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especially if rich, regain his old social
position.

Here, as elsewhere, however, banishment
does not always prove an effectual cure for
crime. A detective was then on the island
to ascertain whence certain counterfeit coins
occasionally circulated were emanating.
He must be an adept who contrives to carry
on secret coining under such adverse cir-
cumstances, and to pass base money in a
community of this kind.

Some of the life prisoners who have been
long on the island, and have grown old in
the place, like it, and are contented, if not
happy. On the whole, there does not
appear to be much discontent. Many of
the prisoners would not be taken for other
than well-conducted laborers, farm-servants,
or artisans. But the majority have a demor-
alized, self-conscious, hang-dog look, an



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FERNANDO NORONHA.



539



unprepossessing countenance, a low-typed
cranial development, and the lazy, dirty,
slovenly habits usually begotten by long
familiarity with crime. I conversed with
some and looked into their huts. It was
curious to observe the diflferent effects which
exile had produced in individuals. While
all were poorly clad, some had enough self-
respect and pride left to keep themselves,
chfldren and house, clean and tidy, — ^parad-
ing every bit of dothing, finery, or orna-
ment; while others were in every case
careless of s^pearances, mentally, morally,
and socially degraded. One busy shoe-
maker, an admirable workman, would not
\(Kk up ; the iron had evidently entered his
soul ; he felt he was a branded, ruined man
for Ufe, with little interest in its concerns,
and bad now no object save to drown thought
and care by keepmg his hands and brain
busy. Few of the houses had books. Edu-
cation is not regarded in Brazil as in
America, an object of primary importance,
and still less in this establishment for the
outcasts of society. But the Government is
not wholly inattentive to the rising convict
progeny. With praiseworthy forethought,
they are carefully looked after, and efforts
made to keep them from following the old
paths of their parents, and lead them to
:hoose a more honest, less dangerous, and
bppier career. There are two schools,
3ne for the children of officers and sol-
liers, the other for those of convicts, the
eachers being male prisoners. The off-
spring must remain oii the island with their
)arents till twelve years old ; after which,
$irls may either leave or remain. If they
>refer to go, they are sent at Government
expense to a sewing society or hospital at
Pemambuco. Boys miist go at twelve, and
ire salt to the high school there, to train
or soldiers. As the impressions of infancy
md childhood are strongest and most ine-
adicable, it would seem wiser to remove
hem from the pernicious influences and
umoundings of a penal settlement.
The vill^e amusements are few. A the-
ater, in which prisoners perform, was lately
►umed down. They have an instrumental
>and, which also forms the church choir,
ijtcept in the evenings, when they assemble
or gossip in the public square, the village
las a dull, deserted appearance. The Bra-
ilians, like the Portuguese, from whom they
prang, are an apathetic race ; and the few
oldiers occasionally met with, walk or loll
ibout in a listless wajr, Htde likely to stir
nto anything like activity the still lazier



convicts, who have no special object in
working hard, particularly in that warm,
enervating atmosphere. Both soldiers and
convicts study only how to pass their cap-
tivity most quietly, and with the greatest
amount of ease and comfort

But we have only accounted for one-third
of the prisoners. The remaining one thou-
sand are divided into ten companies of one
hundred each, who cultivate the ten differ-
ent plantations into which the island is
purposely divided. Over the whole, village
and plantation included, there are sixteen
sergeants, of whom the sergeant-major alone
is a free man, the rest being " specials," u ^.,
well-behaved men, or those whose time
is nearly expired. One superintends the
women, four the village men, and ten the
plantation companies, the sergeant-major
being a general overseer.

Leaving the village on the left, to have a
look over the island, my path led along the
ridge overlooking the landing and past the
base of the peak towering high above me,
like a huge finger pointing skyward. This
and the odier high points of the group con-
sist of light gray granite, overlaid by basalt,
occasionally columnar, and that again, by a
coarse conglomerate of basaltic bowlders,
inclosed in a dark-red clayey matrix,
which, disintegrated, forms the abundant
and highly fertile soil, dry and fissured
during the sultry season, but soft, tenacious
and muddy during the heavy rains of the
rest of the year. The geology of this group
is evidently correlated to that of the Brazils.
And here, as there (according to Darwin),
there are evidences of gradual elevation.
Geologically, as geographically, it belongs
to South America, and a glance at a physi-
cal atlas will show that it lies just where the
Brazilian diverges southward from the main
equatorial ocean current, which here begins
to take a north-west course along the shores
of Maranham; and at the apex of the
pointed bank (which it has doubtless con-
tributed to form), jutting out from Cape San
Roque and the adjacent coasts to the north-
west and southward, by which the great
equatorial current is spht.

