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Chapter IV A Princess of the Tiers

SIR WILLIAM hardly allowed them an hour for counsel and preparation, pushing off immediately with the old woman in the lead. From the forest into which they now delved, as a man slides under the sea in a diver's helmet, they never emerged till they stood, yet in its serried trees, on the brink of the cliffs of Waterfall Bay. The tree-fern, musk-plant, brush, and lofty timber shut them from all prospect of the outer world as entirely as if they had remained in the gullies, rather than struggled and cut their way up “hill upon hill, alp upon alp,” till, unknown to Heans, the top of the main ridge had been scaled.

After that, though descent became rather more than ascent the order of these hidden places, Heans, from his own account, seems to have seen the eastern sea but a half a dozen times, and at these as a vagueness hanging on the tops of trees indistinguishable from the sky.

There is a story in the Australian histories of an escaped prisoner who, arriving in a starving condition at a camp of natives, was permitted by them to follow their wanderings unmolested, but unfed. He was thus brought to a condition bordering on death; when a native woman took pity upon him, married him, and divulged to him the intricacies of how to win a subsistence from the scrub.note A tradition such as this emphasizes the hopeless position of a prisoner, wandering unarmed on these Port Arthur boundaries, and while it points a cause why the search from headquarters is soon grimly abandoned, it raises the question whether Heans' abettor were not, in employing Conapanny, guided by knowledge of so significant a legend.

While we shall not enter here into unnecessary details, which could possess but little interest for the reader, certain intimate and curious incidents of the four to five days' journey may be worth repeating.

Conapanny did not make at once east up the hill, but led a course slanting rightways over the shoulder, descending about four o'clock into the gully on the hinder side. Their progress was at all times a sort of wrestle with nature, the undergrowth about the iron-bark entangling their ascending feet, and higher


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up in a sort of morass darkened with tree-ferns, footing and hand-hold becoming spongy and superficial. Higher yet among the rock and monstrous yarra was a thornless and pathless brush, head-high, asking a monotonous breasting, though this they now escaped by the hinder descent. In a creek in the gully, they made good northward progress, stooping in the water under the emerald spread of ferns.

Conapanny led, excepting when Sir William's subdued chivalry broke its sensible restraints and retired mistaken. She wore a faded green-flowered dress, the bottom flounces and sleeves of which were cut away, a grey plaid shawl, and the inevitable white handkerchief about her head. Whatever she had been through to reach the Port, she had kept her apparel presentable. On her back, supported by her chest, she carried (when met) a second shawl for Heans' use, and two rush-bags, one large and one small. The larger bag contained some cooked frogs (on which Heans broke his fast), two snakes, a lot of little fish of the size of whitebait, some small crawfish, and some fresh-water mussels. It should have contained an opossum also, had Heans not arrived at an inopportune moment. The other bag held a horn flask for water, her tinder wood, and some edible roots. In her right hand she carried some sticks and bark on fire. In the other a staff.

Her baggage had also included a hatchet, which Heans now passed forward or wielded at her request.

On the first evening they bivouacked on the shingle near the water, Conapanny erecting a shelter of gum-boughs on the wind-ward side, and making for Heans a “stockman's mattress” of gum-tree leaves. When he had made a steady dinner of “white-bait” and roots, she went off upon her hunting, all the animals on which they were to subsist being night prowlers; and he did not see her again till he awoke at dawn. When the shock of his strange and beautiful surroundings had gone off, he observed her seated by the water's edge, picking from the mud by her toes, what he afterwards found to be shell-fish. Near by, under the greying bank, the smoke of a spent fire was ascending, and when he had arisen and refreshed himself, he found, laid on some fresh leaves, a little animal which he was told was a porcupine, and had the flesh and taste of a fowl.

He had been bothered far into that night by the extraordinary noises made by the frogs, so hoarse and full of volume, as one voice answered another, as too closely to resemble distant human utterance. He was also strangely agitated by the noise of the curlew, which, as he says, “is rather a bitter cry from the night than the song of a bird.” That is all written of import of his second and only less grave night in the open.

When Conapanny had destroyed all signs of their stay, they pushed on in the water till about the hour of nine, when they climbed out by a tree and dropped on to the other ascent. They


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seem to have ascended; descended to water; and again ascended a short distance; for on of the following day they must have topped the grand ridge and begun the descent on the coastal mountain called “The Pinnacle.” They were all the following day in accomplishing this, arriving at Waterfall Bay about midday of the next.

