Abbildungen der Seite

seen, from the way the tops of the 'I know-I know. It's all right,' yelled bushes rustled and flew, that almost all back the other, cheerful as you please. the shots had gone too high. You can't "Come along. It's all right. I am glad.' hit anything unless you take aim and "His aspect reminded me of something fire from the shoulder; but these chaps I had seen-something funny I had fired from the hip with their eyes shut. seen somewhere. As I manoeuvred to The retreat, I maintained-and I was get alongside, I was asking myself, right-was caused by the screeching of 'What does this fellow look like?' Sudthe steam whistle. Upon this they for- denly I got it. He looked like a harlegot Kurtz and began to howl at me quin. His clothes had been made of with indignant protests.

some stuff that was brown holland, prob“The manager stood by the wheel ably, but it was covered with patches murmuring confidentially about the ne- all over, with bright patches, blue, red cessity of getting well away down the and yellow patches on the back, patches river before dark at all events, when on front, patches on elbows, on knees; I saw in the distance a clearing on the colored binding round his jacket, scarlet river side and the outlines of some sort edging at the bottom of his trousers; of building. "What's this?" I asked. and the sunshine made him look exHe clapped his hands in wonder. "The tremely gay and wonderfully neat station! he cried. I edged in at once, withal, because you could see how still going half-speed.

beautifully all this patching had been “Through my glasses I saw the slope done. A beardless, boyish face, very of a hill interspersed with rare trees fair, no features to speak of, nose peeland perfectly free from undergrowth. ing, little blue eyes, smiles and frowns A long decaying building on the sum- chasing each other over that open counmit was half buried in the high grass; tenance like sunshine and shadow on the large holes in the peaked roof gaped a wind-swept plain. 'Look out, capblack from afar; the jungle and the tain!' he cried; 'there's a snag lodged woods made a background. There was in here last night.' What! Another no enclosure or fence of any kind; but snag? I confess I swore shamefully. there had been one apparently, for I had nearly holed my cripple, to finish near the house half a dozen slim posts off that charming trip. The harlequin remained in a row, roughly trimmed, on the bank turned his little pug nosa and with their upper ends ornamented up to me. You English?' he asked, all with round, carved balls. The rails, or smiles. 'Are you? I shouted from the whatever there had been between, had

wheel. The smiles vanished and he disappeared. Of course the forest sur- shook his head as if sorry for my disrounded all that. The river bank was appointinent. Then he brightened up. clear, and on the water side I saw a ‘Never mind! he cried, encouragingly. white man under a hat like a cart Are we in time?' I asked.

'He is up wheel beckoning persistently with his there,' he replied, with a toss of the whole arm. Examining the edge of head up the hill, and becoming gloomy the forest above and below, I was al

all of a sudden. His face was like the most certain that I could see move- autumn sky, overcast one moment and ments; human forms gliding here and bright the next. there. I steamed past prudently, then

“When the manager, escorted by the stopped the engines and let her drift pilgrims, all of them armed to the down. The man on the shore began to teeth, had gone to the house, this chap shout, urging us to land. “We have came on board. 'I say, I don't like this. been attacked,' screamed the manager. These natives are in the bush,' I said.

