(Transcriber's Note: The following four chapters were taken from a print copy of a different edition as these chapters were missing from the 1889 print edition from which the rest of the Project Gutenberg edition was taken. In the inserted four chapters it will be noted that the normal double quotation marks were printed as single quote marks.)

Something have you heard

Of Hamlet's transformation; so call it—

... What it should be...

I cannot dream or

... gather

So much as from occasion you may glean

Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him.

At night we'll feast together:

Most welcome home!

Most fair return of greetings.Hamlet.

WHAT an extraordinary affair!' said Mrs. Crawford, turning from where she had been watching the departure of the colonel and his daughter and that tall handsome young friend of theirs whom they had called Standish MacDermot.

'I would not have believed it of Daireen. Standish MacDermot—what a dreadful Irish name! But where can he have been aboard the ship? He cannot have been one of those terrible fore-cabin passengers. Ah, I would not have believed her capable of such disingenuousness. Who is this young man, Jack?'

'My dear girl, never mind the young man or the young woman just now. We must look after the traps and get them through the Custom-house.' replied the major.

'Mr. Harwood, who is this young man with the terrible Irish name?' she asked in desperation of the special correspondent. She felt indeed in an extremity when she sought Harwood for an ally.

'I never was so much astonished in all my life,' he whispered in answer. 'I never heard of him. She never breathed a word about him to me.'

Mrs. Crawford did not think this at all improbable, seeing that Daireen had never breathed a word about him to herself.

'My dear Mr. Harwood, these Irish are too romantic for us. It is impossible for us ever to understand them.' And she hastened away to look after her luggage. It was not until she was quite alone that she raised her hands, exclaiming devoutly, 'Thank goodness Mr. Glaston had gone before this second piece of romance was disclosed! What on earth would he have thought!'

The reflection made the lady shudder. Mr. Glaston's thoughts, if he had been present while Daireen was bringing forward this child of mystery, Standish MacDermot, would, she knew, have been too terrible to be contemplated.

As for Mr. Harwood, though he professed to be affected by nothing that occurred about him, still he felt himself uncomfortably surprised by the sudden appearance of the young Irishman with whom Miss Gerald and her father appeared to be on such familiar terms; and as he stood looking up to that marvellous hill in whose shadow Cape Town lies, he came to the conclusion that it would be as well for him to find out all that could be known about this Standish MacDermot. He had promised Daireen's father to make use of one of his horses so long as he would remain at the Cape, and it appeared from all he could gather that the affairs in the colony were becoming sufficiently complicated to compel his remaining here instead of hastening out to make his report of the Castaway group. The British nation were of course burning to hear all that could be told about the new island colony, but Mr. Harwood knew very well that the heading which would be given in the columns of the 'Dominant Trumpeter' to any information regarding the attitude of the defiant Kafir chief would be in very much larger type than that of the most flowery paragraph descriptive of the charms of the Castaway group; and so he had almost made up his mind that it would be to the advantage of the newspaper that he should stay at the Cape. Of course he felt that he had at heart no further interests, and so long as it was not conflicting with those interests he would ride Colonel Gerald's horse, and, perhaps, walk with Colonel Gerald's daughter.

But all the time that he was reflecting in this consistent manner the colonel and his daughter and Standish were driving along the base of Table Mountain, while on the other side the blue waters of the lovely bay were sparkling between the low shores of pure white sand, and far away the dim mountain ridges were seen.

'Shall I ever come to know that mountain and all about it as well as I know our own dear Slieve Docas?' cried the girl, looking around her. 'Will you, do you think, Standish?'

'Nothing here can compare with our Irish land,' cried Standish.

'You are right my boy,' said Daireen's father. 'I have knocked about a good deal, and I have seen a good many places, and, after all, I have come to the conclusion that our own Suangorm is worth all that I have seen for beauty.'

'We can all sympathise with each other here,' said the girl laughing. 'We will join hands and say that there is no place in the world like our Ireland, and then, maybe, the strangers here will believe us.'

'Yes,' said her father, 'we will think of ourselves in the midst of a strange country as three representatives of the greatest nation in, the world. Eh, Standish, that would please your father.'

But Standish could not make any answer to this allusion to his father. He was in fact just now wondering what Colonel Gerald would say when he would hear that Standish had travelled six thousand miles for the sake of obtaining his advice as to the prudence of entertaining the thought of leaving home. Standish was beginning to fear that there was a flaw somewhere in the consistency of the step he had taken, complimentary though it undoubtedly was to the judgment of Colonel Gerald. He could hardly define the inconsistency of which he was conscious, but as the phaeton drove rapidly along the red road beside the high peak of the mountain he became more deeply impressed with the fact that it existed somewhere.

