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   Chapter 19 XIXToC

Thirty Years in Australia By Ada Cambridge Characters: 38434

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


THE EIGHTH HOME

The eighth home was quite an imposing house-for us-too much so for my taste and the resources of the moment, insomuch that I had to leave the furnishing of the drawing-room to a future day; but what an interesting time I had, with my paper-hangers and people! In a few days I had the walls-raw plaster and grubby at that-decorated and dry, and the floor-staining done, and the elementary necessaries of family life collected; so that when I, and the little daughter who had been with me, met our male belongings at Spencer Street Station on the 30th of October, we went home together for good and all. G. took over his parish on the 1st of November, and we were then settled down, although the delights of "fixing up" went on for weeks-I may say for years-if it has not continued even to this day. A week or two after the induction ceremonies the parish made a splendid evening party for us in the largest public room of the town. A great horse-shoe of flowers with "WELCOME" on it-the iron frame is still preserved in the gas cupboard-was presented with charming compliments: members of Parliament and mayors and other distinguished persons flattered us in cordial speeches from the platform; professional singers-Ada Crossley amongst them-rendered a choice programme. It was a proud occasion, a happy beginning of the new life-the first rush of the champagne out of the freshly-opened bottle-sweet to remember, but sad also, because, like all such sanguine moments, it both gave and asked too much.

And now here I was living by the sea at last-the desire of my heart from childhood. There is a family tradition that when, as a mere infant on its mother's lap, I saw the sea for the first time-at Hunstanton it was-I was so overcome with sentimental emotion that I burst into tears. I can quite believe it. I do not remember ever to have seen it, after absence, without feeling more or less that way, whether I expressed the feeling or not. "Hunst'on" in those times was only the old village of the L'Estranges; where the watering-place proper was afterwards established there stood but a lonely inn on the cliff-the New Inn, it was called, though it looked far from new-where brides and bridegrooms went to get out of the world. We used to have lodgings at the Coastguards' (parents and children, nurse and governess, distributed amongst them at sleeping-time, with a common rendezvous for meals), or at "Willoughby's," within a cobbled courtyard with gates that shut at night, or at the Post Office, which sold the wooden spades and pails that were always our first purchase, or-when we could get it-a whole house of our own, bespoken for the season from the year before. The same families, more or less, occupied the limited accommodation of the place summer after summer, and it was necessary to be beforehand to secure a footing. There was one year when we were absolutely crowded out-a black year indeed! I see myself now, face downwards in the orchard grass, broken-hearted by the calamity. In those days we made the journey from Lynn on a stage coach-the last one left in England, I should imagine-and the red mass of Rising Castle was the memorably romantic feature of that drive, next to the first opening to view at the end of it of the ever-wonderful and mystic sea. We used to arrive late in the afternoon and first open one of the enormous hampers and feed like a pack of cormorants: then we little girls were fitted out in our sea-clothes-all made on purpose, from the cotton hoods to the raw-leather shoes-and the boys put on their fishermen's guernseys, and down we went to revel in sand and rocks and sea-water until the latest possible bed-time. Old Sam Dunn, the only waterman and one of my dearest early friends, would already have been up to our lodgings to welcome us, to take over the boys as partners for the summer in his boat and enterprises, and to bring his votive offering of cornelian stones and bits of jet and things to his "little missy." What days! What days! When my own children were small I went to no end of trouble and expense to give them the bliss that had made life so heavenly to me at their age. I took them to the seaside; I bought them wooden spades and pails; I would have got them a donkey (like Callaby's) if there had been such a thing procurable. In vain. It was like trying to teach them to understand Christmas. The sea is not in the blood of Australian children as it was in ours.

During all my inland life at home and twenty-three years in the Australian bush, however happy I may have been, there was always that one thing wanting-the near neighbourhood, the salt breath of the sea. I used, when in the Western District, to spend hours sitting amongst she-oak trees in a wind, because, with the eyes shut, one could believe that there one listened to its very voice. Twice, when ill in bed, I found the craving overmastering. "I know that, if I could get to the sea, I should get well," I cried at a time when I was unable to take myself thither and G. said he was too busy to take me. "Not for one day?" I implored. "What's the use of wearing yourself out with those two long journeys, and spending five or six pounds, for one day?" he asked. It did seem unreasonable, but I begged and bribed him to give me my wish. We left B-- one afternoon, reaching Melbourne late at night; next morning took boat for Sorrento and the open Pacific; saturated ourselves with sea-essences until night again, and returned home next day. The result was so miraculous that, under the same circumstances, we repeated the experiment three months later: only then we took four days instead of one. I do now go back to the hills for strength, as I said in the last chapter, but quite as often exchange the sea for more sea.