He assured me earnestly it was all house on the coast to fit him out with right. “They are simple people,' he stores and goods, and had started for added; 'well, I am glad you came. the interior with a light heart, and no It took me all my time to keep more idea of what would happen to them off.' ‘But you said it was him than a baby. He had been wan. all right,' I cried. 'O, they meant no dering about that river for nearly two harm,' he said; and, as I stared, he years alone, cut off from everybody and corrected himself, ‘Not exactly.' Then, everything. 'I am not so young as I vivaciously, ‘My faith, your pilot house look. I am 25,' he said. “At first old wants a clean-up! In the next breath Van Shuyten would tell me to go to he advised me to keep enough steam the devil,' he narrated with keen enon the boiler to blow the whistle in joyment, but I stuck to him and talked case of any trouble. 'One good screech and talked, till at last he got afraid I will do more for you than all your rifles. would take the hind leg off his favorite They are a simple people,' he repeated. dog, so he gave me some cheap things He rattled away at such a rate he quite and a few guns, and told me he hoped overwhelmed me. He seemed to be he would never see my face again. trying to make up for lots of silence, Good old Dutchman, Van Shuyten. I've and actually hinted, laughing, that such sent him one small lot of ivory a year was the case. ‘Don't you talk with ago-so that he can't call me a little Mr. Kurtz?' I said. You don't talk thief when I get back. I hope he got with that man-you listen to him,' he it. And for the rest I don't care. I exclaimed, with severe exaltation. 'But had some wood stacked for you. That now- He waved his arm, and in the was my old house. Did you see?' twinkling of an eye was in the utter- "I gave him Towson's book. He made most depths of despondency. In a mo- as though he would kiss me, but rement he came up again with a jump, strained himself. The only book I had possessed himself of both my hands, left, and I thought I had lost it,' he shook them continuously, while he gab- said, looking at it ecstatically. "So bled: ‘Brother sailor-honor-pleasure- many accidents happen to a man going delight-introduce myself - Russian about alone, you know. Canoes get son of an archpriest-government of upset sometimes—and sometimes you've Tambor-what? Tobacco! English to- got to clear out so quick when the bacco; the excellent English tobacco! people get angry.' He thumbed the Now, that's brotherly. Smoke? Where's pages. “You made notes in Russian? the sailor that does not smoke?'

I asked. He nodded. 'I thought they "The pipe soothed him, and gradually were written in cipher,' I said. He I made out that he had run away from

laughed, then became serious. 'I had school, had gone to sea in a Russian lots of trouble to keep those people off,' ship; ran way again; served some time he said. 'Did they want to kill you?' in English ships; was now reconciled I asked. “Oh, no!' he cried, and checked with the archpriest. He made a point

himself. 'Why did they attack us? I of that. But when one is young, one

pursued. He hesitated, then said, must

things, gather experi- shamefacedly, "They don't want him ence, ideas, enlarge the mind.' 'Here!' to go.' *Don't they?' I said, curiously. I interrupted. You can

never tell.

He nodded a nod full of mystery and Here I have met Mr. Kurtz,' he said, wisdom. “I tell you,' he cried, this youthfully solemn and reproachful. I man has enlarged my mind.' He opened held my tongue after that. It appears

his arms wide, staring at me roundhe had persuaded Dutch trading

eyed. Blackwood's Magazine.

(To be continued.)




The Great Ouse is undistinguished its name to a county, the Ouse receives among western waters; his very title at Wolverton the waters of the Tone. is disputed by the channel in which the Here in the early days of railways, united rivers of Yorkshire find their trains stopped half-way between Lonway to the Humber; and yet he is the don and Birmingham to give weary fifth largest English river.

travellers the opportunity of rest and His is no impetuous stream, tearing refreshment; and here the valley is down to the sea in a bed that is some- crossed by a viaduct, which was once times water, sometimes heaps of stones; considered an imposing triumph of enhe pursues a temperate career, never gineering. From Wolverton to Newruns dry, and is seldom overfull. The port Pagnell is by road four miles, by fortresses of more troubled days are river nearer ten, and there the larger no longer reflected in his waves; no stream takes up his little brother for legends of hard riding Dick or other the rest of their winding ramble to the heroic robber linger in the memories of German Ocean. those who dwell on his sedgy banks; Nobody ever set out to reach a given not even the genius of Sir Walter could destination with less anxiety about weave romances in which the Ouse eventually arriving there than the Ouse, would play a part. He has never been when he decided that, after leaving a border river since the days of the Newport Pagnell, it was as well to go Danelagh; he belongs to the Midlands, to Bedford. Being a river-god he may and has had no occasion for those be credited with wisdom superior to strings of castles which once defended that of mortals; and perhaps he was and now adorn the Tweed, the Tyne, right in expatiating in his meadows, the Severn and the Wye.

