Edward Maitland.

By and by : an historical romance of the future (Volume 2) online

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I20 BY AND BY,

settlement could be deserted altogether ; and
even If no one were present when the mes-
sage arrived, it would record itself, and be
leo^ible to the first comer. As for the Sum-
mit telegraphs, they are constructed to call
attention by exploding a signal. In both
messages Criss requested that a beacon might
be fired on the top of the mountain towards
midnight, when they might look out for him.
But he received no ackowledgment in re-
turn.




CHAPTER YI.

VEN amid the dangers of the Insur-
rection, Nannie, with her wonted
wilfulness, refused to regulate her
conduct by that of the rest of the
o-Irls of the settlement. She lauo^hed at their
fears, refused to believe in the approach of
any enemy, and declared that she would jus-
tify her nickname of Wildcat, by remaining
in her home after everybody else had deserted
it. The body of settlers were already on their
march up the mountain when her absence
was observed by some of the neighbours.

"Where's Nannie?" they asked of her
brother-in-law.

** She prefers to stay at home, for once."
" But surely some one had better go back
for her ?"



122 BY AND BY.

" Not if you want her to come," was his
response. " Nannie has a way of pleasing^
herself Our best chance is to let her alone."

They appealed to her sister, who with
looks the reverse of cheerful, was riding in a
covered waggon with her children.

The only answer they got from her was, —

" Nannie knows what she is about. It is
pleasanter there than here, and I dare say
quite as safe."

The neighbours looked at each other sig-
nificantly, and said no more. As Nannie's
relations did not show concern, it was not for
others to do so. So they held on their way,
none of the young men venturing to volunteer
on a quest of such doubtful acceptance. Be-
sides, there was a general conviction that
Nannie would follow them when she got tired
of being by herself

The night and the day passed without mo-
lestation, and the party had leisure to occupy
and fortify a strong position high up on the
mountain side, whence they could with their
glasses descry the railroad from the capital,
and any military demonstration that might
approach from that quarter. Fortunately it



BY AND BY. 123

was not the season for rains ; and the fear of
animals being less than the fear of the enemy,
the camp fires Avere early extinguished.

So things went until towards midnight on
the day after their arrival, and no Nannie had
made an appearance. Then came an alarm.
A bright glare lit up the mountain-top, yet a
considerable distance above them, and, by
reason of precipitous cliffs, inaccessible on that
side. While they were wondering what the
light could mean, screams were heard ; then
a succession of shots ; and presently all was
quiet, and the glare died away. Some of the
party had fancied they had heard a shot or
an explosion in the earlier part of the evening.
Conjectures were active for a time, but no
attack or demonstration followed, and the
alarm was not renewed. Only Nannie's sis-
ter had, with blanched cheek, whispered to
her husband, —

" I am certain that was Nannie's voice."

The alarm of the night was forgotten in
the excitement of the morning, when train
after train appeared moving up towards the
station at the foot of the mountain, and bands



124 BY AND BY.

of soldiers disembarked from them, and
formed into lines with the manifest purpose
of ascending the slope. This was the signal
for removing the women and children to a yet
greater height, so that they might be out of
the reach of injury by the expected assault.
These had not been long up there, before they
sent word down to say that they had dis-
covered the cause of last night's alarm ; for
they had found the telegraph station on the
summit burnt down, and the bodies of three
negroes killed either by lightning or by gun
shots.

Strange to say, the enemy, instead of ad-
vancing, made a long halt in their ranks at
the foot of the hill station. Then, breaking
into groups, they appeared by their vehement
gesticulations, to be engaged in hot contro-
versy together. Presently, to the still greater
astonishment of the settlers, they set to work
deliberately to prepare a meal.

While the fugitives were marvelling what
the delay and apparent change of purpose
meant, an aeromotive hove in sight, coming
straight from the capital towards the moun-
tain. Their best glasses failed to make out



BY AND BY.



125



its character or occupants. Arrived directl)-
over the insurgent camp, but considerably
below the position held by the planters,
the car stopped, and a conversation took
place, which manifestly roused the interest of
the troops to the utmost pitch. On its ter-
mination, the whole force broke into rounds
of ringing cheers, and ver)' explosions of
shouts. The car then proceeded on its
course, and approached the party on the
mountain with the evident intention of join-



ing It.



