Edward Maitland.

By and by : an historical romance of the future (Volume 1) online

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going upwards, but horizontally, and shall
meet the air more rapidly, you had better let
me put some of these wrappers round you.
The tropical dress you brought from the ship
is hardly sufficient for this elevation."

And he opened a locker in the compart-
ment of the car, where they were together.

'' Dear me !" exclaimed the child, " I quite
forgot I had so little on. I escaped from my
berth in such haste, that I had no time to
think of shoes or stockings. See !" she
cried, half hysterically, thrusting out the
tiniest white foot from beneath the scanty

'' Well," said Criss, " so long as we can
keep you warm, we need not trouble our-
selves about being smart up here. The
angels are not particular about dress, and
besides they know how to make allowances
for poor mortals of earth, so that they will
not be affronted."

He saw that the poor child was disposed

264 BY AND BY.

to whimper over the scantiness of her attire ;
but the way he took it reHeved her vastly.

" I do think," she said, " that you must be
an angel. You don't laugh at me as any
other man would have done. Had it been
Frank, I should never have heard the last
of it."

"Well," said Criss, '' I do live a good deal
in the sky, so perhaps I am on the road to-
wards being one. Probably ' Frank' would
tell you that you do not require such a
course to convert you into one also. Is it
not so ?"

Nannie smiled and shook her head.

" Frank is my brother-in-law, and I suspect
he knows me too well to think anything of
the sort," she remarked.

'' I am glad," resumed Criss, " to find you
are not timid at travelling in this way. Have
you ever been aloft before ?"

" Oh no ! I should have been frightened
out of my senses had I known I was going
to do it ; but it all happened in such a hurry
that I forgot to be frightened. And — and —
somehow, you make one forget one's fears.

BY AND BY. 265

Why, I am not even frightened at finding
myself all alone up here with a perfect
stranger, and with only these few things on.
I can't think why it is."

Her artless ways and wondrous beauty de-
lighted Criss. He saw that she was yet
more child than woman, though, perhaps,
carrying on her childhood somewhat further
than usual into the domain of womanhood.
He divined in some degree the grounds of
her confidence, and he argued from it that
she had a true and genuine nature.

" No one ever thinks of being frightened
in heaven," he said ; '' and while here you
must be an angel in courage, as well as in
everything else, including a short allowance
of clothing."

''Not even of the other — the — the — gen-
tlemen angels ?" she asked, with an arch look
which broke into a smile, and spread like a
glory of sunshine over her whole face, till
Criss fairly gasped at the memory it re-called.
For she exactly resembled the bride-angel
of whose face he had caught a glimpse at the
supreme moment of her rapture.

266 BY AND BY.

"Why you are the exact image of an
angel," exclaimed Criss. *' No wonder you
take so naturally to heaven."

" And are you one, too ?" asked Nannie.

" Now that is a point I shall leave you to
determine by experience," said Criss. " But
I shall insist on your eating something now,
and then lying down and going to sleep.
The angels do not neglect those duties, I
assure you. So, after you have eaten some
of these dried fruits and biscuits, and drank
a glass of this liqueur, I shall expect you to
lie down on this couch, and sleep very
soundly as long as you can."

" And what becomes of you T she asked.

" Oh, I have another compartment on the
other side of this panel, which I occupy
sometimes. But for to-night I am going to
stay up overhead in the rigging, where I have
a little nest, and shall not be near enough to
disturb you."

And he proceeded to feed her with tender
assiduity, yet not so as to excite any sense of
strangeness or difference, and thereby throw
her back upon herself

BV AND BY. 267

Then he spread some furs for her on the
little couch, and bidding her be sure to call
him if she wanted anything, he took one of
her hands in one of his, and pressed his other
hand on her head, and seemed for a few
moments to be murmuring something, as
if in blessing or in prayer ; while his eyes
covered her with a grave and kindly glance,
w^hich allayed whatever still remained of
tremor at the novelty of her position.

" Do you think you will sleep well ?" he

" Oh, yes, soundly. But — but — " and her
look and voice v/andered, as if uncertain what
it was that she wished to say. " •

" I can guess what you were thinking
of," said Criss, softly. " You were wish-
ing for the accustomed kiss before going to

** Everybody who used to kiss me died long
ago," said Nannie. " But I was feeling as if
I should like to be ^2X^ good night to properly,
for once. Though I am sure I don't know
how you knew it."

