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author,female,Spence, Catherine Helen,40 addressee
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Spence, 1865
vol II, 58-114
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[58] [V.iii] Chapter IV. Miss Phillips Meets With A Congenial Spirit In Victoria
As Mr Dempster had reported there had been a division in the family of the Phillipses shortly after they landed. Mrs. Phillips wished to remain in Melbourne for a month or two, as she did not feel able to stand the long land journey at this particular time. Neither her husband nor herself had much confidence in Dr. Grant's skill, and she could have better attendance in town. Mr. Phillips having ascertained that Mrs. Peck was in Adelaide, and having, through Mr. Talbot, sent a request that she should remain there, which her own interest was likely to make her attend to, had less objection to her staying in [59] Melbourne than he ever had before; so he took a suite of furnished apartments for her and those of the family who remained in town. 
Jane Melville went at once to Wiriwilta with the children, who all longed to be there, and who disliked Melbourne more than London. Miss Phillips had her choice to remain in town or to go up to the station, and she decided on the former alternative, for she began to fear the station would be very dull, and would contrast unfavourably with the voyage, which had been lively and pleasant. There were some of her fellow-passengers whom she was unwilling to lose sight of; and Mr. Brandon was not at Barragong, but in Adelaide, so, on the whole, she thought it would be preferable to stay. She gave as her ostensible reason for the choice, her wish to be with Mrs. Phillips during her brother's necessary absence. Mr. Phillips stayed with his wife till she presented him with a second son, and then, as she was doing very well, he left her in the care of his sister and Elsie. 
He had been rather annoyed to find that [60] Brandon had been amusing himself by taking a journey to Adelaide so soon after coming out to the colony again. Dr. Grant came down to meet Phillips, and represented that a great deal had gone amiss at Wiriwilta since he (Dr. Grant) had been supplanted in the charge of the stations; so that he thought it indispensable to go up with the least possible delay to look to all the flocks and the out-stations. 
"It was the wildest thing in Brandon to start off in that way," said Grant, "with a poor lad of a nephew who did not know a wattle from a gum-tree when he came, and scarcely a sheep from a cow. I never would have done such a thing." 
"But he has gone to buy some new sheep, I hear," said Phillips. "Have they been delivered at Wiriwilta?" 
"No, not yet," said Grant; "and I think that was the most insane part of the business. I am sure our Victorian flock-masters have always kept ahead of the Adelaide lot; and to go to the Adelaide side for sheep would be the last speculation I should care to enter into for [61] myself, not to speak of implicating you in such a thing. The long overland journey will pull them down so much that you are likely to lose a third of them on the road, and what you do save will be in wretched order. Brandon was fairly ruined by going home to England." 
"Ruined!" said Harriett Phillips. "He said he was ruined, or something like it, before he left. Are his affairs really in such a bad state?" 
"Oh, it's not exactly his affairs, but he got unsettled and would not work as he used to do. He overturned most of my arrangements at Wiriwilta; and I am sure Mr. Phillips will not find himself any the better for his alterations. He is so foolishly confiding. Now, I like to look sharply after my people, and then I see what work I get out of them." 
"I think you are quite right, Dr. Grant. I have remarked the want of that prudence in both Mr. Brandon and my brother. They think it proceeds from benevolence, but I attribute it more to indolence and the dislike to give themselves [62] any trouble they can avoid," said Harriett. 
Dr. Grant was piqued at being deprived of Mr. Phillips's agency, for though he had protested against taking it, he had found it very lucrative; he was also piqued at Mrs. Phillips staying in town for her confinement, though he always declared that he detested practising, and only did it as an accommodation to his neighbours; but both things had added alike to his emolument and his importance, and he was extremely jealous of any slight being cast either on his business knowledge or his professional skill. 
On this occasion he offered to stay in Melbourne for a week or so after Phillips left, merely as a friend, to see how Mrs. Phillips was going on, and to take up a full and satisfactory account to the station. Though he was not her medical attendant, he was as much in the house, and far more than he had ever been before. When the week was over, he appeared to be in no hurry to go away, but wrote to Phillips instead; and hung about the house, went errands for her or [63] her sister-in-law, took Harriett out for walks and drives, brought all his Melbourne acquaintances to call on her, and to inquire for Mrs. Phillips and the baby, and was himself engaged for several hours of every day in conversation with Harriett. 
He had come to Melbourne determined to fall in love with Miss Phillips, whose likeness he had seen and admired at Wiriwilta years ago, and whose face and figure, when seen in reality quite came up to his expectations, while her air and manners were exactly suited to his taste. He knew that she had a fortune - not large, certainly, but tempting to a man who was not exactly poor, but always more or less embarrassed. Her perfect self-possession, her good education, her musical talents, her excellent connections, her stylish way of dressing, her very egotism, were all charming to a man who wanted a wife who would do him credit. 
His Scotch family was a good one; he was connected with many noble houses; he could tell long traditional stories of the feats of [64] the Grants and the Gillespies, his father's and mother's ancestors; and it was wonderful how much the history of Scotland, and indeed that of the world generally, seemed to hang on the exploits of those ancient clans. Though Harriett was not a Scotchwoman (it was the only drawback to their perfect suitability), she appreciated these anecdotes wonderfully well. Dr. Grant laid himself out to please her in a much more marked manner than Brandon had ever done, and his success was much greater. He had a subdued feeling that his neighbour at Barragong was his rival, as he had seen so much of Harriett in England, so he lost no opportunity of mentioning anything that would tell against him. 