For where I live I am still forty or fifty miles from the shore whereon the ocean rollers break. To be sure I can hear the sound of waves on our Back Beach-one may occasionally be knocked over by them in the Baths-but, looking across the water that runs sheer to the sky, I am conscious of the engirdling land that I cannot see; it is not the great deep that the great storms play with. Even upon this the house turns its back; my windows command only Hobson's Bay-just a pond with city round it-the mouth of the river piercing the ring to my left, the mouth of escape to the sea and the world on my right, round the breakwater pier and sea-wall that the convicts built. Well, I am satisfied with that. I have a moving panorama before my eyes that they never tire of dwelling on. I had amongst my wedding presents a pair of good field-glasses that lay stowed away and forgotten in drawer or cupboard until I came here; now they hang by my writing window, and the case is worn out with the daily handling they get. Every ship that comes in view passes me by, the multifarious craft going to or from the river wharves, the great liners that tie up at Port Melbourne opposite-these last the objects that fascinate me most. A kind superintendent of the P. and O. Melbourne office sent me, when I first arrived, a packet containing a separate letter of introduction to every purser of every ship of theirs visiting the port, instructing each gentleman to give me "all possible facilities" to "fully inspect" his vessel. It was my favourite recreation for a long time to rummage through these floating hotels, and pretend to myself that I was a potential traveller in them; and then I came home to watch them steam away without me, as I have watched them week by week ever since. It is a melancholy pleasure that never palls. But I have four of those letters to P. and O. pursers unexpended still.

Close about me lie piers, ships, boat-slips, collections of anchors, buoys, boilers, the old bones of dead vessels once so bravely alive-more alive, as I think, than anything else that hand of man has made; everything that meets the eye suggests the sea in some form. "The fishing village" is a newspaper term for the place, and when I was coming to live in it every other letter that I received condoled with me on my being obliged to do so. It is not a village; it is not more fishy than other towns along the shore; and I have never pitied myself for belonging to it. The fact that it is not a watering-place, with an esplanade and summer boarders, pleases me. It could easily have rivalled the "residential suburbs" across the way, which are cooled by the sea-breezes on one side only and not on three; but far be it from me to put such an idea into its head. Let it jog along in its unfashionable, unenterprising, unbusiness-like way while I am of it, and begin its hustling-as it will do sooner or later, if the powers that be allow our limbs to move again-when I am gone. It is a treat to find something that does not know how to advertise itself, nor want to know.

In this humdrum place, that is so cool and quiet, and to me so congenial, there is but one interesting walk. That is to say, but one that I consider worth giving an afternoon to. G. says he gets tired of it; I do not; and I am sure that Bob, the fox terrier, spends the week looking forward to it. The three of us ramble off together on Saturdays after lunch, weather and other circumstances permitting, and our faces turn the one way automatically.

We go "along the front"-i.e., the one-sided street that fronts Hobson's Bay-until the little marine stores and cook-shops and sailors' pubs lose themselves in a wilderness of docks and railway yards and buildings, lonely and grass-grown since the river and the port opposite took so much of our shipping from us, though there was a partial return to some of the activities of former days while the war was going on. Seldom a Saturday then that we did not find ourselves blocked by rows of trucks shunting back and forth across our short cuts, carrying hay or horses to the steamers whose clacking windlasses we heard from the neighbouring piers.

First we come to the yard within which lies the Graving Dock-once so wonderful, now so inadequate, but seldom empty and always interesting, no matter how insignificant the vessel on the chocks. Those weather-worn tramps that fight the unseen Powers at a disadvantage in everything, except courage and seamanship, are the ones I like to look at best. Sometimes we are asked on board, and a rough old salt, hero of untold brave deeds, shows us round and gives us tea, and feels himself honoured by the visit of persons not worthy to brush his shoes. These casual entertainments are my delight. Sometimes the captain's wife is cicerone and hostess. There was a whole family in one case, including a melancholy and discontented girl, who had a piano to practise on, and whose sad lot I was not too sea-crazy to understand. I sent her a bundle of old novels to vary the monotony, which was perhaps a cruel kindness.

