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War to the Knife, or, Tangata Maori

Chapter III

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Chapter III

He could not well refuse an invitation to dinner from his successor, who called upon him, in form, the day after his arrival, and again begged him to make the old hall his home until he left England.

This request he begged to decline, much to Mr. Lexington's disappointment, though he agreed to dine.

"My people were looking forward to having your advice upon all sorts of matters, which, of course, you would know about better than any one else. We are not going to make any great changes that I know of," said Mr. Lexington. "Everything on the estate is in excellent order; your overseer—I mean bailiff—seems sensible and experienced. I shall give him his own way chiefly. He knows the place and the people, which of course I don't. My children, being Australians, are fond of horses; they are so much pleased with your lot, that you may be sure of their being well treated—and pensioned, when their time comes. I never sold an old favourite in my life, and am not going to begin in England, though you can't turn out a horse here all the year round as you can in Australia. And now I'll say good afternoon. Sorry page 44you can't stay with us. We shall see you at dinner—half-past seven; but come any time."

Upon which Mr. Lexington departed, leaving a pleasant impression with the former owner.

"What mistaken prejudices English people have, for the most part!" he thought. "Sir Giles Weatherly, I heard, was raving at my want of loyalty to the landed interest because I had left an opening for some 'rough colonist' to break into our sacred county enclosure. This man is a thorough gentleman, liberal and right-feeling; besides, with pots of money too, he will be able to do far more for the neighbourhood than would ever have been in my power. I shouldn't be surprised if the county considers him an improvement upon an impoverished family like ours before many months are past."

With a half-sigh, involuntary, but not without a distinct feeling of regret, as he thought how soon his place would be filled up, and how different a position would have been his had one woman's answer been otherwise, he addressed himself once more to the momentous question of emigration. He had purchased a quantity of colonial literature, and had made some headway through the handbooks thoughtfully provided for the roving Englishman of the period. The difficulty lay in deciding between the different offshoots of Britain. All apparently possessed limitless areas of fertile land and rich pasturage, in addition to goldfields, coal-mines, opal and diamond deposits, silver and copper mines, the whole vast territory reposing in safety under the world-wide ægis of the British flag.

Before he had found anything like a solution of page 45this pressing problem, the church clock suggested dressing. So, attiring himself suitably, he made his way to the Court. He rang the hall-door bell somewhat impatiently, having only partially got over the feeling of strangeness at being invited to dinner at his own house, so to speak, and being shown into the drawing-room by his own butler. This official's gravity relaxed suddenly, after a vain struggle, and ended in a gasping "Oh, Sir Roland!" as he announced him in due form.

In the drawing-room, where nothing had been added or altered, he found three ladies, the son of the house, and his host. "Mrs. Lexington, Miss Lexington, and my daughter Violet, with my son Frank," comprehended the introductions.

All were in evening attire, the ladies very quietly but becomingly dressed. The dinner was much as usual; his own wines, glass, and table decorations were in the same order as before. Could he have given a dinner-party unawares? His position at the right hand of Mrs. Lexington seemed hardly to decide the question.

No reference was made by any of the company, which included the rector of the parish (a few minutes late), to his reasons for expatriating himself, though expressions of regret occurred that he should be leaving the country.

"My daughters are lost in astonishment that you should voluntarily quit such a paradise, as it appears to us sunburnt Australians," said the lady of the house.

"You wouldn't have got me to leave it without a fight," said Miss Lexington; "but I suppose men get page 46tired of comfort in this dear old country, where everything goes on by itself apparently, and even the servants seem 'laid on' like the gas and water. They must want danger and discomfort as a change."

"There would not appear to have been much in the country from which you came," replied Sir Roland, declining the personal question.

"We have had our share," said Mr. Lexington. "Fortunately one is seldom the worse for it; perhaps the more fitted to enjoy life's luxuries, when they come in their turn. Tell Sir Roland something, Frank, about that dry season when you were travelling with the 'Diamond D' cattle."

