into his hard brown
hand, or, rearing on his hind legs, embrace him with his shaggy
fore-paws, fawning and whining to attract his notice, and divert him
from his melancholy.

Day after day, during the long bright summer of 1831, Flora had watched
the old man come to the spot on the beach where the dead body of his son
first touched the shore, and stand there for hours, looking out over the
broad sea, his eyes shaded from the rays of the sun by his bony red
hand, as if he expected the return of the lost one. During these fits of
abstraction Nep would stretch himself along the beach at the fisherman’s
feet, his head sunk between his fore-paws, as motionless as the statue
of a dog cut out of stone. The moment the old man dropped the raised
hand from his face, Nep would leap to his feet, look up wistfully into
his master’s eyes, and follow him home.

This touching scene had drawn tears from Flora more than once, and she
loved the good dog for his devoted attachment to the grief-stricken
desolate old man. When, however, the fishing season returned, Jarvis
roused himself from the indulgence of hopeless grief. The little
cockle-shell of a boat was once more launched upon the blue sea, and
Jarvis might daily be seen spreading its tiny white sheet to the breeze,
while the noble buff Newfoundland dog resumed his place in the bow.

Jarvis came regularly every day to the house to offer fish for sale—cod,
whitings, herrings, whatever fish chance had given to his net. Flora was
glad to observe something like cheerfulness once more illumine the old
sailor’s face. She always greeted him with kind words, and inquired
affectionately after his welfare; and without alluding to his heavy
family afflictions, made him sensible that she deeply sympathised in his
grief.

Things went on smoothly, until one terrible night in October, Jarvis and
his only remaining son, a strong powerful man of thirty, had been off
with several experienced seamen in the pilot-boat, to put a pilot on
board a large vessel which was toiling her way through the storm to
London. Coming back, the wind rose to a gale, and the sailors, in trying
to enter the harbour, ran the boat against one of the piers with such
violence, that it upset, and the whole party were thrown into the water.

Old Jarvis was an admirable swimmer, and soon gained the beach, as did
most of the others, two of their number being rescued from death by the
exertions of the brave dog. One alone was missing—Harry Jarvis was the
lost man.

From that hour Flora had never seen the old Jarvis or his dog. The boat
lay high and dry upon the beach, and his net was still suspended between
the poles where it had been left to dry, and she concluded that Jarvis
had not survived this last terrible blow. It was a joyful surprise,
therefore, to hear, that he was not only alive, but pursuing his old
calling.

She found the fisherman leaning against the open kitchen-door, a basket
of fish at his feet, and his clear grey eyes fixed vacantly upon the
silver waves, which flashing and murmuring in the sunlight, came racing
to the beach below. The old sailors’ wrinkled face, once so ruddy and
bronzed, was as white as his hair; his cheeks had fallen in, and deep
hollows had gathered about his temples; it was painful to observe the
great alteration in his appearance since they last met. The old man
started from his abstraction, as Flora’s foot sounded on the floor, and
he tried to smile. It was a vain attempt, his shrunken features
instantly contracted into their former melancholy expression.

“My good old friend” said Flora, “I am glad to see you; I was afraid you
had been ill. What fish have you got for me?”

“Eels, Madam; I caught them in the river. They ar’n’t for sale, but just
a little present. I he’erd you wor goin’ to cross the salt seas to
Canady, an’ I had a mind to see you agin.”

“I will accept them with pleasure, Davy, and I am very much obliged to
you for your kindness. I am very fond of eels,—we get them so seldom,
they are quite a treat. I have not seen you out in the boat lately,
Jarvis?”

“Maybe you’ll never see me out in her agin,” said the fisherman. “I’m
thinking my fishing days are ’most over; boat, tackle and measter are
all worn out together. I’ve parted with the boat; how’somever. An’ as to
the sea, I allers look’d upon its broad face with pleasure, but t’has
been a cruel enemy to me and mine; my path, I’m thinking, will be over
it no more.”

Flora saw the tear glistening in the old man’s eye, and she tried to
divert his attention by asking him what he had done with his dog—“with
dear, old ‘Nep?’”

“I shot him.” The seaman’s thin lips quivered, and his whole frame
trembled. “Ay, I shot my good dog—my brave, faithful dog,—the best, the
truest friend man ever had; an’ I’ve niver know’d a happy hour since.”

The bright drops were now raining down the old man’s cheeks.

Flora reached him a chair, and begged him to sit down. The fisherman
mechanically obeyed, with his chin sunk between his hands, and his
elbows resting on his knees. For some minutes both were silent, until
the old man said, in a thick, husky voice—

“Yes, I shot ‘Nep’—shot him with my own hand. It wor cruel and wicked of
me to do the like, but I wor mad—stark staring mad, and who’s to blame?
You see, my lady, he wor with us that terrible Saturday night, when we
went off to put the pilot on board the brig _Sally_, from Shields.
Comin’ back it wor pitch dark, an’ the sea runnin’ mountains high, Sam
Masters ran the boat plump upon the pier, an’ we wor upset on the bar.
Nep saved Sam Masters and Ben Hardy, but he let my Harry drown. I never
rebelled agin’ the providence of God till then; but I trust He’ll
forgive what the old man said in his mortal distress. Instead of
thanking Him, when I sor that so many wor safe, an’ encouragin’ Nep for
having saved two on ’em, I cursed the dog for an ungrateful brute for
saving strangers, an’ letting my Harry be lost. I dashed him off
whenever he’d come whining around, to lick my hands an’ make friends,
an’ when I got home I took down the old gun—poor Harry’s gun—and called
Nep out upon the cliff an’ shot him dead.

“I repented the moment I sor him drop. It wor too late then. I thought
that both Davy and Harry would have blamed me for taking the poor
brute’s life—for they wor mortal fond of ’un. The next morning I wor up
by daybreak, and down to the piers in the little boat to see if I might
chance to light upon the dead body.

“The storm was over, an’ in rowing ’atwixt the piers, I sor summut that
looked like the thing I sought, hanging, as it wor, to the planking of
the pier. I steered for the place, an’, God o’ heaven! it wor the body
of my son! He wor just two feet below the water, hanging with his head
downwards. The force of the waves had driven him upon an iron
stauncheon, which extended some distance from the pier, the woodwork to
which it belonged had been wrenched away in the storm. It had passed
right through Harry’s body, and held him fast. And the dog—the poor
dog—had tried to get him off; he had dragged at his jacket and
shirt-collar, till they wor all shred to bits, and had only given over
when he found it of no use, an’ then did what he could to save the rest!
An’ I killed him—I, that should have fed and cherished him to his dying
day—I can never forgive myself for that.”

“Do not distress yourself, Jarvis, in this way. No one will blame you
for what you did in such a distracted state of mind,” said Flora, though
she was grieved to the heart for the death of the noble dog.

“You are right—you are just right; I was mad; and you must not think
hard of a poor broken-hearted old man. My sorrow is ’most greater than I
can bear. It will not be for long; I feel I’m goin’ the way of all the
earth, an’ it matters little when we cast anchor in that port, whether
our voyage wor short or long—rough or smooth, when the righteous Judge
overhauls our vessel, an’ lays bare the secrets of all hearts. I trust
He’ll have mercy on old Davy Jarvis, and forgive him for the death of
his brave dog.”

The fisherman took the eels from his basket, and grasping Flora’s hand
in his hard horny palm, said, “May the Lord grant you prosperity! an’
bless you an’ your husband an’ the little ’un, an’ bring you safe to the
far land to which you are journeying! May it prove to you a haven of
rest! God bless you! good bye!”

Flora looked after the drooping figure of the fisherman as he slowly
descended the cliff, and she thought how intense must have been his
agony in that dark hour of utter bereavement, which had tempted him to
sacrifice his dog on the mere supposition that he had neglected to save
the life of his son.

“God comfort you! poor Jarvis,” she said, “and guide you in peace
through the shadows of the dark valley that stretches its long night
before you. The grief which has brought your grey locks in sorrow to the
grave was enough to have broken a sterner heart.”



CHAPTER XI.

FLORA IN SEARCH OF A SERVANT HEARS A REAL GHOST STORY.


Lyndsay had charged Flora, during his absence, to inquire for a female
servant, to accompany them to Canada, and take care of the baby during
the voyage. Flora was very reluctant to obey this command, though she
knew that it was entirely on her account that the request was made. Her
health was still very bad, and her kind husband was anxious to spare her
any additional fatigue and trouble. She much doubted, however, whether
another added to their party would not rather increase than diminish her
anxiety, and she begged hard to be allowed to do without. To this
proposition Lyndsay would not listen for a moment.

“The thing is impossible, Flora,” said he, very impetuously, “you cannot
do without; you are not able to nurse the child. I must insist upon your
hiring a woman immediately.”

Flora sighed. “There will be plenty of women in the steerage of any
emigrant vessel, who for the sake of a few dollars would gladly render
me all the assistance I require.”

“You must not trust to such contingencies.”

“But, husband dear, consider the great additional expense,” she said,
coaxingly.

“Nonsense!—that is my affair.”

“I should like to have my own way in this matter,” said Flora, leaning
her hand upon his shoulder, and trying to win him into compliance by
sundry little caresses. “I know, John, that I am in the right.”

“And those who love you, Flora, and wish to spare you fatigue and
discomfort, are in the wrong. Is it not so?”

This last speech silenced his wife, but did not convince her that she
was wrong. Flora, as my readers must long ago have discovered, was no
heroine of romance, but a veritable human creature, subject to all the
faults and weaknesses incidental to her sex. She wished to have her own
way, and was ready to cry that she could not get it. Yet, had her advice
been acted upon, she would have been spared a great deal of sorrow and
mortification, which greatly embittered the first months of her sojourn
in a foreign land.

Persons emigrating to Canada cannot be guilty of a greater blunder than
that of taking out servants with them, which is sure to end in loss and
disappointment; for they no sooner set foot upon the North American
shores, than they suddenly become possessed with an _ultra republican_
spirit. The chrysalis has burst its dingy shell; they are no longer
caterpillars, but gay butterflies, prepared to bask in the sun-blaze of
popular rights. Ask such a domestic to blacken your shoes, clean a
knife, or fetch a pail of water from the well at the door, and ten to
one she will turn upon you as fierce as a lioness, and bid you do it
yourself. If you are so imprudent as to insist on being obeyed, she will
tell you to hire another in her place; she is sure of twenty situations
as good as yours, to-morrow.

She is right in her assertion. Her insolent rejection of your commands
would not stand at all in her way of procuring a new place. And although
cleaning a lady’s shoes, and bringing in a pail of water, or an armful
of wood, is by no means such disgusting employment as scouring greasy
pots and scrubbing the floors, she has been told that the former is
degrading work not fit for a woman, and she is now in a free country,
and will not submit to degradation.

The mistress, who in England was termed the _dear lady_, now degenerates
into the _woman_, while persons in their own class, and even beggars
seeking for alms are addressed as Ma’am and Sir. How particular they are
in enforcing these titles from one another; how persevering in depriving
their employers of any term of respect! One would imagine that they not
only considered themselves on an equality, but that ignorance and
vulgarity made them vastly superior. It is highly amusing to watch from
a distance these self-made ladies and gentlemen sporting their borrowed
plumes.

Some years after she had been settled in Canada, Flora picked up a note
which had been thrown out as waste paper, and which was addressed to the
father of a very dirty, dishonest girl, whom she had dismissed from her
service for sundry petty frauds, a few weeks before. It was addressed to
Edward Brady, Esqre., and ran as follows:—

    “Honoured Sir,

    “The company of _self_ and _lady_, is respectfully solicited at
    a _contribution_ ball, to be given next Thursday evening, at the
    Three King’s Inn. Dancing to commence at eight o’clock
    precisely.

    Stewards  {Patrick Malone, Esq.
              {John Carroll, Esq.”

All the parties herein named were persons of the very lowest class; and
the titles thus pompously bestowed upon themselves, rendered the whole
affair exquisitely ridiculous. At a _contribution_ ball, each person
brings a share of the entertainment. Flora’s maid had stolen a large
quantity of sugar for her part of the feast, and was discovered in the
act.

In compliance with Lyndsay’s request, Flora now set diligently to work
to inquire for a girl willing to emigrate with them to Canada, in the
capacity of nurse to her baby. She had scarcely made her wishes public,
before the cottage was beset with matrons, widows and maids, both old
and young, all anxious to take a trip across the water, and try their
fortunes in Canada.

The first person who presented herself as a candidate for emigration,
was a coarse, fat, she-clown, with huge red fists and cheeks, “as broad
and as red as a pulpit cushion.” On being shown into Flora’s little
parlour, she stood staring at her with her arms stuck in her sides, and
her wide mouth distended from ear to ear, with a grin so truly uncouth
and comic, that Mrs. Lyndsay could scarcely restrain her laughter; with
a downward jerk of her broad shapeless person, meant for a curtsy, she
burst out in a rude vulgar voice,

“He’eard, Marm, yah wanted a gurl to go with yah to Cannadah.”

“I do. Who sent you up to me?”

“Whao sent oie up? Oie sent up moisel.”

“What is your name?”

“Moi neame? Is’t moi neame yah wants to knowah? Wall, moi neame is Sare
Ann Pack; feather warks at Measter Turners.”

“Have you ever worked out, or been used to take care of children?”

“Why yees, oie ’spect oie ha’. Moother has ten on ’em. Oie be the oldest
on’em. Oi’ve had nursing enoof, an’ wants to get quit on it.”

“I am afraid, Sarah, you will not suit me.”

“How dew yah noa, Marm, till yah tries?”

“You are very slatternly, and I wanted a clean, tidy, active girl to
nurse my baby.”

“Sure moi cloes is clane enoof, and good enoof, for to live amongst the
sadvidges?”

“You’ll be put to no such trial,” said Flora laughing, in spite of
herself, “without you reckon me and my husband sadvadges. Can you wash
and iron?”

“Noa. But ’spose oie cud larn.”

“What work can you do?”

“‘Spect anything yah sets oie to. Oie can make doomplings, milk cows,
and keep the pot a bilin’.”

“And what wages do you expect for such services?”

“Is it to goor to Cannadah? Oh, oie ’spects tree punds o’ month for the
loike o’ that.”

“You must stay at home then, my good girl, and boil the dumplings,” said
Flora. “Indeed, I cannot imagine what induced you to come up here to
offer me your services. You literally can do nothing, for which you
expect exorbitant wages. Why do you wish to leave your friends, to go
out with strangers to Canada?”

“That’s moi consarn,” said the girl, with one of her gigantic expansions
of mouth. “Oie he’eard ’twas a mortal good place for maids getting
married. Husbands are scearce here, so oise thought, oise might as well
try moi chance as the rest o’un. Won’t yah take oie?” Flora shook her
head.

The girl twirled the strings of her checked apron, “Mayhap, yah won’t
get anoder so willin’ to go, as I’se be.”

“Perhaps not. But I want a person of some experience—one who has been
used to service, and could bring a good character from her last
employer.”

“Karaktah! Karaktah!” said the girl contemptuously. “What need of a
karaktah in such a place as Cannadah? Folk a’ go there need na karaktah,
or they might jeest as well bide to whome.”

This last declaration settled the matter, and Flora, not without some
difficulty, got rid of the promising candidate for matrimony and
emigration. Her place was instantly supplied by a tall, hard-featured,
middle-aged woman, who had been impatiently waiting for Miss Pack’s
dismissal, in the kitchen, and who now rushed upon the scene, followed
by three rude children, from six to ten years of age, a girl, and two
impudent-looking boys, who ranged themselves in front of Mrs. Lyndsay,
with open mouths, and eyes distended with eager curiosity, in order to
attract her observation, and indulge themselves in a downright stare.

“Well, my good woman, and what is your business with me?” said Flora,
not at all prepossessed by any of the group.

“Are you the mistress?” asked the woman, dropping a curtsy.

Flora answered in the affirmative.

“My business is to go to Canady; but I have not the means. I am a poor
widow; my husband died of the fever three years ago, and left me with
these children to drag along the best way I could. We have had hard
times, I can tell you, Ma’am, and I should be main glad to better my
condition, which I think I might do, if I could get out to Canady. I
heard that you wanted a nurse for your baby during the voyage, and I
should be glad to engage with you, if we can agree as to the terms.”

“What are your terms?”

“For you, Ma’am, to pay the passage of me and the three children over,
and I to attend upon you and the child.”

“But, my good woman, I have only one little child for you to take charge
of, and you cannot expect me, for the trifling services that you could
render, to pay your passage over, and that of your family?”

“Sure, you might be glad of the chance,” said the sturdy dame. “It is
not everybody that would take service with you to go there. I should not
trouble you longer than the voyage. I have friends of my own at
Montreal, who have written for me to come out to them; and so I would
long ago, if I had had the means.”

“If they want you, they may pay your passage,” said Flora, disgusted
with the selfishness of her new acquaintance. “It would be less trouble
to me to nurse my own child, than incur the responsibility of three that
did not belong to me.”

The woman collected her young barbarians from the different quarters of
the room, where they were reconnoitring the attractions of the place,
and withdrew with a scowl; and Flora’s nurse, Mrs. Clarke, shortly after
entered the room, with little Josephine in her arms.

“Well, nurse,” said Flora, giving way to a hearty laugh, “did you see
those queer people, who want me to take them out as a venture to
Canada?”

“A losing speculation that would be, if we may judge by looks and
manners,” said the old lady; “but, indeed, Mrs. Lyndsay, it will be no
easy matter to find just what you want. It is not every one to whom I
would trust the dear baby.”

Then sitting down in the nursing chair, and hushing Josey on her knee,
she continued, “I have been thinking of you and the child a great deal
since I heard you were bent on going to Canada; and if you think that I
could be of any service to you, I would go with you, myself. I ask no
wages—nothing of you, beyond a home for my old age.”

Mrs. Clarke was a kind, amiable, good woman, but very feeble, nervous,
and sickly, and very little qualified for the arduous and fatiguing life
she had chosen.

“My dear nurse,” said Flora, clasping her hand in her own, “I should
only be too happy to have you. But you are old, and in delicate health;
the climate would kill you; I much doubt whether you could stand the
voyage. I cannot be so selfish as to take you from your home and friends
at your time of life. But take off your hat and shawl, and we will talk
the matter over.”

The old woman laid the now sleeping babe in the cradle, and resumed her
seat with a sigh.

“It is this want of a home which makes me anxious to go with you. It is
hard to be dependent upon the caprice of brothers, in one’s old age.
Thirty years ago and life wore for me a very different aspect.”

“Nurse,” said Flora, who was very fond of the good old body, who had
attended her with the greatest care and tenderness, through a long and
dangerous illness; “how comes it that such a pretty woman as you must
have been did not marry in your youth? I can scarcely imagine that
nature ever meant you for an old maid.”

“Nature never made any woman to be an old maid,” said Nurse; “God does
nothing in vain. Women were sent into the world to be wives and mothers;
and there are very few who don’t entertain the hope of being so at some
period of their lives. I should not be the forlorn, desolate creature I
am to-day, if I had had a snug home, and a good husband to make the
fireside cheery, and children together about my knees, and make me feel
young again, while listening to their simple prattle.

“I thought to have been a happy wife once,” continued Nurse, sadly; “a
heavy calamity that broke another heart besides mine, laid all my hopes
in the dust, and banished from my mind the idea of marriage for ever.
Did I never tell you the story, Ma’am? A few words will often contain
the history of events that embittered a whole life. Whilst I am hemming
this little pinafore for Miss Josey, I will tell you the tale of my
early grief.

“My father was a native of this town, and captain of a small vessel
employed in the coal-trade, which plied constantly between this port and
Newcastle and Shields. He owned most of the shares in her, was reckoned
an excellent sailor, and was so fortunate as to have escaped the usual
dangers attendant upon the coast trade, never having been wrecked in his
life,—which circumstance had won for him the nickname of ‘Lucky Billy,’
by which he was generally known in all the seaport towns along the
coast.

“I was the eldest of a large family, and the only girl. My mother died
when I was fourteen years of age, and all the cares of the household
early devolved upon me; my father was very fond of me, and so proud of
my good looks, that his ship was christened the _Pretty Betsy_, in
honour of me.

“Father not only earned a comfortable living, but saved enough to build
those two neat stone cottages on the East-cliff. We lived in the one
which my brother now occupies; the other, which is divided from it by a
narrow alley, into which the back doors of both open, was rented for
many years by the widow of a revenue officer and her two sons.

“Mrs. Arthur’s husband had been killed in a fray with the smugglers, and
she enjoyed a small Government pension, which enabled her to bring up
her boys decently, and maintain a respectable appearance. My father
tried his best to induce Mrs. Arthur to be his second wife, but she
steadily refused his offer, though the family continued to live on terms
of the strictest friendship.

“Mrs. Arthur’s sons, John and David, were the handsomest and cleverest
lads of their class, between this and the port of Y——. They both
followed the sea, and after serving their apprenticeships with my
father, John got the command of the _Nancy_, a new vessel that was
employed in the merchant trade, and made short voyages between this and
London. David, who was two years younger, sailed with his brother as
mate of the _Nancy_.

“David and I had been sweethearts from our school-days,—from a child in
frocks and trowsers, he had always called me ‘his dear little wife.’
Time only strengthened our attachment to each other, and my father and
his mother were well-pleased with the match. It was settled by all
parties, that we were to be married directly David could get captain of
a ship.

“Mrs. Arthur was very proud of her sons; but David, who was by far the
handsomest of the two, was her especial favourite. I never saw the young
sailor leave the house without kissing his mother, or return from a
voyage without bringing her a present. I used to tell him, ‘There was
only one person he loved better than me, and that was his mother;’ and
he would laugh, and say,—‘Not better, Betsy,—but ’tis a different love
altogether.’

“I must confess I was rather jealous of his mother. I did not wish him
to love her less, but to love me more. Whenever he left us for sea, he
used to tell me the very last thing—‘Show your love to me, dear Betsy,
by being kind to my dear old mother. When you are my wife, I will repay
it with interest.’

“During his absence, I always went every day to see Mrs. Arthur, and to
render her any little service in my power. She was very fond of me,
always calling me ‘her little daughter,—her own dear Betsy.’ Her
conversation was always about her sons, and David in particular, which
rendered these visits very agreeable to me, who loved David better than
anything else under heaven. He was never out of my thoughts, I
worshipped him so completely.

“It was the latter end of February that the Arthurs made their last
voyage together. David was to sail as captain, in a fine merchant-ship,
the first of May; and everything had been arranged for our marriage,
which was to take place the tenth of April; and I was to make a bridal
tour to London with my husband in the new ship. I was wild with
anticipation and delight, and would let my work drop from my hands
twenty times a-day, while building castles for the future. No other
girl’s husband would be able to rival my husband; no home could be as
happy as my home; no bride so well beloved as me.

“It was the twentieth of March, 18—; I recollect it as well as if it
were only yesterday. The day was bright, clear, and cold, with high
winds and a very stormy sea. The _Nancy_ had been expected to make her
port all that week, and Mrs. Arthur was very uneasy at her delay. She
was never happy or contented when her sons were at sea, but in a
constant fidget of anxiety and fear. She did not like both sailing in
the same vessel. ‘It is too much,’ she would say—‘the safety of two
lives out of one family—to be trusted to one keel.’ This morning she was
more fretful and nervous than usual.

“‘What can these foolish boys be thinking of, Betsy, to delay their
voyage in this way? They will in all probability be caught in the
equinoctial gales. David promised me faithfully to be back before the
eighteenth. Dear me! how the wind blows! The very sound of it is enough
to chill one’s heart. What a stormy sea! I hope they will not sail till
the day after to-morrow.’

“Now, I felt a certain conviction in my own mind that they had sailed,
and were at that moment on the sea; but, I must confess, I apprehended
no danger. It might be that her fears hindered me from indulging fears
of my own.

“‘Don’t alarm yourself needlessly, dear Mother,’ said I, kissing her
cold, pale cheek. ‘The _Nancy_ is a new ship,—the lads brave,
experienced sailors. There is not the least cause for uneasiness. They
have weathered far worse gales before now. They have, father says, the
wind and tide in their favour. It is moonlight now o’ nights; and I hope
we shall see them merry and well before morning.’

“‘God grant you may be right, Betsy! A mother’s heart is a hot-bed of
anxiety. Mine feels as heavy as lead. My dreams, too, were none of the
brightest. I thought I was tossing in an open boat, in just such a
stormy sea all night; and was constantly calling on David to save me
from drowning; and I awoke shrieking, and struggling with the great
billows that were dragging me down.’

“‘Who cares for dreams?’ I said. Hers, I would have it, was one of good
omen; for though she fought with the storm all night, she was not
drowned. So it would be with the lads: they might encounter a gale, and
get a severe buffeting, but would arrive safe at last.

“‘I wish it may be so,’ she said, with a sigh. ‘But I felt just the same
sinking at the heart the night my husband was killed, when there
appeared no cause for uneasiness.’

“I remained all day with the old lady, trying to raise her spirits. She
paid very little attention to all my lively chat; but would stand for
hours at her back-window, that commanded a view of the bay, gazing at
the sea. The huge breakers came rolling and toiling to the shore,
filling the air with their hoarse din. A vessel hove in sight, running
under close-reefed topsails, and made signals for a pilot.

“‘Ah!’ I exclaimed joyfully; ‘that is Captain Penny’s old ship, _Molly_.
If she has rode out the gale, you may dismiss your fears about the
_Nancy_. They have launched the pilot-boat. See how she dances like a
feather on the waves! Why, Mother dear,’ I cried, turning to Mrs.
Arthur, who was watching the boat, with the large tears trickling down
her cheeks, ‘is it not weak, almost wicked of you, to doubt God’s
providence in this way?’

“‘Ah! how I wish it were their vessel,’ she sobbed.

“‘Captain Penny’s wife and children would not thank you for that wish,’
said I. ‘How glad I am that the good old man is safe!’

“The day wore away. A long day for us both. The gale did not increase,
and Mrs. Arthur at last began to listen to reason. The moon rose high
and bright; and after seeing the old lady to her bed, I went home to
give my father and the boys their supper.