^^3u><^



CHAPTER VII.

ANNIE did not herself comprehend
the feeling which made her remain
in the settlement when every one
else fled from it ; but Nannie was
one whose fancies were to her as inspirations,
and who, when she had a fancy, felt that she
must give way to it, or else go beside herself.
" It must be so, because I think it."
'* I know it is true, because I dreamt it."
These were her usual formulae. Talk to
her of being reasonable, and her lovely
mouth would curl with ineffable disdain, as
she exclaimed, —

*' Reasonable ! a woman's business is to
feel, not reason."

With this creed she was born, and in it she
had grown up, refusing all culture of mind,



BY AND BY. 127

all discipline of habit ; yet in native quickness !
of perception so far surpassing all around
her as often to justify the contempt she
openly expressed for their inferiority and
slowness.

'' Logs ! They are all logs compared to
me/' she would exclaim when any othe
woman was mentioned as capable of doin
anything whatever. And her bright eye
would flash, and her bright hair cristle, an
every dainty limb quiver with excitement, as
she asserted the thoroughness of her owit
womanhood, to the despite of every example^
that could be quoted in comparison with her. J

Her outward resemblance to her sister was
very great, but in character Nannie was the
less self-considering of the two. Her sister
was not incapable of being selfish by inten-
tion. Nannie was never selfish, except
through the impetuous heedlessness which
was apt to cause as much annoyance and
distress to others as if she had intended to
hurt them. All heart as she was, and was
proud of knowing herself to be, she was not
the less likely to be the cause of unhappiness
to herself and those she loved, than if her



128 BY AND BY.

heart had been under the dominion of a head^
and that head proportioned in a way to shock
all phrenological proprieties.

After the evacuation of the settlement^
Nannie roamed about prying into the neigh-
bouring houses and gardens, fondling the
deserted and wondering animals, and not
hesitating to break a window and force an
entry wherever she espied a cat or a bird
gazing wistfully on the unwonted solitude.
More than one tame elephant and other huge
beast acknowledged her as their deliverer.
Loading herself with provisions suited to
their various tastes, she went through the
avenues followed by a crowd of animals,
whom she petted and teased by turns. Thus
the time passed, until the second evening ap-
proached, and she began to tire of their sole
companionship. So, finding herself back at
her home, she took refuge in the telegraph
office, a place she was always longing to ex-
plore, principally because her brother-in-law,
dreading her reckless inquisitiveness, had
strictly forbidden her to enter it.

Here at length, after committing various



BY AND BY. 129

antics with the instruments by way of experi-
ment, being completely tired out, she fell fast
asleep on a rocking-chair, close alongside the
signal tell-tale, and was soon far awa}' in the
world of dreams, a world that with her pos-
sessed a reality even more vivid than the
world of her wakinof hours.

Nannie had ever been a wild dreamer, and
there was a perfect consistency between her
dreaming and her waking characters ; for, as
when awake her fancies would ever insist on
being transmuted into facts, so, when asleep
her visions revealed themselves in move-
ments and utterances. In short, she was
addicted to talking and walking in her sleep ;
and this througrh no morbid affection or
cerebral disturbance, but solely through her
being so intensely alive in ever}.^ atom of her
composition, that it was scarcely possible for
the whole of her to be asleep at once. She
suggested the notion of one of those zoophy-
tic creatures, each piece of which, on its
being cut up, becomes a living and entire
animal.

Since her adventure at sea and rescue by
Criss, she had become conscious of some

VOL. II. 9



I30 BY AND BY.

change In her moods, both waking and sleep-
ing. There were even moments when she
felt her wildness vanish almost entirely away ;
and she soon discovered that these unwonted
accessions of docility were contemporaneous
with her reminiscences of Criss. Sometimes
her sister caught her still and thinking for a
minute or two together, ' and on twitting her
with her seriousness, Nannie would colour
and exclaim, —

" Oh, I daresay he is a log, like the rest
I hate logs."

But who the he was, she did not reveal.