Then he was of the same profession as her father and brother Vivian, and liked to hear her talk of them. Indeed, provided he got time and opportunity to speak about his own relations, connections, and friends - to give anecdotes of his schoolboy and college days, more interesting to his mother than to any one else heretofore - to describe how he had felt the colonial hardships [65] at first, and how he had gradually made himself very comfortable at Ben More (which was the name he had given to his station, so much more suitable for a Scottish squatter than such native names as Brandon and Phillips had retained for theirs); - he would allow Harriett to give her school and society reminiscences too, to describe her home in Derbyshire - the furniture, the ornaments, the lawn, and the greenhouse - the county Stanleys, and the county balls. As they were generally tête-à-tête four or five hours a day, they had ample time for descanting on all these interesting topics. Any visitors who might drop in, or any visit that they might pay together only gave fresh food for further comparison of their own personal tastes and predilections. Miss Phillips's avowed contemptuous compassion for everything colonial did not at all offend Dr. Grant. He had never been thoroughly acclimatized himself, and he had vowed never to marry any of the second-rate colonial girls, who, as he thought, had no manner and no style. It was surprising how well these two [66] new friends agreed about everything and everybody. 
Dr. Grant, from his education and his habits, considered himself a reading man, and a very well informed one. Miss Phillips, too, had thought Brandon greatly her inferior in literary acquirements, as in all other things; but it was singular to observe how little these two people, who were so congenial to each other, and who enjoyed each other's company so much, and had so much of it, talked about the many books they must have read. As for religion, politics, or any other of the great concerns of life, they never seemed to rise even on the surface of conversation; and when a book happened to be mentioned, it was dismissed with a casual remark, such as "I read it," or "I did not read it," or "I liked it," or "I thought it stupid," and then they turned to things which more nearly interested them, and these were things in which they themselves or some one related to them made some figure. If any of Miss Phillips's, or any of Dr. Grant's relations had published a [67] book, that would have been mentioned and extolled, but they had not. Vivian's scientific attainments, which Harriett had thought rather a bore at home, were however something to boast of here; and Dr. Grant had an uncle who had made some improvements in agriculture in the north of Scotland, of whom he was never tired of talking. 
Miss Phillips had remained in Melbourne to be with her sister-in-law, but she was very little beside her. Besides Dr. Grant, there were fellow-passengers who visited at the house, and whose visits Miss Phillips was bound to return, and there were also public places to go to with them; for she wished to see all that was to be seen in Melbourne while she was there; and though she generally criticised all the Melbourne concerts, and theatres, and balls, and private parties very severely, she accepted every invitation and joined every party that was made up for the theatre. 
Elsie and the nurse had the care of Mrs. Phillips and the baby, though Elsie would have [68] preferred being at Wiriwilta, with Jane and the elder children, for she missed their cheerful society, but she could not be spared. Miss Phillips was in exceedingly good-humour at this time, and did not exact so much from Elsie as she had expected; but Mrs. Phillips missed her husband, and was rather petulant and capricious. She had been considerably kinder to Elsie since the death of her little girl. This first sorrow had done her good; but now, in her husband's absence, a good deal of the old spirit returned, particularly as she was much offended at the little attention which Harriett paid to her. Elsie was the real housekeeper, though Miss Phillips had the credit of it, and she was delighted to find how well she could manage. Her old experiences at Cross Hall had not been altogether thrown away; she had grown more thoughtful, and she felt she must depend on herself, for there was no Jane now to fall back upon. 
Elsie was apprehensive that the coolness between the sisters-in-law would lead to an open [69] rupture, for Mrs. Phillips had not been accustomed to be considered as nobody in her own house; but there appeared hope for peace in the fact that Dr. Grant must leave Melbourne; and then those long conversations must have an end, and at least three-fourths of the rides and gaieties which served as an excuse for her neglect. During the short absences from day to day which necessarily took place, and during the few angel's visits, 'short, and far between,' which were paid to her sister-in-law's sick room, Dr. Grant's sayings and doings, his compliments to herself, and his criticisms of other people, were the staple of Harriett's conversation to the invalid. If the absence of the one and the visits to the other were prolonged, it was just possible that Mrs. Phillips might be more fatigued; but she could not be so much ignored as she was at present. 

[70] [V.iii] Chapter V. Dr. Grant Prosecutes His Suit With Caution And Success, And Brandon Finds His Love-Making All To Do Over Again
Harriett Phillips could not come out quite so strong in her contempt for colonial ways and colonial people, arriving when she did, as if she had landed ten or a dozen years before, but still there was a great deal that was open to criticism. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Brandon thought the colony had made rapid strides towards civilization and comfort since the great influx of wealth consequent on the gold discoveries had attracted to Victoria much that was unattainable before. Even during their absence in England there had been a great deal of building going on in Melbourne, [71] and many other improvements had been introduced. The houses were better, and better furnished; the shops seemed to contain everything that enterprise could import or money procure; the ladies were handsomely and expensively dressed, and there were public amusements such as were never heard of in the early colonial days. 
But still there was much even in Melbourne that was un-English and strange to a new comer. 
Melbourne did not at all come up to Harriett's expectations, though what she had expected it would have been difficult to tell. She had wished to go to Victoria because it would be a novelty to her - it would be so different from England that it would be amusing - but every difference that she observed, and she was very quick in observing such things, was always for the worse. There was, of course, the difference of climate, which led to many alterations in dress and manner of living, and which would reasonably lead to more if the English colonist was not so much wedded to old customs and costumes. The heat [72] and dust Harriett found to be insupportable, and the dress which was most suited to it was so unbecoming, particularly the gentlemen's dress, with the endless variety of hats for head-covering. Dr. Grant, who stood a good deal on the dignity of his profession, when in Melbourne wore dark clothes and a black hat even in the heat of summer, and that weighed in his favour with Harriett. The noise and bustle of Melbourne was so different from what she had been accustomed to in Derbyshire - indeed it was more like Liverpool than any part of London she had seen - a poor edition of Liverpool; and that was the city of which the Victorians were so proud. She could not enter into the natural liking of a people for a town that they have seen with their own eyes grow from a mere hamlet of rude huts to a handsome, paved, lighted, commercial city like Melbourne - who identify themselves with its progress, having watched the growth of every improvement. They wonder that it does not strike strangers as being as astonishing as it appears to be to themselves. 
