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Title: Frank Oldfield - Lost and Found
Author: Wilson, T.P.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "Frank Oldfield - Lost and Found" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Frank Oldfield, or Lost and Found
by the Reverend T.P. Wilson, M.A., Rector of Smethcote

Published by T. Nelson and Sons, London, Edinburgh and
New York, 1872.

Also by W. Tweedie, 337 Strand, London,
and at The Office of the United Kingdom Band of Hope Union,
5 Red Lion Square, London.
________________________________________________________________

Preface

The Committee of the United Kingdom Band of Hope Union having offered
prizes of One Hundred Pounds, and Fifty Pounds respectively, for the two
best tales illustrative of Temperance in its relation to the young, the
present tale, "Frank Oldfield," was selected from eighty-four tales as
the one entitled to the first prize.  The second tale, "Tim Maloney,"
was written by Miss M.A. Paull, of Plymouth, and will shortly be
published.  Appended is the report of the adjudicators:--

We the adjudicators appointed by the Committee of the United Kingdom
Band of Hope Union, to decide upon the Prize Tales for which premiums of
One Hundred Pounds, and Fifty Pounds, were offered by advertisement,
hereby declare that we have selected the tale with the motto "Nothing
extenuate, or set down aught in malice," as that entitled to the First
Prize of One Hundred Pounds; and the tale with the motto "Hope on,
Hope ever," as that entitled to the Second Prize of Fifty Pounds.

As witness our hands, Thomas Cash, T. Geo. Rooke, B.A., John Clifford,
M.A., Ll.B., &c.

United Kingdom Band of Hope Union Office, 5 Red Lion Square, London.
August 3, 1869.

This book was well-written, and generally exciting throughout, although
one of the early chapters was a bit lacking in action (people seated
round the dinner-table).  The action was credible and well described.
The whole thing rang very true, and for that reason might be read by
someone wishing to gain more knowledge of life two-thirds of the way
through the nineteenth century.  The Reverend Wilson writes well, and it
would be pleasant to seek out and read other books from his pen.
N.H. (transcriber)
________________________________________________________________

FRANK OLDFIELD, BY THE REVEREND T.P. YOUNG



CHAPTER ONE.

LOST.

"Have you seen anything of our Sammul?"  These words were addressed in a
very excited voice to a tall rough-looking collier, who, with Davy-lamp
in hand, was dressed ready for the night-shift in the Bank Pit of the
Langhurst Colliery.  Langhurst was a populous village in the south of
Lancashire.  The speaker was a woman, the regularity of whose features
showed that she had once been good-looking, but from whose face every
trace of beauty had been scorched out by intemperance.  Her hair
uncombed, and prematurely grey, straggled out into the wind.  Her dress,
all patches, scarcely served for decent covering; while her poor half-
naked feet seemed rather galled than protected by the miserable slippers
in which she clattered along the pavement, and which just revealed some
filthy fragments of stockings.

"No, Alice," was the man's reply; "I haven't seen anything of your
Sammul."  He was turning away towards the pit, when he looked back and
added, "I've heard that you and Thomas are for making him break his
teetottal; have a care, Alice, have a care--you'll lose him for good and
all if you don't mind."

She made him no answer, but turning to another collier, who had lately
come from his work, and was sauntering across the road, she repeated her
question,--

"Jim, have _you_ seen anything of our Sammul?"

"No, I know nothing about him; but what's amiss, Alice? you're not
afraid that he's slipped off to the `George'?"

"The `George!' no, Jim, but I can't make it out; there must be summut
wrong, he came home about an hour since, and stripped and washed him,
then he goes right up into the chamber, and after a bit comes down into
the house with his best shoes and cap on.  `Where art going, Sammul?'
says I.  He says nothing, but crouches him down by the hearth-stone, and
stares into the fire as if he seed summat strange there.  Then he looks
all about him, just as if he were reckoning up the odd bits of things;
still he says nothing.  `Sammul,' said I, `won't you take your tea,
lad?' for it were all ready for him on the table.  Still he doesn't
speak, but just gets up and goes to the door, and then to the hearth-
stone, and then he claps his head on his hands as though he were
fretting o'er summat.  `Aren't you well, Sammul?' says I.  `Quite well,
mother,' says he, very short like.  So I just turns me round to go out,
when he jumps up and says, `Mother:' and I could see by the tears in his
eyes that he were very full.  `Mother,' says he again, and then he
crouches him down again.  You wouldn't believe, how strange I felt--you
might have knocked me down with a feather; so I just goes across to old
Jenny's to ax her to come and look at him, for I thought he mightn't be
right in his head.  I wasn't gone many minutes, but when I got back our
Sammul were not there, but close by where he were sitting I seed summat
lapped up in a piece of papper, lying on the table.  I opened it, and
there were a five-shilling piece and a bit of his hair, and he'd writ on
the papper, `From Sammul, for dear mother.'  Oh, what _must_ I do--what
_must_ I do?  I shall ne'er see our Sammul any more," and the poor woman
sobbed as if her heart would break.

Before Jim had time to answer, a coarse-looking man of middle height,
his hands thrust deep into his pockets, a pipe in his mouth, and his
whole appearance bespeaking one who, in his best moments, was never
thoroughly sober, strode up to the unhappy mother, and shouted out,--

"What's up now? what's all this about?"

"Your Sammul's run away--that's what it's about," said Jim.

"Run away!" cried the other; "I'll teach him to run away--I'll break
every bone in his body when I get him home again."

"Ay, but you must catch him _first_," said Jim, drily.

"Alice, what's all this?" said Johnson, for that was the father's name,
turning fiercely on his wife.

She repeated her story.  Johnson was staggered.  Samuel was a quiet lad
of fourteen, who had borne with moderate patience many a hard word and
harder blow from both parents.  He had worked steadily for them, even
beyond his strength, and had seen the wages which ought to have found
him sufficiency of food and clothing squandered in drink by both father
and mother.  Johnson was staggered, because he knew that Samuel _could_
have a will of his own; he had felt a force in his son's character which
he could not thoroughly understand; he had seen at times a decision
which showed that, boy as he was, he could break sooner than bend.
Samuel, moreover, was an only son, and his father loved him as dearly as
a drunkard's selfishness would let him love anything.  His very heart
sickened at his wife's story, and not without cause.  They had but two
children, Samuel and Betty.  Samuel worked in the pits; his sister, who
was a year younger, was employed at the factory.  Poor children! their
lot had been a sad one indeed.  As a neighbour said, "yon lad and wench
of Johnson's haven't been _brought_ up, they've been _dragged_ up."  It
was too true; half fed and worse clothed, a good constitution struggled
up against neglect and bad usage; no prayer was ever taught them by a
mother's lips; they never knew the wholesome stimulant of a sober
father's smile; their scanty stock of learning had been picked up
chiefly at a night-school; in the Sunday school they had learned to read
their Bibles, though but imperfectly, and were never more happy than
when singing with their companions the hymns which they had practised
together.  They were specially dear to one another; and in one thing had
ever been in the strictest agreement, they would never taste that drink
which had made their own home so miserable and desolate.

About a fortnight before our story opens, Langhurst had been placarded
with bills announcing that an able and well-known total abstinence
advocate would give an address in the parish schoolroom.  Many went to
hear, and among them Samuel and Betty Johnson.  Young and old were urged
to sign the pledge.  The speaker pictured powerfully a drunkard's home--
he showed how the drink enticed its victims to their ruin like a
cheating fiend plucking the sword of resistance from their grasp while
it smiled upon them.  He urged the young to begin at once, to put the
barrier of the pledge between themselves and the peculiar and subtle
array of tempters and temptations which hedged them in on all sides.  In
the pledge they had something to point to which could serve as an answer
to those who could not or would not hear reason.  He showed the _joy_ of
a home into which the drink had never found an entrance--total
abstinence was safety--"never to taste" was "never to crave."  He
painted the vigour of a mind unclouded from earliest years by alcoholic
stimulants; he pointed to the blessing under God of a child's steady
practical protest, as a Christian abstainer, against the fearful sin
which deluged our land with misery and crime, and swept away every spark
of joy and peace from the hearthstones of thousands of English homes.
Every word went deep into the hearts of Samuel and his sister: the
drunkard's home was their own, the drink was ever before their eyes, the
daily sin and misery that it caused they knew by sharp experience--time
after time had they been urged to take the drink by those very parents
whose substance, whose strength, whose peace had all withered down to
the very ground under its fatal poison.  How hard had been the struggle
to resist! but now, if they became pledged abstainers, they would have
something more to say which could give additional strength to their
refusal.

The speaker stood pen in hand when he had closed his address.

"Come--which of you young people will sign?"

Samuel made his way to the table.

"I don't mind if _I_ do," he said; and then turning to Betty, when he
had written his name, "come, Betty," he cried, "you'll sign too--come,
stick to the pen."

"Well, I might do worse, I reckon," said Betty, and she also signed.  A
few more followed, and shortly afterwards the meeting broke up.

But a storm was now brewing, which the brother and sister had not
calculated for.  Johnson and three or four kindred spirits were sitting
round a neighbour's fire smoking and drinking while the meeting was
going on.  A short time after it had closed, a man thrust open the door
of the house where Johnson was sitting, and peeping round, said with a
grin,--

"I say, Tommy Jacky," (the nickname by which Johnson was familiarly
known), "your Sammul and Betty have just been signing Teetottal Pledge."

"Eh! what do you say?" exclaimed Johnson in a furious tone, and
springing to his feet; "signed the pledge!  I'll see about that;" and
hurrying out of the house, he half ran half staggered to his own
miserable dwelling.  He was tolerably sobered when he got there.  Samuel
was sitting by the fire near his mother, who was frying some bacon for
supper.  Betty had just thrown aside on to the couch the handkerchief
which she had used instead of a bonnet, and was preparing to help her
mother.  Johnson sat down in the old rickety rocking-chair at the
opposite side of the fire to Samuel, and stooping down, unbuckled his
clogs, which he kicked off savagely; then he looked up at his son, and
said in a voice of suppressed passion,--

"So, my lad, you've been and signed teetottal."

"Yes, I have," was the reply.

"And _you've_ signed too," he cried in a louder voice, turning fiercely
upon Betty.

"Ay, fayther, I have," said Betty, quietly.

"Well, now," said Johnson, clenching his teeth, "you just mind _me_,
I'll have nothing of the sort in _my_ house.  I hate your nasty, mean,
sneaking teetottallers--we'll have none of that sort here.  D'ye hear?"
he shouted.

Neither Samuel nor Betty spoke.

"Hush, hush, Tom," broke in his wife; "you mustn't scold the childer so.
I'm no fonder nor you of the teetottallers, but childer will not be
driven.  Come, Sammul--come, Betty, you mustn't be obstinate; you know
fayther means what he says."

"Ay that I do," said her husband.  "And now, you listen: I'd sooner see
you both in your graves, nor have you sticking up your pledge cards
about the house, and turning up the whites of your eyes at your own
fayther and mother, as if we were not good enough for the likes of you.
Me and mine have ever loved our pipe and our pot, the whole brood of us,
and we ne'er said `no' to a chap when he asked for a drop of drink--it
shall never be said of me or mine, `They give 'em nothing in yon house
but tea and cold water!'"

"Ay, ay; you're light, Thomas," said his wife; "I'm not for seeing our
bairns beginning of such newfangled ways.  Come, childer, just clap the
foolish bits of papper behind the fire, and sit ye down to your supper."

"Mother," said Betty, in a sad but decided voice, "we have seen enough
in _this_ house to make us rue that ever a drop of the drink crossed our
door-step.  We've toiled hard early and late for you and fayther, but
the drink has taken it all.  You may scold us if you will, but Sammul
and I _must_ keep our pledge, and keep it gradely too."

"And _I_ say," cried her father, striking his hand violently on the
table, "I'll make you both break afore ye're a day older; ye've pleased
yourselves long enough, but ye shall please _me_ now.  I never said
nothing afore, though mother nor me didn't like to see ye scowling at
the drink as if it were poison; a drop now and then would have done ye
no harm, but ye were like to please yourselves--but it's different now.
We'll have none of your pledges here, ye may make yourselves sure of
that."

"You can't help yourself fayther," said Samuel doggedly: "pledged we
are, and pledged we're bound to be, but--"

Before he could say more, Johnson had snatched up one of his heavy clogs
and had hurled it at the head of his son, fortunately without striking
him; then catching up both clogs, and hastily buckling them, he strode
to the door, and pausing for a moment, gasped out, "I've said it, and
I'll stick to it; ye shall both break your teetottal afore this time to-
morrow, as I'm a living man."

He was gone, and was seen no more at home that night.

This scene occurred the evening before that on which our story
commences.  We have seen that Johnson, miserable and abandoned drunkard
as he was, was utterly staggered at the flight of his son when coupled
with his parting gift to his mother.  Was he really gone, and gone for
ever?  Had his own father driven him, by his cruel threats, to
desperation, perhaps to self-destruction?  Unhappy man! he stood the
very picture of dismay.  At last he said,--

"Perhaps he mayn't have got very far.  I'll just step over, Alice, to
your brother John's; maybe he'll have looked in there for a bit."

"Ay, do, Thomas," cried his wife; "and you must just tell him that he
mustn't heed what you said to him and Betty last night; it were only a
bit of a breeze.  Oh, what'll our Betty say when she finds our Sammul
gone; she _will_ fret, poor thing.  She just stepped out at the edge-o'-
dark, [see note 1] and she'll be back again just now.  Make haste,
Thomas, and tell the poor lad he may please himself about the
teetottal."

"Ay, ay, Alice," said poor Johnson dejectedly; "that cursed drink'll be
the ruin of us both--body and soul," and he went on his sorrowful way.

Oh, what a crowd of thoughts came crushing into the heart of the
wretched man, as he hurried along the path which he supposed his son to
have taken.  He thought of the day when he was married, and what a
bright creature his Alice was then; but even over _that_ day there hung
a cloud, for it was begun in intemperance and ended in riot.  He thought
of the hour when he first looked on his boy, and had felt as proud as if
no other man had ever had a bonny bairn but he.  He thought with
shuddering self-reproach of long years of base neglect and wrong towards
the children whose strength and peace his own words and deeds had
smitten down as with blows of iron.  He thought of the days and years of
utter selfishness which had drained away every drop of comfort from the
cup which might have overflowed with domestic happiness.  He thought how
he had ever been his own children's tempters beckoning them on towards
hell in every hour's example; and then he thought upon the life beyond
the grave, but recoiled with horror from that dark and lurid future, and
shuddered back to earth again.  Oh, was there in all the world a more
miserable wretch than he!  But on he went; anything was better than
rest.  His road lay down a steep brow after he had passed along one
field which separated the village from a wooded gorge.  Here all had
once been green and beautiful in spring and summertime; but now, for
many years past, thick clouds of smoke from coal-pit engines and iron
furnaces had given to trees and shrubs a sickly hue.  Nature had striven
in vain against the hot black breath of reeking chimneys.  Right down
among the stunted trees of this ravine went the foot-track which Johnson
followed.  Darkness had now gathered all around, yet here and there were
wild lights struggling with the gloom.  Just on the right, where the
path came out on to the dusty road, and a little way down a bank, a row
of blazing coke-ovens threw a ghastly glare over the scene, casting
fantastic shadows as their waves of fiery vapour flickered in the
breeze.  A little farther on he passed a busy forge, from whose blinding
light and wild uproarious mirth, mingling with the banging of the
hammers, he was glad to escape into the darkness beyond--what would he
not have given could he have as easily escaped from the stingings of his
own keen remorse.  On he went, but nothing could he see of his son.  A
mile more of rapid walking, and he reached his brother-in-law's cottage.

"Eh, Thomas, is it you?" cried John's wife.  "Don't stand on the door-
step, man, but come in."

"Have you seen our Sammul?" asked Johnson, in an agitated voice.

"Your Sammul? no, he hasn't been here.  But what ails you, Thomas?"  The
other could not speak, but sinking down into a chair, buried his face in
his hands.

"Summat ails you, I'm sure," said the kind woman.

"Oh, Jenny," replied the unhappy father, "our Sammul's gone off--gone
off for good and all.  I black-guarded him last night about yon
teetottal chap as come a-lecturing and got our Sammul and Betty to sign
the pledge, so just about an hour since he slips out in his Sunday hat
and shoes, when Alice were down the yard, and when she comes back she
finds a bit of papper on the table with a five-shilling piece and a bit
of his hair lapped up in it, and there was writ on it, `From Sammul, for
dear mother.'  Oh, Jenny, I'm afraid for my life he's gone off to
Americay; or, worse still, he may have drowned or hanged himself."

"Nay, nay; don't say so, Thomas," said Jenny; "he'll think better of it;
you'll see him back again in the morning.  Don't fret, man; he's a good
lad, and he'll turn up again all right, take my word for it.  He'd ne'er
have taken his Sunday shoes if he'd meant to drown or hang himself; he
could have done it just as well in his clogs."

But Johnson could not be comforted.

"I must be going," he said.  "I guess there'll be rare crying at our
house if Sammul's gone off for good; it'll drive Alice and our Betty
clean crazy."

With a sorrowful "good night" he stepped out again into the darkness,
and set his face homewards.  He had not gone many paces when a sudden
thought seemed to strike him, and he turned out of the road by which he
had come, and crossing by a little foot-bridge a stream which ran at the
bottom of a high bank on his right hand, climbed up some steep ground on
the other side, and emerged into a field, from which a footpath led
along the border of several meadows into the upper part of Langhurst.
Here he paused and looked around him--the darkness had begun to yield to
the pale beams of the moon.  His whole frame shook with emotion as he
stood gazing on the trees and shrubs around him; and no wonder, for
memory was now busy again, and brought up before him a life-like picture
of his strolls in springtime with his boy, when Samuel was but a tiny
lad.  'Twas in this very field, among these very trees, that he had
gathered bluebells for him, and had filled his little hands with their
lovely flowers.  Oh, there was something more human in him then!
Drunkard he was, but not the wretched degraded creature into which
intemperance had kneaded and moulded him, till it left him now stiffened
into a walking vessel of clay, just living day by day to absorb strong
drink.  Yet was he not even _now_ utterly hardened, for his tears fell
like rain upon that moonlit grass--thoughts of the past made his whole
being tremble.  He thought of what his boy had been to him; he thought
of what he had been to his boy.  He seemed to see his past life acted
out before him in a moving picture, and in all he saw himself a curse
and not a blessing--time, money, health, peace, character, soul, all
squandered.  And still the picture moved on, and passed into the future:
he saw his utterly desolate home--no boy was there; he saw two empty
chairs--his Betty was gone, dead of want and a broken heart.  The
picture still moved on: now he was quite alone, the whole hearth-stone
was his; he sat there very old and very grey, cold and hunger-bitten; a
little while, and a pauper's funeral passed from that hearth into the
street--it was his own--and what of his soul?  He started as if bitten
by a serpent, and hurried on.

The village was soon reached; whither should he go?  Conscience said,
"home;" but home was desolate.  He was soon at the public-house door; he
could meet with a rude sympathy there--he could tell his tale, he could
cheer him with the blaze and the gas, he could stupify down his remorse
with the drink.  Conscience again whispered, "Home," but so feebly, that
his own footstep forward quenched its voice.  He entered, and sat down
among the drinkers.

And what of his poor wife and daughter?

Johnson had not left his home many minutes when Betty came in.

"Where's Sammul?" she asked, not noticing her mother's agitation; "and
where's fayther?  We're like to have weary work in our house just now, I
reckon."

"Betty!"--was all that her mother could say, but in such a voice that
her daughter started round and cried,--

"Eh, mother, what is't? what ails you?"

"See there," replied the poor woman, pointing to the little packet still
lying on the table; "that's what ails me."

Betty took it up; she saw the money and the lock of hair; she read the
words--it was all plain to her in a moment.  She stood open-mouthed,
with her eyes staring on the paper as one spell-bound, then she burst
out into a bitter cry,--

"Oh, mother, mother! it cannot be, it cannot be! he wouldn't leave us
so!  Oh, Sammul, Sammul, what must we do?  It's the drink has done it--
fayther's drink has done it!  I shall never see you, Sammul, any more!
Mother," she suddenly added, dropping the apron which she had lifted to
her streaming eyes, "where's fayther?  Does _he_ know?"

"Yes; he knows well enough; he's off to your Uncle John's.  Oh, what
_shall_ we do if he doesn't bring our Sammul back?  But where are you
going, child?" for Betty had thrown her shawl over her head, and was
moving towards the door.  "It's no use your going too; tarry by the
hearth-stone till your fayther comes back, and then, if he hasn't heard
anything of Sammul, we'll see what must be done."

"I cannot tarry here, mother; I cannot," was Betty's reply.  "Fayther'll
do no good; if Sammul sees him coming, he'll just step out of the road,
or crouch him down behind summat till he's gone by.  I must go myself;
he'll not be afraid of me.  Oh, sure he'll ne'er go right away without
one `Good-bye' to his own sister!  Maybe he'll wait about till he sees
me; and, please the Lord, if I can only light on him, I may bring him
back again.  But oh, mother, mother, you and fayther mustn't do by him
as you _have_ done! you'll snap the spring if you strain it too hard;
you must draw our Sammul, you mustn't drive him, or maybe you'll drive
him right away from home, if you haven't driven him now."

So saying, she closed the door with a heavy heart, and took the same
road that her father had gone before her.

Slowly she walked, peering into the darkness on all sides, and fancying
every sound to be her brother's step.  She lingered near the coke-ovens
and the forge, thinking that he might be lurking somewhere about, and
might see and recognise her as the fiery glow fell upon her figure.  But
she lingered in vain.  By the time she reached her uncle's, the moon had
fairly risen; again she lingered before entering the cottage, looking
round with a sickening hope that he might see her from some hiding-place
and come and speak to her, if it were but to say a last farewell.  But
he came not.  Utterly downcast, she entered the cottage, and heard that
her father had but lately left it, and that nothing had been seen of her
brother.  To her aunt's earnest and repeated invitation to "tarry a
while," she replied,--

"No, Aunt Jenny; I mustn't tarry now.  I'm wanted at home; I shall be
wanted more nor ever now.  I'm gradely [see note 1] sick at heart.  I
know it's no use fretting, but oh, I must fret!  It were bad enough to
be without meat, without shoes, without clothes, without almost
everything; but it's worse nor all put together to be without our
Sammul."

She turned away, and, with a heavy sigh, took her way home again.  The
moon was now shedding her calm light full on the path the poor girl was
treading, leaving in dark shadow a high wooded bank on her left hand.
Just a few feet up this bank, half-way between her uncle's house and her
own home, was the mouth of an old disused coal-pit-shaft.  It had been
long abandoned, and was fenced off, though not very securely, by a few
decaying palings.  On the bank above it grew a tangled mass of shrubs,
and one or two fine holly bushes.  Betty was just in the act of passing
this spot when her eye fell on something that flashed in the moonbeams.
She stooped to see what it was; then with a cry of mingled surprise and
terror she snatched it from the ground.  It was an open pocket-knife; on
the buck-horn handle were rudely scratched the letters SJ.  It was her
brother's knife; there could not be a moment's question of it, for she
had often both seen and used it.  But what was it that sent a chill like
the chill of death through every limb, and made her totter faintly
against the bank?  There was something trickling down the blade as she
held it up, and, even in the moonlight, she could see that it was blood.
A world of misery swept with a hurricane force into her heart.  Had her
brother, driven to desperation by his father's cruelty, really destroyed
himself?  Perhaps he had first partially done the dreadful deed with his
knife, and then thrown himself down that old shaft, so as to complete
the fearful work and leave no trace behind.  Poor miserable Betty! she
groaned out a prayer for help, and then she became more calm.  Creeping
up close to the edge of the old shaft, she looked into it as far as she
dared; the moonlight was now full upon it; the ferns and brambles that
interlaced across it showed no signs of recent displacement; she
listened in an agony of earnest attention for any sound, but none came
up from those dark and solemn depths.  Then she began to think more
collectedly.  Hope dawned again upon her heart.  If her brother meant to
destroy himself he would scarcely have first used the knife and then
thrown himself down the shaft, leaving the knife behind him as a guide
to discovery.  Besides, it seemed exceedingly improbable that he would
have put on his best hat and shoes if bent on so speedy self-
destruction.  She therefore abandoned this terrible thought; and yet how
could the presence of the knife on that spot, and the blood on the
blade, be accounted for?  She looked carefully about her--then she could
trace evident marks of some sort of scuffle.  The bank itself near the
old shaft was torn, and indented with footmarks.  Could it have been
that her father had encountered Samuel here as he was returning, that
they had had words, that words had led to blows, and that one or both
had shed blood in the struggle?  The thought was madness.  Carefully
concealing the knife in her clothes, she hurried home at the top of her
speed; but before she quite reached the door, the thought suddenly smote
full and forcibly on her heart, "If fayther _has_ killed poor Sammul,
what will _he_ be?  A murderer!"  She grew at once desperately calm, and
walked quietly into the house.