“I found father very cross for having waited so long. ‘What the devil,
Betsy!’ cried he, ‘kept you so late? The lads and I have been starving
for the last hour. When girls get sweethearts they can think of nothing
else.’

“‘Mrs. Arthur felt anxious about her sons, and I stayed with her.’

“‘What’s the old fool afraid of? This cupful of wind, Penny’s old
_Molly_ rode it out bravely. He told me he left the Arthurs in the
river. He thought they would be in by daybreak. Come, be quick, girl. As
I am to lose you so soon, I would make the most of you while you belong
to me.’

“His cheerful, hearty manner helped to raise my spirits, which had been
depressed by Mrs. Arthur’s fretful anticipations of evil. I bustled
hither and thither, laughed and sung, and cooked father’s mess of fresh
fish so much to his satisfaction, that he declared I should make a jewel
of a wife, and that he had not made up his mind whether he would part
with such a good cook. Without he married again, he was afraid he would
not get such another.

“‘You must be quick then,’ said I, ’or you will not have me for your
bridesmaid. I give you just three weeks for the courtship, for I shan’t
remain single one day longer to cook the wedding dinner for you.’

“‘You are saucy,’ said he, filling his pipe. ‘Davy will have to take the
helm himself, if he would keep you on the right tack. Clear the decks
now, and be off to your bed. If the gale lulls, I shall sail early in
the morning.’

“I removed the supper-things, and before I lighted my candle, lingered
for a few minutes at the back window, to take a last view of the sea. It
was a stormy but very beautiful night. The heavens were without a cloud.
The full moon cast broken gleams of silver upon the restless, tossing
waters, which scattered them into a thousand fragments of dazzling
brightness, as the heavy surf rolled in thunder against the beach.

“‘Has the gale freshened, father?’ said I, anxiously.

“‘Not a bit of it. Say your prayers, Betsy, and trust in Providence.
Your lover is as safe in his good ship to-night, as in his bed at home.’

“He pulled me on to his knee, and kissed me, and I went up to bed with a
lighter heart.

“A few minutes later I was fast asleep. I don’t know how long this sleep
lasted, but I awoke with hearing David Arthur calling beneath my window.
His mother’s window and mine both fronted the cliff, and were in a line
with each other. ‘Thank God! David is safe!’ I cried, as I sprang
joyfully from my bed, and threw open the casement.

“There he was sure enough, standing in the moonlight, directly beneath
the window. His norwester flung far back on his head, his yellow curls
hanging in wet masses on his shoulders, and his clothes dripping with
the salt spray. The moon shone forth on his upturned face. He looked
very pale and cold, and his eyes were fixed intently upon his mother’s
chamber-window. Before I could speak, he cried out in his rich, manly
tones—

“‘Mother, dearest mother, I am come home to you. Open the door, and let
me in!’

“‘Stay, Davy, darling—stay one moment, and I will let you in. Your
mother’s asleep; but I can open the back-door with my key. Oh! I’m so
happy, so thankful, that you are safe.’

“I threw my clothes on as fast as I could, but my hands trembled so from
excitement, that I could scarcely fasten a string. A cold chill was
creeping through my whole frame, and, in spite of the joy I felt, I
involuntarily burst into tears. Dashing away the unwelcome drops with
the back of my hand, I bounded down the stairs, unlocked the back-door
that led into the alley, and in another moment stood alone on the cliff.

“‘David, where are you?’ I cried. But no David was there. I glanced all
round the wide, open space: not an object was moving over its surface. A
deep stillness reigned all around, only interrupted by the solemn
thunder of the waters, whose hollow surging against the shore rendered
the solitude of the midnight hour more profound.

“Again I felt those cold chills steal through me—again the unbidden
tears streamed down my cheeks.

“‘What can have become of him?’ said I, quite bewildered with surprise
and fear; ‘he must have got in at the back window!—I will go to his
mother—I shall find him with her!’

“The key I held in my hand fitted both locks: I went into Mrs. Arthur’s,
lighted the candle that I had left on her kitchen dresser, and went up
to her chamber. She started up in the bed as I opened the door.

“‘Good God! Betsy,’ she cried, ’is that you? I thought I heard David
call me.’

“‘And so he did,’ I said; ‘he came under the window just now, and called
to you to let him in. I told him to wait till I could dress myself, and
I would come down and open the door. Is he not here?’

“‘No,’ said his mother, her face turning as white as her cap; ‘you must
have been dreaming.’

“‘Dreaming!’ said I, rather indignantly; ‘you need not try to persuade
me out of my senses—I saw him with my own eyes!—heard him with my own
ears! and spoke to him! What else will convince you? He has gone back to
the ship for John—I will breeze up the fire, put on the kettle, and get
something cooked for their supper. After buffeting about in this storm,
they will be cold and hungry.’

“Mrs. Arthur soon joined me. She could not believe that I had spoken to
David, though she fancied that she had heard him herself, and was in a
fever of anxiety, pacing to and fro the kitchen floor, and opening the
door every minute to look out. I felt almost provoked by her want of
faith.

“‘If the ship were in,’ she muttered, ‘he would have been in long ago,
to tell me that all was safe. He knows how uneasy I always am when he
and his brother are away. Betsy must have been deceived!’

“‘Mother, dear—indeed, what I tell you is true!’

“And I repeated to her for the twentieth time, perhaps, what David had
said, and described his appearance.

“Hour after hour passed away, but no well-known footstep, or dearly
loved voice, disturbed our lonely vigil. The kettle simmered drowsily on
the hob; Mrs. Arthur, tired out with impatient fretting at her son’s
delay, had thrown her apron over her head, and was sobbing bitterly. I
began to feel alarmed; a strange fear seemed growing upon my heart,
which almost led me to doubt the evidence of my senses—to fancy, in
fact, that what I had seen might have been a dream. But, was I not
there, wide awake? Had not his mother heard him speak as well as me?
though her half-waking state had rendered the matter less distinct than
it had been to me? I was not going to be reasoned out of my sanity in
that way, because he did not choose to wait until I came down to open
the door—which I thought rather unkind, when he must be well aware, that
my anxiety for his safety must quite equal that of his mother.

“The red beams of the rising sun were tinging the white foam of the
billows with a flush of crimson. The gale had lulled; and I knew that my
father’s vessel sailed with the tide. I started from my seat, Mrs.
Arthur languidly raised her head—

“‘My dear Betsy, will you just run across the cliff to the look-out
house, and ask the sailors there if the _Nancy_ came in last night? I
cannot bear this suspense much longer.’

“‘I might have thought of that before,’ I said; and, without waiting
for hat or shawl, I ran with breathless speed to the nearest station.

“I found one old sailor kneeling upon the bench, looking intently
through his telescope at some object at sea. My eyes followed the
direction of the glass, and I saw distinctly, about two miles beyond the
east cliff, a vessel lying dismasted upon the reef, with the sea
breaking continually over her.

“‘What vessel is that, Ned Jones?’ said I.

“‘It’s the _Nancy_,’ he replied, without taking his eye from the glass.
‘I know her by the white stripe along her black hull. She’s a perfect
wreck, and both the brave lads are drowned.’

“‘When did this happen?’ I shrieked, shaking him frantically by the arm.

“‘She struck upon the reef at half-past one this morning. Our lads got
the boat off, but too late to save the crew.’

“‘Good God!’ I cried, reeling back, as if struck with a bolt of ice; and
the same deadly cold shiver ran through me. ‘It was his ghost, then, I
saw.’[B]

    [B] I have told this story exactly as it was told to me by
        Flora’s nurse. The reader must judge how far the young
        girl’s imagination may have deceived her. Whether as a
        dream, or a reality, I have no doubt of the truth of
        her tale.

“I don’t know how I got back to Mrs. Arthur. I never knew. Or, whether
it was from me she learned the terrible tidings of the death of her
sons. I fell into a brain fever, and when I recovered my senses, Mrs.
Arthur had been in her grave for some weeks.

“In thinking over the events of that fearful night, the recollection
which pained me most was, that David’s last thought had been for his
mother,—that during his death-struggle, she was dearer to him than me.
It haunted me for years. At times it haunts me still. Whenever the wind
blows a gale, and the moon shines clear and cold, I fancy I can see him
standing below my window, in his dripping garments, and that sad pale
face turned towards his mother’s casement; and I hear him call out, in
the rich, mellow voice I loved so well,—‘Mother, dearest mother, I have
come home to you. Open the door and let me in!’”

“It was a dream, Nurse,” said Flora.

“But supposing, Mrs. Lyndsay, that it was a dream. Is it less strange
that such a dream should occur at the very moment, perhaps, that he was
drowned; and that his mother should fancy she heard him speak as well as
I?”

“True,” said Flora, “the mystery remains the same, and, for my own part,
I never could get rid of a startling reality; because some people choose
to call it a mere coincidence. My faith embraces the spirit of the fact,
and disclaims the coincidence, though after all, the coincidence is the
best proof of the fact.”

“This event,” continued Nurse, “cast a shadow over my life, which no
after sunshine ever dispelled. I never loved again, and gave up all
thoughts of getting married from that hour. Perhaps I was wrong, for I
refused several worthy men, who would have given me a comfortable home;
and I should not now, at my time of life, have to go out nursing, or be
dependent upon a cross brother, for the shelter of a roof. If you will
take me to Canada with you, I only ask in return a home in my old age.”

Flora was delighted with the project, but on writing about it to her
husband, she found him unwilling to take out a feeble old woman, who was
very likely to die on the voyage; and Flora, with reluctance, declined
the good woman’s offer.

It happened very unfortunately for Flora, that her mother had in her
employment a girl, whose pretty feminine face and easy pliable manners,
had rendered her a great favourite in the family. Whenever Flora visited
the Hall, Hannah had taken charge of the baby, on whom she lavished the
most endearing epithets and caresses.

This girl had formed an imprudent intimacy with a farm servant in the
neighbourhood, which had ended in her seduction. Her situation rendered
marriage a matter of necessity. In this arrangement of the matter, it
required both parties should agree; and the man, who doubtless knew more
of the girl’s real character than her benevolent mistress, flatly
refused to make her his wife. Hannah, in an agony of rage and
contrition, had confided her situation to her mistress; and implored her
not to turn her from her doors, or she would end her misery in
self-destruction.

“She had no home,” she said, “in the wide world—and she dared not return
to her aunt, who was the only friend she had; and who, under existing
circumstances, she well knew, would never afford her the shelter of her
roof.”

Simple as this girl appeared, she knew well how to act her part; and so
won upon the compassion of Mrs. W——, that she was determined, if
possible, to save her from ruin. Finding that Mrs. Lyndsay had failed in
obtaining a servant, she applied to her on Hannah’s behalf, and
requested, as a favour, that she would take the forlorn creature with
her to Canada.

Flora at first rejected the proposal in disgust: in spite of Mrs. W——’s
high recommendation, there was something about the woman she did not
like; and much as she was inclined to pity her, she could not reconcile
herself to the idea of making her the companion of her voyage. She could
not convince herself that Hannah was worthy of the sympathy manifested
on her behalf. A certain fawning, servility of manner, led her to
imagine that she was deceitful; and she was reluctant to entail upon
herself the trouble and responsibility which must arise from her
situation, and the scandal it might involve. But her objections were
borne down by Mrs. W——’s earnest entreaties, to save, if possible, a
fellow creature from ruin.

The false notions formed by most persons in England of the state of
society in Canada, made Mrs. W—— reject, as mere bugbears, all Flora’s
fears as to the future consequences which might arise from her taking
such a hazardous step. What had she to fear from ill-natured gossip in a
barbarous country, so thinly peopled, that settlers seldom resided
within a day’s journey of each other. If the girl was wise enough to
keep her own secret, who would take the trouble to find it out? Children
were a blessing in such a wilderness; and Hannah’s child, brought up in
the family, would be very little additional expense and trouble, and
might prove a most attached and grateful servant, forming a lasting tie
of mutual benefit between the mother and her benefactress. The mother
was an excellent worker, and, until this misfortune happened, a good and
faithful girl. She was _weak_, to be sure; but then (what a fatal
mistake) the more easily managed. Mrs. W——was certain that Flora would
find her a perfect treasure.

All this sounded very plausible in theory, and savoured of romance.
Flora found it in the end a dismal reality. She consented to receive the
girl as her servant, who was overjoyed at the change in her prospects;
declaring that she never could do enough for Mrs. Lyndsay, for snatching
her from a life of disgrace and infamy. And so little Josey was provided
with a nurse, and Flora with a servant.



CHAPTER XII.

THE LAST HOURS AT HOME.


To bid farewell to her mother and sisters, and the dear home of her
childhood, Flora regarded as her greatest trial. As each succeeding day
brought nearer the hour of separation, the prospect became more
intensely painful, and fraught with a thousand melancholy anticipations,
which haunted her even in sleep; and she often awoke sick and faint at
heart with the tears she had shed in a dream.

“Oh that this dreadful parting were over!” she said to her friend Mary
Parnell. “I can contemplate, with fortitude, the trials of the future;
but there is something so dreary, so utterly hopeless, in this breaking
up of kindred ties and home associations, that it paralyses exertion.”

Mrs. W——, Flora’s mother, was in the decline of life, and it was more
than probable that the separation would be for ever. This Flora felt
very grievously;—she loved her mother tenderly, and she could not bear
to leave her. Mrs. W—— was greatly attached to her little grandchild;
and, to mention the departure of the child, brought on a paroxysm of
grief.

“Let Josey stay with me, Flora,” said she, as she covered its dimpled
hands with kisses. “Let me not lose you both in one day.”

“What! part with my child—my only child! Dearest mother, it is
impossible to grant your request. Whatever our future fortunes may be,
she must share them with us. I could not bear up against the trials
which await me with a divided heart.”

“Consider the advantage it would be to the child.”

“In the loss of both her parents?”

“In her exemption from hardship, and the education she would receive.”

“I grant all that; yet Nature points out, that the interests of a child
cannot safely be divided from those of its parents.”

“You argue selfishly, Flora. You well know the child would be much
better off with me.”

“I speak from my heart—the heart of a mother, which cannot, without it
belongs to a monster, plead against the welfare of its child. I know how
dearly you love her—how painful it is for you to give her up; and that
she would possess with you those comforts which, for her sake, we are
about to resign. But, if we leave her behind, we part with her ever. She
is too young to remember us; and, without knowing us, how could she love
us?”

“She would be taught to love you.”

“Her love would be of a very indefinite character. She would be told
that she had a father and mother in a distant land, and be taught to
mention us daily in her prayers. But where would be the faith, the
endearing confidence, the holy love, with which a child, brought up
under the parental roof, regards the authors of its being. The love
which falls like dew from heaven upon the weary heart, which forms a
balm for every sorrow, a solace for every care,—without its refreshing
influence, what would the wealth of the world be to us?”

Flora’s heart swelled, and her eyes filled with tears. The eloquence of
an angel at that moment would have failed in persuading her to part with
her child.

Never did these painful feelings press more heavily on Flora’s mind,
than when all was done in the way of preparation; when her work was all
finished, her trunks all packed, her little bills in the town all paid,
her faithful domestics discharged, and nothing remained of active
employment to hinder her from perpetually brooding over the sad prospect
before her.

She went to spend a last day at the old Hall, to bid farewell to the old
familiar haunts, endeared to her from childhood.

“Flora, you must keep up your spirits,” said her mother, kissing her
tenderly; “nor let this parting weigh too heavily upon your heart. We
shall all meet again.”

“In heaven, I hope, Mother.”

“Yes, and on earth.”

“Oh, no; it is useless to hope for that. No, never again on earth.”

“Always hope for the best, Flora; it is my plan. I have found it true
wisdom. Put on your bonnet, and take a ramble through the garden and
meadows; it will refresh you after so many harassing thoughts. Your
favourite trees are in full leaf, the hawthorn hedges in blossom, and
the nightingales sing every evening in the wood-lane. You cannot feel
miserable among such sights and sounds of beauty in this lovely month of
May, or you are not the same Flora I ever knew you.”

“Ah, just the same faulty, impulsive, enthusiastic creature I ever was,
dear mother. No change of circumstances will, I fear, change my nature;
and the sight of these dear old haunts will only deepen the regret I
feel at bidding them adieu.”

Flora put on her bonnet, and went forth to take a last look of home.

The Hall was an old-fashioned house, large, rambling, picturesque, and
cold. It had been built in the first year of good Queen Bess. The back
part of the mansion appeared to have belonged to a period still more
remote. The building was surrounded by fine gardens, and lawn-like
meadows, and stood sheltered within a grove of noble old trees. It was
beneath the shade of these trees, and reposing upon the velvet-like
sward at their feet, that Flora had first indulged in those delicious
reveries—those lovely, ideal visions of beauty and perfection—which
cover with a tissue of morning beams all the rugged highways of life.
Silent bosom friends were those dear old trees! Every noble sentiment of
her soul,—every fault that threw its baneful shadow on the sunlight of
her mind,—had been fostered, or grown upon her, in those pastoral
solitudes. Those trees had witnessed a thousand bursts of passionate
eloquence,—a thousand gushes of bitter, heart-humbling tears. To them
had been revealed all the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears, which
she could not confide to the sneering and unsympathising of her own sex.
The solemn druidical groves were not more holy to their imaginative and
mysterious worshippers, than were those old oaks to the young Flora.

Now the balmy breath of spring, as it gently heaved the tender green
masses of brilliant foliage, seemed to utter a voice of thrilling
lamentation,—a sad, soul-touching farewell.

“Home of my childhood! must I see you no more?” sobbed Flora. “Are you
to become to-morrow a vision of the past? O that the glory of spring was
not upon the earth! that I had to leave you amid winter’s chilling
gloom, and not in this lovely, blushing month of May! The emerald green
of these meadows—the gay flush of these bright blossoms—the joyous song
of these glad birds—breaks my heart!”

And the poor emigrant sank down amid the green grass, and, burying her
face among the fragrant daisies, imprinted a passionate kiss upon the
sod, which was never, in time or eternity, to form a resting-place for
her again.

But a beam is in the dark cloud even for thee, poor Flora; thou
heart-sick lover of nature. Time will reconcile thee to the change which
now appears so dreadful. The human flowers destined to spring around thy
hut in that far off wilderness, will gladden thy bosom in the strange
land to which thy course now tends; and the image of God, in his
glorious creation, will smile upon thee as graciously in the woods of
Canada, as it now does, in thy English Paradise. Yes, the hour will
come, when you shall exclaim with fervour,

“Thank God, I am the denizen of a free land; a land of beauty and
progression. A land unpolluted by the groans of starving millions. A
land which opens her fostering arms to receive and restore to his long
lost birthright, the trampled and abused child of poverty: to bid him
stand up a free inheritor of a free soil, who so long laboured for a
scanty pittance of bread, as an ignorant and degraded slave, in the
country to which you now cling with such passionate fondness, and leave
with such heart-breaking regret.”

When Flora returned from an extensive ramble through all her favourite
walks, she was agreeably surprised to find her husband conversing with
Mrs. W—— in the parlour. The unexpected sight of her husband, who had
returned to cheer her some days sooner than the one he had named in his
letters, soon restored Flora’s spirits, and the sorrows of the future
were forgotten in the joy of the present.

Lyndsay had a thousand little incidents and anecdotes to relate of his
visit to the great metropolis; to which Flora was an eager and delighted
listener. He told her that he had satisfactorily arranged all his
pecuniary matters; and without sacrificing his half-pay, was able to
take out about three hundred pounds sterling, which he thought,
prudently managed, would enable him to make a tolerably comfortable
settlement in Canada,—particularly, as he would not be obliged to
purchase a farm, being entitled to a grant of four hundred acres of wild
land.

He had engaged a passage in a fine vessel that was to sail from Leith,
at the latter end of the week.

“I found, that in going from Scotland,” said Lyndsay, “we could be as
well accommodated for nearly half price; and it would give you the
opportunity of seeing Edinburgh, and me the melancholy satisfaction of
taking a last look at the land of my birth.”

“One of the London steamers will call for us to-morrow morning, on her
way to Scotland, and I must hire a boat to-night, and get our luggage
prepared for a start. A short notice, dear Flora, to a sad but
inevitable necessity, I thought better for a person of your temperament,
than a long and tedious anticipation of evil. Now all is prepared for
the voyage, delay is not only useless, but dangerous. So cheer up,
darling, and be as happy and cheerful as you can. Let us spend the last
night at home pleasantly together.” He kissed Flora so affectionately,
as he ceased speaking, that she not only promised obedience, but
contrived to smile through her tears.

It was necessary for them to return instantly to the cottage, and Flora
took leave of her mother, with a full heart. We will not dwell on such
partings; they

    “Wring the blood from out young hearts,”

as the poet has truly described them, making the snows of age descend
upon the rose crowned brow of youth.

Sorrowfully Flora returned to her pretty little cottage, which presented
a scene of bustle and confusion baffling description. Everything was out
of place and turned upside down. Corded trunks and packages filled up
the passages and doorways; and formed stumbling blocks for kind friends
and curious neighbours, who crowded the house. Strange dogs forced their
way in after their masters, and fought and yelped in undisturbed
pugnacity. The baby cried, and no one was at leisure to pacify her, and
a cheerless and uncomfortable spirit filled the once peaceful and happy
home.

Old Captain Kitson was in his glory; hurrying here and there, ordering,
superintending, and assisting the general confusion, without in the
least degree helping on the work. He had taken upon himself the charge
of hiring the boat which was to convey the emigrants on board the
steamer; and he stood chaffering on the lawn for a couple of hours with
the sailors, to whom she belonged, to induce them to take a shilling
less than the sum proposed.

Tired with the altercation, and sorry for the honest tars, Lyndsay told
the master of the boat to yield to the old Captain’s terms, and he would
make up the difference. The sailor answered with a knowing wink, and
appeared reluctantly to consent to old Kitson’s wishes.

“There, Mrs. Lyndsay, my dear, I told you these fellows would come to my
terms rather than lose a good customer,” cried the old man, rubbing his
hands together in an ecstasy of self-gratulation. “Leave me to make a
bargain; the rogues cannot cheat me with their damned impositions. The
_Leaftenant_ is too soft with these chaps; I’m an old sailor—they can’t
come over me. I have made them take one _pound_ for the use of their
craft, instead of _one and twenty_ shillings. ‘Take care of the pence,’
my dear, ‘and the pounds will take care of themselves.’ I found that
out, long before poor Richard marked it down in his log.”

Then sidling up to Flora, and putting his long nose into her face, he
whispered in her ear,—

“Now, my dear gall, don’t be offended with an old friend; but if you
have any old coats or hats that _Leaftenant_ Lyndsay does not think
worth packing up, I shall be very glad of them, for my Charles. Mrs. K.
is an excellent hand at transmogrifying things, and in a large family
such articles never come amiss.”

Charles was the Captain’s youngest son. A poor idiot, who, thirty years
of age, had the appearance of an overgrown boy. The other members of the
Captain’s _large_ family were all married and settled prosperously in
the world. Flora felt truly ashamed of the old man’s meanness, but was
glad to repay his trifling services in a way suggested by himself. The
weather for the last three weeks had been unusually fine, but towards
the evening of this memorable 30th of May, large masses of clouds began
to rise in the north-west, and the sea changed its azure hue to a dull
leaden grey. Old Kitson shook his head prophetically.

“There’s a change of weather at hand, Mrs. Lyndsay; you may look out for
squalls before six o’clock to-morrow. The wind shifts every minute, and
there’s an ugly swell rolling in upon the shore.”

“Ah, I hope it will be fine,” said Flora, looking anxiously up at the
troubled sky; “it is so miserable to begin a long journey in the rain.
Perhaps it will pass off during the night in a thunder-shower.”

The old man whistled, shut one eye, and looked knowingly at the sea with
the other.

“Women know about as much of the weather as your nurse does of handling
a rope. Whew! but there’s a gale coming; I’ll down to the beach, and
tell the lads to haul up the boats, and make all snug before it bursts,”
and away toddled the old man, full of the importance of his mission.

It was the last night at home—the last social meeting of kindred friends
on this side the grave. Flora tried to appear cheerful, but the forced
smile upon the tutored lips, rendered doubly painful the tears kept back
in the swollen eyes; the vain effort of the sorrowful in heart to be
gay. Alas! for the warm hearts, the generous friendships, the kindly
greetings of dear Old England, when would they be hers again? Flora’s
friends at length took leave, and she was left with her husband alone.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE DEPARTURE.


It was the dawn of day when Flora started from a broken, feverish sleep,
aroused to consciousness by the heavy roaring of the sea, as the huge
billows thundered against the stony beach. To spring from her bed and
draw back the curtains of the window which commanded a full view of the
bay, was but the work of a moment. How quickly she let it fall in
despair over the cheerless prospect it presented to her sight! Far as
the eye could reach the sea was covered with foam. Not a sail was
visible, and a dark leaden sky was pouring down torrents of rain.

“What a morning!” she muttered to herself, as she stole quietly back to
bed. “It will be impossible to put to sea to-day.”

The sleep which had shunned her pillow during the greater part of the
night, gently stole over her, and “wrapped her senses in forgetfulness;”
and old Kitson, two hours later, twice threw a pebble against the
window, before she awoke.

“_Leaftenant_ Lyndsay—_Leaftenant_ Lyndsay!” shouted the Captain, in a
voice like a speaking-trumpet—“wind and tide wait for no man. Up, up,
and be doing.”

“Ay, ay,” responded Lyndsay, rubbing his eyes, and going to the window.

“See what a storm the night has been brewing for you,” continued old
Kitson. “It blows great guns, and there’s rain enough to float Noah’s
ark. Waters is here, and wants to see you. He says that his small craft
won’t live in a sea like this. You’ll have to put off your voyage till
the steamer takes her next trip.”

“That’s bad,” said Lyndsay, hurrying on his clothes, and joining the old
sailor on the lawn. “Is there any chance, Kitson, of this holding up?”

“None. This is paying us off for three weeks fine weather, and may last
for several days—at all events, till night. The steamer will be rattling
down in an hour, with the wind and tide in her favour. Were you once on
board, _Leaftenant_, you might snap your fingers at this capful of
wind.”