[74] Mrs. Phillips had no acquaintances in Melbourne; but Mr. Phillips and Dr. Grant knew a good many people, who were disposed to be very friendly to Harriett, but she did not feel very grateful for such kindness. She fancied that her position and education, and her being recently out from England ought to give her an overpowering prestige in these half-savage lands, and though she lost no chance of laughing or censuring anything which she thought colonial, she could not bear being talked of as a new chum, whose opinions should be kept for two years at least before they were worth anything, and whose advice was probably worth nothing at any time. 
Amongst other subjects for censure, the great freedom of manners, particularly amongst young people of different sexes towards each other, struck Miss Phillips forcibly. She had observed at evening parties, at picnics, and at places of public amusement, the very unrestrained way in which they talked and behaved, and she thought the colonial girls were badly trained, and that they ought to be more carefully watched by [74] mothers and chaperones. At the same time she took full latitude herself, and did many things on the strength of her being in Australia, where people might do as they liked, that surprised even the colonial girls themselves. 
If she remarked on their flirtations with their old friends, they could not help observing Miss Phillips's prepossession towards her new acquaintance, and laughing at the manner in which the two seemed wrapped up in each other. How could she endure his returning to Ben More, and leaving her, perhaps, for another month in Melbourne without his society, was a question which they frequently put to each other; but she solved that difficulty to her own satisfaction and as much to their amusement. 
"I am very sorry to leave you," said Dr. Grant one day to the object of his attentions, "but I must go. Business must not be neglected. I cannot be flying about like Brandon, letting my affairs go to ruin. I hope you will not be long in coming to Wiriwilta, Miss Phillips." 
"Not very long I suppose," said Harriett. [75] "Indeed, I think there is nothing to prevent Mrs. Phillips from going home now, if she would only believe so." 
"Nothing whatever," said Grant. 
"I am quite wearying to see Wiriwilta," said Harriett: "the children's letters are quite rapturous about its beauties, and Miss Melville, too, seems very much pleased. You will like Miss Melville, I am sure. You like Scotch people, I know." 
"If I do not like Miss Melville better than her sister, my liking will not go very far," said Grant. 
"Do you know Stanley thought Alice quite pretty at first - I don't see it. Miss Melville is what people call plain, but I prefer her appearance to Alice's, and she is very clever and strong-minded. I quite expect you to fall in love with Miss Melville," said Harriett, with a little laugh. 
"No fear of that. I have no fancy for strong-minded women. Not but what I like a good understanding and good sense in a lady, but let each sex keep to its own department. But, [76] Miss Phillips, if you really want to go to Wiriwilta, I can drive you up - or, better still, you could ride. You are an admirable horsewoman, as I know, and I have an excellent horse in town that would carry you easily that distance without fatiguing you. It would be a beautiful ride. You would see the country so well as you go along." 
"I should like to go, of all things," said Harriett; "but what would Stanley say?" 
"Oh, I will tell him it was quite unnecessary for you to stay with Mrs. Phillips, and it will be the easier for his horses to bring up the rest of them, if you have gone before," said Grant. 
"Well, I am really tired of Melbourne; I think I have seen all that is to be seen, and I dare say there are some preparations and arrangements I could make before Mrs. Phillips comes up, so as to make her more comfortable, though I dare say Miss Melville has done her best. Still, there are things that one of the family can do which strangers cannot be expected to attend to." 
[77] "Certainly," said Dr. Grant; "I can imagine your presence at Wiriwilta will make things more comfortable for all parties." 
"And, by-the-by, Emily and Harriett will be neglecting their music, and I engaged to see to that so long as I remained in Victoria, as Miss Melville knows no music." 
"No music!" said Dr. Grant; "that is a singular sort of governess to engage for young ladies up the country." 
"She is wonderfully clever about other things, and brings on the children very nicely. When I compare them with the girls of their own age whom I have seen in Melbourne, I cannot help congratulating my brother on having brought out a governess with him. It would have been better, of course, if she had been English, but Miss Melville is not painfully Scotch." 
"I hope you have no dislike to Scotch people," said Grant. "I myself glory in my country." 
"Oh, I quite understand your feelings. If I had been born in Scotland, I should have felt the same, I dare say," said Harriett. 
[78] "But, with regard to this drive or ride to Wiriwilta?" said Grant. 
"How long should we be on the road?" asked Harriett. 
"Two days, I think. We would stay all night at Mrs. Ballantyne's, a very old friend of mine, and an acquaintance of your brother. Ballantyne and I were fellow-passengers when we first came out. They will receive you with bush hospitality. I should like to introduce you to Scotch bush hospitality, and it is a pretty place, too; rather romantically situated." 
"I should really like to see it, for I want to study Australian scenery and Australian manners during my short stay in the colony, to see as much as I can while I am among you savages." 
"Then, shall it be a ride or a drive?" asked Dr. Grant. 
"I think I should prefer driving," said Harriett; "but I must first consult Mrs. Phillips. I do not suppose that she can enlighten me much, but as Stanley's wife I owe her that courtesy." [79] So Harriett, with a condescending smile, took leave of her admirer. 
Mrs. Phillips was in an exceedingly bad humour, but she made no objection to Harriett's going away. She did not quite believe in the zeal for the children's music or for her comfort, which Miss Phillips professed, but she was tired of having the name of her society without the reality of it. As for the impropriety of her sister-in-law's travelling all that distance with a single gentleman, either riding or driving, Mrs. Phillips had never decided any question of the kind for herself or others since she had been married. She had always acted as her husband thought proper, that is to say, she might often have made mistakes or done wrong if he had not prevented her, and the proposition did not strike her as at all objectionable. Elsie wondered if there was an engagement between her and Dr. Grant, when a young lady of such strict principles proposed so singular an expedition. Harriett was not at all quick at reading countenances, and was particularly dull in the interpretation of [80] Elsie's; but as some idea of the kind had dimly occurred to herself, she gave it voice and explained her views on the subject, in Elsie's hearing, to Mrs. Phillips. 