On the second night, therefore, they bivouacked on the forest side, Conapanny cooking for Sir William Heans a small fish she had snatched from the second water, and for herself a snake which she selected from three or four, choosing one with a silver belly as “budgery” (good) and throwing away another which was yellow beneath as “bell gammon” (no joke). Heans was reminded of how a European will detect a mushroom from a toadstool. His guide prepared both dainties in her own way, wrapping them in mud and baking in ashes. When the mud was hard, fish and snake were removed clean and (speaking for the fish) very savoury. The encampment here was rendered tiresome by the hurried return of Conapanny from her night roving, having been followed by a “hyena opossum” (now called “native tiger”), which she described as a brown animal with black stripes and a large mouth. Its legs were short, but its length, with its tail, was as “long as gentleman wite ma is tall.” Heans left his shelter and would have moved out in the direction she had come, but she seemed hysterical and unreliable, crying “Nangry—nangry” (“Sit down”), and Heans heard her wandering about the camp through the dark hours digging for roots among the grass-trees and bracken.note

A frugal breakfast of roots and mussels followed in the morning, but before evening Conapanny had made good the failure of the preceding night, by the capture of an opossum and the welcome discovery of some honey. It was a day, however, of singular tribulations. The ascent was woefully steep, dark, and overgrown, and armies of brambles, grass-trees, and a peculiarly malignant thorn, turned them aside repeatedly and pitilessly from the direct route. Again they came on sludgy hollows on the hills, and rocky pockets of the tiers, where dragons seemed to have rioted, ripping up giant yarras or stringy bark, and toppling them over into the creepers, where they lay, balancing across the hanger, presenting a series of unscalable walls. It was in one of these dark dells that a snake flashed up and fastened on the cuff of Heans' coat; and when Conapanny flung herself towards him, it suddenly turned and fixed its fangs in her wrist. To Heans' astonishment she calmly unfastened its teeth with her fingers, killed it, and put it in her bag. And all she would say to his tragic query whether it was poisonless, was “Awoy—awoy” “Oh yes—oh yes.”)




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It must have been over the ridge, at last, on the eastern descent, they found themselves in a “dead forest,” and before they knew it, were enveloped in an awful landscape of prone, erect, and leaning poles. So close and numerous were the dead, so menacing the silent desert of them, so wearying were the mounting, climbing, and dropping occasioned by this place—so unending appeared its extent—that Conapanny, in a moment of indecision, seemed unable to determine whether to go down, retreat, or on which side to look again for the living green of the less evasive if more boisterous enemy. It was Heans who insisted upon picking their way back and climbing round this remote enormous graveyard. So they made, perhaps too timorously, a grim and tiresome return, camping at evening safe, if still on the southern edge of that labyrinth of tragic weirds.

Of this trying adventure Sir William remarks jokingly, that “there were moments when he thought they were fairly caught in the embrace of Death.”

Conapanny had caught her opossum during the morning climb, ascending a tree and dropping some twigs down a hole; cleverly detecting by the scolding of the disturbed animal where it hid, and cutting an orifice lower down under its lair. At the same halt she brought some honeycomb to Sir William on a piece of bark, and on his enquiring how she came by it, she caught a bee in her hand, and fixing some white down on its back, released it, pointing after it up a tree to which it flew. In short, it was a woeful hard day of it, yet after all (so he thought) the deeper they became entangled in these pathless places, the further were their footsteps buried from the eye of that silent yet ever-present follower, and the nearer (as he confidently believed) did they approach their haven of departure and its phantom ship. At eventide, despite of her adventurous day, Conapanny disappeared, scouting with an indescribable gesture all help from Heans; and he, outwearied with his axe work, saw no more of her till in the morning he found her grimly cooking a wombat, and three little animals, the counterpart of kangaroos, the size of field-mice.

On one or two occasions, during a halt here and a balk there, the native woman had dropped certain curious information, herself inducing Heans to make enquiries by enlivening the way with an anecdote or two of the Pacificator, in which she imitated inimitably the well known pompousness of manner of the great Robinson, adding certain other incidents of her life, in which figured a Scotchman, whose broad diction she rendered with an amazing faithfulness, though often, as she confessed, not understanding its true meaning. From these entertainments, given, one would say, with a convivial and social intention, she was once tentatively led by Sir William to explain the secret of her presence in the stable at Oughtryn's on the night of his first struggle with


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Spafield. How came she to be there? The reader will remember her ghostly appearance before the stalls.

She lowered her kerchiefed face awhile. Then with a tone somewhat sour, she outlined rather than told this incident.