"I haven't heard anything of our Sammul," she said sadly, and with
forced composure.  "Where's fayther?"

"I've been looking for him long since," replied her mother; "but I
suppose he's turned into the `George.'"

"The `George!'" exclaimed Betty; "what _now_! surely he cannot--"

Before she could say more, Johnson himself entered.  For once in his
life he could find no ease or content among his pot companions.  They
pitied, it is true, the trouble which he poured into their ears, but
their own enjoyment was uppermost in their thoughts, and they soon
wearied of his story.  He drank, but there was bitterness in every
draught; it did not lull, much less drown the keenness of his self-
upbraidings; so, hastily snatching up his hat, he left the mirth and din
of the drinkers and made his way home--ay, home--but what a home! dark
at the best of times through his own sin, but now darker than ever.

"Well?" exclaimed both Betty and her mother when he entered--they could
say nothing more.  He understood too plainly what they meant.

"Our Sammul's not been at your brother John's," he said to his wife;
"what must we do now?  The Lord help me; I'm a miserable wretch."

"Fayther," said Betty, greatly relieved, spite of her sorrow, for
Johnson's words and manner assured her at once that he and her brother
had not met.  "Fayther, we must hope the best.  There's a God above all,
who knows where our Sammul is; he can take care of him, and maybe he'll
bring him back to us again."

No more was said that night.  Betty had a double portion of care and
sorrow, but she had resolved to say nothing to any one about the knife,
at any rate for the present.  She was satisfied that her brother had not
laid violent hands on himself; and she trusted that, in a few days, a
letter from himself from Liverpool or some other seaport, would clear up
the mystery, and give them at least the sad satisfaction of knowing
whither their Samuel was bound.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  "Edge-o'-dark" means "Evening twilight."

Note 2 "Gradely," as an adjective means "sincere," "proper," or "true;"
as an adverb, "rightly," "truly," or "properly."



CHAPTER TWO.

SAMUEL'S HOME.

And what sort of a home was that which Samuel had so abruptly forsaken?
"There's no place like home;" "Home is home, be it never so homely."
Things are said to be true to a proverb; but even proverbs have their
exceptions, and certainly no amount of allowance could justify the
application of the above proverbs to Johnson's dwelling.  But what sort
of a home was it?  It would be far easier to say what it was not than
what it was.  Let us follow the owner himself as he comes in from his
work, jaded and heart-sore, the night after Samuel's departure.

The house is the worst in the row, for it is the cheapest--the tyrant
"Drink" will not let his slave afford a better.  The front door opens
opposite the high dead wall of another block of houses, so that very
little daylight comes in at the sunniest of times--no loss, perhaps, as
the sunshine would only make misery, dirt, and want more apparent.  A
rush-bottomed chair--or rather the mutilated framework of one, the seat
being half rotted through, and the two uppermost bars broken off with a
jagged fracture--lies sufficiently across the entrance to throw down any
unwary visitor.  A rickety chest of drawers--most of the knobs being
gone and their places supplied by strings, which look like the tails of
rats which had perished in effecting an entrance--stands tipped on one
side against the wall, one of its legs having disappeared.  A little
further on is a blank corner, where a clock used to be, as may be traced
by the clusters of cobwebs in two straight lines, one up either wall,
which have never been swept away since the clock was sold for drink.  A
couch-chair extends under the window the whole length, but one of its
arms is gone, and the stump which supported it thrusts up its ragged top
to wound any hand that may incautiously rest there; the couch itself is
but a tumbled mass of rags and straw.  A table, nearly as dilapidated,
and foul with countless beer-stains, stands before the fire, which is
the only cheerful thing in the house, and blazes away as if it means to
do its best to make up for the very discouraging state of things by
which it finds itself surrounded.  The walls of the room have been
coloured, or rather discoloured, a dirty brown, all except the square
portion over the fire-place, which was once adorned with a gay paper,
but whose brilliancy has long been defaced by smoke and grease.  A
broken pipe or two, a couple of irons, and a brass candlestick whose
shaft leans considerably out of the perpendicular, occupy the
mantelpiece.  An old rocking-chair and two or three common ones
extremely infirm on their legs, complete the furniture.  The walls are
nearly bare of ornament; the exceptions being a highly-coloured print of
a horse-race, and a sampler worked by Betty, rendered almost invisible
by dust.  The door into the wash-house stands ajar, and through it may
be seen on the slop-stone a broken yellow mug; and near it a tub full of
clothes, from which there dribbles a soapy little puddle on to the
uneven flags, just deep enough to float an unsavoury-looking mixture of
cheese-rinds and potato-parings.  Altogether, the appearance of the
house is gaunt, filthy, and utterly comfortless.  Such is the drunkard's
home.

Into this miserable abode stepped Johnson the night after his son's
disappearance, and divesting himself of his pit-clothes, threw them down
in an untidy mass before the fire.  Having then washed himself and
changed his dress, he sat him down for a minute or two, while his wife
prepared the comfortless tea.  But he could not rest.  He started up
again, and with a deep sigh turned to the door.

"Where are you going?" cried his wife; "you mustn't go without your tea;
yon chaps at the `George' don't want you."

"I'm not going to the `George,'" replied Thomas; "I just want a word
with Ned Brierley."

"Ned Brierley!" exclaimed Alice; "why, he's the bigoted'st teetottaller
in the whole village.  You're not going to sign the pledge?"

"No, I'm not; but 'twould have been the making on us all if I _had_
signed years ago;--no, I only just want a bit of talk with Ned about our
Sammul;" and he walked out.

Ned Brierley was just what Alice Johnson, and scores more too, called
him, a bigoted teetotaller, or, as he preferred to call himself total
abstainer.  He was bigoted; in other words, he had not taken up total
abstinence by halves.  He neither tasted the drink himself, nor gave it
to his friends, nor allowed it an entrance into his house.  Of course,
therefore, he was bigoted in the eyes of those who could not or would
not understand his principles.  But the charge of bigotry weighed very
lightly on him; he could afford to bear it; he had a living antidote to
the taunt daily before his eyes in a home without a cloud, an ever-
cheerful wife, healthy, hearty, striving, loving sons and daughters.
And, best of all, Ned was a Christian, not of the talk-much-and-do-
little stamp, nor of the pot-political-mend-the-world stamp.  He loved
God, and always spoke of him with a reverential smile, because his very
name made him happy.  He had a wife, too, who loved the same gracious
Saviour, and joined with her husband in training up their children in
holy ways.  They knew well that they could not give their children
grace, but they _could_ give them prayer and example, and could leave
the rest to God in happy, loving trust.  People who talked about total
abstinence as a sour and mopish thing, should have spent an evening at
Ned Brierley's when the whole family was at home; why, there was more
genuine, refreshing, innocent fun and mirth there in half an hour than
could have been gathered in a full evening's sitting out of all the pot-
houses in the neighbourhood put together.  Ay, there were some who knew
this, and could say, "If you want gradely fun that leaves no
afterthought, you must go to Ned's for it."  Of course Ned had won the
respect even of those who abused him most, and of none more truly than
Thomas Johnson.  Spite of all his swaggering and blustering speeches no
man knew better than he the sterling worth of Brierley's character; no
man was more truly convinced, down in the depths of his heart, that
Ned's principles and practice were right.  And so now, restless and
wretched, he was coming, he hardly knew exactly why, to ask counsel of
this very man whom he had openly abused and ridiculed at the very time
when he both envied and respected him.

Could there possibly be a greater contrast than between the house he had
just left and the one which he now entered?

Ned Brierley's dwelling was the end house of a row, which had been
recently built out of the united savings of himself and children.  It
was rather larger than the rest, and had one or two out-buildings
attached, and also a considerable piece of garden ground belonging to
it.  In this garden Ned and his sons worked at odd times, and everything
about it had a well-to-do air.  The neat rows of celery, the flower-beds
shaped into various mathematical figures by shining white pebbles, the
carefully-pruned apple trees, and the well-levelled cindered paths, all
betokened that diligent hands were often busy there.

Johnson opened the little white gate, walked up the path, and
hesitatingly raised the latch of the house door.  What a sight met his
eyes! it was a perfect picture.  If the three sisters, Cleanliness,
Neatness, and Order, had been looking out for a home, they certainly
might have found one there.  In some of the neighbours' houses, go when
you would, you would find the inmates always cleaning, but never clean;
it was just the reverse at Ned's, you always found them clean, and
scarcely ever caught them cleaning.  Then, what an air of comfort there
was about the whole place.  The arms and back of the couch-chair shone
like mahogany, the couch itself was plump and smooth, like a living
thing in good condition.  The walls were a bright, lively blue, but
there was not very much to be seen of them, so covered were they with
all sorts of family-belongings and treasures.  Against one wail stood a
rather ambitious-looking article, half chest of drawers, half sideboard,
the knobs of the drawers being of glass, which flashed in the bright
fire-light as if smiling their approbation of the happy condition of
their owners.  Over the sideboard was a large and elaborate piece of
needlework, a perfect maze of doors and windows in green and red
worsted, with a gigantic bird on either side preparing to alight.  This
was the work of the eldest daughter, and purported, in words at the
bottom, to be an accurate delineation of Solomon's Temple.  Close by
stood a clock, tall and stately in its case, the hands of the brightest
brass, over which appeared the moving face of a good-tempered looking
moon.  Then, on the next wall hung two large cases, one of butterflies,
which were arranged in patterns to represent griffins, dragons, and
other impossible animals; the other, of well-stuffed birds, with shining
legs and highly-coloured beaks.  Other parts of the walls were adorned
with Scripture prints, more remarkable for brilliancy of colouring than
correctness of costume; and in a conspicuous place, evidently the pride
of the whole collection, was a full-length portrait of the Queen,
smiling benignantly down on her subjects.  Below the cases of
butterflies and birds was a piano--yes, actually, a piano--and by no
means a bad one too.  Then, near the fire-place, was a snug little book-
case, well furnished with books; and over the mantelpiece, in the centre
of a warm-looking paper, was the text, in large characters, "The love of
Christ constraineth us."  The mantelpiece itself glittered with a
variety of brass utensils, all brightly polished.  Over the middle of
the room, suspended by cords from the ceiling, was a framework of wood
crossed all over by strings, on which lay, ready for consumption, a good
store of crisp-looking oat-cakes; while, to give still further life to
the whole, a bird-cage hung near, in which there dwelt a small colony of
canaries.

Such was the room into which Johnson timidly entered.  By the fire, in
his solid arm-chair, sat Ned Brierley, looking supremely content, as
well he might, considering the prospect before and around him.  On a
large table, which was as white as scrubbing could make it, the tea
apparatus was duly arranged.  The fire was burning its best, and sent
out a ruddy glow, which made every bright thing it fell upon look
brighter still.  Muffins stood in a shining pile upon the fender, and a
corpulent teapot on the top of the oven.  Around the table sat two young
men of about the ages of nineteen and twenty, and three daughters who
might range from eighteen to fifteen.  Their mother was by the fire
preparing the tea for her husband and children, who had all lately come
in from their work.

"Why, Johnson, is that you?" exclaimed Ned Brierley; "come in, man, and
sit ye down.--Reach him a chair, Esther," he said to his youngest
daughter.

"Well, Ned," said Johnson, sitting down, and drawing back his chair as
near the door as he could, "I thought, maybe, you could give me a bit of
advice about our Sammul.  I suppose you've heard how he went off
yesternight."

"Ay, Thomas, we've heard all about it.  I'm gradely sorry too; but you
mustn't lose heart, man: the Lord'll bring him back again; he's a good
lad."

"He _is_ a good lad," said Johnson; "and I've been and driven him away
from his home.  That cursed drink has swept him away, as it's swept
almost everything good out of our house.  It'll do for us all afore
we've done with it; and the sooner it's the death of me the better."

"Nay, nay, Thomas, you mustn't say so," cried the other; "it's not
right.  God has spared you for summat better; turn over a new leaf, man,
at once.  He'll give you strength for it if you'll ask him.  Come now,
draw your chair to the table, and have a cup of tea and a bit of muffin;
it'll do you good."

"Ned," said Thomas, sadly, "I can't take meat nor drink in your house.
I've abused you behind your back scores of times, and I can't for shame
take it."

"Nay, nay, man; never heed what you've said against me.  You see you've
done me no harm.  I'm none the worse for all that folks can say against
me; so draw up your chair, you're gradely welcome to your tea."

"Ay, do," chimed in his wife; "doesn't Scripture say, `If thine enemy
hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink:' and I'm sure you must
be both hungry and thirsty if you haven't tasted since you came from the
pit."

Poor Johnson could not speak.  When he was sober he was a feeling man,
and a sensible one too.  Alas! his sober times were few, but he _was_
sober now.  The tears overflowed his eyes, and he brushed them hastily
away as he drew his chair near to the bright little circle of happy
healthy faces.  He ate and drank for a while in silence, and then said
with a faltering voice,--

"Ned, you're a true Christian.  I'll never say a word against you behind
your back any more."

Brierley held out his hand to him, and the other grasped it warmly.

"I'll tell you what," said Ned, in a cheery voice, "I'd give a good
deal, Thomas, to see you a total abstainer; it'd be the making of you."

Johnson shook his head sorrowfully.

"I mustn't; Alice wouldn't let me.  I can't; the drink's more to me nor
meat, and clothes, and everything.  I durstn't, for my old pals at the
`George' would chaff me to death with their jeers and their jokes.  I
couldn't face them for shame."

"Oh, Thomas," cried Ned, "what a slave the drink's made of you:--
mustn't! can't! durstn't!--what! ain't you a man? haven't you got a will
of your own?"

"No, Ned, that's just it; I haven't a will of my own: the old lad's got
it off me long since."

"Ay, but, Thomas, you must get it back again," exclaimed Brierley's
wife; "you must go to Jesus, and he'll help you."

Johnson fidgeted uneasily in his chair; at last he said,--

"I can't do without my beer; I haven't strength to work without it."

"You've taken plenty of it, I reckon," remarked Ned, "and you don't seem
to thrive much on't."

"I've taken too much," said the other, "but I can't do without a
little."

"You can't do _with_ a little, I fear.  It's first only a pint, and then
it's only a quart, and then it's only a gallon, till at last it's only a
fuddled head and an empty pocket.  Come, join us, Thomas; take the first
step boldly like a man, and then just pray for grace, and you'll not
fear what other folks can do to you."

"But I shall never get through my work without a drop of beer to wash
dust out of my throat and spirit me up," persisted Johnson.  "I feel
like another sort of man when I've had my pint."

"Yes, just for a bit," replied Ned.  "Now it seems to me just the same
as what we might do with our fire.  I bid our Esther look to the fire,
so she goes and sticks to the poker, and each now and then she pokes
away at the fire, and the fire blazes up and blazes up, but very soon
there's nothing left to blaze with.  The fire'll be out directly, so I
says to our Mary, _you_ look after the fire, so our Mary goes to the
heap and fetches a shovel of coal, and claps it on the top of the hot
cinders, and she won't let our Esther poke it no more, so it burns
steady and bright, and throws out a good heat, and lasts a long time.
Now, when you take your drop of beer, you're just poking the fire,
you're not putting any coal on; you can work like a lion for a bit, but
you're only using up the old stock of strength faster and faster, you're
not putting on any new.  I've helped you to put a little gradely coal on
to-night, and I hope it won't be the last time by many."

"Father," broke in Esther, laughing, and highly entertained at the part
she bore in her father's illustration, "when you tell your tale again,
you must make our Mary stick to the poker, and me clap the coal on."

"Ay, ay, child," said her father, "you shall each take it in turn."

"Well, you may be right," sighed Johnson; "but Jack Barnes says as he's
knowed scores of teetottallers that's wasted away to skin and bone for
want of the drink; he says beer strengthens the bone, and makes the
muscles tight and firm."

"Jack Barnes may say what he likes, but I'll just ask you, Thomas, to
think and judge for yourself.  You see me and mine; you see seven total
abstainers here to-night.  Not one of these childer knows the taste of
the drink; they work hard, you know, some in the pit, some in the mill:
do _they_ look nothing but skin and bone?  Where'll you find healthier
childer?  I'm not boasting, for it's the good Lord that's given 'em
health, yes, and strength too, without the drink."

"Ay, and just look at Jack Barnes's own lads, and the company they
keep," said John, the eldest son; "you may see them all at the four lane
ends, [Note 1], any Sunday morn, with their pigeons, looking more like
scarecrows than Christians; and afore night they'll be so weary that
they'll scarce know how to bide anywhere.  They'll be lounging about,
looking as limp as a strap out of gear, till they've got the ale in
them, and then they're all for swearing and shouting up and down the
lanes."

"I can't deny," said Johnson, "that you teetottallers have the best of
it in many ways.  It's a bad bringing-up for childer to see such goings-
on as is in Barnes's house."

"And, Thomas," said Brierley's wife, "you know how it is with Joe
Taylor's lads and wenches.  There's a big family on 'em.  They're not
short of brass in that house, or shouldn't be.  There's drink enough and
to spare goes down their throats, and yet there's not one of the whole
lot but's as lean as an empty bobbin, and as white as a heap of cotton.
They're nearly starved to death afore reckoning-day comes; and with all
their good wage they cannot make things reach and tie."

"Well, I must wish you good night now," said Johnson, rising to go.  "I
suppose I can do nothing about our Sammul but have patience."

"Yes, pray for patience, Thomas; and pray to be shown the right way: and
give up the drink, man--ay, give it up at once, for Betty's sake, for
Alice's sake, and for your own soul's sake."

"I'll try, I'll try; good night."

"Good night."

Johnson walked homewards sorrowful but calm.  Should he take the pledge?
should he boldly break his chains, and brave the scorn of his ungodly
companions?  He felt that he ought.  He murmured a half prayer that he
might have strength to do it.  He reached his own home; he entered--what
did, he see?

Round the fire, slatternly and dirty, with hair uncombed, dress
disordered, shoes down at heel, lolling, lounging, stooping in various
attitudes, were some half-dozen women, Alice being nearest the fire on
one side.  Most of them had pipes in their mouths.  On the table were
cups and saucers, a loaf and some butter, and also a jug, which
certainly did not hold milk; its contents, however, were very popular,
as it was seldom allowed to rest on the table, while the strong odour of
rum which filled the room showed pretty plainly that it had been filled
at the public-house and not at the farm.  Every eye was flashing, and
every tongue in full exercise, when Johnson entered.

"Well, Thomas," said his wife, "I thought you were down at the `George.'
Our Betty's not so well, so she's gone up into the chamber to lay her
down a bit; and I've just been axing a neighbour or two to come in and
have a bit of a talk over our Sammul.  Come, sit you down, and take a
cup of tea, and here's summat to put in it as'll cheer you up."

"I've just had my tea at Ned Brierley's," replied her husband; "I don't
want no more."

"Ah, but you must just take one cup.  Reach me the jug, Molly.  You look
as down as if you'd seen a boggart; [see note 2], you must drink a drop
and keep your spirits up."

He made no reply, but threw himself back on the couch, and drew his cap
over his eyes.  Seeing that he was not likely to go out again, the women
dropped off one by one, and left him alone with his wife, who sat
looking into the fire, comforting herself partly with her pipe and
partly with frequent applications to the jug.  After a while Thomas rose
from the couch, and took his seat by the fire opposite to her.  There
was a long pause; at last he broke it by saying,--

"Alice."

"Well, Thomas."

"Alice, you know I have been up at Ned's.  Ned's a quiet, civil man, and
a gradely Christian too.  I wish our house had been like his; we
shouldn't have lost our Sammul then."

"Well, my word! what's come over you, Thomas?  Why, sure you're not a-
going to be talked over by yon Brierley folk!" exclaimed his wife.
"Why, they're so proud, they can't look down upon their own shoes: and
as for Brierley's wenches, if a fellow offers to speak to 'em, they'll
snap his head off.  And Martha herself's so fine that the likes of me's
afraid to walk on the same side of the road for fear of treading on her
shadow."

"Well, Alice, I've oft abused 'em all myself; but I were wrong all the
time.  And you're wrong, Alice, too.  They've never done us no harm, and
we've nothing gradely to say against 'em; and you know it too.  They've
toiled hard for their brass, and they haven't made it away as _we_ have
done; and if they're well off, it's no more nor they deserve."

"Not made away their brass!  No, indeed!" said his wife, contemptuously,
"no danger of that; they'll fist it close enough.  They like it too well
to part with it.  They'll never spend a ha'penny to give a poor chap a
drop of beer, though he's dying of thirst."

"No, 'cos they've seen what a curse the drink has been to scores and
hundreds on us.  Ah, Alice, if you had but seen the happy faces gathered
round Ned's hearth-stone; if you had but heard Ned's hearty welcome--
though he can't but know that I've ever been the first to give him and
his a bad word--you couldn't say as you're saying now."

"Come, Thomas," said his wife, "don't be a fool.  If Ned Brierley likes
his teetottal ways, and brings up his lads and wenches same fashion, let
him please himself; but he mustn't make teetottallers of you nor me."

"And why shouldn't he make a teetottaller of me?" cried Thomas, his
anger rising at his wife's opposition.  "What has the drink done for us,
I'd like to know?  What's it done with my wage, with our Betty's wage,
with our poor Sammul's wage?  Why, it's just swallowed all up, and paid
us back in dirt and rags.  Where's there such a beggarly house as this
in all the village?  Why haven't we clothes to our backs and shoes to
our feet?  It's because the drink has took all."

"It's not the drink," screamed Alice, her eyes flashing with rage.
"You've nothing to blame the drink for; the drink's right enough.  It's
yourself; it's your own fault.  You haven't any conduct in your drink
like other folk.  You must sit sotting at the `George' till you can't
tell your hand from your foot; and then you must come home and
blackguard me and the childer, and turn the house out of the windows.
You've driven our Sammul out of the country; and you'll be the death of
our Betty, and of me too, afore you've done."

"Death of you!" shouted her husband, in a voice as loud as her own.
"And what odds then?  No conduct in _my_ drink!  And what have _you_ had
in yourn?  What's there to make a man tarry by the hearth-stone in such
a house as this, where there's nothing to look at but waste and want?  I
wish every drop of the drink were in the flames with this."  So saying,
he seized the jug, threw the little that was left of the spirits in it
into the fire, and, without stopping to listen to the torrent of abuse
which poured from the lips of his wife, hurried out of the house.  And
whither did he go?  Where strong habit led him, almost without his being
conscious of it--he was soon within the doors of the "George."  By this
time his anger had cooled down, and he sat back from the rest of the
company on an empty bench.  The landlord's eye soon spied him.