“We must make up our minds to lose our places,” said Lyndsay, in a tone
of deep vexation.

“You have taken your places then?”

“Yes; and made a deposit of half the passage money.”

“Humph! Now, _Leaftenant_ Lyndsay, that’s a thing I never do. I always
take my chance. I would rather lose my place in a boat, or a coach, than
lose my money. But young fellows like you never learn wisdom. Experience
is all thrown away upon you. But as we can’t remedy the evil now, we
had better step in and get a morsel of breakfast. This raw air makes one
hungry. The wind may lull by that time.” Then gazing at the sky with one
of his keen orbs, while he shaded with his hand the other, he
continued—“It rains too hard for it to blow long at this rate; and the
season of the year is all in your favour. Go in—go in, and get something
to eat, and we will settle over your wife’s good coffee what is best to
be done.”

Lyndsay thought with the Captain, that the storm would abate, and he
returned to the anxious Flora, to report the aspect of things without.

“It is a bad omen,” said Flora, pouring out the coffee. “If we may judge
of the future by the present—it looks dark enough.”

“Don’t provoke me into anger, Flora, by talking in such a childish
manner, and placing reliance upon an exploded superstition. Women are so
fond of prognosticating evil, that I believe they are disappointed if it
does not happen as they say.”

“Well, reason may find fault with us if she will,” said Flora; “but we
are all more or less influenced by these mysterious presentiments; and
suffer trifling circumstances to give a colouring for good or evil to
the passing hour. My dear, cross philosopher, hand me the toast.”

Flora’s defence of her favourite theory was interrupted by the arrival
of two very dear friends, who had come from a distance, through the
storm, to bid her good-bye.

Mr. Hawke, the elder of the twain, was an author of considerable
celebrity in his native county, and a most kind and excellent man. He
brought with him his second son, a fine lad of twelve years of age, to
place under Lyndsay’s charge. James Hawke had taken a fancy to settle in
Canada, and a friend of the family, who was located in the Backwoods of
that far region, had written to his father, that he would take the lad,
and initiate him in the mysteries of the axe, if he could find a person
to bring him over. Lyndsay had promised to do this, and the boy, who had
that morning parted with his mother and little brothers and sisters, for
the first time in his life, in spite of the elastic spirits of youth,
looked sad and dejected.

Mr. Hawke’s companion was a young Quaker, who had known Flora from a
girl, and had always expressed the greatest interest in her welfare.

Adam Mansel was a handsome, talented man, whose joyous disposition, and
mirthful humour, could scarcely be trammelled down by the severe
conventional rules of the Society to which he belonged. Adam’s exquisite
taste for music, and his great admiration for horses and dogs, savoured
rather of the camp of the enemy. But his love for these forbidden
carnalities was always kept within bounds, and only known to a few very
particular friends.

“Friend Flora,” he said, taking her hand, and giving it a most hearty
and cordial shake, “this is a sad day to those who have known thee long,
and loved thee well; and a foul day for the commencement of such an
important journey. Bad beginnings, they say, make bright endings; so
there is hope for thee yet in the stormy cloud.”

“Flora, where are your omens now?” said Lyndsay, triumphantly. “Either
you or friend Adam must be wrong.”

“Or the proverb I quoted, say rather,” returned Adam. “Proverbs often
bear a double meaning, and can be interpreted as well one way as the
other. The ancients were cunning fellows in this respect, and were
determined to make themselves true prophets at any rate.”

“What a miserable day,” said the poet, turning from the window, where he
had been contemplating thoughtfully the gloomy aspect of things without.
His eye fell sadly upon his son. “It is enough to chill the heart.”

“When I was a boy at school,” said Adam, “I used to think that God sent
all the rain upon holidays, on purpose to disappoint us of our sport. I
found that most things in life happened contrary to our wishes; and I
used to pray devoutly, that all the Saturdays might prove wet, firmly
believing that it would be sure to turn out the reverse.”

“According to your theory, Mansel,” said Mr. Hawke, “Mrs. Lyndsay must
have prayed for a very fine day.”

“Dost thee call this a holiday?” returned the Quaker, with a twinkle of
quiet humour in his bright brown eyes.

Mr. Hawke suppressed a sigh, and his glance again fell on his boy; and,
hurrying to the window, he mechanically drew his hand across his eyes.

Here the old Captain came bustling in, full of importance, chuckling,
rubbing his hands, and shaking his dripping fearnaught, with an air of
great satisfaction.

“You will not be disappointed, my dear,” addressing himself to Mrs.
Lyndsay. “The wind has fallen off a bit; and, though the sea is too
rough for the small craft, Palmer, the captain of the pilot-boat, has
been with me; and, for the consideration of two pounds (forty
shillings),—a large sum of money, by-the-bye,—I will try and beat him
down to thirty,—he says he will launch the great boat, and man her with
twelve stout young fellows, who will take you, bag and baggage, on board
the steamer, though the gale were blowing twice as stiff. You have no
more to fear in that fine boat, than you have sitting at your ease in
that arm-chair. So make up your mind, my dear; for you have no time to
lose.”

Flora looked anxiously from her husband to her child, and then at the
black, pouring sky, and the raging waters.

“There is no danger, Flora,” said Lyndsay. “These fine boats can live in
almost any sea. But the rain will make it very uncomfortable for you and
the child.”

“The discomfort will only last a few minutes, Mrs. Lyndsay,” said old
Kitson. “Those chaps will put you on board before you can say Jack
Robinson.”

“It is better to bear a ducking than lose our passage in the
_Chieftain_,” said Flora. “There cannot be much to apprehend from the
violence of the storm, or twelve men would never risk their lives for
the value of forty shillings. Our trunks are all in the boat-house, our
servants discharged, and our friends gone; we have no longer a home, and
I am impatient to commence our voyage.”

“You are right, Flora. Dress yourself and the child, and I will engage
the boat immediately.” And away bounded Lyndsay to make their final
arrangements, and see the luggage safely stowed away in the pilot-boat.

Captain Kitson seated himself at the table, and began discussing a
beefsteak with all the earnestness of a hungry man. From time to time,
as his appetite began to slacken, he addressed a word of comfort or
encouragement to Mrs. Lyndsay, who was busy wrapping up the baby for her
perilous voyage.

“That’s right, my dear. Take care of the young one; ’tis the most
troublesome piece of lumber you have with you. A child and a cat are
two things which never ought to come on board a ship. But take courage,
my dear. Be like our brave Nelson; never look behind you after entering
upon difficulties; it only makes bad worse, and does no manner of good.
You will encounter rougher gales than this before you have crossed the
Atlantic.”

“I hope that we shall not have to wait long for the steamer,” said
Flora. “I dread this drenching rain for the poor babe, far more than the
stormy sea.”

“Wait,” responded the old man, “the steamer will be rattling down in no
time; it is within an hour of her usual time. But Mrs. Lyndsay, my
dear,”—hastily pushing from him his empty plate, and speaking with his
mouth full—“I have one word to say to you in private, before you go.”

Flora followed the gallant captain into the kitchen, marvelling in her
own mind what this private communication could be. The old man shut the
door carefully behind him; then said, in a mysterious whisper—“The old
clothes; do you remember what I said to you last night?”

Taken by surprise, Flora looked down, coloured, and hesitated; she was
afraid of wounding his feelings. Simple woman! the man was without
delicacy, and had no feelings to wound.

“There is a bundle of things, Captain Kitson,” she faltered out at last,
“in the press in my bedroom, for Mr. Charles—coats, trowsers, and other
things. I was ashamed to mention to you such trifles.”

“Never mind—never mind, my dear; I am past blushing at my time of life;
and reelly—(he always called it reelly)—I am much obliged to you.”

After a pause, in which both looked supremely foolish, the old man
continued—“There was a china cup and two plates—pity to spoil the
set—that your careless maid broke the other day in the washhouse. Did
Mrs. K. mention them to you, my dear?”

“Yes, sir, and they are _paid_ for,” said Flora, turning with disgust
from the sordid old man. “Have you anything else to communicate?”

“All right,” said the Captain. “Here is your husband looking for you.
The boat is ready.”

“Flora, we only wait for you,” said Lyndsay. Flora placed the precious
babe in her father’s arms, and they descended the steep flight of steps
that led from the cliff to the beach.

In spite of the inclemency of the weather a crowd of old and young had
assembled on the beach to witness their embarcation, and bid them
farewell.

The hearty “God bless you! God grant you a prosperous voyage, and a
better home than the one you leave, on the other side of the Atlantic!”
burst from the lips of many an honest tar; and brought the tears into
Flora’s eyes, as the sailors crowded round the emigrants, to shake
hands with them before they stepped into the noble boat that lay rocking
in the surf.

Precious to Flora and Lyndsay were the pressure of those hard rough
hands. They expressed the honest sympathy felt, by a true-hearted set of
poor men, in their present situation and future welfare.

“You are not going without one parting word with me!” cried Mary
Parnell, springing down the steep bank of stones, against which
thundered the tremendous surf. The wind had blown her straw bonnet back
upon her shoulders, and scattered her fair hair in beautiful confusion
round her lovely face.

The weeping, agitated girl was alternately clasped in the arms of
Lyndsay and his wife.

“Why did you expose yourself, dear Mary, to weather like this?”

“Don’t talk of weather,” sobbed Mary; “I only know that we must part. Do
you begrudge me the last look? Good-bye! God bless you both!”

Before Flora could speak another word, she was caught up in the arms of
a stout seaman, who safely deposited both the mother and her child in
the boat. Lyndsay, Mr. Hawke, his son, Adam Mansel, and lastly Hannah,
followed. Three cheers arose from the sailors on the beach. The gallant
boat dashed through the surf, and was soon bounding over the giant
billows.

Mr. Hawke and friend Adam had never been on the sea before, but they
determined not to bid adieu to the emigrants until they saw them safe on
board the steamer.

“I will never take a last look of the dear home in which I have passed
so many happy hours,” said Flora, resolutely turning her back to the
shore. “I cannot yet realize the thought that I am never to see it
again.”



CHAPTER XIV.

AN OPEN BOAT AT SEA.


Flora’s spirits rose in proportion to the novelty and danger of her
situation. All useless regrets and repinings were banished from her
breast the moment she embarked upon that stormy ocean. The parting,
which, when far off, had weighed so heavily on her heart, was over; the
present was full of excitement and interest; the time for action had
arrived; and the consciousness that they were actually on their way to a
distant clime, braced her mind to bear with becoming fortitude this
great epoch of her life.

The gale lulled for a few minutes, and Flora looked up to the leaden
sky, in the hope of catching one bright gleam from the sun. He seemed to
have abdicated his throne that day, and refused to cast even a glimpse
upon the dark, storm-tossed waters, or cheer with his presence the
departure of the emigrants.

The gentlemen made an effort to be lively. The conversation turned on
the conduct of women under trying circumstances—the courage and
constancy they had shown in situations of great peril—animating the men
to fresh exertions by their patient endurance of suffering and
privation. Mr. Hawke said, “That all travellers had agreed in their
observations upon the conduct of females to strangers; and that, when
travelling, they had never had occasion to complain of the women.”

At this speech, Lyndsay, who began to feel all the horrible nausea of
sea-sickness, raised his head from between his hands, and replied with a
smile, “That it was the very reverse with women, for, when they
travelled, they had most reason to complain of the men.”

The effects of the stormy weather soon became very apparent among the
passengers in the pilot-boat—sickness laid its leaden grasp upon all the
fresh-water sailors. Even Lyndsay, a hardy Islander, and used to boats
and boating all his life, yielded passively to the attacks of the
relentless fiend of the salt waters, with rigid features, and a face
pale as the faces of the dead. He sat with his head bowed between his
hands, as motionless as if he had suddenly been frozen into stone. Flora
often lifted the cape of the cloak which partially concealed his face,
to ascertain that he was still alive.

The anxiety she felt in endeavouring to protect her infant from the
pouring rain, perhaps acted as an antidote to this distressing malady,
for, though only just out of a sick bed, she did not feel the least
qualmish.

Hannah, the servant, lay stretched at the bottom of the boat, her head
supported by the ballast-bags, in a state too miserable to describe;
while James Hawke, the lad who was to accompany them in their long
voyage, had sunk into a state of happy unconsciousness, after having
vainly wished, for the hundredth time, that he was safe on shore,
scampering over the village green with his twelve brothers and sisters,
and not tempting the angry main in an open boat, with the windows of
heaven discharging waters enough upon his defenceless head to drown
him—without speaking of the big waves that every moment burst into the
boat, giving him a salt bath upon a gigantic scale.

After an hour’s hard rowing, the _King William_ (for so their boat was
called), cast anchor in the roadstead, distant about eight miles from
the town, and lay to, waiting for the coming-up of the steamer.

Hours passed away,—the day wore slowly onward,—but still the vessel they
expected did not appear. The storm, which had lulled till noon,
increased in violence, until it blew “great guns,” to use the sailors’
nautical phraseology; and signs of uneasiness began to be manifested by
the hardy crew of the pilot-boat.

“Some accident must have befallen the steamer,” said Palmer, the captain
of the boat, to Craigie, a fine, handsome young seaman, as he handed him
the bucket to bale the water from their vessel. “I don’t like this;
I’ll be —— if I do! If the wind increases, and remains in the present
quarter, a pretty kettle of fish it will make of us. We may be thankful
if we escape with our lives.”

“Is there any danger?” demanded Flora eagerly, as she clasped her wet,
cold baby closer to her breast. The child had been crying piteously for
the last hour.

“Yes, Madam,” he replied respectfully; “we have been in considerable
danger all day. The wind is increasing with the coming in of the tide;
and I see no prospect of its clearing up. As the night comes on, do ye
see, and if we do not fall in with the _Soho_, we shall have to haul up
the anchor, and run before the gale; and, with all my knowledge of the
coast, we may be driven ashore, and the boat swamped in the surf.”

Flora sighed, and wished herself safe at home, in her dear, snug, little
parlour; the baby asleep in the cradle, and Lyndsay reading aloud to her
as she worked, or playing on his flute.

The rain again burst down in torrents,—the thunder roared over their
heads,—and the black, lurid sky, looked as if it contained a second
deluge. Flora shivered with cold and exhaustion, and bent more closely
over the child, to protect her as much as possible, by the exposure of
her own person, from the drenching rain and spray.

“Ah! this is sad work for women and children!” said the honest tar,
drawing a large tarpaulin over the mother and child. Blinded and
drenched by the pelting of the pitiless shower, Flora crouched down in
the bottom of the boat, in patient endurance of what might befal. The
wind blew piercingly cold; and the spray of the huge billows which burst
continually over them, enveloped the small craft in a feathery cloud,
effectually concealing from her weary passengers the black waste of
raging waters which roared around and beneath them.

The poor infant was starving with hunger, and all Flora’s efforts to
keep it quiet proved unavailing. The gentlemen were as sick and helpless
as the baby, and nothing could well increase their wretchedness. They
had now been ten hours at sea; and, not expecting the least detention
from the non-arrival of the steamer, nothing in the way of refreshment
had formed any part of their luggage. Those who had escaped the horrors
of sea-sickness, of which Flora was one, were suffering from thirst,
while the keen air had sharpened their appetites to a ravenous degree.

In spite of their forlorn situation, Flora could not help being amused
by the gay, careless manner, in which the crew of the boat contended
with these difficulties.

“Well, I’ll be blowed if I arn’t hungry!” cried Craigie, as he stood up
in the boat, with his arms folded, and his nor’wester pulled over his
eyes, to ward off the drenching rain. “Nothin’ would come amiss to me
now, in the way of prog. I could digest a bit of the shark that
swallowed Jonah, or pick a rib of the old prophet himself, without
making a wry face.”

“I wonder which would prove the tougher morsel of the two,” said Mr.
Hawke, raising his languid head from the bench before him, and whose
love of fun overcame the deadly pangs of sea-sickness.

“A dish of good beefsteaks from the Crown Inn would be worth them both,
friend,” said Adam Mansel, who, getting better of the sea-sickness, like
Craigie, began to feel the pangs of hunger.

“You may keep the dish, mister,” returned Craigie, laughing; “give me
the grub.”

“Ah, how bitter!” groaned James Hawke, raising himself up from the
furled sail which had formed his bed, and yielding to the terrible
nausea that oppressed him.

“Ay, ay, my lad,” said an ancient mariner, on whose tanned face time and
exposure to sun and storm had traced a thousand hieroglyphics;
“nothing’s sweet that’s so contrary to natur’. Among the bitter things
of life, there’s scarcely a worse than the one that now troubles you.
Sick at sea,—well on shore; so there’s comfort for you!”

“Cold comfort,” sighed the boy, as he again fell prostrate on the wet
sail. A huge billow broke over the side of the boat, and deluged him
with brine. He did not heed it, having again relapsed into his former
insensible state.

“The bucket aft,” shouted Palmer. “It’s wanted to bale the boat.”

“The bucket’s engaged,” said Craigie, bowing with ludicrous politeness,
to poor Hannah, whose head he was supporting, “I must first attend to
the lady.”

The patience of the handsome young Quaker, under existing difficulties,
was highly amusing. He bore the infliction of the prevailing malady with
such a benign air of resignation, that it was quite edifying. Wiping the
salt water from his face with a pocket-handkerchief of snowy whiteness,
he exclaimed, turning to Flora, who was sitting at his feet with Josey
in her arms, “Friend Flora, this sea-sickness is an evil emetic. It
tries a man’s temper, and makes him guilty of the crime of wishing
himself at the bottom of the sea.”

“If you could rap out a good round oath or two, Mister Quaker, without
choking yourself, it would do you a power of good,” said Craigie.
“What’s the use of a big man putting up with the like o’ that, like a
weak gall—women were made to bear—man to resist.”

“The Devil, and he will flee from them,” said Adam.

“You smooth-faced, unshaved fellows, have him always at your elbow,”
said Craigie. “He teaches you long prayers—us big oaths. I wonder which
cargo is the best to take to heaven.”

“Two blacks don’t make a white, friend,” said Adam, good-naturedly.
“Blasphemy, or hypocrisy either, is sufficient to sink the ship.”

Night was now fast closing over the storm-tossed voyagers. The boat was
half full of water, which flowed over Flora’s lap, and she began to feel
very apprehensive for the safety of her child. At this moment, a large
retriever dog which belonged to the captain of the boat, crept into her
lap; and she joyfully placed the baby upon his shaggy back, and the
warmth of the animal seemed greatly to revive the poor shivering Josey.

It was nearly dark when Palmer roused Lyndsay from his stupor, and
suggested the propriety of their return to ——. “You see, Sir,” he said,
“I am quite willing to wait for the arrival of the _Soho_, but something
must have gone wrong with her, or she would have been down before this.
The crew of the boat have been now ten hours exposed to the storm,
without a morsel of food, and if the wind should change, we should have
to run in for the Port of Y——, twenty miles distant from this. Under
existing circumstances, I think it advisable to return.”

“By all means,” said Lyndsay. “This might have been done three hours
ago;” and the next minute, to Flora’s inexpressible joy, the anchor was
hoisted, and the gallant boat once more careering over the mighty
billows.

Her face was once more turned towards that dear home, to which
she had bidden adieu in the morning; as she then imagined, for
ever—“England”—she cried, stretching her arms towards the dusky
shore. “Dear England! The winds and waves forbid our leaving you.
Welcome,—oh, welcome, once more.”

As they neared the beach, the stormy clouds parted in rifted masses; and
the deep blue heavens, studded here and there with a pale star, gleamed
lovingly down upon them; the rain ceased its pitiless pelting, the very
elements seemed to smile upon their return.

The pilot boat had been reported during the day as lost, and the beach
was crowded with anxious men and women to hail its return. The wives and
children of her crew pressed forward to meet them with joyful
acclamations; and Flora’s depressed spirits rose with the excitement of
the scene.

“Hold fast your baby, Mrs. Lyndsay, while the boat clears the surf,”
cried Palmer. “I’ll warrant that you both get a fresh ducking.”

As he spoke, the noble boat cut like an arrow through the line of
formidable breakers which thundered on the beach; the foam flew in
feathery volumes high above their heads, drenching them with a misty
shower; the keel grated upon the shingles, and a strong arm lifted
Flora once more upon her native land.

Benumbed and cramped with their long immersion in salt water, her limbs
had lost the power of motion, and Lyndsay and old Kitson carried her
between them up the steps which led from the beach to the top of the
cliffs, and deposited her safely on the sofa in the little parlour of
her deserted home.



CHAPTER XV.

ONCE MORE AT HOME.


A cheerful fire was blazing in the grate; the fragrant tea was smoking
on the well-covered table, and dear and familiar voices rang in her
ears, as sisters and friends crowded about Flora to offer their
services, and congratulate her on her safe return.

“Ah, does not this repay us for all our past sufferings?” cried Flora,
after the first hearty salutations of her friends were over. “And the
baby! where is the baby?”

Josey was laughing and crowing in the arms of her old nurse, looking as
fresh and as rosy as if nothing had happened to disturb her repose.

“Welcome once more to old England! dear Flora,” said Mary Parnell,
kissing the cold, wet cheek of her friend. “When I said that we should
meet again, I did not think that it would be so soon. Thank God, you are
all safe! For many hours it was believed that the boat had been swamped
in the gale, and that you were all lost. You may imagine the distress of
your mother and sisters, and the anguish the report occasioned us all,
and how we rejoiced when Waters ran up with the blessed news that the
boat was returning, and that her crew was safe. But come up-stairs, my
Flora, and change these dripping clothes. There is a nice fire in your
bedroom, and I have provided everything necessary for your comfort.”

“Don’t talk of her changing her clothes, Miss Parnell,” said the old
Captain, bustling in. “Undress and put her to bed immediately, between
hot blankets, and I will make her a good stiff glass of
brandy-and-water, to drive the cold out of her, or she may fall into a
sickness which no doctor can cure. Cut your yarn short, I say, or I
shall have to take charge of her myself.”

“Captain Kitson is right, Mary,” said Lyndsay, who just then entered
from superintending the removal of his luggage from the boat,
accompanied by a group of friends, all anxious to congratulate Mrs.
Lyndsay on her providential escape. “My dear Flora, you must be a good
girl, and go instantly to bed.”

“It will be so dull”—and Flora glanced at the group of friendly faces,
beaming with affection and kindness; “I should enjoy myself here so
much. Now, John, do not send me away to bed, and keep all the fun to
yourself—the bright, cheery fire and all the good things.”

Lyndsay looked grave, and whispered something in her ear about the baby,
and the madness of risking a bad cold. Whatever was the exact import of
his communication, it had the effect of producing immediate obedience to
his wishes, and Flora reluctantly quitted the social group, and retired
to her own chamber.

“Ah, Mary,” she said, as Miss Parnell safely deposited her and the
precious baby between the hot blankets, “it was worth braving a thousand
storms to receive such a welcome back. I never knew how much our dear
kind friends loved us before.”

“And now we have got you safe back, Flora, who knows what may happen to
prevent your leaving us again; Lyndsay may change his mind, and prefer
being happy on a small income at home to seeking his fortune in a
strange land.”

Flora shook her head.

“I know him better than you do, Mary. When once he has made up his mind
to any step which he considers necessary, a little difficulty and danger
will only stimulate him to exertion, and make him more eager to
prosecute his voyage.”

Whilst sipping the potion prescribed by old Kitson, and giving Mary an
account of all the perils they had encountered during the day, Nurse
came running up-stairs to say that Captain Kitson thought that the
_Soho_ was just rounding the point off the cliff, and he wanted to know,
that if it really proved to be her, whether Mrs. Lyndsay would get up
and once more trust herself upon the waves?

“Not to-night, Nurse, if a fortune depended upon it,” said Flora,
laughing. “Tell the Captain that I have spent the day in a salt-bath,
and mean to pass the night in my bed.”

Fortunately, Mrs. Lyndsay was not put to this fresh trial. The Captain
had mistaken the craft, and she was permitted to enjoy the warmth and
comfort of a sound sleep, unbroken by the peals of laughter, that from
time to time ascended from the room beneath; where the gentlemen seemed
determined to make the night recompense them for the dangers and
privations of the day.

The morning brought its own train of troubles—and when do they ever come
singly? Upon examination, Lyndsay found that the salt-water had
penetrated into all their trunks and cases; and that everything would
have to be unpacked and hung out to dry. This was indeed dull work, the
disappointment and loss attending upon it rendering it doubly irksome.

While Flora and her friend Mary superintended this troublesome affair,
Lyndsay lost no time in writing to the steamboat company, informing them
of his disastrous attempt to meet the _Soho_; and the loss he had
incurred by missing the vessel. They stated in reply, that the boat had
been wrecked at the mouth of the Thames, in the gale; and that another
boat would supply her place on the Sunday following; that she would pass
the town at noon, and hoist a red flag at her stern, as a signal for
them to get on board.

This was Thursday, and the intervening days passed heavily along. A
restless fever of expectation preyed upon Flora. She could settle to no
regular occupation; she knew that the delay only involved a fresh and
heavy expense, that they must ultimately go, and she longed to be off.
The efforts made by her friends to amuse and divert her, only increased
her impatience. But time, however slowly it passes to the anxious
expectant, swiftly and surely ushers in the appointed day.

Sunday came at last, and proved one of the loveliest mornings of that
delightful season of spring and sunshine. The lark carolled high in the
air, the swallows darted on light wings to and fro; and the sea, vast
and beautiful, gently heaved and undulated against the shore, with
scarcely a ripple to break the long line of golden light, which danced
and sparkled on its breast. The church bells were chiming for morning
prayer; and the cliffs were covered with happy groups in their holiday
attire. Flora, surrounded by friends and relatives, strove to be
cheerful; and the day was so promising, that it infused new life and
spirit into her breast. All eyes were turned to that part of the
horizon, on which the long, black trailing smoke of the steamer was
first expected to appear. A small boat, which had been engaged to put
them and their luggage on board, and which contained all their worldly
chattels, lay rocking in the surf, and all was ready for a start.

