head would split."
Carthew burst into his foolish laugh. "And yet
neither you nor I had the worst of the puzzle," he cried.
" There were others deeper in."
" And who were they ? " I asked.
" The underwriters," said he.
"Why, to be sure," cried I. "I never thought of
that. What could they make of it ? "
"Nothing," replied Carthew. "It couldn't be ex-
plained. They were a crowd of small dealers at Lloyd's
who took it up in syndicate ; one of them has a carriage
now ; and people say he is a deuce of a deep fellow, and
has the makings of a great financier. Another furnished
a small villa on the profits. But they're all hopelessly
muddled; and when they meet each other, they don't
know where to look, like the Augurs."
Dinner was no sooner at an end, than he carried me
across the road to Masson's old studio. It was strangely
changed. On the walls were tapestry, a few good etch-
ings, and some amazing pictures a Kousseau, a Corot,
a really superb old Crome, a Whistler, and a piece which
my host claimed (and I believe) to be a Titian. The
room was furnished with comfortable English smoking-
room chairs, some American rockers, and an elaborate
business table; spirits and soda-water (with the mark
of Schweppe, no less) stood ready on a butler's tray,
and in one corner, behind a half-drawn curtain, I spied
FACE TO FACE. 431
a camp-bed and a capacious tub. Such a room in Bar-
bizon astonished the beholder, like the glories of the
cave of Monte Cristo.
"Now," said he, "we are quiet. Sit down, if you
don't mind, and tell me your story all through."
I did as he asked, beginning with the day when Jim
showed me the passage in the Daily Occidental, and
winding up with the stamp album and the Chailly post-
mark. It was a long business; and Carthew made it
longer, for he was insatiable of details; and it had
struck midnight on the old eight-day clock in the corner,
before I had made an end.
" And now," said he, " turn about : I must tell you my
side, much as I hate it. Mine is a beastly story. You'll
wonder how I can sleep. I've told it once before, Mr.
" To Lady Ann ? " I asked.
"As you suppose," he answered; "and to say the
truth, I had sworn never to tell it again. Only, yon
seem somehow entitled to the thing ; you have paid dear
enough, God knows ; and God knows I hope you may
like it, now you've got it ! "
With that he began his yarn. A new day had dawned,
the cocks crew in the village and the early woodmen
were afoot, when he concluded.
432 THE WRECKER.
THE REMITTANCE MAN.
Singleton Carthew, the father of Norris, was heavily
built and feebly vitalised, sensitive as a musician, dull
as a sheep, and conscientious as a dog. He took his
position with seriousness, even with pomp; the long
rooms, the silent servants, seemed in his eyes like the
observances of some religion of which he was the mortal
god. He had the stupid man's intolerance of stupidity
in others ; the vain man's exquisite alarm lest it should
be detected in himself. And on both sides Norris irri-
tated and offended him. He thought his sou a fool, and
he suspected that his son returned the compliment with
interest. The history of their relation was simple ; they
met seldom, they quarrelled often. To his mother, a
fiery, pungent, practical woman, already disappointed in
her husband and her elder son, Norris was only a fresh
Yet the lad's faults were no great matter; he was
diffident, placable, passive, unambitious, unenterprising;
life did not much attract him ; he watched it like a curi-
ous and dull exhibition, not much amused, and not
tempted in the least to take a part. He beheld his
father ponderously grinding sand, his mother fierily
breaking butterflies, his brother labouring at the pleas-
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 433
ures of the Hawbuck with the ardour of a soldier in a
doubtful battle ; and the vital sceptic looked on wonder-
ing. They were careful and troubled about many things ;
for him there seemed not even one thing needful. Ht-
was born disenchanted, the world's promises awoke no
echo in his bosom, the world's activities and the world's
distinctions seemed to him equally without a base in
fact. He liked the open air; he liked comradeship, it
mattered not with whom, his comrades were only a
remedy for solitude. And he had a taste for painted art.
An array of fine pictures looked upon his childhood and
from these roods of jewelled canvas he received an in-
delible impression. The gallery at Stallbridge betokened
generations of picture lovers ; Norris was perhaps the
first of his race to hold the pencil. The taste was genu-
ine, it grew and strengthened with his growth ; and yet
he suffered it to be suppressed with scarce a struggle.
