Part 1 out of 5
LIPPINCOTT'S MAGAZINE OF POPULAR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE
Vol. XV, No. 87
TABLE OF CONTENTS
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA. [Illustrated]
AUSTRALIAN SCENES AND ADVENTURES.
Two Papers.--1. [Illustrated]
FORECAST by CHARLOTTE F. BATES.
THE MATCHLESS ONE:
A Tale of American Society, In Four Chapters by ITA ANIOL PROKOP.
MUNICH AS A PEST-CITY.
AMONG THE BLOUSARDS by WIRT SIKES.
SONNET by F.A. HILLARD.
THREE FEATHERS by WILLIAM BLACK
Chapter XXVI. A Perilous Truce.
Chapter XXVII. Further Entanglements.
Chapter XXVIII. Farewell!
LA MADONNA DELLA SEDIA.
A Tradition by EMMA LAZARUS.
EARLY TRAVELING EXPERIENCES IN INDIA by FITZEDWARD HALL.
ONCE AND AGAIN by CHARLES WARREN STODDARD.
THE SCIENTIFIC LIFE by S. WEIR MITCHELL.
PLAYING WITH FIRE by HARRIET PRESCOTT SPOFFORD.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE TUSCAN COURT UNDER THE GRAND DUKE LEOPOLD
by T. ADOLPHUS TROLLOPE.
OUR MONTHLY GOSSIP.
Old English Charities.
The Death of Doctors' Commons.
The Lay of the Leveler.
The Philosopher Strauss as A Poet.
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
CROSSING THE COURTYARD OF THE PRISON.
OUTSTARING THE GUARD.
CHARITY TO THE EXILE.
A RUSSIAN OTHELLO.
VAIN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.
A SAMARITAN OF THE STEPPES.
THE BENEDICTION WITH TWO FINGERS.
CROSSING THE FRONTIER.
ABORIGINES OF THE EASTERN COAST.
DAUGHTER OF KING TATAMBO.
NEGRO WAR-DANCE, OR CORROBORI.
COMPANIONS OF THE HUNT.
FERN TREES NEAR HOBART TOWN.
FOREST OF FERNS.
LIBRARY OF MELBOURNE.
THE ENVIRONS OF MELBOURNE.
AN ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
[Illustration: RUFIN PIOTROWSKI.]
All the languages of continental Europe have some phrase by which a
parting people express the hope of meeting again. The French _au
revoir_, the Italian _a rivederla_, the Spanish _hasta manana_, the
German _Auf Wiedersehen_,--these and similar forms, varied with the
occasion, have grown from the need of the heart to cheat separation of
its pain. The Poles have an expression of infinitely deeper meaning,
which embodies all that human nature can utter of grief and
despair--"To meet nevermore." This is the heart-rending farewell with
which the patriot exiled to Siberia takes leave of family and friends.
There is indeed little chance that he will ever again return to his
country and his home. Since Beniowski the Pole made his famous
romantic flight from the coal-mines of Kamschatka in the last century,
there has been but a single instance of a Siberian exile making good
his escape. In our day, M. Rufin Piotrowski, also a Polish patriot,
has had the marvelous good-fortune to succeed in the all but
impossible attempt; and he has given his story to his countrymen in a
simple, unpretending narrative, which, even in an abridged form, will,
we think, be found one of thrilling interest.
In January, 1843, we find Piotrowski in Paris, a refugee for already
twelve years, and on the eve of a secret mission into Poland of which
he gives no explanation. By means of an American acquaintance he
procured a passport from the British embassy describing him as Joseph
Catharo of Malta: he spoke Italian perfectly, English indifferently,
and was thus well suited to support the character of an Italian-born
subject of Queen Victoria. Having crossed France, Germany, Austria and
Hungary in safety, he reached his destination, the town of Kamenitz in
Podolia, on the Turkish frontier. His ostensible object was to settle
there as a teacher of languages, and on the strength of his British
passport he obtained the necessary permission from the police before
their suspicions had been roused. He also gained admission at once
into the society of the place, where, notwithstanding his pretended
origin, he was generally known as "the Frenchman," the common nickname
for a foreigner in the Polish provinces. He had soon a number of
pupils, some of them Poles--others, members of the families of Russian
resident officials. He frequented the houses of the latter most, in
order not to attract attention to his intercourse with his
compatriots. He spoke Russian fluently, but feigned total ignorance
both of that and his own language, and even affected an incapacity for
learning them when urged to do so by his scholars. Among the risks to
which this exposed him was the temptation of cutting short a difficult
explanation in his lessons by a single word, which would have made the
whole matter clear. But this, although the most frequent and
vexatious, was not the severest trial of his _incognito_. One day,
while giving a lesson to two beautiful Polish girls, daughters of a
lady who had shown him great kindness, the conversation turned upon
Poland: he spoke with an indifference which roused the younger to a
vehement outburst on behalf of her country. The elder interrupted her
sharply in their native language with, "How can you speak of holy
things to a hare-brained Frenchman?" At another Polish house, a
visitor, hearing that M. Catharo was from Paris, was eager to ask news
of his brother, who was living there in exile: their host dissuaded
him, saying, "You know that inquiries about relations in exile are
strictly forbidden. Take care! one is never safe with a stranger."
Their unfortunate fellow-countryman, who knew the visitor's brother
very well, was forced to bend over a book to hide the blood which
rushed to his face in the conflict of feeling. He kept so close a
guard upon himself that he would never sleep in the room with another
person--which it was sometimes difficult to avoid on visits to
neighboring country-seats--lest a word spoken in his troubled slumbers
should betray him. He passed nine months in familiar relations with
all the principal people of the place, his nationality and his designs
being known to but very few of his countrymen, who kept the secret
with rigid fidelity. At length, however, he became aware that he was
watched; the manner of some of his Russian friends grew inquiring and
constrained; he received private warnings, and perceived that he was
dogged by the police. It was not too late for flight, but he knew that
such a course would involve all who were in his secret, and perhaps
thousands of others, in tribulation, and that for their sakes it
behooved him to await the terrible day of reckoning which was
inevitably approaching. The only use to which he could turn this time
of horrible suspense was in concerting a plan of action with his
colleagues. His final interview with the chief of them took place in a
church at the close of the short winter twilight on the last day of
the year. After agreeing on all the points which they could foresee,
they solemnly took leave of each other, and Piotrowski was left alone
in the church, where he lingered to pray fervently for strength for
the hour that was at hand.
The next morning at daybreak he was suddenly shaken by the arm: he
composed himself for the part he was to play, and slowly opened his
eyes. His room was filled with Russian officials: he was arrested. He
protested against the outrage to a British subject, but his papers
were seized, he was carried before the governor of the place, and
after a brief examination given into the custody of the police.
[Illustration: THE ARREST.]
He was examined on several successive days, but persisted in his first
story, although aware that his identity was known, and that the
information had come from St. Petersburg. His object was to force the
authorities to confront him with those who had been accused on his
account, that they might hear his confession and regulate their own
accordingly. One day a number of them were brought together--some his
real accomplices, others mere acquaintance. After the usual routine of
questions and denials, Piotrowski suddenly exclaimed in Polish, as one
who can hold out no longer, "Well, then, yes! I am no British subject,
but a Pole of the Ukraine. I emigrated after the revolution of 1831: I
came back because I could bear a life of exile no longer, and I only
wished to breathe my native air. I came under a false name, for I
could not have come in my own. I confided my secret to a few of my
countrymen, and asked their aid and advice: I had nothing else to ask
or tell them."
[Illustration: CROSSING THE COURTYARD OF THE PRISON.]
The preliminary interrogatories concluded, he was sent for a more
rigid examination to the fortress of Kiow. He left Kamenitz early in
January at midnight, under an escort of soldiers and police. The town
was dark and silent as they passed through the deserted streets, but
he saw lights in the upper windows of several houses whose inmates had
been implicated in his accusation. Was it a mute farewell or the sign
of vigils of anguish? They traveled all night and part of the next
day: their first halt was at a great state prison, where Piotrowski
was for the first time shut up in a cell. He was suffering from the
excitement through which he had been passing, from the furious speed
of the journey, which had been also very rough, and from a slight
concussion of the brain occasioned by one of the terrible jolts of the
rude vehicle: a physician saw him and ordered repose. The long, dark,
still hours of the night were gradually calming his nerves when he was
disturbed by a distant sound, which he soon guessed to be the clanking
of chains, followed by a chant in which many voices mingled. It was
Christmas Eve, old style, as still observed in some of the provinces,
and the midnight chorus was singing an ancient Christmas hymn which
every Polish child knows from the cradle. For twelve years the dear
familiar melody had not greeted his ears, and now he heard it sung by
his captive fellow-countrymen in a Russian dungeon.
Two days later they set out again, and now he was chained hand and
foot with heavy irons, rusty, and too small for his limbs. The sleigh
hurried on day and night with headlong haste: it was upset, everybody
was thrown out, the prisoner's chain caught and he was dragged until
he lost consciousness. In this state he arrived at Kiow. Here he was
thrown into a cell six feet by five, almost dark and disgustingly
dirty. The wretched man was soon covered from head to foot with
vermin, of which his handcuffs prevented his ridding himself. However,
in a day or two, after a visit from the commandant, his cell was
cleaned. His manacles prevented his walking, or even standing, and the
moral effect of being unable to use his hands was a strange apathy
such as might precede imbecility. He was interrogated several times,
but always adhered to his confession at Kamenitz; menaces of harsher
treatment, even of torture, were tried--means which he knew too well
had been resorted to before; his guards were forbidden to exchange a
word with him, so that his time was passed in solitude, silence and
absolute inoccupation. Since Levitoux, another political prisoner,
fearful that the tortures to which he was subjected might wring from
him confessions which would criminate his friends, had set fire to his
straw bed with his night-lamp and burned himself alive, no lights were
allowed in the cells, so that a great portion of the twenty-four hours
went by in darkness. After some time he was visited by Prince
Bibikoff, the governor-general of that section of the country, one of
the men whose names are most associated with the sufferings of Poland:
he tried by intimidation and persuasion to induce the prisoner to
reveal his projects and the names of his associates. Piotrowski held
firm, but the prince on withdrawing ordered his chains to be struck
off. The relief was ineffable: he could do nothing but stretch his
arms to enjoy the sense of their free possession, and he felt his
natural energy and independence of thought return. He had not been
able to take off his boots since leaving Kamenitz, and his legs were
bruised and sore, but he walked to and fro in his cell all day,
enjoying the very pain this gave him as a proof that they were
unchained. Several weeks passed without any other incident, when late
one night he was surprised by a light in his cell: an aide-de-camp and
four soldiers entered and ordered him to rise and follow them. He
thought that he was summoned to his execution. He crossed the great
courtyard of the prison supported by the soldiers; the snow creaked
under foot; the night was very dark, and the sharp fresh air almost
took away his breath, yet it was infinitely welcome to him after the
heavy atmosphere of his cell, and he inhaled it with keen pleasure,
thinking that each whiff was almost the last. He was led into a
large, faintly-lighted room, where officers of various grades were
smoking around a large table. It was only the committee of
investigation, for hitherto his examinations had not been strictly in
This was but the first of a series of sittings which were prolonged
through nearly half a year. During this time his treatment improved;
his cell was kept clean; he had no cause to complain of his food; he
was allowed to walk for an hour daily in the corridor, which, though
cold and damp, in some degree satisfied his need of exercise. He was
always guarded by two sentinels, to whom he was forbidden to speak. He
learned in some way, however, that several of his co-accused were his
fellow-prisoners: they were confined in another part of the fortress,
and he but once caught a glimpse of one of them--so changed that he
hardly recognized him. His neighbors on the corridor were common
criminals. The president of the committee offered him the use of a
library, but he only asked for a Bible, "with which," he says, "I was
no longer alone." His greatest suffering arose from the nervous
irritability caused by the unremitting watch of the sentinel at his
door, which drove him almost frantic. The sensation of being spied at
every instant, in every action, of meeting this relentless,
irresponsive gaze on waking, of encountering it at each minute of the
day, was maddening. From daybreak he longed for the night, which
should deliver him from the sight. Sometimes, beside himself, he would
suddenly put his own face close to the grating and stare into the
tormenting eyes to force them to divert their gaze for a moment,
laughing like a savage when he succeeded. He was in this feverish
condition when called to his last examination. He perceived at once,
from the solemnity of all present, that the crisis had come. His
sentence was pronounced: death, commuted by Prince Bibikoff's
intercession to hard labor for life in Siberia. He was degraded from
the nobility, to which order, like half the inhabitants of Poland, he
belonged, and condemned to make the journey in chains. Without being
taken back to his cell, he was at once put into irons, the same rusty,
galling ones he had worn already, and placed in a _kibitka_, or
traveling-carriage, between two armed guards. The gates of the
fortress closed behind him, and before him opened the road to Siberia.