Surridge had confessed to her the secret of the cracks. His promise in the Plutarch to “come to her or die” had filled her with terror. As we know, Heans rode out that afternoon with Abelia, outside whose room Conapanny was seen sitting. Conapanny had heard from the woman that “miss” had ridden out, yet lingered for a while watching the incomers and outgoers from the Chamber. While thus engaged, her sharp ears heard a window go very slowly up on the other side of the sentry-box. Knowing “Mr. Tuso” was out, she wondered who this might be in his room. Hearkening, she heard a slight movement now and then, and presently what she took to be an exclamation in a man's voice. Shifting along under the passage window, she was suddenly affrighted by the words “On my oath!” rapped out in the tones of Spafield.

Having no love for Joseph Spars, and hoping to catch him at his thievery, or what he might be about in “Mitta Tuso's room,” she inserted her small figure in the gap between the sentry-box and the wall of the house, and pushing on, pulled her face slowly up to the corner of his window.

One peep and she saw Spars by the table, examining something which, by the leather head-band and silk, she took to be a hat. Another peep, and she perceived there was writing on the band and something peculiar in the hat. A third look, and with a spasm of pain she thought she recognised a once familiar article of headgear.

She saw no more, for the man suddenly came towards the window, and after a considerable pause, climbed out and strode off round the corner of the house. Poor Conapanny pressed out and followed him round the house to the kitchen corner. There she saw him go across into the stable, where presently he lit a candle. She watched the place minute after minute, seeing little, when he emerged and took his way quickly out of the yard gate. Behind him the candle still burned in the stable.

No sooner had he gone than Conapanny ran across into the harness-cave in which the candle stood. There for a considerable while she searched walls, sacks, and harness-press for some sign of the hat, but she found it not. Quite beside herself, she made a hiding-place between two sacks at the rear of the cave, and drawing another down upon her, waited for Spars' return. He came in some half an hour later, carrying a long pole and two other articles, which he threw down against the wall. She then watched him while he approached the end of the sack-chain, severed the thongs, and lowered the former to the ground. She saw him cut the bottle-neck from the thongs and carefully draw the latter into his hands from the crack above. She watched him


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pocket the strings and glass, and after, with a fresh thong and fork of wood, attach the chain in the way Heans found it. All this she saw. Finally, she held her breath while he drew away the sacks beneath and carefully searched after and gathered the fragments of glass into his handkerchief. He was very deliberate. His last act was to return to the pole he had discarded, and attach with a fragment of rock and a nail, the prong and haft of an old fork. This implement he hid in the corner of the cave, and extinguishing the light, left the stables.

This was how the native-woman came to be in the stables on the night the man took the body.

Heans, in reply, repeated the story how “poor Walter” had cut the crack, and how nearly he himself had escaped by the effort of the dying man. Again, though she did not press him with any sign of curiosity, he told her something of the man's agony of separation. Still, she that was called Moicrime showed no sign of interest. Heans said no more of his wound and death, but when he asked her—one day as they sat on the hill—if she knew indeed where Surridge was buried, she concealed her face for a long while, rocking gently to and fro. At last she drew up the left sleeve of her dress, and showed him, above the elbow, a bracelet of jet-black hair such as the natives wear.note

Their luck seemed to hold. The weather kept warm and overcast, with winds blowing from north and south-east. They noticed the stronger breeze as they descended in the weather side of the woods. Here they were—on the last day but one from port, and far from being followed by one human sound—nor single shot nor signal bell—were almost oppressed by the cloistered desolation in which they had been steeped: nay, haunted by nothing more human than the unhuman note of the bell-bird and that other, as fairy like, with a voice like the melodious crackling of a carriage-whip. In despite of this, deep and remote from man as they were lost; sliding and struggling and wrestling in the scented embrace of these enormous places; Heans confesses to a tiresome thought or two at evening, and in the despondency of fatigue, in the direction of those organized and disciplined searchers of Port Arthur, many in numbers, calm in knowledge, old in experience. Though they were not likely for any human or ghostly reason to search this unconsidered region, still, as he slanted further north and began to neighbour the station at Eaglehawk Neck, he was unreasonably agitated at the close proximity of dogs and red-coats.

They camped by a glittering cascade, hinting already of the bay and the waterfall. Conapanny had killed a guana during the


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day, and hunting up the torrent at night, soberly rejoiced at morning in two widgeon, a couple of emu's eggs, and a native companion. They struggled down that day for some time in the water, loath to leave it and its siren-song of falls and sea, and then forsaking it at the guide's urging, though much to Heans' uneasiness, as too far south for debouchment in their direction, took again to woods, momently clearer as to undergrowth. Heans noted how green was the forest in the obscure weather; enlarges on the beautiful grey wattle; records how the forest trees now grew smaller and closer, and how the red heath rouged the ferns and grasses and the golden bottlebrushes of the Banksia. However, Heans came near being right in his anxiety, and the native woman near wrong in her obstinacy. Lower down they fell again into forest growth of extraordinary density, from which, about the hour of twelve, they pressed out with a shocking suddenness fair on the north cliff of the towering bay.