Time came for him to go to Oxford, and he resisted
faintly. He was stupid, he said ; it was no good to put
him through the mill ; he wished to be a painter. The
words fell on his father like a thunderbolt, and Norris
made haste to give way. " It didn't really matter, don't
you know ? " said he. " And it seemed an awful shame
to vex the old boy."
To Oxford he went obediently, hopelessly; and at
Oxford became the hero of a certain circle. He was
active and adroit ; when he was in the humour, he ex-
celled in many sports; and his singular melancholy
434 THE WRECKER.
detachment gave Mm a place apart. He set a fashion
in his clique ; envious undergraduates sought to parody
his unaffected lack of zeal and fear; it was a kind of
new Byronism more composed and dignified. " Nothing
really mattered " ; among other things, this formula
embraced the dons ; and though he always meant to be
civil, the effect on the college authorities was one of
startling rudeness. His indifference cut like insolence ;
and in some outbreak of his constitutional levity (the
complement of his melancholy) he was " sent down " in
the middle of the second year.
The event was new in the annals of the Carthews, and
Singleton was prepared to make the most of it. It had
been long his practice to prophesy for his second son
a career of ruin and disgrace. There is an advantage
in this artless parental habit. Doubtless the father is
interested in his son; but doubtless also the prophet
grows to be interested in his prophecies. If the one
goes wrong, the others come true. Old Carthew drew
from this source esoteric consolations ; he dwelt at
length on his own foresight ; he produced variations
hitherto unheard from the old theme "I told you so,"
coupled his son's name with the gallows and the hulks,
and spoke of his small handful of college debts as though
he must raise money on a mortgage to discharge them.
"I don't think that is fair, sir," said Norris. "I lived
at college exactly as you told me. I am sorry I was
sent down, and you have a perfect right to blame me for
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 435
that; but you have no right to pitch into me about
The effect upon a stupid man not unjustly incensed
need scarcely be described. For a while Singleton
" I'll tell you what, father," said Norris at last, " I
don't think this is going to do. I think you had better
let me take to painting. It's the only thing I take a
spark of interest in. I shall never be steady as long as
I'm at anything else."
" When you stand here, sir, to the neck in disgrace,"
said the father, " I should have hoped you would have
had more good taste than to repeat this levity."
The hint was taken; the levity was nevermore ob-
truded on the father's notice, and Norris was inexorably
launched upon a backward voyage. He went abroad to
study foreign languages, which he learned, at a very
expensive rate ; and a fresh crop of debts fell soon to be
paid, with similar lamentations, which were in this case
perfectly justified, and to which Norris paid no regard.
He had been unfairly treated over the Oxford affair;
and with a spice of malice very surprising in one so
placable, and an obstinacy remarkable in one so weak,
refused from that day forward to exercise the least
captaincy on his expenses. He wasted what he would ;
he allowed his servants to despoil him at their pleasure ;
he sowed insolvency ; and when the crop was ripe, noti-
fied his father with exasperating calm. His own capital
436 THE WKECKBB.
was put in his hands, he was planted in the diplomatic
service and told he must depend upon himself.
He did so till he was twenty-five ; by which time he
had spent his money, laid in a handsome choice of
debts, and acquired (like so many other melancholic and
uninterested persons) a habit of gambling. An Austrian
colone the same who afterwards hanged himself at
Monte Carlo gave him a lesson which lasted two-and-
twenty hours, and left him wrecked and helpless. Old
Singleton once more repurchased the honour of his name,
this time at a fancy figure; and Norris was set afloat
again on stern conditions. An allowance of three hun-
dred pounds in the year was to be paid to him quarterly
by a lawyer in Sydney, New South Wales. He was not
to write. Should he fail on any quarter-day to be in
Sydney, he was to be held for dead and the allowance
tacitly withdrawn. Should he return to Europe, an
advertisement publicly disowning him was to appear ir*
every paper of repute.
It was one of his most annoying features as a son,
that he was always polite, always just, and in whateve*
whirlwind of domestic anger, always calm. He expected
trouble ; when trouble came, he was unmoved : he might
have said with Singleton " I told you so "; he was con-
tent with thinking "just as I expected." On the fall
of these last thunderbolts, he bore himself like a per-
son only distantly interested in the event; pocketed
the money and the reproaches, obeyed orders punctu'
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 437
ally; took ship and came to Sydney. Some men are
still lads at twenty-five; and so it was with Norris.
