y Keith Kavanagh : A Remittance Man single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1894 1894
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'Keith is the younger son of 'a good family,' but he marries 'beneath him.' His patrician mother and brother — the former 'statuesque' and the latter a prig — are scandalised at this, and determine to ship Keith away to Australia and make him a man with a past and a remittance. There is the usual 'good bye' aboard ship, and a surprise at the last moment in the shape of the deserted wife, who turns up and wants to know her husband's destination. This he gives her as 'New Zealand,' on which information the 'plump little woman' jumps on to the wharf and contentedly waves her adieux with a silk handkerchief. The customary fair passage follows, and Keith arrives at Sydney. Here he paints the town red with his first remittance, and the credit which is begotten by the confidence thereby created. The latter ends as credit usually does, and then Keith goes into the country and gets into the 'best society,' falling immediately in love with the young and only daughter of a squatter. The poor girl returns his affection, and casts a humbler but infinitely honester admirer aside, as young ladies will. A declaration follows, but an unexpected question prompted by gossip impels Keith to own to the existence of a just cause and impedient, in England. Indignation (temporary) on the part of the squatter's daughter, and a two week's 'drunk' on the part of the remittance man follow as a matter of course. The discarded lover, at the instance of the girl, then pulls Keith through a bit of the D. T.'s, and just at the moment of his recovery a convenient letter arrives which tells him of the death of his child, and the likely death of his wife, too, in England. With such information the inventive faculty of Keith is made complete. Interviewing the pale anxious maid, the squatter's daughter, doubtless by her own invitation, the Englishman of 'family' tells her that he is now a widower. And the 'Oh, Keith,' tells him that the news is welcome to innocence as the flowers are to spring. Father and mother are equally easily satisfied, and so the wedding follows; but, as papa, the squatter, says, there is no fortune hunting business in the union — the remittance man must shift for himself, and await his shoes when they have ceased to be useful. The remittance man does shift for himself, and he buys a large station, though how he manages the purchase one can only conjecture; and then he commences to live the life of a grazier who doesn't graze, and a squatter who doesn't squat. This business he leaves to a manager and the result is eventually that he has to mortgage. Then, somehow or other the English wife appears on the scene in Sydney, and meeting the Australian 'Mrs. Kavanagh,' who is on a visit there, gets a reluctant invitation to spend a few weeks on the station. She avails herself of this, and, of course, meets her truant husband. A series of persecutions which no self respecting woman would stand, follows for the colonial wife, who ultimately, hearing the visitor call Kavanagh by his Christian name, rises in the strength of suddenly awakened virtue and tells her to vacate. The English wife replies in the spirit of Betsy Prig. She won't vacate and she says so, and what's more she turns the tables by telling the Australian that she isn't a wife at all, that she (the visitor) is the only hall-marked Mrs. Kavanagh, and that, generally speaking, the squatter's daughter is no better than she ought to be. It is hereabouts that Mrs. Hodge's book is strongest. The recriminations which one would expect are certainly mild, but what there are, are described fairly well. That night the betrayed colonial girl wrestles with her trouble in a room which had been sacred to the momentoes of her innocence, but instead of packing off to her father she determines, as a result of her meditations, to appeal to 'this woman' in the hope of buying her off. With such intention she goes to her guest's room, enters and finds the first wife on her bed, and sees her husband, or the husband of both, standing at the toilet table. The colonial girl's 'I see I am de trop,' might have been expected to give place to something stronger but it doesn't, and a retirement is made with all the grace and dignity which novels make possible. Later on, the betrayed one's former honorable lover, who is another guest in the house, happens to get up and look out of the window, and so he sees Kavanagh with his face 'ghastly in the moonlight' plant 'something' in some bushes. Next morning the first wife is found dead, and, by the honest lover aforesaid, a bottle of poison (nearly used) is discovered in the bushes where Kavanagh made his plant the night before. A coroner's inquest fails to discover any thing wrong, and the honest lover is too honest, having taken possession of the bottle of poison, to betray the 'husband' of the girl he loves to the authorities. She, poor creature knows, however, just as much as he does, but her suspicions of her husband, due to an unguarded remark, do not prevent her approaching Kavanagh, and asking him to re-marry her, when the marriage can be made more binding. He does this, and as his elder brother has conveniently died off in England, and he has succeeded to the family estates, he takes her 'home' by the next Orient liner; and in England, presumably, the murderer and his wife live happily ever after.'

Source:

'Keith Kavanagh', National Advocate, 8 August 1894, p.3.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      Digby, Long , 1894 .
      Extent: viii, 219p.p.
    • London,
      c
      England,
      c
      c
      United Kingdom (UK),
      c
      Western Europe, Europe,
      :
      The British Library , 2011 .
      Extent: 248p.p.
      Note/s:
      • Published 17 March 2011.
      ISBN: 9781241197711, 1241197717
Last amended 29 Jul 2016 08:48:27
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