Waterfall Bay is only four to five miles from Eaglehawk Neck, from which, however, it is hidden by the corner of Pirates' Bay, and the usual heavy forest, through which, in our own day, a struggling bridle-path is kept open.

The water was dark blue, and moved in a body against the beachless walls. Far down in it was to be seen the yellow kelp swinging this way and that. The cliffs, of a grey-brown stone, were so high and sheer, that a pebble thrown with all the force from the top could not be seen to reach the water. Yet the bay, in size, seemed rather a smallish cove, feathered about the rim with a grass of forests, out of which, down the opposite wall, fell a ribbon of distant water, subduedly splashing in the sea.

The morning slopes by which they had climbed, hooded over the place in a monumental amphitheatre: in the sombre foliage the white stems of many straight, grim trees.

In shape the bay made three sides of a square, but, just past the falls, where the southern met the western cliff, there was a deep inlet in the corner, at the bottom of which, against the flat wall, some rocks and bushes had collected in a platform, forming a foothold on the tide level, where elsewhere was nothing but the drop to water. Here in calm weather a boat might hang a few seconds, while in the bushes higher on this abrupt secretion was shelter from storm and tide. To this platform, a deep narrow cleft or chasm gave from the forest above, and here, according to the directions of Captain Stifft, Sir William, on his arrival, was to light a signal fire for twenty minutes every morning at the moment of daybreak.

Sir William Heans' story now becomes a mere narration of monotonous events: jottings of the weather, meals, fears, doubts, and sunrise effects. They spent the rest of that day in climbing


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through the scrub to the opposite cliff, camping not immediately above the waterfall, but further inland, within handy distance of the chasm giving upon the platform. There was safety in the chasm as a hiding-place if necessary, whose abruptnesses were difficult of negotiation for any straying animal. Conapanny, after a hasty supper, clambered down and gathered in the twilight enough material for the morning's signal, remaining below to fire, watch, and extinguish it. Here Heans took his place on the following morning, collecting much material during the day, and contriving to kindle his fire during a storm of wind and rain, being in turn replaced by Conapanny, who brought food. The storm was a grim affair. The evening ended warm, though electric and thundery. Dark fell in silence. There was no wind. The whole vast night was on its edge. At close intervals a screaming roar sagged down the arches of the sea. Close to the grey shore the lightning snagged and whipped, flashing up a wonderful light green amber wave and a warm scarred wall. The next day—a grey day under a pall—the box-like bay had swelled, and was full of earth-coloured, plunging seas.

It was rather a cruel joke to think of a boat caught in such a place as it was then; the while he could not help feeling, as he eyed the swirl and heaving surface, how romantic was the promise of help by such an offing, and how much further away after such an upheaval. Both he and the guide were anxious for their phantom rescuer and said little of the matter.

He spent the first two or three days content enough to sit and rest in hollows above and below cliff. The walls were honeycombed with strange buttresses and holes, many of them down on the water line, into which the tide swung like a beast into a lair. In two of such places, high and low in the chasm, Sir William saw the storm out, and also something of his more acute anxieties and watchfulness. On a bracken couch, with some cypress-bushes swaying over the mouth, he experienced, in these precipitous places, a certain triumph of effort and achievement, or would, if he could have believed better in the dreadful pother of the haven. And then, as the water began to subside, and they began to grow bolder and easier between the seclusions of night and chasm, a swing of the breeze brought the sudden horrid clamour of the dogs on the Neck, sending them running to their fastnesses, while at another time, an officer or sergeant, occasionally firing his gun, approached, along the slopes, apparently after a couple of eagles which soared for a while over the bay. These two occasions utterly squashed their growing confidence, and made them impatiently uneasy with the tedious hours, and acutely anxious for rescue. And then, as hour followed hour, and day followed day—four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten—and not a sign of shipping on the clearing sea, Heans' spirit underfell somewhat of his demeanour, and began to whisper the chill word “late.”




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Sir William says he asked Conapanny one morning, when she was cooking a couple of quail, what she had done with her reading books. Colonel Jack she seemed, by her gesticulations, to have buried somewhere, no doubt where it could be resurrected. Paul and Virginia “me leave with big-fellow Oughtryn's gel. Gel lie tink too much.”

“What did she say?” Sir William asked. “Did she promise to keep it safe?”