"Rather early in the evening for Queensland stones, isn't it?" replied the younger man thus invoked, who did not, except in a deeper tint of bronze, present any point of departure from the home-grown product. "Tell him one or two after dinner. I'd rather have his advice about the country sport, if he'll be good enough to enlighten me."

"A better guide than my old friend the rector here the country doesn't hold," said the ex-squire. "He knows to a day when 'cock' may be expected, and though he doesn't hunt now, he used to be in the first flight; as for fishing, he's Izaak Walton's sworn disciple. I leave you in good hands. All the same, I'm ready to be of use in any way."

"The weather feels warm now, even to us. We hardly expected such a day," remarked Mrs. Lexington; "and as we have none of us been home before, we don't quite know what to make of it."

"If it's a trifle warm and close, it never lasts more than a few days, they tell me," said the eldest daughter; page 47"and the nights are always cool. That's one comfort. I always feel like putting a new line in my prayers of thankfulness for there being hardly any flies and no mosquitoes. And such lovely fresh mornings to wake up in! Such trees, such grass! No wonder the hymns speak of 'a happy English child!'"

"All the same, Australia is not a bad country," said Mrs. Lexington, "though we did have seventeen days once at the Macquarie River when it was a hundred in the shade every day and ninety every night. On the other hand, the Riverina winter was superb—such cloudless days and merely bracing mornings and evenings. I dare say we shall miss them here in 'chill October.' Sir Roland will give us his impressions when he returns, perhaps," she continued. "It is hard to find a climate which is pleasant all the year round. A cool summer is enjoyed at the expense of a cold winter. And we have extremes even in Australia. I saw in the paper lately some account of pedestrians being thirty hours in snow, and much exhausted when they reached their destination after being out all night."

"I should hardly have thought that possible," said the guest, genuinely astonished.

"English people hear more of the heat of our climate than the cold," said his host, good-humouredly; "but the mails are carried on snow-shoes in the winter season of a town I know, and I have seen the children going to school in them too."

"Oh, come! dad will soon begin to tell stories about snakes," said Miss Violet, "if we don't turn the conversation. Do you have much lawn tennis in the neighbourhood, Sir Roland?"

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"A good deal," he replied, "as the rector will tell you. His daughters are great performers, and at the last tournament with West Essex Miss Charlton was the champion."

"Oh, how delightful! We all play except dad and mother, so we shall be able to keep up our form."

"Then it's not too hot in the Australian summer for exercise?"

"It's never too hot for cricket, or dancing, or tennis in our country. We couldn't do without them, so the weather must take its chance. After all, a little heat, more or less, doesn't seem to matter."

"Apparently not," said Sir Roland, noting the girl's well-developed figure, regular features, and animated expression.

In truth, they were both handsome girls, though their complexions showed a clear but healthy pallor, as distinguished from the rose-bloom of their British sisters. If Sir Roland had not been dead to all sympathetic consideration of the great world of woman, it would have occurred to him that a man might "go farther and fare worse" than by choosing either of these frank, unspoiled maidens, rich in the possession of the charm of youth and the crowning glory of the sex—the tender, faithful heart of a true woman.

But to his dulled and disturbed senses, not as yet recovered from the merciless blow dealt him by fate, no such appreciation of their youthful graces was possible.

He was courteous to the utmost point of politeness, scrupulously attentive to their queries about this, to them, unfamiliar land of their forefathers; careful also to requite the consideration with which he felt they page 49had regarded him. But they might have been any one's maiden aunts, or indeed grandmothers, for all the personal interest which he felt in them. Indeed, when Mrs. Lexington caught her eldest daughter's eye and proceeded to the drawing-room, he was distinctly conscious of a feeling of relief.

Then, as he drew up his chair at the suggestion of his host, he began to show increased interest, as the question of a desirable colony to betake himself to was mooted.

