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the elder brother. But, on whichever side the blame lay, a terrible retribution had fallen upon both young men. Late one night-a night in midsummer-Viscount Longenvale had been heard speaking in an unusually loud and angry key in the bedchamber of his brother. The servants, however, who had overheard the disturbance, had been too much accustomed to similar sounds to take much notice of this.
“There's them two at it again-like hammer and tongs-least. ways, the viscount's at it !” one gentleman with very fine calves had observed to another equally favoured by nature, as they caught the echo of a passionate roll of abuse, in passing the end of the corridor, on their way to their own nightly quarters.
But neither they, nor others of the household, had experienced more than a momentary sense of alarm, even when a louder cry of wrath or excitement had been instantaneously followed by a dead silence between the combatants.
But with the morning had come a terrible explanation of that sudden silence. Viscount Longenvale had been found lying on a stone parapet twenty feet below the open window of his brother's room, unconscious and half dead. As for the Honourable Herbert ... was that the name? Yes, Olivia thought it was ... the Hon. Herbert Stenhouse—he had disappeared from his home, and never, from that day to this, had anything whatever been heard of him. What the occasion of that fateful quarrel had been, the viscount had never been known to disclose, but his fall from the window, he had declared, so soon as he was able to speak, had not been accidental. It was his brother who had pushed him through it, and whose flight had probably been occasioned by the belief that he had killed him. And, for a long time, it had been doubtful whether the injuries he had received might not indeed result in the unfortunate viscount's death. Ultimately, however, he had recovered—if it could be called recovery-when the use of both legs was entirely gone, and the spine remained seriously affected.
“Then the poor mother ”-Olivia continued, telling this tale to Claudia, who listened with a languid, lady-like interest - "the poor countess, already delicate, had faded away from the hour when the shock of that double disaster had come upon her; and the year after her death, Lord Westaxon had followed her to the grave, when the earldom, of course, had devolved upon the crippled elder son.”
“And how about the third son?" Claudia inquired ; “does he not live with his brother?”.
“No, Lord Westaxon lives alone-a wretched, misanthropic life. It is Rose who has gathered all this information about the family, you understand. No one dares speak to the earl himself either about his own physical injuries or his lost brother; and, naturally, after six years, the story is dying out in the districtespecially as the unfortunate man keeps himself so entirely aloof from society that people are apt to forget his existence. Scarcely a soul ever enters the gates of Westaxon Park but the doctor and my brother-in-law. Rose has never been there ; but the earl seems to have taken rather a fancy to the new vicar."
“Oh? Well, I don't wonder,” returned Claudia, with amiable politeness. “I thought Mr. Featherstone a charming man when I met him at your sister's wedding."
“Yes, Rose has been very fortunate in her husband,” resumed Miss Ashmead. “But you were asking about the third brotherthe Honourable George Stenhouse, his name is. He is married, and he lives in one of the northern counties-Lancashire, I believe. His wife was the daughter of a commoner-a man who had made an enormous fortune in trade, and who was knighted for entertaining royalty on the occasion of some passing visit to his native town. The daughter, being his only child, was, of course, a great heiress; and as money, in these days, is held to be of as much value as blood, I suppose the Hon. G. Stenhouse made a good match. At any rate, as the knight is dead, the property has now come to them, and they are immensely wealthy. Rose has been told that Mrs. Stenhouse is a year or two older than her husband, who was exactly twenty-one at the time of his marriage, and that there are two children-a boy and girl. And, you see, unless the missing brother turns up, the Hon. George or his son must be the next earl.”
“Yes, of course. I wonder if he ever will turn up! What do you think can have become of him? Why has he not been found ? Surely some steps must have been taken to discover his whereabouts ?” questioned Mrs. Douglas Awdry, with her mild interest in the story. Ah! if one of those mythical “little birds” that one hears of, as going about charged with one's own and one's neighbours' most occult secrets, had but been present to whisper a few Sibylline words in Mrs. Douglas's ear, it is possible that her interest in the Stenhouse family might have been slightly quickened !
As it was, when Miss Ashmead had replied that the general impression around Westaxton Park seemed to be that the lost young man must be dead, and that possibly he might have met his death by suicide, Claudia considered the subject exhausted, and proceeded to introduce another which she was never weary of discussing-to wit, the perfections of her baby, whose name, it had been decided, was to be Eustace.
(To be continued.)
DOIN THE RED SEA.
F all undesirable corners of the earth, none has left on my mind
a more dreary impression than Suez-a dismal settlement in the sand, in which, often as it has been my fate to visit it, I have failed to find a redeeming feature. Even its ruinous streets and bazaars lack the picturesqueness which generally attaches to all Oriental life, while the dirt and poverty of the hungry-looking people are too painfully prominent.
Close by the sea stands the one refuge for Europeans-a large hotel which rejoices in the monopoly of the victims who are here detained while waiting for their steamer, which may perhaps have stuck somewhere in the great canal—Old Egypt's new river-at whose mouth are stationed huge dredging-machines, which travel to and fro ceaselessly clearing the channel, and which, seen from the shore, are suggestive of black sea-monsters.
