Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

1

walking and breathing beside him — not though in order to bring you, you heartLady Eleanor, but little Elly Mordaunt at less John,” she said, smiling. twelve years old — Elly; with her hair “Don't say that. You are better?" blown backward in a dense brown tangle “ Yes, I am better. I am back, that is — Elly, with big eyes fixed inquiringly, to say a few inches. I shall slip over the eagerly, disapprovingly upon his face edge before very long, but it will not be Elly, scrambling down break-neck places to-day or to-morrow. She paused, and like a goat - Elly, with shoes and stock-again glanced out of the window at the ings off, paddling in the sea! There were small leaves unfolding themselves upon a hundred Ellys, each more vivid, more an elm-tree; at the rooks flying low over lifelike, more forcibly present to his vis- the grass; at the great clouds floating like ion than that sad-faced woman Lady white-sailed galleons to the west. The Eleanor Cathers, whom he had parted window was high enough to catch a glimpse with at Viareggio three days before. Lady of the sea, and it was towards it her eyes Mordaunt, too. The one idea of neces- turned. A violet shadow was careering sity called up the other. How good she towards them, swallowing up the light behad always been to him ! how tender, help fore it. A good old world, isn't it?" she ful, motherly! He began to think that he said, as her eyes reverted to his. One's had been a fool in turning away without imagination refuses to picture a much making sure whether she might not have better one — outwardly, that is; the inside been willing to see him. What was Lord mechanism might, I own, be improved. Helversdale that he should hesitate on Now tell me about those you have left. his account? He would go again, he re. And first about Eleanor's husband. He solved, and if she were willing to see him, is really very ill this time, is he not ?" see her he would, if twenty sons were in Very,” he answered gravely: the way. He was actually starting the “Do they think he will die ?" following morning when a messenger ap- Yes, I am sure they do. Doctor Mulpeared on horseback. Lady Mordauntligan has not said so to me in so many had heard of his being in the neighbor words; but I can see that he does not hood, and was anxious to see him. He expect him ever really to rally.” sent word that he would be with her with- She was silent, and her eyes wandered out delay, and set out at once.

back to the window and the sea. Pres

ently they fixed themselves afresh upon CHAPTER V.

the visitor with a certain solemnity. He was expected. Crockett had the “So much the better, John,” she said door open before there was time for him gravely. to ring, and motioned him to enter, with He started slightly. The sentiment is the air of one receiving an ambassador always startling, the more so, perhaps, if whose credentials have been inspected and you are aware that you echo it. approved.

Lady Mordaunt went on without heedHe had not been long in the sitting ing: “That marriage turned out worse room before the door opened, and Lady even than we anticipated,” she said slowly. Mordaunt's maid, who, like Crockett, had “ And goodness knows, we were not too been with her from time immemorial, en confident, John, were we?” tered and begged him to come up-stairs. “ No,” he said gravely. Then, “ Lady Her mistress was better, she said, but still Eleanor has never uttered a syllable of very weak; the doctor particularly de complaint,” he added. sired that she should not excite or over- Her grandmother smiled. “Did you tire herself.

suppose she would ? She has never done Lady Mordaunt was not in bed as he so even to me. Facts, however, have expected to find her, but lying upon a spoken. Do you know that she was once large chintz-covered sofa, drawn near within an ace of leaving him?" she added enough to the window to enable her to suddenly. look out at the park. Her face was in

“ No? When?" both words came in a this direction when he came in, but she breath. turned it to him instantly, the old kindly, “ About a year ago. Things had been whimsical, queenly face. She gave him going from bad to worse; he has absoher hand, the left one, the other, he no- lutely no principles, or rather he has, for ticed, being wrapped in a shawl.

he makes a principle of having none.