"What are you for to-night, Thomas?" he asked.

"I don't know," said Johnson, moodily; "I'm better with nothing, I
think."

"No, no," said the other; "you're none of that sort.  You look very
down; a pint of ale'll be just the very thing to set you right."

Johnson took the ale.

"Didn't I see you coming out of Ned Brierley's?" asked one of the
drinkers.

"Well, and what then?" asked Johnson, fiercely.

"Oh, nothing; only I thought, maybe, that you were for coming out in the
teetottal line.  Ay, wouldn't that be a rare game?"

A roar of laughter followed this speech.  But Johnson's blood was up.

"And why shouldn't I join the teetottallers if I've a mind?" he cried.
"I don't see what good the drink's done to me nor mine.  And as for Ned
Brierley, he's a gradely Christian.  I've given him nothing afore but
foul words; but I'll give him no more."

A fresh burst of merriment followed these words.

"Eh, see," cried one, "here's the parson come among us."

"He'll be getting his blue coat with brass buttons out of the pop-shop
just now," cried another; "and he'll hold his head so high that he won't
look at us wicked sinners."

A third came up to him with a mock serious air, and eyeing him with his
head on one side, said,--

"They call you Thomas, I reckon.  Ah, well, now you're going to be one
of Ned's childer, we must take you to the parson and get him to christen
you Jonadab."

Poor Johnson! he started up, for one moment he meditated a fierce rush
at his persecutors, the next, he turned round, darted from the public-
house, and hurried away he knew not whither.

And what will he do?  Poor man--wretched, degraded drunkard as he had
been--he was by natural character a man of remarkable energy and
decision; what he had fairly and fully determined upon, his resolution
grasped like a vice.  Brought up in constant contact with drunkenness
from his earliest years, and having imbibed a taste for strong drink
from his childhood, that taste had grown with his growth, and he had
never cared to summon resolution or seek strength to break through his
miserable and debasing habit.  Married to a woman who rather rejoiced to
see her husband moderately intoxicated, because it made him good-
natured, he had found nothing in his home, except its growing misery, to
induce him to tread a better path.  True, he could not but be aware of
the wretchedness which his sin and that of his wife had brought upon him
and his; yet, hitherto, he had never seen _himself_ to be the chief
cause of all this unhappiness.  He blamed his work, he blamed his
thirst, he blamed his wife, he blamed his children, he blamed his dreary
comfortless home--every one, everything but himself.  But now light had
begun to dawn upon him, though as yet it had struggled in only through a
few chinks.  God had made a partial entrance for it through his remorse
at the loss of his son; that entrance had been widened by his visit to
Ned Brierley, yet he was still in much darkness; his light showed him
evil and sin in great mis-shapen terrible masses, but was not so far
sufficiently bright to let him see anything in clear sharp outline.  A
great resolve was growing, but it needed more hammering into form, it
wanted more prayer to bring it up to the measure of a Christian duty.

And here we must leave him for the present, and pass to other and very
different scenes and characters essential to the development of our
story.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note 1.  "Four lane ends," a place where four roads meet.

Note 2.  "Hoggart", a ghost.



CHAPTER THREE.

THE RECTORY.

The Reverend Bernard Oliphant, rector of Waterland, was a man of good
family and moderate fortune.  At the time when this tale opens he had
held the living eighteen years.  He had three sons and one daughter.
The eldest son, Hubert, was just three-and-twenty, and, having finished
his course at Oxford with credit, was spending a year or two at home
previously to joining an uncle in South Australia, Abraham Oliphant, his
father's brother, who was living in great prosperity as a merchant at
Adelaide.  Hubert had not felt himself called on to enter the ministry,
though his parents would have greatly rejoiced had he seen his way clear
to engage in that sacred calling.  But the young man abhorred the
thought of undertaking such an office unless he could feel decidedly
that the highest and holiest motives were guiding him to it, and neither
father nor mother dared urge their son to take on himself, from any
desire to please them, so awful a responsibility.  Yet none the less for
this did Hubert love his Saviour, nor did he wish to decline his
service, or shrink from bearing that cross which is laid on all who make
a bold and manly profession of faith in Christ Jesus.  But he felt that
there were some who might serve their heavenly Master better as laymen
than as ministers of the gospel, and he believed himself to be such a
one.  His two younger brothers, not feeling the same difficulties, were
both preparing for the ministry.  Hubert had a passionate desire to
travel; his parents saw this, and wisely judged that it would be better
to guide his passion than to combat it; so, when his uncle proposed to
Hubert to join him in Australia, they gave their full consent.  They
knew that a strong expression of dissuasion on their part would have led
him to abandon the scheme at once; but they would not let any such
expression escape them, because they felt that they were bound to
consult _his_ tastes and wishes, and not merely their own.  They knew
that his faith was on the Rock of Ages; they could trust his life and
fortunes to their God.  For Bernard Oliphant and his wife had but one
great object set before them, and that was to work for God.  The rector
was warm and impulsive, the fire would flash out upon the surface, yet
was it under the control of grace; it blazed, it warmed, but never
scorched, unless when it crossed the path of high-handed and determined
sin.  _She_ was all calmness and quiet decision; yet in _her_ character
there ran a fire beneath the surface, sending up a glow into every
loving word and deed.  She had never been beautiful, yet always
beautified by the radiance of true holiness.  In her, seriousness had no
gloom, because it was the seriousness of a holy love.  She made even
worldly people happy to be with her, because they felt the reality and
singleness of her religion--it was woven up with every hour's work, with
every duty, with every joy.  She lived for heaven not by neglecting
earth, but by making earth the road to heaven.  Her religion was pre-
eminently practical, while it was deeply spiritual; in fact, it was the
religion of sanctified common sense.  The true grace of her character
gained the admiration which she never sought.  As some simple unadorned
column rising in the midst of richly-carved sculptures arrests attention
by its mere dignity of height and grace of perfect proportion, so in the
unassuming wife of Bernard Oliphant there was a loftiness and symmetry
of character which made people feel that in her was the true beauty of
holiness.

And the children trod in the steps of their parents.  Mary Oliphant was
the youngest; she was now just eighteen--slight in make, and graceful in
every movement.  Her perfect absence of self-consciousness gave a
peculiar charm to all that she said and did; she never aimed at effect,
and therefore always produced it.  You could not look into her face
without feeling that to her indifference and half-heartedness were
impossible things; and the abiding peace which a true faith in Christ
alone can give, was on those lovely features in their stillness.  Such
was the family of the Reverend Bernard Oliphant.

Waterland was a rural parish in one of the midland counties.  The
rectory stood near one end of the village, which was like a great many
other country villages.  There were farm-houses, with their stack-yards
and clusters of out-buildings, with their yew-trees and apple-orchards.
Cottages, with low bulging white-washed walls and thatched roofs, were
interspersed among others of a more spruce and modern build, with slated
roofs, and neat little gardens.  Then there were two or three shops
which sold all things likely to be wanted in everyday village life,
eatables and wearables nestling together in strange companionship; and,
besides these, were houses which would not have been known to be shops,
but for a faded array of peppermints and gingerbread, which shone, or
rather twinkled, before the eyes of village children through panes of
greenish glass.  Of course there was a forge and a wheel-wright's shop;
and, equally of course, a public-house--there had been two, there was
now but one, which could readily be known by a huge swinging sign-board,
on which was the decaying likeness of a "Dun Cow," supposed to be
feeding in a green meadow; but the verdure had long since melted away,
and all except the animal herself was a chaos of muddy tints.  The "Dun
Cow," (a sad misnomer for a place where milk was the last beverage the
visitors would ever think of calling for), was to many the centre both
of attraction and detraction, for here quarrels were hatched and
characters picked to pieces.  The landlord had long since been dead, of
the usual publican's malady--drink fever.  The landlady carried on the
business which had carried her husband off, and seemed to thrive upon
it, for there was never lack of custom at the "Dun Cow."  Just a
stone's-throw from this public-house, on the crest of the hill along
which wound the village street, was the church, a simple structure, with
a substantial square tower and wide porch.  It had been restored with
considerable care and taste by the present rector, the internal
appearance being sufficiently in accordance with the proprieties of
ecclesiastical architecture to satisfy all but the over-fastidious, and
yet not so ornamental as to lead the mind to dwell rather on the earthly
and sensuous than on the heavenly and spiritual.  Behind the church was
the rectory, a quaint old building, with pointed gables, deep bay-
windows, and black beams of oak exposed to view.  It had been added to,
here and there, as modern wants and improvements had made expansion
necessary.  The garden was lovely, for every one at the rectory loved
flowers: they loved them for their own intrinsic beauty; they loved them
as God's books, full of lessons of his skill and tender care; they loved
them as resting-places for the eye when wearied with sights of disorder
and sin; they loved them as ministering comfort to the sick, the aged,
and the sorrowful to whom they carried them.

Such was the village of Waterland.  The parish extended two miles north
and south of the church, a few farms and labourers' cottages at wide
intervals containing nearly all the rest of the population that was not
resident in the village.

It has been said that there were once two public-houses in Waterland,
but that now there was but one.  This was not owing to any want of
success in the case of the one which had become extinct; on the
contrary, the "Oldfield Arms" had been the more flourishing
establishment of the two, and was situated in the centre of the village.
Its sign, however, had long since disappeared; and it was now in the
hands of the rector, its principal apartment having been transformed
into a reading-room, and place for holding meetings.  And how was this
brought about?  Simply thus.  When Bernard Oliphant first came to
Waterland, he found the "Oldfield Arms" doing a most excellent business;
so far as _that_ can be an excellent business which builds the
prosperity of one upon the ruin of hundreds.  People grumbled at the
lowness of wages; wives were unable to procure money from their husbands
for decent dress; children were half-starved and two-thirds naked;
disease and dirt found a home almost everywhere; boys and girls grew up
in ignorance, for their parents could not afford to send them to school;
the men had no tidy clothes in which to appear at church.  Yet, somehow
or other, the "Oldfield Arms" was never short of customers; and
customers, too, who paid, and paid well, sooner or later, for what they
consumed.  So the rector went among the people, and told them plainly of
the sin of drunkenness, and pointed out the misery it brought, as their
own eyes could see.  They confessed the truth--such as he could manage
to get hold of--and drank on as before.  He was getting heart-sick and
miserable.  Preach as he might--and he did preach the truth with all
faithfulness and love--the notices of ale, porter, and spirits, set up
in flaming colours in the windows and on the walls of the "Oldfield
Arms," preached far more persuasively in the cause of intemperance.

One day he came upon a knot of men standing just at the entrance of the
yard that led to the tap-room.  They were none of them exactly drunk;
and certainly none were exactly sober.  There were some among them whom
he never saw at church, and never found at home.  He was grieved to see
these men in high discussion and dispute, when they ought to have been
busily engaged in some lawful calling.  He stopped, and taking one of
them aside whose home was specially miserable, he said,--

"James, I'm grieved to see you here, when I know how sadly your poor
wife and children are in need of food and clothing."

The man looked half angry, half ashamed, but hung down his head, and
made no reply.  The rest were moving off.

"Nay, my friends," said the rector, kindly, "don't go.  I just want a
word with you all.  I want to say a few words of love and warning to
you, as your clergyman.  God has sent me here to teach and guide you;
and oh, do listen to me now."

They all stood still, and looked at him respectfully.  He went on:--

"Don't you see that drinking habits are bringing misery into the homes
of the people in our parish--ay, into your own homes?  You must see it.
You must see how drunkenness stores up misery for you here and
hereafter.  What will become of you when you die, if you go on as you
are doing now?  What will become of your families?  What will--"

At this moment there was a loud shout of "Hoy! hoy!" from the lips of a
carter who was coming with a brewer's dray out of the inn-yard.  The man
had just been depositing several full casks, and was now returning with
the empty ones.  He did not see the rector at first; but when the group
made way for him, and his eyes fell on Mr Oliphant, he touched his hat
as he was passing, and said,--

"I beg pardon, sir; I did not know as you was there."  Then suddenly
pulling up his horse, he added-- "Oh, if you please, sir, master bid me
say he's very sorry he hasn't any of the ale you've been drinking ready
just now, but he hopes you'll let me leave this barrel of stout, it's in
prime order, he says."

"Very well," replied Mr Oliphant; "you may leave it."

Then he turned again to the men: they were moving off.  He would have
taken up his earnest appeal where he left it; but somehow or other he
felt a difficulty in speaking, and the deep attention was evidently gone
from his hearers.  He hesitated.  They were already dispersing: should
he call them back?  He felt as if he could not.  He turned sadly towards
home, deeply vexed and chafed in his spirit.  He blamed the ill-timed
interruption of the carter; and yet he felt that there was something
else lurking in the background with which he felt dissatisfied--
something which wanted dragging out into the light.

"And yet it's so foolish!" he said to himself, as he walked slowly up
the street.  "My drinking in moderation has nothing in common with their
drinking immoderately.  Why should my use of intoxicating liquors fetter
me in dissuading these poor creatures from their abuse?  They ought to
see the difference."  Then a voice, deeper in the heart, whispered--
"They ought; but they do not, and their souls are perishing.  They are
your people: you must deal with them as they are, not as they ought to
be."

That night the rector's sleep was very troubled.

It was about a week later that he was again near the "Oldfield Arms,"
when a spruce-looking man--his wine-merchant's agent--came out of the
inn door, and walked up the street.  Two men were standing with their
backs to the rector just outside the yard.  He was about to pass on;
when he heard one say,--

"What a sight of wine some of them parsons drink!  Yon fine gent
couldn't afford all them gold chains and pins if it warn't for the
parsons."

"Ay," said the other, "it's the parsons as knows good wine from bad.  I
heerd yon chap say only this morning: `Our very best customers is the
clergy.'"

"Well," rejoined the other, "I shouldn't mind if they'd only leave us
poor fellows alone, and let us get drunk when we've a mind.  But it do
seem a little hard that _they_ may get drunk on their wine, but we
mustn't get drunk on our beer."

"Oh, but you know, Bill," said the other, "this here's the difference.
When they get drunk, it's genteel drunk, and there's no sin in that; but
when we poor fellows get drunk, it's wulgar drunk, and that's awful
wicked."

Bernard Oliphant was deeply pained; he shrank within himself.

"It's a cruel libel and a coarse slander," he muttered, and hastened on
his way.  "Am _I_ answerable," he asked himself, "for the abuse which
others may make of what I take moderately and innocently?  Absurd!  And
yet it's a pity, a grievous pity, that it should be possible for such
poor ignorant creatures to speak thus of any of our holy calling, and so
to justify themselves in sin."

Yes, he felt it to be so, and it preyed upon his mind more and more.  He
mentioned what he had heard to his wife.

"Dear Bernard," she replied, "I have thought a great deal lately on this
subject, especially since you told me about your speaking to those men
when you were interrupted by the drayman.  I have prayed that you and I
might be directed aright; and we _shall_ be.  But do not let us be
hasty.  It does seem as though we were being called on to give up, for
the sake of others, what does us personally no harm.  But perhaps we may
be wrong in this view.  A great many excellent Christians, and ministers
too, are moderate drinkers, and never exceed; and we must not be carried
away by a mistaken enthusiasm to brand their use of fermented drinks as
sinful because such frightful evils are daily resulting from immoderate
drinking.  We must think and pray, and our path will be made plain; and
we must be prepared to walk in it, cost what it may."

"Yes," said her husband; "I am getting more and more convinced that
there is something exceptional in this matter--that we cannot deal with
this sin of drunkenness as we deal with other sins.  But we will wait a
little longer for guidance; yet not too long, for souls are perishing,
and ruin is thickening all round us."

They had not to wait long; their path was soon made clear.

It was on a bitter and cheerless November evening that Mr Oliphant was
returning to the rectory from a distant part of his parish.  He was
warmly clad; but the keen wind, which drove a prickly deluge of fine
hail into his face, seemed to make its way through every covering into
his very bones.  He was hurrying on, thankful that home was so near,
when he suddenly stumbled upon something in the path which he had not
noticed, being half blinded by the frozen sleet.  With difficulty he
saved himself from falling over this obstacle, which looked in the
feeble moonlight like a bundle of ragged clothes.  Then he stooped down
to examine it more closely, and was horrified at hearing a low moan,
which showed that it was a living creature that lay on the path.  It was
plainly, in fact, some poor, half-frozen fellow-man, who lay coiled
together there, perishing of cold in that bitter night.  The rector
tried to raise the poor wretch from the ground, but the body hung like a
dead weight upon him.

"Come," he said, "my poor fellow; come, try and rouse yourself and get
up.  You'll die if you lie here."

The miserable bundle of humanity partly uncoiled itself, and made an
effort to rise, but sunk back again.  Mr Oliphant shouted for help.
The shout seemed partly to revive the prostrate creature, and he half
raised himself.

"Come," said the rector again,-- "come, lean on my arm, and try and get
up.  You'll die of cold if you stay here."

"Die!" said a thick, unearthly voice from out of that half-frozen mass
of flesh and blood.  "In Adam all die."

"Who and what are you?" cried the rector, in extreme astonishment and
distress.

"What am I?  Ah, what am I?" was the bewildered, scarce audible reply.

By this time help had arrived.  Two men came up, and assisted Mr
Oliphant to raise the poor man, and support him to the "Oldfield Arms,"
where he was immediately put to bed; one of the men being sent off by
the rector to fetch the nearest medical man, while he himself gave
orders that everything should be done to restore the unhappy sufferer to
warmth and consciousness.

"Please, Mrs Barnes," said he to the landlady, "be so good as to send
up to the rectory, and let me know, when the doctor comes, if he says
that there is any danger.  If his report is favourable, I will leave a
night's rest to do its work, and will look in again early to-morrow.
And pray let the poor man have everything that he needs, and send up to
the rectory if you are short of anything."

"Thank you, sir," said Mrs Barnes.  "I will see that he is properly
looked to."

The rector then went home, and in another hour received a message from
the inn that the doctor had been, and that there was no danger of any
immediately fatal result; that he would call again on his patient the
following morning, and should be glad to meet the rector at the inn.

Accordingly, the following day at the appointed hour Bernard and the
doctor went up together into the sick man's room.  As they opened the
door they were astonished to hear the patient declaiming in a loud
voice,--

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is
not in us."

Bernard's heart grew sick.  Could it be?  Could this miserable creature
be one of his own profession?  Were these words the ramblings of one who
had been used to officiate as a Church minister?  And, if so, what could
have brought him to such a state of utter destitution?  The doctor
seemed to read his thoughts, and shook his head sadly.  Then, putting
his mouth to his ear, he said,--

"It's the drink; the smell of spirits is still strong on him."

"Poor wretched creature!" said Mr Oliphant.  "Can it be that the love
of drink has brought a man of position and education to such a state as
this?  What can be done for him?"

"Not much at present," was the reply, "beyond keeping him quiet, and
nursing him well till the fever has run its course.  And one thing is
clear--we must keep all intoxicants from him.  They are downright poison
to a man of his constitution; and should he get hold of any spirits
before his health is thoroughly established again, I would not answer
for his life."

The rector called Mrs Barnes, and told her what the doctor had said,
adding,--

"You must find a trustworthy nurse for him--one who will strictly attend
to the doctor's orders."

The landlady promised she would do so; and the rector left the sick-
chamber with a sorrowful look and troubled heart.

In ten days' time the patient was well enough to sit up in bed and
converse with Mr Oliphant.

"My poor friend," said the rector, "I grieve to see you in your present
state, especially as I cannot but perceive that you have seen better
days, and moved among people of education.  However, there is great
cause to thank God that he has so far spared your life."

A deep flush overspread the sick man's face as he replied,--

"Yes, indeed, I owe you, my dear sir, a debt of gratitude I can never
repay.  You say the truth--I _have_ seen better days.  I was sought
after in good society once, little as you might think it."

"I can believe it," said the rector, quietly.  "But do not distress
yourself by referring to the past, if it gives you pain."

"As to that," replied the other, "it matters to me little now what I
once was; but it may interest you to know, and may serve as a warning.
I was a popular preacher once.  I was an ordained minister of the Church
of England.  Crowds flocked to my church.  I threw all my energies into
my preaching.  I was a free man then; at least I believed myself so.
While I proclaimed the love of God to sinners, I also preached
vehemently against sin.  I never felt myself more at home than when I
was painting the miserable bondage of those whom Satan held in his
chains.  I could speak with withering scorn of such as made a profession
while they were living in any known wickedness.  I was specially severe
upon the drunkard's sin.  But preaching such as mine, and in a large
church, was very exhausting.  I found that I wanted support; so I began
with an egg beaten up with brandy, and took it just before going into
the pulpit.  This made me doubly fervent; some of my hearers thought me
almost inspired.  But the exhaustion was terrible at the end; so I added
another glass of egg and spirits after the sermon.  Then I found that,
somehow or other, I could not preach in the evening after taking much
solid food; so I substituted liquids for solids, and lived on Sundays
almost entirely on malt liquors and spirits.  When these failed to keep
me up to the mark, I had to increase the quantity.  At last I saw that
my churchwarden began to look a little strangely and suspiciously at me;
ugly sayings reached my ears; the congregation began to thin.  At last I
received a letter from a Christian man of my flock, telling me that
himself and many others were pained with the fear that I was beginning
to exceed the bounds of strict temperance: he urged total abstinence at
once; he was a total abstainer himself.  I was startled--prostrated--
humbled to the very dust.  I reflected on the quantity of intoxicants I
was now taking _daily_, and I shuddered.  I thanked my friendly adviser
with tears, and promised to return to strict moderation.  Total
abstinence I would not hear of; it was quite out of the question.  I
could no more do without alcoholic stimulants then than I can do now."

He paused, and fixed a peculiar look on Mr Oliphant; who, however, did
not, or would not, understand it.  So he went on:--

"I tried moderation; but it would not do.  I prayed for strength to be
moderate; but I know _now_ that I never really desired what I prayed
for.  It was too late to be moderate; my lust had got the bit between
its teeth, and I might as well have pulled at the wind.  I went from bad
to worse.  Desertion, disgrace, ruin, all followed.  Everything has
gone--church, home, money, books, clothes--the drink has had them all,
and would have them again if they were mine at this moment.  For some
years past I have been a roaming beggar, such as you found me when you
picked me up in the road."

He said all this with very little emotion; and then lay back, wearied
with his exertions in speaking.

"And have you any--" The rector did not know how to finish the sentence
which he had begun after a long pause.

"Have I any family? you would ask," said the other.  "I had once.  I had
a wife and little child; my only child--a little girl.  Well, I suppose
she's better off.  She pined and pined when there was next to nothing to
eat in the house; and they tell me--for I was not at home when she
died--that she said at the last, `I'm going to Jesus; they are not
hungry where he is.'  Poor thing!"

"And your wife?" exclaimed Bernard, his blood running cold at the tone
of indifference in which this account was given.

"Oh, my wife?  Ah, we did not see much of one another after our child's
death!  I was often from home; and once, when I returned, I found that
she was gone: they had buried her in my absence.  She died--so they
said--of a broken heart.  Poor thing! it is not unlikely."

Mr Oliphant hid his head in his hands, and groaned aloud.  He had never
before conceived it possible--what he now found to be too true--that
long habits of drunkenness can so utterly unhumanise a man as to reduce
him to a mere callous self, looking upon all things outside self as
dreamy and devoid of interest, with but one passion left--the passion
for the poison which has ruined him.

At last the rector raised his head, and said slowly and solemnly,--

"And if God spares you, will you not strive to lead a new life?  Will
you not pray for grace to conquer your besetting sin?"

The wretched man did not answer for a while.  Then he said,--

"I have only one thing to live for, and that is the drink.  I cannot
live without it.  Oh, I implore you to let me have some spirits!  You do
not, you cannot, know how I crave them, or in pity you would not
withhold them from me."

