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´╗┐Title: Brother Jacob
Author: Eliot, George, 1819-1880
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Brother Jacob" ***

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Transcribed from the 1921 Oxford University Press edition by David Price,


BROTHER JACOB


CHAPTER I


Among the many fatalities attending the bloom of young desire, that of
blindly taking to the confectionery line has not, perhaps, been
sufficiently considered.  How is the son of a British yeoman, who has
been fed principally on salt pork and yeast dumplings, to know that there
is satiety for the human stomach even in a paradise of glass jars full of
sugared almonds and pink lozenges, and that the tedium of life can reach
a pitch where plum-buns at discretion cease to offer the slightest
excitement?  Or how, at the tender age when a confectioner seems to him a
very prince whom all the world must envy--who breakfasts on macaroons,
dines on meringues, sups on twelfth-cake, and fills up the intermediate
hours with sugar-candy or peppermint--how is he to foresee the day of sad
wisdom, when he will discern that the confectioner's calling is not
socially influential, or favourable to a soaring ambition?  I have known
a man who turned out to have a metaphysical genius, incautiously, in the
period of youthful buoyancy, commence his career as a dancing-master; and
you may imagine the use that was made of this initial mistake by
opponents who felt themselves bound to warn the public against his
doctrine of the Inconceivable.  He could not give up his dancing-lessons,
because he made his bread by them, and metaphysics would not have found
him in so much as salt to his bread.  It was really the same with Mr.
David Faux and the confectionery business.  His uncle, the butler at the
great house close by Brigford, had made a pet of him in his early
boyhood, and it was on a visit to this uncle that the confectioners'
shops in that brilliant town had, on a single day, fired his tender
imagination.  He carried home the pleasing illusion that a confectioner
must be at once the happiest and the foremost of men, since the things he
made were not only the most beautiful to behold, but the very best
eating, and such as the Lord Mayor must always order largely for his
private recreation; so that when his father declared he must be put to a
trade, David chose his line without a moment's hesitation; and, with a
rashness inspired by a sweet tooth, wedded himself irrevocably to
confectionery.  Soon, however, the tooth lost its relish and fell into
blank indifference; and all the while, his mind expanded, his ambition
took new shapes, which could hardly be satisfied within the sphere his
youthful ardour had chosen.  But what was he to do?  He was a young man
of much mental activity, and, above all, gifted with a spirit of
contrivance; but then, his faculties would not tell with great effect in
any other medium than that of candied sugars, conserves, and pastry.  Say
what you will about the identity of the reasoning process in all branches
of thought, or about the advantage of coming to subjects with a fresh
mind, the adjustment of butter to flour, and of heat to pastry, is _not_
the best preparation for the office of prime minister; besides, in the
present imperfectly-organized state of society, there are social
barriers.  David could invent delightful things in the way of drop-cakes,
and he had the widest views of the sugar department; but in other
directions he certainly felt hampered by the want of knowledge and
practical skill; and the world is so inconveniently constituted, that the
vague consciousness of being a fine fellow is no guarantee of success in
any line of business.

This difficulty pressed with some severity on Mr. David Faux, even before
his apprenticeship was ended.  His soul swelled with an impatient sense
that he ought to become something very remarkable--that it was quite out
of the question for him to put up with a narrow lot as other men did: he
scorned the idea that he could accept an average.  He was sure there was
nothing average about him: even such a person as Mrs. Tibbits, the washer-
woman, perceived it, and probably had a preference for his linen.  At
that particular period he was weighing out gingerbread nuts; but such an
anomaly could not continue.  No position could be suited to Mr. David
Faux that was not in the highest degree easy to the flesh and flattering
to the spirit.  If he had fallen on the present times, and enjoyed the
advantages of a Mechanic's Institute, he would certainly have taken to
literature and have written reviews; but his education had not been
liberal.  He had read some novels from the adjoining circulating library,
and had even bought the story of _Inkle and Yarico_, which had made him
feel very sorry for poor Mr. Inkle; so that his ideas might not have been
below a certain mark of the literary calling; but his spelling and
diction were too unconventional.

When a man is not adequately appreciated or comfortably placed in his own
country, his thoughts naturally turn towards foreign climes; and David's
imagination circled round and round the utmost limits of his geographical
knowledge, in search of a country where a young gentleman of pasty
visage, lipless mouth, and stumpy hair, would be likely to be received
with the hospitable enthusiasm which he had a right to expect.  Having a
general idea of America as a country where the population was chiefly
black, it appeared to him the most propitious destination for an emigrant
who, to begin with, had the broad and easily recognizable merit of
whiteness; and this idea gradually took such strong possession of him
that Satan seized the opportunity of suggesting to him that he might
emigrate under easier circumstances, if he supplied himself with a little
money from his master's till.  But that evil spirit, whose understanding,
I am convinced, has been much overrated, quite wasted his time on this
occasion.  David would certainly have liked well to have some of his
master's money in his pocket, if he had been sure his master would have
been the only man to suffer for it; but he was a cautious youth, and
quite determined to run no risks on his own account.  So he stayed out
his apprenticeship, and committed no act of dishonesty that was at all
likely to be discovered, reserving his plan of emigration for a future
opportunity.  And the circumstances under which he carried it out were in
this wise.  Having been at home a week or two partaking of the family
beans, he had used his leisure in ascertaining a fact which was of
considerable importance to him, namely, that his mother had a small sum
in guineas painfully saved from her maiden perquisites, and kept in the
corner of a drawer where her baby-linen had reposed for the last twenty
years--ever since her son David had taken to his feet, with a slight
promise of bow-legs which had not been altogether unfulfilled.  Mr. Faux,
senior, had told his son very frankly, that he must not look to being set
up in business by _him_: with seven sons, and one of them a very healthy
and well-developed idiot, who consumed a dumpling about eight inches in
diameter every day, it was pretty well if they got a hundred apiece at
his death.  Under these circumstances, what was David to do?  It was
certainly hard that he should take his mother's money; but he saw no
other ready means of getting any, and it was not to be expected that a
young man of his merit should put up with inconveniences that could be
avoided.  Besides, it is not robbery to take property belonging to your
mother: she doesn't prosecute you.  And David was very well behaved to
his mother; he comforted her by speaking highly of himself to her, and
assuring her that he never fell into the vices he saw practised by other
youths of his own age, and that he was particularly fond of honesty.  If
his mother would have given him her twenty guineas as a reward of this
noble disposition, he really would not have stolen them from her, and it
would have been more agreeable to his feelings.  Nevertheless, to an
active mind like David's, ingenuity is not without its pleasures: it was
rather an interesting occupation to become stealthily acquainted with the
wards of his mother's simple key (not in the least like Chubb's patent),
and to get one that would do its work equally well; and also to arrange a
little drama by which he would escape suspicion, and run no risk of
forfeiting the prospective hundred at his father's death, which would be
convenient in the improbable case of his _not_ making a large fortune in
the "Indies."

First, he spoke freely of his intention to start shortly for Liverpool
and take ship for America; a resolution which cost his good mother some
pain, for, after Jacob the idiot, there was not one of her sons to whom
her heart clung more than to her youngest-born, David.  Next, it appeared
to him that Sunday afternoon, when everybody was gone to church except
Jacob and the cowboy, was so singularly favourable an opportunity for
sons who wanted to appropriate their mothers' guineas, that he half
thought it must have been kindly intended by Providence for such
purposes.  Especially the third Sunday in Lent; because Jacob had been
out on one of his occasional wanderings for the last two days; and David,
being a timid young man, had a considerable dread and hatred of Jacob, as
of a large personage who went about habitually with a pitchfork in his
hand.

Nothing could be easier, then, than for David on this Sunday afternoon to
decline going to church, on the ground that he was going to tea at Mr.
Lunn's, whose pretty daughter Sally had been an early flame of his, and,
when the church-goers were at a safe distance, to abstract the guineas
from their wooden box and slip them into a small canvas bag--nothing
easier than to call to the cowboy that he was going, and tell him to keep
an eye on the house for fear of Sunday tramps.  David thought it would be
easy, too, to get to a small thicket and bury his bag in a hole he had
already made and covered up under the roots of an old hollow ash, and he
had, in fact, found the hole without a moment's difficulty, had uncovered
it, and was about gently to drop the bag into it, when the sound of a
large body rustling towards him with something like a bellow was such a
surprise to David, who, as a gentleman gifted with much contrivance, was
naturally only prepared for what he expected, that instead of dropping
the bag gently he let it fall so as to make it untwist and vomit forth
the shining guineas.  In the same moment he looked up and saw his dear
brother Jacob close upon him, holding the pitchfork so that the bright
smooth prongs were a yard in advance of his own body, and about a foot
off David's.  (A learned friend, to whom I once narrated this history,
observed that it was David's guilt which made these prongs formidable,
and that the "mens nil conscia sibi" strips a pitchfork of all terrors.  I
thought this idea so valuable, that I obtained his leave to use it on
condition of suppressing his name.)  Nevertheless, David did not entirely
lose his presence of mind; for in that case he would have sunk on the
earth or started backward; whereas he kept his ground and smiled at
Jacob, who nodded his head up and down, and said, "Hoich, Zavy!" in a
painfully equivocal manner.  David's heart was beating audibly, and if he
had had any lips they would have been pale; but his mental activity,
instead of being paralysed, was stimulated.  While he was inwardly
praying (he always prayed when he was much frightened)--"Oh, save me this
once, and I'll never get into danger again!"--he was thrusting his hand
into his pocket in search of a box of yellow lozenges, which he had
brought with him from Brigford among other delicacies of the same
portable kind, as a means of conciliating proud beauty, and more
particularly the beauty of Miss Sarah Lunn.  Not one of these delicacies
had he ever offered to poor Jacob, for David was not a young man to waste
his jujubes and barley-sugar in giving pleasure to people from whom he
expected nothing.  But an idiot with equivocal intentions and a pitchfork
is as well worth flattering and cajoling as if he were Louis Napoleon.  So
David, with a promptitude equal to the occasion, drew out his box of
yellow lozenges, lifted the lid, and performed a pantomime with his mouth
and fingers, which was meant to imply that he was delighted to see his
dear brother Jacob, and seized the opportunity of making him a small
present, which he would find particularly agreeable to the taste.  Jacob,
you understand, was not an intense idiot, but within a certain limited
range knew how to choose the good and reject the evil: he took one
lozenge, by way of test, and sucked it as if he had been a philosopher;
then, in as great an ecstacy at its new and complex savour as Caliban at
the taste of Trinculo's wine, chuckled and stroked this suddenly
beneficent brother, and held out his hand for more; for, except in fits
of anger, Jacob was not ferocious or needlessly predatory.  David's
courage half returned, and he left off praying; pouring a dozen lozenges
into Jacob's palm, and trying to look very fond of him.  He congratulated
himself that he had formed the plan of going to see Miss Sally Lunn this
afternoon, and that, as a consequence, he had brought with him these
propitiatory delicacies: he was certainly a lucky fellow; indeed, it was
always likely Providence should be fonder of him than of other
apprentices, and since he _was_ to be interrupted, why, an idiot was
preferable to any other sort of witness.  For the first time in his life,
David thought he saw the advantage of idiots.