Criss saw that a spell was working on her

268 BY AND BY.

to compel a deep sleep, and that to balk her
longing would break it. He wished her to
sleep during the swift passage through the
keen upper airs, by which he intended to
make for the land.

" Give me both your hands, and look
straight into my eyes,'' he said. " And now
tell me, Nannie (you see, I couldn't help
knowing your name, when all those people
called it out so loudly — it is the only name of
yours I know), tell me, do you trust me en-
tirely ?"

*' I suppose I must, as I can't help myself,"
she said, with a look half saucy and half

" Then, for being a good girl, and not
letting yourself be frightened, I give you
this kiss, by way of saying good night * pro-
perly,' and after it you must sleep soundly as
long as you can."

As he spoke, her head inclined towards
him, and he pressed a kiss upon her brow.
Then springing up into the rigging, he left
her to herself. After a short consultation
with his chart and his compass, and ascertain-

BY AND BY. 269

ing his position, he turned his lamp down-
wards, and glanced at his passenger, and was
delighted to see that she was in a profound


^^N OWING the resources within reach
of the shipwrecked folks, Criss did
not further trouble himself about
them. It only required tolerably
fine weather to save them from discomfort
during the few days it would take for aid to
reach them from the nearest port, and such
weather they were likely to have at that
season in those seas.

The scene of the catastrophe lay about
mid-way between the two continents ; so that
the distance he must traverse in order to
place Nannie in her sister's arms, was about
thirty degrees of east longitude, and forty-
five of north latitude. At his ordinary speed,
this would take him the best part of twenty-

BY AXD BY. 271

four hours ; but a pause might be necessar}-,
both for the purpose of ascertaining the pre-
cise situation of the place of his destination,
and to avoid arriving in the night. Besides,
Criss had never before carried a passenger of
feminine gender, and he had a vague notion
that all such were a kittle sort of cattle, and
likely to require things with which he was
altogether unprovided, and which were ob-
tainable only on land, and in civilised places.

So, observing that he was in the precise
latitude of the Orange River, and that this
was also the nearest point of the continent,
he determined to make strais^ht for the land,
where he would be within reach of anvthine
Nannie might require ; and then run north-
wards to Soudan, keeping between the fif-
teenth and twentieth parallels of longitude.

It was night again when he sighted the
coast, and saw the broad silver streak of the
great South African stream far below him.

Nannie had slept the whole day ; but now,
after a few uneasy movements, she woke, and
murmured some words, the meaning of which
he could not catch. Then, rememberino-

272 BY AND BY.

what had happened, she called to him, a little
querulously, he thought,

" Mr. Angel ! are you there ?'*

*' All right," returned Criss, descending to
her. ''What a nice long sleep you have

" Long ! Why, it isn't day yet. And oh,
I am so hungry 1"

'' You have a right to be," said Criss ; " for
you have slept all night and all day too, until
it is night again."

"And have we been travelling all the time?
Have you not been asleep too ?"

" Well, you have lost nothing by sleeping
so long," he said ; "for we have been tra-
r versing the monotonous ocean. But now, if
you are quite awake, and are not afraid to
look out, you will see one of the prettiest
sights in the world ; for you will see the earth
asleep, and the glimmer of lights on the land,
and the sheen of stars in the rivers, and the
outlines of hills, and railways, and planta-
tions. For we have reached Africa, in its
rich and populous districts of the South.
See yonder bright cluster of lights ; that is

BY AND BY. 273

the capital — the great city of Orange. To-
morrow we shall be going northwards, to-
wards your home ; but you must let me know
if you want anything likely to be got in
shops, before we go far in that direction, as
the white people don't extend all the way."

" Oh, yes, thank you. I shall like so much
to go shopping," cried Nannie ; '' but — but I
have no money !"

" That, I assure you, is of no consequence,"
said Criss, laughing. " The Ariel's pas-
sengers never feel the want of that. Why,
Nannie, what is wrong now ?" for she was
beginning to cry.

'' I can't go shopping like this," she said
piteously, looking at the rough wrapper with
which she was covered. " One always puts
on one's best things to go shopping in."