In the midst of an animated discussion on their future prospects, the
signal was given, that the steamer was in sight, and had already rounded
the point. How audibly to herself did Flora’s heart beat, as a small,
black speck in the distance gradually increased to a black cloud; and
not a doubt remained, that this was the expected vessel.

Then came the blinding tears, the re-enactment of the last passionate
adieus, and they were once more afloat upon the water.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE FOG.


The human heart is made of elastic stuff; and can scarcely experience on
the same subject an equal intensity of grief. Repetition had softened
the anguish of this second parting; the bitterness of grief was already
past; and the sun of hope was calmly rising above the clouds of sorrow,
which had hung for the last weary days so loweringly above our
emigrants. Mr. Hawke and his son alone accompanied them on this second
expedition. Adam Mansel had had enough of the sea, during their late
adventure, and thought it most prudent to make his adieus on shore.

James Hawke was in high spirits; anticipating with boyish enthusiasm,
the adventures which might fall to his share during a long voyage; and
his sojourn in that distant land, which was to prove to him a very land
of Goshen. Many gay hopes smiled upon him, which, like that bright sunny
day, were doomed to have a gloomy ending, although at the beginning it
promised so fair.

The owner of the boat, a morose old seaman, grumbled out his commands to
the two sailors who managed the craft, in such a dogged, sulky tone,
that it attracted the attention of the elder Hawke, and being naturally
fond of fun, he endeavoured to draw him out. An abrupt monosyllable was
the sole reply he could obtain to any one of his many questions.

Lyndsay was highly amused by his surly humour, and flattered himself
that _he_ might prove more successful than his friend, by startling the
sea-bear into a more lengthy growl.

“Friend,” said he carelessly, “I have forgotten your name?”

“Sam Rogers,” was the brief reply; uttered in a short grunt.

“Does the boat belong to you?”

“Yes.”

“She looks as if she had seen hard service?”

“Yes; both of us are the worse for wear.”

The ice once broken, Mr. Hawke chimed in—“Have you a wife, Captain
Rogers?”

“She’s in the churchyard,” with a decided growl.

“So much the better for Mrs. Rogers,” whispered Lyndsay to Flora.

“You had better let the animal alone,” said Flora in the same tone:
“’Tis sworn to silence.”

“Have you any family, Captain Rogers?” recommenced the incorrigible
Hawke.

“Ay; more than’s good.”

“Girls, or boys?”

“What’s that to you? Too many of both. Why do you call me Captain? You
knows well enough that I’m not a captain; never was a captain, and never
wants to be.”

After this rebuff, the surly Rogers was left to smoke his short black
pipe in peace, and in a few minutes the little boat came alongside the
huge Leviathan of the deep. A rope was thrown from her deck, which
having been secured, the following brief dialogue ensued:

“The _City of Edinburgh_, for Edinburgh?”

“The _Queen of Scotland_, for Aberdeen, Captain Fraser.”

This announcement was followed by a look of blank astonishment and
disappointment from the party in the boat.

“Where is the _City of Edinburgh_?”

“We left her in the river. You had better take a passage with us to
Aberdeen,” said Captain Fraser, advancing to the side of his vessel.

“Two hundred miles out of my way,” said Lyndsay. “Fall off.” The tow
rope was cast loose, and the floating castle resumed her thundering
course, leaving the party in the boat greatly disconcerted by the
misadventure.

“The _City of Edinburgh_ must soon be here?” said Lyndsay, addressing
himself once more to Sam Rogers. That sociable individual continued
smoking his short pipe without deigning to notice the speaker. “Had we
not better lay-to, and wait for her coming up?”

“No; we should be run down by her. Do you see yon?” pointing with his
pipe, to a grey cloud that was rolling over the surface of the sea
towards them; “that’s the sea rake—in three minutes: in less than three
minutes, you will not be able to discern objects three yards beyond your
nose.”

“Pleasant news,” said Mr. Hawke, with rather a dolorous sigh. “This may
turn out as bad as our last scrape. Lyndsay, you are an unlucky fellow.
If you go on as you have begun, it will be some months before you reach
Canada.”

In less time than the old man had prognosticated, the dense fog had
rapidly spread itself over the water, blotting the sun from the heavens,
and enfolding every object in its chilly embrace. The shores faded from
their view, the very ocean on which they floated, was heard, but no
longer seen. Nature seemed to have lost her identity, covered with that
white sheet, which enveloped her like a shroud. Flora strove in vain to
pierce the thick misty curtain by which they were surrounded. Her whole
world was now confined to the little boat and the persons it contained:
the rest of creation had become a blank. The fog wetted like rain, and
was more penetrating, and the constant efforts she made to see through
it, made her eyes and head ache, and cast a damp upon her spirits which
almost amounted to despondency.

“What is to be done?” asked Lyndsay, who shared the same feelings in
common with his wife.

“Nothing, that I know of,” responded Sam Rogers, “but to return.”

As he spoke a dark shadow loomed through the fog, which proved to be a
small trading vessel, bound from London to Yarmouth. The sailors hailed
her, and with some difficulty ran the boat alongside.

“Have you passed the _City of Edinburgh_?”

“We spake her in the river. She ran foul of the _Courier_ steamer, and
unshipped her rudder. She put back for repairs, and won’t be down till
to-morrow morning.”

“The devil!” muttered Sam Rogers.

“Agreeable tidings for us,” sighed Flora. “This is worse than the storm;
it is so unexpected. I should be quite disheartened, did I not believe
that Providence directed these untoward events.”

“I am inclined to be of your opinion, Flora,” said Lyndsay, “in spite of
my disbelief in signs and omens. There is something beyond mere accident
in this second disappointment.”

“Is it not a solemn warning to us, not to leave England?” said Flora.

“I was certain that would be your interpretation of the matter,”
returned her husband; “but having put my hand to the plough, Flora, I
will not turn back.”

The sailors now took to their oars, the dead calm precluding the use of
the sail, and began to steer their course homewards. The fog was so
dense and bewildering that they made little way, and the long day was
spent in wandering to and fro without being able to ascertain where they
were.

“Hark!” cried one of the men, laying his ear to the side of the boat, “I
hear the flippers of the steamer.”

“It is the roar of the accursed _Barnet_,” cried the other. “I know its
voice of old, having twice been wrecked upon the reef—we must change our
course; we are on a wrong tack altogether.”

It was near midnight before a breeze sprang up and dispelled the ominous
fog. The moon showed her wan face through the driving scud, the sail was
at last hoisted, and cold and hungry, and sick at heart, our voyagers
once more returned to their old port.

This time, however, the beach was silent and deserted. No friendly voice
welcomed them back. Old Kitson looked cross at being roused out of his
bed at one o’clock in the morning, to admit them into the house,
muttering as he did so, something about “unlucky folks, and the deal of
trouble they gave; that they had better give up going to Canada
altogether, and hire their old lodgings again; that it was no joke,
having his rest broken at his time of life; that he could not afford to
keep open house at all hours, for people who were in no ways related to
him.”

With such consoling expressions of sympathy in their forlorn condition,
did the hard, worldly old man proceed to unlock the door of their former
domicile; but food, lights, and firing, he would not produce, until
Lyndsay had promised ample remuneration for the same.

Exhausted in mind and body, for she had not broken her fast since eight
o’clock that morning, Flora for a long time refused to partake of the
warm cup of tea her loving partner had made with his own hands for her
especial benefit; and her tears continued to fall involuntarily over the
sleeping babe which lay upon her lap.

Mr. Hawke saw that her nerves were completely unstrung by fatigue, and
ran across the green, and called up Flora’s nurse to take charge of the
infant.

Mrs. Clarke, kind creature that she was, instantly hurried to the house
to do what she could for the mother and child. Little Josey was soon
well warmed and fed, and Flora smiled through her tears, when her
husband made his appearance.

“Come, Flora,” he cried, “you are ill for the want of food,—I am going
to make some sandwiches for you, and you must be a good girl and eat
them, or I will never cater for you again.”

Mr. Hawke exerted all his powers of drollery to enliven the
miscellaneous meal, and Flora soon retired to rest, fully determined to
bear the crosses of life with more fortitude for the future.

The sun was not above the horizon, when she was roused, however, from a
deep sleep, by the stentorian voice of old Kitson, who, anxious to get
rid of his troublesome visitors, cried out, with great glee,—“Hallo! I
say—here is the right steamer at last.—Better late than never. The red
flag is hoisted at her stern; and she is standing right in for the bay.
Quick! Quick, _Leaftenant_ Lyndsay! or you’ll be too late.”

With all possible despatch Flora dressed herself, though baffled by
anxiety from exerting unusual celerity. The business of the toilet had
to be performed in such a brief space, that it was impossible to attend
to it with any nicety. At last all was completed; Flora hurried down to
the beach, with Hannah and Mrs. Clarke, James Hawke and Lyndsay having
preceded them to arrange their passage to the steamer.

“Make haste, Mrs. Lyndsay,” shouted old Kitson; “these big dons wait for
no one. I have got all your trunks stowed away into the boat, and the
lads are waiting. If you miss your passage the third time, you may give
it up as a bad job.”

In a few minutes Flora was seated in the boat, uncheered by any parting
blessing but the cold farewell, and for ever, of old Captain Kitson,
who could scarcely conceal the joy he felt at their departure. The
morning was wet and misty, and altogether comfortless, and Flora was
glad when the bustle of getting on board the steamer was over, and they
were safe upon her deck.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE STEAMBOAT.


In spite of the early hour, and the disagreeable weather, a number of
persons, glad to escape from the close confinement of the cabins, were
pacing the deck of the steamer. Others were leaning over the bulwarks,
regarding the aspect of the country they were rapidly passing; while
some were talking in small groups, in a loud declamatory tone, evidently
more intent on attracting the attention of the bystanders than of
edifying their own immediate listeners. Though bright eyes might look
heavy, and fair faces languid and sleepy, vanity was wide awake, and
never more active than in the midst of a crowd, where all are strangers
to each other. It affords such a glorious opportunity for display for
pretenders to rank and importance to show off their affected airs of
wealth and consequence; and the world can lay bare its rotten heart,
without much fear of detection, or dread of unpleasant results.

Flora sat down upon a bench beside her husband, and her eye ranged from
group to group of those strange faces, with a mechanical, uninterested
gaze. Here a pretty insipid-looking girl sauntered the deck with a book
in her hand, from which she never read; and another, more vivacious, and
equally intent on attracting her share of public notice, raved to an
elderly gentleman, on whose arm she was leaning, of the beauty and
magnificence of the ocean.

The young and good-looking of either sex were flirting. The more wily
and experienced coquetting after a graver fashion; while the middle-aged
were gossiping to some congenial spirit on the supposed merits or
demerits of their neighbours.

Not a few prostrate forms might be seen reclining upon shawls and
cloaks, supported by pillows, whose languid, pale faces, and disarranged
tresses, showed that the demon of the waters had been at work, and
remorselessly had stricken them down.

Standing near the seat occupied by the Lyndsays, Flora observed a tall,
fashionably-dressed woman, apparently about twenty-eight or thirty years
of age. She was laughing and chatting in the most lively and familiar
manner with a handsome, middle-aged man, in a military undress. The
person of the lady was very agreeable, and though neither pretty nor
elegant, was fascinating and attractive.

As her male companion constantly addressed her as Mrs. Dalton, we will
call her by her name. When Mrs. Lyndsay first took her seat upon the
deck Mrs. Dalton left off her conversation with Major F——, and regarded
the new arrival with a long, cool, deliberate stare, which would have
won a smile from Flora, had it not been evidently meant to insult and
annoy; for, turning to the Major, with a glance of peculiar meaning,
accompanied with the least possible elevation of her shoulders, she let
slip the word—“_Nobody_!”

“I am sure that _he_ is a gentleman, and, if I mistake not, an officer,
and a fine intelligent looking man,” remarked her companion, in an
aside; “and I like the appearance of his wife.”

“My dear Sir, I tell you that _she is nobody_. Look at that merino gown;
what lady would venture on board these fine vessels, where they meet
with so many _fashionable_ people, in such a dress?”

“A very suitable dress, I should say, for a sea voyage.”

“Pshaw!” muttered Mrs. Dalton, “have done with your prudent Scotch sense
of propriety. Who minds spoiling a good dress or two, when their
standing in society is risked by appearing shabby? I tell you, Major,
that she is _nobody_.”

“Had you not told me that you had passed the greater part of your life,
Mrs. Dalton, in a British Colony, I could have sworn to the fact, from
your last speech,” said her companion: “you all think so much of dress,
that with you it is really the coat which makes the man, and, I suppose,
the gown which makes the lady. However, you shall have it your own way.
You know how easy it is for you to bring me over to your opinion.”

“Do you think that a pretty woman?” she said, directing her husband’s
eyes towards the lady in question.

“Rather,” he replied coldly, “but very worldly and sophisticated.”

“I am glad to hear you say so,” said Flora, like a true woman; “that is
precisely the opinion I have formed of her. Is that officer her
husband?”

“I should rather think not. Husbands and wives seldom try to attract
public attention to themselves, as that man and woman are doing. I have
no doubt they are strangers who never met before.”

“Impossible!”

“Nothing more probable; people who meet on short journeys and voyages
like this, often throw aside the restraints imposed by society, and act
and talk in a manner which would be severely censured in circles where
they are known. Were you never favoured by the autobiography of a
fellow-traveller in a stage-coach?”

“Yes often, and thought it very odd that any one should reveal so much
of their private history to a stranger.”

“It is a common occurrence, originating in the vanity of persons who
love to make themselves and their affairs the subject of conversation;
and if they can but obtain listeners, never stop to question who or
what they are.”

“Ah, I remember getting into a sad scrape,” said Flora, “while
travelling from S—— to London in a stage-coach. It was one of these
uncomfortable things which one hates to think of for the rest of a life,
and yet so ridiculous that one feels more inclined to laugh over it than
to cry, though I believe (for I was but a girl at the time), I did both.

“My fellow-passengers were three gentlemen, one, to whom I was well
known, the others perfect strangers. One of the latter, a very
well-dressed but rather foppish, conceited young man, talked much upon
literary matters, and from his conversation gave you to understand that
he was on the most intimate terms with all the celebrated authors of the
day. After giving us a very frank, and by no means just critique upon
the works of Scott and Byron, whom he familiarly called, ‘my friend, Sir
Walter,’ ‘my companion, Lord Byron,’ he suddenly turned to me, and asked
me, ‘if I ever read the S. Chronicle?’ This was one of the county
papers, I told him; that I saw it every week.

“‘If that be the case,’ said he, ‘will you tell me what you think of the
Rev. Mr. B.’s poems, which have from time to time appeared in its
columns?’

“This reverend gentleman was a man with a very heavy purse and a very
empty head, whose contributions to the county papers were never read but
to be laughed at. Not having the slightest personal knowledge of the
author, I answered innocently enough, ‘Oh, he’s a stupid, conceited
fellow. It is a pity he has not some friend to tell him what a fool he
makes of himself, whenever he appears in print. His poetry is such dull
trash, that I am certain he must pay the Editor of the paper for
allowing him to put it in.’

“Mr. C. was stuffing his handkerchief into his mouth, to avoid laughing
out right; while the poor gentleman (for it was the author himself),
drew back with a face alternately red and pale, with suppressed
indignation. His feelings must have been dreadful, for, during the rest
of his journey, he sat and regarded me with an air of such offended
dignity, that I must have appeared to him like some wicked ogress, ready
to devour, at one mouthful, him and his literary fame. He never opened
his mouth to speak to any of us after I had made this unfortunate
blunder, and I sat upon thorns, until a handsome plain carriage drove up
to the coach about a mile from T., and relieved us of his company.

“This circumstance made me feel so uncomfortable, that I never ventured
upon giving an opinion of the works of any living author to a stranger,
without having a previous knowledge of the person of the writer.”

“He deserved what he got, for his egregious vanity,” said Lyndsay. “For
my part, I do not pity him at all; and it afforded you a good lesson of
prudence for the future.”

At this moment a young negro lad, fantastically dressed, and evidently
very much in love with himself, strutted past. As he swaggered along the
deck, rolling his jet black eyes from side to side, and showing his
white teeth to the spectators, an indolent-looking young man, dressed in
the extreme of fashion, called languidly after him—

“Hollo, Blacky! What colour’s the Devil?”

“White,” responded the negro, “and sports red whiskers, like you!”

Every one laughed; the dandy shrunk back, utterly confounded; while the
negro snapped his fingers, and crowed with delight.

“Hector, go down into the ladies’ cabin, and wait there until I call for
you,” cried Mrs. Dalton, in an angry voice; “I did not bring you here to
insult gentlemen.”

“De Buckra affront me first!” returned the sable page, as he sullenly
withdrew.

“That boy grows very pert,” continued his mistress, turning to Major F.;
“this is the consequence of the ridiculous stir made by the English
people against slavery. The fellow knows that he is free the moment that
he touches the British shores; and he thinks that he can show his
independence by disobeying my commands, and being insolent to his
superiors. I hope he will not take it into his head to leave me, for he
saves me all the trouble of taking care of the children.”

The Major laughed, while Flora pitied the children, and wondered how any
mother could confide them to the care of such a nurse.

The clouds, which had been rising for some time, now gave very
unequivocal notice of an approaching storm. The rain began to fall, and
the decks were quickly cleared of their motley groups.



CHAPTER XVIII.

A PEEP INTO THE LADIES’ CABIN.


In the ladies’ cabin all was helplessness and confusion: the larger
portion of the berths were already occupied by invalids in every stage
of sea-sickness; the floor and sofas were strewn with bonnets and
shawls, and articles of dress were scattered about in all directions.
Some of the ladies were stretched upon the carpet; others, in a sitting
posture, were supporting their aching heads upon their knees, and
appeared perfectly indifferent to all that was passing around them, and
only alive to their own misery. Others there were, who, beginning to
recover from the odious malady, were employing their returning faculties
in quizzing, and making remarks in audible whispers, on their prostrate
companions.

The centre of such a group was a little sharp-faced, dark-eyed,
sallow-skinned old maid of forty, whose angular figure was covered with
ample folds of rich black silk, cut very low in the bust, and exposing a
portion of her person, which, in all ladies of her age, is better hid.
She was travelling companion to a large, showily-dressed matron of
fifty, who occupied the best sofa in the cabin, and, although evidently
convalescent, commanded the principal attendance of the stewardess,
while she graciously received the gratuitous services of all who were
well enough to render her their homage. She was evidently the great lady
of the cabin; and round her couch a knot of gossips had collected, when
Flora, followed by Hannah carrying the baby, entered upon the scene.

The character of Mrs. Dalton formed the topic of conversation. The
little old maid was remorselessly tearing it to tatters. “No woman who
valued her reputation,” she said, with pious horror in her looks and
tone, “would flirt in the disgraceful manner that Mrs. Dalton was
doing.”

“There is some excuse for her conduct,” remarked a plain but
interesting-looking woman, not herself in the early spring of life.
“Mrs. Dalton is a West Indian, and has not been brought up with our
ideas of refinement and delicacy.”

“I consider it no excuse,” cried the other vehemently, glancing up, as
the cabin-door opened to admit Flora and her maid, to be sure that the
object of her animadversions was not within earshot. “Don’t tell me. She
knows, Miss Leigh, very well what she’s about. Is it no crime, think
you, to endeavour to attract the attention of Major F.? My dear Madam,”
turning to the great lady, who with her head languidly propped by her
hand, was eagerly listening to a conversation which so nearly concerned
her: “I wonder you can bear so calmly her flirtations with your husband.
If it were me now, I should be ready to tear her eyes out. Do speak to
the creature, and remonstrate with her on her scandalous conduct.”

“Ah, my dear Miss Mann, I am used to these things,” sighed Mrs. F. “No
conduct of the Major’s can give me the least uneasiness now. Nor do I
think, that Mrs. Dalton is aware that she is trying to seduce the
affections of a _married_ man.”

“That she is though,” exclaimed Miss Mann, triumphantly. “I took care to
interrupt one of their lively conversations, by telling Major F. that
his wife was ill, and wished to see him. Mrs. Dalton coloured, and moved
away; but the moment my back was turned, she recommenced her attack. If
she were a widow, one might make some allowance for her. But a young
married woman, with two small children! I have no doubt that she left
her husband for no good.”

“She was married very young, to a man more than double her own age,”
said Miss Leigh. “The match was made for her by her friends—especially
by her grandmother, who now resides in Edinburgh, and whom I know very
well; a woman of considerable property, by whom Mrs. Dalton was brought
up. She was always a gay, flighty girl, dreadfully indulged, and used
from a child to have her own way. I consider her lot peculiarly hard,
in being united, when a mere girl, to a man whom she had scarcely seen a
dozen times, and whom she did not love. The worst that can be said of
her is, that she is vain and imprudent; but I can never believe that she
is the bad, designing woman you would make her.”

“Her conduct is very creditable for a clergyman’s wife,” sneered the old
maid. “I wonder the rain don’t bring her down into the cabin. But the
society of ladies would prove very insipid to a person of her peculiar
taste. I should like to know what brings her from Jamaica?”

“If it will satisfy your doubts, I can inform you,” said Miss Leigh,
with a quiet smile. “To place her two children with her grandmother,
that they may receive an European education. She is a thoughtless being,
but hardly deserves your severe censures.”

The amiable manner in which this lady endeavoured to defend the absent,
without wholly excusing her levity, struck Flora very forcibly. Mrs.
Dalton’s conduct upon deck had created in her own mind no very
favourable opinion of her good qualities. Miss Leigh’s remarks tended
not a little to soften her disgust and aversion towards that individual,
whose attack upon her she felt was as ill-natured, as it was unjust. She
was now inclined to let them pass for what they were worth, and to
dismiss Mrs. Dalton from her thoughts altogether. But Miss Mann was too
much excited by Miss Leigh’s extenuating remarks, to let the subject
drop, and returned with fresh vigour to the charge.

“It is totally beyond my power,” she cried, “to do justice to her vanity
and frivolity. No one ever before accused me of being ill-natured, or
censorious; but that woman is the vainest person I ever saw. Did you
notice, my dear Mrs. F., that she changed her dress three times
yesterday, and twice to-day? She knelt a whole hour before the
cheval-glass, arranging her hair, and trying on a variety of expensive
head-dresses, before she could fix on one for the saloon. I should be
ashamed of being the only lady among so many men. But she is past
blushing—she has a face of brass.”

“And so plain too,” murmured Mrs. Major F.

“You cannot deny that her features are good, ladies,” again interposed
Miss Leigh; “but creoles seldom possess the fine red and white of our
British belles.”

“At night,” suggested Miss Mann, “her colour is remarkably good: it is
not subject to any variation like ours. The bleak sea air does not dim
the roses on her cheeks; while these young ladies look as blue and as
cold as figures carved out of stone. Of course, Miss Leigh will think me
very uncharitable in saying that Mrs. D. paints; but I know she does.
She left her dressing-case open yesterday, and her little boy was
dabbling his fingers in her French carmine and pearl white, and a fine
mess he made of his mamma’s beautiful complexion. Bless me!” exclaimed
the old maid, suddenly lowering her voice to a whisper, “if there is not
her black imp sitting under the table; he will be sure to tell her all
that we have said about her! What a nuisance he is! I do not think it is
proper for him, a great boy of sixteen, to be admitted into the ladies’
cabin.”

“Pshaw!” said Mrs. Major F.; “nobody cares for him—a black.”

“But, my dear Mrs. F., though he is a black, the boy has eyes and ears,
like the rest of his sex, and my sense of female propriety is shocked by
his presence. But, who are these people?”—glancing at Flora and her
maid—“and why is that woman admitted into the ladies’ cabin?—servants
have no business here.”

“She is the nurse; that alters the case,” said Miss Leigh. “The plea of
being the children’s attendant brought Master Hector into the cabin.”

“The boy is black, and has, on that score, as Mrs. Major F. says,
neither rank nor sex,” continued the waspish Miss Mann, contradicting
the objections she had made to Hector’s company only a few minutes
before. “I will not submit to this insult, nor occupy the same apartment
with a servant.”

“My dear Madam, you strangely forget yourself,” said Miss Leigh. “This
lady has a very young infant, and cannot do without the aid of her
nurse. A decent, tidy young woman is not quite such a nuisance as the
noisy black boy that Mrs. Dalton has entailed upon us.”

“But, then she is a woman of _fashion_,” whispered Miss Mann; “and we
know nothing about these people, and if I were to judge by the young
person’s dress—”

“A very poor criterion,” interrupted Miss Leigh; “I draw my inferences
from a higher source.” And turning to Flora, she inquired, in a kind,
friendly tone, “if she were going all the way to Edinburgh, the age of
the baby, and how both were affected by the sea.”

Before Flora could answer these questions, Miss Mann addressed her with
great asperity of look and manner—

“Perhaps, Madam, you are not aware that it is against the regulations of
these vessels, to admit servants into the state cabin.”

“I am sorry, ladies,” said Flora, rather proudly, “that the presence of
mine should incommode you. I have only just recovered from a dangerous
illness, and am unable at present to take the whole charge of the child
myself. I have paid for my servant’s attendance upon me in the cabin,
and I am certain that she will conduct herself in a manner not to offend
the prejudices of any one here.”

“How unpleasant,” grumbled the old maid, as she turned disdainfully on
her heel; “but what else can be expected from under-bred people.”

“Send away your nurse,” said Miss Leigh, in a low voice, to Mrs.
Lyndsay; “her presence gives, it seems, great offence to certain people,
and, if I may judge by her pale looks, she will be of little service to
you; I will help you to take care of your sweet baby.”

Flora immediately complied with Miss Leigh’s request. Hannah was
dismissed, and, indeed, the poor girl had enough to do to take care of
herself.

Towards evening the wind rose to a gale, and Flora, who had not suffered
from sickness during her two disastrous trips to sea, became so
alarmingly ill, that she was unable to attend to the infant, or assist
herself. Miss Leigh, like a good Samaritan, sat up with her during the
night, but in the morning she was so much worse, that she earnestly
requested that her husband might be allowed to see her.