[Illustration: OUTSTARING THE GUARD.]
His destination was about two thousand miles distant. The incidents of
the journey were few and much of the same character. Charity and
sympathy were shown him by people of every class. Travelers of
distinction, especially ladies, pursued him with offers of assistance
and money, which he would not accept. The only gifts which he did not
refuse were the food and drink brought him by the peasants where they
stopped to change horses: wherever there was a halt the good people
plied him with tea, brandy and simple dainties, which he gratefully
accepted. At one station a man in the uniform of the Russian civil
service timidly offered him a parcel wrapped in a silk handkerchief,
saying, "Accept this from my saint." Piotrowski, repelled by the sight
of the uniform, shook his head. The other flushed: "You are a Pole,
and do not understand our customs. This is my birthday, and on this
day, above all others, I should share what I have with the
unfortunate. Pray accept it in the name of my patron saint." He could
not resist so Christian an appeal. The parcel contained bread, salt
and some money: the last he handed over to the guards, who in any case
would not have let him keep it: he broke the bread with its donor. His
guards were almost the only persons with whom he had to do who showed
themselves insensible to his pain and sorrow. They were divided
between their fears of not arriving on the day fixed, in which case
they would be flogged, and of his dying of fatigue on the route, when
they would fare still worse. The apprehension of his suicide beset
them: at the ferries or fords which they crossed each of them held him
by an arm lest he should drown himself, and all his meat was given to
him minced, to be eaten with a spoon, as he was not to be trusted for
an instant with a knife. Thus they traveled night and day for three
weeks, only stopping to change horses and take their meals; yet he
esteemed himself lucky not to have been sent with a gang of convicts,
chained to some atrocious malefactor, or to have been ordered to make
the journey on foot, like his countryman, Prince Sanguzsko. At last
they reached Omsk, the head-quarters of Prince Gortchakoff, then
governor-general of Western Siberia. By some informality in the mode
of his transportation, the interpretation of Piotrowski's sentence
depended solely on this man: he might be sent to work in one of the
government manufactories, or to the mines, the last, worst dread of a
Siberian exile. While awaiting the decision he was in charge of a gay,
handsome young officer, who treated him with great friendliness, and
in the course of their conversation, which turned chiefly on Siberia,
showed him a map of the country. The prisoner devoured it with his
eyes, tried to engrave it on his memory, asked innumerable questions
about roads and water-courses, and betrayed so much agitation that the
young fellow noticed it, and exclaimed, "Ah! don't think of escape.
Too many of your countrymen have tried it, and those are fortunate
who, tracked on every side, famished, desperate, have been able to put
an end to themselves before being retaken, for if they are, then comes
the knout and a life of misery beyond words. In Heaven's name, give up
that thought!" The commandant of the fortress paid him a short
official visit, and exclaimed repeatedly, "How sad! how sad! to come
back when you were free-in a foreign country!" The chief of police, a
hard, dry, vulture-like man, asked why he had dared to return without
the czar's permission. "I could not bear my homesickness," replied the
prisoner. "O native country!" said the Russian in a softened voice,
"how dear thou art!" After various official interviews he was taken to
the governor-general's ante-chamber, where he found a number of
clerks, most of whom were his exiled compatriots and received him
warmly. While he was talking with them a door opened, and Gortchakoff
stood on the threshold: he fixed his eyes on the prisoner for some
moments, and withdrew without a word. An hour of intense anxiety
followed, and then an officer appeared, who announced that he was
consigned to the distilleries of Ekaterininski-Zavod, some two hundred
miles farther north.
Ekaterininski-Zavod is a miserable village of a couple of hundred
small houses on the river Irtish, in the midst of a wide plain. Its
inhabitants are all in some way connected with the government
distillery: they are the descendants of criminals formerly
transported. Piotrowski, after a short interview with the inspector of
the works, was entered on the list of convicts and sent to the
guard-house. "He is to work with his feet in irons," added the
inspector. This unusual severity was in consequence of a memorandum in
Prince Gortchakoff's own writing appended to the prisoner's papers:
"Piotrowski must be watched with especial care." The injunction was
unprecedented, and impressed the director with the prisoner's
importance. Before being taken to his work he was surrounded by his
fellow-countrymen, young men of talent and promise, who were there,
like himself, for political reasons. Their emotion was extreme: they
talked rapidly and eagerly, exhorting him to patience and silence, and
to do nothing to incur corporal punishment, which was the mode of
keeping the workmen in order, so that in time he might be promoted,
like themselves, from hard labor to office-work. At the guard-house he
found a crowd of soldiers, among whom were many Poles, incorporated
into the standing army of Siberia for having taken up arms for their
country. This is one of the mildest punishments for that offence. They
seized every pretext for speaking to him, to ask what was going on in
Poland, and whether there were any hopes for her. Overcome by fatigue
and misery, he sat down upon a bench, where he remained sunk in the
gloomiest thoughts until accosted by a man of repulsive aspect,
branded on the face--the Russian practice with criminals of the worst
sort--who said abruptly, "Get up and go to work." It was the overseer,
himself a former convict. "O my God!" exclaims Piotrowski, "Thou alone
didst hear the bitter cry of my soul when this outcast first spoke to
me as my master."
[Illustration: CHARITY TO THE EXILE.]
Before going to work his irons were struck off, thanks to the instant
entreaties of his compatriots: he was then given a broom and shovel
and set to clear rubbish and filth off the roof of a large unfinished
building. On one side was a convict of the lowest order, with whom he
worked--on the other, the soldier who mounted guard over them. To
avoid the indignity of chastisement or reproof--indeed, to escape
notice altogether--he bent his whole force to his task, without
raising his head, or even his eyes, but the iron entered into his soul
and he wept.
The order of his days knew no variation. Rising at sunrise, the
convicts worked until eight o'clock, when they breakfasted, then until
their dinner at noon, and again from one o'clock until dark. His tasks
were fetching wood and water, splitting and piling logs, and
scavenger-work of all sorts: it was all out of doors and in every
extreme of the Siberian climate. His companions were all ruffians of a
desperate caste: burglary, highway robbery, rape, murder in every
degree, were common cases. One instance will suffice, and it is not
the worst: it was that of a young man, clerk of a wine-merchant in St.
Petersburg. He had a mistress whom he loved, but suspected of
infidelity; he took her and another girl into the country for a
holiday, and as they walked together in the fields fired a pistol at
his sweetheart's head: it only wounded her; the friend rushed away
shrieking for help; the victim fell on her knees and cried, "Forgive
me!" but he plunged a knife up to the hilt in her breast, and she fell
dead at his feet. He gave himself up to justice, received the knout
and was transported for life.
[Illustration: A RUSSIAN OTHELLO.]
The daily contact with ignorant, brutish men, made worse than brutes
by a life of hideous crime, was the worst feature in his wretched
existence. He had determined never to submit to blows, should the
forfeit be his own life or another's, and the incessant apprehension
kept his mind in a state of frightful tension: it also nerved him to
physical exertions beyond his strength, and to a moral restraint of
which he had not deemed himself capable in the way of endurance and
self-command. But in the end he was the gainer. After the first year
he was taken into the office of the establishment, and received a
salary of ten francs a month. He was also allowed to leave the
barracks where he had been herded with the convicts, and to lodge with
two fellow-countrymen in a little house which they built for
themselves, and which they shared with the soldiers who guarded them.
It was a privilege granted to the most exemplary of the convicts to
lodge with one or other of the private inhabitants of the village; but
besides their own expenses they had to pay those of the soldier
detailed to watch them. In the course of the winter they were
comforted by the visit of a Polish priest. A certain number are
permitted, to travel through Siberia yearly, stopping wherever there
are Polish prisoners to administer the sacraments and consolations of
their Church to them: there is no hardship which these heroic men will
not encounter in performing their thrice holy mission. Piotrowski,
who, like all Poles, was an ingrained Roman Catholic, after passing
through phases of doubt and disbelief had returned to a fervent
orthodoxy: this spiritual succor was most precious to himself and his
One idea, however, was never absent from his mind--that of escape. At
the moment of receiving his sentence at Kiow he had resolved to be
free, and his resolution had not faltered. He had neglected no means
of acquiring information about Siberia and the adjacent countries. For
this he had listened to the revolting confidences of the malefactors
at the barracks--for this he heard with unflagging attention, yet with
no sign of interest, the long stories of the traders who came to the
distillery from all parts of the empire to sell grain or buy spirits.
The office in which he passed his time from eight in the morning
until ten or eleven at night was their _rendezvous_, and by a
concentration of his mental powers he acquired a thorough and accurate
knowledge of the country from the Frozen Ocean to the frontiers of
Persia and China, and of all its manners and customs. The prisoner who
meditates escape, he says, is absorbed in an infinitude of details and
calculations, of which it is only possible to give the final result.
Slowly and painfully, little by little, he accumulated the
indispensable articles--disguise, money, food, a weapon, passports.
The last were the most essential and the most difficult: two were
required, both upon paper with the government stamp--one a simple pass
for short distances and absences, useless beyond a certain limit and
date; the other, the _plakatny_, or real passport, a document of vital
importance. He was able to abstract the paper from the office, and a
counterfeiter in the community forged the formula and signatures. His
appearance he had gradually changed by allowing his hair and beard to
grow, and he had studied the tone of thought and peculiar phraseology
of the born Siberian, that he might the better pass for a native. More
than six months went by in preparations: then he made two false
starts. He had placed much hope on a little boat, which was often
forgotten at evening, moored in the Irtish. One dark night he quietly
loosed it and began to row away: suddenly the moon broke through the
clouds, and at the same instant the voices of the inspector and some
of his subordinates were heard on the banks. Piotrowski was fortunate
enough to get back unperceived. On the second attempt a dense fog rose
and shut him in: he could not see a yard before him. All night long he
pushed the boat hither and thither, trying at least to regain the
shore; at daybreak the vapor began to disperse, but it was too late to
go on; he again had the good luck to land undiscovered. Five routes
were open to him--all long, and each beset with its own perils. He
decided to go northward, recross the Uralian Mountains, and make his
way to Archangel, nearly a thousand miles off, where, among the
hundreds of foreign ships constantly in the docks, he trusted to find
one which would bring him to America. Nobody knew his secret: he had
vowed to perish rather than ever again involve others in his fate. He
reckoned on getting over the first danger of pursuit by mingling with
the crowds of people then traveling from every quarter to the annual
fair at Irbite at the foot of the Urals.