Eighteen days after he landed, his quarter's allowance
was all gone; and with the light-hearted hopefulness
of strangers in what is called a new country, he began
to besiege offices and apply for all manner of incon-
gruous situations. Everywhere, and last of all from
his lodgings, he was bowed out ; and found himself re-
duced, in a very elegant suit of summer tweeds, to herd
and camp with the degraded outcasts of the city.
In this strait, he had recourse to the lawyer who paid
him his allowance.
" Try to remember that my time is valuable, Mr. Car-
thew," said the lawyer. "It is quite unnecessary you
should enlarge on the peculiar position in which you
stand. Remittance men, as we call them here, are not so
rare in my experience ; and in such cases I act upon a
system. I make you a present of a sovereign; here
it is. Every day you choose to call, my clerk will ad-
vance you a shilling; on Saturday, since my office is
closed on Sunday, he will advance you half a crown.
My conditions are these : that you do not come to me,
but to my clerk ; that you do not come here the worse
of liquor; and you go away the moment you are paid
and have signed a receipt. I wish you a good-morning."
"I have to thank you, I suppose," said Carthew.
" My position is so wretched that I cannot even refuse
this starvation allowance."
438 THE WRECKER.
"Starvation ! " said the lawyer, smiling. " No man will
starve here on a shilling a day. I have had on my hands
another young gentleman, who remained continuously
intoxicated for six years on the same allowance." And
he once more busied himself with his papers.
In the time that followed, the image of the smiling
lawyer haunted Carthew's memory. "That three min-
utes' talk was all the education I ever had worth talking
of," says he. " It was all life in a nut-shell. Confound
it ! I thought, have I got to the point of envying that
ancient fossil ? "
Every morning for the next two or three weeks, the
stroke of ten found Norris, unkempt and haggard, at the
lawyer's door. The long day and longer night he spent
in the Domain, now on a bench, now on the grass under
a Norfolk Island pine, the companion of perhaps the
lowest class on earth, the Larrikins of Sydney. Morning
after morning, the dawn behind the lighthouse recalled
him from slumber; and he would stand and gaze upon
the changing east, the fading lenses, the smokeless city,
and the many-armed aizd many-masted harbour growing
slowly clear under his eyes. His bed-fellows (so to call
them) were less active; they lay sprawled upon the
grass and benches, the dingy men, the frowsy women,
prolonging their late repose ; and Carthew wandered
among the sleeping bodies alone, and cursed the incura-
ble stupidity of his behaviour. Day brought a new so-
ciety of nursery-maids and children, and fresh-dressed
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 439
and (I am sorry to say) tight-laced maidens, and gay
people in rich traps ; upon the skirts of which Carthew
and "the other blackguards" his own bitter phrase
skulked, and chewed grass, and looked on. Day passed,
the light died, the green and leafy precinct sparkled
with lamps or lay in shadow, and the round of the night
began again, the loitering women, the lurking men, the
sudden outburst of screams, the sound of flying feet.
"You mayn't believe it," says Carthew, "but I got to
that pitch that I didn't care a hang. I have been wak-
ened out of my sleep to hear a woman screaming, and I
have only turned upon my other side. Yes, it's a queer
place, where the dowagers and the kids walk all day,
and at night you can hear people bawling for help as if it
was the Forest of Bondy, with the lights of a great town
all round, and parties spinning through in cabs from
Government House and dinner with my lord ! "
It was Norris's diversion, having none other, to scrape
acquaintance, where, how, and with whom he could.
Many a long dull talk he held upon the benches or the
grass; many a strange waif he came to know; many
strange things he heard, and saw some that were abomi-
nable. It was to one of these last that he owed his
deliverance from the Domain. For some time the rain
had been merciless; one night after another he had
been obliged to squander fourpence on a bed and reduce
his board to the remaining eightpence: and he sat one
morning near the Macquarrie Street entrance, hungry,
440 THE WRECKER.
for he had gone without breakfast, and wet, as he had
already been for several days, when the cries of an
animal in distress attracted his attention. Some fifty
yards away, in the extreme angle of the grass, a party
of the chronically unemployed had got hold of a dog,
whom they were torturing in a manner not to be de-
scribed. The heart of Norris, which had grown indif-
ferent to the cries of human anger or distress, woke at
the appeal of the dumb creature. He ran amongst the
Larrikins, scattered them, rescued the dog, and stood at
bay. They were six in number, shambling gallowsbirds ;
but for once the proverb was right, cruelty was coupled
with cowardice, and the wretches cursed him and made
off. It chanced this act of prowess had not passed
unwitnessed. On a bench near by there was seated a
shopkeeper's assistant out of employ, a diminutive,
cheerful, red-headed creature by the name of Hemstead.