Her petition was warmly seconded by Miss Leigh, but met with a decided
refusal from the rest of the lady-passengers. Mrs. Dalton, who took a
very prominent part in the matter, sprang from her berth, and, putting
her back against the cabin door, declared, “That no man save the surgeon
should gain, with her consent, an entrance there!”

“Then I hope, Madam,” said Miss Leigh, who was supporting Flora in her
arms, “that you will adhere to your own regulations, and dismiss your
black boy.”

“I shall do no such thing; my objection is to men, and not to
boys.—Hector, remain where you are!”

“How consistent!” sneered the old maid.

“The poor lady may die,” suggested Miss Leigh.

“Send for the Doctor—there is one on board.”

“The Doctor, ladies,” said the stewardess, coming forward, “got hurt
last night by the fall of the sail, during the storm, and is ill in his
bed.”

“If such is the case,” continued Miss Leigh, “you cannot, surely, deny
the lady the consolation of speaking to her husband?”

“What a noise that squalling child makes!” cried a fat woman, popping
her night-capped head out of an upper berth; “can’t it be removed? It
hinders me from getting a wink of sleep.”

“Cannot you take charge of it, Stewardess?”

“Oh, La! I’ve too much upon my hands already—what with Mrs. Dalton’s
children and all this sickness!”

“Have a little mercy, ladies, on the sick mother, and I will endeavour
to pacify its cries,” said Miss Leigh. “Poor little thing, it misses her
care, and we are all strange to it.”

“I insist upon its being removed!” cried the fat woman. “The comfort of
every lady in the cabin is not to be sacrificed for the sake of that
squalling brat. If women choose to travel with such young infants, they
should take a private conveyance. I will complain to the Captain, if the
stewardess does not remove it instantly.”

What a difference there is in women! Some, like ministering angels,
strew flowers and scatter blessings along the rugged paths of life;
while others, by their malevolence and pride, increase its sorrows an
hundred fold.

The next day continued stormy, and the rain fell in torrents. The
unsteady motion of the ship did not tend to improve the health of the
occupants of the ladies’ cabin. Those who had been well the day before,
were now as helpless and miserable as their companions. Miss Leigh alone
seemed to retain her usual composure. Mrs. Dalton could scarcely be
named in this catalogue, as she only slept and dressed in the cabin, the
rest of her time being devoted to her friends upon deck, but, in spite
of the boisterous winds and heavy sea, she was as gay and as airy as
ever.

Her noisy children were confined to the cabin, where they amused
themselves by running races round the table, and shouting at the top of
their shrill voices. In all their pranks, they were encouraged and
abetted by Hector, who, regardless of the entreaties of the invalids,
and the maledictions of the exasperated stewardess, did his very best to
increase the uproar and confusion. Hector did not care for the commands
of any one but his mistress, and she was in the saloon, playing at
billiards with Major F.

Little Willie Dalton had discovered the baby, and Flora was terrified
whenever he approached her berth, which was on a level with the floor of
the cabin, as that young gentleman, who was at the unmanageable age of
three years, seemed decidedly bent on mischief. Twice he had crept into
her bed on his hands and knees, and aimed a blow at the head of the
sleeping babe with the leg of a broken chair, which he had found beneath
the sofa.

While the ladies slept, Hector stole from berth to berth, and possessed
himself of all their stores of oranges, lemons, and cayenne lozenges;
sharing the spoils with the troublesome, spoilt monkeys, left by their
careful mamma in his keeping.

Towards evening Mrs. Lyndsay felt greatly recovered from her grievous
attack of sea-sickness; and, with the assistance of Miss Leigh, she
contrived to dress herself, and get upon the deck.

The rain was still falling in large, heavy drops; but the sun was
bravely struggling through the dense masses of black clouds, which had
obscured his rays during the long stormy day, and now cast a watery and
uncertain gleam upon the wild scenery, over which Bamborough Castle
frowns in savage sublimity.

This was the last glance Flora gave to the shores of dear old England.
The angry, turbulent ocean, the lowering sky, and falling rain, seemed
emblems of her own sad destiny. Her head sunk upon her husband’s
shoulder, as he silently clasped her to his breast; and she could only
answer his anxious inquiries respecting herself and the child with heavy
sobs. For his sake—for the sake of the little one, who was nestled
closely to her throbbing heart—she had consented to leave those shores
for ever. Then why did she repine? Why did that last glance of her
native land fill her heart with such unutterable grief? Visions of the
dim future floated before her, prophetic of all the trials and sorrows
which awaited her in those unknown regions to which they were
journeying. She had obeyed the call of duty, but had not yet tasted the
reward. The sacrifice had not been as yet purified and sublimed, by
long-suffering and self-denial, so as to render it an acceptable
offering on so holy a shrine. She looked up to heaven, and tried to
breathe a prayer; but all was still and dark in her bewildered mind.

The kind voice of her husband at last roused her from the indulgence of
vain regrets. The night was raw and cold; the decks wet and slippery
from the increasing rain; and, with an affectionate pressure of the
hand that went far to reconcile her to her lot, Lyndsay whispered, “This
is no place for you, Flora, and my child. Return, dearest, to the
cabin.”

With reluctance Flora obeyed. Beside him she felt neither the cold nor
wet; and, with the greatest repugnance, she re-entered the ladies’
cabin, and, retiring to her berth, enjoyed for several hours a tranquil
and refreshing sleep.



CHAPTER XIX.

MRS. DALTON.


It was midnight when Mrs. Lyndsay awoke. A profound stillness reigned in
the cabin; the invalids had forgotten their sufferings in sleep,—all but
one female figure, who was seated upon the carpeted floor, just in front
of Flora’s berth, wrapped in a loose dressing-gown, and engaged in
reading a letter. Flora instantly recognised in the watcher the tall,
graceful figure of Mrs. Dalton.

Her mind seemed agitated by some painful recollections; and she sighed
frequently, and several tears stole slowly over her cheeks, as she
replaced the paper carefully in her bosom, and for many minutes appeared
lost in deep and earnest thought. All her accustomed gaiety was gone;
and her fine features wore a sad and regretful expression, far more
touching and interesting than the heartless levity by which they were
generally distinguished.

“Is it possible, that that frivolous mind can be touched by grief?”
thought Flora. “That that woman can feel?”

Mrs. Dalton, as if she had heard the unuttered query, raised her head,
and caught the intense glance with which Mrs. Lyndsay was unconsciously
regarding her.

“I thought no one was awake but myself,” she said; “I am a bad sleeper.
If you are the same, we will have a little chat together; I am naturally
a sociable animal. Of all company, I find my own the worst, and above
all things hate to be alone.”

Surprised at this frank invitation, from a woman who had pronounced her
_nobody_, Flora replied, rather coldly, “I fear, Mrs. Dalton, that our
conversation would not suit each other.”

“That is as much as to say, that you don’t like me; and that you
conclude from that circumstance, that I don’t like you?”

“To be candid then,—you are right.”

“I fancy that you overheard my observations to Major F.?”

“I did.”

“Well if you did, I can forgive you for disliking me. When I first saw
you, I thought you a very plain person, and judged by your dress, that
you held a very inferior rank in society. After listening a few minutes
to your conversation with Miss Leigh, who is a highly educated woman, I
felt convinced that I was wrong; and that you were far superior to most
of the women round me. Of course you thought me a very malicious, vain
woman.”

Flora smiled, in spite of herself.

“Oh, you may speak it out. I shan’t like you a bit the less for speaking
the truth. I am a strange, wayward creature, subject at times to the
most dreadful depression of spirits; and it is only by affecting
excessive gaiety that I hinder myself from falling into the most
hopeless despondency.”

“Such a state of mind is not natural to one of your age, and who
possesses so many personal attractions. There must be some cause for
these fits of gloom.”

“Of course there is. I am not quite the heartless coquet I seem. My
father was an officer in the army, and commanded a regiment in the West
Indies, where I was born. I was an only child, and very much indulged by
both my parents. I lost them while I was a mere child, and was sent to
Scotland to be educated by my grandmother. I was an irritable, volatile,
spoilt child, and expected that everybody would yield to me, as readily
as my slave attendants had done in Jamaica. In this I was disappointed.
My grandmother was a proud, ambitious woman, and a strict
disciplinarian; and it was a constant battle between us who should be
master. I was no match, however, for the old lady, and I fretted
constantly under her control, longing for any chance that might free me
from her rule. It was a joyful day for me, when I was sent to finish my
education at one of the first schools in Edinburgh, which I did not
leave until I was sixteen years of age. I found grandmamma several years
older, and many degrees more exacting than she was before. She was so
much alarmed lest I should make an unsuitable alliance, that she never
suffered me to go out without I was accompanied by herself, or an old
maiden aunt, who was more rigid and stiff than even grandmamma herself.

“At this period of my girlhood, and before I had seen anything of the
world, or could in the least judge for myself, a very wealthy clergyman,
who had been a great friend of poor papa’s, called to see me, before he
returned to Jamaica; where he had a fine living, and possessed a noble
property. Unfortunately for me, he fell desperately in love with the
orphan daughter of his friend, and his suit was vehemently backed by
grandmamma and aunt. He was a handsome, worthy kind man, but old enough
to have been my father. I was so unhappy and restless at home, that I
was easily persuaded to become his wife; and I, who had never been in
love, thought it was a fine thing to be married, and my own mistress at
sixteen. Our union has not been a happy one. I much question if such
unions ever are. He is now an aged man, while I am in the very bloom of
life, and consequently exposed to much temptation. Thank God! I have
never acted criminally, though often severely tried. My home is one of
many luxuries, but it has no domestic joys. My children are the only tie
that binds me to a man I cannot love; and I have been so long used to
drown my disappointment and regret in a whirl of dissipation, that it is
only in scenes of gaiety that I forget my grief.

“My own sex speak slightly of me; but I do not deserve their severe
censures. My fellow-passengers, I heard from Hector, made a thousand
malicious remarks about me yesterday, and that you and Miss Leigh were
the only ladies who took my part.”

“My conduct,” replied Flora, “was perfectly negative. I said nothing
either in praise or blame. I may have injured you by thinking hardly of
you.”

“I thank you for your forbearance, in keeping your thoughts to yourself,
for I did not deserve that from you. If I did flirt a little with Major
F., it was done more to provoke the spleen of that ill-natured old maid,
who acts the part of Cerberus for his proud, pompous wife, than for any
wish to attract his attention.”

“It is better,” said Flora, her heart softening towards her companion,
“to avoid all appearance of evil. Superficial observers only judge by
outward appearance, and your conduct must have appeared strange to a
jealous woman.”

“She was jealous of me then?” cried the volatile Mrs. Dalton, clapping
her hands in an ecstasy of delight. “Oh, I am so glad that it annoyed
her.”

Flora could not help laughing at the vivacity with which she turned her
words to make them subservient to her own vanity. But when she described
the consternation felt by Miss Mann, on discovering Hector under the
table, her eccentric companion laughed until the tears ran down her
cheeks.

The introduction of Hector insensibly turned the conversation upon the
state of the slaves in the West Indies. The excitement of the slave
question was just then at its height; but the bill for their
emancipation had not yet passed the Houses of Parliament. Upon Flora
expressing her abhorrence of the whole system, Mrs. Dalton proceeded to
defend it with no little warmth.

“Ah, I perceive that you know nothing about it. You are infected with
the bigotry and prejudices of the Anti-slavery advocates. Negroes are an
inferior race; they were made to work for civilized men, in climates
where labour would be death to those of a different complexion.”

“This is reducing the African to a mere beast of burthen—a machine in
the form of man. The just God never made a race of beings purposely to
drag out a painful existence in perpetual toil and degradation.”

“They are better off than your peasants at home,” continued Mrs. Dalton,
indignantly;—“better fed, and taken care of. As to the idle tales they
tell you about flogging, starvation, and killing slaves, they are
fearful exaggerations, not worthy of credit. Do you think a farmer would
kill a horse, that he knew was worth a hundred pounds, out of revenge
for his having done some trifling injury to his harness? A planter would
not disable a valuable slave, if by so doing he injured himself. But
your slave adorers will not listen to reason and common sense. I have
been the owner of many slaves; but I never ill-used one of them in my
life.”

“Hector is an example of over-indulgence,” said Flora. “But still he is
only a pet animal in your estimation. Tell me truly, Mrs. Dalton, do you
believe that a negro has a soul to be saved?”

“I think it doubtful!”

“And you the wife of a Christian minister?” said Flora, reproachfully.

“If they had immortal souls and reasoning minds, we should not be
permitted to hold them as slaves. Their degradation proves their
inferiority.”

“It only proves the brutalizing effects of your immoral system,” said
Flora, waxing warm. “I taught a black man from the island of St. Vincent
to read the Bible fluently in ten weeks. Was that a proof of mental
incapacity? I never met with an uneducated white man who learned to read
so rapidly, or who pursued his studies with the ardour of this
despised, soulless black. His motive for this exertion was a noble one,
which I believe cost him his life—the hope of carrying the glad tidings
of salvation to his benighted countrymen, which he considered the best
means of improving their condition, and rendering less burdensome their
oppressive yoke.”

“This was all very well in theory; but it will never do in practice. If
the British Government, urged on by a set of fanatics, who, in reality
are more anxious to bring themselves into notice, than to emancipate the
slaves, madly persist in adopting their ridiculous project, it will
involve the West Indies in ruin.”

“It were better that the whole group of islands were sunk in the depths
of the sea,” said Flora, vehemently, “than continue to present to the
world a system of injustice and cruelty, which is a disgrace to a
Christian community—a spectacle of infamy to the civilized world. And do
not think that the wise and good men who are engaged heart and hand in
this holy cause, will cease their exertions until their great object is
accomplished, and slavery is banished from the earth.”

Mrs. Dalton stared at Flora in amazement. She could not in the least
comprehend her enthusiasm. “Who cares for a slave?” she said,
contemptuously. “You must live among them, and be conversant with their
habits before you can understand their inferiority. One would think
that you belonged to the Anti-Slavery Society to hear the warmth with
which you argue the case. Do you belong to that odious society? for I
understand that many pious women make themselves vastly busy in publicly
discussing the _black_ question.”

“I have many dear friends who are among its staunch supporters, both men
and women; whose motives are purely benevolent; who have nothing to gain
by the freedom of the slaves, beyond the satisfaction of endeavouring to
forward a good work, which if it succeeds, (and we pray God that it
may,) will restore a large portion of the human family to their rights
as immortal and rational creatures.”

“Mere cant—the vanity of making a noise in the world. One of the refined
hypocrisies of the present age. By-the-bye, my dear Madam, have you read
a tract published lately by this disinterested society, called the
History of Mary P.? It is set forth to be an authentic narrative, while
I know enough of the West Indies, to pronounce it a tissue of falsehoods
from beginning to end.”

“Did you know Mary P.?”

“I wonder who does. It is an imaginary tale got up for party purposes.”

“You are mistaken,” said Flora quietly. “That narrative is strictly
true. I was staying the winter before last, with her mistress in London,
and I wrote it myself from the woman’s own lips.”

“You!” and Mrs. Dalton started from the ground as though she had been
bitten by a serpent—“and I have been talking all this time to the author
of Mary P. From this moment, Madam, we must regard ourselves as
strangers. No West Indian could for a moment tolerate the writer of that
odious pamphlet.”

Mrs. Dalton retired to her berth, which was in the state cabin; and
Flora lay awake for several hours, pondering over their conversation,
until the morning broke, and the steamer cast anchor off Newhaven.



CHAPTER XX.

EDINBURGH.


The storm had passed away during the night; and at day-break, Flora
hurried upon deck, to catch the first glance of—

    “The glorious land of flood and fell,
     The noble north countrie.”

The sun was still below the horizon, and a thick mist hung over the
waters, and hid the city from her view. Oh, for the rising of that white
curtain! how Flora tried to peer through its vapoury folds, to

    “Hail old Scotia’s darling seat,”

the beautiful abode of brave, intelligent, true-hearted men, and fair
good women. Glorious Edinburgh! who ever beheld you for the first time
with indifference, and felt not his eyes brighten, and his heart thrill
with a proud ecstasy, the mingling of his spirit with a scene, which in
romantic sublimity, has not its equal in the wide world—

    “Who would not dare
     To fight for such a land!”

exclaims the patriotic wizard of the North. Ay, and to die for it, if
need be, as every true-hearted Scot would die, rather than see one stain
cast upon the national glory of his noble country. The character of a
people is greatly influenced by the local features of the land to which
it belongs; and the inhabitants of mountainous districts have ever
evaded most effectually the encroachments of foreign invaders. The Scot
may, perhaps, derive from his romantic country, much of that poetic
temperament, that stern, uncompromising love of independence, which has
placed him in the first rank as a man.

The sun at length rose; the fog rolled its grey masses upwards, and the
glorious old castle emerged from between the parting clouds, like some
fabled palace of the gods, its antique towers glittering like gold in
the sun.

“Oh, how beautiful!” exclaimed Flora, her eye kindling, and her cheek
flushing with delight.

“The situation of Quebec is almost as fine,” said Captain Forbes, who
had been watching with pleasure the effect which the first sight of his
native city produced upon her countenance. “It will lose little by
comparison.”

“Indeed,” cried Flora, eagerly turning to the speaker, “I had formed no
idea of anything in Canada being at all equal to this.”

“You have been there, Captain?” said Lyndsay.

“Yes, many times; and always with increased pleasure. Quebec combines
every object which is requisite to make a scene truly magnificent—woods,
mountains, rivers, cataracts; and all on the most stupendous scale. A
lover of nature cannot fail to be delighted with the rock-defended
fortress of British North America.”

“You have made me quite happy, Captain Forbes,” said Flora; “I have
contemplated a residence in Canada with feelings of such antipathy, that
your description of Quebec almost reconciles me to my lot. I can never
hate a country which abounds in natural beauty.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Boats were now constantly plying to and from the shore, conveying
passengers and their luggage from the ship to the pier. The Captain, who
had recognised a countryman in Lyndsay, insisted on the voyagers taking
breakfast with him before they left the vessel. Mrs. Lyndsay accepted
the offer with such hearty good-will, that the Captain laughed and
rubbed his hands in the excess of hospitable satisfaction, as he called
to his steward to place a small table under an awning upon the deck, and
serve the breakfast there.

“You will enjoy it much more in the fresh air, Mrs. Lyndsay,” he said,
“after your severe illness, than in the close air.”

Flora was delighted with the arrangement, and set the Captain down as a
man of taste, as by this means he had provided for her a double
feast—the beautiful scenery which on every side met her gaze, and an
excellent breakfast, served in the balmy morning air.

The rugged grace with which the gallant tar presided at what might be
termed his own private table, infused a cheerful spirit into those
around him, and never was a meal more heartily enjoyed by our emigrants.
James Hawke, who had been confined during the whole voyage to his berth,
now rejoined his friends, and ate of the savoury things before him in
such downright earnest, that the Captain declared that it was a pleasure
to watch the lad handle his knife and fork.

“When a fellow has been starving for eight and forty hours, it is not a
trifle that can satisfy his hunger,” said Jim, making a vigorous
onslaught upon a leg of Scotch mutton. “Oh! I never was so hungry in my
life!”

“Not even during those two disastrous days last week, which we spent
starving at sea,” said Flora.

“Ah, don’t name them,” said the boy, with an air of intense disgust.
“Those days were attended with such _qualms_ of conscience that I have
banished them from the log of life altogether. Oh, those dreadful days!”

“Why, Jim, you make a worse sailor than I expected,” said Flora; “how
shall we get you alive to Canada?”

“Oh, never fear,” said the lad, gaily; “I have cast all those horrible
reminiscences into the sea. I was very ill, but ’tis all over now, and
I feel as light as a feather; you will see that I shall be quite myself
again, directly we lose sight of the British shores.”

On returning to the ladies’ cabin, to point out her luggage to the
steward of the boat, Flora found that important functionary, pacing to
and fro the now empty scene of all her trouble in high disdain. She had
paid very little attention to Mrs. Lyndsay during the voyage. She had
waited with the most obsequious politeness on Mrs. Major F. and Mrs.
Dalton, because she fancied they were rich people, who would amply
reward her for her services. They had given her all the trouble they
possibly could, while she had received few commands from Flora, and
those few she had neglected to perform. Still, as Flora well knew that
the paid salary of these people is small, and that they mainly depend
upon the trifles bestowed upon them by passengers, she slipped
half-a-crown into her hand, and begged her to see that the trunks she
had pointed out were carried upon deck.

The woman stared at her, and dropped a low curtsey.

“La, Mem, you are one of the very few of our passengers who has been
kind enough to remember the stewardess. It’s too bad—indeed it is. And
all the trouble that that Mrs. Dalton gave with her spoilt children, and
nasty black vagabond. And would you believe me, she went off without
bestowing on me a single penny! And worse than that, I heard her tell
the big fat woman, that never rose up in her berth, but to drink
brandy-and-water, ‘That it was a bad fashion the Hinglish had of paying
servants, and the sooner it was got rid of the better.’

“‘I perfectly hagrees with you,’ said the fat woman; and so she gave
nothing;—no—not even thanks. Mrs. Major F—— pretended not to see me,
though I am sure I’m no midge; and I stood in the doorway on purpose to
give her a hint; but the hideous little old maid told me to get out of
the way, as she wanted to go upon deck to speak to the Major. Oh, the
meanness of these would-be fine ladies! But if ever they come to
Scotland in this boat again—won’t I pay them off!”

Flora enjoyed these unsolicited confessions of a disappointed
stewardess; and she was forced to turn away her head for fear of
betraying a wicked inclination to laugh, which if indulged in at that
moment would, I have no doubt, have afforded her great satisfaction and
delight. As it was, she made no comment upon the meanness of her
fellow-passengers, nor consoled the excited stewardess by complaining of
their unlady-like conduct to herself.—What they were in their rank of
life, the stewardess was in hers. They were congenial souls—all
belonging to the same great family, and Flora was not a little amused by
the striking points of resemblance.

Bidding adieu to the Captain of the steamer, the Lyndsays and their
luggage were safely landed on the chain-pier at Newhaven; from thence
they proceeded to Leith, to the house of a respectable woman, the widow
of a surgeon, who resided near the Leith bank, and only a few minutes’
walk from the wharf.



CHAPTER XXI.

MRS. WADDEL.


Great was the surprise of Flora, when, instead of entering the house by
a front door, they walked up an interminable flight of stone stairs,
every landing comprising a distinct dwelling, or flat (as it is
technically termed), with the names of the proprietors marked on the
doors. At last they reached the flat occupied by good Mistress Waddel,
situated at the very top of this stony region. Mrs. Waddel was at the
door ready to receive them. She showed them into a comfortable
sitting-room with windows fronting the street, where a bright fire was
blazing in a very old-fashioned grate. She welcomed her new lodgers with
a torrent of kindly words, pronounced in the broadest Scotch dialect,
only half understood by the English portion of her audience.

A large portly personage was Mrs. Waddel,—ugly, amiable, and by no means
particular in her dress; which consisted of a woollen plaid, very much
faded, and both ragged and dirty. Her large mutch with its broad frills
formed a sort of glory round her head, setting off to no advantage her
pock-marked, flabby face, wide mouth and yellow projecting teeth. She
had a comical, good-natured obliquity of vision in her prominent
light-grey eyes, which were very red about the rims; and Flora thought,
as she read with an inquiring eye the countenance of their landlady,
that without being positively disgusting, she was the most ordinary,
uncouth woman she ever beheld.

Mrs. Waddel was eloquent in the praise of her apartments, which she said
had been occupied by my Leddy W. when his Majesty George the Fourth, God
bless his saucy face, landed at Leith, on his visit to Scotland. Her
lodgings, it seemed, had acquired quite an aristocratic character since
the above-named circumstance; and not a day passed, but the good woman
enumerated all the particulars of that memorable visit. But her own
autobiography was the stock theme with the good landlady. The most
minute particulars of her private history she daily divulged, to the
unspeakable delight of the mischievous laughter-loving James Hawke, who,
because he saw that it annoyed Mrs. Lyndsay, was sure to lead the
conversation slily to some circumstance which never failed to place the
honest-hearted Scotchwoman on her high-horse: and then she would
talk,—ye gods!—how she would talk—and splutter away in her broad
provincial dialect, until the wicked boy was convulsed with laughter.

“Ay, Mister Jeames,” she would say, “ye will a’ be maken’ yer fun o’ a’
puir auld bodie, but ’tis na’ cannie o’ ye.”

“Making fun of _you_, Mrs. Waddel,” said he, with a sly glance at Flora,
“how can you take such an odd notion into your head! It is so good of
you to tell me all about your courtship: it’s giving me a hint of how
I’m to go about it when I’m a man. I am sure you were a very pretty,
smart girl in your young days”—with another quizzical glance at Flora.

The old lady drew herself up, and smiled approvingly upon her black-eyed
tormentor.

“Na, na, Mister Jeames, my gude man that’s dead an’ gane said to me, the
verra day that he made me his ain—‘Katie, ye are nae bonnie, but ye a’
gude, which is a’ hantle better.’”

“No doubt he was right, Mrs. Waddel; but I really think he was very
ungallant to say so on his wedding-day, and did not do you half
justice.”

“Weel, weel,” said the good dame, “every ain to his taste. He was not
ow’r gifted that way himsel; but we are nane sensible o’ our ain
defects.”

The great attraction in the small, windowless closet in which James
slept, was an enormous calabash, which her son, the idol of Mrs.
Waddel’s heart, had brought home with him from the South Seas. Over this
calabash, the simple-hearted mother daily rehearsed all the wonderful
adventures she had gathered from that individual, during his short
visits home; and as she possessed a surprisingly retentive memory, her
maternal reminiscences would have filled volumes,—to all of which James
listened with the most earnest attention, not on account of the
adventures, for they were commonplace enough, but for the mere pleasure
of hearing Mrs. Waddel talk broad Scotch, from which he seemed to derive
the most ludicrous enjoyment. Mrs. Waddel had two daughters, to whom
nature had been less bountiful than even to herself. Tall, awkward,
shapeless dawdles, whose unlovely youth was more repulsive than the
mother’s full-blown, homely age,—with them the old lady’s innocent
obliquity of vision had degenerated into a downright squint, and the
redness round the rims of their large, fishy-looking, light eyes, gave
the idea of perpetual weeping,—a pair of Niobes, versus the beauty,
whose swollen orbs were always dissolved in tears. They crept slip-shod
about the house, their morning wrappers fitting so easily their slovenly
figures, that you expected to see them suddenly fall to the ground, and
the young ladies walk on in native simplicity.