Mr Oliphant rose.

"Compose yourself, my poor friend," he said.  "I dare not grant your
request; it might be your death.  Farewell for the present.  May God,
with whom all things are possible, help you through your present
trouble, and enable you in the end to conquer."

The wretched man called imploringly after him; but he closed the door,
and summoning Mrs Barnes, begged her to look well after him, and to see
that the nurse did all in her power to keep him calm, and to soothe him
to rest.

Two days after this he called again.

"How is your patient to-day, Mrs Barnes?" he said to the landlady, whom
he met on the landing.

"I cannot quite tell you, sir, for I have not been in to see him this
morning.  He was so much better yesterday that the doctor said Mrs
Harper might go home.  I went to look at him after he had taken his tea,
and I found old Jane Hicks with him.  She had called to speak with Mrs
Harper, and the poor gentleman got her to go and borrow him a newspaper
which he wanted to see.  I think I heard her come back twice since Mrs
Harper left; but perhaps he wanted something else.  He said I had better
not wake him very early, as he thought he should sleep well; so I
haven't disturbed him yet."

A strange misgiving crept over the rector.

"Let us go in at once," he said.

They knocked at the bed-room door--there was no answer; they opened it
softly and went in.  The sick man lay on his back, apparently asleep,
but when they came closer they saw that he was dead.  A stain on the
sheet attracted Mr Oliphant's notice; he hastily turned it down,
uncovering the hands; in the right was a bottle--it had held spirits;
there was nothing in it now.

So died the miserable victim of drink; so died the once flourishing
professor; so died the once acceptable preacher.

Mr Oliphant knelt by the bed-side and poured out his heart to God in
prayer, entreating to be directed aright, and to be kept from ever in
any degree disgracing his profession as this unhappy man had done.  He
was reminded that he was not alone by the sobs of the landlady, who had
fallen on her knees near him.

"Mrs Barnes," he said, on rising, "I have resolved, God helping me, to
be a total abstainer from this day forward.  I have nothing to do with
the consciences of others, but for myself I feel that I shall be a
happier and a wiser man if I wholly abstain from those stimulants which
have power to make such a shipwreck as this."

She did not answer except by tears and a deep sigh; and he made his way
sadly and thoughtfully home.

From that day forward the drink was wholly banished from the rectory;
there was no difference of opinion between Bernard and his wife--they
would bring up their children without the ensnaring stimulant.  Mr
Oliphant showed his colours at once; and he preached as well as
practised total abstinence, not in the place of the gospel, but as a
handmaid to the gospel.  And Mrs Barnes was the first who joined him.

"I've long hated selling beer and spirits," she said.  "I've seen the
misery that the drink has brought even into our little village.  But I
didn't see my way nor my duty plain before, but I see them now.  You've
set me the example, sir; and, please God, I'll follow.  You know my poor
master left me the farm for my life, and I shall be happier there with a
little than I could be if I were to stop here and be making ever so
much."

She kept to her resolution.  So the "Oldfield Arms" was closed, to the
astonishment of all the neighbours.  What was the foolish woman about?
Had she lost her senses?  Why, the inn was doing a capital business.
Sir Thomas Oldfield himself came down on purpose from Greymoor Park,
when he heard what she was going to do, and tried to talk and laugh her
out of it.  But she was firm.  The house was her own freehold, and she
would neither use it herself as an inn, nor let any one else rent it for
the same purpose.  Of course, she was a fool in the eyes of the world,
but she did not care for that; and any one who saw her bright face as
she walked about her farm, would have perceived that, whether fool or
no, she had the enjoyment of peace in her heart.

But the "Oldfield Arms" was not long without a tenant.  The rector took
it, as we have before said, and used it partly as shops, and the large
public room as a reading-room.  And thus it was that the "Dun Cow"
remained without a rival as the dispenser of strong drink to the
inhabitants of Waterland.



CHAPTER FOUR.

THE PARK.

It was a great vexation to Sir Thomas Oldfield that Mrs Barnes would
neither keep the "Oldfield Arms" open herself, nor let it as a public-
house to any one else.  The "Dun Cow" was quite an inferior place
altogether, and nothing but rebuilding it could turn it into anything
like a respectable house; but it did very well for the villagers to sot
in.  There was a good fire, and plenty of room in its parlour, so the
"Dun Cow" kept its name, and reigned alone.  Sir Thomas, indeed, had no
wish to see the public-houses multiplied, for he highly disapproved of
drunkenness, so there was no encouragement to set up another house in a
fresh place.  And, indeed, though there was always custom in abundance
for one such establishment, a second would, at the time of the opening
of our story, have driven but a poor trade; for the example and appeals
of the rector for some seventeen years as a Christian total abstainer,
together with the knowledge that all the rectory household were
consistent water-drinkers, had been greatly blessed in Waterland.  Many
had left their drunkenness; a happy change had taken place in several
homes; and a flourishing total abstinence society, which included many
members from other parishes and villages, held its monthly meetings in
the large temperance room under the presidency of Bernard Oliphant.

Sir Thomas Oldfield hated drunkenness, and was very severe upon
drunkards, under ordinary circumstances, when brought before him as a
magistrate.  But, on the other hand, he hated total abstinence very
cordially also.  He was fond of making sweeping assertions, and knocking
timid opponents down with strong asseverations, which passed for
excellent arguments at assize dinners, and at parties at Greymoor Park;
for it is wonderful what exceedingly loose logic will satisfy even
highly-educated people when employed on the side of their appetites or
prejudices.  Once, indeed, the squire was very considerably staggered,
but he never liked a reference to be made afterwards to the occasion.
He was presiding at a harvest-home given to his own tenants, and had
passed from a warm eulogium on temperance and moderation to a vehement
harangue against total abstinence and total abstainers.  He was,
however, cut short in the midst of his eloquence by a sturdy-looking
labourer, who struggled forward, beer-jug in hand, and, tottering at
every step, spluttered out,--

"Hooray, hooray, Sir Thomas!  Here's long life to the squire--here's
long life to moderation.  Hooray lads, hooray!  Here's three cheers for
the squire and moderation.  Stand fast to your principles, like me; as
for them total abstainers, they haven't got a leg to stand on."

With that he tumbled forward, and, unable to recover his balance, fell
flat on the ground before Sir Thomas, and lay there utterly unable to
rise.

As was the squire, so had he brought up his family.

Greymoor Park was a noble property, which had come down to him through a
long line of ancestors.  The house stood on a rocky height, and was
surrounded, but not encumbered, by noble groups of trees, from the midst
of which it looked out over sloping terraced gardens, glowing with
flower-beds, which enamelled the smoothest of turf, across the park from
which the estate took its name.  The original house was old, but while
the fine bay-windows, massive porch, stately gables, and wide
staircases, with their carved oak balustrades and pendants, had been
preserved untouched, all such modern improvements had been added as
would soften off the inconveniences of a less luxurious age.  The park
itself was remarkable for the size and grouping of its timber, and was
well-stocked with deer.  A fine sheet of water also spread itself out
over an open space between the trees, so as to form a delightful variety
to the view from the great bay-windows.  Indeed, if the things of the
present life could have made a man happy, Sir Thomas had abundant
grounds for happiness in this world.  Yes, _in_ this world, but not
beyond it.  For Sir Thomas was just simply and thoroughly a man of the
world, and a most respectable man of the world too.  No man could place
his finger on a blot in his character or conduct.  He lived for the
world, and the world applauded him.  He lived to please self, and to a
considerable extent he succeeded.

Lady Oldfield wished to be something higher.  She knew the emptiness of
the world, at least in theory.  She wished to be a Christian, but was
not.  The glow of a pure gospel faith, caught by intercourse with true
Christians, might be often found in her words, but it went no farther;
as the pavement on which the rich hues of a stained glass window fall,
is but a cold colourless pavement after all, so was her heart cold,
worldly, colourless for God.  She was careful to have her children
taught religiously--the Bible lesson, the catechism, were learnt both
regularly and perfectly.  No child might omit its prayers night or
morning, nor be absent from the daily family worship.  No household was
more strict in its attendance at church; and nothing brought down more
speedily and severely her ladyship's displeasure than negligence to go
to God's house, or irreverence or inattention during the service.
Thomas, the eldest son, and heir to the baronetcy, was at present abroad
with his regiment; the second son, Frank, was just one-and-twenty; the
rest of the children were daughters.

Ever since the coming of Bernard Oliphant to Waterland, there had been
free intercourse between the two families at the hall and the rectory;
for Mr Oliphant was a distant relation of the Oldfields, and it was
through Sir Thomas that he had been presented to the living.  So the
young people grew up together, though there was, strictly speaking, more
intimacy than friendship between them, especially as the total
abstinence principles of the rectory were a bar to any great cordiality
on the part of the squire and his lady.  On this point the baronet and
his wife were entirely agreed.  She was less openly severe, yet quite as
determined and bitter in her opposition as he.  So the two families met,
and were civil, and exchanged calls, and the Oliphants dined at the hall
occasionally, and the children of both houses had little gatherings and
feastings together from time to time.  Thus had things gone on for some
years after Mr Oliphant had first shown his colours as a total
abstainer; Lady Oldfield jealously watching her children, lest any of
them should be corrupted by the absurd notions, as she counted them, of
the rector and his wife on this subject of total abstinence.  She had,
however, nothing to fear on this score, as regarded her eldest son.  He
had never taken much to the Oliphants as a boy, and his absence from
home at school and the university had kept him out of the reach of their
influence till he left England with his regiment.  It was otherwise with
the second son, Frank, who was specially his mother's idol, and indeed
almost every one else's too.  From his earliest boyhood he took people's
hearts by storm, and kept them.  No one could see him and not love that
open, generous, handsome face, with its laughing blue eyes, and setting
of rich brown curling hair.  No one could hear his joyous, confiding
voice, and the expressions of unaffected and earnest interest with which
he threw himself into every subject which fairly engaged his attention
or affections, without feeling drawn with all the cords of the heart to
the noble boy.  There was such a thorough openness and freedom in all
that he did and said, yet without recklessness and without indifference
to the feelings of others.  And when, through thoughtlessness or
forgetfulness, as was not unfrequently the case, he happened to find
himself in some awkward scrape or perplexity, he would toss back his
waving hair with a half-vexed half-comical expression, which would
disarm at once his mother's anger, spite of herself, and turn her severe
rebuke into a mild remonstrance.  Alas, that sin should ever mar such a
lovely work of God!  Frank loved the look of nature that lay open all
around him, but not his own books.  He abhorred study, and only
submitted to it from a sense of duty.  His father, at Lady Oldfield's
urgent request, kept him at home, and engaged a private tutor for him,
whose office would have been a sinecure but for the concern it gave him
to find his pupil so hard to drag along the most level paths of
learning.  Dog's-ears disfigured Frank's books, the result simply of
restless fingers; and dog's heads; executed in a masterly style, were
the subjects of his pen.  He loved roaming about, and there was not an
old ruin within many miles round of which he did not know every crevice,
nor any birds of song or prey with whose haunts and habits he was not
intimately acquainted.  In fishing, riding, swimming, he was an early
adept, and every outdoor sport was his delight.  All the dogs in the
neighbourhood rejoiced in him, and every cottager's wife blessed him
when he flung his bright smiles around him as he passed along.  At no
place was he more welcome than at the rectory, nor was there any house
in which he felt so happy, not even excepting his own home.  With all
his wildness he felt the most sincere love and respect for Mr and Mrs
Oliphant, and rejoiced in a day spent with their children.  And there
was one of these towards whom he was drawn with feelings of peculiar
tenderness.  He was not conscious of it, and would have laughed at the
idea had it been suggested to him; yet it was true that when he was but
just sixteen Mary Oliphant had begun to wind herself around his heart
with those numberless invisible cords which would by degrees enchain him
in bonds which no power on earth could break.  Mary, of course, mere
child as she then was, and brought up by her parents as a child should
be, obedient, gentle, unobtrusive, delighted in the companionship of the
lively, open-hearted boy, without a thought beyond, and heartily enjoyed
many a happy ramble with him and her brothers among the woods and
meadows.  Frank Oldfield could not but be struck by the love and harmony
which reigned in the Oliphant family.  He saw the power of a religion
which made itself felt without thrusting itself forward into notice.  He
could not but reflect sometimes, and then even _his_ sunny brow was
clouded, that he wanted a something which the children at the rectory
possessed; that he wanted a great reality, without which he could not be
fully happy.  He saw also the bright side of total abstinence when he
spent a day with the rector's family.  At home there was always
abundance of beer and wine upon the table, and he drank it, like others;
and not only drank it, but thirsted for it, and felt as if he could not
do without it.  It was not so when he dined at the rectory, at their
simple one o'clock meal, for he enjoyed his food, and seemed scarcely to
miss the stimulant.

One day, when he was sitting at the rectory table, he said to Mr
Oliphant, looking up with one of his bright smiles,--

"I wish I was a total abstainer."

"Well," said Mr Oliphant in reply, with a smile, "I wish you were; but
why do _you_ wish it just now, my dear boy?"

"Oh, I've been thinking a good deal about it lately.  I see you smile,
Hubert, but I really have been thinking--yes, thinking--I've been
thinking that I should like to do as you all do; you're just as happy
without beer and wine, and just as well too."

"And is that your only reason, dear Frank?" asked Mrs Oliphant.

"Oh no! that's not all; the plain truth is this, I can't help thinking
that if I keep getting fonder and fonder of beer and wine, as I'm doing
now, I shall get too fond of it by-and-by."

Mr Oliphant sighed, and poor Mary exclaimed,--

"Oh, Frank, don't say that."

"Ay, but it's true; don't you think, Mr Oliphant, that I should be
better and safer without it?"

"I do, most sincerely, my dear boy," answered the rector; "yes, both
better and safer; and specially the latter."

"I know," said Frank, "that papa and mamma are not fond of total
abstinence; but then, I cannot think that they have really looked into
the matter as you have."

"No, Frank, your father and mother do not see the matter in the same
light as myself and I have no right to blame them, for, when I first
came to Waterland, I thought nearly the same as they do.  Perhaps they
will take _my_ view by-and-by."

Frank shook his head, and then went on,--

"But you do think it the best thing for young people, as well as grown-
up people, to be abstainers?"

"Yes, assuredly; and I will tell you why.  I will give you a little
illustration.  There is a beautiful picture representing what is called
the `Lorelei,' a spirit fabled to haunt some high rocks that overlook
the Rhine.  This spirit is represented in the picture as a beautiful
female, with a sweet but melancholy expression of countenance.  She
kneels on the top of the rock, and is singing to a harp, which she
strikes with her graceful fingers.  Below is a boat with two men in it,
the one old, and the other young.  The boat is rapidly nearing the
rocks, but both the men are utterly unconscious of their danger--the old
man has ceased to hold the helm, the young man has dropped the oars, and
both are fondly stretching out their hands towards the deceiving spirit,
wholly entranced with her song--a few moments more and their boat will
be a wreck.  Now, it is because the drink is such an enticing thing,
like the Lorelei spirit; because it seems to sing pleasantly to us, and
makes us forget where we are; because it lures on old and young to their
ruin, by robbing them of their self-control;--it is for these reasons
that I think it such a happy thing to put every safeguard between
ourselves and its snares."

"Yes," said Frank thoughtfully; "I know the drink is becoming a snare to
me, or may become so.  What shall I do?  Ought I to give it up
altogether?"

"It is a very difficult thing to answer that question," replied the
rector.  "I could hardly urge you to give up beer and wine altogether,
if your father and mother positively forbid your doing so; there is no
sin, of course, in the simple taking of fermented liquors, and therefore
I could not advise you to go directly contrary to your parents' orders
in this matter."

"There is no harm, however, in my trying to give up beer and wine, if my
father and mother will allow me?"

"Certainly not, my dear boy; and may God make your way plain, and remove
or overcome your difficulties."

The day after this conversation, Frank was sitting in his place at the
dinner-table of the hall.  The butler brought him a glass of beer.  "No,
thank you," he said.  A little while after he filled a tumbler with
water, and began to drink it.

"Frank, my boy," said his father, "are not you well?  Why don't you take
your beer as usual?"

"I'm quite well, thank you, papa; but I'd rather have the water."

"Well, put some port wine in it, at any rate, if you don't fancy the
beer to-day."

"I'd rather have neither beer nor wine, thank you, papa."

By this time Lady Oldfield's attention was drawn to what was passing
between her husband and son.

"Dear Frank," she said, "I shall not allow you to do anything so foolish
as to drink water.  James, hand the beer again to Master Frank."

"Indeed, dear mamma," he urged, "I mean what I say; I really should
rather have water."

"Absurd!" exclaimed her ladyship angrily; "what folly has possessed you
now?  You know that the medical men all say that wine and beer are
necessary for your health."

"I'm sure, mamma, the medical men needn't trouble themselves about my
health.  I'm always very well when I have plenty of air and exercise.
If ever I feel unwell, it is when I've had more wine or beer than
usual."

"And who, pray, has been putting these foolish notions into your head?
I see how it is; I always feared it; the Oliphants have been filling
your head with their extravagant notions about total abstinence.
Really, my dear," she added, turning to Sir Thomas, "we must forbid
Frank's going to the rectory, if they are to make our own child fly in
the face of our wishes."

"Mamma," cried Frank, all on fire with excitement and indignation,
"you're quite mistaken about the Oliphants; they have none of them been
trying to talk me over to their own views.  I began the subject myself,
and asked Mr Oliphant's advice, and he told me expressly that I ought
not to do what you would disapprove of."

"And why should you ask Mr Oliphant's advice?  Cannot you trust your
own father and mother?  I am not saying a word against Mr Oliphant as a
clergyman or a Christian; he preaches the gospel fully and faithfully,
and works hard in his parish, but on this subject of total abstinence he
holds views which neither your father nor I approve of; and, really, I
must not have you tampered with in this matter."

"Well, dear mamma, I've done; I'll do as you wish.  Farewell water--
welcome beer and wine; James, a glass of ale."

It was two years after this that a merry company from the hall and
rectory set out to explore a remarkable ruin about five miles distant
from Waterland.  Frank was leader of the party; he had never given his
parents any more anxiety on the score of total abstinence--on the
contrary, he had learned to take so freely of wine and beer, that his
mother felt at times a little alarmed lest he should seriously overpass
the bounds of moderation.  When at the rectory, he never again alluded
to the subject, but rather seemed eager to turn the conversation when
any remark fell from Mr or Mrs Oliphant on the evils arising from
intemperance.  And now to-day he was in the highest spirits, as he rode
on a sprightly little pony by the side of Mary Oliphant, who was mounted
on another pony, and was looking the picture of peaceful beauty.  Other
young people followed, also on horseback.  The day was most lovely, and
an inspiriting canter along lane and over moor soon brought them to the
ruin.  It was a stately moss-embroidered fabric, more picturesque in its
decay than it ever could have been in its completeness.  Its shattered
columns, solitary mullions, and pendent fragments of tracery hoary with
age, and in parts half concealed by the negligent profusion of ivy,
entranced the mind by their suggestive and melancholy beauty; while the
huge remnant of a massive tower seemed to plead with mute dignity
against the violence which had rent and marred it, and against the
encroaching vegetation, which was climbing higher and higher, and
enveloping its giant stones in a fantastic clothing of shrub and
bramble.

Frank and his party first shut up their horses in the old refectory,
closing the entrance with a hurdle, and then dispersed over the ruins.
Mary had brought her drawing-pad, that she might sketch a magnificent
pillar, and the remains of a transept arch which rose gracefully behind
it, crowned with drooping ivy, and disclosing in the back ground,
through a shattered window, the dreamy blue of the distant hills.  She
sat on the mutilated chapiter of a column, and was soon so wholly
absorbed in her work, that she never turned her eyes to notice Frank
Oldfield, who, leaning against a low archway, was busily engaged in a
vigorous sketch, of which herself was the prominent object.  And who
could blame him? for certainly a lovelier picture, or one more full of
harmonious contrast, could hardly have been found, than that presented
by the sweet and graceful figure of the rector's daughter, with its
surroundings of massive masonry and majestic decay.  She all life, a
creature of the present, and yet still more of the future, as bright
with the sunshine of a hope that could never die; and they, those
mouldering stones, that broken tracery, those mossy arches, sad in the
desolation of the present, sadder still in the memories of an
unenlightened past.  Frank finished his sketch, and, holding it behind
him, stole gently up to the side of Mary Oliphant.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "a most lovely little bit; and yet, I have the
vanity to think that my choice of a subject has been better than your
own."

"The drawing is, no doubt," she answered; "but I hardly think you can
find such a picturesque group as this in any other part of the ruins."

"Let us compare, then," he said, and placed his own sketch by the side
of hers.

"Oh, Frank," she cried, "how can you be so foolish?"

At the same time the colour which flushed her face, and the bright smile
which lighted it, showed that the folly was not very reprehensible in
her eyes.

"Is it so very foolish?" he asked, half seriously, half playfully.
"Well; I wish I had shown the same kind of folly in my choice of some
other things as I have in the choice of a subject."

She was about to reply, when suddenly, without any warning, a savage-
looking dog dashed into the open space before them, and, making a fierce
rush at Mary, caught her by the dress.

"Down, you brute, down!" shouted Frank; but the dog still retained his
hold, and growled and tossed himself about savagely.  Frank had no stick
nor weapon of any kind in his hands, but he darted to a heap of loose
stones, and snatching one up turned towards the dog.  In the meantime,
Mary, in extreme terror, had dropped her drawing-pad, and plucking her
dress from the fierce creature's mouth, fled with all her speed across
the pavement, and sprang up the projecting stones of an old archway.
The dog, with a loud yell, followed her, and easily overtook her, as the
ascent up which she had climbed presented a broad footing.  Utterly
terrified, and unconscious of what she was doing, the poor girl
clambered higher and higher to escape her enemy.  Frank had now turned
upon the dog, and hurled one huge stone at him; it passed near, but did
not touch him.  Mary's terror only excited the furious animal to follow,
and as she saw him close upon her again, with a wild cry she leaped
right across to an old fragment of a turret which stood out by itself in
an angle of the wall.  The dog hesitated, but, before it could decide to
follow her, another stone from Frank had struck it full in the side.
With a tremendous howl it tumbled down into the court and fled.  Poor
Mary! she gasped for breath, and could not for a long time recover her
self-possession.  When at last she became more calm, soothed and
encouraged by the kind voice and earnest entreaties of Frank, it was
only to awake to the extreme danger of her present position.  Fear had
made her take a leap which she could never have dared to attempt in her
calm senses.  She looked across the chasm over which she had sprung, and
shuddered.  Could she try the leap back again?  No; she dared not.  In
the meantime, the stones to which she was clinging began to loosen
beneath her weight.  She looked down, and became giddy.

"Oh, save me--save me--I shall fall!" she cried.  She clutched at a
strong stem of ivy which was climbing up the wall close by, and so
supported herself; but it was evident that she could not long retain her
hold in that constrained position, even if the stonework did not give
way beneath her feet.  All the party had now gathered in the open space
below, and some began to climb the path by which she had mounted.
Frank, in the meanwhile, was making desperate efforts to reach the poor
girl.

"Hold on--hold on--dear Mary!" he cried; "a few moments, and I shall be
with you; don't lose courage--keep a firm grasp on the ivy; there--I've
got a landing on the top of this old arch; now, I'm only a few feet
off--steady, steady--don't stir for your life--only a few moments more
and I shall be at your side."