Leaving the peak on the right the road
led me toward the north-east end of the
island, over a plateau about two hundred
feet above the sea. Here I met several con-
victs, with one of whom, an overseer, who
could speak a little English, I entered into
conversation, accompanying him in his walk.
The road was merely a broad pathway
through cultivated fields on either side, botii



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540



FERNANDO NORONHA,



being smooth and passable, this being the
dry season. Almost the . entire island is
under cultivation, and during the wet months,
the chief time for planting, it is of a vivid
green, so profuse is the vegetation. So fer-
tile is the soil that crops are always in prog-
ress, three and often four being obtained
each year. The form implements are very
primitive ; the plow is unknown ; and only
the hoe, which only turns up the surface
soil, is used. Clumsy bulloci carts, vdth
heavy, solid wooden wheels and axles, draw
the farm produce lazily to the stores. The
chief vegetable productions are maize,
manioc, beans, and castor-oil, which are
grown in alternate rows of maize and
manioc, or maize and beans, or manioc and
castor-oil. Maize is the chief production,
the entire crop being consumed on the
island. A little fine manioc is made for the
officers, but most of the root is exported to
Pemambuco for manufacture and re-impor-
tation in a coarse, dark form, for sale to the
convicts. The plant here cultivated is appar-
ently the sweet Cassava. I went into a small
rough factory, where medicinal oils and also a
coarse, bad-smelling lamp oil is made fi'om
the castor-oil bean. The small black and
the brown " macass" bean is the product of
a leguminous shrub named Fajung. Sugar-
cane is grown in small quantities, but, like
the island water, its juice is brackish. Cot-
ton, very white but small in the pod, is
grown in trifling quantity for exportation,
but might be more extensively cultivated.
Rice might be profitably introduced. The
" ' " * »lding a large almond-shaped

and the " almenda" firuit-red
with a large stone, is corn-
is a plantation of cocoa-nut
[>f banana and fig-trees, all
[hiit Mammae apples, sweet
», water and marsh-melons,
eet potatoes, and a small
nato, are also grown. The
f modem farm implements
provements, combined with
ic, energetic, and skilled man-
Id contribute much toward
>n and greater productiveness,
bout one hundred and sixty
\ and seventy horses and five
1 on the island, belonging
iergeants. Milk is abundant,
ught by the convicts. Cattle
lly killed for the soldiers,
pigs and dogs, and also rats
imon in the fields, the island
uadrupeds. There are fowl



and wild doves, lizards and wasps, and a
black burrowing cricket (gryllus). The water
birds include the wide-awake, gannet, tern,,
booby, noddy, boatswain bird, etc Fish are
abundant, large, and good.

As along the Brazilian coast, the seasons
are the wet^ lastmg over March to the mid-
dle of July with heavy rains night and
day, and the dry^ during the rest of the
year, when the sun is hot in the shade,
but tempered in the open by the breeze^
The island lies about the isotherm of 80^
Fahr. and 70 of latitude south of the
thermal equator. Being thus beyond the
equatorial doldrums, even when these are
farthest south, its climate is comparatively^
cool for the latitude. TTie temperature-
at the anchorage during our visit ranged
fi^om 770 to 79° Fahr., the relative humiSty
of the air being 80°, and the prevalent winds
south-east and east-south-east, the month
being September. The climate is healthy
and fine, as shown by the appearance of the
convicts and soldiers. As in other inter-
tropical islands, it is not those working in the
sun who suffer fix>m the heat or deteriorate
in health, but those indoors and sedentary.
Diarrhoea and dysentery occasionally pre-
vail on account of the heat and the muddy,,
brackish water, not over-abundant, and only
found near the beach. Malingering is com-
mon among the convicts, because when in.
hospital they are fed by Government. The
military surgeon is the only medical man on
the island.