[Illustration: VAIN ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.]
Finally, in February, 1846, he set out on foot. His costume consisted
of three shirts--a colored one uppermost, worn, Russian fashion,
outside his trousers, which were of heavy cloth, like his
waistcoat--and a small sheepskin burnous, heavy high boots, a bright
woolen sash, a red cap with a fur border--the dress of a well-to-do
peasant or commercial traveler. In a small bag he carried a change of
clothing and his provisions: his money and passports were hidden about
his person; he was armed with a dagger and a bludgeon. He had scarcely
crossed the frozen Irtish when the sound of a sleigh behind him
brought his heart to his mouth: he held his ground and was hailed by a
peasant, who wanted to drive a bargain with him for a lift. After a
little politic chaffering he got in, and was carried to a village
about eight miles off at a gallop. There the peasant set him down,
and, knocking at the first house, he asked for horses to the fair at
Irbite. More bargaining, but they were soon on the road. Erelong,
however, it began to snow; the track disappeared, the driver lost his
way; they wandered about for some time, and were forced to stop all
night in a forest--a night of agony. They were not twelve miles from
Ekaterininski-Zavod: every minute the fugitive fancied he heard the
bells of the pursuing _kibitkas_; he had a horrible suspicion, too,
that his driver was delaying purposely to betray him, as had befallen
a fellow-countryman in similar circumstances. But at daybreak they
found the road, and by nightfall, having changed horses once or twice
and traveled like the wind, he was well on his way. At a fresh relay
he was forced to go into a tavern to make change to pay his driver: as
he stood among the tipsy crowd he was hustled and his pocket-book
snatched from his hand. He could not discover the thief nor recover
the purse: he durst not appeal to the police, and had to let it go. In
it, besides a quarter of his little hoard of money, there was a
memorandum of every town and village on his way to Archangel, and his
_plakatny_. In this desperate strait--for the last loss seemed to cut
off hope--he had one paramount motive for going on: return was
impossible. Once having left Ekaterininski-Zavod, his fate was sealed
if retaken: he must go forward. Forward he went, falling in with
troops of travelers bound to the fair. On the third evening of his
flight, notwithstanding the time lost, he was at the gates of Irbite,
over six hundred miles from his prison. "Halt and show your passport!"
cried the sentinel. He was fumbling for the local pass with a sinking
heart when the soldier whispered, "Twenty kopecks and go ahead." He
passed in. The loss of his money and the unavoidable expenses had
reduced his resources so much that he found it necessary to continue
the journey on foot. He slept at Irbite, but was up early, and passed
out of an opposite gate unchallenged.
Now began a long and weary tramp. The winter of 1846 was one of
unparalleled rigor in Siberia. The snow fell in enormous masses, which
buried the roads deep out of sight and crushed solidly-built houses
under its weight. Every difficulty of an ordinary journey on foot was
increased tenfold. Piotrowski's clothes encumbered him excessively,
yet he dared not take any of them off. His habit was to avoid passing
through villages as much as possible, but, if forced to do so to
inquire his way, only to stop at the last house. When he was hungry he
drew a bit of frozen bread from his wallet and ate it as he went
along: to quench his thirst he often had no resource but melting the
snow in his mouth, which rather tends to increase the desire for
water. At night he went into the depths of the forest, dug a hole
under the snow, and creeping in slept there as best he might. At the
first experiment his feet were frozen: he succeeded in curing them,
though not without great pain. Sometimes he plunged up to the waist or
neck in the drifts, and expected at the next step to be buried alive.
One night, having tasted to the full those two tortures, cold and
hunger--of which, as he says, we complain so frequently without
knowing what they mean--he ventured to ask for shelter at a little hut
near a hamlet where there were only two women. They gave him warm
food: he dried his drenched clothes, and stretched himself out to
sleep on the bench near the kitchen stove. He was roused by voices,
then shaken roughly and asked for his passport: there were three men
in the room. With amazing presence of mind he demanded by what right
they asked for his passport: were any of them officials? No, but they
insisted on knowing who he was and where he was going, and seeing his
pass. He told them the same story that he had told the women, and
finally exhibited the local pass, which was now quite worthless, and
would not have deceived a government functionary for a moment: they
were satisfied with the sight of the stamp. They excused themselves,
saying that the women had taken fright and given the alarm, thinking
that, as sometimes happened, they were housing an escaped convict.
This adventure taught him a severe lesson of prudence. He often passed
fifteen or twenty nights under the snow in the forest, without seeking
food or shelter, hearing the wolves howl at a distance. In this savage
mode of life he lost the count of time: he was already far in the Ural
Mountains before he again ventured to sleep beneath a roof. As he was
starting the next morning his hosts said, in answer to his inquiries
as to the road, "A little farther on you will find a guard-house,
where they will look at your papers and give you precise directions."
Again how narrow an escape! He turned from the road and crossed hills
and gorges, often up to the chin in snow, and made an immense curve
before taking up his march again.
[Illustration: A SAMARITAN OF THE STEPPES.]
One moonlight night, in the dead silence of the ice-bound winter, he
stood on the ridge of the mountain-chain and began to descend its
eastern slope. Still on and on, the way more dangerous than before,
for now there were large towns upon his route, which he could only
avoid by going greatly out of his way. One night in the woods he
completely lost his bearings; a tempest of wind and snow literally
whirled him around; his stock of bread was exhausted, and he fell upon
the earth powerless; there was a buzzing in his ears, a confusion in
his ideas; his senses forsook him, and but for spasms of cramp in his
stomach he had no consciousness left. Torpor was settling upon him
when a loud voice recalled him to himself: it was a trapper, who lived
hard by, going home with his booty. He poured some brandy down the
dying man's throat, and when this had somewhat revived him gave him
food from his store. After some delay the stranger urged Piotrowski to
get up and walk, which he did with the utmost difficulty: leaning upon
this Samaritan of the steppes, he contrived to reach the highway,
where a small roadside inn was in sight. There his companion left him,
and he staggered forward with unspeakable joy toward the warmth and
shelter. He would have gone in if he had known the guards were there
on the lookout for him, for his case was now desperate. He only got as
far as the threshold, and there fell forward and rolled under a
bench. He asked for hot soup, but could not swallow, and after a few
minutes fell into a swoon-like sleep which lasted twenty-four hours.
Restored by nourishment, rest and dry clothes, he set forth again at
During the first part of his journey he had passed as a commercial
traveler; after leaving Irbite he was a workman seeking employment in
the government establishments; but now he assumed the character of a
pilgrim to the convent of Solovetsk on a holy island in the White Sea,
near Archangel. For each change of part he had to change his manners,
mode of speech, his whole personality, and always be probable and
consistent in his account of himself. It was mid-April: he had been
journeying on foot for two months. Easter was approaching, when these
pious journeys were frequent, and not far from Veliki-Oustiog he fell
in with several bands of men and women--_bohomolets_, as they are
called--on their way to Solovetsk. There were more than two thousand
in the town waiting for the frozen Dwina to open, that they might
proceed by water to Archangel. It being Holy Week, Piotrowski was
forced to conform to the innumerable observances of the Greek
ritual--prayers, canticles, genuflexions, prostrations, crossings and
bowings, as manifold as in his own, but different. His inner
consciousness suffered from this hypocrisy, but it was necessary to
his part. They were detained at Veliki-Oustiog a mortal month, during
which these acts of devotion went on with almost unabated zeal among
the _boholomets._ At length the river was free, and they set out.
Their vessel was a huge hulk which looked like a floating barn: it was
manned by twenty or thirty rowers, and to replenish his purse a little
the fugitive took an oar. The agent who had charge of the expedition
required their passports: among the number the irregularity of
Piotrowski's escaped notice. The prayers and prostrations went on
during the voyage, which lasted a fort-night. One morning the early
sunshine glittered on the gilded domes of Archangel: the vessel soon
touched the shore, and his passport was returned to him uninspected,
with the small sum he had earned by rowing.
He had reached his goal; a thousand miles of deadly suffering and
danger lay behind him; he was on the shores of the White Sea, with
vessels of every nation lying at anchor ready to bear him away to
freedom. Yet he was careful not to commit himself by any imprudence or
inconsistency. He went with the pilgrims to their vast crowded
lodging-house, and for several days joined in their visits to the
different churches of Archangel; but when they embarked again for the
holy island he stayed behind under the pretext of fatigue, but really
to go unobserved to the harbor. There lay the ships from every part of
the world, with their flags floating from the masts. Alas! alas! on
every wharf a Russian sentinel mounted guard day and night,
challenging every one who passed, and on the deck of each ship there
was another. In vain he risked the consequences of dropping his
character of an ignorant Siberian peasant so far as to speak to a
group of sailors, first in French and then in German; they understood
neither: the idlers on the quays began to gather round in idle
curiosity, and he had to desist. In vain, despite the icy coldness of
the water, he tried swimming in the bay to approach some vessel for
the chance of getting speech of the captain or crew unseen by the
sentinel. In vain he resorted to every device which desperation could
suggest. After three days he was forced to look the terrible truth in
the face: there was no escape possible from Archangel.
Baffled and hopeless, he turned his back on the town, not knowing
where to go. To retrace his steps would be madness. He followed the
shore of the White Sea to Onega, a natural direction for pilgrims
returning from Solovetsk to take. His lonely way lay through a land of
swamp and sand, with a sparse growth of stunted pines; the midnight
sun streamed across the silent stretches; the huge waves of the White
Sea, lashed by a long storm, plunged foaming upon the desolate beach.
Days and nights of walking brought him to Onega: there was no way of
getting to sea from there, and after a short halt he resumed his
journey southward along the banks of the river Onega, hardly knowing
whither or wherefore he went. The hardships of his existence at
midsummer were fewer than at midwinter, but the dangers were greater:
the absence of a definite goal, of a distinct hope which had supported
him before, unnerved him physically. He had reached the point when he
dreaded fatigue more than risk. In spite of his familiarity with the
minutiae of Russian customs, he was nearly betrayed one day by his
ignorance of _tolokno_, a national dish. On another occasion he
stopped at the cabin of a poor old man to ask his way: the gray-beard
made him come in, and after some conversation began to confide his
religious grievances to him, which turned upon the persecutions to
which a sect of religionists is exposed in Russia for adhering to
certain peculiarities in the forms of worship. Happily, Piorowski was
well versed in these subjects. The poor old man, after dwelling long
and tearfully on the woes of his fellow-believers, looked cautiously
in every direction, locked the door, and after exacting an oath of
secresy drew from a hiding-place a little antique brass figure of
Byzantine origin, representing our Saviour in the act of benediction
with two fingers only raised, according to the form cherished by the
[Illustration: THE BENEDICTION WITH TWO FINGERS.]