''Well," said Criss, ''that is a difficulty, cer-
tainly, as even with that elegant poncho on
you, the people would be sure to remark
something unusual. It would hardly do for
me to leave the Ariel in your charge, while
I went shopping for you. But if you really
dislike to go to your sister as you are, I will

VOL. I. 18

274 ^y A^D BY,

tell you what we can do. I will descend
nearly to the earth, over some town, and let
down a line with a message and some money,
and they will send up whatever we order,
without knowing anything at all about us."

" Oh, do ; that will be charming," cried
Nannie. " And even if the things don't fit,
I shall not look quite so foolish when I get
home. I can't bear to be laughed at."

So they journeyed slowly northwards, so
as not to be beyond a white town when
morning came, Nannie undertaking in the
meantime to make out a list of the things she

At first on looking down through the
apertute provided for that purpose, Nanny
declared that she could see nothing, and that
it made her quite giddy. Criss urged her to
persevere, saying she would soon get used to
it, and that she must practise now in order to
be his guide when they neared her home.
At the same time he let the Ariel approach
nearer to the earth.

Nanny was delighted when she found she
could look down without being giddy.

BY AND BY. 275

*' I see everything quite well."

"It shows," said Criss, "what a sedate
character yours must be, when you can so
easily get rid of giddiness."

*' They call me wild-cat, at home," she
said, " and declare that I shall never be any-
thing else than giddy. And it's quite true,
I assure you it is. Oh, I am such a wicked
creature. There's no mischief I wouldn't
do, when I am in the mind for it."

" But you can be equally good and kind
and nice, at other times, to balance it, I am

" I can do anyone a kindness, if I like
them. But I am not allowed to like any I
should like to like. My father is very strict
with me ; much more so than he was with
my sisters. He says I am different from
them in disposition, though we are not so
very unlike in other ways. If you heard my
sister speak, I am sure you would think it
was me."

" Is your sister fair, too ?"

" Yes, and the loveliest little creature in
the world. You will be sure to think me


276 BY AND BY.

ugly when you have seen her. But she is
not so little, after all, when you come to look
at her. Only there is something so delicate
and fairy-like about all her ways, that one
doesn't see how big she really is."

"And I suppose she is as happy as a wife
and mother, as you hope to be some day ?"

" Oh, Frank dotes on her ; more than she
deserves, I think ; for I don't see that she is
so much better than I am. Are you mar-
ried r

" No ; I consider myself but as a boy, yet.
The week after next will be my birthday,
when I shall come of age ; and I shall be at
home with my friends."

*' So you will be going away from us
almost directly after we arrive. I wish you
were not going to see my sister. You won't
think anything of. me then."

Morning broke while they were still chat-
tering, for being near Christmas time, it was
high summer in those latitudes, and soon the
flood of daylight enabled them to see every
detail of the country beneath and around
them, down to Its houses and gardens, and

BY AND BY. 277

tiny irrlgation-rllls, and patches of dark
woods ; and Nanny said she wished her
father had settled in that beautiful country,
among people of his own colour, instead of
in the hot, central parts. And then she ex-
claimed, —

" How surprised INIattie will be to see me !
She thought she had got rid of me for ever.
I wonder what father will do : whether he
will give up his plan of settling in America,
and stay at Yolo."

Criss suggested that it would probably
depend on the amount of loss he might have
had by the wreck.

" Oh," cried Nannie, '' I never thought of
that. He had everything he owned in the
world with him. And so had I, and — and

" And here she broke into an agony of

tears. Presently she resumed :

" I have lost all my nice clothes ; and
perhaps father won't be able to buy me
more ; and Mattie hates m.y taking hers.
She says they are too smart for me. Oh,
dear ! what shall I do ! I dread now going
back to her. Of course, we shan't be able

278 BY AND BY.

to get anything on the way fit to be seen in.
And now I think of it, it will be such fun to
arrive with only these things on. She must
let me have some of hers then. She will be
so mad. But I know what will reconcile her.
She likes beautiful men. When she sees
you, she will be reconciled."