“My daughters are like mysel—na’ bonnie,” said Mrs. Waddel. “They dinna’
tak’ wi’ the men folk, wha look mair to comeliness than gudeness
now-a-days in a wife. A’ weel, every dog maun ha’ his day, an’ they may
get husbands yet.

“I weel remember, when Noncy was a bairn, she was the maist ugsome wee
thing I ever clappit an e’e upon. My Leddy W. lodged in this verra room,
in the which we are no’ sittin’. She had a daughter nearly a woman
grown, an’ I was in my sma’ back parlour washin’ an’ dressin’ the bairn.
In runs my Leddy Grace, an’ she stood an’ lookit an’ lookit a lang time
at the naked bairn in my lap: at last she clappit her hands an’ she
called oot to her mither—‘Mamma! Mamma! for gudeness sake, come here,
an’ look at this ugly, blear-eyed, bandy-legget child!—I never saw sic
an object in a’ my life!’

“It made my heart sair to hear her despise a creture made in God’s image
in that way, an’ I bursted into tears, an’ said—’My leddy, yer a bad
Christian to spier in that way o’ my puir bairn, an’ that in the hearin’
of its ain mither. May God forgive you! but you ha’ a hard heart.’ She
was verra angry at my reproof, but my Leddy W. just then came in, an’
she said, with one of her ain gracious smiles—‘For shame! Grace; the
bairn’s weel enough. Let us hope she maun prove a’ blessin’ to her
parents. The straightest tree does na always bear the finest fruit.’

“I ha’ met wi’ mony crosses and sair trials in my day; but few o’ them
made me shed bitterer tears than that proud, handsom’ young leddy’s
speech on the deformity o’ my puir bairn.”

Flora stood reproved in her own eyes, for she knew she had regarded the
poor ugly girls with feelings of repugnance, on account of their
personal defects. Even Jim, careless and reckless though he was,
possessed an excellent heart, and he looked grave, and turned to the
window, and tried to hum a tune, to get rid of an unpleasant sensation
about his throat, which Mrs. Waddel’s artless words had suddenly
produced.

“Hang me!” he muttered half aloud, “if I ever laugh at the poor girls
again!”

Mrs. Waddel had in common with most of her sex, a great predilection for
going to auctions; and scarcely a day passed without her making some
wonderful bargains. For a mere trifle she had bought a ’gude pot, only
upon inspection it turned out to be miserably leaky. A nice palliasse,
which on more intimate acquaintance proved alive with gentry with whom
the most republican body would not wish to be on intimate terms. Jim was
always joking the old lady upon her bargains, greatly to the edification
of Betty Fraser, a black-eyed Highland girl, who was Mistress Waddel’s
prime minister in the culinary department.

“Weel, Mister Jeames, jist ha’ yer laugh oot, but when ye get a glint o’
the bonnie table I bought this mornin’ for three an’ saxpence, ye’ll be
noo’ makin’ game o’ me ony mair, I’m thinkin’. Betty, ye maun jist step
ow’r the curb-stane to the broker’s, an’ bring hame the table.”

Away sped the nimble-footed Betty, and we soon heard the clattering of
the table, as the leaves flapped to and fro as she lugged it up the
public stairs.

“Now for the great bargain!” exclaimed the saucy Jim; “I think, Mrs.
Waddel, I’ll buy it of you, as my venture to Canada.”

“Did ye ever!” exclaimed the old lady, her eyes brightening as Betty
dragged in the last bargain, and placed it triumphantly before her
mistress. Like the Marquis of Anglesea, it had been in the wars, and
with a terrible clatter, the incomparable table fell prostrate to the
floor. Betty opened her great black eyes with a glance of blank
astonishment, and raising her hands with a tragic air which was
perfectly irresistible, exclaimed, “Mercy me, but it wants a fut!”

“A what?” screamed Jim, as he sank beside the fallen table and rolled
upon the ground in a fit of irrepressible merriment; “Do, for Heaven’s
sake, tell me the English for a fut. Oh dear, I shall die! Why do you
make such funny purchases, Mrs. Waddel, and suffer Betty to show them
off in such a funny way? You will be the death of me, indeed you will;
and then, what will my Mammy say?”

To add to this ridiculous scene, Mrs. Waddel’s grey parrot, who was not
the least important personage in her establishment, having been
presented to her by her sailor son, fraternised with the prostrate lad,
and echoed his laughter in the most outrageous manner.

“Whist, Poll! Hould yer clatter. It’s no laughing matter to lose three
an’ saxpence in buying the like o’ that.”

Mrs. Waddel did not attend another auction during the month the Lyndsays
occupied her lodgings. With regard to Betty Fraser, Jim picked up a page
out of her history, which greatly amused Flora Lyndsay, who delighted in
the study of human character. We will give it here.

Betty Fraser’s first mistress was a Highland lady, who had married and
settled in Edinburgh. On her first confinement, she could fancy no one
but a Highland girl to take care of the babe, when the regular nurse was
employed about her own person. She therefore wrote to her mother to send
her by the first vessel which sailed for Edinburgh, a good,
simple-hearted girl, whom she could occasionally trust with the baby.
Betty, who was a tenant’s daughter, and a humble scion of the great
family tree, duly arrived by the next ship.

She was a hearty, healthy, rosy girl of fourteen, as rough as her native
wilds, with a mind so free from guile that she gave a literal
interpretation to everything she saw and heard.

In Canada Betty would have been considered very green. In Scotland she
was regarded as a truthful, simple-hearted girl. A few weeks after the
baby was born, some ladies called to see Mrs. ——. The weather was very
warm, and one of them requested the neat black-eyed girl in waiting to
fetch her a glass of water. Betty obeyed with a smiling face; but oh,
horror of horrors, she brought the clear crystal to the lady guest in
her red fist.

The lady smiled, drank the water, and returned the tumbler to the
black-eyed Hebe, who received it with a profound curtsy.

When the visitors were gone, Mrs. ——, who was very fond of her young
clanswoman, called her to her side, and said, “Betty, let me never see
you bring anything into my room in your bare hands. Always put what you
are asked for on to a waiter or an ashat.”

The girl promised obedience.

The very next day some strange ladies called; and after congratulating
Mrs. —— on her speedy recovery, they expressed an earnest wish to see
the “_dear little baby_.”

Mrs. —— rang the bell. Betty appeared. “Is the baby awake?”

“Yes, my leddy.”

“Just bring him in to show these ladies.”

Betty darted into the nursery, only too proud of the mission, and
telling nurse to “mak’ the young laird brau,” she rushed to the kitchen,
and demanded of the cook a “muckle big ashat.”

“What do you want with the dish?” said the English cook.

“That’s my ain business,” quoth Betty, taking the enormous china platter
from the cook’s hand, and running back to the nursery. “Here, Mistress
Norman, here is ain big enough to hand him in, at ony rate. Pray lay his
wee duds smooth, an’ I’ll tak’ him in, for I hear the bell.”

“Are ye duff, lass? Wud ye put the bairn on the ashat?”

“Ay, mistress tauld me to bring what she asked me for on an ashat. Sure
ye wud no ha’ me disobey her?”

“Na, na,” said the nurse, laughing, and suspecting some odd mistake. “Ye
sal ha’ it yer ain way.”

And she carefully laid the noble babe upon the dish, and went before to
open the door that led to Mrs. ——’s chamber.

Betty entered as briskly as her unwieldy burden would permit, and with
glowing cheeks, and eyes glistening with honest delight, presented her
human offering in the huge dish to the oldest female visitor in the
room.

With a scream of surprise, followed by a perfect hurricane of laughter,
the venerable dame received the precious gift from Betty’s hand, and
holding it towards the astonished mother, exclaimed, “Truly, my dear
friend, this is a dish fit to set before a king. Our beloved sovereign
would have no objection of seeing a dish so filled with royal fruit,
placed at the head of his own table.”

The laugh became general; and poor Betty comprehending the blunder she
had committed, not only fled from the scene, but dreading the jokes of
her fellow-servants, fled from the house.



CHAPTER XXII.

CLIMBING THE MOUNTAINS.


The Lyndsays, to their infinite mortification and disappointment, found
upon their arrival at Leith, that the _Chieftain_, in which vessel their
places had been taken for Canada, had sailed only two days before. To
make bad worse, Mrs. Waddel confidently affirmed, that it was the very
last vessel which would sail that season.

Lyndsay, who never yielded to despondency, took these contrary events
very philosophically, and lost no time in making inquiries among the
ship-owners, to ascertain whether Mrs. Waddel was right.

After several days of anxious and almost hopeless search, he was at last
informed that the _Flora_, Captain Ayre, was to leave for Canada in a
fortnight. The name seemed propitious, and that very afternoon he walked
down with his wife to inspect the vessel.

The _Flora_ was a small brig, very old, very dirty, and with wretched
accommodations. The captain was a brutal-looking person, blind of one
eye, and very lame. Every third word he uttered was an oath; and instead
of answering Mr. Lyndsay’s inquiries, he was engaged in a blasphemous
dialogue with his two sons, who were his first and second mates. The
young men seemed worthy of their parentage; their whole conversation
being interloaded with frightful imprecations on their own limbs and
souls, and the limbs and souls of others.

They had a very large number of steerage passengers engaged, for the
very small size of the vessel, and these emigrants were of the very
lowest description.

“Don’t let us go in this horrible vessel,” whispered Flora to her
husband. “What a captain! what a crew! we shall be miserable, if we form
any part of her live cargo!”

“I fear, my dear girl, there is no alternative. We may, perhaps, hear of
another before she sails. I won’t engage places in her until the last
moment.”

The dread of going in the _Flora_ took a hold of the mind of her
namesake; and she begged Jim to be on the constant look-out for another
vessel.

During their stay at Leith, Lyndsay was busily employed in writing a
concluding chapter to his work on the Cape; and Flora amused herself by
taking long walks, accompanied by James, the maid, and the baby, in
order to explore all the beauties of Edinburgh. The lad, who was very
clever, and possessed a wonderful faculty of remembering places and of
finding his way among difficulties, always acted as guide on these
occasions. Before he had been a week at Leith, he knew every street in
Edinburgh; had twice or thrice climbed the heights of Arthur’s Seat, and
visited every nook in the old castle. There was not a ship in the
harbour of Leith, but he not only knew her name and the name of her
captain, but he had made himself acquainted with some of her crew, and
could tell her freight and tonnage, her age and capabilities, the port
from which she last sailed and the port to which she was then bound, as
well as any sailor on the wharf. It was really extraordinary to listen
of an evening to the lad’s adventures, and all the mass of information
he had acquired during his long rambles through the day.

Flora was always in an agony lest James should be lost, or meet with
some mishap during his exploring expeditions; but Mistress Waddel
comforted her with the assurance, “That a cat, throw her which way you
wu’d, lighted a’ upon her feet. That nought was never tent—an’ they that
war’ born to be hanget wu’d never be drowned.”

So, one fine afternoon in June, Flora took it into her head, that she
would climb to the top of the mountain, the sight of which from her
chamber window she was never tired of contemplating. She asked her
husband to go with her. She begged, she entreated, she coaxed; but he
was just writing the last pages of his long task, and he told her, that
if she would only wait until the next day, he would go with pleasure.

But with Flora, it was this day or none. She had set her whole heart and
soul upon going up to the top of the mountain, and to the top of the
mountain she determined to go. This resolution was formed, in direct
opposition to her husband’s wishes; and with a perfect knowledge of the
tale of the dog Ball, which had been one of her father’s stock stories,
the catastrophe of which she had known from a child. Lyndsay did not
tell her positively she should not go without him; and unable to control
her impatience, she gave him the slip, and set off with Jim, who was
only too eager for the frolic, on her mountain climbing expedition.

Flora was a native of a rich pastoral country; very beautiful in running
brooks, smooth meadows, and majestic parks; where the fat sleek cattle
so celebrated in the London markets, graze knee-deep in luxuriant
pastures, and the fallow deer browse and gambol beneath the shadow of
majestic oaks through the long bright summer days. She had never seen a
mountain before her visit to the North, in her life; had never risen
higher in the world than to the top of Shooter’s Hill; and when they
arrived at the foot of this grand upheaving of nature, she began to
think the task more formidable than she had imagined at a distance. Her
young conductor, agile as a kid, bounded up the steep acclivity with as
much ease as if he was running over a bowling-green.

“Not so fast, Jim!” cried Flora, pausing to draw breath. “I cannot climb
like you.”

Jim was already beyond hearing, and was lying on the ground peering over
a projecting crag at least two hundred feet above her head, and impishly
laughing at the slow progress she made.

“Now Jim! that’s cruel of you, to desert me in my hour of need,” said
Flora, shaking her hand at the young mad-cap. “Lyndsay was right after
all. I had better have waited till to-morrow.”

Meanwhile, the path that wound round the mountain towards the summit
became narrower and narrower, and the ascent more steep and difficult.
Flora sat down upon a stone amid the ruins of the chapel to rest, and to
enjoy the magnificent prospect. The contemplation of this sublime
panorama for a while absorbed every other feeling. She was only alive to
a keen sense of the beautiful; and while her eye rested on the lofty
ranges of mountains to the north and south, or upon the broad bosom of
the silver Forth, she no longer wondered at the enthusiastic admiration
expressed by the bards of Scotland for their romantic land.

While absorbed in thought, and contrasting the present with the past, a
lovely boy of four years of age, in kilt and hose, his golden curls
flying in the wind, ran at full speed up the steep side of the hill; a
panting woman, without bonnet or shawl, following hard upon his track,
shaking her fist at him, and vociferating her commands (doubtless for
him to return) in Gaelic, fled by.

On ran the laughing child, the mother after him; but as well might a
giant pursue a fairy.

Flora followed the path they had taken, and was beginning to enjoy the
keen bracing air of the hills, when she happened to cast her eyes to the
far-off meadows beneath. Her head grew suddenly giddy, and she could not
divest herself of the idea, that one false step would send her to the
plains below. Here was a most ridiculous and unromantic position: she
neither dared to advance nor retreat; and she stood grasping a ledge of
the rocky wall in an agony of cowardice and irresolution. At this
critical moment, the mother of the run-away child returned panting from
the higher ledge of the mountain, and, perceiving Flora pale and
trembling, very kindly stopped and asked what ailed her.

Flora could not help laughing while she confessed her fears, lest she
should fall from the narrow footpath on which she stood. The woman,
though evidently highly amused at her distress, had too much native
kindliness of heart, which is the mother of genuine politeness, to yield
to the merriment which hovered about her lips.

“Ye are na accustomed to the hills,” she said, in her northern dialect,
“or ye wa’d na dread a hillock like this. Ye suld ha’ been born whar I
wa’ born, to ken a mountain fra’ a mole-hill. There is my bairn, noo, I
canna’ keep him fra’ the mountain. He will gang awa’ to the tap, an’
only laughs at me when I spier to him to come doon. It’s a’ because he
is sae weel begotten—an’ all his forbears war reared amang the hills.”

The good woman sat down upon a piece of the loose rock, and commenced a
long history of herself, of her husband, and of the great clan of
Macdonald (to which they belonged), which at last ended in the
discovery, that her aristocratic spouse was a Corporal in the Highland
regiment then stationed in Edinburgh, and that Flora, his wife, washed
for the officers in the said regiment—that the little Donald, with his
wild-goat propensities, was their only child, and so attached to the
hills, that she could not keep him confined to the meadows below! The
moment her eye was off him, his great delight was to lead her a dance up
the mountain, which, as she never succeeded in catching him, was quite
labour in vain.

All this, and more, the good-natured woman communicated in her frank,
desultory manner, as she led Flora down the steep, narrow path which led
to the meadows below. Her kindness did not end here, for she walked some
way up the road to put Mrs. Lyndsay in the right track to regain her
lodgings, for Flora, trusting to the pilotage of Jim, was perfectly
ignorant of the location.

This Highland Samaritan indignantly refused the piece of silver Flora
proffered in return for her services. “Hout, leddy! keep the siller! I
wudna’ tak’ aught fra’ ye o’ the Sabbath-day for a trifling act o’
courtesy—na, na, I come of too gude bluid for that!”

There was a noble simplicity about the honest-hearted woman, which was
not lost upon Flora.

“If I were not English,” thought Flora, “I should like to be Scotch.”

She looked rather crest-fallen, as she presented herself before her
Scotch husband, who laughed heartily over her misadventure, and did not
cease to tease her about her expedition to the mountain, as long as they
remained in its vicinity.

This did not deter her from taking a long stroll on the sands “o’
Leith,” the next afternoon, with James, who delighted in these Quixotish
rambles; and was always on the alert, to join in any scheme which
promised an adventure. It was a lovely afternoon. The sun glittered on
the distant waters, which girdled the golden sands with a zone of blue
and silver. The air was fresh and elastic, and diffused a spirit of life
and joyousness around. Flora, as she followed the footsteps of her young
agile conductor, felt like a child again; and began to collect shells
and sea-weeds, with as much zest as she had done along her native coast,
in those far-off happy days, which at times returned to her memory like
some distinct, but distant dream.

For hours they wandered hither and thither, lulled by the sound of the
waters, and amused by their child-like employment; until Flora remarked,
that her footprints filled with water at each step, and the full deep
roaring of the sea gave notice of the return of the tide. Fortunately
they were not very far from the land; and oh, what a race they had to
gain the “Peir o’ Leith,” before they were overtaken by the waves. How
thankful they felt that they were safe, as the billows chased madly
past, over the very ground, which a few minutes before, they had so
fearlessly trod.

“This is rather worse than the mountain, mamma Flora,” (a favourite name
with James for his friend Mrs. Lyndsay,) “and might have been fatal to
us both. I think Mr. Lyndsay would scold this time, if he knew our
danger.”

“We won’t quarrel on the score of prudence. But what is this?” said
Flora; and she stepped up to a blank wall, on their homeward path, and
read aloud the following advertisement:—

    “To sail on the first of July, viâ Quebec and Montreal; the fast
    sailing brig _Anne_, Captain Williams. For particulars, inquire
    at the office of P. Gregg, Bank Street, Leith.

    “N.B. The _Anne_ is the last ship which leaves this port, for
    Canada, during the season.”

“Hurra!” cried the volatile Jim, flinging his cap into the air; “a fig
for Captain Ayre and the _Flora_. I’d lay sixpence if I had it, that we
shall sail in the _Anne_.”

“Let us go, James, and look at the vessel,” cried Flora, clapping her
hands with delight. “Oh, if it had not been for our fright on the sands,
we should not have seen this.”

Flora hastened home to inform her husband of the important discovery
they had made; and before half an hour had elapsed, she found herself in
company with him and Jim, holding a conference with Captain Williams, in
the little cabin of the _Anne_.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE BRIG ANNE


Was a small, old-fashioned, black-hulled vessel, marvellously resembling
a collier in her outward appearance. She was a one-masted ship, of 180
tons burthen, and promised everything but aristocratic accommodations
for women and children.

The cabin was a low, square room, meant to contain only the captain and
his mate; whose berths, curtained with coarse red stuff, occupied the
opposite walls. The table in the centre was a fixture, and the bench
which ran round three sides of this crib, was a fixture also; and though
backed by the wall, was quite near enough to the table to serve the
double purpose of chair or sofa. A small fireplace occupied the front of
the cabin, at the side of which, a door opened into a tiny closet, which
the Captain dignified with the name of his state-cabin. The compass was
suspended in a brass box from the ceiling,—articles of comfort or luxury
there were none.

The Captain, a stout, broad-shouldered, red-faced man, like Captain
Ayre of the _Flora_, was minus an eye; but the one which fortune had
left him was a piercer. He was a rough, blunt-looking tar, some
forty-five or fifty years of age; and looked about as sentimental and
polite as a tame bear. His coarse, weather-beaten face had an honest,
frank expression, and he bade his guests to be seated with an air of
such hearty hospitality, that they felt quite at home in his narrow low
den.

He had no cabin-passengers, though a great many in the steerage; and he
assured Flora that she could have the very best accommodations, as he
would resign the state-cabin to her and the child. Mr. Lyndsay could
occupy the mate’s berth in the cabin, and they could not fail of being
quite snug and comfortable.

The state-cabin was just big enough to hold the captain’s chest of
drawers, the top of which, boarded, and draped with the same faded red
stuff which decorated the outer room, formed the berth that Flora was to
occupy. Small as the place was, it was scrupulously neat and clean, and
possessed for Flora one great charm—that of privacy. She could, by
shutting the door and drawing the bolt, at any time enjoy the luxury of
finding herself, though in a crowded vessel, alone.

“Mamma Flora, are you not charmed with the splendid accommodations of
your fancy ship?” whispered the mischievous Jim. “There is not room for
a flea to hop, without giving him the cramp in his legs.”

“It is better than the _Flora_; so hold your tongue, you wicked imp.”

But Lyndsay thought otherwise. The _Flora_ was larger, and was to sail a
fortnight earlier. He demurred—his wife coaxed and entreated; but he
only went so far as to tell the captain to keep the berths unoccupied
until the following day, and he would inform him of his final
determination.

Just as they were rising to take leave, a tall, lanky man, stuck his
long scraggy neck in at the cabin-door, and, in the broadest Scotch
vernacular, exclaimed,—

“To what port are ye bound, man?”

“Quebec and Montreal.”

“Wull you tak’ a cabin-passenger on reasonable terms?”

“The fare is fixed by the owner of the vessel, P. Gregg, Bank-street,
Leith. You had better apply to him.”

“Weel, I dinna’ think I’ll jest go noo. I want to see the Canada lochs.
Ane o’ these days I’ll tak’ passage wi’ you onyhow.”

“Perhaps a glass of brandy and water would serve your purpose at this
time,” said the captain, with a knowing smile.

“I’ve noo objections, captain,” said the long-visaged traveller to the
lochs o’ Canada.

“That’s one way of getting a glass of brandy for nothing,” said the
captain, as he accompanied the Lyndsays to the deck. “That fellow has as
much notion of going to Canada, as I have of taking a voyage to the
moon. But he knows that I will give him the brandy to get rid of him.”

“What do you think of the _Anne_ and her captain, John?” said Flora, as
she took the proffered arm of her husband. “He is a rough sailor, but
looks like an honest man. And the ship, though small, is clean, and
offers better accommodations than the _Flora_, where we should have to
share a small cabin with fourteen passengers.”

“My dear wife, it may all be true what you say; but I have made up my
mind to go in the _Flora_. She sails so much earlier, that it will be a
great saving of time and expense.”

Flora’s countenance fell; but she only muttered to herself,—

“Oh, I have such a horror of going in that ship!”

At the turning of the street they met Mr. Peterson, the owner of the
_Flora_, to whom Lyndsay had spoken about taking a passage in her the
day before.

“Well, Mr. Lyndsay,” said he, shaking hands in a friendly manner with
him; “have you concluded to take passage in my vessel?”

“Not quite,” returned Lyndsay, laughing. “My wife has such an
unconquerable aversion to going with your captain and his sons, on
account of the reprobate language they used the other day in her
hearing, that she has actually found up another vessel in which she
wishes me to sail.”

“Oh, the _Anne_, Captain Williams,” said Peterson, with a contemptuous
smile,—“the last and the most insignificant vessel which leaves our
port. The owner, P. Gregg, is not a liberal person to deal with; the
captain is a good seaman, but a stubborn brute,—quite as unfit for the
society of ladies as Captain Ayre. To tell you the truth, we have little
choice in these matters. It is not the manners of the men we employ we
generally look to, but to their nautical skill. There is, however, one
great objection to your taking passage in the _Anne_, which I think it
right you should know. She has a most objectionable freight.”

“In what respect?”

“She is loaded with brandy and gunpowder.”

“By no means a pleasant cargo,” said Lyndsay. “What do you say to that,
Flora?” turning to his wife.

“I will tell you to-morrow: do wait until then.”

In order to pacify her evident uneasiness, Lyndsay promised to postpone
his decision.

When they reached their lodgings, they found a short, round-faced, rosy,
good-natured looking individual, waiting to receive them, who introduced
himself as Mr. Gregg, the owner of the _Anne_. He had learned from
Captain Williams, that they had been inspecting the capabilities of his
vessel.

“She is a small ship,” said he, “but safe; the captain, a steady,
experienced seaman; and if Mr. Lyndsay engaged a passage for himself and
family, he would grant the most liberal terms.”

Lyndsay mentioned his objections to the freight.

“Who told you that?” asked the little owner, somewhat excited.

“Mr. Peterson. We parted from him only a few minutes ago.”

“The scoundrel! the mean, dirty scoundrel!” said Gregg, stamping on the
floor. “Why, Sir, Mr. Lyndsay, his own ship carries the same freight.
What did he say about that?”

“He told me yesterday, she took out a general cargo——”

“Of brandy and gunpowder. Both vessels are employed by the same house,
and take out the same freight. You must, however, please yourself, Mr.
Lyndsay. The _Flora_ has a great number of passengers of the lowest
cast,—is old and crank; with the most vicious, morose captain that sails
from this port. I know him only too well. He made two voyages for me;
and the letters I received, complaining of his brutal conduct to some of
his passengers, I can show you at my office.”

“You have said enough, Mr. Gregg, to deter me from taking my wife and
child in the _Flora_. The deceitful conduct of Mr. Peterson alone would
have determined me not to contract with him. And now, what will you take
us for? Our party consists of my wife and infant, a lad of thirteen
years who accompanies us, a servant-girl, and myself.”

Mr. Gregg considered for some minutes. “Well,” he said, “there is a
large party of you; but I will give your wife, child, and self, a cabin
passage, finding you in the same fare as the captain, and the lad and
servant a second cabin passage, but the privilege of the cabin-table,
for thirty pounds. Is that too much?”