As we sauntered along, my companion
informed me, in confidence, that the two in:
firont were convicts and one a murderer.
He evidently did not wish to be regarded
as a felon himself. After walking about a
mile we struck off to the right along a
pathway leading into a thicket, emerging
soon after into a small clearing planted with,
bananas, where we entered a log hut The
other two were already there, but they could
only speak Portuguese. We sat chatting. But
my companions were evidently ill at ease,
and did not approve of my keeping a heavy
geological hammer I carried with me in my
hand, and asked me why I did so. There
was clearly a mutual suspicion and distrust.
I was alone, far from the ship, otherwise
unarmed; and though they too were weapon-
less, they were three to one, all powerful
men, and I felt not over-confident in their
good intentions or antecedents. Discretion
being the better part of valor, and both par-
ties being uneasy, I soon took my leave,
hammer in hand, ready for any emergency.



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FAME.



541



We parted with polite salutations. I thanked
them for their courtesy. They showed me
a path leading out of the bush, and I soon
got into the main road, glad to be safely
•clear of the worthy trio. I may have been
ungenerously suspicious, but, if so, my
caution was pardonable under the circimi-
stances. TTie path led me past a large
shed, where convicts were one by one bring-
ing in sackfuls of Indian com, which they
laid in a heap for storage. Here I again



met the American half-caste, who piloted
me back to the village and landing.

Altogether Fernando Noronha is well
worthy of a visit by those who have time
and opportunity, and an interest in settle-
ments of this nature. The curiosity of the
naturalist would here be well repaid, and
the a^ist would find many good studies for
his pencil and brush. Some of the bays
and headlands are highly picturesque, and
especially the singular peak.



FAME.

I SAW in dreams a long and wavering way,
That wound aloof towaurd the walls of day ;
Like a great snake on a wide moor it lay.

At either road-edge there were men who kneeled.
Some witii bowed countenances half-revealed;
Some crying drearily; some whose lips were sealed.

Ill might you say what presence or what thing
They waited in their watchful cowering,
As suppliants wait the advent of a king.

And now there rose a miirmur through them all.
For a vast shape, fantastically tall.
Came gliding on, with pace majestical.

The ample drapery of its filmy guise

Floated and flowed arotmd it, vaporwise.

Its face was vaguely stem, with scomfiil eyes.

In either hand it carried shining bays.
Wrought greenly into wreaths of braided sprays,
like the old chaplets of the dead Greek days.

And whercsoe'er that joume3ring spirit came,

Th^ caught his shadowy robe, they wailed his name.

While many a faded face was touched with flame!

But rarely, very rarely, he bent down.

Mixed with a languid smile his august fi-own,

And dropped on some low brow a glimmering crown.

Then, just as my strange dream was like to cease,
His face drew near, and on its haughty peace
I read tmbounded tyranny of caprice I



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542



FORTUNATAS POCKET.



FORTUNATA'S POCKET.



** Won't you try it then, Jeanie ?"

There was a world of persuasion in the
voice that uttered this entreaty, as well as in
the dark-blue eyes that seconded it Janet's
own brown ones wavered as she answepred :

" I wish I could, Arthur; oh, I do wish I
could! But indeed it would be madness.
You know your father's words — and you
know what he is. He would never forgive
us."

"Then if we must, we will do without his
forgiveness, and do quite as well, too, I dare
say. Don't look so grave, dear; you know I
mean no disrespect, but is it reasonable we
should spend our best years waiting on a
whim of his, so long as I have a pair of
hands, and a head equal to compound frac-
tions ? " said Arthur, ending with a smile what
he had begun with a frown. " They say
Heaven helps those that help themselves,
and I've no fear but we could take care of
<w//3elves."

"We might venture, perhaps, if we had
only ourselves to care for," answered Janet,
shaking her head. " But you know, Arthur,
it is not so. When you marry me you marry
my family along wiUi me — "

"And am ready to marry all your thirtieth
cousins into the bargain, if only it were along
with you."

"Yes, I know how foolish you are,"
rejoined the girl, still in her former half-jest-
ing tone. " So you see, Arthur, I have to
be wise for two. As if a wife weren't burden
enough — hush, sir ! they are burdens ; don't
all the magazines say so ? — without loading
you with two more encumbrances. For
Angle must have her comforts, poor thing,
and Harry is going to college if I have to
go on my hands and knees to get him there !
No, there is nothing for it but to wait and
hope another year; who knows what may
happen in a whole year?"

" Well," said Arthur, after a pause, during
which he had stood considering with knitted
brows, " I never could quite see the beauty
of the Micawber policy myself, but I suppose
there is no appeal from your decision."