He was the last man to have interfered himself, for his
discretion more than equalled his valour ; but he made
haste to congratulate Carthew, and to warn him he
might not always be so fortunate.
" They're a dyngerous lot of people about this park.
My word ! it doesn't do to ply with them ! " he observed,
in that rycy Austrylian English, which (as it has re-
ceived the imprimatur of Mr. Froude) we should all
make haste to imitate.
"Why, I'm one of that lot myself," returned
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 441
Hemstead laughed and remarked that he knew a gen-
tleman when he saw one.
" For all that, I am simply one of the unemployed,"
said Carthew, seating himself beside his new acquaint-
ance, as he had sat (since this experience began) beside
so many dozen others.
" I'm out of a plyce myself," said Hemstead.
"You beat me all the way and back," says Cartfcew.
"My trouble is that I have never been in one."
" I suppose you've no tryde ? " asked Hemstead.
" I know how to spend money," replied Carthew, " and
I really do know something of horses and something of
the sea. But the unions head me off ; if it weren't for
them, I might have had a dozen berths."
"My word!" cried the sympathetic listener. "Ever
try the mounted police ? " he inquired.
" I did, and was bowled out," was the reply ; " couldn't
pass the doctors."
"Well, what do you think of the ryleways, then?"
" What do you think of them, if you come to that ? "
" 0, I don't think of them ; I don't go in for manual
labour," said the little man, proudly. "But if a man
don't mind that, he's pretty sure of a job there."
" By George, you tell me where to go ! " cried Carthew,
The heavy rains continued, the country was already
442 THE WRECKER.
overrun with floods ; the railway system daily required
more hands, daily the superintendent advertised; but
"the unemployed" preferred the resources of charity
and rapine, and a navvy, even an amateur navvy, com-
manded money in the market. The same night, after
a tedious journey, and a change of trains to pass a land-
slip, Norris found himself in a muddy cutting behind
South Clifton, attacking his first shift of manual labour.
For weeks the rain scarce relented. The whole front
of the mountain slipped seaward from above, avalanches
of clay, rock, and uprooted forest spewed over the cliffs
and fell upon the beach or in the breakers. Houses
were carried bodily away and smashed like nuts ; others
were menaced and deserted, the door locked, the chimney
cold, the dwellers fled elsewhere for safety. Night and
day the fire blazed in the encampment; night and day
hot coffee was served to the overdriven toilers in the
shift ; night and day the engineer of the section made
his round with words of encouragement, hearty and
rough and well suited to his men. Night and day, too,
the telegraph clicked with disastrous news and anxious
inquiry. Along the terraced line of rail, rare trains came
creeping and signalling; and paused at the threatened
corner, like living things conscious of peril. The com-
mandant of the post would hastily review his labours,
make (with a dry throat) the signal to advance ; and the
whole squad line the way and look on in a choking
silence, or burst into a brief cheer as the train cleared
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 448
the point of danger and shot on, perhaps through the
thin sunshine between squalls, perhaps with blinking
lamps into the gathering, rainy twilight.
One such scene Carthew will remember till he dies.
It blew great guns from the seaward ; a huge surf bom-
barded, five hundred feet below him, the steep moun-
tain's foot ; close in was a vessel in distress, firing shots
from a fowling-piece, if any help might come. So he
saw and heard her the moment before the train appeared
and paused, throwing up a Babylonian tower of smoke
into the rain and oppressing men's hearts with the
scream of her whistle. The engineer was there himself ;
he paled as he made the signal : the engine came at a
foot's pace ; but the whole bulk of mountain shook and
seemed to nod seaward, and the watching navvies in-
stinctively clutched at shrubs and trees : vain precau-
cautions, vain as the shots from the poor sailors. Once
again fear was disappointed ; the train passed unscathed ;
and Norris, drawing a long breath, remembered the
labouring ship and glanced below. She was gone.