As for Jacob, he had thrust his pitchfork into the ground, and had thrown
himself down beside it, in thorough abandonment to the unprecedented
pleasure of having five lozenges in his mouth at once, blinking
meanwhile, and making inarticulate sounds of gustative content.  He had
not yet given any sign of noticing the guineas, but in seating himself he
had laid his broad right hand on them, and unconsciously kept it in that
position, absorbed in the sensations of his palate.  If he could only be
kept so occupied with the lozenges as not to see the guineas before David
could manage to cover them!  That was David's best hope of safety; for
Jacob knew his mother's guineas; it had been part of their common
experience as boys to be allowed to look at these handsome coins, and
rattle them in their box on high days and holidays, and among all Jacob's
narrow experiences as to money, this was likely to be the most memorable.

"Here, Jacob," said David, in an insinuating tone, handing the box to
him, "I'll give 'em all to you.  Run!--make haste!--else somebody'll come
and take 'em."

David, not having studied the psychology of idiots, was not aware that
they are not to be wrought upon by imaginative fears.  Jacob took the box
with his left hand, but saw no necessity for running away.  Was ever a
promising young man wishing to lay the foundation of his fortune by
appropriating his mother's guineas obstructed by such a day-mare as this?
But the moment must come when Jacob would move his right hand to draw off
the lid of the tin box, and then David would sweep the guineas into the
hole with the utmost address and swiftness, and immediately seat himself
upon them.  Ah, no!  It's of no use to have foresight when you are
dealing with an idiot: he is not to be calculated upon.  Jacob's right
hand was given to vague clutching and throwing; it suddenly clutched the
guineas as if they had been so many pebbles, and was raised in an
attitude which promised to scatter them like seed over a distant bramble,
when, from some prompting or other--probably of an unwonted sensation--it
paused, descended to Jacob's knee, and opened slowly under the inspection
of Jacob's dull eyes.  David began to pray again, but immediately
desisted--another resource having occurred to him.

"Mother! zinnies!" exclaimed the innocent Jacob.  Then, looking at David,
he said, interrogatively, "Box?"

"Hush! hush!" said David, summoning all his ingenuity in this severe
strait.  "See, Jacob!"  He took the tin box from his brother's hand, and
emptied it of the lozenges, returning half of them to Jacob, but secretly
keeping the rest in his own hand.  Then he held out the empty box, and
said, "Here's the box, Jacob!  The box for the guineas!" gently sweeping
them from Jacob's palm into the box.

This procedure was not objectionable to Jacob; on the contrary, the
guineas clinked so pleasantly as they fell, that he wished for a
repetition of the sound, and seizing the box, began to rattle it very
gleefully.  David, seizing the opportunity, deposited his reserve of
lozenges in the ground and hastily swept some earth over them.  "Look,
Jacob!" he said, at last.  Jacob paused from his clinking, and looked
into the hole, while David began to scratch away the earth, as if in
doubtful expectation.  When the lozenges were laid bare, he took them out
one by one, and gave them to Jacob.  "Hush!" he said, in a loud whisper,
"Tell nobody--all for Jacob--hush--sh--sh!  Put guineas in the
hole--they'll come out like this!"  To make the lesson more complete, he
took a guinea, and lowering it into the hole, said, "Put in _so_."  Then,
as he took the last lozenge out, he said, "Come out _so_," and put the
lozenge into Jacob's hospitable mouth.

Jacob turned his head on one side, looked first at his brother and then
at the hole, like a reflective monkey, and, finally, laid the box of
guineas in the hole with much decision.  David made haste to add every
one of the stray coins, put on the lid, and covered it well with earth,
saying in his meet coaxing tone--

"Take 'm out to-morrow, Jacob; all for Jacob!  Hush--sh--sh!"

Jacob, to whom this once indifferent brother had all at once become a
sort of sweet-tasted fetish, stroked David's best coat with his adhesive
fingers, and then hugged him with an accompaniment of that mingled
chuckling and gurgling by which he was accustomed to express the milder
passions.  But if he had chosen to bite a small morsel out of his
beneficent brother's cheek, David would have been obliged to bear it.

And here I must pause, to point out to you the short-sightedness of human
contrivance.  This ingenious young man, Mr. David Faux, thought he had
achieved a triumph of cunning when he had associated himself in his
brother's rudimentary mind with the flavour of yellow lozenges.  But he
had yet to learn that it is a dreadful thing to make an idiot fond of
you, when you yourself are not of an affectionate disposition: especially
an idiot with a pitchfork--obviously a difficult friend to shake off by
rough usage.

It may seem to you rather a blundering contrivance for a clever young man
to bury the guineas.  But, if everything had turned out as David had
calculated, you would have seen that his plan was worthy of his talents.
The guineas would have lain safely in the earth while the theft was
discovered, and David, with the calm of conscious innocence, would have
lingered at home, reluctant to say good-bye to his dear mother while she
was in grief about her guineas; till at length, on the eve of his
departure, he would have disinterred them in the strictest privacy, and
carried them on his own person without inconvenience.  But David, you
perceive, had reckoned without his host, or, to speak more precisely,
without his idiot brother--an item of so uncertain and fluctuating a
character, that I doubt whether he would not have puzzled the astute
heroes of M. de Balzac, whose foresight is so remarkably at home in the
future.

It was clear to David now that he had only one alternative before him: he
must either renounce the guineas, by quietly putting them back in his
mother's drawer (a course not unattended with difficulty); or he must
leave more than a suspicion behind him, by departing early the next
morning without giving notice, and with the guineas in his pocket.  For
if he gave notice that he was going, his mother, he knew, would insist on
fetching from her box of guineas the three she had always promised him as
his share; indeed, in his original plan, he had counted on this as a
means by which the theft would be discovered under circumstances that
would themselves speak for his innocence; but now, as I need hardly
explain, that well-combined plan was completely frustrated.  Even if
David could have bribed Jacob with perpetual lozenges, an idiot's secrecy
is itself betrayal.  He dared not even go to tea at Mr. Lunn's, for in
that case he would have lost sight of Jacob, who, in his impatience for
the crop of lozenges, might scratch up the box again while he was absent,
and carry it home--depriving him at once of reputation and guineas.  No!
he must think of nothing all the rest of this day, but of coaxing Jacob
and keeping him out of mischief.  It was a fatiguing and anxious evening
to David; nevertheless, he dared not go to sleep without tying a piece of
string to his thumb and great toe, to secure his frequent waking; for he
meant to be up with the first peep of dawn, and be far out of reach
before breakfast-time.  His father, he thought, would certainly cut him
off with a shilling; but what then?  Such a striking young man as he
would be sure to be well received in the West Indies: in foreign
countries there are always openings--even for cats.  It was probable that
some Princess Yarico would want him to marry her, and make him presents
of very large jewels beforehand; after which, he needn't marry her unless
he liked.  David had made up his mind not to steal any more, even from
people who were fond of him: it was an unpleasant way of making your
fortune in a world where you were likely to surprised in the act by
brothers.  Such alarms did not agree with David's constitution, and he
had felt so much nausea this evening that no doubt his liver was
affected.  Besides, he would have been greatly hurt not to be thought
well of in the world: he always meant to make a figure, and be thought
worthy of the best seats and the best morsels.

Ruminating to this effect on the brilliant future in reserve for him,
David by the help of his check-string kept himself on the alert to seize
the time of earliest dawn for his rising and departure.  His brothers, of
course, were early risers, but he should anticipate them by at least an
hour and a half, and the little room which he had to himself as only an
occasional visitor, had its window over the horse-block, so that he could
slip out through the window without the least difficulty.  Jacob, the
horrible Jacob, had an awkward trick of getting up before everybody else,
to stem his hunger by emptying the milk-bowl that was "duly set" for him;
but of late he had taken to sleeping in the hay-loft, and if he came into
the house, it would be on the opposite side to that from which David was
making his exit.  There was no need to think of Jacob; yet David was
liberal enough to bestow a curse on him--it was the only thing he ever
did bestow gratuitously.  His small bundle of clothes was ready packed,
and he was soon treading lightly on the steps of the horse-block, soon
walking at a smart pace across the fields towards the thicket.  It would
take him no more than two minutes to get out the box; he could make out
the tree it was under by the pale strip where the bark was off, although
the dawning light was rather dimmer in the thicket.  But what, in the
name of--burnt pastry--was that large body with a staff planted beside
it, close at the foot of the ash-tree?  David paused, not to make up his
mind as to the nature of the apparition--he had not the happiness of
doubting for a moment that the staff was Jacob's pitchfork--but to gather
the self-command necessary for addressing his brother with a sufficiently
honeyed accent.  Jacob was absorbed in scratching up the earth, and had
not heard David's approach.

"I say, Jacob," said David in a loud whisper, just as the tin box was
lifted out of the hole.

Jacob looked up, and discerning his sweet-flavoured brother, nodded and
grinned in the dim light in a way that made him seem to David like a
triumphant demon.  If he had been of an impetuous disposition, he would
have snatched the pitchfork from the ground and impaled this fraternal
demon.  But David was by no means impetuous; he was a young man greatly
given to calculate consequences, a habit which has been held to be the
foundation of virtue.  But somehow it had not precisely that effect in
David: he calculated whether an action would harm himself, or whether it
would only harm other people.  In the former case he was very timid about
satisfying his immediate desires, but in the latter he would risk the
result with much courage.

"Give it me, Jacob," he said, stooping down and patting his brother.  "Let
us see."

Jacob, finding the lid rather tight, gave the box to his brother in
perfect faith.  David raised the lids and shook his head, while Jacob put
his finger in and took out a guinea to taste whether the metamorphosis
into lozenges was complete and satisfactory.

"No, Jacob; too soon, too soon," said David, when the guinea had been
tasted.  "Give it me; we'll go and bury it somewhere else; we'll put it
in yonder," he added, pointing vaguely toward the distance.

David screwed on the lid, while Jacob, looking grave, rose and grasped
his pitchfork.  Then, seeing David's bundle, he snatched it, like a too
officious Newfoundland, stuck his pitchfork into it and carried it over
his shoulder in triumph as he accompanied David and the box out of the
thicket.

What on earth was David to do?  It would have been easy to frown at
Jacob, and kick him, and order him to get away; but David dared as soon
have kicked the bull.  Jacob was quiet as long as he was treated
indulgently; but on the slightest show of anger, he became unmanageable,
and was liable to fits of fury which would have made him formidable even
without his pitchfork.  There was no mastery to be obtained over him
except by kindness or guile.  David tried guile.

"Go, Jacob," he said, when they were out of the thicket--pointing towards
the house as he spoke; "go and fetch me a spade--a spade.  But give _me_
the bundle," he added, trying to reach it from the fork, where it hung
high above Jacob's tall shoulder.

But Jacob showed as much alacrity in obeying as a wasp shows in leaving a
sugar-basin.  Near David, he felt himself in the vicinity of lozenges: he
chuckled and rubbed his brother's back, brandishing the bundle higher out
of reach.  David, with an inward groan, changed his tactics, and walked
on as fast as he could.  It was not safe to linger.  Jacob would get
tired of following him, or, at all events, could be eluded.  If they
could once get to the distant highroad, a coach would overtake them,
David would mount it, having previously by some ingenious means secured
his bundle, and then Jacob might howl and flourish his pitchfork as much
as he liked.  Meanwhile he was under the fatal necessity of being very
kind to this ogre, and of providing a large breakfast for him when they
stopped at a roadside inn.  It was already three hours since they had
started, and David was tired.  Would no coach be coming up soon? he
inquired.  No coach for the next two hours.  But there was a carrier's
cart to come immediately, on its way to the next town.  If he could slip
out, even leaving his bundle behind, and get into the cart without Jacob!
But there was a new obstacle.  Jacob had recently discovered a remnant of
sugar-candy in one of his brother's tail-pockets; and, since then, had
cautiously kept his hold on that limb of the garment, perhaps with an
expectation that there would be a further development of sugar-candy
after a longer or shorter interval.  Now every one who has worn a coat
will understand the sensibilities that must keep a man from starting away
in a hurry when there is a grasp on his coat-tail.  David looked forward
to being well received among strangers, but it might make a difference if
he had only one tail to his coat.

He felt himself in a cold perspiration.  He could walk no more: he must
get into the cart and let Jacob get in with him.  Presently a cheering
idea occurred to him: after so large a breakfast, Jacob would be sure to
go to sleep in the cart; you see at once that David meant to seize his
bundle, jump out, and be free.  His expectation was partly fulfilled:
Jacob did go to sleep in the cart, but it was in a peculiar attitude--it
was with his arms tightly fastened round his dear brother's body; and if
ever David attempted to move, the grasp tightened with the force of an
affectionate boa-constrictor.

"Th' innicent's fond on you," observed the carrier, thinking that David
was probably an amiable brother, and wishing to pay him a compliment.

David groaned.  The ways of thieving were not ways of pleasantness.  Oh,
why had he an idiot brother?  Oh, why, in general, was the world so
constituted that a man could not take his mother's guineas comfortably?
David became grimly speculative.

Copious dinner at noon for Jacob; but little dinner, because little
appetite, for David.  Instead of eating, he plied Jacob with beer; for
through this liberality he descried a hope.  Jacob fell into a dead
sleep, at last, without having his arms round David, who paid the
reckoning, took his bundle, and walked off.  In another half-hour he was
on the coach on his way to Liverpool, smiling the smile of the triumphant
wicked.  He was rid of Jacob--he was bound for the Indies, where a
gullible princess awaited him.  He would never steal any more, but there
would be no need; he would show himself so deserving, that people would
make him presents freely.  He must give up the notion of his father's
legacy; but it was not likely he would ever want that trifle; and even if
he did--why, it was a compensation to think that in being for ever
divided from his family he was divided from Jacob, more terrible than
Gorgon or Demogorgon to David's timid green eyes.  Thank heaven, he
should never see Jacob any more!



CHAPTER II


It was nearly six years after the departure of Mr. David Faux for the
West Indies, that the vacant shop in the market-place at Grimworth was
understood to have been let to the stranger with a sallow complexion and
a buff cravat, whose first appearance had caused some excitement in the
bar of the Woolpack, where he had called to wait for the coach.

Grimworth, to a discerning eye, was a good place to set up shopkeeping
in.  There was no competition in it at present; the Church-people had
their own grocer and draper; the Dissenters had theirs; and the two or
three butchers found a ready market for their joints without strict
reference to religious persuasion--except that the rector's wife had
given a general order for the veal sweet-breads and the mutton kidneys,
while Mr. Rodd, the Baptist minister, had requested that, so far as was
compatible with the fair accommodation of other customers, the sheep's
trotters might be reserved for him.  And it was likely to be a growing
place, for the trustees of Mr. Zephaniah Crypt's Charity, under the
stimulus of a late visitation by commissioners, were beginning to apply
long-accumulating funds to the rebuilding of the Yellow Coat School,
which was henceforth to be carried forward on a greatly-extended scale,
the testator having left no restrictions concerning the curriculum, but
only concerning the coat.

The shopkeepers at Grimworth were by no means unanimous as to the
advantages promised by this prospect of increased population and trading,
being substantial men, who liked doing a quiet business in which they
were sure of their customers, and could calculate their returns to a
nicety.  Hitherto, it had been held a point of honour by the families in
Grimworth parish, to buy their sugar and their flannel at the shop where
their fathers and mothers had bought before them; but, if newcomers were
to bring in the system of neck-and-neck trading, and solicit feminine
eyes by gown-pieces laid in fan-like folds, and surmounted by artificial
flowers, giving them a factitious charm (for on what human figure would a
gown sit like a fan, or what female head was like a bunch of
China-asters?), or, if new grocers were to fill their windows with
mountains of currants and sugar, made seductive by contrast and
tickets,--what security was there for Grimworth, that a vagrant spirit in
shopping, once introduced, would not in the end carry the most important
families to the larger market town of Cattleton, where, business being
done on a system of small profits and quick returns, the fashions were of
the freshest, and goods of all kinds might be bought at an advantage?

With this view of the times predominant among the tradespeople at
Grimworth, their uncertainty concerning the nature of the business which
the sallow-complexioned stranger was about to set up in the vacant shop,
naturally gave some additional strength to the fears of the less
sanguine.  If he was going to sell drapery, it was probable that a pale-
faced fellow like that would deal in showy and inferior articles--printed
cottons and muslins which would leave their dye in the wash-tub, jobbed
linen full of knots, and flannel that would soon look like gauze.  If
grocery, then it was to be hoped that no mother of a family would trust
the teas of an untried grocer.  Such things had been known in some
parishes as tradesmen going about canvassing for custom with cards in
their pockets: when people came from nobody knew where, there was no
knowing what they might do.  It was a thousand pities that Mr. Moffat,
the auctioneer and broker, had died without leaving anybody to follow him
in the business, and Mrs. Cleve's trustee ought to have known better than
to let a shop to a stranger.  Even the discovery that ovens were being
put up on the premises, and that the shop was, in fact, being fitted up
for a confectioner and pastry-cook's business, hitherto unknown in
Grimworth, did not quite suffice to turn the scale in the newcomer's
favour, though the landlady at the Woolpack defended him warmly, said he
seemed to be a very clever young man, and from what she could make out,
came of a very good family; indeed, was most likely a good many people's
betters.

It certainly made a blaze of light and colour, almost as if a rainbow had
suddenly descended into the market-place, when, one fine morning, the
shutters were taken down from the new shop, and the two windows displayed
their decorations.  On one side, there were the variegated tints of
collared and marbled meats, set off by bright green leaves, the pale
brown of glazed pies, the rich tones of sauces and bottled fruits
enclosed in their veil of glass--altogether a sight to bring tears into
the eyes of a Dutch painter; and on the other, there was a predominance
of the more delicate hues of pink, and white, and yellow, and buff, in
the abundant lozenges, candies, sweet biscuits and icings, which to the
eyes of a bilious person might easily have been blended into a faery
landscape in Turner's latest style.  What a sight to dawn upon the eyes
of Grimworth children!  They almost forgot to go to their dinner that
day, their appetites being preoccupied with imaginary sugar-plums; and I
think even Punch, setting up his tabernacle in the market-place, would
not have succeeded in drawing them away from those shop-windows, where
they stood according to gradations of size and strength, the biggest and
strongest being nearest the window, and the little ones in the outermost
rows lifting wide-open eyes and mouths towards the upper tier of jars,
like small birds at meal-time.

The elder inhabitants pished and pshawed a little at the folly of the new
shopkeeper in venturing on such an outlay in goods that would not keep;
to be sure, Christmas was coming, but what housewife in Grimworth would
not think shame to furnish forth her table with articles that were not
home-cooked?  No, no.  Mr. Edward Freely, as he called himself, was
deceived, if he thought Grimworth money was to flow into his pockets on
such terms.

Edward Freely was the name that shone in gilt letters on a mazarine
ground over the doorplace of the new shop--a generous-sounding name, that
might have belonged to the open-hearted, improvident hero of an old
comedy, who would have delighted in raining sugared almonds, like a new
manna-gift, among that small generation outside the windows.  But Mr.
Edward Freely was a man whose impulses were kept in due subordination: he
held that the desire for sweets and pastry must only be satisfied in a
direct ratio with the power of paying for them.  If the smallest child in
Grimworth would go to him with a halfpenny in its tiny fist, he would,
after ringing the halfpenny, deliver a just equivalent in "rock."  He was
not a man to cheat even the smallest child--he often said so, observing
at the same time that he loved honesty, and also that he was very tender-
hearted, though he didn't show his feelings as some people did.

Either in reward of such virtue, or according to some more hidden law of
sequence, Mr. Freely's business, in spite of prejudice, started under
favourable auspices.  For Mrs. Chaloner, the rector's wife, was among the
earliest customers at the shop, thinking it only right to encourage a new
parishioner who had made a decorous appearance at church; and she found
Mr. Freely a most civil, obliging young man, and intelligent to a
surprising degree for a confectioner; well-principled, too, for in giving
her useful hints about choosing sugars he had thrown much light on the
dishonesty of other tradesmen.  Moreover, he had been in the West Indies,
and had seen the very estate which had been her poor grandfather's
property; and he said the missionaries were the only cause of the negro's
discontent--an observing young man, evidently.  Mrs. Chaloner ordered
wine-biscuits and olives, and gave Mr. Freely to understand that she
should find his shop a great convenience.  So did the doctor's wife, and
so did Mrs. Gate, at the large carding-mill, who, having high connexions
frequently visiting her, might be expected to have a large consumption of
ratafias and macaroons.

The less aristocratic matrons of Grimworth seemed likely at first to
justify their husbands' confidence that they would never pay a percentage
of profits on drop-cakes, instead of making their own, or get up a hollow
show of liberal housekeeping by purchasing slices of collared meat when a
neighbour came in for supper.  But it is my task to narrate the gradual
corruption of Grimworth manners from their primitive simplicity--a
melancholy task, if it were not cheered by the prospect of the fine
peripateia or downfall by which the progress of the corruption was
ultimately checked.

It was young Mrs. Steene, the veterinary surgeons wife, who first gave
way to temptation.  I fear she had been rather over-educated for her
station in life, for she knew by heart many passages in _Lalla Rookh_,
the _Corsair_, and the _Siege of Corinth_, which had given her a distaste
for domestic occupations, and caused her a withering disappointment at
the discovery that Mr. Steene, since his marriage, had lost all interest
in the "bulbul," openly preferred discussing the nature of spavin with a
coarse neighbour, and was angry if the pudding turned out watery--indeed,
was simply a top-booted "vet.", who came in hungry at dinner-time; and
not in the least like a nobleman turned Corsair out of pure scorn for his
race, or like a renegade with a turban and crescent, unless it were in
the irritability of his temper.  And scorn is such a very different thing
in top-boots!

This brutal man had invited a supper-party for Christmas eve, when he
would expect to see mince-pies on the table.  Mrs. Steene had prepared
her mince-meat, and had devoted much butter, fine flour, and labour, to
the making of a batch of pies in the morning; but they proved to be so
very heavy when they came out of the oven, that she could only think with
trembling of the moment when her husband should catch sight of them on
the supper-table.  He would storm at her, she was certain; and before all
the company; and then she should never help crying: it was so dreadful to
think she had come to that, after the bulbul and everything!  Suddenly
the thought darted through her mind that _this once_ she might send for a
dish of mince-pies from Freely's: she knew he had some.  But what was to
become of the eighteen heavy mince-pies?  Oh, it was of no use thinking
about that; it was very expensive--indeed, making mince-pies at all was a
great expense, when they were not sure to turn out well: it would be much
better to buy them ready-made.  You paid a little more for them, but
there was no risk of waste.

Such was the sophistry with which this misguided young woman--enough.
Mrs. Steene sent for the mince-pies, and, I am grieved to add, garbled
her household accounts in order to conceal the fact from her husband.
This was the second step in a downward course, all owing to a young
woman's being out of harmony with her circumstances, yearning after
renegades and bulbuls, and being subject to claims from a veterinary
surgeon fond of mince-pies.  The third step was to harden herself by
telling the fact of the bought mince-pies to her intimate friend Mrs.
Mole, who had already guessed it, and who subsequently encouraged herself
in buying a mould of jelly, instead of exerting her own skill, by the
reflection that "other people" did the same sort of thing.  The infection
spread; soon there was a party or clique in Grimworth on the side of
"buying at Freely's"; and many husbands, kept for some time in the dark
on this point, innocently swallowed at two mouthfuls a tart on which they
were paying a profit of a hundred per cent., and as innocently encouraged
a fatal disingenuousness in the partners of their bosoms by praising the
pastry.  Others, more keen-sighted, winked at the too frequent
presentation on washing-days, and at impromptu suppers, of superior
spiced-beef, which flattered their palates more than the cold remnants
they had formerly been contented with.  Every housewife who had once
"bought at Freely's" felt a secret joy when she detected a similar
perversion in her neighbour's practice, and soon only two or three old-
fashioned mistresses of families held out in the protest against the
growing demoralization, saying to their neighbours who came to sup with
them, "I can't offer you Freely's beef, or Freely's cheesecakes;
everything in our house is home-made; I'm afraid you'll hardly have any
appetite for our plain pastry."  The doctor, whose cook was not
satisfactory, the curate, who kept no cook, and the mining agent, who was
a great _bon vivant_, even began to rely on Freely for the greater part
of their dinner, when they wished to give an entertainment of some
brilliancy.  In short, the business of manufacturing the more fanciful
viands was fast passing out of the hinds of maids and matrons in private
families, and was becoming the work of a special commercial organ.

I am not ignorant that this sort of thing is called the inevitable course
of civilization, division of labour, and so forth, and that the maids and
matrons may be said to have had their hands set free from cookery to add
to the wealth of society in some other way.  Only it happened at
Grimworth, which, to be sure, was a low place, that the maids and matrons
could do nothing with their hands at all better than cooking: not even
those who had always made heavy cakes and leathery pastry.  And so it
came to pass, that the progress of civilization at Grimworth was not
otherwise apparent than in the impoverishment of men, the gossiping
idleness of women, and the heightening prosperity of Mr. Edward Freely.

The Yellow Coat School was a double source of profit to the calculating
confectioner; for he opened an eating-room for the superior workmen
employed on the new school, and he accommodated the pupils at the old
school by giving great attention to the fancy-sugar department.  When I
think of the sweet-tasted swans and other ingenious white shapes crunched
by the small teeth of that rising generation, I am glad to remember that
a certain amount of calcareous food has been held good for young
creatures whose bones are not quite formed; for I have observed these
delicacies to have an inorganic flavour which would have recommended them
greatly to that young lady of the _Spectator's_ acquaintance who
habitually made her dessert on the stems of tobacco-pipes.

As for the confectioner himself, he made his way gradually into Grimworth
homes, as his commodities did, in spite of some initial repugnance.
Somehow or other, his reception as a guest seemed a thing that required
justifying, like the purchasing of his pastry.  In the first place, he
was a stranger, and therefore open to suspicion; secondly, the
confectionery business was so entirely new at Grimworth, that its place
in the scale of rank had not been distinctly ascertained.  There was no
doubt about drapers and grocers, when they came of good old Grimworth
families, like Mr. Luff and Mr. Prettyman: they visited with the
Palfreys, who farmed their own land, played many a game at whist with the
doctor, and condescended a little towards the timber-merchant, who had
lately taken to the coal-trade also, and had got new furniture; but
whether a confectioner should be admitted to this higher level of
respectability, or should be understood to find his associates among
butchers and bakers, was a new question on which tradition threw no
light.  His being a bachelor was in his favour, and would perhaps have
been enough to turn the scale, even if Mr. Edward Freely's other personal
pretensions had been of an entirely insignificant cast.  But so far from
this, it very soon appeared that he was a remarkable young man, who had
been in the West Indies, and had seen many wonders by sea and land, so
that he could charm the ears of Grimworth Desdemonas with stories of
strange fishes, especially sharks, which he had stabbed in the nick of
time by bravely plunging overboard just as the monster was turning on his
side to devour the cook's mate; of terrible fevers which he had undergone
in a land where the wind blows from all quarters at once; of rounds of
toast cut straight from the breadfruit trees; of toes bitten off by land-
crabs; of large honours that had been offered to him as a man who knew
what was what, and was therefore particularly needed in a tropical
climate; and of a Creole heiress who had wept bitterly at his departure.
Such conversational talents as these, we know, will overcome
disadvantages of complexion; and young Towers, whose cheeks were of the
finest pink, set off by a fringe of dark whisker, was quite eclipsed by
the presence of the sallow Mr. Freely.  So exceptional a confectioner
elevated the business, and might well begin to make disengaged hearts
flutter a little.

Fathers and mothers were naturally more slow and cautious in their
recognition of the newcomer's merits.

"He's an amusing fellow," said Mr. Prettyman, the highly respectable
grocer.  (Mrs. Prettyman was a Miss Fothergill, and her sister had
married a London mercer.)  "He's an amusing fellow; and I've no objection
to his making one at the Oyster Club; but he's a bit too fond of riding
the high horse.  He's uncommonly knowing, I'll allow; but how came he to
go to the Indies?  I should like that answered.  It's unnatural in a
confectioner.  I'm not fond of people that have been beyond seas, if they
can't give a good account how they happened to go.  When folks go so far
off, it's because they've got little credit nearer home--that's my
opinion.  However, he's got some good rum; but I don't want to be hand
and glove with him, for all that."

It was this kind of dim suspicion which beclouded the view of Mr.
Freely's qualities in the maturer minds of Grimworth through the early
months of his residence there.  But when the confectioner ceased to be a
novelty, the suspicions also ceased to be novel, and people got tired of
hinting at them, especially as they seemed to be refuted by his advancing
prosperity and importance.  Mr. Freely was becoming a person of influence
in the parish; he was found useful as an overseer of the poor, having
great firmness in enduring other people's pain, which firmness, he said,
was due to his great benevolence; he always did what was good for people
in the end.  Mr. Chaloner had even selected him as clergyman's
churchwarden, for he was a very handy man, and much more of Mr.
Chaloner's opinion in everything about church business than the older
parishioners.  Mr. Freely was a very regular churchman, but at the Oyster
Club he was sometimes a little free in his conversation, more than
hinting at a life of Sultanic self-indulgence which he had passed in the
West Indies, shaking his head now and then and smiling rather bitterly,
as men are wont to do when they intimate that they have become a little
too wise to be instructed about a world which has long been flat and
stale to them.

For some time he was quite general in his attentions to the fair sex,
combining the gallantries of a lady's man with a severity of criticism on
the person and manners of absent belles, which tended rather to stimulate
in the feminine breast the desire to conquer the approval of so
fastidious a judge.  Nothing short of the very best in the department of
female charms and virtues could suffice to kindle the ardour of Mr.
Edward Freely, who had become familiar with the most luxuriant and
dazzling beauty in the West Indies.  It may seem incredible that a
confectioner should have ideas and conversation so much resembling those
to be met with in a higher walk of life, but it must be remembered that
he had not merely travelled, he had also bow-legs and a sallow, small-
featured visage, so that nature herself had stamped him for a fastidious
connoisseur of the fair sex.

At last, however, it seemed clear that Cupid had found a sharper arrow
than usual, and that Mr. Freely's heart was pierced.  It was the general
talk among the young people at Grimworth.  But was it really love, and
not rather ambition?  Miss Fullilove, the timber-merchant's daughter, was
quite sure that if _she_ were Miss Penny Palfrey, she would be cautious;
it was not a good sign when men looked so much above themselves for a
wife.  For it was no less a person than Miss Penelope Palfrey, second
daughter of the Mr. Palfrey who farmed his own land, that had attracted
Mr. Freely's peculiar regard, and conquered his fastidiousness; and no
wonder, for the Ideal, as exhibited in the finest waxwork, was perhaps
never so closely approached by the Real as in the person of the pretty
Penelope.  Her yellowish flaxen hair did not curl naturally, I admit, but
its bright crisp ringlets were such smooth, perfect miniature tubes, that
you would have longed to pass your little finger through them, and feel
their soft elasticity.  She wore them in a crop, for in those days, when
society was in a healthier state, young ladies wore crops long after they
were twenty, and Penelope was not yet nineteen.  Like the waxen ideal,
she had round blue eyes, and round nostrils in her little nose, and teeth
such as the ideal would be seen to have, if it ever showed them.
Altogether, she was a small, round thing, as neat as a pink and white
double daisy, and as guileless; for I hope it does not argue guile in a
pretty damsel of nineteen, to think that she should like to have a beau
and be "engaged," when her elder sister had already been in that position
a year and a half.  To be sure, there was young Towers always coming to
the house; but Penny felt convinced he only came to see her brother, for
he never had anything to say to her, and never offered her his arm, and
was as awkward and silent as possible.

It is not unlikely that Mr. Freely had early been smitten by Penny's
charms, as brought under his observation at church, but he had to make
his way in society a little before he could come into nearer contact with
them; and even after he was well received in Grimworth families, it was a
long while before he could converse with Penny otherwise than in an
incidental meeting at Mr. Luff's.  It was not so easy to get invited to
Long Meadows, the residence of the Palfreys; for though Mr. Palfrey had
been losing money of late years, not being able quite to recover his feet
after the terrible murrain which forced him to borrow, his family were
far from considering themselves on the same level even as the
old-established tradespeople with whom they visited.  The greatest
people, even kings and queens, must visit with somebody, and the equals
of the great are scarce.  They were especially scarce at Grimworth,
which, as I have before observed, was a low parish, mentioned with the
most scornful brevity in gazetteers.  Even the great people there were
far behind those of their own standing in other parts of this realm.  Mr.
Palfrey's farmyard doors had the paint all worn off them, and the front
garden walks had long been merged in a general weediness.  Still, his
father had been called Squire Palfrey, and had been respected by the last
Grimworth generation as a man who could afford to drink too much in his
own house.

Pretty Penny was not blind to the fact that Mr. Freely admired her, and
she felt sure that it was he who had sent her a beautiful valentine; but
her sister seemed to think so lightly of him (all young ladies think
lightly of the gentlemen to whom they are not engaged), that Penny never
dared mention him, and trembled and blushed whenever they met him,
thinking of the valentine, which was very strong in its expressions, and
which she felt guilty of knowing by heart.  A man who had been to the
Indies, and knew the sea so well, seemed to her a sort of public
character, almost like Robinson Crusoe or Captain Cook; and Penny had
always wished her husband to be a remarkable personage, likely to be put
in Mangnall's Questions, with which register of the immortals she had
become acquainted during her one year at a boarding-school.  Only it
seemed strange that a remarkable man should be a confectioner and pastry-
cook, and this anomaly quite disturbed Penny's dreams.  Her brothers, she
knew, laughed at men who couldn't sit on horseback well, and called them
tailors; but her brothers were very rough, and were quite without that
power of anecdote which made Mr. Freely such a delightful companion.  He
was a very good man, she thought, for she had heard him say at Mr.
Luff's, one day, that he always wished to do his duty in whatever state
of life he might be placed; and he knew a great deal of poetry, for one
day he had repeated a verse of a song.  She wondered if he had made the
words of the valentine!--it ended in this way:--

   "Without thee, it is pain to live,
   But with thee, it were sweet to die."

Poor Mr. Freely! her father would very likely object--she felt sure he
would, for he always called Mr. Freely "that sugar-plum fellow."  Oh, it
was very cruel, when true love was crossed in that way, and all because
Mr. Freely was a confectioner: well, Penny would be true to him, for all
that, and since his being a confectioner gave her an opportunity of
showing her faithfulness, she was glad of it.  Edward Freely was a pretty
name, much better than John Towers.  Young Towers had offered her a rose
out of his button-hole the other day, blushing very much; but she refused
it, and thought with delight how much Mr. Freely would be comforted if he
knew her firmness of mind.

Poor little Penny! the days were so very long among the daisies on a
grazing farm, and thought is so active--how was it possible that the
inward drama should not get the start of the outward?  I have known young
ladies, much better educated, and with an outward world diversified by
instructive lectures, to say nothing of literature and highly-developed
fancy-work, who have spun a cocoon of visionary joys and sorrows for
themselves, just as Penny did.  Her elder sister Letitia, who had a
prouder style of beauty, and a more worldly ambition, was engaged to a
wool-factor, who came all the way from Cattelton to see her; and
everybody knows that a wool-factor takes a very high rank, sometimes
driving a double-bodied gig.  Letty's notions got higher every day, and
Penny never dared to speak of her cherished griefs to her lofty
sister--never dared to propose that they should call at Mr. Freely's to
buy liquorice, though she had prepared for such an incident by mentioning
a slight sore throat.  So she had to pass the shop on the other side of
the market-place, and reflect, with a suppressed sigh, that behind those
pink and white jars somebody was thinking of her tenderly, unconscious of
the small space that divided her from him.

And it was quite true that, when business permitted, Mr. Freely thought a
great deal of Penny.  He thought her prettiness comparable to the
loveliest things in confectionery; he judged her to be of submissive
temper--likely to wait upon him as well as if she had been a negress, and
to be silently terrified when his liver made him irritable; and he
considered the Palfrey family quite the best in the parish, possessing
marriageable daughters.  On the whole, he thought her worthy to become
Mrs. Edward Freely, and all the more so, because it would probably
require some ingenuity to win her.  Mr. Palfrey was capable of
horse-whipping a too rash pretender to his daughter's hand; and,
moreover, he had three tall sons: it was clear that a suitor would be at
a disadvantage with such a family, unless travel and natural acumen had
given him a countervailing power of contrivance.  And the first idea that
occurred to him in the matter was, that Mr. Palfrey would object less if
he knew that the Freelys were a much higher family than his own.  It had
been foolish modesty in him hitherto to conceal the fact that a branch of
the Freelys held a manor in Yorkshire, and to shut up the portrait of his
great uncle the admiral, instead of hanging it up where a family portrait
should be hung--over the mantelpiece in the parlour.  Admiral Freely,
K.C.B., once placed in this conspicuous position, was seen to have had
one arm only, and one eye--in these points resembling the heroic
Nelson--while a certain pallid insignificance of feature confirmed the
relationship between himself and his grand-nephew.

Next, Mr. Freely was seized with an irrepressible ambition to posses Mrs.
Palfrey's receipt for brawn, hers being pronounced on all hands to be
superior to his own--as he informed her in a very flattering letter
carried by his errand-boy.  Now Mrs. Palfrey, like other geniuses,
wrought by instinct rather than by rule, and possessed no
receipts--indeed, despised all people who used them, observing that
people who pickled by book, must pickle by weights and measures, and such
nonsense; as for herself, her weights and measures were the tip of her
finger and the tip of her tongue, and if you went nearer, why, of course,
for dry goods like flour and spice, you went by handfuls and pinches, and
for wet, there was a middle-sized jug--quite the best thing whether for
much or little, because you might know how much a teacupful was if you'd
got any use of your senses, and you might be sure it would take five
middle-sized jugs to make a gallon.  Knowledge of this kind is like
Titian's colouring, difficult to communicate; and as Mrs. Palfrey, once
remarkably handsome, had now become rather stout and asthmatical, and
scarcely ever left home, her oral teaching could hardly be given anywhere
except at Long Meadows.  Even a matron is not insusceptible to flattery,
and the prospect of a visitor whose great object would be to listen to
her conversation, was not without its charms to Mrs. Palfrey.  Since
there was no receipt to be sent in reply to Mr. Freely's humble request,
she called on her more docile daughter, Penny, to write a note, telling
him that her mother would be glad to see him and talk with him on brawn,
any day that he could call at Long Meadows.  Penny obeyed with a
trembling hand, thinking how wonderfully things came about in this world.

In this way, Mr. Freely got himself introduced into the home of the
Palfreys, and notwithstanding a tendency in the male part of the family
to jeer at him a little as "peaky" and bow-legged, he presently
established his position as an accepted and frequent guest.  Young Towers
looked at him with increasing disgust when they met at the house on a
Sunday, and secretly longed to try his ferret upon him, as a piece of
vermin which that valuable animal would be likely to tackle with
unhesitating vigour.  But--so blind sometimes are parents--neither Mr.
nor Mrs. Palfrey suspected that Penny would have anything to say to a
tradesman of questionable rank whose youthful bloom was much withered.
Young Towers, they thought, had an eye to her, and _that_ was likely
enough to be a match some day; but Penny was a child at present.  And all
the while Penny was imagining the circumstances under which Mr. Freely
would make her an offer: perhaps down by the row of damson-trees, when
they were in the garden before tea; perhaps by letter--in which case, how
would the letter begin?  "Dearest Penelope?" or "My dear Miss Penelope?"
or straight off, without dear anything, as seemed the most natural when
people were embarrassed?  But, however he might make the offer, she would
not accept it without her father's consent: she would always be true to
Mr. Freely, but she would not disobey her father.  For Penny was a good
girl, though some of her female friends were afterwards of opinion that
it spoke ill for her not to have felt an instinctive repugnance to Mr.
Freely.

But he was cautious, and wished to be quite sure of the ground he trod
on.  His views on marriage were not entirely sentimental, but were as
duly mingled with considerations of what would be advantageous to a man
in his position, as if he had had a very large amount of money spent on
his education.  He was not a man to fall in love in the wrong place; and
so, he applied himself quite as much to conciliate the favour of the
parents, as to secure the attachment of Penny.  Mrs. Palfrey had not been
inaccessible to flattery, and her husband, being also of mortal mould,
would not, it might be hoped, be proof against rum--that very fine
Jamaica rum--of which Mr. Freely expected always to have a supply sent
him from Jamaica.  It was not easy to get Mr. Palfrey into the parlour
behind the shop, where a mild back-street light fell on the features of
the heroic admiral; but by getting hold of him rather late one evening as
he was about to return home from Grimworth, the aspiring lover succeeded
in persuading him to sup on some collared beef which, after Mrs.
Palfrey's brawn, he would find the very best of cold eating.

From that hour Mr. Freely felt sure of success: being in privacy with an
estimable man old enough to be his father, and being rather lonely in the
world, it was natural he should unbosom himself a little on subjects
which he could not speak of in a mixed circle--especially concerning his
expectations from his uncle in Jamaica, who had no children, and loved
his nephew Edward better than any one else in the world, though he had
been so hurt at his leaving Jamaica, that he had threatened to cut him
off with a shilling.  However, he had since written to state his full
forgiveness, and though he was an eccentric old gentleman and could not
bear to give away money during his life, Mr. Edward Freely could show Mr.
Palfrey the letter which declared, plainly enough, who would be the
affectionate uncle's heir.  Mr. Palfrey actually saw the letter, and
could not help admiring the spirit of the nephew who declared that such
brilliant hopes as these made no difference to his conduct; he should
work at his humble business and make his modest fortune at it all the
same.  If the Jamaica estate was to come to him--well and good.  It was
nothing very surprising for one of the Freely family to have an estate
left him, considering the lands that family had possessed in time gone
by--nay, still possessed in the Northumberland branch.  Would not Mr.
Palfrey take another glass of rum? and also look at the last year's
balance of the accounts?  Mr. Freely was a man who cared to possess
personal virtues, and did not pique himself on his family, though some
men would.

We know how easily the great Leviathan may be led, when once there is a
hook in his nose or a bridle in his jaws.  Mr. Palfrey was a large man,
but, like Leviathan's, his bulk went against him when once he had taken a
turning.  He was not a mercurial man, who easily changed his point of
view.  Enough.  Before two months were over, he had given his consent to
Mr. Freely's marriage with his daughter Penny, and having hit on a
formula by which he could justify it, fenced off all doubts and
objections, his own included.  The formula was this: "I'm not a man to
put my head up an entry before I know where it leads."

Little Penny was very proud and fluttering, but hardly so happy as she
expected to be in an engagement.  She wondered if young Towers cared much
about it, for he had not been to the house lately, and her sister and
brothers were rather inclined to sneer than to sympathize.  Grimworth
rang with the news.  All men extolled Mr. Freely's good fortune; while
the women, with the tender solicitude characteristic of the sex, wished
the marriage might turn out well.

While affairs were at this triumphant juncture, Mr. Freely one morning
observed that a stone-carver who had been breakfasting in the eating-room
had left a newspaper behind.  It was the _X-shire Gazette_, and X-shire
being a county not unknown to Mr. Freely, he felt some curiosity to
glance over it, and especially over the advertisements.  A slight flush
came over his face as he read.  It was produced by the following
announcement:--"If David Faux, son of Jonathan Faux, late of Gilsbrook,
will apply at the office of Mr. Strutt, attorney, of Rodham, he will hear
of something to his advantage."

"Father's dead!" exclaimed Mr. Freely, involuntarily.  "Can he have left
me a legacy?"



CHAPTER III


Perhaps it was a result quite different from your expectations, that Mr.
David Faux should have returned from the West Indies only a few years
after his arrival there, and have set up in his old business, like any
plain man who has never travelled.  But these cases do occur in life.
Since, as we know, men change their skies and see new constellations
without changing their souls, it will follow sometimes that they don't
change their business under those novel circumstances.

Certainly, this result was contrary to David's own expectations.  He had
looked forward, you are aware, to a brilliant career among "the blacks";
but, either because they had already seen too many white men, or for some
other reason, they did not at once recognize him as a superior order of
human being; besides, there were no princesses among them.  Nobody in
Jamaica was anxious to maintain David for the mere pleasure of his
society; and those hidden merits of a man which are so well known to
himself were as little recognized there as they notoriously are in the
effete society of the Old World.  So that in the dark hints that David
threw out at the Oyster Club about that life of Sultanic self-indulgence
spent by him in the luxurious Indies, I really think he was doing himself
a wrong; I believe he worked for his bread, and, in fact, took to cooking
as, after all, the only department in which he could offer skilled
labour.  He had formed several ingenious plans by which he meant to
circumvent people of large fortune and small faculty; but then he never
met with exactly the right circumstances.  David's devices for getting
rich without work had apparently no direct relation with the world
outside him, as his confectionery receipts had.  It is possible to pass a
great many bad half pennies and bad half-crowns, but I believe there has
no instance been known of passing a halfpenny or a half-crown as a
sovereign.  A sharper can drive a brisk trade in this world: it is
undeniable that there may be a fine career for him, if he will dare
consequences; but David was too timid to be a sharper, or venture in any
way among the mantraps of the law.  He dared rob nobody but his mother.
And so he had to fall back on the genuine value there was in him--to be
content to pass as a good halfpenny, or, to speak more accurately, as a
good confectioner.  For in spite of some additional reading and
observation, there was nothing else he could make so much money by; nay,
he found in himself even a capability of extending his skill in this
direction, and embracing all forms of cookery; while, in other branches
of human labour, he began to see that it was not possible for him to
shine.  Fate was too strong for him; he had thought to master her
inclination and had fled over the seas to that end; but she caught him,
tied an apron round him, and snatching him from all other devices, made
him devise cakes and patties in a kitchen at Kingstown.  He was getting
submissive to her, since she paid him with tolerable gains; but fevers
and prickly heat, and other evils incidental to cooks in ardent climates,
made him long for his native land; so he took ship once more, carrying
his six years' savings, and seeing distinctly, this time, what were
Fate's intentions as to his career.  If you question me closely as to
whether all the money with which he set up at Grimworth consisted of pure
and simple earnings, I am obliged to confess that he got a sum or two for
charitably abstaining from mentioning some other people's misdemeanours.
Altogether, since no prospects were attached to his family name, and
since a new christening seemed a suitable commencement of a new life, Mr.
David Faux thought it as well to call himself Mr. Edward Freely.

But lo! now, in opposition to all calculable probability, some benefit
appeared to be attached to the name of David Faux.  Should he neglect it,
as beneath the attention of a prosperous tradesman?  It might bring him
into contact with his family again, and he felt no yearnings in that
direction: moreover, he had small belief that the "something to his
advantage" could be anything considerable.  On the other hand, even a
small gain is pleasant, and the promise of it in this instance was so
surprising, that David felt his curiosity awakened.  The scale dipped at
last on the side of writing to the lawyer, and, to be brief, the
correspondence ended in an appointment for a meeting between David and
his eldest brother at Mr. Strutt's, the vague "something" having been
defined as a legacy from his father of eighty-two pounds, three
shillings.

David, you know, had expected to be disinherited; and so he would have
been, if he had not, like some other indifferent sons, come of excellent
parents, whose conscience made them scrupulous where much more highly-
instructed people often feel themselves warranted in following the bent
of their indignation.  Good Mrs. Faux could never forget that she had
brought this ill-conditioned son into the world when he was in that
entirely helpless state which excluded the smallest choice on his part;
and, somehow or other, she felt that his going wrong would be his
father's and mother's fault, if they failed in one tittle of their
parental duty.  Her notion of parental duty was not of a high and subtle
kind, but it included giving him his due share of the family property;
for when a man had got a little honest money of his own, was he so likely
to steal?  To cut the delinquent son off with a shilling, was like
delivering him over to his evil propensities.  No; let the sum of twenty
guineas which he had stolen be deducted from his share, and then let the
sum of three guineas be put back from it, seeing that his mother had
always considered three of the twenty guineas as his; and, though he had
run away, and was, perhaps, gone across the sea, let the money be left to
him all the same, and be kept in reserve for his possible return.  Mr.
Faux agreed to his wife's views, and made a codicil to his will
accordingly, in time to die with a clear conscience.  But for some time
his family thought it likely that David would never reappear; and the
eldest son, who had the charge of Jacob on his hands, often thought it a
little hard that David might perhaps be dead, and yet, for want of
certitude on that point, his legacy could not fall to his legal heir.  But
in this state of things the opposite certitude--namely, that David was
still alive and in England--seemed to be brought by the testimony of a
neighbour, who, having been on a journey to Cattelton, was pretty sure he
had seen David in a gig, with a stout man driving by his side.  He could
"swear it was David," though he could "give no account why, for he had no
marks on him; but no more had a white dog, and that didn't hinder folks
from knowing a white dog."  It was this incident which had led to the
advertisement.

The legacy was paid, of course, after a few preliminary disclosures as to
Mr. David's actual position.  He begged to send his love to his mother,
and to say that he hoped to pay her a dutiful visit by and by; but, at
present, his business and near prospect of marriage made it difficult for
him to leave home.  His brother replied with much frankness.

"My mother may do as she likes about having you to see her, but, for my
part, I don't want to catch sight of you on the premises again.  When
folks have taken a new name, they'd better keep to their new
'quinetance."

David pocketed the insult along with the eighty-two pounds three, and
travelled home again in some triumph at the ease of a transaction which
had enriched him to this extent.  He had no intention of offending his
brother by further claims on his fraternal recognition, and relapsed with
full contentment into the character of Mr. Edward Freely, the orphan,
scion of a great but reduced family, with an eccentric uncle in the West
Indies.  (I have already hinted that he had some acquaintance with
imaginative literature; and being of a practical turn, he had, you
perceive, applied even this form of knowledge to practical purposes.)

It was little more than a week after the return from his fruitful
journey, that the day of his marriage with Penny having been fixed, it
was agreed that Mrs. Palfrey should overcome her reluctance to move from
home, and that she and her husband should bring their two daughters to
inspect little Penny's future abode and decide on the new arrangements to
be made for the reception of the bride.  Mr. Freely meant her to have a
house so pretty and comfortable that she need not envy even a
wool-factor's wife.  Of course, the upper room over the shop was to be
the best sitting-room; but also the parlour behind the shop was to be
made a suitable bower for the lovely Penny, who would naturally wish to
be near her husband, though Mr. Freely declared his resolution never to
allow _his_ wife to wait in the shop.  The decisions about the parlour
furniture were left till last, because the party was to take tea there;
and, about five o'clock, they were all seated there with the best muffins
and buttered buns before them, little Penny blushing and smiling, with
her "crop" in the best order, and a blue frock showing her little white
shoulders, while her opinion was being always asked and never given.  She
secretly wished to have a particular sort of chimney ornaments, but she
could not have brought herself to mention it.  Seated by the side of her
yellow and rather withered lover, who, though he had not reached his
thirtieth year, had already crow's-feet about his eyes, she was quite
tremulous at the greatness of her lot in being married to a man who had
travelled so much--and before her sister Letty!  The handsome Letitia
looked rather proud and contemptuous, thought her nature brother-in-law
an odious person, and was vexed with her father and mother for letting
Penny marry him.  Dear little Penny!  She certainly did look like a fresh
white-heart cherry going to be bitten off the stem by that lipless mouth.
Would no deliverer come to make a slip between that cherry and that mouth
without a lip?

"Quite a family likeness between the admiral and you, Mr. Freely,"
observed Mrs. Palfrey, who was looking at the family portrait for the
first time.  "It's wonderful! and only a grand-uncle.  Do you feature the
rest of your family, as you know of?"

"I can't say," said Mr. Freely, with a sigh.  "My family have mostly
thought themselves too high to take any notice of me."

At this moment an extraordinary disturbance was heard in the shop, as of
a heavy animal stamping about and making angry noises, and then of a
glass vessel falling in shivers, while the voice of the apprentice was
heard calling "Master" in great alarm.

Mr. Freely rose in anxious astonishment, and hastened into the shop,
followed by the four Palfreys, who made a group at the parlour-door,
transfixed with wonder at seeing a large man in a smock-frock, with a
pitchfork in his hand, rush up to Mr. Freely and hug him, crying
out,--"Zavy, Zavy, b'other Zavy!"

It was Jacob, and for some moments David lost all presence of mind.  He
felt arrested for having stolen his mother's guineas.  He turned cold,
and trembled in his brother's grasp.

"Why, how's this?" said Mr. Palfrey, advancing from the door.  "Who is
he?"

Jacob supplied the answer by saying over and over again--

"I'se Zacob, b'other Zacob.  Come 'o zee Zavy"--till hunger prompted him
to relax his grasp, and to seize a large raised pie, which he lifted to
his mouth.

By this time David's power of device had begun to return, but it was a
very hard task for his prudence to master his rage and hatred towards
poor Jacob.

"I don't know who he is; he must be drunk," he said, in a low tone to Mr.
Palfrey.  "But he's dangerous with that pitchfork.  He'll never let it
go."  Then checking himself on the point of betraying too great an
intimacy with Jacob's habits, he added "You watch him, while I run for
the constable."  And he hurried out of the shop.

"Why, where do you come from, my man?" said Mr. Palfrey, speaking to
Jacob in a conciliatory tone.  Jacob was eating his pie by large
mouthfuls, and looking round at the other good things in the shop, while
he embraced his pitchfork with his left arm, and laid his left hand on
some Bath buns.  He was in the rare position of a person who recovers a
long absent friend and finds him richer than ever in the characteristics
that won his heart.

"I's Zacob--b'other Zacob--'t home.  I love Zavy--b'other Zavy," he said,
as soon as Mr. Palfrey had drawn his attention.  "Zavy come back from z'
Indies--got mother's zinnies.  Where's Zavy?" he added, looking round and
then turning to the others with a questioning air, puzzled by David's
disappearance.

"It's very odd," observed Mr. Palfrey to his wife and daughters.  "He
seems to say Freely's his brother come back from th' Indies."

"What a pleasant relation for us!" said Letitia, sarcastically.  "I think
he's a good deal like Mr. Freely.  He's got just the same sort of nose,
and his eyes are the same colour."

Poor Penny was ready to cry.

But now Mr. Freely re-entered the shop without the constable.  During his
walk of a few yards he had had time and calmness enough to widen his view
of consequences, and he saw that to get Jacob taken to the workhouse or
to the lock-up house as an offensive stranger might have awkward effects
if his family took the trouble of inquiring after him.  He must resign
himself to more patient measures.

"On second thoughts," he said, beckoning to Mr. Palfrey and whispering to
him while Jacob's back was turned, "he's a poor half-witted fellow.
Perhaps his friends will come after him.  I don't mind giving him
something to eat, and letting him lie down for the night.  He's got it
into his head that he knows me--they do get these fancies, idiots do.
He'll perhaps go away again in an hour or two, and make no more ado.  I'm
a kind-hearted man _myself_--I shouldn't like to have the poor fellow ill-
used."

"Why, he'll eat a sovereign's worth in no time," said Mr. Palfrey,
thinking Mr. Freely a little too magnificent in his generosity.

"Eh, Zavy, come back?" exclaimed Jacob, giving his dear brother another
hug, which crushed Mr. Freely's features inconveniently against the stale
of the pitchfork.

"Aye, aye," said Mr. Freely, smiling, with every capability of murder in
his mind, except the courage to commit it.  He wished the Bath buns might
by chance have arsenic in them.

"Mother's zinnies?" said Jacob, pointing to a glass jar of yellow
lozenges that stood in the window.  "Zive 'em me."

David dared not do otherwise than reach down the glass jar and give Jacob
a handful.  He received them in his smock-frock, which he held out for
more.

"They'll keep him quiet a bit, at any rate," thought David, and emptied
the jar.  Jacob grinned and mowed with delight.

"You're very good to this stranger, Mr. Freely," said Letitia; and then
spitefully, as David joined the party at the parlour-door, "I think you
could hardly treat him better, if he was really your brother."

"I've always thought it a duty to be good to idiots," said Mr. Freely,
striving after the most moral view of the subject.  "We might have been
idiots ourselves--everybody might have been born idiots, instead of
having their right senses."

"I don't know where there'd ha' been victual for us all then," observed
Mrs. Palfrey, regarding the matter in a housewifely light.

"But let us sit down again and finish our tea," said Mr. Freely.  "Let us
leave the poor creature to himself."

They walked into the parlour again; but Jacob, not apparently
appreciating the kindness of leaving him to himself, immediately followed
his brother, and seated himself, pitchfork grounded, at the table.

"Well," said Miss Letitia, rising, "I don't know whether _you_ mean to
stay, mother; but I shall go home."

"Oh, me too," said Penny, frightened to death at Jacob, who had begun to
nod and grin at her.

"Well, I think we _had_ better be going, Mr. Palfrey," said the mother,
rising more slowly.

Mr. Freely, whose complexion had become decidedly yellower during the
last half-hour, did not resist this proposition.  He hoped they should
meet again "under happier circumstances."

"It's my belief the man is his brother," said Letitia, when they were all
on their way home.

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Palfrey.  "Freely's got no brother--he's said so
many and many a time; he's an orphan; he's got nothing but
uncles--leastwise, one.  What's it matter what an idiot says?  What call
had Freely to tell lies?"

Letitia tossed her head and was silent.