On the present occasion, Nannie was
dreaming of her voyage through the air, and
of the dark-skinned, bright-eyed young man
who sat aloft in the rigging, leaving her the
comfortable car all to herself, and patiently
answered all her questions, and listened to
her fitful discourse. Then she dreamt of
herself crying wildly in the garden on his
departure, and declaring that he must be a
log, or he wouldn't have gone away at all ;
and then of her rage with herself for seeming
to care, when in reality she did not care a
bit, and only cried, — she did not know why ;



BY AND BY, 131

she supposed the tears came of themselves ;
she did not want them to come. And then,
red and white with mingled emotions, she
started from her sleep, crying out, —

" Yes I yes ! What is it ? I am coming !
Quick ! quick !"

For the magnetic alarum beside her was
sounding its sharp appeal, in token that a
message had just inscribed itself upon the
recording tablet.

Nannie was soon wide enough awake to
remember where she was, and to euess what
had happened. Darting eagerly towards the
tablet, she found herself gasping for breath
as she saw Criss's name, and then read his
message from the desert well.

" Oh, those stupid, stupid people ; to all go
away and leave no one to mind the mes-
sages," she exclaimed. '' Criss, dear, good,
stupid Criss, coming to help us, and he will
go floundering about in the dark, looking for
the mountain ; and there is no one to light
the beacon, or send his message on to the
summit station. How I wish I had learnt to
use the thing. All the other girls here
know it. Why did they let me grow up so

9—2



132 BY AND BY.

ignorant ? I don't seem to have ever been
taught anything."

And here she stopped In her tirade, and
coloured violently, for she remembered that
it was solely her own fault in always persis-
tently refusing instruction.

Then seizing the wire which communicated
with the summit, she applied the magnetic
battery to It ; but in trying to use the instru-
ment, she puzzled In vain over the letters
necessary to Indicate the message. Then she
cried with vexation, for she thought the
settlers might already be on the top of the
mountain, and it only needed that she should
send on the message for them to fire the
beacon for Criss's guidance. Her next thought
was, that perhaps they would not go so high
up, and that the message would be of no use,
even if It got there, through the absence of
some one to receive and act upon it.

This last reflection quite overcame her
patience ; and seizing the battery and the
wires, she dashed them vehemently down, as
stupid, useless creatures. Nannie did not
know that though she could not transmit the



BY AND BY. 133

message, she had exploded the message-signal
on the summit.

Then sinking into the chair in which she
had lately been sleeping, she meditated.

" I'll do it myself," she cried, starting up
with a determined air. " I'll outwit them
yet :"

She had not employed precisely the phrase
■that expressed her meaning ; but it was
natural to Nannie to inveigh against cir-
cumstances as if they were persons, and
evilly disposed towards her.

Another hour saw Nannie, laden with
matches and combustibles, resolutely trudg-
ing up the mountain, by a path with which
she was well acquainted, but which lay at a
distance from that taken by the fugitives. It
was quite dark, and she knew it would take
her two or three hours to reach the top ; but
the thought of being useful to Criss sustained
her, and she did not doubt of accomplishing
her purpose by the time he had specified in
his message. She was animated, too, by a
sense of triumph over those who would have
induced her to leave the settlement with



134 BY AND BY.

them, and of the now proved superiority of
her instinct to their reason.

Much of the track by which she had to
travel, was rough with sharp stones, and
tangled with creeping plants — impediments
she had never discovered in her daylight
journeys — and Nannie, in her eagerness to
get on her way, had neglected to provide
herself with shoes fitted for such work. By
the time she reached the summit station, her
little feet were bleeding from many a cut,
her clothes torn, and her body bruised with
many a heavy tumble ; but her big heart
never faltered, or let her fears prompt her
to turn back, or even to join the fugitives,
whom she perceived to be encamped at no
great distance on another part of the moun-
tain.

The station was in a little wooden hut^
known as the chapel, from having been built
several generations back by the missionaries,
who had been instrumental in converting that
country from Islamism to Christianity, partly
for devotional purposes, and pardy to shelter
persons caught in the storms, which at that



BY AND BY. 135

elevation are wont to be of tremendous vio-
lence. It was of dry pine, and highly in-
flammable, as Nanny happened to know
through the fierceness with which it had
burnt, and the difficulty with which it had
been saved, when accidentally set on fire once
by a pic-nic party, at which she had been
present as a child.

A few yards from the hut was a ledge of
stone, on which it was the wont of excur-
sionists to make their fires for cooking, and
it was on this ledge that Nannie prepared to
make the beacon required by Criss.