listening to the clatter of his poplar In the region of Newport Pagnell the leaves, taking his pastime in broad Great Ouse first begins to be a notice- deeps, and ever and anon losing his way able river; here is the head on which among beds of reeds. The upshot of it are set his two horns. From the south- all is that, whereas mere men make it east comes the Little Ouse, Qusel, or a thirteen-mile walk, our river travels Lovat, thus variously named, after col- forty, and is eventually so reluctant to lecting half the waters of the Chiltern pass under the graceful bridge by the Hills and draining the eastern region Swan hotel, that the Midland Railway of the Vale of Aylesbury; the Ousel is crosses bim seven times in the seven still little better than a large brook, miles between Bedford and Sharnbut has already travelled some score brook. of miles. The other horn, the Ouse This sort of conduct might be parproper, has gathered his peaceful flood donable in a nymph or other lightin the western uplands of Northampton- hearted feminine divinity, but in shire. His longest tributary may be sober old river calls for reprobation. traced beyond Brackley to the neigh- Father Thames shakes his head over it, borhood of Banbury, and, being fed pointing to his own noble curves, and by numerous winding brooks, takes even the twisting Tees thinks there the shape of a river not many miles to should be a limit to capriciousness, the west of Buckingham. Eight miles though his conscience is a little uneasy below the little borough which gives about his performances in the neighbor

hood of Darlington. He, however, can plead mountains at his source, mountains without lakes, always trying to a river that wishes to be respectable. But the Ouse knew what was to happen to him; he knew that he would be caught up by Dutch engineers at Earith, and that the better part of him, hemmed between earth-works, would have to run in two parallel straight lines across the Fens to enter the Wash at Lynn through an ungraceful cut; and thus he made his playground in the broad meadows above Bedford before departing for those regions where unlovely science was to prevail over his artless whims.

The valley between Newport Pagnell and Bedford is Cowper's country. It is here that the Ouse gives us a scenery all his own, as he travels in his leisurely way around three sides of a quadrilateral tableland, whose greatest elevation is nowhere more than four hundred feet, but whose flanks descend to the meadows with some suddenness in places, and yet with no precipitous rudeness. The floor of the valley is flat, sometimes a mile across, sometimes a few hundred yards, and the river shifts from side to side as his fancy leads; but wherever he hugs the slopes, his stream is deep and broad and clear. It is the reproach of sluggish rivers that they are muddy, but not so the Ouse. A narrow fringe of water lilies on either shore marks the limit of earthiness; between those the channel, twenty to forty yards in breadth, is apparently paved with stone, for twelve-foot punt-pole grates along the rocky bottom. As our river never discloses the dark secrets of his bed like the shameless Tees, we can only guess at the causes of this absence of sediment in his still deeps, and may conjecture springs breaking into his channel from below, sufficient in quantity to carry away, even in summer-time, the light depos

its of a stream not subject to the violent incursions of mountain torrents.

The Ouse has never been a highway of any importance; he cannot boast of a romantic population of bargees like the Thames, or his own tributary, the Cam, which brings him much mud and no less learning, let us hope, from Cambridge. Commerce does not trouble a river that has no commodity to send seawards, except such fruits of the earth as, in the present decay of English agriculture, we are more apt to receive from beyond the German Ocean than to transmit to our neighbors. As far up as Bedford there are locks, but above Bedford not only have we those sevenfold windings which rival Styx “nine times interfused,” but the river, in so much of his course a natural canal, deliberately places a well-considered impediment in the way of such as might be tempted to burden him with the vulgarities of trade, for when he elects to leave the slopes on one side or the other of his valley, and cross the meadows, he straightway breaks up into two, or even three, narrow and frequently shallow streams, and thus continuing for a mile or so, defies any but the smallest boats to travel on his current; whence it has happened that a river some two hundred and fifty miles long, running through fertile land in populous country, has only one town of any great importance on its banks. Buckingham, Bedford, Huntingdon, are, indeed, county towns, but the first of the three is little better than a village; Bedford owes its recent expansion, not to trade, but to John Harpur, the benefactor of its schools; Huntingdon is at most a couple of sizes bigger than Buckingham; even Ely, the largest of the Ouse towns before we reach the sea, was made by monks, not by merchants, and is indebted to its cathedral, not to its trade, for such fame as it enjoys. At King's Lynn alone does