Mr. Freely, left alone with his affectionate brother Jacob, brooded over
the possibility of luring him out of the town early the next morning, and
getting him conveyed to Gilsbrook without further betrayals.  But the
thing was difficult.  He saw clearly that if he took Jacob himself, his
absence, conjoined with the disappearance of the stranger, would either
cause the conviction that he was really a relative, or would oblige him
to the dangerous course of inventing a story to account for his
disappearance, and his own absence at the same time.  David groaned.
There come occasions when falsehood is felt to be inconvenient.  It
would, perhaps, have been a longer-headed device, if he had never told
any of those clever fibs about his uncles, grand and otherwise; for the
Palfreys were simple people, and shared the popular prejudice against
lying.  Even if he could get Jacob away this time, what security was
there that he would not come again, having once found the way?  O
guineas!  O lozenges! what enviable people those were who had never
robbed their mothers, and had never told fibs!  David spent a sleepless
night, while Jacob was snoring close by.  Was this the upshot of
travelling to the Indies, and acquiring experience combined with
anecdote?

He rose at break of day, as he had once before done when he was in fear
of Jacob, and took all gentle means to rouse this fatal brother from his
deep sleep; he dared not be loud, because his apprentice was in the
house, and would report everything.  But Jacob was not to be roused.  He
fought out with his fist at the unknown cause of disturbance, turned
over, and snored again.  He must be left to wake as he would.  David,
with a cold perspiration on his brow, confessed to himself that Jacob
could not be got away that day.

Mr. Palfrey came over to Grimworth before noon, with a natural curiosity
to see how his future son-in-law got on with the stranger to whom he was
so benevolently inclined.  He found a crowd round the shop.  All
Grimworth by this time had heard how Freely had been fastened on by an
idiot, who called him "Brother Zavy"; and the younger population seemed
to find the singular stranger an unwearying source of fascination, while
the householders dropped in one by one to inquire into the incident.

"Why don't you send him to the workhouse?" said Mr. Prettyman.  "You'll
have a row with him and the children presently, and he'll eat you up.  The
workhouse is the proper place for him; let his kin claim him, if he's got
any."

"Those may be _your_ feelings, Mr. Prettyman," said David, his mind quite
enfeebled by the torture of his position.

"What! _is_ he your brother, then?" said Mr. Prettyman, looking at his
neighbour Freely rather sharply.

"All men are our brothers, and idiots particular so," said Mr. Freely,
who, like many other travelled men, was not master of the English
language.

"Come, come, if he's your brother, tell the truth, man," said Mr.
Prettyman, with growing suspicion.  "Don't be ashamed of your own flesh
and blood."

Mr. Palfrey was present, and also had his eye on Freely.  It is difficult
for a man to believe in the advantage of a truth which will disclose him
to have been a liar.  In this critical moment, David shrank from this
immediate disgrace in the eyes of his future father-in-law.

"Mr. Prettyman," he said, "I take your observations as an insult.  I've
no reason to be otherwise than proud of my own flesh and blood.  If this
poor man was my brother more than all men are, I should say so."

A tall figure darkened the door, and David, lifting his eyes in that
direction, saw his eldest brother, Jonathan, on the door-sill.

"I'll stay wi' Zavy," shouted Jacob, as he, too, caught sight of his
eldest brother; and, running behind the counter, he clutched David hard.

"What, he _is_ here?" said Jonathan Faux, coming forward.  "My mother
would have no nay, as he'd been away so long, but I must see after him.
And it struck me he was very like come after you, because we'd been
talking of you o' late, and where you lived."

David saw there was no escape; he smiled a ghastly smile.

"What! is this a relation of yours, sir?" said Mr. Palfrey to Jonathan.

"Aye, it's my innicent of a brother, sure enough," said honest Jonathan.
"A fine trouble and cost he is to us, in th' eating and other things, but
we must bear what's laid on us."

"And your name's Freely, is it?" said Mr. Prettyman.

"Nay, nay, my name's Faux, I know nothing o' Freelys," said Jonathan,
curtly.  "Come," he added, turning to David, "I must take some news to
mother about Jacob.  Shall I take him with me, or will you undertake to
send him back?"

"Take him, if you can make him loose his hold of me," said David, feebly.

"Is this gentleman here in the confectionery line your brother, then,
sir?" said Mr. Prettyman, feeling that it was an occasion on which format
language must be used.

"_I_ don't want to own him," said Jonathan, unable to resist a movement
of indignation that had never been allowed to satisfy itself.  "He ran
away from home with good reasons in his pocket years ago: he didn't want
to be owned again, I reckon."

Mr. Palfrey left the shop; he felt his own pride too severely wounded by
the sense that he had let himself be fooled, to feel curiosity for
further details.  The most pressing business was to go home and tell his
daughter that Freely was a poor sneak, probably a rascal, and that her
engagement was broken off.

Mr. Prettyman stayed, with some internal self-gratulation that _he_ had
never given in to Freely, and that Mr. Chaloner would see now what sort
of fellow it was that he had put over the heads of older parishioners.  He
considered it due from him (Mr. Prettyman) that, for the interests of the
parish, he should know all that was to be known about this "interloper."
Grimworth would have people coming from Botany Bay to settle in it, if
things went on in this way.

It soon appeared that Jacob could not be made to quit his dear brother
David except by force.  He understood, with a clearness equal to that of
the most intelligent mind, that Jonathan would take him back to skimmed
milk, apple-dumpling, broad beans, and pork.  And he had found a paradise
in his brother's shop.  It was a difficult matter to use force with
Jacob, for he wore heavy nailed boots; and if his pitchfork had been
mastered, he would have resorted without hesitation to kicks.  Nothing
short of using guile to bind him hand and foot would have made all
parties safe.

"Let him stay," said David, with desperate resignation, frightened above
all things at the idea of further disturbances in his shop, which would
make his exposure all the more conspicuous.  "_You_ go away again, and to-
morrow I can, perhaps, get him to go to Gilsbrook with me.  He'll follow
me fast enough, I daresay," he added, with a half-groan.

"Very well," said Jonathan, gruffly.  "I don't see why _you_ shouldn't
have some trouble and expense with him as well as the rest of us.  But
mind you bring him back safe and soon, else mother'll never rest."

On this arrangement being concluded, Mr. Prettyman begged Mr. Jonathan
Faux to go and take a snack with him, an invitation which was quite
acceptable; and as honest Jonathan had nothing to be ashamed of, it is
probable that he was very frank in his communications to the civil
draper, who, pursuing the benefit of the parish, hastened to make all the
information he could gather about Freely common parochial property.  You
may imagine that the meeting of the Club at the Woolpack that evening was
unusually lively.  Every member was anxious to prove that he had never
liked Freely, as he called himself.  Faux was his name, was it?  Fox
would have been more suitable.  The majority expressed a desire to see
him hooted out of the town.

Mr. Freely did not venture over his door-sill that day, for he knew Jacob
would keep at his side, and there was every probability that they would
have a train of juvenile followers.  He sent to engage the Woolpack gig
for an early hour the next morning; but this order was not kept
religiously a secret by the landlord.  Mr. Freely was informed that he
could not have the gig till seven; and the Grimworth people were early
risers.  Perhaps they were more alert than usual on this particular
morning; for when Jacob, with a bag of sweets in his hand, was induced to
mount the gig with his brother David, the inhabitants of the market-place
were looking out of their doors and windows, and at the turning of the
street there was even a muster of apprentices and schoolboys, who shouted
as they passed in what Jacob took to be a very merry and friendly way,
nodding and grinning in return.  "Huzzay, David Faux! how's your uncle?"
was their morning's greeting.  Like other pointed things, it was not
altogether impromptu.

Even this public derision was not so crushing to David as the horrible
thought that though he might succeed now in getting Jacob home again
there would never be any security against his coming back, like a wasp to
the honey-pot.  As long as David lived at Grimworth, Jacob's return would
be hanging over him.  But could he go on living at Grimworth--an object
of ridicule, discarded by the Palfreys, after having revelled in the
consciousness that he was an envied and prosperous confectioner?  David
liked to be envied; he minded less about being loved.

His doubts on this point were soon settled.  The mind of Grimworth became
obstinately set against him and his viands, and the new school being
finished, the eating-room was closed.  If there had been no other reason,
sympathy with the Palfreys, that respectable family who had lived in the
parish time out of mind, would have determined all well-to-do people to
decline Freely's goods.  Besides, he had absconded with his mother's
guineas: who knew what else he had done, in Jamaica or elsewhere, before
he came to Grimworth, worming himself into families under false
pretences?  Females shuddered.  Dreadful suspicions gathered round him:
his green eyes, his bow-legs had a criminal aspect.  The rector disliked
the sight of a man who had imposed upon him; and all boys who could not
afford to purchase, hooted "David Faux" as they passed his shop.
Certainly no man now would pay anything for the "goodwill" of Mr.
Freely's business, and he would be obliged to quit it without a peculium
so desirable towards defraying the expense of moving.

In a few months the shop in the market-place was again to let, and Mr.
David Faux, alias Mr. Edward Freely, had gone--nobody at Grimworth knew
whither.  In this way the demoralization of Grimworth women was checked.
Young Mrs. Steene renewed her efforts to make light mince-pies, and
having at last made a batch so excellent that Mr. Steene looked at her
with complacency as he ate them, and said they were the best he had ever
eaten in his life, she thought less of bulbuls and renegades ever after.
The secrets of the finer cookery were revived in the breasts of matronly
house-wives, and daughters were again anxious to be initiated in them.

You will further, I hope, be glad to bear, that some purchases of drapery
made by pretty Penny, in preparation for her marriage with Mr. Freely,
came in quite as well for her wedding with young Towers as if they had
been made expressly for the latter occasion.  For Penny's complexion had
not altered, and blue always became it best.

Here ends the story of Mr. David Faux, confectioner, and his brother
Jacob.  And we see in it, I think, an admirable instance of the
unexpected forms in which the great Nemesis hides herself.

(1860)





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