The girl sighed in silence, but as she fol-
lowed him into the passage she laid her hand
on his arm.

"Arthur, you don't think me selfish ?" she
whispered.

" Don't 1 1 " said he ; and the accompany-
ing caress seemed to imply that Arthur rather



liked selfishness than otherwise. " The most
selfish, obstinate littie lamb I ever saw;
always set on sacrificing herself to somebody
else."

With the shutting of the door that shut
him out of sight, the happy glow faded from
Janet's face, and she turned back with
another patient sigh. Waiting and hoping,
so easy to preach, would have been less-
hard to practice had they been more evenly
proportioned. For, in their circumstances,,
what could a year, or even ten years do ?
Might they not wait a life-time in vain ?

While Arthur Irvin walked along, revolv-
ing their difficulties with as much anxiety
but considerably less patience, her words
reciured to him : " You know what your
father is." Truly did he knoiy but too welL
The jesting reproach he had just used ta
her might have applied in sober earnest to
his father; so far, at least, as selfishness and
obstinacy went, for anything in any respect
less like a little lamb than Mr. Irvin, Senior,
could hardly have been imagined. That
member of th^ animal kingdom which he
most suggested, perhaps, to an unprejudiced
observer, was a pig, at the moment when he
plants his four feet firmly, cocks up his ears
and nose, and turns his smaU red eyes with
a look of stubborn defiance on the hapless
mortal who vainly seeks to coax him in the
way he would not Mr. Irvin, it must be
allowed, was scrupulously neat, and even
nice in his personal habits, which the pig
certainly is not ; otherwise the resemblance
was undeniable. Filial respect doubtless
prevented Arthur fix)m dwelling on it, but it
could hardly have failed to strike him.

The words Janet had just recalled were
spoken during a certain conversation carried
on in the counting-room, when Arthur had
rather nervously unfolded a project which he
had very much at heart. Mr. Irvin listened in
perfect silence, not even lifting his eyes from
some invoices he was looking over. Then
at last, pushing them aside, he said in a
matter-of-fact tone :

"We might as well come to a definite
understanding on this subject, Arthur; it may
save some time and trouble. You know my
plans for you about Emily Warner, twenty
thousand dollars down. But it seems you
can plan better for yourself, eh ? Very well,
now I'll make a bargain with you. No
beggar enters these doors as my daughter.



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FORTUNATA'S POCKET.



543



and if you choose to throw yourself into the
gutter, why you may stay there forever for
any help of mine ; you shall, sir, by the Lord
Harry 1 and you know if I generally mean
what I say. I picked you out a wife and
a fortune ; if you don't choose to take the
wife, I shall look to you for every cent of
the money. That settled, you may marry
when, where, and whom you like. The day
that Miss Janet Hollister can give you her
hand with twenty thousand dollars in it, I
shall be happy to make her acquaintance;
until then I don't care to hear her name.
So now we understand each other."

And Mr. Irvin with hard self-satisfoction
leaned back in his comfortable chair, while
Arthur, looking at the pursed-up lips, bit his
own hard to keep back certain unfilial
remarks trembling on them.

Months had passed since then, and the
nuktter still stood exactly the same. Arthur
once or twice, indeed, had attempted to
re-open the question, but a dogged "You
have my ultimatum," from his father, warned
him that he would be urging his cause at its
own risk. It was a hard trial, and one that
the young man would never have borne but
for Janet, who would neither come between
his fother and him, nor consent to let his
love for her be the means of his worldly
ruin.

" Better, I am afraid, to give me up at
once," she had said ; " but if you care too
much to do that, let us wait patiently for
possibilities."

So was she preaching hope to him out of
her own hopelessness. For what chance had
she of ever fulfilling Mr. Irvin's condition —
she, whose utmost efforts were needed even
to pay her way from day to day ? Was she
not, after all, selfish to accept the sacrifice
of Arthur's best years of life ? Ought she
not, even at the cost of some present pain
to him, to save him the long, wearing trial
that seemed so likely to be tmrewarded after
all ? This was what, more sadly than usual,
she was thinking, as she shut him out of
her sight and went back, with a sigh, to her
small daily worries.

" Is Arthur gone at last ? " was the greeting
that reached her on opening the door, in a
voice sweet through all its querulous impa-
tience. " Not that it makes much difference
to me, for now I suppose you're going to
that dreadful old woman, and she'll keep
you forever, as usual. How people can be
so selfish!"