"You are not in the same position as many young men whom Frank and I have met. You are accustomed to a country life, and have a practical knowledge of farming. Your cattle and sheep (we went through them this morning) do the management credit, and the bailiff tells me that you directed it in a general way. The crops and the grass lands are A I. So you won't have so much to learn when you've thought out the climate in Australia. May I consider that you prefer agriculture to a pastoral life?"

"I must say that I do, though I don't limit myself to any particular pursuit or investment. I should feel grateful for your advice in the matter."

"We are all New South Wales people, born there indeed, and probably prejudiced in its favour. It is the mother colony of Australia, and until lately the largest, so that there was always plenty of scope. We have never, like most of the larger pastoralists, had much to do with farming, preferring to buy our hay, corn, flour, and such trifles from the small settlers."

"The squatters, as I suppose they are called," interposed Massinger, who was beginning to be proud of his colonial knowledge.

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"Well, not exactly." corrected the colonist. "The smaller holders are called farmers, or 'free-selectors,' having by a late Act of Parliament acquired the right of free choice over the Crown lands leased in vast acres to the squatters. They follow farming exclusively as an occupation, and are chiefly tenants, or men of small capital. The squatter, on the other hand, is the Australian country gentleman—the landlord, where he is a free holder. It is therefore the more fashionable pursuit, so to speak, and as such, has proved attractive to men like yourself, who commence colonial life with a fair amount of capital. Perhaps Frank will give you his views,"

"I never could stand farming at any price," said the younger colonist. "I hardly know a turnip from a potato. My fancy has always been for the big outside stations. There's something to stir a man's blood in managing a property fifty miles square, with plain, forest, and river to match. Then twenty thousand head of cattle, or a hundred thousand sheep to organize a commissariat for, and an army of men to command! There's no time to potter about ploughing and harrowing, haymaking or reaping, in country like that. You might as well dig your own garden."

"But surely they are necessary occupations?" queried the intending colonist.

"Not to men with a million of acres or so in hand. They can't worry over details. We buy everything we want in that way, and have it brought to our doors, more cheaply than we could grow it. Our work in life, so far, is to produce cheap beef, mutton, and wool, to feed your people and for them to manufacture. page 51That, I take it, is our present business, and anything that interferes with it is a loss to the empire."

"That seems a short list of products for a great country like yours. Couldn't you supply anything more from the land?"

"All in good time," said the young man, sipping his claret. "By-and-by, when labour becomes more plentiful and the population denser, we shall send you butter and bacon, cheese, honey, fruit, flour, sugar, wine, and oil—even rabbits, confound them!—by the million. These products, when we have time, and have overtaken the local demand, we can export by the shipload. A hundred thousand frozen lambs—that kind of thing—in one steamer."

"But you have said nothing about horses. Surely I have heard that your country is very suitable for rearing them?" asked their guest.

"Suitable!" ejaculated the young Australian, with more animation than he had previously expressed. "I should think so. Yet up to this day, though a fascinating pursuit, horses haven't paid so well as sheep and cattle. But our time is coming. I have always maintained that we could breed cavalry and artillery horses for all Europe—more cheaply, too, than any other country in the world; horses possessing extraordinary courage, stoutness, speed, and constitution. From the way in which they are reared on the natural grasses in the open air, they have the best feet and legs in the world. The Indian buyers find them more suitable for cavalry and artillery than Arabs or their own stud-breds, but as yet they only take a tenth part of what we could rear if the markets were more steady and assured. It will be proved some day that page 52the English horse gains in stoutness in Australia after a generation, and I look forward even to our sending you back pure Australian thoroughbreds, equal in speed to their imported grandsires, but sounder, stronger in constitution, and with more bone."