"Of course I should never think of such an adventurous journey in England, but here it seems the fashion to do just as is most convenient to ourselves; and for your sake and that of the children, I think it is better that I should go first. Dr. Grant being a professional man, and such an old friend of my brother's, will be an excellent escort, and I am really desirous of seeing a little of the roughness of colonial life. We will stay all night at Mr. Ballantyne's, and reach Wiriwilta in good time the second day. I will see to have everything comfortable for you, Lily, my dear, before you come up. I wish you could accompany me. Dr. Grant says you could go up now, if you were disposed." 
"I am not going to Wiriwilta till Stanley comes himself to fetch me, for I am so timid with any one else driving on these dreadful roads; and as for what Dr. Grant says about my being [81] fit for the journey, he is not my medical man this time, so I won't go by his advice. Besides, he don't understand my constitution as Dr. M---- does," said Mrs. Phillips. 
"I feel very sorry to leave you, Lily," said Harriett. 
"Oh, I dare say I'll get on very well, even without you. Alice and nurse will do for me until Stanley comes. Tell him how I weary to see him the very first thing you say when you see him. Whenever he's done with going over the stations, beg him to come down. Alice has written for me to tell him to make haste. I am not strong enough yet to sit up to write." 
The idea that Harriett might hasten her husband's return to her, helped to reconcile Mrs. Phillips to the very cavalier treatment she received from that young lady. 
Harriett enjoyed her drive exceedingly. Dr. Grant knew who lived in a great many houses that they passed, and they carried with them the great subject of agreeable conversation in themselves. The Derbyshire country and the Highland [82] scenery was compared and contrasted with the Victorian, very much to the disadvantage of the latter, which, indeed, did not look its best, but its very worst at this time. Mr. Ballantyne's station Harriett confessed to be rather prettily situated; but things in the house were much rougher than she had expected, and the house itself was of a very irregular and primitive style of architecture - the slab hut enlarged so as to be tolerably commodious; yet, still, the very house that the squatter had built, partly with his own hands, in the early days of the colony. He had not been a fortunate man, but he had got his head above water since the gold discoveries; and he was not so imprudent as to involve himself again by building a handsome house so long as the old one would do. Mrs. Ballantyne had an overweening opinion of the advantages of English society and English education, and received Miss Phillips with an amount of adulation quite beyond anything she had ever met with in her life; which was all the more effective from its being perfectly sincere. Her own children [83] were but half educated, and very deficient in acquired manner; and they too looked with awe on Mr. Phillips's English sister, who was so self-possessed and so fashionably dressed. To a person less conscious of her own superiority, Mrs. Ballantyne's profuse apologies for everything and everybody would have been rather painful; but Harriett received them graciously, and told Dr. Grant that she felt quite delighted with this first specimen of bush hospitality, and with his Scotch friends. 
Dr. Grant on his side was exceedingly proud of his companion, and felt quite sure of his success with her; he never had been so agreeable as during this long drive, and when they appeared at Wiriwilta, on the second day, in time for an early tea, both travellers were full of spirits, and not at all tired. Mr. Phillips was not at home, and not expected for some days. Jane was somewhat surprised by the appearance of Miss Phillips under such care, but received her politely and kindly. 
Dr. Grant had to go home to attend to business, [84] but promised to ride across to Wiriwilta, as soon as possible, to see if Miss Phillips had not suffered any fatigue from the long journey over such rough roads. 
It was rather flat at the station for Harriett on the following day. She was disappointed with the house, for though it was a great deal better than Mrs. Ballantyne's, it was not so large or so convenient as she had expected. She could not take any interest in the many things which the children showed her, which they thought so beautiful - their pet animals, the few wild flowers they could find at this season of the year, their. dear old trees, their pretty walks, the native boy Jim, Mrs. Bennett's baby, and the curious windmill that Mr. Tuck had made for them with his clasp knife and some twigs. She could not be troubled with such childish talk; she wanted rational conversation; but when Jane Melville sat beside her, and conversed in her own quiet sensible way, she felt even that to be unsatisfactory. 
A new element had entered into Miss Phillips's [85] life. She was, after her fashion, in love; and she was restless and dissatisfied without the presence of the beloved object. Dr. Grant was just long enough away to be very welcome when he came; and Jane was a little amused at the manner in which Harriett threw off her languid air of indifference, and talked to this (to Jane) most uninteresting Scotchman, who was so full of national pride and personal vanity. Jane was very cosmopolitan in her ideas, both by nature and by education. Her uncle had always had more pride in being a Briton than a North Briton, and never had fired up with indignation at Scotland being included or merged in England. She did not think Scotchmen intrinsically more capable than English; there was a greater diffusion of elementary knowledge in the northern part of the island, but she thought that in society Englishmen were more agreeable than Scotch, as a general rule, because they were more certain of their own position. Scotch and Irish people are apt to be afraid that they are looked down upon, and are too often on the look-out for slights [86] to be resented, whereas Englishmen, who do not know much of continental feelings and habits of thought, have a comfortable conviction that the greatest country in the world belongs to them, and that nobody can dispute it. Dr. Grant was surprised at Jane's want of nationality, and confided to Harriett that he was greatly disappointed in her; and in spite of Harriett's professed regard for Jane, she could not help seeing the faults which this keen-sighted observer pointed our. 