At Well, John. So this is really John at last something came out. The man is last! It was necessary for me to die I dying, you say, so there is no need to go

[ocr errors]

66

1

a

[ocr errors]

to cease

[ocr errors]

over it, but it was a bad case, you may “I may come again, may I not?” be take my word for it. Even Helversdale, said. who is the last man to provide materials “ You may come when you like. Must for gossip, said that it was beyond stand- you go?" ing, that she must leave him. Everything “I think I had better. I oughtn't to was on the point of being arranged; she let you tire yourself, you know. was staying with me in a little house I Oh, as far as that goes you may put had taken in Brook Street when

that out of your head. Talking to a friend " Well?” he asked breathlessly, for she is not what does me harm. If it had been paused.

I should never have been ill." “Well, it came to her ears, I don't know “ Still I think I had better go." how, that he was worse than the doctors He went, getting out of the house withhad given ber to understand ; that some out seeing any one else. His nerves were crisis in his illness was imminent. She tingling. He too felt as if he had been went off straight to Sir Jonah Bates, and peering into an abyss. “ What a fate ! insisted upon his telling her the truth. My God, what a fate!” he said to himself, Apparently the truth was emphatic, for as he strode through the park and over she at once gave up all idea of insisting the ridge, taking the short cut which led upon a separation ; Aung self-respect, along the shore. Why had it come to her everything you like to mention, to the of all people? The man might die — four winds of heaven; returned to him the would die — but that even would not same evening, and has devoted herself to change it. Heaven itself could not enable him as you know ever since.”

her — not in a million of years “And he received her. How?"

to have been his wife. That fate, once “Oh he received her with all amiability hers, was hers forever! I have no doubt. He forgave her, and He sat up late that night in his grim looked over her conduct. It was more con- little study. There was nothing to keep venient to do so. She is Lady Eleanor him up, which was perhaps the reason Cathers; she is an excellent nurse – really why he stayed. He was not sleepy, a scientific one. She is the finest piece though it was past one o'clock. Lady of property, beyond all question, he pos- Mordaunt's story haunted him incessantly.

Further than that, he cares for There was something new and electric in her quite as much as he cares for any the situation, something which he had one else in the world."

never perceived before. He felt like one Another question was trembling upon whose eyes have been couched. There John's lips.

was even too much light now, it was daz“ And she - do you know – do you zling. He got up from his chair and went think?

to the window pushing it widely open. " Does she care for him still, do you Then stood, his hands in his pockets, mean?"

looking out over the silent sea. “ Yes.”

The house was so minute, the surroundShe spread out her hand, back down- ing expanse so vast, that it was like being wards, an old gesture of hers. “I wish I in a cloud or a balloon - a mere speck knew, I wish I could tell you. It is one amid the untravelled worlds of space. of the impenetrable mysteries. Some. Every now and then came a faint sobbing times I think she does, and then again I throb, in which the boards under his feet say to myself no, it is duty, terror of self- seemed to partake, though the night was reproach, anything else you like. She dead calm. A moon was getting up, but knows him at any rate; from the top of his it did not as yet illuminate the monotone head, even to the sole of his foot. There of grey, save where from time to time a are no illusions. For the first two or steely glitter caught upon one of the low three years it was one perpetual descent crestless curves, slipping off the edge from illusion to illusion. My poor Elly! again and becoming quickly quenched in Do you know there is an expression at the surrounding darkness. He could see times in her face that frightens me. It is the big tree-mallows — the nearest apas if she had looked into an abyss, and proach to a tree in the immediate neighseen something there that appalled her, a borhood — their palmated leaves spread sort of scared look."

like large black hands against the void, The door opened cautiously, and Mrs. and further on a few bleached stalks ris. Mason's anxious face appeared.

ing in a crooked and attenuated procession The colonel took the bint and rose.

upon the actual brink.

sesses.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

Whether it was due to something in the but it seemed to him in his excitement as character of the night, or to the singular if the whole house, the whole world of sea silence and isolation of the scene, little and land, the very stars overhead were all by little his restlessness increased until it cognizant of it, were all vibrating under became intolerable. He paced the room its compelling emotion. A cry without backwards and forwards, sat down and got words at least without recognizable up again, but could not get rid of it. All words - like a prayer heard in an unat once too there arose in his mind a sense known tongue, what could it mean? wbat of struggle — he could not tell where - a was the sense or rationale of the thing? cry