It was perilous work indeed; and all who beheld him held their breath as
he made his way towards where the object of their deep anxiety was
crouched.  Now he was clinging to a rough projecting stone, now swinging
by a rusty bar, now grasping ivy or brambles, and every now and then
slipping as the old masonry gave way beneath his feet.  At last, with
immense exertion, he gained a ledge a little below where the terrified
girl was perched, half lying, half crouching.  Here he had firm
standing-ground.  Placing his hand gently upon her, he bade her slide
down towards him, assuring her that she would have a firm footing on the
ledge.  She obeyed at once, feeling his strong arm bearing her up and
guiding her.  Another moment, and she stood beside him.  But now, how
were they to descend?  She dared not attempt to leap back to the spot
from whence she had sprung in her terror, and there was no regular
descent from the slab on which they were perched, but only a few
projecting stones down the perpendicular face of the wall, and these at
wide intervals.

"There's no way but a roundabout climb down by the ivy," said Frank at
last.  "Trust to me, dear Mary, and do exactly what I tell you.  I will
go first, and do you place hand and foot just as I bid you.  There--put
your foot in that crevice--now take firm hold of that branch; there--now
the other foot--now the next step a little to the right, the good ivy
makes a noble ladder--now we're nearly landed; there--be careful not to
slip on that round stone--one step more, and now we're safe.  Oh, thank
God, _you're_ safe!"

He clasped her to his heart; she knew that heart was hers; she could not
resent that loving embrace; it was but for a moment.  He released her,
and was turning to the friends who were gathering and pressing round,
when a heavy stone, loosened in their descent, fell on his outstretched
arm, and struck him to the ground.

Mary sprang towards him with a cry of deep distress.

"Frank, dear Frank--you're hurt--you're dreadfully hurt, I'm sure."

"No, no; not much, I hope," he said, springing up, but looking very
pale.  "It's an awkward blow rather, but don't distress yourself--we'll
make the best of our way home at once--just one of you see to the
horses."

He spoke with effort, for he was evidently in great pain.  Mary's heart
ached for him, but exhaustion and anxiety quite deprived her of the
power of speaking or thinking collectively.

The horses were speedily brought.  Frank held out his uninjured arm to
help Mary Oliphant to mount her pony.

"I'm so very, very sorry," she said, "to have caused this disaster, and
spoiled our happy day through my foolish timidity."

"Nay, nay; you must not blame yourself," said Frank.  "I am sure we all
feel for you.  It was that rascal of a dog that did the mischief, but I
gave him such a mark of my respect as I don't think he'll part with for
a long time."

Poor Frank, he tried to be cheerful; but it was plain to all that he
must be suffering severely.  They were soon on their way home, but a
cloud rested on their spirits.  Few words were said till they reached
the spot where the roads to the hall and the rectory parted.  Then Frank
turned to Mary and said, with a look full of tenderness, rendered doubly
touching by his almost ghastly paleness,--

"Farewell; I hope you'll be none the worse, dear Mary, for your fright.
I shall send over to-morrow to inquire how you are.  It was a happy
escape."

"Good-bye, good-bye!" she cried; "a thousand thanks for your noble and
timely rescue!  Oh, I hope--I hope--"

She could not say more, but burst into tears.

"All right--never fear for me!" he cried cheerily as he rode off,
leaving Mary and a groom to make their way to Waterland, while himself
and the rest of the party hastened on to Greymoor Park.

They had not far to ride, but Frank was evidently anxious to reach home
as speedily as possible.  With clenched teeth and knit brow, he urged on
his pony to a gallop.  Soon they reached the lodge; a few moments more
and they had passed along the drive and gained the grand entrance.  Lady
Oldfield had just returned from a drive, and was standing on the top
step.

"You're early home," she remarked.  "Dear Frank, I hope there's nothing
amiss," she added, noticing the downcast looks of the whole party.

Her son did not answer, but, dismounting with difficulty, began to walk
up the steps.  She observed with dismay that he tottered as he
approached her.  Could he have been drinking so freely as to be unable
to walk steadily?  Her heart died within her.  The next moment he
staggered forward, and fainted in her arms.



CHAPTER FIVE.

GOOD RESOLUTIONS.

"What--what is this?" cried Lady Oldfield in bitter distress.  "Frank--
my child--my beloved boy--oh, open your eyes--look at me--speak--what
has happened?  Oh, he's dying, he's dying--James--Richard--carry him up
to his room.  One of you tell Tomkins to ride off immediately for Dr
Portman.  Thomas, fetch me some brandy--quick--quick!"

They carried him in a state of complete insensibility to his room, and
laid him on the bed.  His mother stood over him, bathing his temples
with eau-de-cologne, and weeping bitterly.  The brandy was brought; they
raised him, and poured a little through his blanched lips; slowly he
began to revive; his lips moved.  Lady Oldfield stooped her ear close to
his face, and caught the murmured word, "Mary."

"Oh, thank God," she exclaimed, "that he is not dead!  Does any one know
how this has happened?"

"I believe, my lady," replied one of the servants, "that Mr Frank was
hit by a big stone which fell on him from the top of the ruins.  I heard
Juniper Graves say as much."

"Ay, my lady," said another; "it were a mercy it didn't kill Mr Frank
outright."

The object of their care began now to come more to himself.  He tried to
rise, but fell back with a groan.

"What _can_ I do for you, my poor boy?" asked his mother; "the doctor
will be here soon, but can we do anything for you now?  Where is your
pain?"

"I fear my left arm is broken," he whispered; "the pain is terrible."

"Take some more brandy," said his mother.

He took it, and was able to sit up.  Then with great difficulty they
undressed him, and he lay on the bed pale and motionless till the doctor
arrived.  On examination, it was found that the arm was terribly
bruised, but not broken.  There were, however, other injuries also,
though not of a serious character, which Frank had sustained in his
perilous climbing to the rescue of Mary Oliphant.  Fever came on,
aggravated by the brandy injudiciously administered.  For some days it
was doubtful what would be the issue; but at last, to the great joy of
Sir Thomas and his wife, the turning-point was passed, and Dr Portman
pronounced their child out of danger--all he needed now was good
nursing, sea-air, and proper nourishment.  During the ravings of the
fever his mind was often rambling on the scene in the ruins--at one time
he would be chiding the dog, at another he would be urging Mary to cling
firmly to the ivy; and there was a tone of tenderness in these appeals
which convinced Lady Oldfield that her son's heart was given to the
rector's daughter.  This was confirmed by a conversation which she had
with him at the sea-side, where he was gone to recruit his strength.
There he opened his whole heart to her, and confessed the depth of his
attachment to her whose life he had so gallantly saved.  Lady Oldfield
was at first pained; she would not have preferred such an alliance for
her son.  But, on further reflection, the prospect was not so
displeasing to her.  Mary Oliphant was not inferior to her son in birth,
and would have, when she came of age, a good fortune which had been left
her by a wealthy aunt.  Frank's love for beer and wine, and even
spirits, had grown so much of late, that his mother had begun to feel
very anxious about him on that score.  She had no wish that he should
become a total abstainer; indeed she was, at this very time, giving him,
by the doctor's orders, as much porter and wine as he could bear; but
she thought that Mary's total abstinence might act as a check upon him
to keep him within the bounds of strict moderation.  She knew, too, that
Mary was a genuine Christian, and she sincerely believed that true
religion in a wife was the only solid foundation of domestic happiness.
Before, therefore, they returned to Greymoor Park, Frank had his
mother's hearty consent, subject to Sir Thomas's approval, to his
engaging himself to Mary Oliphant.

And what were Mary's own feelings on the subject?  Poor girl, she had
never realised before that day of peril and rescue that she felt, or
could feel, more than a half friendly, half sisterly liking for Frank
Oldfield.  She had always admired his open generous disposition, and had
been happy in his society; but they had been so many years companions,
that she had never thought of looking upon him as one likely to form an
attachment to herself.  But now there could be no doubt on the subject.
What passed in the old ruin had convinced her that his heart was given
to her; and more than this, that her own heart was given to him.  And
now his sufferings and illness, brought on him through his exertions to
save her from destruction, had called out her love for him into full
consciousness.  Yet with that consciousness there came a deep sense of
pain.  It had taken her so by surprise; her heart was given before she
had had time to reflect whether she ought to have given it.  Could she
be happy with him? was he a real Christian? did he love the same Saviour
she loved herself?  Oh, these thoughts pressed heavily upon her spirit,
but she spread out her cares first before her heavenly Father, and then
with full childlike openness before her earthly parent--that loving
mother from whom she had never had a single concealment.

Mrs Oliphant sighed when her daughter had poured out her anxieties and
difficulties.

"Oh, mamma--dearest mamma!" cried Mary, "what ought I to do?  I am sure
he loves me, and I know that he will tell me so, for he is the very last
person to keep back what he feels.  What would you and dear papa wish me
to do, should he declare his affection?  I could not honestly say that
my heart is indifferent to him, and yet I should not dare to encourage
him to look forward to a time when we shall be one on earth, unless I
can trust too that we shall be one hereafter in heaven."

"My precious child," replied her mother, "you know our doubts and our
fears.  You know that Frank has acknowledged to increasing fondness for
intoxicating drinks.  You know that his poor mother will rather
encourage that taste.  And oh, if you should marry, and he should become
a drunkard--a confirmed drunkard--oh, surely he will bring misery on my
beloved child, and her father's and mother's grey hairs with sorrow to
the grave."

"Dearest mamma, you have only to say that you are convinced that I
cannot be happy with him, or that you and dear papa consider that I
ought to relinquish all thoughts about him, and I will at once endeavour
to banish him from my heart."

"No, my child.  Your affections, it is clear, have already become
entangled, and therefore we are not in the same position to advise you
as if your heart were free to give or to withhold.  Had it been
otherwise, we should have urged you to pause before you allowed any
thoughts about Frank to lodge in your heart, or perhaps to be prepared
to give a decided refusal, in case of his making a declaration of his
attachment."

"But you do not think him quite hopeless, dear mamma?  Remember how
anxious he seemed at one time to become a total abstainer.  And might
not I influence him to take the decided step, when I should have a right
to do so with which no one could interfere?"

"It might be so, my darling.  God will direct.  But only promise me one
thing--should Frank ask you to engage yourself to him, and you should
discover that he is becoming the slave of intemperance before the time
arrives when you are both old enough to marry, promise me that in that
case you will break off the engagement."

"I promise you, dearest mamma, that, cost what struggle it may, I will
never marry a drunkard."

It was but a few days after the above conversation that Frank Oldfield
called at the rectory.  It was the first time that he and Mary had met
since the day of their memorable adventure.  He was looking pale, and
carried his arm in a sling, but his open look and bright smile were
unchanged.

"I carry about with me, you see, dear Mary," he said, "my apology for
not having sooner called to inquire after you.  I hope you were not
seriously the worse for your fright and your climb?"

"Oh no," she replied earnestly; "only so grieved when I found what you
had suffered in saving me.  How shall I ever thank you enough for
sacrificing yourself as you did for me?"

"Well," he answered with a smile, "I suppose I ought to say that you
have nothing to thank me for.  And yet I do think that I may accept of
some thanks--and, to tell the truth, I have just come over to suggest
the best way in which the thanks may be given."

Mary did not answer, but looked down; and, spite of herself, her tears
would fall fast.

"Dear Mary," he said, "the plainest and shortest way is the one that
suits me best.  I want you to give me your heart--you have had mine long
ago, and I think you know it."

She did not speak.

"Oh, Mary, dearest Mary, can I be mistaken?  Cannot you--do not you love
me?"

"Frank," she replied, in a low and tearful voice, "it would be
affectation in me to make a show of concealing my love to you.  I _do_
love you.  I never knew it till that day; but since then I have known
that my heart is yours."

She said this so sadly, that he asked half seriously, half playfully,--

"Would you then wish to have it back again?"

"No, dear Frank; I cannot wish _that_."

"Then one day--if we are spared--you will be my own loving wife?"

There was no reply, but only a burst of tears.

"Mary, dearest Mary, what am I to understand?  Do your parents object to
your engaging yourself to me?  Oh, surely it is not so?"

"No, Frank; they have not objected--not exactly--but--"

She hesitated and looked down.

"Oh, why then not give me a plain `Yes' at once?  You own that your
heart is mine--you _know_ that my heart is yours--why not then promise
to be mine altogether?"

"It is true, dear Frank," she replied slowly, "that my heart is yours--I
cannot take it back if I would--but it may be my duty not to give my
hand with it."

"Your duty!  Oh, Mary, what a cold, cruel speech!  Why your duty?"

"Well," she replied, "the plain truth is best, and best when soonest
spoken.  You must know, dear Frank, how we all here feel about the sin
and misery caused by strong drink.  And you must know--oh, forgive me
for saying it, but I must say it, I must be open with you _now_ on this
subject--you must know that we have reason to fear that your own liking
for beer and wine and such things has been, for the last year or two, on
the increase.  And oh, we fear--we fear that, however unconsciously, you
may be on the downward road to--to--"

She could not finish her sentence.

Frank hung down his head, and turned half away, the colour flushing up
to the top of his fair forehead.  He tried to speak, but could not for a
while.  At last, in a husky voice, he whispered,--

"And so you will give me up to perish, body and soul, and to go down
hill with all my might and main?"

"No, Frank," she answered, having now regained her composure; "no; I
have no wish to give you up to sin and ruin.  It will rest with
yourself.  I cannot promise absolutely that I will be yours.  It will
depend upon--upon--upon what you are yourself when the time comes that
we might marry."

"And you have promised your mother--"

"I have promised--oh, Frank, dear Frank, pardon me if I wound you by
plain, rough words, but they must be spoken--I have promised that I will
never be the wife of a drunkard."

He bowed his head on his hand, and there was a long and painful silence.
Poor Mary, her heart bled for him, as she saw the tears forcing their
way between his thin, pale fingers.

"Mary," he said at last, "you must be mine; I cannot live without you.
Trust me; you shall have no cause to be ashamed of me.  I know--I feel
that I have been in great danger of sliding into intemperate habits; but
you shall see me and hear of me henceforth as strictly moderate.  I
solemnly promise you this; and on the very day that makes us one, I will
be one with you in total abstinence also.  Dearest, will this satisfy
you?"

"Yes, dear Frank; I have no right to ask more, if you _can_ be strictly
moderate; but oh, do not trust in your own strength.  Pray for help,
dear Frank, and then you will be able to conquer."

"Oh, of course," he said hastily; "but never fear, I give you my solemn
promise that you shall never see nor hear of any excess in me."

And did he keep his resolution?  Yes; for a while.  But, alas! how
little do those in circumstances like his really appreciate the awful
difficulties which beset those who are struggling to maintain strict
moderation.  This makes drunkenness such a fearful and exceptional
sin,--

  "The bow well bent, and smart the spring,
  Vice seems already slain."

The resolution is firmly set; the man walks forth strong as a rock in
his determination.  He begins to drink; his rock is but a piece of ice
after all, but he knows it not; it is beginning to melt with the warmth
of the first glass; he is cheered and encouraged by the second glass,
and his resolution seems to himself stronger than ever, while in very
truth it is only melting faster and faster.  At last he is over the
border of moderation before he conceives that he had so much as
approached it.  Then, alas! the word "moderation" stands for an unknown
quantity, easy to use but hard to define, since one man's moderation may
be another man's excess, and to-day's moderation may be an excess to-
morrow.

Poor Frank was never more in earnest than when he promised Mary Oliphant
that he would observe strict moderation.  He had everything to induce
him to keep his word--his love for Mary; his desire to please his own
parents, who had begun to tremble for him; his own self-respect.  So he
left the rectory strong as a lion in his own estimation, yet not without
a sort of misgiving underlying his conviction of his own firmness; but
he would not listen to that misgiving for a moment.

"I mean to be what I have promised, and I _will_ be," he said to
himself.  "Mary shall see that, easy and self-indulgent as I have been,
I can be rigid as iron when I have the will to be so."

Poor Frank! he did not knew his own weakness; he did not know that his
was not a will of iron, but was like a foot once badly sprained, which
has lost its firm and unfaltering tread.  Happy would it have been for
him had he sought a strength higher than his own--the strength from
above.

For several weeks he kept strictly to his purpose.  He limited himself
to so much beer and wine, and never exceeded.  He became proud of his
firmness, forgetting that there had been nothing to test the stamina of
his resolution.

At last the annual harvest-home came round.  It was a season of great
festivity at Greymoor Park.  Sir Thomas, as we have said, wished all his
tenants and labourers to be sober, and spoke to that effect on these
occasions; at the same time he was equally anxious that both meat and
drink should be dealt out with no niggard hand.  So men and women took
as much as they liked, and the squire was very careful to make no very
strict inquiries as to the state of any of his work-people on the
following day; and if any case of intemperance on these occasions came
to his knowledge afterwards, as commonly happened, it was winked at,
unless of a very gross and open character.

"Poor fellows," said the good-natured landlord, "it's only once in a
year that they get such a feast, and I must not be too strict with them.
There's many a good fellow gets a little too much on these days, who is
an excellent steady workman and father all the rest of the year.  It's
drunkenness--the habit of drunkenness--that is such a sin and scandal."

So everything was done to make the harvest-home a day of feasting and
mirth.

On the present occasion the weather was as bright and propitious as
could be desired.  A blazing sun poured down his heat from a cloudless
sky; scarce a breath of wind stirred the flag which, in honour of the
day, floated above the entrance of the hall.  Two large tents were
spread out by the borders of the ornamental water, in full view of the
hall windows.  A band, hired for the occasion, poured forth a torrent of
fierce music.  Children decked in blue ribbons and ears of corn ran in
and out of the tents, getting in everybody's way; but as everybody was
just then in the best of humours, it was of no consequence.  Visitors
began to arrive in picturesque groups, strolling through the trees
towards the tents.  Hot footmen were rushing wildly about, carrying all
sorts of eatables and drinkables.  Tables creaked and plates clattered.
Then, just about one o'clock, came the squire and his lady, followed by
many friends, among whom were Mr and Mrs Oliphant; while Frank,
looking supremely happy, with his sunny face all life and playfulness,
came last, with Mary on his arm.  Usually the Oliphants had kept away
from these harvest-homes, for they were not conducted to the rector's
satisfaction, but to-day they had a special reason for coming.  Frank
had been over to the rectory with an urgent request from his father that
Mr Oliphant would be present.  He might do good by appearing among
them, and Frank wanted Mary to see how he could use his influence in
keeping order and sobriety.  There were loud cheers, pleasant smiles,
and hearty greetings as the party from the hall entered the tents, where
all things were as bright and beautiful as banners, mottoes, and ears of
corn arranged in all sorts of appropriate devices could make them.  The
tenants dined in one tent, the labourers and their wives in the other.
Sir Thomas and Lady Oldfield presided in the former, and Frank took the
head of the table in the latter.  Mr and Mrs Oliphant and Mary sat
near the baronet.

The two tents were separated by several yards from one another, so that
while the guests were all partaking of dinner at the same time, the hum
of voices, the clatter of knives and forks, the braying of the brass
instruments which were performing in the space between the two parties,
and the necessary attention to the wants of the visitors, quite
prevented those presiding in the principal tent from hearing what was
passing in the other.  It was the intention of the squire, after all had
been satisfied, to gather both companies together in the open park, and
address them before they separated to join in the various amusements
provided for them.

The guests in the chief tent had just concluded their dinner, and those
at the upper table, where the party from the hall had been sitting, were
dispersing and making their way into the open air, when a burst of
cheers and shrieks of laughter from the other tent made Sir Thomas
remark, with a slight cloud on his face,--

"Our friends over there seem very merry."

Then came louder cheers and louder laughter.  Mary's heart died within
her, she hardly knew why.  She hurried out of the tent, when she was met
by Juniper Graves, the groom, a man from whom she shrank with special
dislike, for reasons which will shortly be explained.

"Come here, miss," he cried, with a malicious grin; "here's Mr Frank
making such capital fun; he'll send us all into fits afore he's done!  I
never seed anything like it--it's quite bacchanalian!"

Under other circumstances Mary would have hurried away at once, but the
name of Frank acted like a spell.  She peeped in at the tent-door where
the labourers were dining, and almost sank to the ground at the sight
she beheld.

Standing on a chair at the head of the table, his face flushed a deep
red, his beautiful hair tossed back and his eyes flashing with
excitement, a bottle flourishing in his right hand, was Frank Oldfield,
roaring out, amidst cheers and shouts of applause, a boisterous,
roystering comic song.  Mary was shrinking back in horror when she saw
Juniper Graves glide behind his young master's chair, and fill his glass
from a jug which he held in his hand.  Frank saw the act, caught up the
glass, and drained it in a moment.  Then launching out into his song
again, he swayed himself backwards and forwards, evidently being in
danger of falling but for the help of the groom, who held out his arm to
steady him.  Mary tottered back out of the tent, but not till her eyes
had met those of her lover.  Oh! it sickened her to think of so pure and
holy a thing as love in connection with such a face as that.

"My child," said her father, to whom she had hurried, pale, and ready to
sink at every step, "what has happened? what is the matter?  Are you
ill?"

"Oh, take me home, take me home," she cried, in a terrified whisper.
The noise of the band prevented others from hearing her words of
distress, and she was hidden from the rest of the company by a fold of
the tent.

"But what shall I say to Sir Thomas?" asked her father.

"Say nothing now, dear papa; let us get away from this--this dreadful
place--as quickly as we can.  Send over a note, and say you took me home
because I was ill, as indeed I am--ill in body, sick to death in heart.
Dearest mamma, come with us; let us slip away at once."

So they made their way home swiftly and sadly--sadly, for the rector and
his wife had both now guessed the cause of their child's trouble; they
had heard something of the uproar, with sorrowful misgivings that Frank
was the guilty cause.

Unhappy Mary!  When they reached home she threw herself into her loving
mother's arms, and poured out all her grief.  A messenger was at once
dispatched to the hall with a note of apology for their abrupt
departure.  It was, however, needless.  The messenger brought back word
that, when the people had been gathered for the address, Frank Oldfield
had staggered forwards towards his father so hopelessly intoxicated,
that he had to be led away home between two of the servants.  Sir Thomas
said a few hasty words to the assembled tenants and work-people,
expressing his great regret at his son's state, but excusing it on the
ground of his weakness after his illness, so that the great heat of the
weather had caused what he had taken to have an unusually powerful
effect upon him.  In reply to Mr Oliphant's note, the squire made the
same excuse for his son, and trusted that Miss Oliphant would not take
to heart what had happened under such exceptional circumstances.  But
Mary could not pass the matter over so lightly.  She could not wipe out
from her memory that scene in the tent.  She pressed her hand tightly
over her eyes, and shuddered as she thought of Frank standing there,
wild, coarse, debased, brutalised, a thing to make rude and vulgar
merriment; while the man, the gentleman, and the Christian had been
demonised out of that fair form by the drink.  Oh, what bitter tears she
shed that night as she lay awake, racked with thoughts of the past and
despairing of the future.  The next day came a penitential letter from
Frank; he threw himself on her pity--he had been overcome--he abhorred
himself for it--he saw his own weakness now--he would pray for strength
as she had urged him to do--surely she would not cast him off for one
offence--he had been most strictly moderate up to that unhappy day--he
implored her forgiveness--he asked her to try him only once more--he
loved her so dearly, so passionately, that her rejection would be death
to him.

What could she say?  She was but a poor erring sinner herself and should
she at once shut the door of pity upon him?  He had fallen indeed, but
he might be taught such a lesson by that fall as he might never forget.
Once more--she would try him once more, if her parents thought her right
in doing so.  And could they say nay?--they felt they could not.  Little
as they really hoped for any permanent improvement, they considered that
they should be hardly right in dissuading their child from giving the
poor penitent another trial.

So Mary wrote back a loving earnest letter, imploring Frank to seek his
strength to keep his resolution in prayer.  Again they met; again it was
sunshine; but, to poor Mary's heart, sunshine through a cloud.