As the descendant of Kentish squires spoke with heightened feeling upon what was evidently a favourite theme, Massinger could not help admitting that the speaker himself was no bad exemplar of the favourable conditions of a free, adventurous, roving life upon the Anglo-Saxon type. Frank Lexington was, indeed, as fine a man as you could make physically—a description once applied to him by an enthusiastic admirer at an up-country race meeting. Standing somewhat over six feet in height, he was admirably proportioned, and not less for strength than activity. His features were regular, approaching the Greek ideal in outline, while his steady eye and square jaw denoted the courage and decision which, young as he seemed, had been tested full many a time and oft. His hands, though bronzed and sinewy with occasional experiences of real hard work, were delicately formed, while his filbert nails, perhaps as true a test as any other of gentle blood and nurture, had evidently never lacked careful tendance.

Fairly well read, and soundly if not academically educated, he was but one of a class of the present generation of Australians who do no discredit to the imperial race from which they spring.

Before these reflections had come to a conclusion, however, Mr. Lexington rose, saying—

"Now that Frank has got to the horses of his native country, we had better adjourn the debate, if page 53you won't take another glass of port, or his mother and sisters will be scolding us for staying too long over our wine."

Soon after their arrival in the drawing-room the opposition found a speaker.

"We thought you were never coming, daddy dear," said Miss Violet. "What in the world do men find to talk about when we're not there? I suppose, though, that you were giving Sir Roland a lecture on colonial experience, and Frank had fallen foul of the shooting and fishing topics, or, worst of all, the great horse question! Ah! I see you look guilty, so I won't say any more about it."

"I'm sure it's very natural, my dear," said Mrs. Lexington. "Of course Sir Roland knows as little of colonial life as your father does about English farming. Either experience would be valuable, you know."

"I am not so sure of that," quoth the merry damsel, who appeared to be of independent mind. "I've rarely known dad take any one's opinion but his own; and as to advising new—er—that is—new arrivals in Australia, you remember what Jack Charteris said when somebody asked him to do so?"

"Something saucy, no doubt."

"Oh no; it was only to this effect—that if the young fellow had any common sense, he would soon find out everything for himself; and if he hadn't, nothing that you could say would do him any good."

"I am afraid that you will give Sir Roland a strange idea of Australian young ladies' manners. For a change, Marion might try this lovely piano. It's almost new; too good for a bachelor's establishment."

Massinger winced a little, but did not explain that, page 54as the adored personage had once been inveigled into joining an afternoon tea at the Court on the way back from a tennis match, of which he had received timely notice, he had ordered a new grand piano to be sent down from London, so that it might be ready for her divinely fair fingers to essay.

"The other one," he replied, carelessly, "was rather old—had, indeed, been sent up to a morning-room; just did for practising on when ladies were in the house."

"I should think it did," said Miss Lexington, indignantly. "Why, it's better now than half the people have in their drawing-rooms. I'm afraid you won't make much of a fortune in Australia if you're so extravagant. Three hundred and fifty pounds' worth of pianos in a house with a family of one!"

"I'm like the man in your sister's story, Miss Lexington," said he, smiling at the girl's earnestness. "Advice will be thrown away upon me. But perhaps I may improve after a few months."

"Months!" said the girl; and a sudden look almost of compassion changed the lustre of her dark grey eyes. "How little you know of the years and years before you!—the changes and chances, the bad seasons, the dull life; and then perhaps nothing at the end—absolutely nothing! And to come away from this!" And she looked round the noble room, which, if not magnificently furnished, was yet replete with modern comfort, and had, in the priceless pieces of carved oaken furniture, the air of ancient and long-descended possession. "How could you?"

He turned and faced her with an air of smiling but irrevocable decision.

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"My resolve was not taken without consideration, I assure you; and I have yet to learn that an Englishman is likely to find himself at fault among his countrymen in any of Britain's colonies. But I am anxious to hear my ecstatic instrument for the last time."