- a plea for help - which seemed to he asked himself, looking round with thrill the air with its piteous appeal. He angry bewilderment. All at once a thought stood still ; incredulous, angry, wrestling darted through his mind. Was it, could with the folly of the fancy. It increased, it be her ? Could such a thing be? however, more and more, until it seemed Could one person in distress call to an. to ring like brazen bells around him. It other across a whole continent, and could was a call for help, of that he felt sure, that other hear? All the verdicts of scibut a call from whom, from where? There ence, nay of common sense, were sheer was not a sail in sight, and, if there had against it, and yet, and yet, and yet been, who could want help upon such a The idea once started there was no night and on such sea ?

escaping from it again. It exercised an He Aung the window further up, and instant dominion over his thoughts, turnleaning over the sill, listened to hear if ing them to the consideration of what new there was any sound. But there was sources of trouble could be awaiting her. nothing. He went to the head of the Rational or irrational, too, there was no staircase and listened again. He could question about obeying it. Whether Eleahear the snoring of pensioner Smith and nor Cathers had really called to him, or his wife, the only other inhabitants of the whether, as was more likely, some poscottage. He went to the front door and session had seized hold of his brain, he looked out — nothing. The little house cared little. The doubt was enough. On was as lonely in the moonlight as a cloud the remotest possibility of her wanting upon a mountain top. Then for a mo- him, he would go, were it to the world's ment a thrill of terror passed through end, were it to be smiled at for his folly him; a vivid sense of the unknown, of the when he arrived. He did not care; be profound unimaginable mystery of things. would go. He shook it off again, however, instantly. He would not even see Lady Mordaunt It was nonsense, pure, unmitigated non- before doing so, he resolved. Her acutesense, he told himself. He had not eaten ness would detect some new excitement enough, for he was still shaky after his at work; of what use then to disturb her, late illness, he would have a glass of especially upon so groundless an impulse brandy and go to bed. While so thinking, -one which he shrank from admitting the impression had begun to fade, gradu- even to himself. He sent a note accord. ally dying, until it ceased, and in the still- ingly the next morning telling her that he ness he could hear the small, crinkling was obliged to leave Çolt's Head sooner noise of the seaweeds lifted upon the than he had expected, but would probably shoulders of the tide, and sinking down to not be away long, in any case, would write their former places again. He flung back in a few days' time, and that very afterhis head and laughed with a sense of re. noon he retraced his steps along the road lief. Pooh! it was all a piece of non- he had so lately traversed; arriving in sense and moonshine! He would not Genoa the morning of the second day, and even bother about the brandy, but go to starting almost immediately afterwards bed at once.

for Viareggio. He had lit a candle, and was turning away with another laugh at himself, when, suddenly, without an instant's warning, it returned; the same vibrating thrill; the same sense of something or some one

From Blackwood's Magazine. appealing to him; conjuring him to come EXPERIENCES OF AN ENGLISH ENGINEER to their aid. This time he did not even imagine that there was anything real in So little is known by the mass of Enthe summons. Whatever it was it cen- glish readers about the Congo Free State, tred in himself; he alone was the person and the great river from which it takes appealed to. What it meant he knew not, lits name, that a few details may not be

ON THE CONGO.