“Awoy, she said to Conapanny,” turning her face, blinking about and speaking with a surprising preciseness, “ ‘How long must I keep book for Conapanny—a long, long while?’ ”

“Me tell Oughtryn's gel, ‘You keep book for Conapanny till by-em-by. She come fetch book soon.’ ”

They steadily took their turn at chasm and beacon, watching bravely the weather calm, and contending who should be first to see a ship on the horizon. And then as day of calm succeeded day, and then a second week, and then a third of tiresome anxieties and fears crept by, and then a fourth week arrived, and day after day blazed up over the empty sea, illumining the falls, and carrying through the hot hours its inexorable voice into the gloaming—though Sir William, ever courtly, repeated his excuses for Stifft as a man of incurable deliberation, yet meaning well, he ate less and less of Conapanny's crawfish and cockatoo (confessing inwardly to a sickness both at the viands and their grave and forsaken position), while Conapanny, when she thought he was out of sight up the chasm, drew from her shawl a long-concealed pipe, and sat pulling secretly at some weed of her fancy alongside the fruitless ashes of the beacon.

Stifft was late.

Another seven days went by, and he does not like to confess how disastrous were his thoughts and speculations, how sick he was of the roots and spare food, though still keeping up (he hopes for his honour as a fellow cherishing the memory of cultivated life) the mannerisms and habits of confidence and hope. To his friend Scarning he says he is to this day ashamed of his appearance … and the angry dismay of his spirit. He describes himself in shawl, spectacles, and unseemly beard, on these watches, masticating a crawfish claw or a shell-fish for his breakfast. He describes the grey, harsh-voiced evenings. He tells of the noble quiet of the morning platform. It was one of those echoing-places of the sea, where the cliff arches over and makes with some monolith a cellared beating—as if the tide made and ebbed over the written slabs of some cathedral. There he would stand, in the half-dusk, an ignoble and tattered object, sick with the deferred hope of fruitless days, staring with a shred of obstinacy into that wan opening in the walls. He describes


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the hot sunrises, beautiful enough. This one, “a splash of red currant on a silver plate”; that one, “a badly trimmed oil lamp on a damask cloth”; and another, Heaven knows, in less sad circumstances a pretty thing! It was a sky of mighty lavender clouds, backed with remote pale alps, and fired with a rifling of pink. A grey satin sea, lit very bright and pale, especially near the cliffs and fall, where the glassy path was bestrown with lavender and carnation. He relates how in the silence of that flat sea he heard a curious “creaking” echo, coming, it seemed from the left hand wall. He drew back a step in the shelter of the inlet. At that instant, he saw a singular object appear behind the rocks and trees beyond the falls. It moved slowly, and looked to him like a broken mast, supporting in temporary fashion a yard and sail. In another moment a second mast appeared, intact, and suspending a patched lug-sail. The thing moved slowly in, its shrouds and dangling hamper sharp and unearthly in the strange light. She was a long, low ship, over-loaded or naturally low in the water, which you could almost have reached from the deck. Her hull, which had once been painted white, seemed as if it had been struck by lightning, so remarkably scarred was it with discoloration and decay. As the swell bellied under her, it disclosed her under-part green with sedgy weeds. Her rudder had been strained and recently strengthened by a great transverse beam. Half her foremast was broken away, but a tanned square-sail was securely rigged upon two yards, and on her bowsprit, as she came, she deftly ran up, over her old grey jibs, a third of a tough dark brown. Her lug was “like my shepherd's-plaid shawl,” says Heans. Ropes hung in festoons from her broken masts and bulwarks, trailing behind her in the satin sea. A fowl greeted the morning from the deck. A pig grunted. So she slowly came. In the increasing light, her deck and deck-houses projected homely and strange. Her after cabin gave by a door on the starboard deck almost on the wheel. In this stood a ragged, grave, tall man, apparently chewing his breakfast. As the schooner fluttered to a stop, he cast up an oppressed and anxious hand.

After all poor Stifft had come.

Sir William Heans knew not how long he stood there. At last he felt a touch on his arm. It was Conapanny, the black, with her rush-bags on her back, and her bit of smouldering wood and staff in her hand.

“Life's a poor player,” quotes an ancient novelist, “that struts and struts his time upon the stage and then is heard no more.” Heans, as he was swung out in the schooner's boat from Waterfall Bay, might be said to be making his final meander towards the wings, and indeed, if, faultlessly costumed, he lingered


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there awhile, sympathetically observing the real and the unreal; if the caller seems loath to ring his summons for this quiet figure; we, at least, have little more to add to this narrative of an escape. In this manner, and with these efforts, Sir William Heans disappeared for good from the knowledge of many people, and if we are aware his fate was far from being the melancholy one it was reported, strictly speaking the rest of his life is hardly of general interest. Writing to his friend Sir Charles of his future prospects and the things a man may do, he reflects incidentally how “a fellow may engage himself in being simply a generous, temperate, and noble person, passing his leisure in reading and talking for entertainment, and yet fall short of a difficult ideal.” It will serve our turn to suppose he engaged himself in some effort of this nature.