Wanting light to enable her to see in order
to collect fuel from the surrounding thickets,
she commenced by making a small fire on
the stone. To her great dismay, she found
that, with all her searching and gathering, the
utmost she could obtain was barely sufficient
to keep this alive ; and her idea of a beacon
very properly involved a blaze that could be
seen far and wide.

After a little while, it surpassed her re-
sources to maintain even this little fire.
Rushing into the neighbouring thicket, she
ignited match after match against any tree



136 BY AND BY.

that she thought might be dry enough to
burn. But all was of no use, and at last,
fairly beaten, she sat down by the smoulder-
ing embers on the stone, and began to cry.
Depressed by disappointment, a sense of her
desolation and loneliness now came vividly
over her, and to her other woes added that
of terror. That Criss might fail to carry out
his design never occurred to her. She was
entirely occupied with the idea of him hover-
ing round in the dark, and feeling, as it were,
for the summit whereon to alight.'

But, hark ! A sound ! And her heart
beat as she prepared to scream loudly in re-
sponse to his signal. Ah ! it is only the
public clock of the settlement, far below and
miles away, booming the hour.

Mechanically Nannie counted the strokes.
"Twelve! Midnight! Why, he was to be
here towards midnight ! Oh, what shall I
do ! What shall I do !"

A thought strikes her. Another minute,
and the thought has become a deed. And
now, with a fierce roar, the flames of the
burning chapel are darting high into the air,
and lighting up mountain and sky with a
bright and steady blaze, while Nannie is run-



BY AND BY. 137

ning and dancing around it, and laughing
triumphandy, and clapping her litde hands,
as if to encourage it. Nannie was no his-
torian, or she would have known that she
was not the first of her sex to set fire to a
church for the sake of her lover. And not
only was she no historian, but she did not
know that her feelings for Criss partook in
any way of the character of love.

A voice, and a rush ! ''He comes ! oh, he
comes !"

And Nannie looked round in the direction
of the sound.

Alas ! no Criss, no lover ; though needed
more than ever as a deliverer now. Needed
far more, even, than when on the brink of
the burning ship she stood ready to plunge
into the ocean. For the creatures that meet
her gaze are hideous savages, grinning and
glaring upon her, as half-mad with drink and
brutal passion they advance, three in number,
towards her, with outstretched arms and
fiendish yells.

They are negroes, who have taken advan-
tage of the disturbances to plunder, and re-
tired to the mountain to carouse unmolested.



138 BY AND BY,

and who have been attracted to the summit
by the unusual sight of the fire.

Shrieking loudly, Nannie darted from them,
passing the burning hut so closely that the
flames scorched her. Terror stricken and
fleet of foot, she would probably have es-
caped, but the dense thicket brought her up,
and she could not get away from the light of
the fire.

They were closing in upon her, as she still
flew and screamed, when, to their amazement
they found themselves confronted by another
whom they had not seen before, and who
now darted between them and their prey,
with imperious language and gestures, bid-
ding them to forbear, on pain of instant de-
struction.

The wretches were too infuriated to heed
the speaker. Two of them turned on him,
while the other continued the pursuit of
Nannie, now too exhausted to fly further.
Extreme measures were absolutely necessary.
What matter whether anthropoid apes, or
pithecoid men ? Had it not lately been de-
clared, and by one entitled to authority in that
country, that those who behave like wild beasts



JBV AND BY. 139

-to say nothing of their looking so much
like them — must be treated as such ?

A couple of shots in rapid succession laid
two of the assailants on the ground. In
another moment, the third had shared their
fate ; and Nannie, glancing round at the
sound, recognised her deliverer, and, with a
scream of joy, fell fainting on the ground.



CHAPTER VIII.




RISS ran towards the fallen figure of
her whom he had a second time
rescued ; but finding his efforts to
restore her to consciousness vain,
he hastened to his car, which he had left close
at hand, -and presently returning with a cor-
dial was more successful in winning her back
to life. When she opened her eyes, he ad-
dressed her in Arabic, and was surprised to
receive only a vacant stare In return.

Supposing that she was still under the in-
fluence of her recent swoon, he proceeded to
pour more of his reviving liquid on her brow
and hands. But she impatiently repelled the
attention, and said sharply,

*' Why do you talk to me in a language I
don't understand? Are you not Mr. Carol ?"
" Certainly, that is my name ; but "



BY AND BY. 141

*' But you don't know me;' she Interrupted,
*' and you thought it was some other girl
you were saving ?" And In the access of
her momentar}^ jealousy, she energetically
repulsed him.