a

out of place here. Before Stanley had | 18° E. For about a mile to the north-west shown it to be the Lualaba, which Living- of Stanley Falls, the river flows between stone took for the headwaters of the Nile, high banks, but it then enters a large plain, the Congo was a mere name to people not some five hundred miles in extent, and connected with the ivory or oil trade ; and the width of its bed varies from two and even now, since the opening up, under the one-half to five miles. It is so full of auspices of King Leopold of Belgium, of islands, that only at three or four points the great waterway into the heart of Af- is an uninterrupted view obtained from rica, the vagueness of average ideas on bank to bank. The misleading statement the subject may be inferred from those of (without mention of the islands) that both a certain gentleman who offered his ser- banks are seldom visible at the same time, vices at the Brussels Bureau de L'Etat has given rise to mistaken and exaggerated Indépendant du Congo, without even ideas of the size of the river. This great knowing where the Congo was; and, on plain is covered for the most part with bis arrival at Boma, finding that he was dense tropical jungle, abounding in rare appointed to the upper river, and would and valuable forms of plant life. Tree have to march some two hundred and ferns, and many varieties of orchids yet thirty-five miles to reach it, would gladly undescribed, are common, as well as the have returned home again.

wild coffee-shrub, several kinds of plants The Congo, then if we look upon yielding india-rubber, mahogany and other Livingstone's Luapula as the main stream, splendid timber-trees. At Iboko, on the and not rather the Lualaba or Kamolondo northern bank (in lat. 2° N., long. 19° E.), (heard of but not seen by Livingstone, and is the station of Bangala (so called from called by him Young's River), which has the tribe inhabiting Iboko and the surits source, according to Capello and Ivens, rounding country), the farthest outpost of in Katanga, about 50 south — rises, under the Free State since the one at Stanley the name of the Chambezi, in the Chibalé Falls was abandoned. At the equator is Hills, in the country of Mambwé, south of another Free State station (Equateurville), Lake Tanganika. It enters Lake Bang- and also one belonging to the Livingstone weolo — famous in connection with the Inland Mission; and at Lukolela, about great traveller's last wanderings — and one hundred miles lower down, the Bapleaves it again at its S.W. corner, as the tist missionaries have established themLuapula, which flows north till it reaches selves. About one hundred and fifty Lake Moero, and then is supposed to take miles below Lukolela, the level banks rise a N.W. course as far as Lake Lanji, where into hills, and the stream becomes narit joins the Lualaba from the S.W., but rower, while its volume is increased by this region is still unexplored. After this the influx of the Lawson River, and the -according to the curious African fashion mighty Kwa or Kassai, nearly as large as of transferring to the main stream the the main stream. Near the mouth of the name of every affluent which enters it-it Kassai are two Roman Catholic mission is known as the Lualaba, and this name, stations - one founded by the Société or that of Livingstone River, is commonly d'Alger, the other under the Société du applied to its whole upper course, the St. Esprit. From here to Stanley Pool changes in native nomenclature being too the scenery is much like that on the Rhine numerous and puzzling to follow.

between Bonn and Mainz, though on a From Lake Lanji the Lualaba filows larger scale, and wanting the essential (roughly speaking) first in a N.W. direc- features of vineyards and ruined castles. tion, past the Arab settlement of Nyo As for the vineyards, they may come in angwé, and then due north, to the equator, time, as wild grapes have been discovered where it throws itself over the seven cata. near the Kassai; but for my own part, I racts of Stanley Falls. Here, on an island must say I prefer the Congo to anything at the foot of the lowest cataract, stood the Rhine can show. The hills, covered the Free State station, which was attacked with forest, or else with tall grass, inby the Arabs in September, 1886, as shall crease in height till they are almost enbe related further on.* North of the titled to the name of mountains, and at equator the Congo makes a great bend the same time encroach upon the riverwestward, crossing the line again in long. bed till, in Kimpoko Channel, it is so nar

• This station is now to be re-established, with Ha- row that the current seems to have been, med bin Mohammed, alias Tippu-Tib, as governor. as it were, turned on edge to pass through The notes from which the above is compiled were it, and runs like a mill-race. Suddenly written probably before the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition had left England, certainly before any news of it the ranges retreat on either hand, and, had reached the Upper Congo.