Now and then tragedy comes upon the scene. A wreck is dragged in to be operated on. Some poor ship that has had a fire at sea, or her nose smashed or her side ripped open in a collision, or who has drifted for weeks with her propeller gone, lies naked before us with her wounds exposed; and then I stand and gaze and imagine things until G. gets cross because I cannot drag myself away. When the Ormuz had that accident in the Rip she so tightly filled the dock that her skeleton bow was almost within my touch. No more do I wonder at what ships can go through, having seen how that giant frame was put together. I went down to the bottom of the dock and held up the great hull in the palms of my hands. It was a strange sensation.

From the dock we pass by devious ways from yard to yard and pier to pier, descending and climbing, turning narrow corners, poking walking-stick or umbrella into the tufts of coarse grass and scrap-heaps of rusted iron or sea-rotted timber where Bob has his exciting hunts for the rats he smells but never catches. "No admittance except on business" is a legend with no meaning for us. If it rains, or the sun is over-hot, we retire to a dark and spacious shed where rows of gas buoys await their turn to shine beneficent in the stormy nights. Impressive creatures they are when viewed so near. Now and again we are shown torpedoes and compressed-air engines and such things, but as a rule we are not sight-seeing in a business way and do not desire company.

So we drift to the outermost pier of all-the Breakwater, half of which is stone rampart between Hobson's Bay and Port Phillip Bay, which stands to us for open sea. We sit as long as Bob's patience holds out on the bulkhead at the extreme end, and watch the ships go past us-so near sometimes that we could toss a biscuit on to a deck. They are intercolonial steamers that have started from a Melbourne wharf or are bound thither; the great liners, of which few are visible at this end of the week, take a more distant track. In the yachting season the blue water is sprinkled with white sails; we follow the man?uvres of the boats we know, and wait to see the winner come home, if she is not too long about it. Several times I have been aboard one of those racing cutters in a "sailing wind," and-I refrain from rhapsodising on the subject.

If the afternoon is still young we stroll on around the point, along that sea-wall which was built by convict labour-significant words, recalling days we do not care to think of. The wall is broken down in places, and stays so; this is the "old part" as the old times left it-some day to be repaired and used, but gently going to pieces in the meantime. All around us here we feel the spirit of those old times, so stern and sad. Close by is the spot where Commandant Price was murdered. It was before my time, but I have heard the tale of his life and death from friends and relatives, co-officials and eye-witnesses, authorities whom the author of His Natural Life never had opportunity to consult. They say-of course I can only take their word-that he was a brave and just, if undoubtedly hard, man, and that Frere in His Natural Life, supposed to be a portrait of him, is a cruel caricature. One of his official colleagues, who was also one of the kindest and most high-minded of men, solemnly assured me that what he did was "what he had to do" and represented to him his duty.

And just here, until a short time ago, lay the strangest little graveyard that I ever knew. Its enclosing walls had fallen into rubbish-heaps amongst the grass, which looked too thick and rank to safely walk in except when summer heats had dried it up; then we would prowl gingerly amid the forgotten graves-forty years old and upwards-and read the touching legends on the dilapidated headstones, which showed, amongst other things, that John Price was not the only one done to death "in the execution of his duty." Here lay a whole little world of people as utterly of the past as if they had lived centuries ago. Periodically someone protested in the local papers against the disgraceful condition of this lone bit of land, and at last the town decided to transfer its contents to the present cemetery. In a corner of that pretty garden they dug one big grave to accommodate the remains of what they calculated would be between two and three hundred bodies. The number found was nearly a thousand. I saw them stacked in little boxes, like a grocer's stock of tea or candles, half in the new grave, half piled on the brink. Several pathetic secrets that Mother Earth might well have kept to herself were dragged to light, and I am sure it must have been impossible to avoid mixing the fragments up. The new grave now looks very neat, slabbed all over; and the old burial-ground is ready to build on whenever good times arrive. But when we walk past the spot we miss something. We feel that we liked it best as it was.

