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A COLONIAL REFORMER

A

COLONIAL REFORMER

BY

ROLF BOLDREWOOD

AUTHOR OF

'ROBBERY UNDER ARMS,' 'THE SQUATTER'S DREAM,'
'THE MINER'S RIGHT,' ETC.

London

MACMILLAN AND CO.

AND NEW YORK

1895

All rights reserved

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CHAPTER I

WHEN Mr. Ernest Neuchamp, younger, of Neuchampstead, Bucks, quitted the ancient roof-tree of his race, for a deliberate conflict with fortune, in a far land, he carried with him a purpose which went far to neutralise doubt and depression.

A crusader rather than a colonist, his lofty aims embraced far more than the ordinary sordid struggle with unkind nature, with reluctant success. Such might be befitting aspirations for eager and rude adventurers, half speculators, half buccaneers. They might fitly strive and drive-bargain and save-gamble, overreach, overwork themselves and one another, as he doubted not all colonists did in their proverbially hurried, feverish lives. But for a Neuchamp, of Neuchampstead, was reserved more chivalric exertion-a loftier destiny. As his ancestors had devoted themselves (with more energy than discretion, said tradition) to the refinement and elevation of the Anglo-Saxons-when first the banner of Tancred of Neuchamp floated over the Buckinghamshire meadows, so would his lineal descendant diffuse 'sweetness and light' among a vigorous but necessarily uncultured community, emerging from his unselfish toil, after a few years, with a modest competency, and the reputation of an Australian Manco Capac of the south.

Ernest Neuchamp fully endorsed the dictum that 'colonisation was heroic work.' He superadded to this assent a conviction that he was among the heroes destined to leave a glorious memory in the annals of the colony which he intended to honour.

For the somewhat exceptional though not obsolete character of reformer, he was fitted by natural tendency, derived probably from hereditary predisposition. The Neuchamps had always been leading and staunch reformers, from a period whence 'the memory of man goeth not to the contrary.' Of Merrie England they would have secured a much larger slice had they not been, after Hastings, more deeply concerned in inflicting reforms upon the stubborn or despondent Saxons than in hunting after manorial privileges with a view to extension of territory. Even in Normandy, old chroniclers averred that Balder-Ragnaiök,

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