Then, softenino-,

" I did it all to please you," she exclaimed,
and burst into tears.

"What! can it be Xannie !" he cried;
*' my pretty little friend Nannie ! alone, up
here, and in this plight !"

" Of course it is. Why, who else did you
think it could be ?"

And then, glancing at her hands and
clothes, which were all torn and soiled, she
said,

" Well, I do look like a beggar girl ; but,
oh ! I am so sore all over, with my tumbles,
and the thorns, and running away from those
nasty negroes. I am sure I must have some
dreadful wounds somewhere," and llftlncr her
dress, she revealed some ugly cuts above the
ankles, from which the blood was flowing.
This alarmed her, and exclaiming,

'' Oh, I can't bear the sight of blood," she
swooned away again.



142 BY AND BY.

Crlss was somewhat embarrassed. He
could not leave her there and thus. And he
was most anxious to set about fulfilling his
mission. Besides, as a young man, and one
who was not a doctor, he was naturally shy
about investigating the bodily state of one of
the other sex.

Nannie, however, gave him little leisure
for indulging his embarrassment. Starting
to her senses again, she cried,

'' Why don't you stop the bleeding? Surely
a man is not afraid of the sight of blood.
Have you nothing that will do for a bandage?
Here, wrap this round. It will do till some-
thing better can be got."

And she tore off some strips from her tat-
tered skirt, and gave them to him.

Setting to work as directed, Criss did not
fail to derive considerable relief from her
manifest unconsciousness of the peculiarity of
the situation, and was glad to accept her re-
bukes for his clumsiness in proof of that un-
consciousness.

" I am so hungry," said Nannie, whimper-
ing once more.

** That is soon remedied," replied Criss.



B\ AND BY. 143

'* But you must get into )-our old place in the
Ariel's car, and then you can feed, and sleep
too, as we go along."

" Why, where are you going to take me ?"

" Well, you see, we are not the only people
in the world to be thought of," he returned.
" Now just tell me exactly how matters stand
at the settlement ?"

*' Oh, such fun !" she cried, clapping her
hands ; '' there's not a human creature there ;
and I have set all the doors and gates open,
and let all the cats and dogs, and cows and
poultry, and other tame beasts loose, to go
where they like, and broken the telegraph
things, and "

He succeeded at leneth in learning from
her the whole situation, so far as she knew it.
He then told her that he had passed the
troops on their way, and that he must at once
return to the capital to see if he could do
anything to arrest their progress.

*' Then what are you going to do with
me?"

" Under all circumstances," he returned,
'' I think it best to take you with me to the
capital, and perhaps deposit you with a



144 BY AND BY.

doctor to be properly attended to while I am
busy."

*' You seem very anxious to get rid of me,"
she said, with a pout. " I hate doctors, and
don't want to be left by myself in the city,
with strangers. Besides, I am quite well
now, or shall be when I have had something
to eat."

" Well, get Into the car at once," said Criss,
" and we will settle the rest as we go along. "^
And he helped her to get up, and move to-
wards the Ariel ; but she was so stiff and ex-
hausted that he had almost to carry her and
lift her in.

The couple of hundred miles which sepa-
rate the mountain from the city, were soon
spanned ; but not before Nannie, who had
eaten a hearty meal, was fast asleep. CrIss
had been amused to find that on catching
sieht of herself in a little mirror which was in
the car, for the fire still burnt brightly, she In-
sisted on washing her face and arranging her
disordered hair before touching a particle of
food. With a light wrapper of Criss's thrown
over her head and shoulders, she really looked
as charming once more, CrIss thought, as it was



BY AND BY. 145

possible for any one to look, even under the
most favourable circumstances.

Approaching the capital, Criss arrested his
flight, intending to hover around it until the
arrival of daylight should make it possible
for him to hold communication with the au-
thorities.

To his great satisfaction, his passenger
continued to sleep soundly.



VOL. IT. 10




CHAPTER IX.

VENIL knew that Criss would not
have despatched such a message to
him as that which he received from
Jerusalem, had there not been good
cause for urgency. Losing no time in com-
municating with the Confederate Council, he
found that orders had already been issued, in


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