One day when Dr. Grant and Harriett were in the enjoyment of each other's company, and flirting in their own interesting manner, and Jane was sitting beside them with the children, Mr. Brandon and Edgar made their appearance. Emily and little Harriett met Brandon with acclamations, and the little ones rejoiced over him in a very noisy manner, too. Jane gave him a hearty welcome, for she was really delighted to see his face again, but Miss Phillips and Dr. Grant were scarcely so affectionate. 
"Well, here comes the recreant knight," said [87] Miss Phillips. "What have you got to say for yourself, Mr. Brandon?" 
"To say for myself! Oh! I have a great deal to say for myself. I have seen a great deal since we parted in London." 
"But why have you left your own business and my brother's, and gone wool-gathering in South Australia?" 
"I have just gone wool-gathering, and that must be my excuse. Phillips will admire the sheep, I am sure. They have just got home in first-rate condition; easy travelling and plenty of time. But where is Mr. Phillips and Mrs. Phillips?" 
"Oh, mamma is in Melbourne, and we have got a new little brother, and his name is to be Vivian, after uncle Vivian, you know; and papa is out over the runs, and will be back on Saturday; and I am sure he will be very glad to see you, and Edgar too, I dare say," said Emily. 
"And where is your sister, Miss Melville? Has she come out to Australia with you? Is she quite well?" asked Brandon. 
[88] "Quite well," said Harriett; "she is in Melbourne with Mrs. Phillips. We expect them out in a week or two, or perhaps as much as three weeks, for Mrs. Phillips fancies she cannot stand the journey for some time." 
"Alice has not seen Wiriwilta yet," said Emily. "I know she will think it very pretty; Miss Melville likes it very much." 
"And you have got quite strong, Emily?" said Brandon. 
"Quite strong again. I can walk to the water-holes near the grove of young gum-trees and back again without being a hit tired. We have such lovely walks every day with Miss Melville. And do you know Mr. Brandon, my dear old Cockey died just after you and Edgar went away to Adelaide; but I have got another - such a beauty - and two such lovely parrots. Jim got them for me. You can't think how glad Harriett and I were to see Jim. And Mrs. Bennett has got another baby, and I'm to be godmother, and it's to be called Emily; and Mrs. Tuck has got another too, ever so fat. [89] We have not seen our own baby brother yet." 
"But how does it happen that you did not write to me? I got one letter telling me little Eva was dead, and that you were getting better; but next month I did not hear a syllable, good or bad, from any of you." 
"Because we were on board ship by that time, before the mail from Australia came in. Papa thought we would be all here sooner than we were - but it was a delightful voyage. We had Mr. Dempster - you know Mr. Dempster - and such a lot of nice Adelaide children. I was so sorry to bid good-bye to Rose; she was my friend all the voyage; and there were some very nice gentlemen, too. It was quite as nice a voyage as the last, only that Miss Melville made us do lessons all the time; and perhaps after all it was as well that she did." 
"I never heard such a chatterbox as you are, Emily," said her aunt. 
"Did you find the voyage pleasant, Miss Phillips?" asked Brandon. 
[90] "Oh, yes, very pleasant indeed." 
"I did not think you would condescend to visit our rude latitudes," said Brandon. 
"Oh, I am really quite enjoying my visit. Stanley was greatly pleased at my proposal to come out, for he thought it such an excellent thing for the family. I am only on a visit, you know. I cannot say how I should like Victoria for a permanence, but I like the novelty for the present." 
"And your cousin is in Parliament, I hear, and likely to distinguish himself, Miss Melville," said Brandon. "I hope that you and your sister do not despise us poor colonial people." 
"Certainly not," said Jane; "indeed, Francis says that he got most of his best ideas from Mr. Sinclair, who had been in Canada and the United States, and from a conversation between you and Mr. Phillips and Mr. Dempster the first day he dined with us in London. He says nothing sharpens an Englishman up like intercourse with such pushing, energetic, straightforward people as colonists." 
[91] "That is high praise from a British member of Parliament. I owe him something for that. But did you see Peggy before you left?" 
"Yes; we went up to bid her good-bye. I think she will not be long in joining us," said Jane. 
"Well," said Grant, who, as well as Harriett, felt that Miss Melville was receiving more than her fair share of Brandon's conversation, "you have not given at all a satisfactory account of yourself. You have been figuring away in Adelaide, I suppose, and enjoying yourself, and leaving your own affairs and Mr. Phillips's affairs to mind themselves." 
"And you have been figuring away in Melbourne, Dr. Grant," said Emily - she could not bear any aspersion to be cast on her friend, Brandon - "and then you brought Aunt Harriett away; so you leave no one with poor mamma but Alice. I am wearying so to see mamma and the baby boy." 
"Suppose you go with me," said Brandon; "for I am going to Melbourne to-morrow to [92] see them, and I have some business there besides." 
"Oh! that would be delightful. Miss Melville, may I go?" 
"I think not, Emily," said Jane. "Your mamma will be soon here, and your papa will be disappointed to find you gone when he comes here. I should not wonder that he will take you with him when he goes himself, and that would be better, I think." 
"Much better," said Miss Phillips. "I wonder that you could think of such a thing as troubling Mr. Brandon to take care of you all that long way." 
Emily made rather a pertinent remark as to her aunt showing her the example, at which Miss Phillips blushed, and Grant looked conscious but delighted. He could not conceive what was taking Brandon to Melbourne immediately on his return from Adelaide; he did not believe his assertion that he had business to attend to there. It was another sign of his being spoiled by his visit to England - it had completely unsettled him. 