Marion Lexington, as are many Australian girls, had been extremely well taught—received, indeed, the instruction of an artist of European reputation. Her ear was faultless, her taste accurate. She therefore, after a prelude of Bach's, broke into one of Schubert's wild, half-mournful "Momens Musicals," which she played with such feeling and power as rather to surprise her hearer, who, a fair judge, and something of an amateur, was no mean critic. She did not sing, she explained, but after she had concluded with a Scherzo, Miss Violet was prevailed upon to sing a couple of songs, which showed, by the management of a pure soprano, that she had received the tuition which had fitly developed its high quality.

Massinger could hardly refrain from expressing a faint degree of surprise, as he wondered how systematic training was possible in the primitive surroundings of a pastoral life.

"An English judge in a cause célébre once described the squatter's occupation as a 'rude wandering life,'" said Mr. Lexington, smiling; "but for many years my wife and the girls lived in Sydney during the summer, and only went to our principal station, which is near a large inland town in the interior, for the winter—a season lovely beyond description. So my daughters enjoyed educational facilities not inferior, perhaps, to those of country towns in England."

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"Like most Englishmen, I must confess to having formed incorrect ideas about our colonial possessions. However, I shall have ample time to amend them, if Miss Violet's prophecy comes true."

"Never mind her, Sir Roland," said her mother, stroking the girl's fair hair. "She is a naughty girl, and always says the first thing that comes into her head. It is just as likely that we shall see you back again with a colossal fortune in five years. Mr. Hazelwood that bought Burrawombie did, you know! You remember him, don't you, Frank? And if a bank-failure epidemic sets in, as was once threatened, we may just then be wanting to sell out and go back to Australia to retrench."

"I give everybody fair warning," said Miss Violet, starting up from her mother's side, "that I am going to settle permanently in England before that takes place. I couldn't endure returning under those circumstances. As a girl with a 'record,' as that American one said who had danced with the Prince, I might be induced to face George Street and Katoomba again; but not otherwise!"

Farewells had been said, old friends and old haunts revisited. The whole able-bodied population of Massinger Court, tower and town, had apparently turned out to do honour to their late landlord and employer, and when Sir Roland deposited himself in an engaged carriage by insistence of the veteran station-master, and was, as the phrase runs, "left alone with his thoughts," an involuntary lowering of his animal spirits occurred.

He had, as his friends and acquaintances fully page 57believed, cut loose from all old associations—"turned himself out of house and home," as some familiarly expressed it—quitted for ever the old hall which had been in the possession of his family in unbroken line since the Conquest, and committed his fortunes to the conditions of a rude, quasi-barbarous country.

And for what? For a most insufficient reason, as all the world thought.

What was the abnormal incident which had brought about this dislocation of his whole life, which had made havoc of all previous aims and prospects? Merely the too highly wrought imagination of a girl—of a silly girl, people would doubtless say.

Well, they could hardly so describe Hypatia Tollemache, who had proved the possession of one of the finest intellects of the day, and had taken almost unprecedented academical honours.

At any rate, she might come under the biting regal deliverance, Toujours femme varie, bien fol qui s'y fie. But was she changeable? He could not say so with any show of sincerity.

She had been true—too true—to her ideal. Would that she had not been so steadfast to a vain imagining, an emotional craze!

A dream, a vision that she was destined by example, precept, self-sacrifice, what not, to elevate her sex in particular, the toiling masses in general, the helpless poor, the forgotten captives, despairing, tortured, chained to the oar of the blood-stained galley, "Civilization," falsely so called! Confessedly a lofty ideal. Yet how needless a devotion of her glorious beauty, her precious, all too fleeting youth, her divine intellect, to the thankless task of helping those to whom Providence had page 58denied the power of helping themselves; of expending these God-given treasures upon feeble or deformed natures, who, when all had been lavished, were less grateful for the abundant bounty than envious of the higher life, grudgingly displeased that more had not been dispensed.