Following his purposeless march for hundreds of miles, the fugitive
reached Vytegra, where the river issues from the Lake of Onega. There,
on the wharf, a peasant asked him whither he was bound: he replied
that he was a pilgrim on his way from Solovetsk to the shrines of
Novgorod and Kiow. The peasant said he was going to St. Petersburg,
and would give him a passage for his service if he would take an oar.
The bargain was struck, and that night they started on their voyage to
the capital of Poland's arch-enemy, the head-quarters of politics, the
source whence his own arrest had emanated. He had no design: he was
going at hazard. The voyage was long: they followed the Lake of Onega,
the Lake of Ladoga and the river Neva. Sometimes poor people got a
lift in the boat: toward the end of the voyage they took aboard a
number of women-servants returning to their situations in town from a
visit to their country homes. Among them was an elderly woman going to
see her daughter, who was a washerwoman at St. Petersburg. Piotrowski
showed her some small kindnesses, which won her fervent gratitude. As
they landed in the great capital, which seemed the very focus of his
dangers, and he stood on the wharf wholly at a loss what should be his
next step, the poor woman came up with her daughter and offered to
show him cheap lodgings. He followed them, carrying his protectress's
trunk. The lodgings were cheap and miserable, and the woman of the
house demanded his passport. He handed it to her with a thrill of
anxiety, and carelessly announced his intention of reporting himself
at the police-office according to rule. She glanced at the paper,
which she could not read, and saw the official stamp: she was
satisfied, and began to dissuade him from going to the police. It then
appeared that the law required her to accompany him as her lodger;
that a great deal of her time would be lost in the delays and
formalities of the office, which, being a working-woman, she could ill
afford; and as he was merely passing through the city and had his
passport, there could be no harm in staying away. The next day, while
wandering about the streets seeking a mode of escape, the pilot of a
steam-packet to Riga asked him if he would like to sail with them the
next day, and named a very moderate fare. His heart leapt up, but the
next instant the man asked to see his passport: he took it out
trembling, but the sailor, without scrutiny, cried, "Good! Be off with
you, and come back to-morrow morning at seven o'clock." The next
morning at seven he was on board, and the boat was under way.
[Illustration: CROSSING THE FRONTIER.]
From Riga he had to make his way on foot across Courland and Lithuania
to the Prussian frontier. He now made a change in his disguise, and
gave himself out as a dealer in hogs' bristles. In Lithuania he found
himself once more on his beloved native soil, and the longing to speak
his own language, to make himself known to a fellow-countryman, was
almost irresistible; but he sternly quelled such a yearning. As he
neared the frontier he had the utmost difficulty in ascertaining where
and how it was guarded, and what he should have to encounter in
passing. At length he learned enough for his purpose: there were no
guards on the Prussian side. Reaching a rampart of the fortifications,
he waited until the moment when the two sentinels on duty were back to
back on their beats, and jumped down into the first of the three
ditches which protected the boundary. Clambering and jumping, he
reached the edge of the third: shots were fired in several directions;
he had been seen. He slid into the third ditch, scrambled up the
opposite side, sprang down once more, rushed on until out of sight of
the soldiers, and fell panting in a little wood. There he lay for
hours without stirring, as he knew the Russian guards sometimes
violated the boundary in pursuit of fugitives. But there was no
pursuit, and he at last took heart. Then he began a final
transformation. He had lately bought a razor, a pocket-mirror and some
soap, and with these, by the aid of a slight rain which was falling,
he succeeded with much difficulty in shaving himself and changing his
clothes to a costume he had provided expressly for Prussia. When night
had closed he set forth once more, lighter of heart than for many long
years, though well aware that by international agreement he was not
yet out of danger. He pushed on toward the grand duchy of Posen, where
he hoped to find assistance from his fellow-countrymen, who, being
under Prussian rule, would not be compromised by aiding him. He passed
through Memel and Tilsit, and reached Koenigsberg without let or
hindrance--over two hundred miles on Prussian soil in addition to all
the rest. There he found a steamboat to sail the next day in the
direction which he wished to follow. He had slept only in the open
fields, and meant to do so on this night and re-enter the town betimes
in the morning. Meanwhile he sat down on a heap of stones in the
street, and, overcome by fatigue, fell into a profound sleep. He was
awakened by the patrol: his first confused words excited suspicion,
and he was arrested and carried to the station-house. After all his
perils, his escapes, his adventures, his disguises, to be taken by a
Prussian watchman! The next morning he was examined by the police: he
declared himself a French artisan on his way home from Russia, but as
having lost his passport. The story imposed upon nobody, and he
perceived that he was supposed to be a malefactor of some dangerous
sort: his real case was not suspected. A month's incarceration
followed, and then a new interrogation, in which he was informed that
all his statements had been found to be false, and that he was an
object of the gravest suspicion. He demanded a private interview with
one of the higher functionaries and a M. Fleury, a naturalized
Frenchman in some way connected with the police-courts. To them he
told his whole story. After the first moment's stupefaction the
Prussian cried, "But, unhappy man, we must send you back: the treaty
compels it. My God! my God! why did you come here?"--"There is no help
for us," said M. Fleury, "but in Heaven's name write to Count
Eulenberg, on whom all depends: he is a man whom everybody loves. What
He was taken back to prison. He wrote; he received a kind but vague
reply; delays followed, and investigations into the truth of his
story; his anguish of mind was reaching a climax in which he felt that
his dagger would be his best friend after all. A citizen of the place,
a M. Kamke, a total stranger, offered to go bail for him: his story
had got abroad and excited the deepest sympathy. The bail was not
effected without difficulty: ultimately, he was declared free,
however, but the chief of police intimated that he had better remain
in Koenigsberg for the present. Anxious to show his gratitude to his
benefactors, fearful, too, of being suspected, he tarried for a week,
which he passed in the family of the generous M. Kamke. At the end of
that time he was again summoned to the police-court, where two
officials whom he already knew told him sadly that the order to send
him back to Russia had come from Berlin: they could but give him time
to escape at his own risk, and pray God for his safety. He went back
to his friend M. Kamke: a plan was organized at once, and by the
morrow he was on the way to Dantzic. Well provided with money and
letters by the good souls at Koenigsberg, he crossed Germany safely,
and on the 22d of September, 1846, found himself safe in Paris.
AUSTRALIAN SCENES AND ADVENTURES.
Australia is still the world's latest wonder--a land whose very
existence was but a few years ago ignored by geographers, but which
they now acknowledge as a fifth continent; a land of marvels that
courts and repays the investigation of the curious by its wild
scenery, its strange aboriginal inhabitants, its birds and beasts
unlike all others, its rich floral treasures, its mines of
inexhaustible wealth, its meadows and plains of dimensions so vast as
to defy for centuries to come a general cultivation; a land that has
in less than half a century experienced a growth and expansion
unprecedented in the history of nations. Yet is the civilization an
imported one, not indigenous, and to be traced only here and there in
the colonies, having as yet scarcely touched the interior of the
island or its aboriginal inhabitants. These are, in our own day,
hardly less untamed and untamable than when visited by the great
adventurer William Dampier in the latter part of the seventeenth
century, now almost two hundred years ago. So little regard was paid
to the reports of Dampier that nearly another century elapsed without
further efforts at the exploration of Australia, till in 1770 Cook, in
his first voyage around the world, visited this great island,
furnishing to his country the first accurate information of its
climate, soil and productions. Yet his marvelous accounts, though
exciting at first a sort of nine days' wonder, failed to awaken any
permanent interest, and soon Australia was again forgotten. But when
England, in consequence of the loss of her valuable American colonies,
to which she had been accustomed to transport her worst offenders,
began to look around for a substitute, the eyes of the government
were for the first time turned toward Australia. In May, 1787, the
first shipload of convicts was sent out, and in the following January
the foundation of Sydney, the future capital of the penal settlement,
was laid. Little, however, was done in the way of exploring the
country until the discovery of gold within its borders. Then, indeed,
the world woke up, and long-forgotten, neglected Australia came to be
reckoned a point of interest, at least to fortune-hunters.
Seen in the distance, the view of this great island is scarcely
attractive. Its abrupt shores wear a sombre hue, and the traveler, ere
he sets foot on the soil, detects a sort of savage air that seems to
reign triumphant over the demi-civilization that has been the growth
of only a score or two of years. Tiny native huts, looking as though
the architect had studied how small, uncouth and inconvenient a human
dwelling could possibly be made, contrast strangely with the tasteful
white cottages surrounded by flower-gardens and wreathed with vines,
or the elegant mansions of stone and slate, that form the homes of
foreign residents; natives in filthy garb, or no garb at all, prowl
about the dwellings or worm their devious way among the costly
equipages of Europeans; orchards and vineyards are planted under the
very shadow of forests where roam in all their savage freedom herds of
wild cattle and their wilder masters; and out from the rocks and
boulders of the most rugged spots rise clusters of the graceful
umbrella palm, with a foliage, fern-like and feathery, of the
loveliest emerald, and a cone expanding like a lady's fan. The odor of
English cowslips mingles with the spicy aroma of tropical fruits, and
the perpetual snow of-lofty peaks is reflected on fields of golden
maize and on meadows that gleam and glitter in the bright sunlight as
if paved with emeralds. It is contrast, not similitude, that attracts
the eye, novelty more than beauty, and quaintness rather than such
gorgeous sights as one meets everywhere within the tropics.
[Illustration: ABORIGINES OF THE EASTERN COAST.]
The harbors are very marvels of commodiousness, that of Port Jackson,
the entrance to Sydney, being fifteen miles long. It is landlocked on
both sides, without a shoal or rock to mar its perfectness, and broad
enough to afford safe anchorage to all the navies of the world. Here
ride at anchor vessels of almost every nation, their gay pennons
flaunting in the breeze, while worming their way in and out among the
shipping may be seen multitudes of native boats made of bark, quaint
as frail, and looking for all the world like a shoal of soldiers'
cocked hats. A man on land carries his tiny craft on his shoulders
with less difficulty, apparently, than the boat carries him on the
water. Rowing one seems about as difficult an operation as balancing
one's self on a straw would, be; but it has an especial point of
merit--it never sink, only purls, and an Australian takes a good
ducking as nonchalantly as he smokes his pipe. The natives usually
paddle in companies of three, and when one of the triad is purled the
other two come to the rescue. One on each side taking a hand of their
unlucky comrade, and reseating him, they move on rapidly as before,
cutting the blue water with their slender paddles and enlivening the
scene by occasional songs. The presence of numerous sharks in these
waters is the chief drawback to the pleasures of boating, and many an
ill-fated oarsman pays the forfeit of life or limb for his temerity in
venturing out too far. The nose of the shark is his most vulnerable
part; and the natives, who eat this sea-monster as willingly as he
eats them, often inflict a fatal wound by slinging a huge stone at his
nose and battering it to a jelly as he rises out of the water. The
flesh is eaten raw by the aborigines in their wild state, but the more
civilized "burn it," as they say, "like white men;" that is, they cut
off huge lumps of the flesh, lay them before a fire to roast, gnaw off
the surface as fast as it burns, and put down the remainder to toast
again until the appetite is glutted.
[Illustration: KING TATAMBO.]
[Illustration: DAUGHTER OF KING TATAMBO.]