Usually we do not go beyond this point. We scramble out to the furthest tenable boulder, and sit with our faces to the water, and watch the practice of the big gun of the fort close by, firing at a buoyed flag; and tease crabs, and lay plans for going Home some day, until it is time to return. But we can go on along the shore until we all but complete the circuit of the town, which is really a good walk for cold weather.

The sea makes in a sense the foreground of any picture I can draw of my eight to nine years of Melbourne life, but there was more than the sea to render the change to Melbourne instantly beneficial to us. That was a luxury, an adornment, of our new life; a solid advantage to me personally, since its air and influence improved my health, but not otherwise to be so designated. The first substantial profit that we reaped was in our nearness to the best schools.

It is for his children that the poor Bush parson feels his isolation, more than for himself. In Victoria he is never placed where he cannot give them an education of a kind-at the private schools of his township or the State School in the last resort-but the cost of the better one that he must desire for them, to fit them for professions and a good place in the world, is mostly beyond his means. The custom of the great schools is to charge half fees to clergymen-I do not know why, any more than I can see the justice of the doctors charging them no fees at all, as the majority of them will not, unless you force them to it-but even upon those easy terms I know from experience that you cannot keep a son at a public school, giving him all the advantages of it, for much under £100 a year. Lay mothers have told me that in their case £150 was not too much to set aside for the purpose to cover all expenses. The Public School means possible scholarships, not only for the school years but for the University afterwards; and it is hard to have a bright boy and see him blocked at the outset from this shining path along which alone he can directly attain distinction. I know one poor country clergyman who, with his wife and daughters, lived servantless and on next to nothing to give the only son his chance. Half their little income must have gone to pay for it, and the boy was still a poor boy at school, in dress, pursuits, pocket-money, friends, at a disadvantage amongst his fellows. It is pleasant to record that he proved superior to these petty circumstances and worthy of the sacrifices that were made for him. But he is only a bank clerk now, because, not having a home near the University, it was impossible for him to go there. Another clergyman's son of my acquaintance, who had this convenient base, did his course as an "out-patient," while earning his fees at other work. He is now a "don" himself.

So, with sons of our own, we soon had occasion to congratulate ourselves-in the case of one, at anyrate. The boy who had been pursuing a costly education more than two hundred miles from home was now within easy reach of it; I could visit him by water for half-a-crown. And of course I did so the very first thing, fetching him back with me to make the house-warming complete. It was then represented to him that the greater part of the expenses incurred on his behalf might be saved by the simple expedient of transferring himself from the "Geelong Grammar" to the sister, i

f rival, "Melbourne Grammar," which he could attend as a day boy. His answer was-for he had been over four years at Geelong, and his boat had been Head of the River most of the time, and it was his school-"I would sooner kill myself." We quite understood. It was perceived that in his case economy might be practised at too great a cost, and we refrained from further argument. The younger brother jumped at the privilege thus scorned, and turned it to such account that in the following month we were relieved of all pecuniary liability in respect of his education for three years to come. In the result there were certain little embarrassments which took time to wear off. States of tension occurred in the vacations, and an occasional approach to civil war, all on account of the merits and demerits of the respective corporations to which they belonged, and I narrowly escaped witnessing a Public School's Boat Race in which I must inevitably have seen a son defeated. I used to wear at these functions, at one time, a breast-knot of light-blue and dark-blue ribbons, mixed in exactly equal proportions.

I think the Boat Races and Speech Days have furnished the keenest joys of my Melbourne life. At B-- there was racking suspense before the postmaster's son came tumbling down the garden steps to the dining-room window, waving the telegram and shouting-in defiance of the regulations-"He's won!" And now, without the wicked waste of money that I had once been guilty of to obtain the privilege, I could follow the race on the umpire's boat, and drop proud hints to other mothers that it was my son who-etc. As for the Speech Days, modesty forbids me to say more than that I would not have missed them for the world. But apart from these strictly personal enjoyments, many and many, long unknown, now came to me.