We have a few more things to add to these narratives. One of the most surprising, perhaps, is the behaviour of Conapanny, the native woman.

When Stifft's ragged youngsters warily brought in the boat, and Heans turned about to hearten the guide and hand her down, he found that Conapanny had gone, and glancing in his annoyance towards the chasm, he saw her climbing already half way up among the pine-like foliage. At once the native waved her hand calling “Good-bye Mitta Tuso,” and as she scrambled back, calling up the chasm, he realised with a tragic pang she was saying “farewell.” She had often expressed distaste for the voyage, but he had never credited her with so reckless an intention. As for her, feeling perhaps that by delaying Heans she might endanger the boat, or that they might attempt to stop her, she continued to mount the chasm, once or twice waving her hand with a quite English “God's speed.” In a moment she would have been gone from sight, and it was only when Heans used a stern tone, threatening himself to remain, that she came slowly and sourly down. In a short time they descended to the boat (Heans with the corner of her shawl in his hand), and were pulled in over her stern. It was not, however, till they were clear of danger, well out from the splash of the cascade, on the placid bodyings of the bay, that Heans began to speak with relief.

Of this behaviour in the guide, we can only say there was no reason for it. She was to have been landed that evening or the next on the mainland north of Tasman's and Forestier's peninsulas, at points where her journey back to Hobarton would have been accomplished without hazard. That she chose again the ugly adventure of the Neck, all aroused as would be its guardians by Heans' disappearance, as preferable to that of the voyage, we can only explain by her confidence in her wood-lore and native powers and her propinquity to the Isthmus (being within sound of the dogs). From such accounts of her journey out as Heans has been able to extract from her, she seems to


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have made light of her crossing of the famous Neck, asserting she had had many a worse experience in the Western rivers—and this about a “bolt-hole” only successfully used by a handful of runaways storied with Cash and Kavanagh. She appears to have dived in darkness and swum it under the water with a single rise to the surface, where the gut is attenuated to the size of a river. This, judging by the water feats of the native women in diving beside their husbands to the rescue of drowning whites in the annals of our explorers,note was a matter difficult, but a racial achievement within her power.

It was a moment therefore of intense relief when the ship jibbed about and moved imperceptibly away on the south-eastern tack. Slowly the sound of the waterfall softened, and slowly the great walls dimmed over the silent pool, and slowly they shrank under the wings and pinnacles of the forests, while these with their thousand shouldering sentinels slowly—very slowly—softened in the smoke of morning. To this Bay, ere it was gone, and to a princess of the old race to whom these spires and coloured vales are native, Sir William Heans and Captain Stifft elevated on the deck of the Emerald a silent glass of Burgundy.

They zigzagged through a thunderstorm during that day, with some showers of rain, but no change and little increase of wind. On the third morning of these light and baffling breezes, they put Conapanny ashore either in Blackman's Bay or some inlet north of Roaring Beach, where Stifft watered ship and made shift to get up a sapling on his broken fore-mast. To shorten our story, Conapanny was back in Hobarton in February of 1843, calling for her treasured volume, in whose heroine, Virginia, with her elevation to the highest society and return from it into the wilds, she may have found a soothing sympathy of resemblance. As for the Emerald, better balanced, and better as to wind, they ran north-east and then north for some days, dipping slow but confident out into rougher seas, where, despite of Stifft's husbanding of his old canvas, and her leaks and weeds, she took the straits of Bass in a disconcerting and discreditable hurry, running in on a Polar gale into a certain bay on the southern coast of Australia, into which, six years before, a Sydney gentleman, exploring with some privation and lack of food the unknown interior, arrived to find a ship at anchor and a thriving farmnote To this pathfinder it was then explained that no less than five full-rigged ships had been at anchor there a week since, and though Captain Stifft found under the cliffs in the pocket of Portland Bay but three whalers


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and a cattle boat from Launceston, one was skippered by a Mr. Abraham S——of his acquaintance, bound for England by the Horn, who took from him his cargo of skins, and (with a stare of awful curiosity) a homesick member of his crew.

Remarkably soon after Stifft's arrival (almost as if she had been awaiting his cargo) the large ship put out, and at the very last moment, as she was running out of shelter, Captain Stifft splashed alongside, and clambered into the chains. He had come to wish his man good-bye. “Bless me, you were near too late, Stifft!” said Sir William, as he shook his nerveless hand. For answer—under his immense nose—Stifft's little mouth and sloping chin broke into an expressionless and somewhat vacant smile.