However, the fiat had gone forth. She must be the arbiter of her own fate. He disdained to beg for a final reconsideration of his suit. Only, he could not have borne to remain and continue the daily round of country life, the rides and drives, the tennis and afternoon teas, the fishing, the shooting, when he knew the exact number of pheasants in each spinney, the woodcocks expected in every copse. The hunting was nearly as bad, except for the advantages of a turn more danger.

No; a new land, a new world, for him! Complete change and wild adventure; no ordinary derangement of conditions would medicine the mind diseased which was ever abiding with the form of Roland Massinger. His passage was already secured in one of the staunch seaboats which justify the maritime pride of the Briton; he was pledged to sail for the uttermost inhabited lands of the South in less than a week's time. The matter settled, he continued to devote himself assiduously to acquiring information, and felt partially at ease as to his future.

The most desirable colony still seemed to be a kind of ignis fatuus.

He read blue-books, compilations, extracts from letters of correspondents—all and everything which purported to direct in the right path the undecided emigrant—with the general result of confusing his page 59mind, and delaying any advance to a purpose which he might have gained. Finally, he fixed, half by chance, upon Britain's farthest southern possession—New Zealand—the Britain of the South, as it had been somewhat pretentiously styled by a Company, more or less historical, which had essayed to monopolize its fertile lands and "civilize" its tameless inhabitants.

In the frame of mind in which Massinger found himself, an account of the war of 1845, in which a Maori patriot threw down the gage of battle to the "might, majesty, and dominion" of England, obstinately resisting her overwhelming power and disciplined troops, aroused his interest, and came to exercise a species of fascination over him.

The valour of the Maori people, their chivalry, their eloquence, their dignity, their delight in war and skill in fortification, impressed him deeply. The Australian colonies had but an uninteresting aboriginal population, small in number and scarcely raised above the lowest races of mankind. They held few attributes valuable to a student in ethnology—and this was one of his strongest predilections—whereas among the warrior tribes of New Zealand there would be endless types available for a philosophical observer.

The nature of the country also appealed to his British habitudes. Fertile lands, running rivers, snow-clad mountains, picturesque scenery, all these chimed in with his earliest predilections, and finally decided his resolution to adopt New Zealand as his abiding-place—that wonderland of the Pacific; that region of everlasting snow, of glaciers, lakes, hot springs, and fathomless sounds, excelling in grandeur the Norwegian page 60fiords; of terraces, pink and white—nature's delicatest lace fretwork above fairy lakelets of vivid blue!

It was enough. Facta est alea! Henceforth with the land of Maui the fortunes of Roland Massinger are inextricably mingled.

Modern arrangements for changing one's hemisphere are much the same in the case of the emigrant Briton whom kind fortune has included in "the classes." For him the sea-change is made delightfully easy. Luxuriously appointed steamers await his choice, distances are apparently shortened. Time is certainly economised. Agreeable society, if not guaranteed, is generally provided. Tradesmen contend for the privilege of loading the traveller with a superfluous, chiefly unsuitable, outfit. Letters of introduction are proffered, often to dwellers in distant colonies, mistaken for adjacent counties.

Advice is volunteered by friends or acquaintances of every imaginable shade of experience, diverse as to conditions and contradictory in tendency.

Firearms of the period, from duck-guns to pocket-pistols, are suggested or presented; while the regretful tone of farewell irresistibly impresses the mind of the wanderer that, unless a miracle is performed in his favour, he will never revisit the home of his fathers.

From many of these drawbacks to departure our hero freed himself by resolutely declining to discuss the subject in any shape. He admitted the fact, gave no reasons, and assented to many of the opinions as to the patent disadvantage of living out of England. He resisted the outfitter successfully, having been warned by Frank Lexington against taking anything page 61more than he would have required for a visit to an English country house.

"Take all you would take there, but nothing more."

"What! dress clothes, and so on?"