"Mullens," to start with-everyone who knows Melbourne at all knows that delightful haunt of the book-lover-and all the new books I could want, and more; and never the lack of a new magazine to entice me to bed early. Any night of the week-the day's work done, even to the last toilet, and a reading-lamp shining softly down upon the page before me-I can realise my idea of luxury. Old books too-the Literatures of the Past and of the World (of which I had scarcely heard in youth before I was cut off from access to them)-these I could batten on, and at no cost at all. The great Free Library-the greatest, to my mind, of all Melbourne's civic institutions-was but an hour's distance from me. It is rather the resort of the street loafer, looking for a place to rest and doze in, than of the student-other than press hacks and such like, who go there with the business note-book and pencil; one never sees-at least, I have never seen-any of those gentlefolk who throng Mullens's daily; it seems to lie off the track somehow. I, like the rest, forget to go often when I might go, but when I do think of it I am amazed at my neglect. A lending library is included in the many privileges conferred upon those who pay nothing, and there come from it into the family circle weighty as well as up-to-date works not otherwise in library circulation, and beyond the resources of the family purse and the family bookshelves. For one reason why we do not buy books much more largely than we do, is the want of settled homes for them. To a people so wandering and restless, books in quantities become physically burdensome; they take up too much room in a temporary house, and are too costly as travelling furniture. By the way, I have not found that rich people, with whom these considerations need not count, care to accumulate them.

Gathered under the same roof as this treasure of books are fine, although relatively less fine, collections of objects representing the arts of the world; and the picture galleries, with their medley of good and bad, can charm a loafing hour at any time. Pictures, however, unlike books, are amongst the things that are still too scarce. In girlhood I used to haunt their homes in London, when periodically visiting a spinster aunt who allowed me no more frivolous entertainment; and it is the memory of those old feasts that keeps me dissatisfied with the crumbs that have been cast up here. But the crumbs are adequate to the general demand for them. Art, like Letters, is still an exotic in the land. In the furnishing of ninety-nine out of every hundred of the fine mansions that surround the capital, pictures-real pictures-have, I have been told by those who know, been the last thing thought of. Yet I have seen two private collections-one loaned to an exhibition and one in the house it belonged to-which would be hard to match for beauty and choiceness. And there may be more.

But I believe there are already guide-books to the city of Melbourne, with all its British institutions common to every British city of any consequence precisely catalogued. And I have lived too retired a life as a Melbourne citizen to be qualified to enter into competition with them. I do not know the faces of the City fathers when I see them, and am unacquainted with much else that is common knowledge to any man in the street. On the other hand I have strayed into some of the by-ways, the underground tunnels, of our local civilisation, where the local historian would feel off his beat.

For some years, while in town on business or holiday from the country (and parish), I was much with a dear friend who, while living far above it in what we call the best society, shared my passion for unconventional excursions into what answers here to Gissing's Nether-World. We did not go "slumming" or anything of that sort-we would have been the last to commit such impertinences-but we wanted to see deeper into the workings of the mysterious problems of social life which so much and equally concerned us. In memory of her and those days of lofty thought and helpful companionship I keep on a shelf apart the books she gave me-Mill, Morley, Thoreau, and the like-that we read together under the trees of her beautiful garden or by a secluded fireside, and which inspired us to the search for that ideal truth which we could not admit was inaccessible. Our husbands were both indulgent to our aberrations from the beaten path. In G.'s case, I must confess, I traded a little upon the fact that what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve for; I thought it just as well that a parson-and one so far away-should not know everything; I took the view that I was at large for the time being, and to that he never made objection. Of course, I respected the altered circumstances when we came to live in town together, and have known nothing of alien "persuasions" and their goings on of a Sunday since.

But it was just these irregular operations in the moral world that we desired to investigate, my friend and I: our outlook over it was not bounded by the walls of the Church of England or of our class. Drawn as we felt ourselves to be towards our fellow-strugglers after light and knowledge, we wanted to know what they were doing in furtherance of the common aim. The phenomena of spiritual life, in whatever form, attracted us; the more curious and unconvincing to us personally, the more earnestly to be searched into and understood, if possible. The Salvation Army was a case in point. Why was it such a power in the land? Eclectic as we were, we could find but one theory to account for it-which I still think a good one, i.e., that men and women share equally and intimately in the whole work from top to bottom-but this did not cover all the ground. It did not adequately explain the number and fervour of its non-official adherents, and their long continuance in faith. According to appearances, it is all force and artificial emotionalism, the "unhealthy excitement" against which I have heard so many good clergymen earnestly warn their flocks; yet time falsifies the prediction I remember they made from the pulpit at least eighteen years ago, that it was a passing craze, a grotesque epidemic, that would quickly die.