CHAPTER SIX.

A DISCUSSION.

It was about a month after the harvest-home, so full of sad memories for
all at the hall and rectory, that Mr Oliphant was seated one afternoon
in the drawing-room of Greymoor Park.  The company assembled consisted
of the baronet and Lady Oldfield; the baronet's brother, Reverend John
Oldfield; Dr Portman, the medical man; and Bernard Oliphant.

Mr John Oldfield had been telling the news of his part of the county to
his brother and sister-in-law.

"You'll be sorry to hear," he continued, "that poor Mildman's dead."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the rector.  "I'm very sorry.  Was there any change
in him before his death?"

"No, I fear not.  His has been a very sad case.  I remember him well
when he was vicar of Sapton.  A brighter and more loving Christian and
pastor I never knew, but somehow or other he got into drinking habits,
and these have been his ruin."

"Poor man," said Sir Thomas, "he used to be the laughing-stock of old
Bellowen, his squire; it was very grievous to see a man throw himself
away as he did.  The squire would ply him with drink, and press the
bottle upon him, till poor Mildman was so tipsy that he had to be taken
by the servants to the vicarage.  Sometimes the butler had to put him
into a cart, when it was dark, and had him tumbled out like so much
rubbish at his own door."

"Really," said Lady Oldfield, "I was surprised to hear Mr Bellowen talk
about him in the way he did.  He endeavoured in every possible way to
get him to drink, while at the very same time he despised and abused him
for drinking, and would launch out at the clergy and their self-
indulgent habits."

"Yes," said her brother-in-law; "no one knew better what a clergyman
ought to be than the squire.  We may be very thankful that his charges
against our order were gross exaggerations.  We may congratulate
ourselves that the old-fashioned drunken parson is now pretty nearly a
creature of the past.  Don't you think so, Mr Oliphant?"

"I confess to you," replied the rector, "that I was rather thinking, in
connection with poor Mildman's sad history, of those words, `Let him
that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.'"

"Why, surely you don't think there is much danger in these days of many
persons of our profession becoming the victims of intemperance?"

"I cannot feel so sure about that," was the reply.  "You know I hold
strong views on the subject.  I wish I could see more clergymen total
abstainers."

"I must say that I quite disagree with you there," said the other; "what
we want, in my view, is, not to make people total abstainers, but to
give them those principles which will enable them to enjoy all lawful
indulgences lawfully."

"I should heartily concur in this view," said Mr Oliphant, "if the
indulgence in strong drink to what people consider a moderate extent
were exactly on the same footing as indulgence in other things.  But
there is something so perilous in the very nature of alcoholic
stimulants, that multitudes are lured by them to excess who would have
been the last to think, on commencing to drink, that themselves could
possibly become transgressors."

"Then it is the duty of us clergymen," said the other, "to warn people
to be more on their guard against excess in this direction but not, by
becoming total abstainers ourselves, to lead our flocks to suppose that
there is sin in the mere taking of any amount of intoxicating liquors,
however small."

"I think," said Mr Oliphant, very gravely, "that our duty is something
beyond, and, may I say, above this.  We live in a peculiarly self-
indulgent age, when men are exceedingly impatient of anything like a
restraint upon their appetites and inclinations.  We have, besides this,
the acknowledged fact that, where other sins slay their thousands,
drunkenness slays its hundreds of thousands of all ages.  Is it not,
then, a privilege, (I always prefer to put it rather as a privilege than
a duty), for us, who are to be as lights in the world, as ensamples to
our flocks, to take a high stand in this matter, and show that we will
deny ourselves that which has so insidiously worked the ruin of
millions, that so we may perhaps win poor fallen creatures, fallen
through drink, to come out of their miserable slough by crying to them,
not merely `Come out,' but `Come out and follow us!'"

Mr Oldfield did not answer; but Sir Thomas, turning to the rector,
said,--

"I am sure this subject is deeply interesting to both you and myself, on
our dear Frank's account.  You know my views on the subject of total
abstinence.  Still I feel that there may be exceptional cases, where its
adoption may be wise, and I could imagine that his might be such a
case."

"I heartily agree with you," replied Mr Oliphant.

"Oh no, my dear," exclaimed Lady Oldfield; "I am quite sure total
abstinence would never suit poor Frank; his constitution would not bear
it; I appeal to you, Dr Portman, is it not so?"

"I am quite of your ladyship's opinion," said the doctor.

"You hear what Dr Portman says," cried her ladyship, turning to the
rector.

"I do," was the reply; "but that does not alter my conviction.  Medical
men's views have greatly changed of late years on this subject.  Excuse
me, Dr Portman, for thus differing from you."

"Really," interposed Mr Oldfield, "I think you must allow the doctor to
be the best judge of the medical side of the question.  What would you
say if the doctor on his part were to intrude on your province, and
question your statements of scriptural truth from the pulpit?"

"I should say," answered Mr Oliphant, "in the first place, that the two
cases are essentially different.  My statements are drawn from an
inspired volume, from an express revelation; the opinions of medical men
are simply the deductions of human reason and observation, and are
therefore opinions which may be altered or modified.  But, further, I
should say that I never require my people to receive my statements from
the pulpit without question or inquiry.  I refer them always to the
revelation, the inspired record, and bid them search that record for
themselves.  Now, if the doctor can point me to any inspired medical
record which lays down a particular system, and declares directly or by
fair inference against total abstinence, I will at once surrender my
present position; but as he will not pretend to possess any such
inspired medical volume, I must still feel myself at liberty to hold
different views from himself on the medical question."

"I am well aware, my dear sir," said Dr Portman, "that you and I shall
not agree on this subject, and, of course, I must allow you to be at
liberty to hold your own opinions; but it does seem to me, I must
confess, very strange that you should look upon total abstinence as
universally or generally desirable, when you must be aware that these
views are held by so very few of the medical profession, and have only
recently been adopted even by those few."

"I am afraid," said the rector, smiling, "that you are only entangling
yourself in further difficulties.  Does the recent adoption of a new
course of treatment by a few prove that it ought not to be generally
adopted?  What, then, do you say about the change in the treatment of
fever cases?  I can myself remember the time when the patient was
treated on the lowering system, and when every breath of air was
excluded from the sick-room, doors and windows being listed lest the
slightest change should take place in the stifling atmosphere of the
bed-room.  And now all is altered; we have the system supported by
nourishments, and abundance of fresh air let in.  Indeed, it is most
amusing to see the change which has taken place as regards fresh air;
many of us sleep with our windows open, which would have been thought
certain death a few years ago.  I know at this time a medical
practitioner, (who, by the way, is a total abstainer, and has never
given any of his patients alcoholic stimulants for the last five-and-
twenty years), who, at the age of between seventy and eighty, sleeps
with his window open, and is so hearty that, writing to me a few days
since, he says, `I sometimes think what shall I do when I get to be an
old man, being now only in my seventy-fourth year.'  Now, were the
medical men wrong who began this change in the treatment of fever cases?
or, because they were few at first, ought they to have abandoned their
views, and still kept with the majority?  Of course, those who adopt any
great change will at first be few, especially if that change sets very
strongly against persons' tastes or prejudices."

"I see that we must agree to differ," said Dr Portman, laughing, and
rising to take his leave.

When he was gone, Sir Thomas, who had listened very attentively to Mr
Oliphant's remarks, said,--

"I shall certainly put no hindrance in the way of Frank's becoming a
total abstainer if you can persuade him to it, and his health does not
suffer by it."

"Nor I," said Lady Oldfield; "only don't let him sign any pledge.  I've
a great horror of those pledges.  Surely, my dear Mr Oliphant, you
would not advise his signing a pledge."

"Indeed, I should advise it most strongly," was the reply; "both for his
own sake and also for the sake of others."

"But surely, to sign a pledge is to put things on a totally wrong
foundation," observed Mr John Oldfield; "would not you, as a minister
of the gospel, prefer that he should base his total abstinence on
Christian principle rather than trust to a pledge?  Does not the pledge
usurp the place of divine grace?"

"Not at all," said the rector.  "I would have him abstain on Christian
principles, as you say; and I would not have him _trust_ to the pledge,
but I would still have him use it as a support, though not as a
foundation.  Perhaps an illustration will best explain my meaning.  I
read some years ago of a fowler who was straying on the shore after sea-
birds.  He was so engrossed with his sport that he utterly failed to
mark the rapid incoming of the tide, and when at last he did notice it,
he found to his dismay that he was completely cut off from the land.
There was but one chance of life, for he could not swim.  A large
fragment of rock rose above the waves a few yards behind him; on to this
he clambered, and placing his gun between his feet, awaited the rising
of the water.  In a short time the waves had risen nearly to his feet,
then they covered them; and still they rose as the tide came in higher
and higher, now round his ankles, next to his knees; and so they kept
gradually mounting, covering his body higher and higher.  He could mark
their rise or fall by the brass buttons on his waistcoat; first one
button disappeared, then another, then a third, then a fourth.  Would
the waves rise up to his mouth and choke him?  His suspense was
dreadful.  At last he observed that the topmost button did not disappear
so rapidly as the rest; the next wave, however, seemed quite to cover
it, but in a few minutes it became quite uncovered; in a little while
the button next below became visible, and now he was sure that the tide
was ebbing, and that he was safe if only he could hold out long enough.
At last the rock itself became visible, and after many hours he was
able, almost spent with fatigue, to stagger to the land.  Now, what
saved that man? was it his gun?  Surely not; it was the rock: _that_ was
his standing-ground.  But was his gun, therefore, useless?  Assuredly
not, for it helped to steady him on the rock, though it could not take
the place of the rock.  Just so with the pledge; it is not the Christian
abstainer's standing-ground.  Christ alone is that standing-ground.  He
stands by the grace of Christ; but the pledge, like the gun, helps to
keep him steady on his standing-ground, the Rock of Ages."

"Well," said Mr Oldfield, "let us grant that there is some force in
your illustration.  I would further ask how it can be that Frank's
taking the pledge would be a benefit to others as well as himself?"

"For the same reason that my own signing of the pledge is beneficial,"
replied the rector.

"Nay," interposed Sir Thomas; "would not your signing the pledge do
rather harm than good?  Would it not rather weaken your own influence by
giving people reason to think, (those I mean especially who might not
know you well), that you had once been intemperate yourself, or that you
were unable to keep sober, or at any rate moderate, without the help of
the pledge."

"On the contrary," replied Mr Oliphant, "I look upon those who take the
pledge as greatly encouraging others who might be inclined to hang back.
It shows that the stronger are willing to fraternise with the weaker.
And this is specially the case when those who are known to have never
been entangled in the snares of drunkenness are willing to take the
pledge as an encouragement to those who have fallen.  Perhaps you will
bear with me if I offer you another illustration.  There is a great
chasm, a raging torrent at the bottom, and a single strong plank across
it.  Now persons with steady heads can walk over the chasm without
difficulty, along the naked plank; but there are others who shudder at
the very thought, and dare not venture--their heads swim, their knees
tremble, as they approach the edge.  What is to be done?  Why, just put
a little light hand-rail from a post on either side, and let one who is
strong of head walk over, resting his hand on the rail; he does not need
the rail for himself but he uses it just to show how it may be a help,
and so the timid and the dizzy-headed follow and feel confidence, and
reach the other side in safety.  Now, suppose the flood at the bottom of
that chasm to be intemperance, the plank total abstinence, and the rail
the pledge, and I think you will see that those who use the pledge,
though they really do not need it to steady themselves, may be a great
help to the weak, the timid, and the shrinking."

"I certainly," said Sir Thomas, "have never had the matter set before me
in this light.  I shall think over our conversation; and as regards poor
Frank, at any rate, I feel sure that, if his health will bear it, total
abstinence will be the safest, if not the best thing for him."



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE TEMPTER.

Juniper Graves was under-groom at Greymoor Park.  He was a very fine
fellow in his own eyes.  His parents had given him the name of Juniper
under the impression that it meant something very striking, and would
distinguish their son from the vulgar herd.  What it exactly signified,
or what illustrious person had ever borne it before, they would have
been puzzled to say.  So he rejoiced in the name of Juniper, and his
language was in keeping with it.  High-sounding words had ever been his
passion--a passion that grew with his growth; so that his conversation
was habitually spiced with phrases and expressions in which there was
abundance of sound, but generally an equal lack of sense.  Too full of
himself to be willing to keep patiently plodding on like ordinary
people, he had run through a good many trades without being master of
any.  Once he was a pastry-cook; at another time a painter; and then an
auctioneer--which last business he held to the longest of any, as giving
him full scope for exhibiting his graces of language.  He had abandoned
it, however, in consequence of some rather biting remarks which had come
to his ears respecting the choice and suitableness of his epithets.  And
now he was groom at the hall, and had found it to his advantage to
ingratiate himself with Frank Oldfield, by rendering him all sorts of
handy services; and as there were few things which he could not do, or
pretend to do, his young master viewed him with particular favour, and
made more of a companion of him than was good for either.  Juniper was a
sly but habitual drunkard.  He managed, however, so to regulate his
intemperance as never to be outwardly the worse for liquor when his
services were required by Sir Thomas or Lady Oldfield, or when excess
was likely to bring him into trouble.  When, however, the family was
away from the hall, he would transgress more openly; so that his sin
became a scandal in the neighbourhood, and brought upon him the severe
censure of Mr Oliphant, who threatened to acquaint the squire with his
conduct if he did not amend.  Juniper's pride was mortally wounded by
this rebuke--he never forgot nor forgave it.  For other reasons also he
hated the rector.  In the first place, because Mr Oliphant was a total
abstainer; and further, because he suspected that it was through Mr
Oliphant's representations that he had failed in obtaining the office of
postmaster at a neighbouring town, which situation he had greatly
coveted, as likely to make him a person of some little importance.  So
he hated the rector and his family with all the venom of a little mind.
No sooner had he discovered the attachment between Frank and Mary
Oliphant, than he resolved to do all in his power to bring about a
rupture; partly because he felt pretty sure that a closer intimacy
between Frank and the Oliphants would be certain to loosen the ties
which bound his young master to himself, and partly because he
experienced a savage delight in the thought of wounding the rector
through his daughter.  He soon noticed the restraint which Frank was
putting on himself in the matter of drinking beer and wine, and he
resolved to break it down.  He was quite sure that Mary Oliphant would
never marry a drunkard.  So he lost no opportunity of insinuating his
own views on the subject of total abstinence, and also constantly
laboured to bring his young master into contact with scenes and persons
likely to lead him into free indulgence in intoxicating drinks.  His
success, however, was but small, till the day of the harvest-home, and
then he resolved to make a great effort.  He contrived to get himself
appointed to the office of waiter to Frank in the second tent, and took
special charge of the drinkables.  The beer served out on these
occasions was, by Sir Thomas' express directions, of only a moderate
strength; but Juniper had contrived to secrete a jug of the very
strongest ale in a place where he could easily get at it.  With this jug
in hand he was constantly slipping behind his master and filling up his
glass, while Frank was busily engaged in seeing that the wants of his
guests were duly supplied.  Excited by the heat of the day and the whole
scene, the poor young man kept raising the glass to his lips, quite
unconscious of the way in which his servant was keeping it filled, till
at last he lost all self-control, and launched out into the wildest
mirth and the most uproarious buffoonery.  It was then that Juniper
Graves, grinning with malicious delight, sought out Mary Oliphant, and
brought her to gaze on her lover's degradation.

"Now," said he to himself, "I've done it.  There'll be no more love-
making atween them two arter this, I reckon.  A very preposterous plan
this of mine--very preposterous."

But great as was the triumph of Juniper at the success of his efforts on
this occasion, this very success was well nigh bringing about a total
defeat.  For it came to Frank's ears, by a side wind, as such things so
often do, that his man had been playing him a trick, and had been
filling up his glass continually with strong ale when he was not
conscious of it.

"It were a burning shame, it were, to put upon the young master in that
way," he overheard a kind-hearted mother say, one of the tenant's wives.
So he taxed Juniper with it, but the man stoutly denied it.

"Dear me, sir; to think of my behaving in such a uncompromising way to
any gentleman.  It's only them ill-natured folks' prevarications.  I'll
assure you, sir, I only just took care that you had a little in your
glass to drink healths with, as was becoming; and I'm sure I was vexed
as any one when I saw how the heat and your weakness together, sir, had
combined to bring you into a state of unfortunate oblivion."

"Well," replied Frank, "you must look-out, Master Juniper, I can tell
you.  If I find you at any of your tricks again, I shall make short work
with you."

But Juniper had no intention of being foiled.  He would be more wary,
but not less determined.  Upon two things he was thoroughly resolved--
first, that Frank should not become an abstainer; and secondly, that he
should not marry Mary Oliphant.  He was greatly staggered, however, when
he discovered that his young master, after the affair at the harvest-
home, had contrived to make his peace at the rectory.

"I must bide my time," he said to himself; "but I'll circumscribe 'em
yet, as sure as my name's Juniper Graves."

So he laid himself out in every possible way to please Frank, and to
make himself essential to his comforts and pleasures.  For a while he
cautiously avoided any allusion to total abstinence, and was only
careful to see that beer and spirits were always at hand, to be had by
Frank at a moment's notice.  If the weather was hot, there was sure to
be a jug of shandy-gaff or some other equally enticing compound ready to
be produced just at the time when its contents would be most
appreciated.  If the weather was cold, then, in the time of greatest
need, Juniper had always an extra flask of spirits to supplement what
his master carried.  And the crafty fellow so contrived it that Frank
should feel that, while he was quite moderate in the presence of his
parents and their guests, he might go a little over the border with his
groom without any danger.

Things were just in this state at the time when the conversation took
place at the hall, which resulted in the permission to Mr Oliphant to
persuade Frank--if he could--to become a pledged abstainer.  A day or
two after that conversation, Frank walked over to the rectory.  He found
Mary busily engaged in gathering flowers to decorate the tables at a
school feast.  His heart, somehow or other, smote him as he looked at
her bright sweet face.  She was like a pure flower herself; and was
there no danger that the hot breath of his own intemperance would wither
out the bloom which made her look so beautiful?  But he tossed away the
reflection with a wave of his flowing hair, and said cheerily,--

"Cannot I share, or lighten your task, dear Mary?"

"Thank you--yes--if you would hold the basket while I gather.  These
autumn flowers have not quite the brightness of the summer ones, but I
think I love them more, because they remind me that winter is coming,
and that I must therefore prize them doubly."

"Ah, but we should not carry winter thoughts about us before winter
comes.  We should look back upon the brightness, not forward to the
gloom."

"Oh, Frank," she replied, looking earnestly at him, with entreaty in her
tearful eyes, "don't talk of looking back upon the brightness.  We are
meant to look forwards, not to the gloom indeed, but beyond it, to that
blessed land where there shall be no gloom and no shadows."

He was silent.

"You asked me just now, dear Frank," she continued, "if you could
lighten my task.  You could do more than that--you could take a load off
my heart, if you would."

"Indeed!" he exclaimed; "tell me how."

"And will you take it off if I tell you?"

"Surely," he replied; but not so warmly as she would fain have had him
say it.

"You remember," she added, "the day you dined with us a long time ago,
when you asked papa about becoming an abstainer?"

"Yes; I remember it well, and that my mother would not hear of it, so,
as in duty bound, I gave up all thoughts of it at once."

"Well, dear Frank, papa has been having a long talk on the very subject
at the hall, and has convinced both your father and mother that total
abstinence is not the objectionable thing they have hitherto thought it
to be.  Oh, dear Frank, there is no hindrance _there_ then, if you still
think as you once seemed to think on this subject."

The colour came into his face, and his brow was troubled as he said,--

"Why should you distress yourself about this matter, my own dear Mary.
Cannot you trust me?  Cannot you believe that I will be strictly
moderate?  Have I not promised?"

"You _have_ promised; and I would hope and believe that--that--" She
could not go on, her tears choked her words.

"Ah, I know what you would say," he replied passionately; "you would
reproach me with my failure--my one failure, my failure under
extraordinary excitement and weakness--I thought you had forgiven me
_that_.  Have I not kept my promise since then?  Cannot you trust me,
unless I put my hand to a formal pledge?  If honour, love, religion,
will not bind me, do you think that signing a pledge will do it?"

"I have not asked you to sign any pledge," she replied sorrowfully;
"though I should indeed rejoice to see you do it.  I only hoped--oh, how
fervently!--that you might see it to be your wisdom, your safety, to
become a total abstainer.  Oh, dearest Frank, you are so kind, so open,
so unsuspecting, that you are specially liable to be taken off your
guard, unless fortified by a strength superior to your own.  Have you
really sought that strength?  Oh, ask God to show you your duty in this
matter.  It would make me so very, very happy were you to be led to
renounce at once and for ever those stimulants which have ruined
thousands of noble souls."

"Dearest Mary, were this necessary, I would promise it you in a moment.
But it is not necessary.  I am no longer a child.  I am not acting in
the dark.  I see what is my duty.  I see that to exceed moderation is a
sin.  I have had my fall and my warnings, and to be forewarned is to be
forearmed.  Trust me, dear Mary--trust me without a pledge, trust me
without total abstinence.  You shall not have cause to blush for me
again.  Believe me, I love you too well."

And with this she was forced to be content.  Alas! poor Frank; he little
knew the grasp which the insidious taste for strong drink had fixed upon
him.  He _liked_ it once, he _loved_ it now.  And beside this he shrank
from the cross, which pledged total abstinence would call upon him to
take up.  His engaging manners made him universally popular, and he
shrank from anything that would endanger or diminish that popularity.
He winced under a frown, but he withered under a sneer; still he had
secret misgivings that he should fall, that he should disgrace himself;
that he should forfeit Mary's love for ever if he did not take the
decided step; and more than once he half resolved to make the bold
plunge, and sign the pledge, and come out nobly and show his colours
like a man.

It was while this half resolve was on him that he was one evening
returning home after a day's fishing, Juniper Graves being with him.  He
had refused the spirit-flask which his servant held out to him more than
once, alleging disinclination.  At last he said,--

"I've been seriously thinking, Juniper, of becoming a total abstainer;
and it would do you a great deal of good if you were to be one too."

The only reply on the part of Juniper was an explosion of laughter,
which seemed as if it would tear him in pieces.  One outburst of
merriment followed another, till he was obliged to lean against a tree
for support.  Frank became quite angry.

"What _do_ you mean by making such an abominable fool of yourself;" he
cried.

"Oh dear, oh dear," laughed Graves, the tears running over in the
extremity of his real or pretended amusement, "you must pardon me, sir;
indeed, you must.  I really couldn't help it; it did put me so in mind
of Jerry Ogden, the Methodist parson.  Mr Frank and his servant
Juniper, two whining, methodistical, parsimonious teetotallers! oh dear,
it _was_ rich."  And here he relapsed into another explosion.

"Methodist parson!  I really don't know what you mean, sir," cried
Frank, beginning to get fairly exasperated.  "You seem to me quite to
forget yourself.  If you don't know better manners, the sooner you take
yourself off the better."

"Oh, sir, I'm very sorry, but really you must excuse me; it did seem so
very comical.  _You_ a total abstainer, Mr Frank, and me a-coming arter
you.  I think I sees you a-telling James to put the water on the table,
and then you says, `The water stands with you, Colonel Coleman.'"

"Don't talk so absurdly," said Frank, amused in spite of himself at the
idea of the water-party, with himself for the host.  "And what has my
becoming a total abstainer to do with Jerry What-do-you-call-him, the
Methodist parson?"

"Oh, just this, sir.  Jerry Ogden's one of those long-faced gentlemen as
turns up their eyes and their noses at us poor miserable sinners as
takes a little beer to our dinners.  Ah! to hear him talk you'd have
fancied he was too good to breathe in the same altitude with such as me.
Such lots of good advice he has for us heathens, such sighing and
groaning over us poor deluded drinkers of allegorical liquors.  Ah! but
he's a tidy little cask of his own hid snug out of the way.  It's just
the case with them all."