Before leaving, Stifft asked what was to be done with the Emerald.

“Ah,” laughed Heans, “you joke, Stifft! She is all yours, and bless you both!”

“Well,” said Stifft, true to a former reputation, “I must thank you for that, for if you don't mind I should like to cast her away.”note

Stifft, when Heans boarded the Emerald at Waterfall Bay, put into his hand certain letters and packages from various friends. One was from Matilda Shaxton, and that we think was buried with him, for that is all we have of it. Another was from Mr. Jarvis Carnt, and it we give presently. There was also a small package from Captain Shaxton, in which, when he opened it, Sir William found a couple of small pistols, and a beautiful satin neck-cloth of shepherd's plaid. So far—Paul and Matilda Shaxton. We hear of them leaving Hobarton about the time of Sir William's disappearance, but of returning and settling there. A guarded correspondence carried on by Heans with that place never extended to them; but in the slow movement of time and shipping of those days, it would reach his ears how the years found and left them.

But a word about Heans' old master Oughtryn. It seems he continued to live at the old Mansion with his ghostly celebrities, so it is to be supposed they kept, with a fair and workable consistency, to his allotment of one room apiece. As to his more lively prosperity, the old man grew even eminent as he


  ― 411 ―
waxed in years, not only obtaining his free pardon, but being appointed, according to a familiar chronicle, a Commissioner of Crown Lands, a country dignitary upon whose duties the informant appears clearer than perhaps the reader is.

There was a rather sad little story about Miss Abelia. Apparently she began to recover health, and exchanged a few letters with Sir William Heans. But then, a singular gap occurring, and Oughtryn himself writing to excuse her on the plea that Dr. Wardshaw had forbade her the use of a quill because of the trouble in her eyes—and Oughtryn taking rather lamely to correspondence, always writing in the first person plural, and sending their “complimentary respects”—Sir William, feeling there was a delicacy in the matter, and that they for some reason were finding the correspondence a burden, dropped all communication for a twelvemonth, in which his anxiety refusing to be pacified, and not feeling satisfied that he had the truth of the matter, he wrote asking Oughtryn directly to assure him that all was quite well with them, receiving a very sad note in answer that “his young person” had “almost lost the use of her eyes,” and was much depressed and saddened in health. Sir William, sorry and much distressed, forwarded to her a steel instrument for spacing her correspondence, the directions of which she precisely followed, and made good progress. In the end he used to tell her she wrote from the treasures of her mind a more peace-giving letter than he with his eyes on the world's gay flowers. Not content yet that he knew how they fared, he requested them to obtain for him a portrait of his friends in extremity, and was the happy recipient of a daguerreotype picture of the same three inmates of the old house whom he had known, quite regal of the woman, uncommon sly of Charles Oughtryn, and so pleasant and serene of Miss, you would never know she could little more than feel the odd flowers in her hand.

Of the Earl of Daisley, we learn from Tasmanian sources that, having continued his voyage about the world in unappeasable depression for the matter of a year, he contracted rather a mesalliance with a beautiful Virginian lady, whose health, or as it was whispered, querulous and haughty inclination, required periods of prolonged residence in southern Spain and the pleasanter portions of provincial Italy. Though unsuitable to his position and exquisite estates, that this union was not altogether a mistake may be gathered from the numerous sketches of their travels which still adorn the walls of the sea-beaten house which they most favoured, and the now famous library of illuminated Paternosters which they jointly collected. They had one child—a delicate girl—whose inclination towards agriculture and rural life was as overbearing as her parents' had been towards studious wandering, and in favour of this predilection


  ― 412 ―
of their beloved daughter, the Earl and Countess eventually relinquished their favourite pastime.

Of Heans' other friends, we hear of Mrs. Quaid and Six, still at their respective avocations, and among the articles of virtu in Sir William's den, we have an oil-painting of a native girl—not with a pipe in her mouth, but seated by the rivulet, and brightly dressed in red and spangles, with a book in her hand. This picture bears the curious signature of R. Destrappes.

Finally, from Mr. Carnt, the fortunate companion in escape of the prison artist, Madame Ruth, we have an old letter, running as hereunder:

Written at sea, as the Emerald is leaving us.