[ocr errors]


commerce fairly lay her hand upon the able Venetia; they were held by the river, King's Lynn, from whence started faculty of those days to be good food so early as 1330 A.D., the first expedi- for consumptive persons. The villagers tion in search of the North Pole; it of Gayhurst have not long ceased to was conducted by one Nicholas, a Car- look for “Digby's hoddies.” melite Friar, who set out for the Arc- And Bunyan, too, is of the Ouse; was tic regions relying on his astrolabe, not the greater part of the "Pilgrim's and, so the chronicles of Lynn inform Progress" written in Bedford Gaol? us, was reckoned to have got there. There are records of his preaching at

Action and the Ouse are out of har- Olney and other places along the mony; from the time when Canute river. paused upon his waters to listen to the Legh Richmond, the well-known singing of the monks of Ely, his heroes writer of Evangelical stories, was rechave been men of religion rather than tor of Turvey for thirty years; in fact, of war. True, there is one notable ex- the theological attitude of the river ception; Oliver Cromwell was a son has always been in the Evangelical diof the Ouse, but a large part of him rection. There were monasteries near was in the traditions of his native his banks, but they did not flourish; stream. Oliver, the saint, had mused the religious houses at Bradwell, Tickfor many years among the meadows ford, Ravenstone, Lavendon, Turvey, between Huntingdon and Ely, before were already far gone in decay at the he became Oliver, the man of war; and Dissolution, and were never the the warrior was not content with beat- scale of the great Cistercian establishing the Scots in the field of Dunbar; ments of the north. It was the Evanhe set his heart no less on achieving a gelical element at Olney that brought controversial victory over the Presby- to the Ouse its inspired worshipper, terians at Edinburgh, where, indeed, who was to give the river such fame he was confronted with greater stub- as it might otherwise have missed. bornness.

Cowper's connection with the Ouse beIn the Wars of the Roses, Olney and gan at Huntingdon in 1765, and ended Emberton witnessed the return of the at Weston Underwood in 1795; for the King-maker, and the dispersion of the whole of those thirty years he never northern forces under Sir John Con- left its banks except for one visit of six yers and Robin of Redesdale; but these weeks to Hayley's home in Sussex, events have left no local record.

towards the end of the period. In the seventeenth century the rest- Olney in itself is not a particularly less Catesby had a house at Hardmead attractive little town; it can boast a in the hills, four miles from Olney; noble church, but there is little else in Gayhurst, the home of Sir Everard it to excite the attention of a visitor. Digby, a house well known to Cowper, It was not Olney, but Olney's curate, is not far off, and the young knight was that caused the place to be selected entangled in Catesby's madcap scheme as the poet's residence; but though by the agency of Father Garnett; Olney is not itself beautiful, the surwhence came local traditions of under- rounding country is very beautiful inground passages at Gayhurst, of Dig- deed, and the more romantic splendors by's hole, a secret way to the river. of the lakes have failed to inspire prose Sir Kenelm Digby also lived at Gay- or verse more delightful than the lethurst, and left a trace of himself in a ters and poems of William Cowper. breed of edible snails, which he im- The second Earl of Dartmouth marported for the benefit of the incompar

ried the heiress of one Sir Charles

« ZurückWeiter »