These islanders were all cannibals when first discovered by Europeans,
intellectually inferior to other savages, ignorant of agricultural and
mechanical arts, going entirely naked, and living more like brutes
than human beings. Slowly and mutinously have their barbarous customs
been relinquished, even by those brought into occasional contact with
foreigners, while those in the interior are savage as the monsters
that prowl about them in dens and holes of the earth. Even such as
mingle most freely with the colonists can seldom be prevailed on to
practice permanently the arts of civilized life, usually preferring
their original habits and pursuits to the restraints of society. They
readily admit the superiority of foreigners, but cling tenaciously to
their forest homes and rude lives of unfettered freedom. In character
they are cruel and vindictive, improvident and thievish; and they seem
almost devoid of gallantry in the treatment of their women, wooing
their wives with blows, and often inflicting death upon women and
children for the slightest offences. Yet they have some ideas of a
Supreme Being and a future state, they practice a sort of religious
worship, and they bury or burn their dead. They call their chiefs
_be-a-na_, or "father," but unless compelled by fear to obedience they
treat them with little respect or affection. Their language has a
musical sound, but the vocabulary is scanty; and thus far the origin
of these people and their language remains a matter of doubt, though
in many particulars they bear a decided resemblance to the negroes of
Guinea. In regard to dress their habits are certainly primitive. A
single ratskin often forms the entire wardrobe of a native chief, and
a tomahawk with a brace of spears pointed with iron-wood or flint his
adornments. Opossum-skins tied together form a sort of cloak used as a
protection against the cold, but if on the chase the wearer finds his
upper garment oppressively warm, he tosses it away, and trusts to
finding or stealing another when he needs it. Their dwellings are
wretched little huts, or rather sheds, composed of bark or dried
leaves, and so low-pitched that one must crawl on his knees to enter
them. They are ill-ventilated and filthy in the extreme, utterly
devoid of furniture and household implements, and without any means of
securing either privacy or warmth--places where we should deem it
impossible to dwell content. Yet the native Australian seems always
merry, and he would not exchange his filthy hovel for the palace of a
prince. Unpretending as that of his subjects was the royal abode of
the venerable King Tatambo, an old man, whom the count de Beauvoir
describes as having a "skin black and shiny as liquorice, with
snow-white hair and beard," his only garment being a fur cloak that
was cast aside during the dance at which the count was present. He
gives, in connection with the king's portrait, that of "the youngest
and most beautiful of His Majesty's daughters," which may serve as a
type of the female beauty of Australia.
[Illustration: NEGRO WAR-DANCE, OR CORROBORI.]
The Australians are extremely fond of dancing, especially their
_corrobori_ or war-dance, performed always with bodies perfectly nude,
while they brandish a spear in one hand and a flaming brand in the
other. The night is invariably selected for the performance of the
corrobori, and the effect upon unaccustomed eyes is startling in the
extreme. The agile movements of the lean forms, black as night,
reflected by the radiance of their gleaming torches, the yells and
frantic gestures, together with the fierce onsets of the combatants
with spear and tomahawk, present a spectacle of weird interest, quite
in keeping with the wild scenery of the defiles and ravines where the
corrobori is usually celebrated.
[Illustration: A GOLD-MINE.]
The complexion of the Australians is black or very dark brown, their
hair straight, and their features of the negro type. They are of
medium stature, but generally thin, though well-formed, athletic and
agile. They are eager in the pursuit of gain, and this characteristic,
combined with their wonderful powers of endurance both of hunger and
fatigue, renders them patient and successful miners, while all other
causes combined have tended less to the development and improvement of
the Australian than has the discovery of gold within his borders. This
discovery, that has so changed the aspect of everything in Australia,
was the result of a mere accident that a thinking mind knew how to
turn to advantage. An adventurer from California, whose dreams by day
and by night were all of the land of gold he had so recently left,
while searching in company with another for a new pasturage-ground for
their sheep, came one day upon a range of low hills so like the
"Golden Range" of California as to bring back all his old
prepossessions in favor of mining. Stopping to examine, he found the
hills composed of granite, mica and quartz, the natural home of gold,
and his experience as a miner led to the conviction that though the
main body of the gold might have been already washed out among the
surrounding clay, yet enough remained to repay a careful search and to
indicate the existence, somewhere in the immediate vicinity, of a mine
of untold wealth. Several days were spent in unprofitable search: then
more favorable indications led the shepherds to dispose of their
flocks and set out in good earnest to dig for gold. A couple of
spades, a trowel and a calabash were their only tools, but our
adventurer was a knowing man, and "knowledge is power." His practiced
eye knew just where the precious metals would be most likely to exist
if at all in that locality--that in the old beds of rivers now dried
up gold would more naturally be found than in younger streams, and
especially that where round pebbles indicated a strong eddy ten times
as much gold might be expected as in the level parts. Gravel and
shingle were cleared away without examination, then a bed of gray
clay, as too porous to hold gold; but when a stratum of pipeclay was
reached the diggers knew that not an ounce of gold would be found
beneath, and their search was confined to a little streak of brownish
clay, about an inch in thickness, just above the pipeclay. Every
particle of this was carefully washed, and after hours of patient
labor the toilers were rewarded by about a thimbleful of the shining
dust they were so eagerly seeking. From this small beginning on the
10th of June, 1851, have grown the wonderful mining operations of
Australia; and in less than a month after the little incident related
above twenty thousand diggers--in a year increased to one hundred and
fifty thousand--were busy in the inexhaustible mines of that far-off
land; and so came those rugged, barren lands, hitherto scarcely broken
even by savages, to be peopled by men from every civilized land.
[Illustration: KANGAROO HUNT.]
Ballarat, the centre of one of the chief mining districts, is
connected now by railway with Melbourne, so that in the interval of
only four hours one passes from the commercial metropolis to the "City
of Gold." Over the fertile belt of cultivated lands that surrounds
Melbourne, through rugged rocks and barren sands, runs this road, on
which one meets crowds of pedestrians, many of them barefoot, the sole
capital of each a tent and a pickaxe. Nearing the mines, the aspect of
everything is changed: whole forests of trees demolished as if by a
thunderbolt; rivers turned out of their natural bed; fertile meadows
laid waste; gaping chasms and frightful depths here and there, in
which are men toiling half naked, begrimed with mud, and fierce,
reckless, cadaverous faces that tell of hardships and strife and sin
in the eager pursuit of riches. Ballarat was at first only a
mining-camp of immense size, and its environs are still occupied by
tents, where transient visitors find very passable accommodations. But
the city proper, now some sixteen years old, with a population already
of thirty thousand, is an exact transcript of Melbourne, with
beautiful dwellings, and broad streets thronged with carriages by day
and lighted with gas by night. It boasts already its clubs and
theatres, its banks and libraries and reading--rooms, where the
successful miner may invest his earnings, cultivate his intellect and
seek recreation for his leisure hours.
[Illustration: COMPANIONS OF THE HUNT.] There are over two thousand
mining districts in Australia, of which one of the richest is "Black
Hill Mine," but why called "Black Hill" it would be difficult to say,
as its beautiful glistening sands are far nearer white than black.
Next to gold, the most valuable ore is mercury, immense quantities of
which are shipped annually to England from these mines. Iron-ore is
found in nearly every part of the island, much of it so rich as to
produce nearly three-fourths of its weight of metal. Topazes of rare
beauty are frequently obtained, and coal is both good and abundant. In
addition to these the island possesses an almost inexhaustible store
of granite, slate and freestone, well adapted to building purposes.
Sometimes gold is found diffused with wonderful regularity within a
few inches of the surface, and so abundant that a single cradleful
will yield an ounce of pure gold-dust, the miners readily realizing
two or three thousand dollars per diem. As the grass is torn up,
flecks of bright gold are found clinging to the roots, and the clay as
it is turned over glitters with the precious dust. Again, the digger
has to search for his treasure deep in the bowels of the earth, or
among flinty rocks, or far down beneath a river's bed, and, it may be,
spend weeks or months without realizing a bawbee. Nothing else is so
uncertain as to results as the search for gold, and few vocations are
at once so fascinating and so cruelly exacting in regard to health,
ease, and even life.
[Illustration: FERN TREES NEAR HOBART TOWN.]
Among the mines, and amid barren, rugged scenery in Australia, one is
often surprised by glimpses of rare beauty--flowers of wondrous
brilliancy, odorless though they be; a gigantic tree twined about by a
delicate creeper of exquisite loveliness; or one of those magnificent
Australian lakes that show nothing at first but the greenest grass,
tall and luxuriant as under the equator; then, as he attempts to ride
through the grass, he suddenly finds his horse's feet growing moist
and the spongy vegetation getting fuller and fuller of water, till he
discovers that he has entered a lake so wide and deep that his only
safety lies in a quick retreat. This phenomenon is repeated on a small
scale all through the jungle-lands, little tufts of grass here and
there, known readily by their brighter green, furnishing water enough
to meet the wants of a thirsty animal. A calabash full of pure, sweet
water may be expressed from one of these tiny clumps of grassy sponge,
as many a weary traveler has attested while roaming over sterile
regions destitute alike of wells and springs.
But of surprises there is no end in Australia. Flowers fascinating to
the eye have no smell, but uncouth--looking shrubs and bushes often
fill the air with their delicate aroma; crows look like magpies, and
dogs like jackals; four-footed animals hop about on two feet; rivers
seem to turn their backs on the sea and run inland; swans are black,
and eagles white; some of the parrots have webbed feet; and birds
laugh and chatter like human beings, while never a song, or even a
chirrup, can be heard from their nests and perches. So an English lark
or nightingale is at a premium; and many a rough miner, with his
shaggy beard and uncouth ways, his oaths and lawlessness and crimes,
has been known to walk on Sunday evenings to a little English cottage
twelve miles out of the settlement just to hear the sweet song of a
The variety of vegetable productions is so great that above five
thousand species, more than half of which are peculiar to the country,
have been described and classed. Among the most remarkable is the
species of _Eucalyptus_, or gum tree, that forms some of the largest
timber yet discovered, having been seen of the height of one hundred
and fifty feet, and thirty to forty in girth near the root. The
leafless acacias are also found here, as well as the _Nepenthes
distillatoria_ and the _Cephalotus follicularis_, two remarkable
varieties of the monkey-cup or pitcher-plant; while many very
beautiful ferns and flowering vines adorn the coasts and lave their
graceful fringes in the blue ocean waves. The timber of the country is
of gigantic size, and with other varieties may be found cedar,
rosewood, tulip and mahogany.
But the most wonderful products of Australia belong to the animal
kingdom, among them the kangaroo, the wombat, and that strange anomaly
of the animal creation, the _Ornithorynchus_, or "duck-billed
quadruped." Emus, eagles, parrots, white swans and overgrown pelicans
of many varieties, enrich the ornithological kingdom, while among
insects and reptiles are found some less desirable specimens, such as
tarantulas. The natives of the island hold the old tradition of the
ancients, that one bitten by a tarantula will dance himself to death.