[93] Now that Brandon had heard that his letter had never reached Elsie, and consequently that he had not been treated by her with discourtesy or unkindness, he felt relieved; but, at the same time, a little sorry that all his trouble had been wasted, and that it was all to do over again. A few months ago he had lamented that he could not have it out by word of mouth; but now he regretted this letter had not, at least, broken the ice, and inclined her to listen to his suit. However, things had come to such a pass that he could not wait an indefinite time; he must go to Melbourne and learn his fate without delay. He left Edgar at Wiriwilta, where Emily thought him very much improved, and where the boy was exceedingly happy. He took a great fancy to Miss Melville, who was very different from the fond anxious women who had brought him up, but whose experiences with the Lowries had given her great interest in boys of that age, and who knew so much on all subjects that she never failed to win upon them, if they were tolerably intelligent and well disposed. 

[94] [V.iii] Chapter VI. Mrs. Peck's Progress
All things continued favourable to Mrs. Peck's plans - she met with no disaster by sea in her voyage from Adelaide to Melbourne; the 'Havilah' brought her to her destination in three days, and she landed on the familiar shores with a light and hopeful heart. She was not long in discovering where Mrs. Phillips lived, which was in East Melbourne; and as no time was to be lost, she repaired to the house on the very day on which she landed, dressed decently and respectably, like the wife of an artisan, or perhaps with more of the appearance of a monthly nurse. 
The girl who opened the door asked her name [95] when she requested to see Mrs. Phillips, and she announced herself, not as Mrs. Peck, but as Mrs. Mahoney, under which name she had taken out her passage, and begged to see the missis by herself for a few minutes. Mrs. Phillips was then sitting in an easy-chair in the drawing-room, the nurse was engaged with the baby, and Elsie busy in Mrs. Phillips's room; so the stranger was introduced to have a quiet interview with her daughter. 
"Well, Betsy, do you not recollect me?" said Mrs. Peck, in a subdued but intensely earnest voice, whenever the girl was out of hearing. "Have you forgotten your own mother?" 
Mrs. Phillips grew deadly pale, and was about to scream. 
"Hush! Betsy, be quiet," said her mother. "I've only come to pay you a friendly visit. I've longed so to see you again all these years, and now I heard you was by yourself, I thought I must run all risks to get a look at you. Why, how handsome you've grown, and everything handsome about you, too;" and Mrs. Peck [96] gazed with wondering admiration at the beautiful, well-dressed, queen-like woman whom she had parted with when a mere girl, and had never seen since her marriage. "Rings on your fingers, and a gold chain round your neck, and everything you can wish for. Oh, Betsy, I made your fortune, and you never take a thought for me. I might be dead and buried, and you'd never care a straw. I have had a hard life, a very hard life - tossed about from place to place, and often in want of many things that at my time of life I need to get - and you in such luxury. My pretty girl, my beautiful daughter!" 
Whatever might have been the resemblance between mother and daughter, there were but slight traces of it now. Mrs. Peck might have been beautiful at sixteen, but her life had not been so conservative of her charms as Mrs. Phillips's was; besides, Mrs. Phillips resembled her father much more than her mother, and he had been of a much more lymphatic temperament, and was at the same time a remarkably [97] handsome man. Mrs. Peck was not yet sixty, but she looked old for her years, and more like the grandmother than the mother of Mrs. Phillips, whose easy circumstances, indulgent husband, and indolent, self-regarding life, with no emotion and little excitement, had kept her face free from a single line of care or anxiety. Her mother's face was ploughed up with innumerable lines, and her features seemed to work with every varying passion, while her expression was hungry, eager, and wolf-like, without showing anything more intellectual than cunning, even in its calmest moments. 
"Oh!" said Mrs. Phillips, "if Stanley was to find you here, he would never forgive me." 
"Is it your fault that I could not rest till I saw you again? I never thought he'd be so cruel and unreasonable as to blame you for what I'd do." 
"But I heard you was in Adelaide, and Mr. Phillips says that, as long as you stay in Adelaide, he will see that you know no want. [98] Oh, mother, you had better go back to Adelaide!" said Mrs. Phillips. 
"Is that my girl as is talking?" said Mrs. Peck, disdainfully, - "my girl as I loved so dear, and was so proud of - that now, when I've come all the way from Adelaide, and risked all I've got to depend upon, just to please my old eyes with the sight of her handsome face, and my poor old ears with the sound of her voice, would banish me the minute I come! That's a pretty husband you've got - that you're so afeard of him. You deserve that your children should turn against you when they grow up. Oh, Betsy, how can you talk so cruel?" and the old woman caught her daughter's hand, and kissed it with much apparent, and no doubt some real feeling. "You're not expecting of him home for a while; let me come and let me go while he is away - my name is Mrs. Mahoney. Say as how I am an old servant of your mother's, or an old servant you had at Wiriwilta, or the mother of some one you know - call me what you like, but let me just have the liberty to come [99] and see you and the baby, and then I will go back to Adelaide, and Mr. Phillips need never know nothing about it?" 
Invention was not one of Mrs. Phillips's talents, but her mother revelled in it, as I have said before. She delighted to go amongst people who did not know her, where she could give out an entirely fictitious history of herself quite new. Even to her intimate acquaintances her narrations were singularly inconsistent. When her interest demanded that she should speak the truth she did so, but it was with an effort; when the balance lay the other way she had no hesitation and no scruple. 
"I ain't good at these stories, mother," said Mrs. Phillips, "and I don't just see what good it will do me to get into trouble with Stanley on your account. It is just the one thing he is unreasonable about. When he married me he said he made only one stipulation, and that was, that I should have nothing to do with you or with Peck, and I said I wouldn't." 
Mrs. Peck here began to sob, and Elsie [100] who was sewing in the next room, hearing a little noise, and afraid that Mrs. Phillips was not well, came in at this moment. Mrs. Phillips was quite at a loss to account for the emotion of her visitor, but her mother was equal to the emergency. 