“It is very liberal indeed. Peterson asked fifty.”

“It is reasonable; but as you have to wait a fortnight longer in order
to sail with me, I have taken that into account. Is it a bargain?”

They struck hands; and Mr. Gregg, after drawing up an agreement, which
Lyndsay signed, turned to Mrs. Lyndsay, and pressingly invited the whole
party to spend the following afternoon with them in a friendly way.

“My wife is a homely little body,” he said; “but she will do her best to
make you comfortable, and will give you, at any rate, a hearty Scotch
welcome.”

“Now, Flora, are you not delighted in having it your own way?” said
Lyndsay, after Mr. Gregg left them. “But let me assure you, my dear
wife, you owe it entirely to the mean conduct of Mr. Peterson. I tell
you frankly, that I would not have yielded my better judgment to a mere
prejudice, even to please you.”

“You are determined, John, that I shall never fulfil the gipsy’s
prophecy.”

“What was that?”

“Did I never tell you that story, nor the girls either? for it was a
standing joke against me at home for years. Oh, you must have it then.
But be generous, and don’t turn it as a weapon against me:—

“Some years ago, a gipsy woman came to our kitchen-door, and asked to
see the young ladies of the house. Of course, we all ran out to look at
the sybil, and hear her errand, which was nothing more nor less than to
tell our fortunes. Partly out of curiosity, partly out of fun, we
determined to have a peep into futurity, and see what the coming years
had in store for us. We did not believe in gipsy craft. We well knew
that, like our own, the woman’s powers were limited; that it was all
guess-work; that her cunning rested in a shrewd knowledge of
character,—of certain likings springing out of contrasts, which led her
to match the tall with the short, the fair with the dark, the mild with
the impetuous, the sensitive and timid with the bold and adventurous. On
these seeming contrarieties the whole art of fortune-telling, as far as
my experience goes, appears based.

“Well, she gave husbands to us all—dark, fair, middle-complexioned,
short and tall, amiable, passionate, or reserved—just the opposite of
our own complexions or temperament, such as she judged them to be; and
she showed a great deal of talent and keen perception of character in
the choice of our mates.

“In my case, however, she proved herself to be no prophet. I was to
marry a sea-faring gentleman—a tall, black-eyed, passionate man—with
whom I was to travel to foreign parts, and die in a foreign land. I was
to have no children; and he was to be very jealous of me. ‘And yet, for
all that,’ quoth the gipsy, drawing close up to me, and whispering in my
ear, but not so low, but that all the rest heard her concluding speech,
‘you shall wear the breeches.’”

“She did not bargain that you were to marry a Scotchman,” said Lyndsay,
laughing.

“Nor did she know, with all her pretended art, that my husband was to be
a soldier, fair-haired, and blue-eyed, and that this little lass would
give a direct contradiction to her prophecy,” and Flora kissed fondly
Josey’s soft cheek. “Well, I was so tormented about that last clause in
my fortune, that I determined it should never come to pass; that
whatever portion of my husband’s dress I coveted, I would scrupulously
avoid even the insertion of a toe into his nether garments.”

“You forget, Flora, your trip to the mountain, without my consent?”
whispered Lyndsay, mischievously.

Flora coloured, stammered, and at last broke into a hearty laugh,—“I was
too great a coward, John, to wear them with becoming dignity. If that
was wearing the breeches, I am sure I disgraced them with my worse than
womanish fears. I will never put them on again.”

“My dear wife, I’ll take good care you shan’t. When a Scotchman has any
breeks to wear, he likes to keep them all to himself.”

“Ah! we well know what a jealous, monopolising set you are. Let any one
attempt to interfere with your rights, and, like your sturdy national
emblem, you are armed to the teeth,” said Flora, as she ran off to order
tea.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A VISIT TO THE SHIP OWNERS.


Early in the afternoon of the following day our family party set off to
pay their promised visit. The weather was delightful, and Flora was in
an ecstasy of high spirits, as they turned from the narrow streets of
Leith into a beautiful lane, bounded on each side by hawthorn hedges,
redolent with the perfume of the sweetbrier and honeysuckle. The breath
of new-mown hay floated on the air, and the lilac and laburnum, in full
blossom, waved their graceful boughs above the white palings which
surrounded many a pleasant country retreat, in which the tired citizen,
after the toils of the day in the busy marts of commerce, returned to
enjoy a comfortable dish of tea with his family.

A walk of half-a-mile brought them to the suburban retreat of the worthy
Mr. Gregg, and he was at the green garden-gate to receive his guests,
his honest, saucy face, radiant with an honest welcome.

“I was fearful ye wud not keep your promise,” said he: “my youngsters
ha’ been on the look-out for you for this hour.”

Here he pushed the giggling youngsters forward, in the shape of two
bouncing, rosy-faced school-girls, who were playing at bo-peep behind
papa’s broad blue back, and whose red cheeks grew crimson with blushes
as he presented them to his guests.

James Hawke seemed to think the merry girls, who were of his own age,
well worth looking at, if you might judge by the roguish sparkling of
his fine black eyes, as he bounded off with them to be introduced to the
strawberry-beds, and all the other attractions of the worthy citizen’s
garden.

It was a large, old-fashioned house, which had seen better days, and
stood on a steep sloping hill, commanding a beautiful view of Edinburgh.
The grand old mountain loomed in the distance, and the bright Forth,
with all its wealth of white sails, glittered in the rays of the
declining sun.

“What a delightful situation!” exclaimed Flora, as her eye ranged over
the beautiful scene.

“Ay, ’tis a bonnie place,” said Mr. Gregg, greatly exalted in his own
eyes, as master of the premises;—“an’ very healthy for the bairns. I
often walked past this old house when I was but a ’prentice lad in the
High-street, o’ Sunday afternoons, and used to peep through the pales,
and admire the old trees, an’ fruits, an’ flowers; an’ I thought if I
had sic a braw place of my ain, I should think mysel richer than a
crow’ed king. I was a puir callant in those days. It was only a dream, a
fairy dream; yet here I am, master of the auld house, and the pretty
gardens. Industry and prudence, my dear madam—industry and prudence, has
done it all, and converted my air-built castle into substantial brick
and stane.”

Flora admired the old man’s honest pride. She had thought him coarse and
vulgar, while in reality he was only what the Canadians term _homely_;
for his heart was brimful of kindly affections and good feeling. There
was not a particle of pretence about him,—of forced growth or refined
cultivation; a genuine product of the soil, a respectable man in every
sense of the word. Proud of his country, and doubly proud of the wealth
he had acquired by honest industry. A little vain and pompous, perhaps,
but most self-made men are so: they are apt to overrate the talents
which have lifted them out of obscurity, and to fancy that the world
estimates their worth and importance by the same standard as they do
themselves.

In the house, they were introduced to Mrs. Gregg, who was just such a
person as her husband had described: a cheerful, middle-aged woman, very
short, very stout, and very hospitable. Early as it was, the tea-table
was loaded with good cheer. Large strawberries preserved whole, and that
pet sweetmeat of the Scotch, orange marmalade, looked tempting enough,
in handsome dishes of cut glass, flanked by delicious home-made bread
and butter, cream, cheese, and sweet curds.

A tall, fine-looking woman, very gaily dressed, was presented to the
Lyndsays as Mrs. M’Nish, a married daughter. Her husband was a
loud-voiced, large-whiskered consequential-looking young man, whose good
humour and admiration of himself, his wife, his father and
mother-in-law, and the big house, appeared inexhaustible. His young wife
seemed to look upon him as something super-human; and to every remark
she made, she appealed to Wullie, as she called him, for his verdict of
approval.

Little Josey, who made one of the party, was soon on the most intimate
terms with the family group. The young married woman, after bestowing
upon her many kisses, passed her over to her husband, telling him, with
a little laugh, “that she wondered if he would make a good nurse: it was
time for him to commence practising.” Then she blushed and giggled, and
the old man chuckled and rubbed his knees, and the mother looked up with
a quiet smile as the jolly bridegroom burst into a loud laugh. “Ay, Jean
my woman, it’s time enough to think o’ troubles when they come.” And
then he tossed Miss Josey up to the ceiling with such vigorous jerks,
that Flora watched his gymnastics in nervous fear lest the child should
fall out of his huge grasp and break her neck.

Not so Josey; she never was better pleased in her life; she crowed and
screamed with delight, and rewarded her Scotch nurse, by tangling her
tiny white fingers in his bushy red whiskers, and pulling his long nose.

“Haut! you’re a speretted lass. Is that the way you mean to lead the
men?” he said, as he bounced her down into his wife’s lap, and told her,
“that it was her turn to mak’ a trial o’ that kind o’ wark, an’ see how
it wud fit: he was verra’ sure he sud sune be tired o’t.” And this
speech was received with another giggle, followed by a loud laugh.

The old gentleman was impatient to discuss the important business of
tea-drinking; after which he proposed to have the pleasure of showing
his visitors the garden, and some other grand sight of which he would
not speak now, but which he was certain must be appreciated by every
person, who possessed a half-pennyworth of taste.

Flora sat down to the table, wondering what they could be.

Big Wullie stepped to the hall-door, and summoned the children to the
evening meal with a loud hallo! which was answered from among the trees
by a jovial shout, and in a few minutes the young folks poured into the
room, some of them looking rather dull, from their protracted visit to
the strawberry-beds.

The fresh air and exercise had given Mrs. Lyndsay an unusual appetite.
She enjoyed her meal, but this did not satisfy the overflowing
hospitality of her entertainers, who pressed her in every possible
manner to take more, till she felt very much inclined to answer with the
poor country girl, “Dear knows, I can’t eat another bit.”

There was no way of satisfying the entreaties of the Greggs, but by
making a retreat from the table, and even then they persisted in
declaring their guests had been starved, and would not do the least
justice to their good cheer.

This mistaken kindness brought to Flora’s mind a story she had heard
Lyndsay tell of a merchant of Edinburgh who went to the north of
Scotland to visit some country folk who were his near relations. The
good people were outrageously glad to see him, and literally killed the
fatted calf, and concocted all sorts of country dainties in order to
celebrate the advent of their distinguished guest, who it seems, in this
case, was in less danger of starving than of being stuffed to death.

Having partaken at dinner of all, and perhaps of rather more than he
required, he did his best to resist their further importunities for him
to eat _more_, but finding his refusal to do so increased their anxiety
to force upon him the good things they had to bestow, he spread a large
silk pocket-handkerchief upon his knees, under cover of the table-cloth,
into which he contrived dexterously to empty the contents of his plate,
whenever the eye of his watchful hostess was off him. At last, even her
importunities for him to continue the feast grew fainter, and she wound
up by exclaiming, “You ha’ made a verra puir dinner, Sir; ye ha’ just
eaten nothing ava’.”

At this speech, hardly able to keep his gravity, he placed his
handkerchief upon the table, and displayed its contents of fish, flesh,
fowl, and confectionaries, to his astonished entertainers, exclaiming,
as he did so, “My dear Madam, think what would have become of me, had I
eaten all this!”

It was no feast of reason, at the honest Greggs; the entertainment was
of the most animal kind, and Flora felt relieved when it was over, and
the whole party issued once more into the pure air.

She was just hastening to a parterre, gay with roses, to rifle some of
its sweets, when the old gentleman came panting hard upon her track. “Ye
must come an’ see my raree-show, before the sun gangs doun,” he cried;
and Flora turned and followed him back into the house. In the hall the
whole family party were collected.

“I’ll gang first, father, and open the door,” cried a merry boy of
fourteen, and beckoning to Jim, they both clattered after each other up
the old-fashioned stairs.

Old houses in Edinburgh and its vicinity are so high, one would think
the people in those days wished to build among the stars; at least to
emulate the far-famed wonders of that language-confounding tower, which
caused the first emigration, by scattering the people over the face of
the earth.

They went up, and up, and up, until there seemed no end to the broad,
short steps. On the last flight, which led to the roof, the staircase
had so greatly contracted its proportions, that fat Mr. Gregg could
scarcely force himself up it, and he so completely obscured the light
which peered down upon them from a small trap-door, opening upon the
leads, that Flora, who followed him, found herself in a dim twilight,
and expected every moment the panting mountain, which had come between
her and the sky, would lose the centre of gravity, and suffocate her in
its fall.

No such tragic misfortune, however, occurred. The old gentleman forced
himself, after much squeezing and puffing off steam, through the narrow
aperture, and very gallantly lent a hand to assist Flora on to the
leads.

“This is a strait gate, on a narrow way,” he cried. “But tell me, if it
does na’ gie ye a glimpse o’ heaven?”

The old man was right. Flora stood entranced, as it were, with the
glorious spectacle which burst upon her sight, the moment she stepped
upon the roof of that old house. Edinburgh, and the world of beauty that
lies around it, lay at her feet, bathed in the golden light of a
gorgeous June sunset. To those who have beheld that astonishing
panorama, all description must prove abortive. It is a sight to be
daguerreotyped upon the heart.

“Weel, was it not worth toiling up yon weary stair, to get sic a glimpse
as that, of the brave auld town?” said honest P. Gregg. “I’m jest
thinkin’ I must enlarge the stair, or diminish mysel, before I can
venture through that narrow pass again. An’, my dear leddy, I can do
neither the one nor the other. So this mayhap may be my last glint o’
the bonnie auld place.”

Then he went on, after his quaint fashion, to point out to Mistress
Lyndsay all the celebrated spots in the neighbourhood, which every Scot
knows by heart, and Flora was so much amused and interested by his
narration, that she was sorry when the deepening shades of approaching
night warned the old man that it required daylight to enable him to
descend the narrow stair, and they reluctantly left the scene.



CHAPTER XXV.

FLORA’S DINNER.


Lyndsay had some literary friends in Edinburgh, whose kindly intercourse
greatly enhanced the pleasure of a month’s residence near the metropolis
of Scotland. The foremost among these was M——, the poet, who, like
Lyndsay, was a native of the Orkney Islands. Having been entertained at
the house of this gentleman, he naturally wished to return his courtesy.

“Flora,” said he, addressing his wife, the day after their visit to the
Greggs, “do you think you could manage a dinner for a few friends?”

Flora dropped her work, and opened her eyes in blank dismay at the very
idea of such a thing.

“What, in these poor lodgings? and Mrs. Waddel such an impracticable,
helpless old body? My dear John, it is impossible!”

Now, Lyndsay had set his heart upon the dinner, which he thought not
only very possible, but could see no difficulty at all about it. Men
never look behind the scenes, or consider the minor details of such
things; and on these trifling items, in their eyes, the real success or
failure of most domestic arrangements depend. But Flora had been behind
the scenes, and knew all about it, to her cost, for it was with the
greatest difficulty she could prevail upon Mrs. Waddel to cook the
plainest food. Mrs. Waddel declared she could “na fash hersel about;
that dainties were a’ verra weel, but the meat ate jest as sweet without
them.” The idea of such a tardy mistress of the kitchen cooking a dinner
for company, appeared perfectly ridiculous to Flora, who knew that any
attempt of the kind must end in mortification and disappointment.

“Flora,” said Lyndsay, quite seriously, “I am certain that you could
manage it quite well, if you would only make the trial.”

“It is from no unwillingness on my part that I object to your
entertaining your friends. But there is but one cooking range in the
house, and that one small and inconvenient, and I fear the cooking
utensils are limited to the dimensions of the fire.”

“There is a large fireplace in our bed-chamber, Flora,” said Lyndsay,
unwilling to beat a retreat.

“True,” replied Flora, musingly; “I did not think of that. It would do
that damp, cold room good to get a fire lighted in it.”

Seeing her husband determined upon the dinner, she began to question him
as to the items of the entertainment.

“Oh, nothing particular, dear. M—— knows that we are in lodgings, and
can’t manage as well as if we were in a house of our own. A nice cut of
fresh salmon, which is always to be had in the fish-market, a small
roast of beef, or leg of mutton, with vegetables and a pudding, will do;
and, above all things, Flora, don’t look annoyed, if every thing does
not exactly please you, or it will only make matters worse. I am going
to call upon M—— this morning, and I will ask him and his friend P——to
step over and dine with us at six o’clock.”

“What shall we do for wine and spirits?”

“I will order these as I go along. So mind, dear, and have everything as
snug and comfortable as you can.”

In spite of the anxiety she felt as to the success of the dinner, Flora
could not help pausing to admire the spacious fish-market, with its cool
stone pavement and slabs of white marble, on which lay piled in
magnificent profusion, the most beautiful specimens of the finny rangers
of the deep. Filled with marine curiosities, she could have spent hours
in contemplating the picturesque groups it presented. There lay the
salmon in its delicate coat of blue and silver; the mullet, in pink and
gold; the mackerel, with its blending of all hues,—gorgeous as the tail
of the peacock, and defying the art of the painter to transfer them to
his canvas; the plaice, with its olive green coat, spotted with vivid
orange, which must flash like sparks of flame glittering in the depths
of the dark waters; the cod, and the siller haddies, all freckled with
brown, and silver, and gold; the snake-like eel, stretching its slimy
length along the cool stone pavement, among moving heaps of tawny
crabs—those spiders of the deep—which seemed to emulate the
scorpion-like lobsters near them in repulsive ugliness.

But what most enchanted Flora, was the antique costume of the Newhaven
fish-women, as, seated upon their upturned baskets, they called the
attention of the visitor to their various stores of fish.

Flora was never tired of looking at these sea-maids and matrons. Their
primitive appearance, and quaint, old-fashioned dress, took her fancy
greatly—with their short petticoats, their blue stockings and buckled
shoes, their neat, striped linen-jackets, and queer little caps, just
covering the top of their head, and coming down in long, straight mobs,
over their ears; their honest, broad features, and pleasant faces, which
had been fair before the sun and the sea air tanned them to that warm,
deep brown; their round, red arms, and handsome feet and legs, displayed
with a freedom and ease which custom had robbed of all indecorum, and
rendered natural and proper.

Flora wished that she had been an artist, to copy some of the fine forms
she saw among these fish-girls—forms which had been left as the great
God of nature made them, uncrippled by torturing stays and tight
vestments. How easy their carriage! with what rude grace they poised
upon their heads their ponderous baskets, and walked erect and firm,
filling the air with their mournfully-musical cry! The great resemblance
between these people and the Bavarian broom-girls, both in features and
costume, impressed her with the idea, that they had originally belonged
to the same race. The Newhaven sea-nymph, however, is taller, and has a
more imposing presence, than the short, snub-nosed Bavarian.

But time, that waits on no one’s fancy or caprice, warned her that she
must not linger over a scene which she afterwards visited with renewed
pleasure, but gave her a gentle hint, that there was work to be done at
home—that she had better make her purchases and proceed to business.

She returned, therefore, to her lodgings in high spirits, despatching
Jim to the greengrocer’s in the next street, and then followed Hannah
and her basket into Mrs. Waddel’s kitchen.

“Marcy me! what ha’ ye got, the noo?” said Mistress Waddel, lifting the
napkin from the basket: “meat enough, I declare, to last the hale week.
The weather’s owr hot, I’m thinkin’, for a’ they to keep sweet sae
lang.”

“Mrs. Waddel, I expect two gentlemen to dinner, particular friends of
Mr. Lyndsay; and I want you to cook these things for me as well as you
can,” said Flora coaxingly.

“Twa’ gentlemen, did ye say?—There’s ten times mair in yon basket than
twa gentlemen can eat!”

“Of course there is; but we cannot stint our guests.”

“Whist, woman!” cried Mrs. Waddel, “it makes my heid ache only to think
about a’ that roast an’ boil, an’ boil an’ roast!”

“Pray, how did you contrive to cook for Lady Weyms?” asked Flora, rather
indignantly.

“Gudeness gracious! Do ye think, that my Leddy Weyms cared for the
cooking o’ the like o’ me? When his late majestie, God bless him,
honoured our auld toon wi’ his preesence, folk were glad to get a
deecent place to cover their heids, an’ war in no wise owr particlar,
sae they could get lodged ava.”

“So I should think, when a titled lady put up with such as these; where
the mistress engages to cook for her lodgers, and has not a whole pot in
her culinary establishment.”

“My Leddy brought her ain cook, an’ she had my twa best rooms jest aff
the passage, whar’ Captain Macpherson bides the noo.”

“And how do you manage to cook for him?” asked Flora, very sullenly.

“He keeps a man. An auld soger, whar’ does the cooking himsel.”

However, the dinner went off better than could have been expected,
though little praise could be conscientiously given to the cooking. The
fish was done _too much_, the ham _too little_, and the baked fowls
looked hard and dry. The pastry was the only thing at table about which
no fault could be found.

After the cloth was removed, Flora gave the poet and his friend the
history of the dinner, which so amused Mr. M., that he declared it was
worth twenty dinners hearing her relate the misadventures of the
morning. Flora forgot the disasters of the day while enjoying the
conversation of Mr. M. and his friend,—men who had won by their genius
no common literary reputation in the world; and the short hour “ayont
the twal” had been tolled some time from all the steeples in Edinburgh
before the little party separated, mutually pleased with each other,
never to meet in this world of change again.



CHAPTER XXVI.

FEARS OF THE CHOLERA—DEPARTURE FROM SCOTLAND.


The cholera, which had hitherto only claimed a few victims in the city,
now began to make fearful progress; and every day enlarged the catalogue
of the dead, and those who were labouring under this awful disease.
People seemed unwilling to name the ravages of the plague to each other;
or spoke of it in low, mysterious tones, as a subject too dreadful for
ordinary conversation.

Just at this time Flora fell ill, and was forced to keep her bed for
several days. During the time she was confined to her chamber, Mrs.
Waddel kept up a constant lamentation, declaring that the reputation of
her lodgings would be lost for ever, if Mrs. Lyndsay should die of the
cholera. Yet, to do the good creature justice, she waited upon her, and
nursed her with most unselfish kindness; making gallons of gruel, which
the invalid scarcely tasted, and recommending remedies which, if
adopted, would have been certain to kill the patient, for whose life she
most earnestly and devoutly prayed.

The very morning that Mrs. Lyndsay was able to leave her bed, her
husband got a note from Mr. Gregg, informing him that the _Anne_ was to
sail at four o’clock the next day.

“My dear Flora,” said Lyndsay, tenderly, “I fear you are not able to go
in your present weak state.”

“Oh yes, I shall be better for the change. This frightful cholera is
spreading on all sides. The sooner, dear John, we can leave this place
the better. Two persons, Mrs. Waddel told me, died last night of it,
only a few doors off. I know that it is foolish to be afraid of an evil
which we cannot avoid; but I find it impossible to divest myself of this
fear. I look worse than I feel just now,” she continued, walking across
the room, and surveying her face in the glass. “My colour is returning—I
shall pass muster with the doctors yet.”

The great business of packing up for the voyage went steadily forward
all day; and before six in the evening, trunks, bedding, and little ship
stores, were on board, ready for a start.

Flora was surprised in the afternoon by a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Gregg,
and the two rosy girls, who expressed the greatest regret at their
departure. They had made a plum-cake for Mrs. Lyndsay to eat during the
voyage; and truly it looked big enough to have lasted out a trip to the
South Seas, while Mrs. Gregg had brought various small tin canisters
filled with all sorts of farinaceous food for the baby.

Abundant as their kindness was, the blessings and good wishes they
heaped upon the emigrants were more abundant still; the kind-hearted
mother and her bonnie girls, kissing them at parting, with tears
coursing down their rosy cheeks. Mr. Gregg, who was terribly afraid of
the cholera, tried to raise his own spirits, by describing all the fatal
symptoms of the disease, and gave them a faithful catalogue of those who
had died of it that morning in the city. He had great faith in a new
remedy, which was just then making a noise in the town, which had been
tried the day before, on a relation of his own—the injection of salt
into veins of the sufferer.

“Did it cure him?” asked Flora, rather eagerly.

“Why no, I canna jest say that it did. But it enabled him to mak’ his
will an’ settle a’ his worldly affairs, which was a great point gained.”

“For the living,” sighed Flora. “Small satisfaction to the dying, to be
disturbed in their last agonies, by attending to matters of business,
while a greater reckoning is left unpaid.”

“You look ill yoursel, Mistress Lyndsay,” continued the gude man. “Let’s
hope that it’s not the commencement of the awfu’ disease.”

“I thought so myself two days ago,” said Flora. “I am grateful to God
that it was not the cholera. Does it ever break out on board ship?”

“It is an affliction sae lately sent upon the nations by the Lord, that
we have had sma’ experience o’ the matter,” quoth Mr. Gregg. “Your best
chance is to trust in Him. For let us be ever so cautious, an He wills
it, we canna’ escape out o’ His hand.”

“Perhaps it is the best way to confide ourselves entirely to His care,
and to think as little about it as we possibly can. All our precautions
remind me of the boy who hid up in the cellar during a terrible
thunderstorm, in the hope that the lightning would never find him there,
little dreaming, that his place of safety exposed him to as much danger
as a stand on the house-top. A man may run away from a battle, and
escape from a fire, but it seems to me of little use attempting to fly
from a pestilence which lurks in the very air we breathe, the water we
drink, and the food we take to nourish us. Faith in the mercy of God,
and submission to His will appear to me the only remedies at all likely
to avert the danger we shrink from with so much fear.”

“It comes like a thief in the night,” said Mr. Gregg; “and it behoves us
all to mind the warning o’ the Saviour, to watch an’ pray, for we know
not at what hour the Master of the house cometh.”

After the good Greggs had made their adieus, Flora felt so much
recovered that she accompanied her husband in a coach, to bid the rest
of their kind friends in Edinburgh farewell.

They drove first to the house of Mr. W., where Flora had spent many
happy days during her sojourn in Leith. Mr. W. had an only son, who held
an official situation at the Cape of Good Hope. Lyndsay had been on
intimate terms with this gentleman during his residence in the colony;
and on his return to Scotland, he was always a welcome visitor at the
house of his parents. They loved to talk of Willie to Lyndsay, and
treasured up as household words any little anecdotes they could collect
of his colonial life. Mrs. W. and her two daughters were highly
accomplished, elegant women. They took a deep interest in the fate of
the emigrants, and were always devising plans for their future comfort.