HONOURED FRIEND,

Mr. Carnt is now as free as Magruder, while some unknown accident has kept you from accompanying us. As it is impossible this can leave Stifft's hands except for yours, he may keep Mr. Carnt's scribble till some fine morning you reach the Emerald. I will so address myself therefore, with that hope, and look upon you as having executed his scheme, safe on those lethargic decks. Providence help you to the opportunity! What has befallen you? Heaven forbid you were not taken in the morning! I shall never forgive myself if, through my suggestion, you gave up the carriage, and were grabbed on your horse. And yet how came you to be interfered with on Oughtryn's horses? I cannot see, seeing our journey was uninterrupted, how they can have detained you, and believe some accident has held you back. We waited for you at the Orphanage five racking minutes after the half-hour, my Ruth beginning to sway. Could you have asked two poor bedizened effigies for more?

All went well at Bridgewater, though the jarvey was uneasy at having missed our friend, whom I dismissed as jibbing at night-coach. Rev. Padstow and sister were saved seats inside, I relinquishing mine for the roof when Dr. Charles failed to join, being considerably flustered as well as anxious for my false hair under the eyes of an experienced woman on the opposite seat. All went well for a bit, fine weather, crowd on top, and nobody loquacious. A rather burdensome respect for Mr. Carnt. Mr. Wray's coachman goes whole distance alongside the guard, but does not give undue attention. I was relieved by Miss Padstow's behaviour, who, woman-like, showed little emotion. Recovering very slow from abstraction at leaving Hobarton, she smiled sadly at her brother through window. At Campbell Town there was an annoyance. Obstinate fellow gets up beside Rev. Padstow and enters into parochial conversation. Won't stop it. Catch him feeling whether Mr. Carnt high or low. Ready to be persuaded. Glad of darkness. Take a high, sporting stand and


  ― 413 ―
put forward some reserved views. Had some difficulty in persuading him the Reformation was not the revolt against the Pope it was considered. But rather a misunderstanding between His Holiness and some Consistory Cardinals, one of whom being a high-nosed fellow and an English Bishop, created a church fuss with Henry VIII, which being relevant to the British character, grabbed the local stakes—in a word materially changed the appearance of the table. Obstinate wretch behaves worse than might have been expected, keeping me fencing with his questions till I drop all civility. However, the longest road ends, and the bumps too. At Launceston we got from the hotel to boat with nothing more terrible than the breaking down of poor Ruth, who gave way after she'd done with the coach.

(He gives an account of boat journey, continuing:)

I conclude Hobarton is aghast at Mr. Carnt for running off with the artist. I should no doubt be in ecstasies of joy. If I confess to you that (apart from your absence) I am in a pathetic condition bordering on sadness, why such unsuitable emotion! Is it ingratitude? Heaven knows, I should not be ungracious! Is it that I feel the common discontent of the human idiot as I look upon these spaceless waters, thinking of the stern chains I've smashed—and the heavenly freedom I have earned? I have succeeded in bringing two of us away. We have endured that ghastly night drive, and our regard has survived the disappointments and quarrels of the boat. I know my Ruth better than I could have done in quieter conditions. And yet for some reason freedom does not seem to hold the fulfilment of Mr. Carnt's soaring imagination. I presume I shall expire an evergreen! Mr. Carnt of the Cascades is now a swell, so marvellous free of the old world he must have his grumble at the stars. Natur, sir, natur! Observe me writing in this strain to you with everything a man should wish beside him!

Captain Stifft is about to depart. Indeed, sir, I must close. The signals from the Emerald seem impatient.

We send regrets and bid you good-bye. After all, it would seem accident has been kinder to us than to you; but whatever happens in the future, whether we clasp hand again, whether all the luck's with us or Stifft puts his notions through (as we think he may), turn back the leaves once in a while, Sir William Heans. I know you're not the man to forget Mr. Carnt, or any other doubtful acquaintance, who, besides approving portions of your play, held you in esteem.

Your servant

(as free as Magruder)

J C.

We read Mr. Carnt afterwards learnt the truth, but there is no record of his remark when he heard the actual events of that


  ― 414 ―
tragic day and night on which he escaped. Not that when he had heard them he would ever be likely to forget them. Sir William Heans himself says that to “this moment” he has a bad habit when entering his stables of measuring the stalls with his eye, and likewise he never hears them play “The Campbells are Coming,” or “Robin Adair,” without thinking of Daunt lying in the upper room of Oughtryn's mansion, or of the rude interruption to Miss Abelia's piano.

Reverting again to that day he sailed from Portland Bay, he records how beautiful was the cloud and sunset effect on the evening of their departure. The sky was covered, but for a small light-blue segment, by a red pinion, spreading up from the burial-place of the sun, and feathered with myriads of even cirrus clouds, small near the shoulder, and giant as they spread towards the edge.

The old fellow at Port Arthur would have called it “the shadow of a wing.”

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