Just outside the harbour lies a low sandy island, which is used as a burying-ground, where many a homeward-bound wanderer has found a shallow grave beneath the scorching sand; many and many a nameless grave is there of those who, after long years of exile in India or China, started for “ England and home," but whose broken health vainly strove to battle with the perils of the Red Sea, so that life's flickering lamp burnt itself out as they touched the land. Happier they whose shorter struggle wins them a glorious tomb beneath the deep blue waves, rather than six feet of burning sand on this dreary island of the dead ! Not such an one as those peaceful green isles of the northern seas, where mosses and wild flowers cling round the old grey stones, making death itself beautiful, but a fiery spot where land and sea and sky all alike glare in a fierce red heat, the very abomination of desolation.
Red, rocky, sterile cliffs rise almost perpendicularly from the sea, and as they seem to glow like crimson fire in the scorching sunlight their colour is generally said to give its name to this sea, an explanation, however, which is unsatisfactory to say the least of it. And yet the origin of the name must perplex every new-comer, who, passing from the exquisitely clear green waters of the Suez Canal (the aqua
marine of shallow sea-water above a bed of white sand), finds himself floating on the beautiful deep blue of the gulf.
While pondering over this question I heard with exceeding interest the solution offered by two naval officers, who separately told me that in some of the broiling summer days, when not a breath stirred the sultry air or rippled the oily surface of the water, they had noticed a reddish scum gathered in places, and had little.doubt that to some such simple cause the name was due. Various other sailors less observant than these laughed at the notion and vowed that in all their longer experience such a thing had never been seen. It was the old story—"eyes” and “no eyes."
It was therefore with infinite pleasure that I stumbled on a passage in the writings of Moquin Tandon, in which he states that the Red Sea was so called from the prevalence of a minute bright red plant, so small that in one square inch twenty-five million plants find room to live. He quotes a passage from Ehrenberg who tells us how he saw from Tor, near Mount Sinai, the whole bay of which that village is the port, red as blood, the open sea keeping its ordinary colour. The wavelets carried to the shore during the heat of the day a purple mucilaginous matter, and left it upon the sand, so that in about half an hour the whole bay was surrounded by a red fringe, which, on examination, proved to consist of myriads of tiny bundles of fibres, about one-twelfth of an inch long, namely the red trichodesmium ; the water in which they floated was quite pure.
Another French traveller mentions that, as he sailed down the Red Sea, he suddenly observed that the water, as far as the eye could reach, appeared to be of a deep red colour. It was some hours before the ship in which he sailed passed through this strange expanse of blood-red ocean, which at length seemed to grow paler, and shortly he found himself once more looking down through clear depths of the usual intense blue.
Many other instances are recorded in which the presence of this tiny plant has seemed to turn the water into blood. In one case, near the island of Luçon, a French corvette came on an extent of thirty-five square miles of it, extending also to a great depth.
Monsieur Evenot Dupont tells us how in the Mauritius on one hot summer's day the sea, as far as the eye could reach, was tinted with red, its surface seemingly covered with a material of a brick-dust colour. This on investigation proved to be the same plant; when dried on linen, it became green.
Another traveller tells how on the coast of Chili he espied a dark red streak upon the sea ; when the vessel reached this, the water was found to be full of minute red particles, but whether animal or vegetable he failed to detect. It was four hours before the ship got away from this strange field, which, it was calculated, covered a surface of 168 square miles.
Darwin mentions having, on the same coast, witnessed a very similar phenomenon. He says that the vessel passed through broad bands of reddish water, which proved to be coloured by minute active animalcules, darting about, and of infinite number, none of them exceeding the one-thousandth part of an inch in length, and every drop of water containing many specimens. One of these bands of colour covered a space of several square miles.
The colour of the water, as seen at some distance, was like that of a river which has flowed through a red clay district ; but under the shade of the vessel's side it looked as dark as chocolate. The line where the red and blue water joined was distinctly defined. From this marvellous mass of millions upon millions of minute animalcules a few specimens were examined under the microscope, a matter of no small difficulty, owing to the amazing activity of their movementsan incessant motion, which seemed a necessary part of their existence, inasmuch as the moment it ceased they instantly expanded and burst-in so doing ejecting brown colouring matter.
In several places, in the course of one long voyage Mr. Darwin again observed kindred phenomena, in one case caused by myriads of crustacea, in form like prawns, which clung together in bands of a bright red colour. Again he noticed lines of red and yellow, several miles in length, but only a few yards in width, caused by gelatinous balls, apparently the spawn of some fish.
He quotes about twenty different travellers who have all described this same discoloration of the sea; in fact observes that in almost every long voyage some such description is given. Speaking of this reddish-brown weed, from which the Red Sea probably derives its name, he compared it to chopped hay, and observes that in Captain Cook's voyages the sailors bestowed on it the name of sea sawdust.
Lieutenant Ogilvie Grant tells me that when off the West Coast of Africa, about a day's steam north of the mouth of the Sierra Leone river, he passed through a broad belt of deep crimson water, and though the vessel was steaming rapidly, it took upwards of an hour to pass this strange band of colour. The surface water brought up in buckets was quite clear, and afforded no clue to the cause of the rosy hue.
Sir Emerson Tennent observed the same colouring as of frequent occurrence on the shores of Ceylon during the south-west monsoon,