The plumage of Australian birds is varied and brilliant, and the
natives make pretty fans by arranging the feathers in assorted colors;
while a sort of head-dress worn by both men and women on the occasion
of their marriage, and composed entirely of feathers made into
many-tinted flowers, is a very gorgeous affair. Among the varieties of
birds peculiar to the island are the "lyre-bird" and that known as the
"satin-bower," so called from its glossy plumage, which is green while
the bird is young and jet black at maturity. Before building their
nests these birds gather a large quantity of twigs, weaving them into
a sort of bower, which they tastefully decorate with bones, feathers,
leaves and such other adornments as they are able to collect. Here in
this arena the courting is done, the male bird chasing his mate up and
down, bowing his pretty head and playing the agreeable generally,
while she indulges in all manner of airs and graces, pretends to be
very coy, and acts the coquette to perfection. But her lover's
devotion conquers at last, and in due time the fair flirt surrenders,
yields up her liberty and settles down as a dutiful wife and loving
mother, bringing up a family of sons and daughters, and no doubt duly
instructing them in the part they in their turn are to take in life's
drama. The black swans are not prettier than white ones, but they are
rarer, and when both are floating together over the smooth surface of
those lovely Australian lakes they present a picture of which one
never wearies, see it as often as one may.
[Illustration: FOREST OF FERNS.]
The count de Beauvoir, in describing a hunt of several days, speaks
with enthusiasm of the flocks of wild-turkeys and blue cranes, but
bewails his ill-success in running down the huge emus that stalked
before the hunters faster than their horses could gallop. He
describes also a kangaroo-hunt, and a single combat with an old
kangaroo, grizzled and gray, that in a hand-to-hand fight for a long
time parried all the hunter's efforts to take him, either living or
dead. He was brought down at last by a revolver, and his skin was
carried off as a trophy of victory. The cattle-hunt was even more
exciting, in the wild flight of four or five thousand terrified
beeves, rushing pell-mell through the tall grass or over sandy plains,
stopping occasionally to hide their terrified faces from the dangers
that beset them, but one occasionally succumbing to the trusty weapons
of the count and his comrades. The hunters were certainly not
encumbered with superfluous garments, several of the boys being
clothed only in a pair of boots, and none with more than a single
garment. The immense droves of cattle and sheep herded together in
Australia cannot fail to awaken the surprise of the visitor on his
first arrival in the country, an Australian herdsman reckoning his
flocks by hundreds, and even a thousand or two heads of cattle owned
by one man being no unusual occurrence. Indeed, everything seems on a
mammoth scale in Australia--forests of timber trees that outlive
generation after generation of men, and yet have no thought of dying;
ferns like those near Hobart Town, that lift their graceful fringes
high over men's heads or serve as shade trees to their dwellings;
gigantic emus flying like the fabled Mazeppa over plains the extent of
which the eye cannot measure; and those fathomless mines of
inexhaustible wealth that seem to promise gold enough for all the
world for the centuries yet unborn.
[Illustration: LIBRARY OF MELBOURNE.]
Aristocracy is a queer thing in Australia. Many of those now claiming
"respectability" and holding themselves aloof from the members of the
settlements did not have their expenses paid out by government,
because they were born on the island--not convicts, but only the
offspring of those who were. In the race for wealth educated and
refined gentlemen are generally outstripped by those who with less
mind have greater physical strength, more practical knowledge of the
world and more tact in overcoming difficulties; so that one meets
wealthy miners who cannot write their own names, and learned
bootblacks and cooks who have taken their degrees in mathematics and
the languages. One millionaire who had a fancy to be thought literary
sent regular contributions to the English magazines, every line of
which was written by his footman, to whom he paid an enormous salary,
not so much for writing as for keeping his secret, and it was years
before it leaked out. In the struggle for position the man of gold
gains the day, and not unfrequently brute force or unscrupulous
trickery is called in to keep that which wealth has purchased.
Melbourne is the commercial metropolis of Australia, as Sydney is the
capital of the penal colony, and though both are large, well-built
and thriving cities, they are strikingly in contrast with each other.
One is the scion of a lordly house, "to the manner born"--the other,
the _parvenu_ of yesterday, whose gold makes his position. Melbourne
is to all intents a European city, with its boulevards and regular
streets, whole blocks of costly stores and princely dwellings, and
environed by elegant villas and country-seats adorned with gardens,
vineyards and choice shrubbery. It has its English and Chinese
quarters, the latter as essentially Chinese as if built in the
Celestials' own land, and brought over, mandarin buttons, tiny
teapots, opium-pipes and all, in one of their own junks. The English
quarter contains, besides the government buildings, several schools,
hospitals, churches and benevolent institutions, the public library, a
polytechnic hall, a national museum, theatres and opera-houses, all
built in a style alike elegant and substantial. The library only ten
years after it was opened numbered 41,000 volumes, and has since been
largely increased. Science rather than literature, and practical
utility more than entertainment, have been kept in the ascendency in
the management of this institution. The hall is open for daily
lectures, and some valuable telescopes and other apparatus belong to
the institution. The cabinet of natural history contains many rare
specimens that serve to elucidate the ancient and modern history of
the country, especially in regard to some of the animals and
vegetables indigenous to the island. The museum is built on a
commanding eminence, and from its spacious windows one sees clearly to
the opposite side of Hobson's Bay.
[Illustration: THE ENVIRONS OF MELBOURNE.]
The city is not built on the sea-coast, but two or three miles from
the shore, its port being Sandridge, with which it is connected by
railway. Vessels of all nations crowd the harbor, and the streets are
as full of busy life and gay frivolity as those of Havre or
Marseilles. The drives in the environs of the city are replete with
picturesque beauty--meadows dotted with many--tinted flowers and
magnificent forest trees, about which are festooned flowering vines
and creepers. Their thick branches are the resort of cockatoos,
parrots and paroquets in brilliant plumage, and perhaps most beautiful
of all, because most rare, sparrows, not clothed, like ours, in sombre
gray, but rejoicing in vestments of green and gold. But brilliancy of
plumage is the solitary charm of these feathered beauties, for their
voices are harsh and their song a very burlesque on the name of music.
When I, for ever out of human sight,
Shall seem beyond the wish for anything,
Oh then believe at morning and at night
My soul shall listen for thy whispering.
The work of life may so fill up the day
That not a thought of me shall venture there;
And after labor Love may charm away
What could not enter for the press of care.
But when thou'st bidden all _this_ world good-night,
And enterest that which lies so close to mine,
_Call me by name_--it is my angel's right--
And I shall hear thee, though I give no sign.
When morn undoes the high, white gates of sleep,
Pause, as thou comest forth, to speak to me:
It may seem vain, for silence will be deep,
But uttered wishes wait on prophecy.
And when some day far distant thou dost feel
That night and morrow will no longer come,
The pitying heart will let me then reveal
My presence to thee on the passage home.
CHARLOTTE F. BATES.
THE MATCHLESS ONE:
A TALE OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, IN FOUR CHAPTERS.
I was nearly asleep, though my thoughts were entertaining enough, when
again footsteps entered the arbor below. This time the intruder did
not pause. A woman's voice humming an air seemed to approach, and in a
moment more a swift hand parted the bushes behind me, and Blanche
Furnaval appeared. I was very much surprised, but stood up to make way
for her, at the same time throwing aside my cigar.
"I beg your pardon," she exclaimed immediately, clearly as much
astonished as I: "I did not know any one had found this pretty spot
"I think I know how to look for pretty things," I replied, gazing at
her face, which was glowing from quick walking, though her breath came
evenly through her parted lips.
"Do you never tire of making those silly speeches?" she asked, lifting
her gray eyes candidly to my face. "Excuse me, you need not answer: I
am very brusque. You see I did not expect to find any one here, and
consequently left my company manners at home. I am sorry to have
disturbed you," she continued, turning to go.
"Let us compare notes, Miss Blanche, and see to whom the rock belongs
by right of discovery. Won't you be seated?" I said, making a place
"I came to see the sunset," she replied after a moment's hesitation,
"and if it won't incommode you I will stay. Should you not care to
talk, please read on: I shall not mind. And won't you light another
cigar? I have no objection to cigars in the open air, though I think
them disgusting in the house."
"Thank you," I said as she sat down and I took another Havana for the
one I had thrown away at her arrival. "Will you relate to me the
manner of your discovery? I would rather not read."
"About two weeks ago," she began, looking over the landscape, and not
at me, "I was sitting in the arbor below, and I heard Mrs.--well, a
lady coming whom, to be sincere with you, I dislike. If I stayed, I
knew she would have a long talk with me: if I walked on, she might
call me back. I looked about in haste for a hiding-place. The bushes
near me appeared as if I might get behind them: I pushed through, saw
a little path, which I followed, turned round the base of a hillock,
and found two rocks, upon which I raised myself with the help of a
sapling. Then, carefully parting the branches, I saw this," waving her
small hand that I might see it, but still not looking at me. "The sun
was just setting; away down in yonder field the sorrel was as fire in
its rays; a catbird was reciting a merry pastoral in the thicket
beyond; two goats stood high on a bank, like satyrs guarding the
place. You see why I come again."
"I have the right of discovery," I cried gayly: "I made the path and
placed the rocks. I claim it, that I may lay it at your feet."
"Do you like it?" she asked, turning to me and laying a slight stress
"I told you I admired pretty things, and you know, Miss Blanche, I am
a bit of a poet."
She smiled: "Ah yes; but do you really admire this?"
"Of course I do--think it dem foine."
She laughed outright--a laugh so gay that I joined her, though I could
not tell why. "As for sorrel," I added, "you ought to see The
Beauties: the fields are full of it, though the farmers don't seem to
admire it much."
"Well, I am very fond of the sorrel," she replied, "with the
clover-tops, the seed-globes of dandelion and the daisies by the
water: it makes quite a bouquet in yonder field."
I looked at her to see if she was chaffing me: not at all--she was
sober as a judge.
"Dem foine! I beg pardon, very nice indeed. How would you like to
carry it to the ball this evening?"
"I never take anything to a ball that I care to have appreciated," she
"Aw! That is the reason you won't sing down there: isn't it, now? But,
really, they thought it fine the other night--quite clever, I heard
some of them say."
"Oh yes," with a weary smile that had a little contempt in it.
"Did that ugly little Italian know very much about singing? You seemed
pleased with his admiration."
"That ugly Italian, as you call him, has heard some of the best prima
donnas in Europe. He is poor, he is seedy--for his voice left him just
as he was on the eve of success--but he was the only person in the
room who could tell me that I sang as well as the greatest of them."
Her voice quivered as she spoke.
"You are mistaken indeed, Miss Blanche," I said. "Any fellow there
would have paid you the same compliment if you had given him a chance;
but you were so confoundedly wrapped up in that Italian chap that you
would not look at the rest of us."
"I don't care for the compliment," she said, cooling down directly: "I
care for the truth. They don't know if I sing well or not."
"Then you only sing to be admired, Miss Furnaval?"
"I don't sing at all," she said, coloring.
"But you _should_ sing."
"Why?" she asked.
"To please--to give pleasure to others."
"I don't care to please any one but myself."
"But that is not right, you know. Now, I try to please everybody."
"Do you always succeed, Mr. Highrank?"
"Yes, always; and though it's tiresome at times, I bear it. Last
autumn you never saw anything to compare to it--in the country, you
know. But it's my vocation, and I try to live up to it. People do
wrong who have talents and do not use them. That is why I blame you,
"It is not worth the trouble. I have withdrawn my hand from market,
and intend to please myself the remainder of my life."
"From what market? What do you mean?"
"I mean the matrimonial market, of course."
