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(iii)

TOWARDS morning a breeze came up from the south which caught the waiting ship broadside. The captain had been waiting for this, and his Excellency woke to a sound of bare running feet on deck and the shouts of the second mate ordering men aloft. It was almost dawn. As the canvas was set it took shape against the lightening sky, squares, triangles of darkness, soon to be turned


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a triumphant white by the sun. They began to move forward; the chirrup of water sounded again under the figurehead; and the brown rocky coast, in which as yet there appeared no opening, began to march beside them like a guard of honour. His Excellency stretched, regarded his dominion through a glass for some few moments, then went below as bugles sounded in the soldiers' quarters.

He disappeared as a civilian none too particular in matters of dress. He came on deck a soldier, magnificent in red, with a plumed hat and a sword-belt golden as Orion's, while stars more gaudy than distant Arcturus were disposed about his left breast. His staff in a lesser degree glittered round him, buttons winking their tale of hours of labour, gold-lace only a trifle dimmed by weeks of sea air. Only the young gentleman, Mr. Adare, His Excellency's sixth cousin, appeared at a disadvantage in sober bottle-green, with the paltry chink of seals for accompaniment as he moved, in lieu of a sounding jangle of spurs. But he was not abashed; he criticized the popinjays with his head on one side, and ridiculed the delicate care with which they avoided maritime contacts for their white trousers. They for their part eyed him with the traditional disdain of the military for free agents, and put on formal brisk voices, reporting to the Governor, as though he had been blind, the topography and incidents of Port Jackson:

“Pilot coming aboard, sir. Quarantine station, sir, on the right. Passing the lighthouse and signal station,


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sir. Shark Island, sir. The fort known as—h'm—Pinchgut, sir.”

All this information the Governor acknowledged with nods, as though he were not as capable as these gentlemen of reading the chart unrolled in front of him. His eyes were taking in other things; a foreshore which reminded him of coasts in the South of France; the many bays, deep water evidently, by the sheer slope of their rocks; the situation of the distant town, not clearly seen as yet; the green of the foliage, uniform and dull as a rifleman's jacket.

“A number of small boats, sir, coming out to welcome you, I imagine.”

The staff officer's observation was not at fault. Small boats were all about the Governor's ship as she moved into Sydney Cove, their occupants evidently out for a spree; young men managed the sails, long brown youngsters, watched by their womenfolk from under bonnets trimmed with English flowers—artificial daisies, roses, violets. The boats very skilfully accompanied His Excellency's ship, and from time to time one of their occupants would raise a hand, or a woman would lift a child's brown pud and wave it in greeting. There was no cheering.

“Well, I don't know,” said His Excellency to an officer who commented on this fact; “they can't tell yet what they're in for. The Duke used to say he valued the cheers he got after a battle, but didn't give a rap for any that went before.”




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At the landing-stage, however, things were more formal. Persons could be seen there, grouped, and shifting from foot to foot as the December sun bore down upon their trappings, which glinted in an official manner and showed in outline all the authentic terror and exaggeration of the warrior's dress. Those shakos, tall feathered stove-pipes, had for ancestor the brazen casque of Paris, whose plume most horribly did dance. Those epaulettes, jutting from the shoulders, were contrived to awe innocent naked savages accepting them as earnest of the gigantic deltoids below. Those chains, studs, spikes of metal terrified by their very irrelevance, their threat of dreadful purposes not understood. Yet shakos, epaulettes and the rest of the costume were comfortable to the eyes of His Excellency's staff, who saw in them only the norm, and found reassurance in shining thus familiarly upon a foreign strand.

A naval cutter came out to meet the ship as she anchored. Into this His Excellency stepped with his party, and was rowed ashore to receive salutes, cheers, and a speech of welcome delivered by some civilian dignitary. A regimental band played “Blue Bonnets.” Against this the Governor heard, behind his shoulder among the crowd, an echo of “Over the Hills and Far Away.” The whistling ceased as he turned. With a tightened lip and hands folded quietly upon his swordhilt he waited for silence, then spoke. His voice, clear of any parade-ground quality, yet made itself heard beyond misapprehension.




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“Gentlemen: I am new to your country, and therefore, at this stage, I say nothing of my intentions concerning it. I say only that I am sent by the Government at home to guide you to prosperity as far as the judgment of one man may do so. Your problems are to be my particular study, and your well-being my particular care. I am not unaware that there have been clashes in the past between governed and governors, nor shall that knowledge weigh with me. I am here to perform my duty; which, as I see it, is to promote the order, good feeling, and increased wealth of this Colony. I rely upon your co-operation to attain these ends. I am prepared to work with any man, whatever his station, who will help me to attain them, and to punish any man, whatever his station, who by his conduct imperils them. Gentlemen, I have nothing further to say at this moment, only that I am greatly obliged to you for your welcome.”

Mr. Adare was impressed. It was the first time he had heard his relative speak as one who had seen men and cities, served in epic wars, and borne rule in the continents of Africa and America. Other listeners too found this kind of talk to their taste, and the civic dignitary, walking beside the Governor towards the carriage in which they were to ride, made approving comment on it:

“That's the kind of thing we never heard from Governor Darling. Always roundabout; never took responsibility where he could dodge it——”

“I don't care, sir, to discuss my predecessor.”

“Oh!” said the civic dignitary, taken aback but not


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daunted. “Certainly. The less said of him the better. Well; and what do you think of our harbour?”

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