So the days and the nights passed: Homeric labour
in Homeric circumstance. Carthew was sick with sleep-
lessness and coffee ; his hands, softened by the wet, were
cut to ribbons; yet he enjoyed a peace of mind and
health of body hitherto unknown. Plenty of open air,
plenty of physical exertion, a continual instancy of toil,
here was what had been hitherto lacking in that mis-
directed life, and the true cure of vital scepticism. To
444 THE WRECKER.
get the train through : there was the recurrent problem ;
no time remained to ask if it were necessary. Carthew,
the idler, the spendthrift, the drifting dilettant, was
soon remarked, praised, and advanced. The engineer
swore by him and pointed him out for an example.
" I've a new chum, up here," Norris overheard him say-
ing, " a young swell. He's worth any two in the squad."
The words fell on the ears of the discarded son like
music ; and from that moment, he not only found an
interest, he took a pride, in his plebeian tasks.
The press of work was still at its highest when quar-
ter-day approached. Norris was now raised to a position
of some trust ; at his discretion, trains were stopped or
forwarded at the dangerous cornice near North Clifton ;
and he found in this responsibility both terror and
delight. The thought of the seventy-five pounds that
would soon await him at the lawyer's, and of his own
obligation to be present every quarter-day in Sydney,
filled him for a little with divided councils. Then he
made up his mind, walked in a slack moment to the inn
at Clifton, ordered a sheet of paper and a bottle of beer,
and wrote, explaining that he held a good appointment
which he would lose if he came to Sydney, and asking
the lawyer to accept this letter as an evidence of his
presence in the colony and retain the money till next
quarter-day. The answer came in course of post, and
was not merely favourable but cordial. "Although
what you propose is contrary to the terms of my in-
THE KEMITTANCB MAN. 445
structions," it ran, "I willingly accept the responsi-
bility of granting your request. I should say I am
agreeably disappointed in your behaviour. My experi-
ence has not led me to found much expectations on
gentlemen in your position."
The rains abated, and the temporary labour was dis-
charged ; not Norris, to whom the engineer clung as to
found money ; not Norris, who found himself a ganger
on the line in the regular staff of navvies. His camp
was pitched in a grey wilderness of rock and forest, far
from any house; as he sat with his mates about the
evening fire, the trains passing on the track were their
next and indeed their only neighbours, except the wild
things of the wood. Lovely weather, light and monoto-
nous employment, long hours of somnolent camp-fire
talk, long sleepless nights, when he reviewed his foolish
and fruitless career as he rose and walked in the moonlit
forest, an occasional paper of which he would read all,
the advertisements with as much relish as the text:
such was the tenor of an existence which soon began to
weary and harass him. He lacked and regretted the
fatigue, the furious hurry, the suspense, the fires, the
midnight coffee, the rude and mud-bespattered poetry of
the first toilful weeks. In the quietness of his new
surroundings, a voice summoned him from this exorbital
part of life, and about the middle of October he threw
up his situation and bade farewell to the camp of tenU
and the shoulder of Bald Mountain.
446 THE WRECKER.
Clad in his rough clothes, with a bundle on his shoul-
der and his accumulated wages in his pocket, he entered
Sydney for the second time, and walked with pleasure
and some bewilderment in the cheerful streets, like a
man landed from a voyage. The sight of the people
led him on. He forgot his necessary errands, he for-
got to eat. He wandered in moving multitudes like a
stick upon a river. Last he came to the Domain and
strolled there, and remembered his shame and suffer-
ings, and looked with poignant curiosity at his suc-
cessors. Hemstead, not much shabbier and no less
cheerful than before, he recognised and addressed like
an old family friend.
"That was a good turn you did me," said he. "That
railway was the making of me. I hope you've had luck
" My word, no ! " replied the little man. " I just sit
here and read the Dead Bird. It's the depression in
tryde, you see. There's no positions goin' that a man
like me would care to look at." And he showed Norris
his certificates and written characters, one from a grocer
in Woolooinooloo, one from an ironmonger, and a third
from a billiard saloon. " Yes," he said, " I tried bein'
a billiard marker. It's no account ; these lyte hours are
no use for a man's health. I won't be no man's sly ve, v '
he added firmly.
On the principle that he who is too proud to be a slave
is usually not too modest to become a pensioner, Carthew
THE REMITTANCE MAN. 447
gave him half a sovereign, and departed, being suddenly
struck with hunger, in the direction of the Paris House.