"Never mind, Angie dear," said Janet
soothingly, bending down to the face on the



pillows, a face as white as they, but with a
kind of pathetic beauty in the wasted out-
lines and over-large blue eyes. " If she is
exacting, it's not for me to complain, for it
gives me bread-and-butter, you know."

" Spread thin enough, though," grumbled
the invalid. " I declare, Jenny, in common
justice she ought to make it up to you in
her Will. Besides, you're some sort of cous-
ins, aren't you, like all the Scotch ?"

" Rather too difiiise relationship to do me
much good, I'm afiaid," answered Janet,
laughing, as she began putting on her out-
door things.

Angie was quite right, however ; there was
a cousinship near enough to reckon between
her half-sister Janet Macdonald Hollister,
and this old lady who bore the same name.
So, at least, Mrs. Macdonald had declared,
and demonstrated it to her own satisfaction.
Their acquaintance was entirely a chance
one, made through the medium of the
advertising columns. Janet, left with the
charge of a sickly hsdf-sister and young
brother, looked about for something to htlp
herself out, and thought she might satisfy the
requirements of an old lady who did not
expect to secure a finished professor in
music, art and languages, for a smaller sti-
pend than she would have paid her cook.
The result was a call on Mrs. Macdonald,
and an engagement which had lasted ever
since. It was not likely to last much longer
now, for it had grown but too plain to Janet
that her employer's days were numbered.
Her warm heart could not help a thrill of
pity sometimes, at thought of the stoical
old woman, dying by inches, alone in the
midst of her riches. Not, indeed, that she
need have been alone, as she grimly remarked
to Janet one day wlfien she had been amus-
ing herself by tracing out a relationship
through twists and turns too intricate for any
but a Scotch head.

" I've relations enough, I can assure ye,
Miss Janet, fond ones, too, that would make
naught of giving up the pleasures of this
world to smooth my path into another. But
I'd rather take the will for the deed, you
see; they're welcome to my old shoes wnen
I'm done with 'em, but so long as I do stand
in 'em, I'll have nobody treading on my
heels. Now, it's different with you ; you're
one of the clan, to be sure, but then you
weren't brought up to look upon your rich
old cousin as your natural prey. Now I
dare say if I were to take a notion to leave
you enough to buy some sort of mourning
fol-de-rol, you are just silly enough to let it



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S44



FORTUNATAS POCKET.



ve you a kindly thought of me, instead of

ting my memory because 'twasn't more;
hey, child?"

And the old lady tapped her companion
on the shoulder, whereat Janet turned her
face upward with such a ray of wondering
pity in the soft, deep gray eyes, as pierced
straight through the customary mask on the
cynical old fece, which responded for a
moment with the womanly trust and tender-
ness latent now beneath a crust of many
years. She did not speak a word, but
let her hand rest again on the young girl's
shoulder, looking down into her eyes the
while with a look half sad, half comforted.
And always after that, Janet felt that there
was a stronger bond between them than the
mere give and take of convenience.

The end seemed very near to Janet this
morning, as she stood by the side woman
and looked down into the ashy, wrinkled
face, out of which the eyes gleamed with a
keen contrasting fire. It was little she could
do to-day for her employer, who was too
resUess for continued reading, but she found
such evident satisfaction in the young girl's
presence, that the latter finally, with some
hesitation, oflfered to come and nurse her.
This, however, the old lady would not hear
of.

" No, no," she said. " Best let well alone.
Fm not denying it's a comfort to hear and
see you, but I've got too set in my ways to
go out of 'em at the last — and after all, it's
as easy dying as living alone; eh, lassie?
No, you'll just come for your bit hour or
two daily, as we agreed, till time saves us
both the trouble."

Time was not long in doing that. Mrs.
Macdonald failed so rapidly that before
many days all was over. Janet, as she was
bidden, attended the funeral, remaining like-
wise to hear the reading of the will. The
great, gloomy parlor, old-fashioned and set
as its late mistress, was sprinkled about with
Macdonalds, relatives m every degree of
Scotch cousinship, who looked cautiously at
each other and coldly at Janet, subduing to
a decent sadness the eager glances that
sought the man-of-law in whose hands the
will had been placed.

It was a decent sadness, however, that was
unfeigned when the testament had been read.
For not one was satisfied, though not one



Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 93 of 163)