Cord and Creese

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 week ago
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CHAPTER I.

THE LETTER FROM BEYOND THE SEA.

On the morning of July 21, 1840, the Daily News announced the arrival of the ship Rival at Sydney, New South Wales. As ocean steam navigation had not yet extended so far, the advent of this ship with the English mail created the usual excitement. An eager crowd beset the post-office, waiting for the delivery of the mail; and little knots at the street corners were busily discussing the latest hints at news which had been gathered from papers brought ashore by the officers or passengers.

At the lower end of King Street was a large warehouse, with an office at the upper extremity, over which was a new sign, which showed with newly gilded letters the words:

COMPTON & BRANDON.

The general appearance of the warehouse showed that Messrs. Compton and Brandon were probably commission merchants, general agents, or something of that sort.

On the morning mentioned two men were in the inner office of this warehouse. One was an elderly gentleman, with a kind, benevolent aspect, the senior partner of the firm. The other was the junior partner, and in every respect presented a marked contrast to his companion.

He had a face of rather unusual appearance, and an air which in England is usually considered foreign. His features were regular—a straight nose, wide brow, thin lips, and square, massive chin. His complexion was olive, and his eyes were of a dark hazel color, with a peculiarity about them which is not usually seen in the eye of the Teutonic or Celtic race, but is sometimes found among the people of the south of Europe, or in the East. It is difficult to find a name for this peculiarity. It may be seen sometimes in the gipsy; sometimes in the more successful among those who call themselves "spiritual mediums," or among the more powerful mesmerizers. Such an eye belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte, whose glance at times could make the boldest and greatest among his marshals quail. What is it? Magnetism? Or the revelation of the soul? Or what?

In this man there were other things which gave him the look of the great Napoleon. The contour of feature was the same: and on his brow, broad and massive, there might be seen those grand shadows with which French artists love to glorify the Emperor. Yet in addition to this he had that same serene immobility of countenance which characterized the other, which could serve as an impenetrable mask to hide even the intensest person.

There was also about this man a certain aristocratic air and grace of attitude, or of manner, which seemed to show lofty birth and gentle breeding, the mysterious index to good blood or high training. How such a man could have happened to fill the position of junior partner in a commission business was certainly a problem not easily solved. There he was, however, a man in appearance out of place, yet in reality able to fill that place with success; a man, in fact, whose resolute will enabled him to enforce success in any calling of life to which either outside circumstances or his own personal desires might invite him....