Mrs. Lansdowne, when seen a short time since walking in her solitude, seemed quite lofty in stature, but now, standing for a moment beside the regal height of her son, one could fully justify him in bestowing upon her the title with which he had greeted her.
John Lansdowne was fast developing, physically as well as mentally into a noble manhood, and it was no wonder that his mother’s heart swelled with pride and joy when she looked upon him. Straight, muscular, and vigorous in form, his features and expression were precisely her own, enlarged and intensified. Open and generous in disposition, his character had a certain quality of firmness, quite in contrast with that of his uncle Edward, and this she had carefully sought to strengthen. In the pursuit of his studies, he had thus far been earnest and successful.
During the last half year, however, he had chafed under the confinements of student life, and having now become quite restive in the harness, he had asked his father for a few months of freedom from books. He wished to explore a wilderness, to go on a foreign voyage, to wander away, away, anywhere beyond the sight of college walls.
“John”, said Mrs. Lansdowne, “I have been conversing with your father on the subject, and he has consented to an expedition for you”.
“O! glorious! mother where am I to go? to the Barcan desert, or to the Arctic Ocean?”
“You are to make a journey to the Miramichi River?”
“Miramichi!” said John, after a brief pause, “I thought I had a slight acquaintance with geography, but where in the wide world is Miramichi?”
“It is in the province of New Brunswick. You will have seventy-five miles of almost unbroken wilderness to pass through”.
“Seventy-five miles of wilderness! magnificent! where’s my rifle, mother? I haven’t seen it for an age”.
“Don’t be so impetuous, John. This journey through the wilderness will be anything but magnificent. You will meet many dangers by the way and will encounter many hardships”.
“But, mother, what care I for the perils of the way. Look at that powerful member”, stretching out his large, muscular arm.
“Don’t trust too much in that, John. Your strong arm is a good weapon, but you may meet something yet that is more than a match for it”.
“Possibly”, said John, with a sceptical air, “but when am I to start, mother?”
“To-morrow! that is fine. Well! I must bestir myself”, said he, rising.
“Not to-night, my dear. You’ve nothing to do at present. Arrangements are made. Be quiet, John. We may not sit thus together again for a long while”.
“True, mother”, said he, reseating himself. “But how did you happen to think of Miramichi?” he asked, after a pause.
“That is what I must explain to you. Your uncle Edward has committed an act of imprudence which he fancies your father will not forgive him. He has left us without giving any information of his destination. We hope you will find him in New Brunswick, and this is your errand. You must seek him and bring him back to us”.