Passing along great hedges of cactus and prickly-pear, and by the side of some well-wooded grounds with acres of trim green vineyards, the phaeton proceeded for a few miles. The scene was strange to Daireen and Standish; only for the consciousness of that towering peak they were grateful. Even though its slope was not swathed in heather, it still resembled in its outline the great Slieve Docas, and this was enough to make them feel while passing beneath it that it was a landmark breathing of other days. Half way up the ascent they could see in a ravine a large grove of the silver-leaf fir, and the sun-glints among the exquisite white foliage were very lovely. Further down the mighty aloes threw forth their thick green branches in graceful divergence, and then along the road were numerous bullock waggons with Malay drivers—eighteen or twenty animals running in a team. Nothing could have added to the strangeness of the scene to the girl and her companion, and yet the shadow of that great hill made the land seem no longer weary.

At last, just at the foot of the hill, Colonel Gerald turned his horses to where there was a broad rough avenue made through a grove of pines, and after following its curves for some distance, a broad cleared space was reached, beyond which stood a number of magnificent Australian oaks and fruit trees surrounding a long low Dutch-built house with an overhanging roof and the usual stoëp—the raised stone border—in front.

'This is our house, my darling,' said the girl's father as he pulled up at the door. 'I had only a week to get it in order for you, but I hope you will like it.'

'Like it?' she cried; 'it is lovelier than any we had in India, and then the hill—the hill—oh, papa, this is home indeed.'

'And for me, my own little Dolly, don't you think it is home too?' he said when he had his arms about her in the hall. 'With this face in my hands at last I feel all the joy of home that has been denied to me for years. How often have I seen your face, Dolly, as I sat with my coffee in the evening in my lonely bungalow under the palms? The sight of it used to cheer me night after night, darling,' but now that I have it here—here——'

'Keep it there,' she cried. 'Oh, papa, papa, why should we be miserable apart ever again? I will stay with you now wherever you go for ever.'

Colonel Gerald looked at her for a minute, he kissed her once again upon the face, and then burst into a laugh.

'And this is the only result of a voyage made under the protection of Mrs. Crawford!' he said. 'My dear, you must have used some charm to have resisted her power; or has she lost her ancient cunning? Why, after a voyage with Mrs. Crawford I have seen the most devoted daughters desert their parents. When I heard that you were coming out with her I feared you would allow yourself to be schooled by her into a sense of your duty, but it seems you have been stubborn.'

'She was everything that is kind to me, and I don't know what I should have done without her,' said the girl. 'Only, I'll never forgive her for not having awakened me to meet you this morning. But last night I suppose she thought I was too nervous. I was afraid, you know, lest—lest—but never mind, here we are together at home—for there is the hill—yes, at home.'

But when Daireen found herself in the room to which she had been shown by the neat little handmaiden provided by Colonel Gerald, and had seated herself in sight of a bright green cactus that occupied the centre of the garden outside, she had much to think about. She just at this moment realised that all her pleasant life aboard the steamer was at an end. More than a touch of sadness was in her reflection, for she had come to think of the good steamer as something more than a mere machine; it had been a home to her for twenty-five days, and it had contained her happiness and sorrow during that time as a home would have done. Then how could she have parted from it an hour before with so little concern? she asked herself. How could she have left it without shaking hands with—with all those who had been by her side for many days on the good old ship? Some she had said goodbye to, others she would see again on the following day, but still there were some whom she had left the ship without seeing—some who had been associated with her happiness during part of the voyage, at any rate, and she might never see them again. The reflection made her very sad, nor did the feeling pass off during the rest of the day spent by her father's side.

The day was very warm, and, as Daireens father was still weak, he did not stray away from the house beyond the avenue of shady oaks leading down to a little stream that moved sluggishly on its way a couple of hundred yards from the garden. They had, of course, plenty to talk about; for Colonel Gerald was somewhat anxious to hear how his friend Standish had come out. He had expressed the happiness he felt on meeting with the young man as soon as his daughter had said that he would go out to wherever they were to live, but he thought it would increase his satisfaction if his daughter would tell him how it came to pass that this young man was unacquainted with any of the passengers.

Daireen now gave him the entire history of Standish's quarrel with his father, and declared that it was solely to obtain the advice of Colonel Gerald he had made the voyage from Ireland.

The girl's father laughed when he heard of this characteristic action on the part of the young man; but he declared that it proved he meant to work for himself in the world, and not be content to live upon the traditions of The Mac-Dermots; and then he promised the girl that something should be done for the son of the hereditary prince.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook