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On the central plain of that portion of Central America which is called Costa Rica stands
the city of San Jose. It is the capital of the Republic,--for Costa Rica is a Republic,--and,
for Central America, is a town of some importance. It is in the middle of the coffee
district, surrounded by rich soil on which the sugar-cane is produced, is blessed with a
climate only moderately hot, and the native inhabitants are neither cut-throats nor
cannibals. It may be said, therefore, that by comparison with some other spots to which
Englishmen and others are congregated for the gathering together of money, San Jose
may be considered as a happy region; but, nevertheless, a life there is not in every way
desirable. It is a dull place, with little to interest either the eye or the ear. Although the
heat of the tropics is but little felt there on account of its altitude, men and women
become too lifeless for much enterprise. There is no society. There are a few Germans
and a few Englishmen in the place, who see each other on matters of business during the
day; but, sombre as life generally is, they seem to care little for each other's company on
any other footing. I know not to what point the aspirations of the Germans may stretch
themselves, but to the English the one idea that gives salt to life is the idea of home. On
some day, however distant it may be, they will once more turn their faces towards the
little northern island, and then all will be well with them.
To a certain Englishman there, and to his dear little wife, this prospect came some few
years since somewhat suddenly. Events and tidings, it matters not which or what, brought
it about that they resolved between themselves that they would start immediately;--
almost immediately. They would pack up and leave San Jose within four months of the
day on which their purpose was first formed. At San Jose a period of only four months
for such a purpose was immediately. It creates a feeling of instant excitement, a necessity
for instant doing, a consciousness that there was in those few weeks ample work both for
the hands and thoughts,--work almost more than ample. The dear little wife, who for the
last two years had been so listless, felt herself flurried.
"Harry," she said to her husband, "how shall we ever be ready?" And her pretty face was
lighted up with unusual brightness at the happy thought of so much haste with such an
object. "And baby's things too," she said, as she thought of all the various little articles of
dress that would be needed. A journey from San Jose to Southampton cannot in truth be
made as easily as one from London to Liverpool. Let us think of a month to be passed
without any aid from the washerwoman, and the greatest part of that month amidst the
sweltering heats of the West Indian tropics!
In the first month of her hurry and flurry Mrs. Arkwright was a happy woman. She would
see her mother again and her sisters. It was now four years since she had left them on the
quay at Southampton, while all their hearts were broken at the parting. She was a young
bride then, going forth with her new lord to meet the stern world. He had then been home
to look for a wife, and he had found what he looked for in the younger sister of his
partner. For he, Henry Arkwright, and his wife's brother, Abel Ring, had established
themselves together in San Jose. And now, she thought, how there would be another
meeting on those quays at which there should be no broken hearts; at which there should
be love without sorrow, and kisses, sweet with the sweetness of welcome, not bitter with
the bitterness of parting. And people told her,--the few neighbours around her,--how