My friend and I-our minds burdened with, our thoughts and conversation full of, the (to us) injustices of human arrangements, and our responsibilities towards the (to us) enslaved and wronged-wondered how much real amelioration of the lot of the more miserable was wrought by this particular agency. We knew that, as we sat, like Buddha in his palace, within our social shelters, we could know little about it; we resolved to go outside and see. It was Sunday morning, and we said we would go to a Salvation Army meeting, at the Head-Quarter Barracks, that night. My friend's husband, who would have liked to keep her (she was so precious) in a glass case, yet could not bear to balk her wish if it was anywhere within the bounds of reason, asked leave to take us into the city and to the door of the tabernacle, and to wait for us until we came out; but we agreed that that would spoil it all. For what we wanted to feel was that we were one with our poorer fellow-wayfarers on this pilgrimage of life, afoot and equal, not carrying any of our unfair privileges into their rougher line of march. Her correct English maid, who must have had her thoughts, though she did not express them, produced a plain waterproof and a gossamer veil, in which my companion could hide her native elegance from a curiosity that we did not wish to court-I easily made myself inconspicuous-and we set forth, escorted only as far as the railway station of our exclusive suburb.

When we got into the Sunday-night city streets we were a happy pair. Manners in Australia do not deteriorate as the social scale descends; we were jostled on the crowded pavements, but not rudely; in fact, the sensation was grateful to us. We were literally in touch with our kind, free of artificial restrictions, and "seeing life" as we had desired to see it. The crowds were later, however; going in we were before them, thinking it wise to be early since we had to find our way. The large building was filling fast when we arrived, but we secured what we thought safe seats-near the door, and with a pillar or something buttressing our backs-and from this point studied the scene and the proceedings with rapt attention. I should think no Salvation Army meeting ever included two persons at once so devout and so hopelessly impervious. But, though impervious, we were deeply impressed. The only thing that offended us-unless I except a hectic and hysterical preaching girl, whose health we saw being destroyed before our eyes-was the conduct of a group of lads who had evidently come for the fun of the thing. They sat just within the door, and ought to have been put outside it; yet their ill manners were compensated for by the patient courtesy of the officer who from time to time came to expostulate with them. For myself, I could willingly have boxed their ears. I remembered this incident when afterwards I had a Salvation Army servant and it was reported to me that my own mischievous boys had gone to the little conventicle of her sect to hear her preach. She was a quiet-mannered, sedate sort of person, and never gave us Salvation Army in the house, except in the form of a modest brooch; but on Saturday evenings-the Australian servants' free time-she stole off in her hallelujah bonnet, and, I was told, carried a torch or a banner in the procession that patrolled the town, and sang and prayed with the best of them. We never minded these little things, holding the view that a good servant was a good servant, and that her religion was her own business. One of the best we ever had was a Roman Catholic of the strictest type. I believe that girl never omitted an observance required of such an one; yet she never allowed us to be inconvenienced on that account. She would do her washing, or whatever it was, in the middle of the night to go to a morning service; on Sundays she would come out from her devotions at her church, which was not a stone's throw from ours, to put on the potatoes, and trot back again. Between our kitchen and that of the Presbytery the most neighbourly relations existed during her reign. They borrowed of each other without any false pride, and many a time, at my secret instigation, B. went over to assist when the priest was having company, sometimes carrying extra silver and such like from my store. I was always desperately afraid of his hearing of these liberties that a black heretic was taking with him-and he a dean, if you please; mentally putting myself in his place, I knew how I should feel, and I was always exhorting B., who was garrulous, to guard against this risk.-One Christmas I heard that he was to have a party of priests to dinner, and that his cook was quite incapable of rising to such an occasion. "I'd like to send over one of our puddings," said I, "only that I'd be so afraid he might ask who made it"-for our puddings, I may modestly state, were good. B. jumped at the tentative offer, and the pudding, with a few etceteras from the same source, duly graced the dean's table. Our Christmas feast took place in the middle of the day, his in the evening, so she could attend to both. When she returned at night from the second function she was radiant. The table, she said, was something beautiful, and they ate up all the pudding, and praised it to the skies. "I do hope to goodness you never breathed a word," said I, "and that that cook will keep the secret." Alas! it transpired that B. herself had been unable to keep it. "But," said she, "you needn't worry yourself at all, for he was quite pleased about it, and says he is coming himself to thank you for your kindness."