And, full of this last notion, she decided
that she would not purchase anything on the

This character, so new to Criss, needed a
key, for which, just now, he had little leisure
to seek. But while he was at a loss to har-
monise her utterances, he was at no loss to
derive huge satisfaction from ^the contem-
plation of her wonderfully mobile and ex-
joressive face, through which every variation
of thought and mood showed itself in sun-
niest smiles, — a smile not restricted to the
region of the mouth, but which was equally
in her eyes and all over her face, — or a
petulant pout. Her intense and thorough
vitality produced perpetual motion in her
mind, and a corresponding activity in her

BY AND BY. 279

*' I never could have believed," she said to
Criss, ''that I could have kept still so long
in such a little place as this, without jumping
out. I believe it is only because the car
itself keeps always moving so fast, that I am
able to remain in it.'*

Certainly, the energy and vivacity of every
limb and feature did irresistibly indicate that
every inch of her was thoroughly alive, and
so Criss told her.

" Yes," she said, complacently, '' I am not
a log. My grandmother In Scotland used
always to call me a restless penn'orth."

Presently she said, —

*' How fond you must be of travelling In
the air. I am sure father never tried it, or
he would not call it wicked."

''Is that why he hesitated when I offered
to take you off the wreck ? I thought it was
merely bewilderment and alarm."

"It was partly all of them, I think," re-
turned Nannie. " He says it is presump-
tuous in man to traverse the skies like a bird,
as Providence never intended us to do so, or
it would have given us wings."

28o BY AND BY.

" Dear me !" said Criss. " Do such notions
prevail in Scotland, at this time of day ?"

*' Well, not generally, I believe ; but father
always keeps to ' the good old paths,' as he
calls them, and says he is one of ' the Rem-
nant,' — though what that is, I am sure I don't
know. And he hates to associate with peo-
ple who follow modern ways. I never knew
him make friends with anybody. He calls
himself one of the true old Highland stock, and
thinks no one good enough for him. Oh, he
is so proud, is my father. I believe it was
his pride, as much as his jealousy, that killed
my mother."

Criss did not care to draw the child out
respecting her father's faults of character^
though he felt not a little curious to learn the
circumstances which had combined to pro-
duce such a nature as hers. He was aware
that the o^reat burst of free thouo^ht with
which, about the beginning of the twentieth
century, Scotland had astonished the worlds
had left, as in England, a small section of its
people comparatively untouched. So he only
remarked, —

BY AND BY. 28 1

" With such views, it must have gone very-
much against the grain with your father to
leave his home and travel by railway and
electric ship."

*' Oh, no. Why ? Everybody has done
that for ever so long. It is only the air-
travelHnof he thinks wronor."

'' Ah, I understood you to say that he
holds it right to use only the bodily faculties
with which we are born, and not seek to im-
prove upon them."

*' Well," she said, evidently perplexed, '' I
suppose it is not being used to things that
often makes people think them presumptuous
and wrong."

" The earth looks as if it were dropping
away below us ! What makes it do that ?"

Nannie's exclamation was due to the
sudden and rapid ascent of the Ariel. For
the sun had risen high, and they were enter-
ing upon a region where it was necessary to
ascend in quest of cooler airs. Criss had de-
flected from his direct course in order to
obtain a view of that region so long a mystery

282 BY AND BY,

to the world, which extends from equatorial
Africa due south through the centre of the
continent, and contains, inextricably interlaced,
the sources of the three ereat rivers, the
Congo, the Zambesi, and the Nile, and of
the series of marshes which cover almost the
whole of Nigritia — a region now known as
the headquarters of the greatest of black civi-
lisations, and richest of all countries in vege-
table and mineral productions.

Nannie had told Criss at what hour on the
morrow she would prefer to arrive at her
sister's — it was the hour at which she would
be likely to find her alone — and there was
plenty of time to make the detour. So they
passed over the mountain ranges which
stretched far away to the east and west ; and
Criss pointed out to her the diverging streams
and told her of their ultimate destination,
and of the long impenetrable mystery of the
Nile, and of the famous traveller who, in ages
long past, had devoted himself to its dis-
covery, and to the abrogation of the dreadful
trade in human beings which had made that
fair region a very place of torment for millions

BY AND BY. 283

of people throughout hundreds of genera-

At length they reached a vast and busy-
tract, teeming with rivers and lakes, fields
and factories, railways and electro-ships, and
all the other signs which indicate the neigh-
bourhood of a great capital ; and then a large
and gorgeous city burst upon their view.

" That," said Criss, " is a city with the
name of Avhich you must be familiar. The
people of the country call it after a
countryman of yours — the traveller to whom
I was referring just now — and whom they
justly regard as their deliverer and bene-
factor, and who holds the first place in their
sacred calendar. For that is the city of St.
Livingstone r

''Dear me !" cried Nannie, " I never knew
he w^as a real man. My father says there
never were such people as the Saints, but
that their names and histories were invented
to suit some fancy."

" The same has been said of this one,"
replied Criss ; '' and the very name has been
adduced as a proof of the unreality of his

284 BY AND BY.

history. For mankind has always regarded
slojies with superstitious veneration, and from
the eadiest ages made them objects of wor-
ship. The Bible tells of Abraham and Jacob
and the Israelites paying respect to stones.
The ancient Greeks represented the earth as
re-peopled from stones thrown by Pyrrha and
Deucalion after the flood. The founder of
the Christian religion was called a corner-
stone, and the famous church of that denomi-
nation was said to be founded upon a stone,
for such was the signification of Peters
name. There was also the Caaba, the sacred
stone which symbolised the ancient worship
of Arabia. Not to tire you with too many
instances, the great German people ascribe
their rise to the Baron von Stein, or Stone,
who first drilled them and made them a
nation of soldiers, and able to withstand the
French. And now we find a living stone
the patron saint, deity almost, of all this
region of Africa. Yet there is good reason
to believe he was a real man ; as probably
were some of the others I have named."

BY AXD BY. 285

It was night when they passed the equator.
Criss was now steerlnor straio^ht for the moun-

o o

tain on which Nannie's relations dwelt, —
Atlantika — which reared its ten thousand
feet at a distance of some two hundred
miles south of the Bornouse capital on Lake
Tchad, the metropolis and centre of the
empire of Soudan, or Central Africa. A long
stretch of mountain, marsh and desert sepa-
rated the empire from the more southern
communities they had just left ; the principal
characteristic of the res^ion beinsf its vast
system of waters, which find their chief out-
let through the process of evaporation. The
continent here is divided mainly into two
great valleys. Through one runs the Nile,
which after forcing its way through the Libyan
desert, and depositing a kingdom on the
route, finds an exit into the Mediterranean.
The other, consisting of immense and nearly
level alluvial tracks, forms a series of vast
swamps, through which runs one continuous
stream, whose sources lie contiguous to those
of the Nile, and whose termination is in
Lake Tchad and the great marshy region

286 BY AND BY.

which there bounds the Sahara. Lookincr at
this region with the eyes of his guardian^
Avenil, Criss said to himself,

" What a country, if only it were properly
drained !"

Nannie was awake with the dawn, and
eagerly straining her eyes to catch sight of
the mountain. At first she insisted that
every hill she saw was Atlantika, so ex-
cited did the thought of her return make
her. But Criss trusted to his own reckon-
ino^s rather than to her reminiscences of
what, from that point of view, she had
never beheld, and therefore was unlikely to

Towards noon, Nannie's recognitions and
Criss's calculations shewed symptoms of re-
conciliation. The Ariel flew low as it passed
round the eastern side of the mountain to-
wards the northern slope where the settle-
ment lay. At length the Elephant Farm
appeared plainly but a little way off; with, to
Nannie's great surprise and disappointment,
the whole of her sister's family assembled on

BY AND BY. 287

the lawn, pointing upwards and gesticulating
as if on the watch for her.

"• Tell me," said Criss, '' is the garden
wired over, or can we descend into it ?"

Nannie asked Avhat he meant.

" At home," he said, '' we have to place
strong network fences of wire over any place
we wish to keep private from aeriallsts. If
your garden is fenced so, we cannot go down
into It."

Nannie declared that she had never heard
of such a thing In that country, and that she
believed balloonlno^ was not allowed or not
practised there.

" But look !" she exclaimed ; " they see us
and expect us, and I wanted to surprise

A few moments more, and the car touched
the ground in the midst of the excited party,
and Nannie, stepping out of it, was embraced
by one, who to Criss seemed another Nannie,
only a little older and fuller In figure, so
strong was the likeness between the two
sisters. There was the same wealth of
golden hair, the same broad fair brow, the

288 BY AND BY.

same quick and laughing grey-blue eyes, the
same vivacity of glance, the same exquisitely
formed mouth and chin, and clever little nose,
the same determined little thumb, lithe figure,

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