"I am sure, Mrs. Phillips, I cannot say what I feel," said she, "but your goodness really overpowers me. To think as the little girl as I knowed when she played with my poor Susan as is now no more should recollect me now she's growed up so beautiful, and had such a fine house of her own, and should help me in my troubles! It is quite too much for me. But all I want is just a little to start me in a way of business, and I'll be sure to pay it back again if I get on - and I have got a good connection, a capital connection - your liberality I can never forget;" and Mrs. Peck fumbled with her purse, and looked very hard at Elsie. This was the person whom she wished to see, even more than her ungrateful daughter, from whom she had expected a kinder reception. Elsie looked simple- [101] minded enough - there was no doubt she would be easily dealt with, and much better by speech than by letter. 
"This is your maid, I suppose?" 
Mrs. Phillips assented. 
Mrs. Peck turned to Elsie and said, "I think as how the missis wants some sal volatile; she looks a bit faint - she don't seem to be strong yet." 
Elsie fetched the sal volatile, and gave Mrs. Phillips a little of it, and then returned to her work. She was puzzled at the stranger's speaking of Mrs. Phillips's liberality - for she was not generally liberal - and at her fumbling at her purse as if she had received money, for she knew that Mrs. Phillips had left her purse in her bedroom. 
"You must let me come and go for the few days I am to stay in Melbourne, Betsy," said her mother. 
"Oh, I'd rather give you money, if you need it - at least, all I've got." 
"I fear I will need money to take me back, [102] for I made such an effort to get across, but I could not help it. But I won't hurt you, Betsy, and I may do you good. What sort of girl is it that you've got?" 
"Oh, a very clever milliner, and a handy girl enough. Stanley says he thinks her pretty, but I don't see it. He makes a great fuss over both her and her sister, but Jane is plain." 
"If he says he thinks her pretty, I'd not keep her in the house if I was you. I know what men are," said Mrs. Peck. 
"I don't think you know what Stanley is," said Mrs. Phillips, with some dignity. "I did not like it at first, but I ain't frightened now; and besides, they are both so badly off it's quite a charity to keep them." 
"If she is a milliner, I know of a capital situation," said Mrs. Peck. 
"Stanley would be in a pretty state if I let her go to a situation of your recommending," said Mrs. Phillips. 
"Oh, I don't mean to meddle with your affairs; but young people are very unwary. [103] You think as how you're too handsome for your husband to think of looking at another woman; but I know the world better nor that. Howsomever, that is neither here nor there. But you know I am risking my annuity from Mr. Phillips by coming here to see you; but I heard in Adelaide that for the first time since you was married I might have the chance of seeing you, without making dispeace, which is the last thing I would wish to do. So, Betsy, if you will be reasonable, and let me come again, as Mrs. Mahoney (an old neighbour in New South Wales), and help me, as you say, with money to take me away, I will be as quiet as a mouse. It is a pleasure to see you, and to speak to you. Give me a little needlework, and let me sit with your maid, and just have a look at you now and then, and at the baby. I ain't seen none of your children, Betsy. Because you've been so well off, and had no cares, you shouldn't turn off your mother in that unfeeling way." 
[104] "Oh, I wish I dare do it. But if Stanley was to come - he may come suddenly. I've sent him a message to hurry home. You can't think what a good, kind husband he is to me, mother. But he'd be furious if he found you here." 
"Oh, if he comes home you do not need me to work any longer; and you can give the girl that message; and you can drop me a hint if I happen to be in the house. Even if he was to see me here, I know I could find some reason. I am never without an excuse." 
Mrs. Phillips was not particularly fond of her mother, who had been very harsh and violent-tempered to her in her childish days, while she was as fond of her husband as she could be of any one but herself, and she knew with what abhorrence he regarded this fierce, cunning old woman. She wished Mrs. Peck to be satisfied with this one visit and to come back no more, for she feared that Alice and the other servants might suspect something, and she had no confidence in her own powers of concealment. But Mrs. Peck had more ammunition in her chest; she again began to sob, and showed symptoms of going into violent hysterics, and bewailed her own hard lot and the cruelty of her ungrateful daughter so loudly, that she was glad to agree to her demands to make her keep quiet for the present. 
[105] Mrs. Peck then saw the baby, which she admired exceedingly, and accepted of some refreshments. Mrs. Phillips got her purse, and really gave her some money; and shortly after, her mother took leave, engaging to come back on the following morning to do some needlework, and uttering many blessings on Mrs. Phillips for her kindness and generosity in Alice's hearing. Mrs. Phillips looked greatly relieved when she was out of the house, but the apprehension of her return weighed considerably on her mind. 

[106] [V.iii] Chapter VII. Business Interrupted By Love
Mrs. Peck appeared on the following day, according to promise, carrying a little black bag, containing scissors, yard-measure, and a few other implements of needlework, all perfectly new; and after a short conversation with Mrs. Phillips and a little refreshment, she sat down beside Elsie to ingratiate herself with that young lady. Elsie thought she had never seen any one so ignorant of the work she had set about as Mrs. Mahoney appeared to be. She confessed that she was not skilful, and it showed all the more kindness in Mrs. Phillips to give her work when she had had so little practice, and did it so badly. She had been accustomed to go out as a nurse, [107] she said; but she had got too old for that, and could not stand the sitting up of nights; and then she branched off into accounts of dreadful experiences in nursing, and deathbeds, and awful operations, that were enough to make Elsie's hair stand on end. She found fault with Mrs. Phillips's nurse as being too much of the fine lady, and told Elsie what she considered to be a nurse's duties, which she would like to do if she was only fit for it. Then she threw herself on Elsie's good nature for a little lesson in needlework, admired her quickness and taste and skill, wished she could do anything half as well, and asked her to be good enough to cut out and place her work for her, and to lend her patterns, and altogether behaved with the most insinuating affability. 