That was a good old man, and the most liberal-minded ecclesiastic of his faith that I ever came across. B. being so strict a daughter of her Church, and living in a place where its influence was strong-for the matter of that, it is strong everywhere in Australia-she used to have qualms of conscience now and again, after the nuns had been talking to her, as to the lawfulness of dwelling under a Protestant roof. She went to the dean for advice, and he gave it promptly. "Don't you be a little fool"-his very words, she told me. "You get more Catholic privileges where you are than you'd get in many a Catholic house. You stay where you are well off." Under these circumstances she was delighted to stay. But some time afterwards, when under more rigid discipline, she was inveigled from us-the only one of our good servants who went, even to that extent from choice, except to be married. But she still maintains intimate relations with the family, and brings each little Pat and Biddy to show us as soon as it is old enough to take the air.

But to return to the Salvation Army. Personally, as I have said, we were cold to its appeals, but seldom had our hearts been so warmed by the reflected feeling around us. It was perfectly apparent to us that we were in contact with things as sincere and real as they could be. Even the hectic girl preacher, who almost frothed at the mouth, was in earnest, whatever the old hands amongst her colleagues, who sat about her and watched her, might have been. The music-their best-with its swing and precision, was splendid, incalculably effective as a stimulant; I could have thrilled to that if I had not heard so much of the excruciating performances of the humbler rank and file. But it was the congregation which so impressed us. Going to church all my life-much against the grain sometimes, I must confess-I had never seen anything like it; so many men in proportion to women, such intensity of religious feeling as distinct from superficial ardour and rant. The service was very long, and we grew anxious as the hours passed, knowing how our husband and host would worry about us if we missed the train he had fixed on for our return, and we had carefully left our watches at home. So I leaned towards my next neighbour on the left, a respectable and very quiet and silent young working-man-just as I would have done in any other church-and whispered to him, "Would you kindly tell me the time?" As soon as the words were out of my mouth I was smitten with compunction, and felt more ashamed of myself than I had ever done in my life. Wild prayers were going on, and the young man was on his knees, and his uplifted face wore a stern solemnity that showed him miles and miles above all such considerations as the time of day. At first he took no notice, as if he had not heard me; then he slowly climbed down and down from his heights and looked at me with a blank, dazed stare; and his eyes were full of tears. I shall never forget him, and all that he taught me in that moment. We went home thoughtful, humbled in our intellectual conceit, deeply touched and moved; certainly all the better for our excursion into this by-path of national life, although we never felt drawn to go into it again.

On another Sunday evening we attended some sort of Free Thought service in one of the theatres. Here the "minister," if not a charlatan, was something of a fraud-to us, at anyrate, who had made a deeper study of the questions dealt with than he had. But in this case again the congregation, which filled the building, was the instructive and surprising feature. Not only perfectly respectable and orderly, but grave and attentive, and the majority well-dressed middle-class people, husbands and wives together, dropping into their seats with the air of habitual attendants. The proverbial pin might have been heard while the pseudo-teacher poured forth words and phrases that had no intelligible meaning in them; every eye was fixed on him, every ear listening. We were much exercised in mind over the results of this experiment. The size, seriousness, and social quality of the congregation were our chief concern. Evidently seekers after light and knowledge, like the rest of us-no mere heathen idlers wilfully or carelessly breaking the Sabbath day. "And," sighed we, "getting only this rubbish for their pains!"

Then there was a place called, I think, the Progressive Lyceum-a small body this, but, once in it, you found it a little world to itself. I went there one Sunday, and again felt how little the classified majority of us knew what the mixed minority was about. I was with two other inquiring friends this time, and we were invited to stay to a sort of little conference that was to conclude the morning exercises. Well, before we knew it, we were joining in the discussion-carried on without a trace of theological rancour-with half-a-dozen or so of the leading members sitting in a group in a corner of the otherwise emptied room, all as friendly as could be. Other little worlds within worlds, colonies within the colony, I have wandered into from time to time, never without gaining fresh conviction of the interestingness of my fellow-creatures and of their inherent goodness-more trust in and respect for that poor human nature which, fumbling along its confused and crooked paths, yet ever seems to be aiming at the true goal. More than that-as one can see by taking the general bearings at intervals-it is getting there by degrees.

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