"I'm really much obliged to you," said his master, laughing, "for
comparing me to Jerry Ogden.  He seems, from your account, to have been
a regular hypocrite; but that does not show that total abstinence is not
a good thing when people take it up honestly."

"Bless your simplicity, sir," said the other; "they're all pretty much
alike."

"Now there, Juniper, I know you are wrong.  Mr Oliphant has many men in
his society who are thoroughly honest teetotallers, men who are truly
reformed, and, more than that, thorough christians."

"Reformed!  Christians!" sneered Juniper, venomously; "a pretty likely
thing indeed.  You don't know them teetotallers as well as I do, sir.
`Oh dear, no; not a drop, not a drop: wouldn't touch it for the world.'
But they manage to have it on the sly for all that.  I've no faith in
'em at all.  I'd rather be as I am, though I says it as shouldn't say
it, an honest fellow as gets drunk now and then, and ain't ashamed to
own it, than one of your canting teetotallers.  Why, they're such an
amphibious set, there's no knowing where to have them."

"Amphibious?" said his master, laughing; "why, I should have thought
`aquatic' would have been a better word, as they profess to confine
themselves to the water; unless you mean, indeed, that they are only
half water animals."

"Oh, sir," said Graves, rather huffed, "it was only a phraseology of
mine, meaning that there was no dependence to be placed on 'em."

"Well but, Juniper, I am not speaking of hypocrites or sham
teetotallers, but of the real ones.  There's Mr Oliphant and the whole
family at the rectory, you'll not pretend, I suppose, that _they_ drink
on the sly?"

"I wouldn't by no means answer for that," was the reply; "that depends
on circumstantials.  There's many sorts of drinks as we poor ignorant
creatures calls intoxicating which is quite the thing with your tip-top
teetotallers.  There's champagne, that's quite strict teetotal; then
there's cider, then there's cherry-brandy; and if that don't do, then
there's teetotal physic."

"Teetotal physic!  I don't understand you."

"Don't you, sir? that's like your innocence.  Why, it's just this way.
There's a lady teetotaller, and she's a little out of sorts; so she
sends a note to the doctor, and he sends back a nice bottle of stuff.
It's uncommon good and spirituous-like to smell at, but then it's
medicine, only the drugs ain't down in what the chemists call their
`Farming-up-here.'"

"I never heard of that before," remarked Frank.

"No, I don't suppose, sir, as ever you did.  And then there's the
teetotal gents; they does it much more free and easy.  They've got what
the Catholics calls a `dispensary' from their Pope, (and their Pope's
the doctor), to take just whatever they likes as a medicine--oh, only as
a medicine; so they carries about with 'em a doctor's superscription,
which says just this: `Let the patient take as much beer, or wine, or
spirits, as he can swallow.'"

"A pretty picture you have drawn," laughed Frank.  "I'm afraid there's
not much chance of making _you_ an abstainer."

"Nor you neither, Mr Frank, I hope.  Why, I should be ashamed to see my
cheerful, handsome young master, (you must forgive me, sir, for being so
bold), turned into a sour-looking, turnip-faced, lantern-jawed, whining
teetotaller."

"Why, I thought you said just now," said the other, "that they all take
drink on the sly; if that's the case, it can't be total abstinence that
spoils their beauty."

Juniper looked a little at fault, but immediately replied,--

"Well, sir, at any rate total abstinence will never do for you.  Why,
you'll have no peace up at the hall, especially in the shooting season,
if you mean to take up with them exotic notions.  Be a man, sir, and
asseverate your independence.  Show that you can take too much or too
little as you have a mind.  I wouldn't be a slave, sir.  `Britons never
shall be slaves.'"

Here the conversation closed.  The tempter had so far gained his end
that he had made Frank disinclined to join himself at present to the
body of stanch abstainers.  He would wait and see--he preferred
moderation, it was more manly, more self-reliant.  Ah, there was his
grievous mistake.  Self-reliant! yes, but that self was blinded, cheated
by Satan; it was already on the tempter's side.  So Frank put off, at
any rate for the present, joining the abstainers.  He was, however, very
watchful over himself never openly to transgress.  He loved Mary, and
could not bear the thoughts of losing her, but in very deed he loved his
own self-indulgence more.  There was a constraint, however, when they
met.  He could not fully meet her deep truthful eyes with a steady gaze
of his own.  Her words would often lead him to prayer, but then he
regarded iniquity in his heart--he did not wish to be taken at his
prayer--he did not wish to be led into pledged abstinence, or even into
undeviating moderation at all times--he wished to keep in reserve a
right to fuller indulgence.  Poor Mary! she was not happy; she felt
there was something wrong.  If she tried to draw out that something from
Frank, his only reply was an assurance of ardent affection and devotion.
There was no apparent evil on the surface of his life.  He was regular
at church, steady at home, moderate in what he drank at his father's
table and at other houses.  She felt, indeed, that he had no real
sympathy with her on the highest subjects, but he never refused to
listen, only he turned away with evident relief from religious to other
topics.  Yet all this while he was getting more deeply entangled in the
meshes of the net which the drink, in the skilful hands of Juniper
Graves, was weaving round him.  That cruel tempter was biding his time.
He saw with malicious delight that the period must arrive before very
long when his young master's drinking excesses would no longer be
confined to the darkness and the night, but would break out in open
daylight, and then, then for his revenge.

It was now between two and three years since the harvest-home which had
ended so unhappily.  Frank was twenty-one and Mary Oliphant eighteen.
This was in the year in which we first introduced them to our readers,
the same year in which it was intended that Hubert Oliphant should join
his uncle Abraham, at any rate for a time, in South Australia.  For the
last six months dim rumours, getting gradually more clear and decided,
had found their way to the rectory that Frank Oldfield was occasionally
drinking to excess.  Mary grew heart-sick, and began to lose her health
through anxiety and sorrow; yet there was nothing, so far, sufficiently
definite to make her sure that Frank, since his promise to observe
strict moderation, had ever over-passed the bounds of sobriety.  He
never, of course, alluded to the subject himself; and when he could not
help remarking on her altered looks, he would evade any questions she
put to him on the painful subject, or meet them by an appeal to her
whether she could prove anything against him; and by the observation
that nothing was easier than to spread rumours against a person's
character.  She was thus often silenced, but never satisfied.

June had come--a bright sky remained for days with scarce a cloud; the
hay-makers were everywhere busy, and the fields were fragrant with the
sweet perfume of the mown grass.  It was on a quiet evening that Mary
was returning home from a cottage where she had been to visit a sick
parishioner of her father's.  Her way lay in part through a little
plantation skirting a hay-field belonging to the Greymoor estate.  She
had just reached the edge of the plantation, and was about to climb over
a stile into a lane, when she heard loud and discordant voices, which
made her blood run cold; for one of them, she could not doubt, was
Frank's.

"This way, Mr Frank, this way," cried another voice, which she knew at
once to be that of Juniper Graves.

"I tell you," replied the first voice, thickly, "I shan't go that way; I
shall go home, I shall.  Let me alone, I tell you,"--then there followed
a loud imprecation.

"No, no--this way, sir--there's Miss Mary getting over the stile; she's
waiting for you, sir, to help her over."

"Very good, Juniper; you're a regular brick," said the other voice,
suddenly changing to a tone of maudlin affection; "where's my dear
Mary--ah, there she is!" and the speaker staggered towards the stile.
Mary saw him indistinctly through the hedge--she would have fled, but
terror and misery chained her to the spot.  A few moments after and
Frank, in his shirt-sleeves, (he had been joining the hay-makers), made
his way up to her.  His face was flushed, his eyes inflamed and staring
wildly, his hair disordered, and his whole appearance brutalised.

"Let me help--help--you, my beloved Mary, over shtile--ah, yes--here's
Juniper--jolly good fellow, Juniper--help her, Juniper--can't keep
shteady--for life of me."

He clutched at her dress; but now the spell was loosed, she sprang over
the stile, and cast one look back.  There stood her lover, holding out
his arms with an exaggerated show of tenderness, and mumbling out words
of half-articulate fondness; and behind him, a smile of triumphant
malice on his features, which haunted her for years, was Graves, the
tempter, the destroyer of his unhappy master.  She cared to see no more,
but, with a cry of bitter distress, she rushed away as though some
spirit of evil were close behind her, and never stopped till she had
gained the rectory.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

FAREWELL.

There are impressions cut deeper into the heart by the sudden stroke of
some special trial than any made by the continuous pressure of
afflictions, however heavy; impressions which nothing in this world can
efface--wounds, like the three-cornered thrust of the bayonet, which
will not heal up.  Such was the keen, piercing sorrow which the sight of
Frank in his drunkenness had stabbed deep into the soul of Mary
Oliphant.  The wound it had made would never heal.  Oh, miserable drink!
which turns the bright, the noble, the intellectual creatures of God
into worse than madmen; for the madman's reason is gone--we pity, but we
cannot blame him; but in the victim of strong drink reason is suspended
but not destroyed, and in all the distortion, grimaces, reelings,
babblings, ravings of the miserable wretch while his sin is on him, we
see a self-inflicted insanity, and a degradation which is not a
misfortune but a crime.

The day after that miserable meeting at the stile, Frank called at the
rectory, the picture of wretchedness and despair.  Mrs Oliphant came to
him, and told him that Mary declined seeing him; indeed, that she was so
utterly unnerved and ill, that she would have been unequal to an
interview even had she thought it right to grant him one.

"Is there no hope for me, then?" he asked.  "Have I quite sinned away
even the possibility of forgiveness?"

"I cannot fully answer for Mary," replied Mrs Oliphant; "but I should
be wrong if I said anything that could lead you to suppose that she can
ever again look upon you as she once did."

"Is it really so?" he said gloomily.  "Has this one transgression
forfeited her love for ever?  Is there no place for repentance?  I do
not justify myself.  I do not attempt to make less of the fault.  I can
thoroughly understand her horror, her disgust.  I loathe myself as a
vile beast, and worse than a beast.  But yet, can I by this one act have
cut through _every_ cord that bound her heart to mine?"

"Excuse me, dear Frank," said the other; "but you mistake in speaking of
_one_ transgression--one act.  It is because poor Mary feels, as I feel
too, that this act must be only one of many acts of the like kind,
though the rest may have been concealed from us, that she dare not trust
her happiness in your keeping."

"And who has any right," he asked warmly, "to say that I am in the habit
of exceeding?"

"Do you deny yourself that it is so?" she inquired, looking steadily but
sorrowfully at him.

His eyes dropped before hers, and then he said,--

"I do not see that any one has a right to put such a question to me."

"Not a right!" exclaimed Mrs Oliphant.  "Have not _I_ a right, dear
Frank, as Mary's mother, to put such a question?  I know that I have no
right to turn inquisitor as regards your conduct and actions in general.
But oh, surely, when you know what has happened, when you remember your
repeated promises, and how, alas! they have been broken; when you call
to mind that Mary has expressly promised to me, and declared to you,
that she will never marry a drunkard,--can you think that I, the mother
whom God has appointed to guard the happiness of my darling daughter,
have no right to ask you whether or no you are free from that habit
which you cannot indulge in and at the same time honestly claim the hand
of my beloved child?"

Frank for a long time made no answer; when he did reply, he still evaded
the question.

"I have done wrong," he said; "grievously wrong.  I acknowledge it.  I
could ask Mary's pardon for it on my knees, and humble myself in the
dust before her.  I _might_ plead, in part excuse, or, at any rate,
palliation of my fault, the heat of the weather and thirsty nature of
the work I was engaged in, which led me into excess before I was aware
of what I was doing.  But I will not urge that.  I will take every
blame.  I will throw myself entirely on her mercy; and surely human
creatures should not be unmerciful since God is so merciful."

"I grieve, dear Frank, to hear you speak in this way," said Mrs
Oliphant, very gravely and sadly; "you should go on your knees and
humble yourself in the dust, not before poor sinners, such as I and my
child are, but before Him who alone can pardon your sin.  I think you
are deceiving yourself.  I fear so.  It is not that Mary is void of
pity.  She does not take upon herself to condemn you--it is not her
province; but that does not make her feel that she can look upon you as
one who could really make her happy.  Alas! it is one of the miserable
things connected with the drink, that those who have become its slaves
cannot be trusted.  I may seem to speak harshly, but I _must_ speak out.
Your expressions of sorrow and penitence cannot secure your future
moderation.  You mean _now_ what you say; but what guarantee have we
that you will not again transgress?"

"My own pledged word," replied Frank, proudly, "that henceforth I will
be all that Mary would have me be."

"Except a pledged total abstainer," said Mrs Oliphant, quietly.

Frank remained silent for a few moments, then he said,--

"If I cannot control myself without a pledge, I shall never do so _with_
one."

"No, not by the pledge only, or chiefly.  But it would be a help.  It
would be a check.  It would be a something to appeal to, as being an
open declaration of what you were resolved to keep to.  But oh, I fear
that you do not wish to put such a restraint upon yourself, as you must
do, if you would really be what you would have us believe you mean to
be.  Were it otherwise, you would not hesitate--for Mary's sake, for
your own peace's sake--to renounce at once, and for ever, and entirely,
that drink which has already been to you, ay, and to us all, a source of
so much misery.  Dear Frank, I say it once for all, I never could allow
my beloved child to cast in her lot for life with one of whom I have
reason to fear that he is, or may become, the slave of that drink which
has driven peace, and joy, and comfort out of thousands of English
homes."

"But why should you fear this of me?" persisted Frank.  "Within the last
three years I have fallen twice.  I do not deny it.  But surely two
falls in that long space of time do not show a habit of excess.  On each
occasion I was overcome--taken off my guard.  I have now learned, and
thoroughly, I trust, the lesson to be watchful.  I only ask for one more
trial.  I want to show Mary, I want to show you all, that I can still be
strictly sober, strictly moderate, without total abstinence, without a
pledge.  And oh, do not let it be said that the mother and daughter of a
minister of the gospel were less ready to pardon than their heavenly
Master."

"Oh, Frank," cried Mrs Oliphant, "how grievously you mistake us!
Pardon!  Yes; what are we that we should withhold pity or pardon?  But
surely it is one thing to forgive, and quite another thing to entrust
one's happiness, or the happiness of one's child, into hands which we
dare not hope can steadily maintain it.  I can say no more.  Write to
Mary, and she will answer you calmly and fully by letter, as she could
not do were she to meet you now."

Poor Frank!  Why did he not renounce at once that enticing stimulant
which had already worked him so much misery?  Was it worth while letting
so paltry an indulgence separate for ever between himself and one whom
he so dearly loved?  Why would he not pledge himself at once to total
abstinence?  There was a time when he would have done so--that time when
he spoke on the subject to the rector, and made the attempt at his own
home.  But now a spell seemed to hold him back.  He would not or could
not see the necessity of relinquishing that which he had come to crave
and love more than his daily food.

"I must use it," he said to himself; "but there is no reason why I
should abuse it."

He wrote to Mary and told her so.  He told her that he was now fully
alive to his own weakness, and that she might depend on his watchfulness
and moderation, imploring her to give him one, and but one, more trial.
He would watch, he would strive, he would pray to be strictly moderate.
She should never have cause to reproach him again.

She replied:--

  "DEAR FRANK,--It would be cruelty in me were I to hold out any hope to
  you that I can ever again be more to you than one who must always take
  a deep interest in your welfare, and must feel truly grateful to you
  for having saved her life.  That you _mean_ now to be all that you
  promise, I do not doubt; but that you really _will_ be so, I dare not
  hope.  You have been seen by me twice in such a condition as made me
  shrink from you with terror and disgust.  Were we to be married, and
  you should be betrayed into excess, the first time, you would be
  overwhelmed; the second time, you would be ashamed and pained; the
  third time, you would feel it, but not very acutely.  You would get
  used, by degrees, to my witnessing such degradation; it would be
  killing me, but it would be making less and less impression upon you.
  I dare not run the terrible risk.  I dare not join myself to you in a
  bond which could never be severed, however aggravated might be my
  misery and your sin.  Oh, Frank, my heart is well nigh broken!  I have
  loved you, and do love you still.  Let us be one in heaven, though we
  never can be so here.  Pray, oh, pray for grace to resist your
  temptation!  Ask to be made a true follower of the Lord Jesus, and you
  will be guided aright, and we _shall_ meet then in that bright land
  where all shall rejoice together who have, by grace, fought the fight
  and won the victory here.--Sincerely yours, MARY OLIPHANT."

Frank read this letter over and over again, and groaned in the fulness
of his distress.  She had not asked him to become an abstainer.  Was it
because she felt that it was hopeless?  _He_ knew it to be so.  He knew
that if he signed the pledge he should only add a broken vow to his
other sins.  He felt that, dearly as he loved Mary, he could not forego
all intoxicating drinks even for her sake.  He dared not pray that he
might be able to abstain, for he felt that he should not really wish for
the accomplishment of such a prayer.  Habitual indulgence had taken all
the stiffness out of his will.  And yet the thought of losing Mary was
utter misery.  He leaned his head on his hands, and gazed for a long
time on her letter.  At last there came a thought into his mind.  All
might not yet be lost.  There was still one way of escape.  He rose up
comforted, and thrusting the letter into his pocket, sought out his
mother.  He found her alone.  She looked at him with deep anxiety and
pitying love, as well she might, when she marked the gloom that had
settled down on his once happy face.  Alas she knew its cause too well.
She knew that he was on the downward path of intemperance, and she knew
how rapid was the descent.  She was well aware that his sinful excess
had been the cause of the breaking off of his engagement with the
rector's daughter.  Oh, how her heart ached for him.  She would have
given all she possessed to see him what he once was.  She was prepared
for any sacrifice, if only he could be reclaimed before it should be too
late.

"Dearest mother," he said, throwing himself down beside her, clasping
her knees, and looking up imploringly into her face, "I'm a miserable
creature, on the road to ruin, body and soul, unless something comes to
stop me."

"Oh, my boy, my boy!" cried his mother, bursting into tears; "do not say
so.  You have gone astray; but so have we all, one way or other.  There
is hope for you if you return.  Surely the evil habit cannot be already
so strong upon you that you cannot summon strength and resolution to
break through it."

"Oh, you do not, you cannot know what a helpless creature I am!" was his
reply.  "When once I begin to taste, every good resolution melts away in
a moment."

"Then give up such things, and abstain altogether, my beloved Frank, if
that be the case," said Lady Oldfield.

"I cannot," he replied bitterly.  "I cannot keep from them, they must be
kept from me, and then I should have some chance."

"But, my dear boy, how can that always be?  You cannot expect your
father to banish beer and wine from his table, and to refuse to set them
before his guests.  You cannot expect that he should debar himself the
moderate use of these things because you have, unhappily, learned to
take them immoderately."

"No.  I cannot, of course.  I cannot, and I do not expect it, and
therefore I am come to put before you, my dearest mother, what I believe
will be my only chance.  You know that Hubert Oliphant is going to join
his Uncle Abraham in South Australia.  He sails in October.  He is going
by a total abstinence ship, which will not therefore carry any
intoxicating drinks.  Will you and my dear father consent to my going
with Hubert?  My unhappy taste would be broken through by the time the
voyage was over, as I should never so much as see beer, or wine, or
spirits; and the fresh sea-air would be a better tonic than porter,
wine, or ale; so that you would have no need to fear about my health."

Lady Oldfield did not reply for several minutes.  She was, at first,
utterly confounded at such a proposal from the son whom she idolised,
and she was on the point of at once scouting the idea as altogether wild
and out of the question.  But a few moments' reflection made her pause.
Terrible as was the thought of the separation, the prospect of her son's
becoming a confirmed drunkard was more terrible still.  This plan, if
carried out, might result in Frank's return to habitual sobriety.  Ought
she therefore to refuse her sanction absolutely and at once?  At last
she said,--

"And who, my dearest boy, has put such a strange thought into your head?
And how long do you mean to remain away?  And what are you to do when
you reach Australia?"

"No one has suggested the thing to me," he replied.  "It came into my
mind as I was thinking over all the misery the drink has brought on me
of late.  If I could go with Hubert, you know what a friend and support
I should have in him.  I might remain in the colony two or three years,
and then come back again, please God, a thoroughly sober man; and then
perhaps dear Mary would relent, and give me back my old place in her
heart again."

Lady Oldfield drew him close to her, and clasping her arms round him,
wept long and bitterly.

"Oh, my boy, my Frank!" she exclaimed; "how shall I bear to part with
you?  Yet it may be that this is God's doing; that he has put this into
your heart; and if so, if it should be for your deliverance from your
unhappy habit, I dare not say `No.'  But I cannot tell what your father
will say.  I will put the matter before him, however, and I am sure he
will do what is wise and right."

Sir Thomas did not refuse his consent.  He had felt so keenly the
disgrace which his son's increasing excesses were bringing upon the
family, that, sorely as he grieved over the thoughts of parting with
Frank, he was willing that he should join Hubert Oliphant in his voyage,
hoping that the high character and Christian example of the rector's son
might be of benefit to his poor unhappy and erring child.  Frank's
countenance brightened when he had obtained his father's consent, and he
at once made known his purpose to Hubert Oliphant, and asked his advice
and help, begging him also to intercede for him with Mary that she would
allow him to hope that, if he returned thoroughly reformed, she would
consent to their engagement being renewed.  Hubert, as well as his
father, had felt the deepest pity for Frank, in spite of his grievous
falls, specially when they remembered how, but for his own mother's
opposition, he might now have been one of their little temperance band,
standing firm, happy himself, and helping to make others happy.  They
therefore gladly encouraged him to carry out his purpose, promising that
Hubert should introduce him to his Uncle Abraham, who might find for
him, while he remained in the colony, some employment suitable to his
station, where Hubert and his uncle could support and strengthen him by
companionship and counsel.  And would Mary hold out any hopes?  Poor
Mary, she loved him still.  Oh, how dearly!  Could she refuse him all
encouragement?  No.  But she dared not promise unconditionally to be to
him as in former days.  She would not renew the engagement now; but she
would wait and see the issue of his present plans.

Thus matters stood, when the last week came that Frank and Hubert would
spend in their English homes.  Mary and Frank had met once or twice
since his voyage had been decided on, but it was in the presence of
others.  These were sorrowful meetings, yet there was the glow of a
subdued hope, to make them not altogether dark to those who, but for the
miserable tyranny of the drink, might now have been bright with happy
anticipations of the future.

And now it was a sweet autumn evening, when every sight and sound was
plaintive with the foreshadowings of a coming winter--the sunset hues,
the lights and shadows, the first decaying leaves, the notes of birds,
the hum of insects.  Everything was very still as Mary again trod the
little path from the cottage of the poor woman whom she had been
visiting on the evening of Frank's last sad fall.  She had nearly
reached the stile, her eyes bent on the ground, and her heart full of
sorrowful memories and forebodings, when she was startled by hearing the
sound of passionate sobbings.  She raised her eyes.  Kneeling by the
stile, his head buried in his hands, was Frank Oldfield; his whole frame
shook with the violence of his emotion, and she could hear her own name
murmured again and again in the agony of his self-reproach or prayer.
How sadly beautiful he looked!  And oh, how her heart overflowed with
pitying tenderness towards him.

"Frank," she said; but she could add no more.

He started up, for he had not heard her light tread.  His hair was
wildly tossed back, his eyes filled with tears, his lips quivering.

"You here, Mary," he gasped.  "I little thought of this.  I little
thought to meet you here.  I came to take a parting look at the spot
where I had seen you last as my own.  Here it was that I sinned and
fooled away my happiness, and here I would pour out the bitterness of my
fruitless sorrow."