curving round to right and left, enclose

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the beautiful sheet of water known as passing various mission and trading staStanley Pool, with the green island of tions, the chief of which is Boma, on the Bamu in the centre. The view is bounded north bank, which may be termed the on the right by Dover Cliffs, and far away capital of the Free State, since the adminto the left by a distant range of mountains. istrator-general has his offices there. Close to the entrance of the Pool, on the Banana was indeed a welcome sight left or south bank, is Kimpoko, where a when I arrived there after a six weeks' Methodist mission has lately taken up its voyage from England, during which the quarters; and at the other end, just at the Sao Thomé had called at Madeira, some point where the river leaves it, is Kin- of the Cape Verde Islands, Bolama (Bischassa, with the stations of the Free State sao), Princes' Island, and St. Thomas. and the Baptist Missionary Society. Op-Standing out between the sea and river, posite Kinchassa, on the northern bank, its white roofs seemed specially clear and is the French port of Brazzaville.* inviting after the ill-flavored Portuguese

Rounding Kallina Point, we enter the settlements we had been visiting. I landed Ntamo Rapids, and come in view of the in the usual fashion, being carried from blue flag of the Etat Indépendant du the boat through the shallow water by two Congo waving from the top of Mount natives. The boat, by the by, was that Leopold. Léopoldville stands on the slope belonging to the Congo Free State factory, of the hill, half-way down - or stood, as I and the Kruboys who manned her, dressed saw it on my arrival, for the station build- in neat uniforms, pulled steadily and in ings have now been transferred to Kin- good time, to the tune of “One more river chassa. The hillside was terraced, and to cross !” This air is known to them as planted with bananas and pineapples - Stanley song " — they or their predeces

– an avenue of the latter leading down to sors having iearned it from Bula Matadi what was known as the Port - in reality himself, as a chantee,” when hauling the the shipbuilding and repairing yard, with steamers overland between Vivi and Isanthree mud huts for stores and workshops. ghila. The platform on the top of the hill com- I was received by the representative of mands, on a clear day, one of the finest the Free State, and made comfortable for views on the Congo.

the two days I had to wait for a steamer For some two hundred and thirty miles to take me to Boma. I spent them in below Stanley Pool, the river is unavail. looking round the various trading houses able as a means of communication, and established here. Besides the Free State, the caravan road runs along the south there are English, French, Dutch, and bank, from Léopoldville to Matadi (“the Portuguese factories — the oldest being rocks”), at the foot of the rapids. The that of M.M. Daumas, Berand, & Co., of road originally constructed by Stanley Paris, which dates from 1855, and gave (when his engineering operations earned the place the name of French Point, by him, as is well known, the title of Bula which it is sometimes known. I was agreéMatadi, the Rock-breaker), was on the ably surprised by the fact that the living north bank, but has been given up, as the here was by no means so bad as I had ground is rougher than on the other side. imagined; for though it is true that most There is, however, a talk of its being re- of the food consists of tinned goods from sumed, especially as the country on the Europe, I discovered that a little ingenuity south side is now infested by bands of in cooking them would produce dishes marauders, mostly deserters from the ser- greatly preferable to the tough goat and vice of the State; caravans are frequently the everlasting fowl. The steamer arrived robbed, and carriers almost unattainable on the third day, and in a few hours I -in fact mails seem to be the only things found myself at Boma, where, on reporting that reach Léopoldville in safety, and myself to the administrator-general, I was these are very irregular.

directed to proceed to Léopoldville, and Steamers run regularly between Matadi place myself under the orders of the chief and Banana, at the mouth of the river (a of that station. Accordingly, next day I distance of one hundred and ten miles), went on board another steamer, and

reached Matadi (opposite Vivi) in the • Readers of Stanley's "The Congo, and the Found- evening. Though I was to start from ing of its Free State," will remember how M. de Matadi on the march to Léopoldville, I was Brazza, hearing that the explorer was on his way to Stanley Pool, hastened up and took possession of the obliged first to cross to Vivi in order to right bank in the name of France. The French pos- be supplied with tent and provisions for sessions now extend along the river froin Manyanga to a point opposite Lukolela, and thence to the west coast, the journey. I was unable to do this till including the basins of the rivers Ogowé and Kwilu. next day, and was kept there three day's

« ElőzőTovább »