"Why won't you marry? if I may ask."
"It is too much trouble. I won't be a slave to the caprices of the
world so that I may be called amiable. Now, if I don't wish to appear
in the parlor, I stay in my room; if I don't wish to receive callers,
I refuse; if I don't wish to attend a party, I stay at home. I need
not visit to keep myself 'before, the public.' I can be as eccentric
as I like. When I disagree with a gentleman, I can contradict him; if
I do not feel like smiling, I frown; and when I want to walk alone, I
go. I can please myself from morning till night, and I enjoy it."
"You like clever fellows, don't you?" I asked, remembering the
conversation I had just overheard.
"Yes," she answered, and then speaking decidedly, added, "and I like
'poor devils,' as you call them: they are not so dreadfully conceited
as _some_ men are."
"I tell you what," I said--just for the purpose of getting her opinion
of myself, you know--"I am a clever fellow: I hope you like me."
She glanced round--I suppose to see if I was in earnest--then turning
away said, "Y-e-s, pretty well."
It was rough on a chap, but she looked so sweet as she said it, and
sat so very unconscious that I was looking at her, that I thought I
would give her a little advice. I could not get it out of my head how
Mrs. Stunner said she would end badly, and it seemed a pity for a
charming girl such as she was. So I said, persuasively, "Now, don't
you go and marry one of those poor chaps, Miss Blanche. You see, you
will be regularly unhappy, and all that sort of thing, if you do."
"How do you know?" she asked.
"Oh," I replied, not knowing what to to say for an instant, "I heard
"Heard what?" she said, looking at me curiously.
"That you would do it, and would be unhappy."
"A report made to order by those good people whom you want me to take
pains to please. 'Tis a method to make a harmless rival of me. Rumor
that I am engaged, and to a man beneath me, and of course other
gentlemen will not pay me attention. Mean! mean! But no matter," she
continued after a moment: "it won't hurt me. I am not engaged, and
don't intend to be; and it is nothing new for me to know that the
world is not particularly truthful."
"But why not marry? You had better change your mind--indeed you had: I
advise you for your good."
"You say I must not select a poor man, and the rich require too much
devotion from the ladies. You gentlemen let us take all the trouble to
please: you present yourselves, and expect us to fall at your feet._I_
am waiting for a chevalier who will go the world over to win me--who
will consider it an honor if I finally accept him, instead of
fancying, that I am honored by his choice."
"I used to have ideas of that kind, but found them false. It _is_ an
honor to receive a proposal, you know. Every one thinks so, else they
would not tell of it and brag as they do. By being so unlike the rest
of the world you will end badly--indeed you will, Miss Blanche."
"Look for a moment at the case as I put it. A man asks me to marry
him: he likes me--thinks I shall make him a good wife. He woos me to
please himself, not to please me, and you think I should be grateful
because his vanity prompts him to believe that I am highly honored.
But this is only one of the many fallacies which people adopt without
question. It is good for a man to be refused several times: it takes
some little conceit out of him, and makes him more humble and nice for
the poor woman who is ultimately to be his wife. I am convinced that
there is no gentleman who makes his first proposal that has a doubt of
his being accepted. Now, is there?" she asked, appealing to me.
"Well, you are about right. Women are not so particular about making a
choice, you know. It isn't so hard for them to find, somebody that
suits. I suppose I should be accepted by any girl I might ask.
Frankly, now," I said, wishing to give her a poser, "wouldn't you
"Frankly," she replied, taking my own tone, "I would not."
"And why not?" I asked.
"There would be too many young ladies made unhappy through losing
you," she answered banteringly.
"But you know I should not care for that: I can't marry them all."
"You told me you thought it your duty to please everybody."
"Come, now, think of it, and tell the real truth: you know if I marry
it would have to be but one girl."
"You might go to Utah."
"You won't answer. Silence gives consent, don't it?" I said in a tone
"Do you really want me to answer your question?" she asked, looking at
"By Jove!" I thought, "it's coming now. I've pushed it too far--never
thought what I was doing: she will certainly accept me, and I cannot
retract." It took me but a moment to see my danger and to make up my
mind. A gentleman will always sustain his word. My voice was shaking a
little from the greatness of the resolution I had made, but I managed
to say pretty steadily, "Of course I do." It was so very sudden, you
know. I felt I should be an engaged man in five minutes more.
"You are awfully funny," she exclaimed after quite a pause.
"I believe I am considered witty," I replied, hardly knowing what I
said: I tell you, that sort of thing makes a man confoundedly nervous.
Then she began laughing, and I thought she, would never stop. I did
not feel like laughing, so I just sat and looked at her.
"Oh my! oh my!" she gasped, trying to control herself, "why didn't you
say No? You never intended to ask me at all. It is the funniest thing
I ever heard of. Oh my! I shall die of laughing. I think _you_ will
'end badly' if you go on so," she said, quoting what I had repeated.
"What induced you to act in this manner?"
I saw that she had found me out and thought I was a fool. This
provoked me, and I replied, rather warmly, pretending I did not know
what she meant, "It appears to me an odd manner you have of receiving
an offer, Miss Blanche. I think you should at least treat me with
She became serious in a moment when she saw I was hurt, and did not
lose her good-temper at my rude speech, but said pleasantly, "You are
not fond of being teased, Mr. Highrank. Never mind: I don't intend to
take advantage of your blunder, nor keep you long in suspense. Go
"--and she smiled as if she really could not help it--"go, and be
sensible in future."
"You mean that you won't marry me?" I asked.
"Don't talk of that: let us pretend we were in fun--as of course we
were--and let me thank you for a very agreeable afternoon."
I declare she looked so bewitching as she spoke that I wished she had
thought me in earnest and accepted me. It was real good in her, giving
a fellow a second chance when she might have snapped him up directly.
I think girls ought to give a man two chances, but they seldom do.
Many a poor soul repents the moment the words are spoken, but he can't
help himself. Generally, when 'tis done 'tis done.
She made a motion to rise: I could not permit her to go without an
explanation. She had been so generous, and she was so beautiful, that
I began to desire quite earnestly that she would be my wife, and that
we could settle down at The Beauties together: she would like the
sorrel at any rate. Perhaps Fortune had sent her to me this very
afternoon, and I ought not to let the opportunity slip, but ask her
seriously before she left. Of course she would accept me if she knew I
was in earnest. She was too delicate to take advantage of a
mistake--mighty few girls so particular. The more I entertained the
idea, the more I liked it, so I resolved to speak. I fancied that she
was a little cool in her manner: possibly she thought I ought not have
jested on such a subject, but I would make it all right now. I was
sitting on a stone a little lower than she. I leaned forward and
placed my arm on the rock and round her--just near enough to keep her
there, you know. Then I spoke: "I want to beg your pardon, Miss
Blanche. You are offended, but I did not mean to annoy you: I esteem
you too highly for that."
"I am not at all offended, not at all," she said heartily, at the same
time trying to rise, but as I was leaning on her dress she could not.
"I must beg you to move: I am going home," she added, looking round:
then seeing where my arm was, her tone became slightly angry: "Will
you allow me to rise?"
"Not until you listen to me. Do not be displeased when I tell you the
truth. I was jesting, or at least did not think what I was asking, a
moment ago, but now I am in real earnest. I want you to marry
me--truly I do. I love you, and am willing to do everything you can
desire. See, I will kneel if you like devotion;" and I fell on my
knees before her, catching her little white hands and kissing them.
"Won't you love me?" I felt as I looked into her sweet face that I
could do anything in the world for her.
"A little less devotion and more respect would suit me better, Mr.
Highrank. Will you stop this farce and release my dress? I shall
certainly be offended if you do not rise instantly."
"I will obey you if you will give me one kind word."
"I have none for you," she said frigidly.
"You think I have been too hasty--that I am not really in love with
you; but I am, I assure you. I fall, in love very quickly--indeed I
do. I have often been in love with a girl the first time I saw her,
and I have known you ever so long. Won't you believe me, Blanche?"
"I believe you are treating me in a most ungentlemanly manner in
keeping me here when I don't wish to stay."
"I can't let you go," I said as I rose, but standing so that she could
not pass, "till you are convinced that I love you, for I do, and shall
always. Surely I have a right to an answer."
"I thought you were good-natured"--now she spoke reproachfully--"and
you are teasing me in the most disagreeable way. Please let me pass."
"Do you think me so base as to tease you on such a subject? What shall
I do to persuade you that I am sincere."
"Let me go home."
"May I go with you?"
"I would rather you did not come, please."
"Why are you so unkind?" I asked, taking her hand. "Tell me you love
me, and let us be happy."
"But I don't love you," she said, trying to withdraw her hand, and the
tears coming into her eyes. "I don't love you, and I want to go home."
She turned from me to hide her face, looking about at the same time
for some way of escape.
"But you will love me by to-morrow," I replied soothingly. "I may ask
you again, may I not?" and then she looked so pitiful, with the tears
rolling from her frightened eyes and her hand trembling in mine, that
I thought I would put my arm around her--to comfort her, you know.
"Poor child!" I said, drawing her to me as they do in the theatre, "you
don't know your own heart: rest here."
I wish you had seen her!--I _wish_ you had seen her! She drew herself
from me quivering with indignation, her eyes% sparkled, and she was in
such a rage that she could hardly speak, but after an effort she broke
forth in a torrent of words: "I have an utter contempt for you, and I
will bear this no longer. You think you are irresistible--that all the
girls are in love with you--that your wealth buys you impunity--that
your position will excuse your rudeness--and that you can dispense
with politeness because your name is Highrank! I would like to box
your ears. I despise you and your behavior so thoroughly that were you
a hundred times in earnest in asking me to marry you, I would refuse
you a hundred times!" Then she rushed past me, and I was so astonished
that I did not try to prevent her.
The idea of her refusing _me_, and in such a manner! No wonder if she
should end badly. Mrs. Stunner was right. However, I am glad she _did_
refuse me, for she must certainly be a little wrong in her head.
Wonder if her ancestors were insane or anything. She was deuced
handsome when she got angry. Never saw a woman angry at me before:
something very queer about her. Had a contempt for me, too! Why should
she have that? I don't understand it. Said I was conceited--that I
thought all the girls would marry me. And so they would, all but
herself; and that shows there is something odd about her--not at all
like any other woman. Deuced glad she did not take me at my word.
Queerest thing! She cried when I put my arm around her: never knew a
woman would cry at _that_ before. Little Eva wouldn't. I believe I
like tender women best--at one time I thought they were not nice. What
a fool I was! What should I do with a wife I could not kiss? I wonder
if Blanche will speak to me again? Maybe all this was a dodge, women
have so many; but she looked in earnest. I might have frightened her
by being so sudden, but why the deuce should women be frightened at
proposals, when they pass their lives in trying to get them? So Mrs.
Stunner said. Poor birdie!, what a soft hand she has! Maybe some women
are modest: I will ask Hardcash about it. She may not have known what
she was saying--agitated, and all that sort of thing. I will see how
she acts to-night--need not ask her again if she is not civil. Eva
will comfort me if I need it. What a sweet voice she had till she got
angry! but she was very odd.