As to the father of the family, he was a perfect original—shrewd,
sarcastic, clever, and _very ugly_. The world called him morose and
ill-natured; but the world only judged from his face, and most certainly
he should have indicted it for bringing false witness against him. It
was a libellous face, which turned the worst aspect to the world; its
harsh lines and exaggerated features magnifying mental defects, while
they concealed the good qualities of the warm, generous heart that shone
like some precious gem within that hard rough case.

Mr. W. loved opposition, and courted it. He roused himself up to an
argument, as a terrier dog rouses himself to kill rats; and, like the
said terrier, when he got the advantage of his opponent, he loved to
worry and tease, to hold on till the last, till the vanquished was fain
to cry aloud for mercy; and then his main object in quitting the dispute
was to lie in wait for a fresh tussel. Flora laughed at all his blunt
speeches, and enjoyed his rude wit, and opposed him, and argued with him
to his heart’s content, until they became the best friends in the world.
Their first meeting was so characteristic, that we must give it here.

Flora had accepted an invitation to dine, with her husband, at Mr. W.’s
house. It was only a family party, and they were to come early. On their
arrival, they found that Mr. W. had been called away on business, but
was expected back to dinner. After chatting awhile to Mrs. W. and her
daughters, Flora’s attention was strongly directed to an oil-painting
which hung above the drawing-room mantelpiece. It was the portrait of an
old man, as large as life. The figure was represented in a sitting
posture, his head leaning upon his hand, or rather the chin supported in
the open palm. The eyes glanced upward with a sarcastic, humorous
expression, as if the original were in the act of asking some question
which a listener might find it no easy matter to answer; and a smile of
mischievous triumph hovered about the mouth. It was an extraordinary
countenance. No common every-day face, to which you could point and say,
“Does not that put you in mind of Mr. So-and-So?” Memory could supply no
duplicate to this picture. It was like but one other face in the world,
the one from which it had been faithfully copied. It was originally
meant for a handsome face, but the features were exaggerated until they
became grotesque and coarse in the extreme, and the thick, bushy,
iron-grey hair and whiskers, and clay-coloured complexion, put the
finishing strokes to a portrait, which might be considered the very
_ideal of ugliness_.

While Flora sat looking at the picture, and secretly wondering how any
person with such a face could bear to see it transferred to canvas, she
was suddenly roused from her reverie by the pressure of a heavy hand
upon her shoulder, and a gentleman in a very gruff, but by no means an
ill-natured or morose voice, thus addressed her.

“Did you ever see such a d——d ugly old fellow in your life before?”

“Never,” returned Flora, very innocently. Then, looking up in his face,
she cried out with a sudden start, and without the least mental
reservation, “It is the picture of yourself!”

“Yes, it is my picture. An excellent likeness—half bulldog, half
terrier. Judging from that ugly, crabbed old dog over the mantelpiece,
what sort of a fellow ought I to be?”

He said this with a malicious twinkle in his clear, grey eyes, which
glanced like sparks of fire from under his thick bushy eyebrows.

“Better than you look,” said Flora, laughing. “But your question is not
a fair one, Mr. W.; I was taken by surprise, and you must not press me
too hard.”

“A clear admission, young lady, that you would rather avoid telling the
truth.”

“It is the portrait of a plain man.”

“Pshaw! You did not qualify it as such in your own mind. Plain—is only
one degree worse than good-looking. You thought it—”

“Ugly—if you insist upon it.”

“Nothing worse?”

“Eccentric—pugnacious—satirical.”

“God’s truth! But that was not all?”

“Good heavens! what am I to say?”

“Don’t swear; ’tis not fashionable for ladies. I do it myself; but ’tis
a bad habit. Now shall I tell you what you _did think_ of the picture?”

“I would rather have your opinion than mine.”

“To relieve you from the horns of the dilemma? Well then; you thought it
the ugliest, most repulsive, and withal the oddest phiz you ever saw;
and you wondered how any one with such a hideous, morose countenance,
could ever sit for the picture?”

“Indeed I did.”

“Good!” cried her tormentor, clapping his hands. “You and I must be
friends. You wonder how I came to guess your thoughts; I know them by my
own. Had any one asked my opinion of the picture of another man as ugly
as that, I should have spoken out plainly enough. Fortunately the
qualities of the mind do not depend upon the beauty of the face; though
personal beauty is greatly increased by the noble qualities of the mind;
and I know my inner man to be as vastly superior to its outer case, as
the moon is to the cloud she pierces with her rays. To mind, I am
indebted for the greatest happiness I enjoy,—the confidence and
affection of my wife and children.

“Mrs. W. was reckoned pretty in her youth; I think her so still. She was
of a good family too; with a comfortable independence, and had lovers by
the score. Yet, she fell in love with the ugly fellow, and married him,
though he had neither fame nor fortune to offer her in exchange. Nothing
but the mental treasures he had hid away from the world in this rough
casket. My daughters are elegant, accomplished girls; not beauties, to
be sure, but pleasing enough to be courted and sought after. Yet, they
are proud of being thought like their ugly old father. That picture must
be a likeness; it is pourtrayed by the hand of love. My dear girl there
drew it with her own pencil, and rejoiced that she had caught the very
expression of my face. To her, my dear lady, it is beautiful—for love is
blind. She does not heed the ugly features; she only sees the mind she
honours and obeys, looking through them.”

“Ah, dear papa, who that knows you, as we know you, could ever think you
ugly?” said Mary W., laying her hand on the old man’s shoulder, and
looking fondly and proudly in his face. “But I have forgotten all this
time to introduce you to Mrs. Lyndsay.”

“My old friend Lyndsay’s wife? I ought not to be pleased with you,
madam, for you disappointed a favourite scheme of mine.”

“How could that possibly be?” said Flora.

“I loved that man of yours; I wanted him for a son-in-law. Of course,
neither I nor the girls hinted such a wish to him. But had he asked, he
would not have been refused.”

“Mrs. Lyndsay!” broke in Mary W., “you must not mind papa’s nonsense. He
will say just what he likes. Mr. Lyndsay was always a great favourite
with us all; and papa would have his joke at our expense.”

“Well, my young friend has thought fit to please himself, and I am so
well pleased with his wife, that she shall sit by the ugly old man; ‘an’
I will ha’ a spate o’ clatter wi’ her to mine ain sel.’”

The more Flora saw of the eccentric old man, the more she admired and
respected him. In a little time, she ceased to think him ugly—he was
only plain and odd-looking; till at length, like all the rest of Mr.
W.’s friends, she almost believed him handsome. When did genius ever
fail to leave upon the rudest clay, an impress of its divine origin?

It was with feelings of mutual regret that our emigrants took leave, and
for ever, of this talented family. Before the expiration of one short
year, that happy group of kind faces had passed out of the world! The
sudden death of the younger Mr. W., who was the idol of the family,
brought his mother in sorrow to the grave. The girls, by some strange
fatality, only survived her a few weeks; and the good old man, bereft of
every kindred tie, pined away and died of a broken heart!

Some years after Flora had been settled in Canada, a gentleman from
Scotland, who had been acquainted with the W. family, told her that he
called upon the old gentleman on a matter of business, a few days after
the funeral of his youngest daughter. The old man opened the door: he
was shrunk to a skeleton, and a perfect image of woe. When he saw who
his visitor was, he shook his thin, wasted hand at him, with a
melancholy, impatient gesture, exclaiming, “What brings you here, P——?
Leave this death-doomed house! I am too miserable to attend to anything
but my own burden of incurable grief.” He called again the following
morning. The poor old man was dead!

The next day the emigrants bade farewell to the beautiful capital of
Scotland. How gladly would Flora have terminated her earthly pilgrimage
in that land of poetry and romance, and spent the rest of her days among
its truthful, high-minded, hospitable people! But vain are regrets. The
inexorable spirit of progress points onward; and the beings she chooses
to be the parents of a new people, in a new land, must fulfil their
destiny.

On the 1st of July, 1832, the Lyndsays embarked on board the brig
_Anne_, to seek a new home beyond the Atlantic, and friends in a land of
strangers.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A NEW SCENE AND STRANGE FACES.


Four o’clock P.M. had been tolled from all the steeples in Edinburgh,
when Flora stood upon the pier “o’ Leith,” watching the approach of the
small boat which was to convey her on board the ugly black vessel which
lay at anchor at the Berwick Law. It was a warm, close, hazy afternoon;
distant thunder muttered among the hills, and dense clouds floated
around the mountain from base to summit, shrouding its rugged outline in
a mysterious robe of mist. Ever and anon, as the electrical breeze
sprang up and stirred these grey masses of vapour, they rolled up in
black shadowy folds which took all sorts of Ossianic and phantom-like
forms—spirits of bards and warriors, looking from their grey clouds upon
the land their songs had immortalised, or their valour saved.

Parties of emigrants and their friends were gathered together in small
picturesque groups on the pier. The cheeks of the women were pale and
wet with tears. The words of blessing and farewell, spoken to those
near and dear to them, were often interrupted by low wailing and
heart-breaking sobs.

Flora stood apart waiting for her husband, who had been to the ship, and
was in the returning boat now making its way through the water to take
her off. Sad she was, and pale and anxious, for the wide world was all
before her, a world of new scenes and strange faces. A future as
inscrutable and mysterious almost as that from which humanity
instinctively shrinks, which leads so many to cling with expiring energy
to evils with which they have grown familiar, rather than launch alone
into that unknown sea which never bears upon its bosom a returning sail.
Ah! well is it for the poor trembling denizens of earth that—

    “Heaven from all creatures hides the book of fate,”

or how could they bear up from day to day against the accumulated ills
which beset them at every turn along the crooked paths of life?

Flora had already experienced that bitterness of grief, far worse than
death, which separates the emigrant from the home of his love, the
friends of his early youth, the land of his birth; and she shed no tear
over the mournful recollection, though the deep sigh which shook her
heart to its inmost depths, told that it was still felt and painfully
present to her memory. She stood alone among that weeping crowd; no
kindred hand was there to press hers for the last, last time, or bid God
speed her on her perilous voyage. What a blessing it would have been at
that moment, to have bent a parting glance on some dear familiar face,
and gathered strength and consolation from eyes full of affection and
sympathy!

The beautiful landscape which had so often cheered and gladdened her
heart, during her brief sojourn, no longer smiled upon her, but was
obscured in storm and gloom. The thunder which had only muttered at a
distance, now roared among the cloud-capped hills, and heavy drops of
rain began to patter slowly upon the earth and sea. These bright
globules in advance of the heavy shower whose approach they announced,
made small dimples in the waters, spreading anon into large circles,
until the surface of the salt brine seemed to boil and dance, which a
few minutes before had lain so glassy and still, beneath the hot breath
of the coming storm. Flora thought how soon those billows would chafe
and roar for ever between her and her native land.

Then the lines of Nature’s own bard, the unhappy but immortal Burns,
whose fame had become as eternal as those ancient hills, rose to her
mind, and she could fancy him standing upon that very spot, breathing
out from the depths of his great inspired heart, the painful separation
he anticipated, when called by adverse circumstances to leave old
Scotia’s shores, and the woman he adored—

    “The boat rocks at the pier o’ Leith,
     The ship rides at the Berwick Law,
     And I maun leave my bonnie Mary.”

The words still hovered on her lips when the boat touched the pier, and
her husband threw his arms around her, and lifted her and the dear
offspring of their mutual love, into the small bark which was to bear
them away from the glorious land of Bruce and Burns. The men bent to
their oars, and in a few minutes she found herself one among the many
strangers that crowded the narrow deck of the emigrant ship.

The downpouring of the thunder-shower compelled her to take instant
refuge in the cabin, followed by Hannah and the child. The little dingy
place dignified by that name, was crowded with trunks and packages,
piled upon each other in endless confusion. And the close atmosphere was
rendered more hot and suffocating from the mingled odours of brandy,
onions, red-herrings, and tobacco. The smoke from several pipes floated
in lazy wreaths through the confined space, and effectually concealed,
for the first few minutes, the parties indulging in the dreamy luxury of
the fragrant weed.

The gloom occasioned by the passing thunder-clouds produced a dim
twilight in the little room, which looked more like the den in a
travelling menagerie, appropriated to the use of some imprisoned lord of
the desert, than a fitting habitation for civilized men and women.

Flora groped her way to the bench which surrounded the walls, and, for a
few minutes, covered her face with her hands, to conceal her agitation
and keep down the swelling of her heart, before she gained sufficient
courage to reconnoitre the aspect of her temporary home. At length, she
succeeded in calming her feelings, and was able to look about her.

The Captain was sitting upon a large trunk in his shirt-sleeves, with a
short pipe stuck between his teeth, holding in one hand a tumbler of
brandy punch, and in the other a bundle of papers containing a list of
his passengers, which he was in the act of proffering for the inspection
of the excise officers, who were settling with him sundry matters of
business, connected with the cargo of the ship.

Two sinister, ill-looking men they were, who spoke with loud,
authoritative voices, and, for the time being, appeared masters of the
vessel and all that it contained, examining with provoking exactness,
cupboards, bedding, boxes, and binns of biscuit, till there seemed no
end to their prying and vexatious system of cross-questioning.

The Captain notified his consciousness of the presence of the new-comers
with a short nod of recognition; but he was too much occupied to welcome
them with words. He seemed in a desperate ill-humour with his official
visitors, and replied to all their queries with a significant elevation
of his broad shoulders, and a brief “No” or “Yes,” which greatly
resembled a growl.

During his absence on deck, whither he accompanied the senior officer,
his companion, who was seated on the bench opposite to that occupied by
Mrs. Lyndsay and her maid, with his back to an open binn, full of
biscuits and other sea-stores, took the opportunity afforded by the
Captain’s departure, to fill the huge pockets in his large jacket with
the said stores, until his tall, lank person, was swelled out into very
portly dimensions. He then made a sudden dash at the brandy-bottle
(which the Captain had left on the table), and, casting a thievish
glance at Mrs. Lyndsay, who was highly amused by watching his movements,
he refilled his glass, and tossed it off with the air of a child who is
afraid of being detected, while on a foraging expedition into Mamma’s
cupboard. This matter settled, he wiped his mouth with the cuff of his
jacket, and assumed a look of vulgar consequence and superiority, which
must have forced a smile to Flora’s lips had she been at all in a humour
for mirth.

“Strange!” she thought, as she sat muffled up in her cloak, a silent
spectatress of his manœuvres, “that such a mean, dishonest wretch as
this, should be empowered to act the petty tyrant, and pass judgment on
the integrity of others, who is so destitute of the principles of common
honesty himself!”

She certainly forgot, during her mental colloquy, the wisdom concealed
beneath the homely adage, “Set a thief to catch a thief!” and the
profound knowledge of the world hidden in that brief, pithy sentence.

The provoking business of inspection (for so it seemed to the Captain—to
judge by his flushed cheek and frowning brow,) was at length over; the
officers withdrew, and were succeeded by the doctor, who was appointed
to inspect the health of the crew and passengers, before the ship
sailed.

Doctor MacAdie was a lively, little, red haired man, with high
cheek-bones, and a large Roman nose out of all proportion to the size of
his diminutive body, but perfectly harmonising with his wide,
sensible-looking mouth. His sharp, clear blue eyes, seemed to have crept
as close to his nose as they possibly could, in the vain hope of
glancing over the high, ridgy barrier it formed between them, which gave
to their owner a peculiarly acute, penetrating expression,—a glance
which appeared to look you through and through; yet, though extremely
grotesque, it was a benevolent, pleasing face, full of blunt kindness
and ready wit.

The Doctor’s snuff-box seemed part and parcel of himself; for the
quaint, old-fashioned horn repository, which contained the pungent
powder, _real Scotch_, never left his hand during his professional
dialogue with Mrs. Lyndsay.

He shook his head, as his keen eyes read sickness of mind and body in
her weary and care-worn face. “Ye are ill, my gude leddy,” said he in
broad Scotch; “in nae condition to undertak’ sic a lang voyage.”

Mrs. Lyndsay answered frankly and truly, that she had been indisposed
during the past week, and her recovery was so recent, that she felt much
better in health than her looks warranted.

The Doctor examined her tongue, felt her pulse, and still shook his head
doubtingly. “Feverish—rapid pulse—bad tongue—just out o’ yer bed, from
attack near akin to cholera. I tell ye that ye are mair fit to go to bed
again, under the dochtor’s care, than to attempt crossing the Atlantic
in a close crib like this.”

“The fresh sea air will soon restore me to health,” said Flora. “You
know, Doctor, that we cannot command circumstances, and have things
exactly as we could wish;” and she checked the sigh which rose to her
lips, as she recalled to mind her dear, comfortable cottage at ——, and
glanced round the narrow cabin, and its miserable accommodations.

The Doctor regarded her with eyes full of compassion. He certainly
guessed her thoughts, and seemed as well acquainted with complaints of
the mind as with bodily ailments.

“Weel, weel, I ha’e my ain doubts as to your fitness for sic a voyage in
your weak state; but I’ll e’en jist let ye pass. Are you married or
single?”

“Married.”

“An’ the gudeman?——”

“Is on deck with the captain. He will be here presently.”

“Ha’e ye ony bairns?”

Flora pointed, with a feeling of maternal pride, to the little Josey,
who was sleeping upon Hannah’s knees,—a lovely picture of healthy, happy
infancy.

“Ay, she’s bonnie,” cried the kind Doctor, taking one of the tiny
alabaster fingers of the babe in his red, rough hand. “Sma’ need o’ a
dochter in her case. An’ wha’s this woman?” touching Hannah’s shoulder
with his forefinger.

“My nurse-girl.”

“A married woman?”

“No, Sir.”

“She shu’d be, I’m jist thinkin’; it will not be lang before she’s a
mither,” muttered the little man. Then, turning quickly to Flora, he
said, “I wull speak to the medical man on board, an’ tell him to tak’
partic’lar care o’ you during the voyage. What’s his name?”

“There is no such person. The vessel is too small to incur such an
expensive addition to the comfort of her passengers. The captain told me
that he was his own doctor.”

“How many passengers does he tak’ out?”

“Seventy-two in the steerage, five in the cabin, besides his crew, eight
in number.”

“Eighty-five human beings, an’ no medical man on board! ’Tis jest a’
disgrace to the owners, and shu’d be reported. In case o’ cholera, or
ony other epeedemic brakin’ out amang ye, wha wu’d become o’ ye a’?”

“We must trust in God. The great Physician of souls will not be
forgetful of our bodily infirmities.”

“True, true, young leddy; cling close to Him. Ye ha’ muckle need o’ His
care. An’ dinna trust your life to the dochtering o’ a sullen ignoramus
like the captain,—an obstinate, self-willed brute, that, right or wrang,
will ha’ his ain way. Dinna tak’ ony medicine frae him.”

Flora was amused at the idea of calling in a one-eyed Esculapius like
the jolly captain. The absurdity of the thing made her laugh heartily.

“It’s nae laughing matter,” said the little doctor, whose professional
dignity was evidently wounded by her mistimed mirth.

“Hout! dinna’ I ken the man for the last ten years or mair. Thae
medicine kist he prizes mair than his sole remaining e’e, an’ fancies
himsel a dochtor fitting a king. Ye canna’ please him mair than by
gie’n’ him a job. The last voyage he made in this verra brig, he
administered in his ignorance, a hale pint o’ castor oil in ain dose to
a lad on board, which took the puir fallow aff his legs completely.
Anither specimen o’ his medical skill was gie’n are o’ his crew, a
heapen spun-fu’ o’ calomel, which he mistook for magnesia. I varilie
believe that he canna’ spell weel eneugh to read the directions in the
buik. An’ is it to sic a dunderheid that the lives of eighty-five human
beings are to be entrusted?”

Flora was highly entertained by this account of the Captain’s skill;
while the doctor, who loved to hear himself talk, continued in a more
impressive and confidential tone—

“Now, dinna be sae ill-advised as to be takin’ pheesic a’ the time,
young leddy. If ye wu’d keep yersel in health, persuade the Captain to
gie ye the charge o’ yon kist o’ poisons, an’ tak’ the first opportunity
to drap the key by accident overboord. By sae doin’ ye may be the savin’
o’ your ain life, an’ the lives of a’ the humanities on boord the brig
_Anne_.”

Flora was fond of a little amateur doctoring. To part with the
medicine-chest, she considered, would be a great sin, and she was
already secretly longing to overhaul its contents.

A few well-established remedies, promptly administered in simple cases
of illness, and followed by the recovery of the patients, had made her
imagine herself quite a genius in the healing art; and she rejected the
homely little Doctor’s last piece of advice as an eccentric whim,
arising either from ignorance of his profession, or from disappointment
in not having been appointed surgeon to the brig.

Dr. MacAdie was neither deficient in skill nor talent. He was a poor
man, of poor parentage, who had worked hard to obtain his present
position, and provide a comfortable home for his father and mother in
their old age. His practice was entirely confined to the humble walks of
life, and he was glad to obtain a few additional meals for a large
family by inspecting the health of emigrants preparatory to their
voyage.

In this case, his certificate of health was very satisfactory; and he
told the Captain that he had seldom seen a heartier, healthier set o’
_decent_ bodies in sic a sma’ vessel, and hepathetically entreated him
not to tamper with their constitutions, by giving them dangerous drugs
whose chemical properties he did not understand, declaring emphatically,
“That nature was the best _phesician_ after all.” The Captain considered
this gratuitous piece of advice as an insult, for he very gruffly bade
Doctor MacAdie “Take care of his own patients; he wanted none of his
impertinent interference.”

The little Doctor drew up his shoulders with an air of profound
contempt; then taking a monstrous pinch of snuff, in the most sneezable
manner, from his old-fashioned box, he shook Mrs. Lyndsay kindly by the
hand, and wishing her and her _gudeman_ a prosperous voyage, vanished up
the companion-ladder.

Old Boreas shook his fist after his retreating figure. “You d——d,
insignificant, snuffy little coxcomb! I’m a d——d sight better doctor
than you are. If the Government sends you again, poking your long nose
among my people, I’ll make a surgical case for you to examine at home at
your leisure, I will.”

In order to divert his ill-humour, Flora inquired at what hour the ship
sailed?

“She must wait for that which never yet waited for mortal man—wind and
tide. It will be midnight before we get under weigh.”

Boreas always spoke in short sentences. He was a man of few words,
rough, ready, and eccentrically blunt. Had his talents been proportioned
to his obstinacy of will, he might have ruled over large communities,
instead of acting the petty tyrant on the deck of his small craft. Right
or wrong, he never gave up his opinion to any one. He certainly did not
belong to the “_Ay, Sir—very true, Sir_”—school of individuals, who
would resign their own souls to agree with their superiors in rank or
power. If there was a being on earth that he despised more than
another, it was a sneak. On one occasion, when a steerage passenger, in
order to curry favour, was prostrating himself before him after this
fashion, assuring the Captain, “That _his_ thoughts coincided _exactly_
with his own,” he burst out in a towering passion, “D—— you Sir! haven’t
you got an opinion of your own? I don’t want such a sneaking puppy as
you to think my thoughts, and echo my words. I should despise myself, if
I thought it possible that we could agree on any subject.”

If really convinced that he was wrong, he would show it by a slight
diminution of his ferocious stubbornness; but would never acknowledge it
in words. If he gained even a doubtful advantage over an adversary, he
rubbed his hands, clapped his knees, and chuckled and growled out his
satisfaction, in a manner peculiarly his own. He was only tolerable as a
companion after taking his third glass of brandy-and-water; and as he
commenced these humanizing doses by daybreak in the morning, repeating
them at stated intervals during the four-and-twenty hours, by noon he
became sociable and entertaining; and would descend from his
anti-meridian dignity, and condescend to laugh and chat in a dry
humorous style, which, if it lacked refinement, was highly amusing.

Though an inveterate imbiber of alcohol, he was never positively drunk
during the whole voyage. The evil spirits seemed to make no impression
upon the iron fibres of his stubborn brain and heart. He judged his
morality by the toughness of his constitution, and congratulated himself
on being a sober man, while he complained of his second mate, and
stigmatised him as a drunken, worthless fellow, because one glass of
punch made him intoxicated. This is by no means an uncommon thing both
at home and abroad; and men condemn others more for want of strength of
head, than strength of heart.


END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

R. CLAY, PRINTER, BREAD STREET HILL.


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber’s Note:

Variations in spelling, use of hyphenated words, and in dialect have
been retained as they appear in the original book. Changes have been
made as follows:

    Page  16 ropes fr you changed to ropes for you

    Page  17 grey esey sparkled changed to grey eyes sparkled

    Page  65 added double closing quotation mark to Busy at work, too?”

    Page  92 real Havanna changed to real Havana

    Page  95 one of these days.' changed to one of these days.”

    Page  96 and getting none, changed to and getting none.

    Page 104 and by some mismagement changed to by some mismanagement

    Page 140 very plausibly changed to very plausible

    Page 146 added double closing quotation mark to heart-breaking
         regret.”

    Page 148 stumblingblocks changed to stumbling blocks

    Page 150 Then sideling changed to Then sidling

    Page 153 deep vexation changed to deep vexation.

    Page 156 Bad beginings changed to Bad beginnings

    Page 169 handsome young quaker changed to handsome young Quaker

    Page 177 carolled high in air changed to carolled high in the air

    Page 193 rest of his journey, changed to rest of his journey.

    Page 214 it annoyed her “ changed to it annoyed her.”

    Page 232 my Mammy say?’ changed to my Mammy say?”

    Page 240 browze and gambol changed to browse and gambol

    Page 240 and when the arrived changed to and when they arrived

    Page 246 added double closing quotation mark after not have seen
             this.”

    Page 261 removed double closing quotation mark after half-pennyworth
             of taste.

    Page 267 added double closing quotation mark after dimensions of the
             fire.”

    Page 271 said Flora coaxingly., changed to said Flora coaxingly.

    Page 271 added double closing quotation mark after an’ boil an’
             roast!”

    Page 288 and in a few miuutes changed to and in a few minutes

    Page 291 Doctor Mac Adie changed to Doctor MacAdie





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