"Of course! People dress much as they do here in all the colonies. If you're asked to dinner here, you wouldn't go in a shooting-coat; neither do they. In the country, in the bush, of course minor allowances are made."

"But guns and pistols surely?"

"Not unless you wish to practise at the sea-birds on the way out, which few of the captains permit nowadays. You will find that you can buy every kind of firearm there at half the price you would pay here—equally good, mostly unused, the property of young men who have been induced to load themselves with unnecessary accommodation for man and beast. Saddlery, harness, agricultural implements, are all included in my list of unnecessaries."

"Then, what am I to take?" inquired Massinger, appalled at this stern dismissal of the accepted emigration formula.

"The clothes on your back, a couple of spare suits, a few books for the voyage, and what other articles may be contained in a Gladstone bag and two trunks; all else is vanity, and most assured vexation of spirit."

"And how about money?"

"There you touch the great essential—leaving it to the last, as we often do. Take, say, fifty sovereigns for the voyage—thirty would be ample, but it is as well to leave a margin. And of course half or a quarter of your available capital in the shape of a page 62bank draft. You will find that it is worth much more, so to speak, than here."

"I mean to invest the greater part of it in land"—with decision.

"All right; as to that, I won't offer an opinion. I know next to nothing about New Zealand. Look out when you do buy. Some fellow told me there was trouble with the native titles; and lawsuits about land are no joke, as we have reason to know."

"Good-bye, my dear fellow," said our hero; "I shall always be grateful for your valuable hints. I hate the word 'advice.'" And as this happened in London, the two young men had dined together at the Reform Club, of which Massinger was a member, and gone to the theatre afterwards, wisely reflecting that such an opportunity might not again occur for a considerable period.

Before the day of departure he received, among others, a letter of feminine form and superscription, which read as follows:—

"My dear Sir Roland,

"As you are betaking yourself to the ends of the earth, after the unreasoning fashion which men affect, you won't be alarmed at my affectionate mode of address. I really have a strong friendly interest in your welfare, though the nature of such a feeling on a girl's part is generally suspected. Perhaps, as you cannot get over your temporary grief about Hypatia, you are right to do something desperate. She will respect you all the more for this piece of foolishness. (Excuse me.) Women mostly do, if they have hearts (some haven't, of course), but they themselves generally page 63believe they are not worth any serious sacrifice. A really 'nice' woman is about the best prize going, if a man can get her; only the mistake he makes is in not knowing that there are lots of other women in the world—'fish in the sea,' etc.—who are certain to appreciate him if they get a chance, so nearly as good, or so alike in essentials, that he would hardly find any difference after a year or two.

"So, for the present, you are right to go away and found more Englands, and chop down trees, and fight with wild beasts—are there any in New Zealand, or only natives? Doing all this with a view of knocking all the nonsense, as we girls say, out of your head. Time will probably cure you, as it has done many another man. With us women—foolish creatures!—more time is generally needed; why, I'm sure I don't know. Perhaps because we can't smoke or drink, in our dark hours, like you men when you are thrown over.

"I wish you luck, anyhow. Some day when you come back—for I refuse to believe you will never see Massinger Court again—you will tell me if I am a true prophet. My tip is this:—

"Within the next five years Hypatia will have got tired of slumming, lecturing, teaching, and generally sacrificing herself for the heathen, and will hear reason; or you will find a replica of her in Australia or Kamtschatka, or wherever your wandering steps may lead, who will do nearly or quite as well to ornament your humble home.

"And now, after this infliction of genuine friendly counsel, I will conclude with a little personal item which may explain my protestations of merely platonic page 64interest in your concerns. I have been engaged to Harry Merivale for nearly three years. It was a dead secret, as he was too poor to marry. In those days you once did him a good turn, he told me. Now he has got his step, and his old aunt has come round, so we are to be married next month.

"I am sure you will give me joy, and believe me ever,

"Your sincere friend and elder sister,

"Bessie Branksome."