I strolled home to the hotel, musing over the adventure of the
afternoon. Blanche was a girl who might be included in the star type
that I had once sought for: wanted to be worshiped and play the
superior. Now that I had found her I was surprised how little I liked
that style. Just as if a good-looking fellow like me was a bear or a
wild Indian, to be afraid of! I don't see that she would have been any
the worse for it if I _had_ kissed her; and wasn't I as respectful as
her nearest relation? 'Pon honor I was. A very odd girl. I shall ask
Ned Hardcash about it.
I never saw Eva looking better than she did that night. I lounged
around the room until I came to her crowd, attached myself there, and
did some heavy flirting. I asked her to take a moonlight stroll, but
her aunt overheard me and gave her a look, upon which she said the air
outside was too cool. I saw the play was to be above-board. Aunt
Stunner had taken matters into her own hands, and the game had
commenced in earnest. Mr. David Todd, Jr., was there, and Eva paid him
a good deal of attention: I did not like it.
Presently she went off to dance with him, and Aunt Stunner sat down by
me. Fanning herself energetically, she said in a confidential tone,
"Eva is looking sweetly to-night: don't you think so, Mr. Highrank?"
"Miss Eva always looks jolly," I said shortly. I did not want to talk
to the old lady.
"Mr. Todd appears to think so too," she went on with a nod and a
knowing look at me. Evidently she was playing Todd against Highrank.
"Mr. David Todd, Jr.?" I asked languidly: "he has thirty thousand a
year, hasn't he?"
She looked at me sharply for an instant, then smiled and said, "How
should I know, dear Mr. Highrank? It is his rare personal merit that
pleases me. I own I am happy to see him so attentive to the child for
her sake. She is so impulsive and innocent, so likely to fancy a
younger, more dashing kind of man"--here she glanced at me--"that I
acknowledge I do feel anxious to have her settled happily. Not but
that some young men are exceptions," she continued amiably, "and make
"There are two classes of men," I remarked quietly. "They can be
divided into those who make good husbands and those who don't. Wealthy
men are the most superior, and are best fitted to fill the situation."
"I agree with you entirely: you are a very sensible young man,"
enthusiastically replied the old lady, not recognizing the quotation.
We talked on until Eva came back: then I claimed the next waltz, and
decided I would carry her off from Todd. I pressed her hand, but she
would not respond: it was plain she was obeying orders.
"Won't you walk with me?" I whispered as we were near an open window
in a pause of the dance.
"I can't, Charley--indeed I can't," as I tried to draw her outside: "I
will explain another time."
"You are very cruel," I continued in the same undertone.
"You don't care if I am," she said a little bitterly.
"As if I do not care when you use me badly! Won't you tell me what is
the matter?" I asked tenderly.
"Oh, Mr. Highrank, I am so unhappy!" she whispered.
"Why so, my dear?" No one could help calling Eva "my dear"; besides,
we were hidden by the heavy window curtain and no one overheard us.
"I--I--am going to be married," she said.
"It appears to me that ought to make you particularly merry, oughtn't
"But it don't," she answered, sighing.
"Why not, you foolish girl?"
"Oh, everything is so different from what I expected."
"In what way?"
"W-h-y," she answered slowly, "I thought it would be romantic, and
that he would ask me in the moonlight."
"Like to-night, for instance?" I said, taking her hand and drawing her
through the low window on to the piazza.
"Yes," she replied, "and instead of that--"
"Well, instead of that?" I repeated, seeing she paused.
"Instead of that, it was in that old parlor of ours. I have never had
a nice time since we took it two weeks ago, odious green place! I
detest green furniture; it is so unbecoming," she said pathetically.
"And who is the happy dog--I mean gentleman'--Eva? I may call you Eva,
just for this evening yet, mayn't I?"
"I don't care if--if--Oh my! what a name! Charley, did you ever hear
such a dreadful name as David?"
"What! old Todd? It isn't old Todd?" I asked, laughing.
"It is very unkind of you to laugh when you know I must marry him."
"I won't laugh," I said, putting her arm in mine and walking down the
verandah. "Come, sit on this sofa and tell me all about it."
"Well," she said, half pouting and half crying, "I must marry some one
this season--both mamma and auntie say so--and I can't marry Ned."
"Ned Hardcash? You don't mean to say he was spooney on you?"
"Yes he was, but I told him he was too poor."
"You are very reasonable, Eva."
"You need not talk that way. Mamma would not hear of it. I could not
let him ask her, for she would have been so angry, and she and auntie
would have scolded me; and you don't know how fearfully auntie can
abuse one when she begins."
"How did Ned take your answer?"
"Oh, he just went away, and did not care a bit, and I have not seen
"He did not care?" thinking I now had the clew to Ned's savage manner
for the week past. "When did it happen?"
"I can't exactly remember: it was soon after we took the parlor.
Auntie would not let me invite him there, and he got angry and jealous
of Mr. Todd, who was with me all the time, and--"
"But that showed he loved you, don't you think so?"
"Well, perhaps he did a little: he told me if I Would trust him he
would not let mamma or auntie scold; but you know that was nonsense. I
would like to see any one prevent them if they want to do it. And he
hadn't any money, and we should have starved: I told him so. Then he
said there was no danger of that: he could manage to keep the wolf
from the door. I knew of course that be could easily keep wolves away,
for there are none here, and I would not live in that horrid West; but
that would not prevent us starving: auntie said we would starve."
"Poor Ned!" I murmured.
"You pity poor Ned," said she, now sobbing, "but you don't pity poor
me at all, and I am the most wretched."
"Come, don't cry, Eva," I said, putting my arm around her: it was very
dark in that corner, and I knew Eva would not fuss about it, as a
certain other person did not long ago. "What shall I do for you, my
dear? Do you want Ned back? I'll tell him and make it up between you:
"No, no! He is so cross and fierce that I should be afraid of him: he
was dreadfully ill-tempered when he left me that night."
"But that was because he loved you, Eva."
"When people love me I don't want them to be disagreeable: I should
not want to vex any one if I loved him."
"You will make a dear, kind, amiable little wife, I know."
"But I don't want to marry Mr. Todd," she said, still sobbing on my
shoulder. "Oh, Charley, what shall I do?"
Could I find a lovelier, more tender, sweeter wife than the girl now
in my arms? My ideas of affectionate women had changed, dating from
about two weeks back, and the conduct of Miss Blanche, who would
neither see me nor speak to me since that afternoon, strengthened me
in the opinion that a woman is best with some heart. Was it any
wonder, then, that I decided on the spot to answer Eva's question of
"Charley, what shall I do?" by saying "Marry _me_, my dear: 'tis the
only way I see for you to get out of the scrape"? Just as my resolve
became fixed I heard footsteps near. In another moment, scarcely
giving Eva time to wipe her eyes, those three sisters, the Greys, came
trooping by, and stopped in front of us.
"Spooning as usual?" remarked one of them to me.
"Miss Eva, won't you ask Mr. Todd to give him a lesson in proposing? I
don't believe he knows how to do it. A deplorable state of ignorance!"
A merry group soon joined them, and I did not get another chance that
evening. However, I went to my room happy, for I knew I should be
successful on the morrow. Eva loved me: her mother had said as much
when I overheard her in the arbor on the mountain-side, and I knew
Aunt Stunner would have no objection, as my income exceeded Todd's. In
an easy-chair by the open window I thought over my resolution, and
counted myself a fortunate man. In the midst of this reverie the door
burst open, shut with a bang, and Ned Hardcash threw himself on a
fauteuil opposite me.
"What's up now?" I cried. "Has Harry Basset lost?" Ned was always deep
on the turf, and I could think of nothing else that would cut him up
"D----n Harry Basset! I say, Charley, haven't you some brandy?"
"Too hot for brandy to-night," I said: "take some of this," pushing
him a bottle.
"Stuff!" and he looked at it contemptuously. "If you can't treat a
poor devil more like a man when he comes, he will go;" and he rose
with a jerk.
"Sit down, old fellow! or rather go to that closet and get what you
want--enough there for a night or two."
He looked the worse for hard drink already, but of course I could not
refuse him if he wanted it. It is true politeness, if your friend
wants to commit suicide, to sharpen the razor for him and ask no
questions. I leaned back while he mixed a glass with seltzer and drank
it greedily. Finally, when he looked more composed, I said, "I want to
ask you a question, Ned." I thought of Blanche Furnaval's strange
conduct on seeing Ned before me, and resolved to ask him if he could
explain it. "I believe you know something about the queer ways of
women. Can you tell--"
"Look here, Charley," he broke out savagely: "I want one thing
understood. You are always teasing and bothering about the women; and
as you have not got a piece of flesh as big as a pea for a heart, you
will never understand anything about them; so, if you don't want to
set me crazy, just let that subject down while I am here."
"It's a woman, then," I said, forgetting in my surprise to be angry.
"Cheer up, old boy! You will soon get over it: no woman's worth it."
"Not to you, perhaps, but it may be the contrary with me," he answered
There was a long silence. I smoked, he drank: at last I broke it by
saying unconsciously, "She is a dear little thing." My thoughts had
reverted to Eva.
"Ah, you saw it?" cried Ned eagerly. "Then I can talk to you about it.
You may well say she is a dear little thing. She is an angel--too good
for a fellow like me. But the poor child dotes on me: that is the
hardest part of the cursed thing. How she laid her head on my shoulder
and cried, and said she did not want to marry that other fellow, d----n
him! It almost broke my heart," he continued dejectedly, "and it is
not of the stuff that breaks easily. I told her I would take her off
and we would run for it, though Heaven knows what we should do
afterward. Sometimes it seems as if I could not bear it. I wish I
could strangle Todd: that would be some comfort."
"What makes you so savage against old Todd?"
"Don't you know he and Eva are engaged? All owing to the interference
of that old Stunner. What business was it of hers, I wonder? And poor
Eva disliking him as she does, and so unhappy about it, and I can't
help her! My cursed luck, always;" and Ned heaved a brandy-and-seltzer
Yes, it was Eva. I had forgotten all she had told me about Ned, or
rather she had not told me as much as he did. She sobbed on his
shoulder, did she? His shoulder! disgusting! She dote on him! he
comfort her! It was horrible! A sudden idea struck me. "Did you kiss
her, Ned?" I asked gruffly.
"You are asking a d----d impertinent question, old fellow, and of
course I sha'n't answer you;" and he tried to make his drunken face
I should have liked to throw him out of the window, but the question
was, as he said, hardly one to be asked; and then, if she allowed it,
what right had I--It was enough. It might be pleasant to have an
affectionate wife, but no drinking gambler like Ned Hardcash should
ever be able to say or remember that he had kissed the mistress of The
I was sad at heart: hope now failed me. Poor little Eva! I must bury
her image with the "wild rose," with "my star," with the "sympathizing
friend." All, all are emptiness--are names, are dreams. The poets were
old-fogy chaps: they never saw the women of to-day, and well for them
they did not.
I am still unmated: I bear the loneliness that awaits all great
excellence. The sun has no companion in glory; the moon shines alone;
there was but one phoenix; the white elephant is solitary. So it must
be with me. I am not misanthropic: I have learned to bear my
superiority with philosophy. I was groomsman at Eva's wedding the
other day, and gave her a handsome present, as it was expected I
should. I still like my fellow-beings, and fulfill the duties of life
to the best of my abilities. I flirt, I dance, walk, drive, pursue my
usual occupations, give bachelor-parties at The Beauties, and have
grown contented from habit, but I am a confirmed old--or shall I say
ITA ANIOL PROKOP.