Although Elsie Melville looked simple-minded, she was by no means wanting in observation, and her situation with Mrs. Phillips and her sister-in-law had taught her a wonderful amount of prudence. She thought there was some inconsistency in Mrs. Mahoney's fluent narratives, [108] and something very peculiar in her relations with Mrs. Phillips, who appeared to be restless and uncomfortable whenever she was in the house. Elsie was, however, good-natured enough to give her some instruction, for which great gratitude was expressed. On the third day of her visits, when apparently occupied in learning how to do featherstitch for trimming baby's pinafores, Mrs. Peck looked up from her work, and asked Elsie if she did not come from ----shire. 
"That was my native county," said Elsie. 
"Do you know Cross Hall at all?" asked Mrs. Peck. 
"I was brought up there," said Elsie. 
"I come from that county, too," said Mrs. Peck. 
"I did not think you had been Scotch," said Elsie. 
"I have been in these colonies for thirty-four years, and seen but few of my own country folks; but the English say they'd know me to be Scotch by my accent." 
"Well, perhaps your accent is a little like [109] that of ----shire, when I come to think of it; but the turn of your expressions is not Scotch at all," said Elsie. "Thirty-four years is a long time, however; I may, perhaps, get rid of some of my own Scotticisms by that time." 
"I knew Hogarth of Cross Hall, very well, when I was young," said Mrs. Peck. "Do you mean to say you was brought up there?" 
"Mr. Hogarth was my uncle," said Elsie. 
"Oh, you must be a daughter of his sister Mary's; I fancy there was only the one daughter that lived to grow up. But if Cross Hall was your uncle, how came you to be in this situation?" said Mrs. Peck, with feigned astonishment. 
"My sister and I were educated by him; he was exceedingly kind to us as long as he lived." 
"But his property did not come to you; - the heir-at-law swallowed up all," said Mrs. Peck, with a fierce glare in her eyes that she could not quite subdue. "It is very hard on you." 
"We have felt it rather hard," said Elsie; "but still things have been worse for us at one [110] time than they are now. Jane and I can earn our own living, and that is the position of most people in the world." 
"What would you give now," said Mrs. Peck, "if you could get back to Cross Hall, and be just as you used to be?" 
"I cannot say what I would give," said Elsie. "But it is impossible. Unless we could restore my poor uncle to life, things could never be again as they used to be." 
"And the new man might have helped you, and not have driven you to seek service at the ends of the earth. Would you not like to serve him out?" said Mrs. Peck with the same subdued fierceness as before. 
Elsie's instinctive sincerity would have led her to justify Francis, by explaining about the will, but she felt reluctant to say anything to this strange woman that she could help. Besides, though she knew nothing of the letter that had been sent by Mrs. Peck to her cousin, and left unanswered, at Mr. Phillips's earnest request, she was beginning to suspect something of the truth. [111] Mrs. Peck's courting her so assiduously had puzzled her; and now the interest she felt in this story, which was all the more apparent to a keen observer from the efforts she made to conceal it, showed that she knew more about the matter than she liked at once to disclose. 
Elsie had a good eye for likenesses, and could see family resemblances where no one else could; and it had always struck her as very remarkable that there was not the slightest resemblance between Francis and her uncle, nor between him and any other member of the family whom she had seen or whose portraits had been preserved. Not merely were the features and complexion unlike, but there was not a trick of the countenance or of the gait reproduced, as is generally the case with the sons of fathers who had such marked characteristics as Henry Hogarth. Though she had not heard of Mrs. Peck's letter, Jane had told her about Madame de Véricourt's to her uncle, and in her own heart she had fancied that the reason why he had been so cold to Francis was, that he had been doubtful of the [112] paternity; the very indifferent character of the woman he had married was not calculated to inspire him with confidence, and the absolute absence of all family likeness was an additional cause of distrust. He must have been satisfied on that point, however, in later years, or he would not have been so strong in his prohibition of his marriage with Jane or Elsie on account of his cousinship; but, in early life, he must, in Elsie's opinion, have had grave doubts on the subject. 
She looked again more careful than before at Mrs. Peck. She was of the age to be Francis's mother, but otherwise she was quite at fault; there was not any likeness there either. A conformation of the little finger was rather peculiar, but it was an exaggeration of a little defect on Mrs. Phillips's otherwise very handsome hand, but not of Francis Hogarth's. 
"If Francis has no right to the property, and we have, of course we should like to have our rights," said Elsie. 
"It was a Scotch marriage, you know," said Mrs. Peck. 
[113] "Yes, but a binding one; he is received everywhere as my uncle's lawful son." 
"Yes, as his lawful son, no doubt. Do you know if he has brought forward his mother at all?" said Mrs. Peck. 
"No; I suppose she is dead, or we should certainly have heard of her." 
"Dead, you suppose!" said Mrs. Peck, indignantly; "that is the easy way of getting quit of relations that has got claims on you - just Suppose them dead?" 
"I do not know anything of the matter, except that she has not been heard of. If she were alive and heard of his inheriting this property, she would be sure to write claiming him, and probably asking for assistance, which I have no doubt she would at once receive, for he has ample means, and has the character of being both just and liberal." 
"And you think she would apply; and you have no doubt that she ought to have got it? Any one would have thought that," said Mrs. Peck, between her set teeth. 
[114] "Yes, certainly," said Elsie; "but perhaps she did not go the right way to work?" 
"She did," said Mrs. Peck, indignantly. "I knowed her well, and heard all about it." 
This was to throw Elsie off her guard, for she did not wish to be identified at once; but it had not the effect desired, for Elsie felt convinced that this was the person who claimed to be Francis's mother. 
Mrs. Phillips came in at this interesting poise in the conversation, and began to give Elsie directions as to some alterations in a dress. 
"There's some buttons and trimmings to get to make it up with. Alice, you had better go to town and get them for me. You need a walk, at any rate; I do not think you've had your walk at all regularly of late," said Mrs. Phillips.