"Not fruitless sorrow, I trust, dear Frank," she said gently.  "It
cannot be fruitless, if it be a genuine sorrow for sin.  Oh, perhaps
there is hope before us yet!"

"Do _you_ say so, Mary?  Do _you_ bid me hope?  Well, I will live on
that hope.  I ask no promise from you, I do not expect it.  I am glad
that we have met here, after all.  Here you have seen both my
degradation and my sorrow."

"Yes, Frank, and I am glad, too; it will connect this sad spot with
brighter memories.  God bless you.  I shall never cease to pray for you,
come what will.  May that comfort you, and may you--may you,--" her
tears choked her voice.

"Oh, one word more," he said imploringly, as, having accepted his arm in
climbing the stile, she now relinquished it, and was turning from
him--"One word more--one word of parting!  Oh, one word such as once
might have been!"

His hands were stretched towards her.  They might never meet again.  She
hesitated for an instant.  Then for one moment they were pressed heart
to heart, and lip to lip--but for one moment, and then,-- "Farewell,"
"Farewell."



CHAPTER NINE.

YOUNG DECISION.

One week later, and three men might be seen walking briskly along a by-
street in Liverpool towards the docks.  These were Hubert Oliphant,
Frank Oldfield, and Captain Merryweather, commander of the barque
_Sabrina_, bound for South Australia.  The vessel was to sail next day,
and the young men were going with the captain to make some final
arrangements about their cabins.  Hubert looked bright and happy, poor
Frank subdued and sad.  The captain was a thorough and hearty-looking
sailor, brown as a coffee-berry from exposure to weather; with abundance
of bushy beard and whiskers; broad-shouldered, tall, and upright.  It
was now the middle of October, just three days after the flight of
Samuel Johnson from Langhurst, as recorded in the opening of our story.
As the captain and his two companions turned the corner of the street
they came upon a group which arrested their attention at once.

Standing not far from the door of a public-house was a lad of about
fourteen years of age.  He looked worn and hungry, yet he had not at all
the appearance of a beggar.  He was evidently strange to the place, and
looked about him with an air of perplexity, which made it clear that he
was in the midst of unfamiliar and uncongenial scenes.  Three or four
sailors were looking hard at him, as they lounged about the public-house
door, and were making their comments to one another.

"A queer-looking craft," said one.  "Never sailed in these waters afore,
I reckon."

"Don't look sea-worthy," said another.

"Started a timber or two, I calculate," remarked a third.

"Halloa! messmate," shouted another, whose good-humoured face was
unhappily flushed by drink, "don't lie-to there in that fashion, but
make sail, and come to an anchor on this bench."

The lad did not answer, but stood gazing at the sailors in a state of
utter bewilderment.

"Have you carried away your jawing-tackle, my hearty?" asked the man who
had last addressed him.

"I can't make head nor tail of what you say," was the boy's reply.

"Well, what's amiss with you, then?  Can you compass that?"

"Ay," was the reply; "I understand that well enough.  There's plenty
amiss with me, for I've had nothing to eat or drink since yesterday, and
I haven't brass to buy anything with."

"Ah, I see.  I suppose you mean by that foreign lingo that you haven't a
shot in your locker, and you want a bit of summut to stow away in your
hold."

"I mean," replied the lad, rather sulkily, "that I'm almost starved to
death."

"Well, it's no odds," cried the other.  "I can't quite make you out; but
I see you've hoisted signals of distress: there, sit you down.
Landlord, a glass of grog, hot, and sweet, and strong.  Here, take a
pull at that till the grog comes."

He handed to him a pewter-pot as he spoke.

The boy pushed it from him with a look of disgust.

"I can't touch it," he said.  "If you'll give me a mouthful of meat
instead, I'll thank you; and with all my heart too."

"Meat!" exclaimed the sailor, in astonishment, "what's the young lubber
dreaming about?  Come, don't be a fool; drink the ale, and you shall
have some bread and cheese when you've finished your grog."

"Jack," expostulated one of his companions, "let the poor lad alone; he
hasn't a mind for the drink, perhaps he ain't used to it, and it'll only
make him top heavy.  You can see he wants ballast; he'll be over on his
beam-ends the first squall if he takes the ale and grog aboard."

"Avast, avast, Tom," said the other, who was just sufficiently
intoxicated to be obstinate, and determined to have his own way.  "If I
take him in tow, he must obey sailing orders.  Grog first, and bread and
cheese afterwards; that's what I say."

"And I'd die afore I'd touch a drop of the drink," said the poor boy,
setting his teeth firmly.  "I've seen enough, and more nor enough, of
misery from the drink; and I'd starve to skin and bone afore I'd touch a
drop of it."

"Bravo, my lad, bravo!" cried Captain Merryweather, who had listened to
the conversation with the greatest interest.  "Come hither, my poor boy;
you shall have a good meal, and something better than the grog to wash
it down with."

"Oh, never heed Jack, captain," cried one of the other sailors; "he's
half-seas over just now, and doesn't know which way he's steering.  I'll
see that the poor lad has something to eat."

"Thank you kindly, my man," replied the captain; "but he shall go with
me, if he will."

"Ay, sir," said the boy thankfully, "I'll go with you, for I'm sure you
speak gradely."

The whole party soon reached a temperance hotel, and here the captain
ordered his young companion a substantial breakfast.

"Stay here, my lad," he said, "till I come back; I want to have a word
with you.  I am going with these gentlemen to the docks, but I shall be
back again in half an hour.  By the way, what's your name, my boy?"

A deep flush came over the other's face at this question.  He stared at
Captain Merryweather, and did not answer.

"I want to know your name."

"My name?  Ah, well--I don't--you see--"

"Why, surely you haven't forgotten your own name?  What do they call
you?"

"Poor fellow!" said Hubert; "his hunger has confused his brain.  He'll
be better when he has had his breakfast."

But the boy had now recovered himself, and replied,--

"I ax your pardon, captain; my name's Jacob Poole."

"Well, Jacob, you just wait here half an hour, and I shall have
something to say to you when I come back, which may suit us both."

When Captain Merryweather returned he found the boy looking out of the
window at the streams of people going to and from the docks.  His head
was resting on his two hands, and it appeared to the captain that he had
been weeping.

"Jacob," he cried, but there was no answer.

"Jacob Poole," again cried the captain, in a louder voice.  The other
turned round hastily, his face again flushed and troubled.

"Well, Jacob," said the captain, sitting down, "I suppose you're a
teetotaller, from what I saw and heard to-day."

"Yes, to the back-bone," was the reply.

"Well, so am I.  Now will you mind telling me, Jacob, what has brought
you to Liverpool.  I am not asking questions just for curiosity, but
I've taken a liking to you, and want to be your friend, for you don't
seem to have many friends here."

Jacob hesitated; at last he said,--

"Captain, you're just right.  I've no friends here, nor am like to have.
I can't tell you all about myself, but there's nothing wrong about me,
if you'll take my word for it.  I'm not a thief nor a vagabond."

"Well, I do believe you," said the other; "there's truth in your face
and on your tongue.  I flatter myself I know a rogue when I see one.
Will you tell me, at any rate, what you mean to do in Liverpool?"

"That's easier asked nor answered," replied Jacob.  "Captain, I don't
mind telling you this much--I've just run away to Liverpool to get out
of the reach of the drink.  I am ready to do any honest work, if I can
get it, but that don't seem to be so easy."

"Exactly so," said Captain Merryweather.  "Now, what do you say, then,
to going a voyage to Australia with me?  I'm in want of a cabin-boy, and
I think you'd suit me.  I'll feed and clothe you, and I'll find you a
situation over in Australia if you conduct yourself well on board ship;
or, if you like to keep with me, I'll give you on the return voyage what
wages are right."

The boy's eyes sparkled with delight.  He sprang from his seat, grasped
the captain's hand warmly between his own, and cried,--

"Captain, I'll go with you to the end of the world and back again, wage
or no wage."

"I sail to-morrow," said the other; "shall you be ready?"

"Ready this moment," was the answer.  "I have nothing of my own but what
I stand in."

"Come along then with me," said his kind friend; "I'll see you properly
rigged out, and you shall go on board with me at once."

They had not long left the hotel, and were passing along a back street
on their way to the outfitter's, when a man came hastily out of a low
public-house, and ran rather roughly against Captain Merryweather.

"Halloa, my friend," cried the sailor, "have a care; you should keep a
brighter look-out.  You've run me down, and might have carried away a
spar or two."

The man looked round, and muttered something.

"I'm sorry to see you coming out of such a place, my man," added the
captain.

"Well, but I'm not drunk," said the other.

"Perhaps not, but you're just on the right tack to get drunk.  Come,
tell me what you've had."

"I've only had seventeen pints of ale and three pennorth of gin."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed the captain, half out loud, as the man
walked off with a tolerably steady step.  "He says he's not drunk after
taking all that stuff aboard.  Jacob, you seem as if you knew something
of him."

"Ay, captain," said Jacob, who had slunk behind the captain when he saw
the man.  "I do, for sure; but you must excuse my telling you who he is,
or where he comes from."

"He's not a good friend or companion for any one, I should think," said
the captain.

"He's no friend of mine," answered Jacob; "he's too fond of the drink.
And yet he's called to be a sober man by many, 'cos he brings some of
his wage home on the pay-night.  Yet I've heard him say myself how he's
often spent a sovereign in drink between Saturday night and Monday
morning."

"And what do you suppose has brought him here?"

"I can't tell, unless the mayster he works for has sent him over on
count of summat.  It's more like, however, as he's come to see his
sister as lives somewhere in these parts."

"And you'd rather he didn't know you are here, I suppose?"

"Just so, captain.  There's them, perhaps, as'd be arter me if he were
to tell 'em as he'd see'd me here; but I don't think as he did see me;
he were half fuddled: but he never gets fairly drunk."

"Well, Jacob, I don't wish to pry into your own private concerns.  I'll
take it for granted that you're dealing honestly by me."

"You may be sure of that, captain.  I'll never deceive you.  I haven't
done anything to disgrace myself; but I wish to get gradely out of the
reach of such chaps as yon fellow you've just spoke to.  I've had weary
work with the drink, and I wishes to make a fresh start, and to forget
as I ever had any belonging me.  So it's just what'll suit me gradely to
go with you over to Australia; and you must excuse me if I make mistakes
at first; but I'll do my best, and I can't say anything beyond that."

By this time they had reached the outfitter's, where the captain saw
Jacob duly rigged out and furnished with all things needful for the
voyage.  They had left the shop and were on their way to the docks, when
a tall sailor-looking man crossed over to them.  His face was bronzed
from exposure, but was careworn and sad, and bore unmistakable marks of
free indulgence in strong drinks.

"Merryweather, how are you, my friend?" he cried, coming up and shaking
the captain warmly by the hand.

"Ah, Thomson, is that you?" said the other, returning the grasp.  "I was
very sorry indeed to hear of your misfortune."

"A bad business--a shocking business," said his friend, shaking his head
despondingly.  "Not a spar saved.  Three poor fellows drowned.  And all
my papers and goods gone to the bottom."

"Yes, I heard something of it, and I was truly grieved.  How did it
happen?"

"Why, I'll tell you how it was.  I don't know what it is, Merryweather,
but you're a very lucky fellow.  Some men seem born to luck: it hasn't
been so with me.  It's all gone wrong ever since I left Australia.  We'd
fair weather and a good run till we were fairly round the Horn; but one
forenoon the glass began to fall, and I saw there was heavy weather
coming.  After a bit it came on to blow a regular gale.  The sea got up
in no time, and I had to order all hands up to reef topsails.  We were
rather short-handed, for I could hardly get men when I started, for love
or money.  Well, would you believe it?--half a dozen of the fellows were
below so drunk that they couldn't stand."

"Ah, I feared," said Captain Merryweather, "that the drink had something
to do with your troubles.  But how did they manage to get so tipsy?"

"Oh, they contrived to get at one of the spirit-casks.  They bored a
hole in it with a gimlet, and sucked the rum out through a straw.  There
was nothing for it but to send up the steward, and Jim, my cabin-boy,
along with the others who were on deck.  But poor Jim was but a clumsy
hand at it; and as they were lying out on the yard, the poor fellow lost
his hold, and was gone in a moment.  I never caught one look at him
after he fell.  Ay, but that wasn't all.  About a week after, I was
wanting the steward one morning to fetch me something out of the
lazarette; so I called him over and over again.  He came at last, but so
tipsy that I could make nothing of him; and I had to start him off to
the steerage, and take on another man in his place.  He'd been helping
himself to the spirits.  It was very vexing, you'll allow; for he was
quite a handy chap, and I got on very poorly afterwards without him.  I
don't know how you manage, but you seem always to get steady men."

"Yes," said Captain Merryweather; "because I neither take the drink
myself nor have it on board."

"Ay, but I can never get on without my glass of grog," said the other.

"Then I'm afraid you'll never get your men to do without it.  There's
nothing like example--`example's better than precept.'"

"I believe you're right.  But you haven't heard the end of my
misfortunes, nor the worst either.  It was a little foggy as we were
getting into the Channel, and I'd given, of course, strict orders to
keep a good look-out; so two of our sharpest fellows went forward when
it began to get dark, and I had a steady man at the wheel.  I'd been on
deck myself a good many hours; so I just turned in to get a wink of
sleep, leaving the first mate in charge.  I don't know how long I'd
slept, for I was very weary, when all in a moment there came a dreadful
crash, and I knew we were run into.  I was out and on deck like a shot;
but the sea was pouring in like a mill-stream, and I'd only just time to
see the men all safe in the _Condor_--the ship that ran into us--and get
on board myself, before the poor _Elizabeth_ went down head foremost.
It's very strange.  I hadn't been off the deck ten minutes, and that was
the first time I'd gone below for the last sixteen hours.  It's just
like my luck.  The captain of the _Condor_ says we were to blame; and
our first mate says their men were to blame.  I can't tell how it was.
It was rather thick at the time; but we ought to have seen one another's
lights.  Some one sung out on the other ship; but it was too late then,
and our two poor fellows who were forward looking out were both lost.
It's very strange; don't you think so?"

"It's very sad," replied the other; "and I'm heartily sorry for it.
It's a bad job anyhow; and yet, to tell you the honest truth, I'm not so
very much surprised, for I suspect that the drink was at the bottom of
it."

"No, no; you're quite mistaken there.  I never saw either the mate or
the man at the wheel, or any of the men who were then on deck, drunk, or
anything like it, during the whole voyage."

"That may be," said the other; "but I did not say it was drunkenness,
but the drink, that I thought was at the bottom of it.  The men may have
been the worse for drink without being drunk."

"I don't understand you."

"No, I see you don't; that's the worst of it.  Very few people do see
it, or understand it; but it's true.  A man's the worse for drink when
he's taken so much as makes him less fit to do his work, whatever it may
be.  You'll think it rather strange, perhaps, in me to say so; but I
_do_ say it, because I believe it, that more accidents arise from the
drink than from drunkenness, or from moderate drinking, as it is called,
than from drunkenness."

"How so?"

"Why, thus.  A man may take just enough to confuse him, or to make him
careless, or to destroy his coolness and self-possession, without being
in the least drunk; or he may have taken enough to make him drowsy, and
so unfit to do work that wants special attention and watchfulness."

"I see what you mean," said the other.

"Perhaps you'd all been drinking an extra glass when you found
yourselves so near home."

"Why, yes.  To tell you the truth, we had all of us a little more than
usual that night; and yet I'll defy any man to say that we were not all
perfectly sober."

"But yet, in my way of looking at it," said Captain Merryweather, "you
were the worse for liquor, because less able to have your wits about
you.  And that's surely a very serious thing to look at for ourselves,
and our employers too; for if we've taken just enough to make us less up
to our work, we're the worse for drink, though no man can say we're
drunk.  Take my advice, Thomson, and keep clear of the grog altogether,
and then you'll find your luck come back again.  You'll find it better
for head, heart, and pocket, take my word for it."

"I believe you're right.  I'll think of what you've said," was the
reply; and they parted.

"Jacob, my lad," said Captain Merryweather, as they walked along, "did
you hear what Captain Thomson said?"

"Ay, captain; and what you said too.  And I'm sure you spoke nothing but
the real truth."

"Well, you just mark that, Jacob.  There are scores of accidents and
crimes from drunkenness, and they get known, and talked about, and
punished; but there are hundreds which come from moderate drinking, or
from the drink itself, which are never traced.  Ships run foul of one
another, trains come into collision, houses get set on fire; and the
drink is at the bottom of most of it, I believe, because people get put
off their balance, and ain't themselves, and so get careless, or
confused, or excited, and then mischief follows.  And yet no one can say
they're drunk; and where are you to draw the line?  A man's the worse
for drink long before he's anything like intoxicated; for it is in the
very nature of the drink to fly at once to a man's brain.  Ah, give me
the man or lad, Jacob, that takes none.  His head is clear, his hand's
steady, his eye is quick.  He's sure not to have taken too much, because
he has taken none at all.--But here we are.  There lies my good ship,
the barque _Sabrina_.  You shall come on board with me at once, and see
your quarters."



CHAPTER TEN.

OUTWARD BOUND.

Six weeks had elapsed since the barque _Sabrina_ had left the port of
Liverpool.  She was stealing along swiftly before a seven knot breeze on
the quarter, with studding-sails set.  It was intensely hot, for they
had crossed the line only a few days since.  Captain Merryweather had
proved himself all that a captain should be--a thorough sailor, equal to
any emergency; a firm but considerate commander; an interesting and
lively companion, ever evenly cheerful, and watchful to make all around
him comfortable and happy.  Hubert Oliphant was full of spirits--happy
himself, and anxious to make others the same; a keen observer of every
natural phenomenon, and admirer of the varied beauties of ocean and sky;
and, better still, with a heart ready to feel the bounty and love of God
in everything bright, lovely, and grand.  Poor Frank had become less
sad; but his sorrow still lay heavy on his spirits.  Yet there was hope
for him to cling to; and he was rejoicing in the subduing of his evil
habit, which was thus far broken through by his forced abstinence.
Alas! he did not realise that a smouldering fire and an extinct one are
very different things.  He was sanguine and self-confident; he fancied
that his resolution had gained in firmness, whereas it had only rested
quiet, no test or strain having been applied to it; and, worst of all,
he did not feel the need of seeking in prayer that grace from above
which would have given strength to his weakness and nerve to his good
resolves.  And yet who could see him and not love him?  There was a
bright, reckless generosity in every look, word, and movement, which
took the affections by storm, and chained the judgment.  Jacob Poole had
become his devoted admirer.  Day by day, as he passed near him, and saw
his sunny smile and heard his animated words, the young cabin-boy seemed
more and more drawn to him by a sort of fascination.  Jacob was very
happy.  The captain was a most kind and indulgent master, and he felt it
a privilege to do his very best to please him.  But his greatest
happiness was to listen--when he could do so without neglecting his
duty--to the conversations between Frank, Hubert, and the captain, as
they sat at meals round the cuddy-table, or occasionally when in fair
weather they stood together on the poop-deck; and it was Frank's voice
and words that had a special charm for him.  Frank saw it partly, and
often took occasion to have some talk with Jacob in his own cheery way;
and so bound the boy still closer to him.

It was six weeks, as we have said, since the _Sabrina_ left Liverpool.
The day was drawing to a close; in a little while the daylight would
melt suddenly into night.  Not a cloud was in the sky: a fiery glow,
mingled with crimson, lit up the sea and heavens for a while, and,
speedily fading away, dissolved, through a faint airy glimmer of palest
yellow, into clear moonlight.  How lovely was the calm!--a calm that
rested not only on the sea, but also on the spirits of the voyagers, as
the vessel slipped through the waters, gently bending over every now and
then as the wind slightly freshened, and almost dipping her studding-
sail boom into the sea, which glittered in one long pathway of quivering
moonbeams, while every little wave, as far as the eye could reach, threw
up a crest of silver.  The captain stood near the binnacle.  He was
giving a lesson in steering to Jacob Poole, who felt very proud at
taking his place at the wheel for the first time, and grasped the spokes
with a firm hand, keeping his eye steadily on the compass.  Frank and
Hubert stood near, enjoying the lovely evening, and watching Captain
Merryweather and the boy.

"Steady, my lad, steady," said the captain; "keep her head just south
and by east.  A firm hand, a steady eye, and a sound heart; there's no
good without them."

"You'll soon make a good sailor of him, captain," said Hubert.

"Ay, I hope so," was the reply.  "He's got the best guarantee for the
firm hand and the steady eye in his total abstinence; and I hope he has
the sound heart too."

"You look, captain, as if total abstinence had thriven with you.  Have
you always been a total abstainer?" asked Frank.

A shade of deep sadness came over the captain's face as he answered,--

"No, Mr Oldfield; but it's many years now since I was driven into it."

"Driven!" exclaimed Frank, laughing; "you do not look a likely subject
to be driven into anything."

"Ay, sir; but there are two sorts of driving--body-driving and heart-
driving.  Mine was heart-driving."

"I should very much like to hear how it was that you were driven into
becoming an abstainer," said Hubert; "if it will not be asking too
much."

"Not at all, sir; and perhaps it may do you all good to hear it, though
it's a very sad story.--Steady, Jacob, steady; keep her full.--It may
help to keep you firm when you get to Australia.  You'll find plenty of
drinking traps there."

"I'm not afraid," said Frank.  "But by all means let us have your story.
We are all attention."

Hubert sighed; he wished that Frank were not so confident.

"Ay," said the captain, gazing dreamily across the water; "I think I see
her now--my poor dear mother.  She was a good mother to me.  That's one
of God's best gifts in this rough world of ours, Mr Oliphant.  I've
known many a man--and I'm one of them--that's owed everything to a good
mother.  Well, my poor mother was a sailor's wife; a better sailor, they
say, than my father never stepped a plank.  He'd one fault, however,
when she married him, and only one; so folks like to put it.  That fault
was, that he took too much grog aboard; but only now and then.  So my
poor mother smiled when it was talked about in courting time, and they
were married.  My father was the owner of a small coasting-vessel, and
of course was often away from home for weeks and sometimes for months
together.  A sister and myself were the only children; she was two years
the oldest.  My father used to be very fond of his children when he came
home, and would bring us some present or other in his pocket, and a new
gown, or cap, or bonnet for my mother.  Yet somehow--I could hardly
understand it then--she was oftener in tears than in smiles when he
stayed ashore.  I know how it was now: he'd learned to love the drink
more and more; and she, poor thing, had got her eyes opened to the sin
and misery it was bringing with it.  He was often away at nights now.
We children saw but little of him; and yet, when he _was_ at home and
sober, a kinder father, a better husband, a nobler-looking man wasn't to
be seen anywhere.  Well, you may be sure things didn't mend as time went
on.  My mother had hard work to make the stores hold out, for her
allowance grew less as we children grew bigger.  Only one good thing
came of all this: when all this trouble blew on my poor mother like a
hurricane, she shortened sail, and ran before the gale right into the
heavenly port; or, as you'll understand me better, she took her sins and
her cares to her Saviour, and found peace there.  At last my sister grew
up into a fine young woman, and I into a stout, healthy lad.--Steady,
Jacob, steady; mind your helm.--My father didn't improve with age.  He
was not sober as often as he used to be; indeed, when he was on shore he
was very rarely sober, and when he did stay an hour or two at home he
was cross and snappish.  His fine temper and manly bearing were gone;
for the drink, you may be sure, leaves its mark upon its slaves.  Just
as it is with a man who has often been put in irons for bad conduct;
you'd know him by his walk even when he's at liberty--he's not like a
man that has always been free.  Ah, my poor mother! it was hard times
for her.  She talked to my father, but he only swore at her.  I shall
never forget his first oath to her; it seemed to crush the light out of
her heart.  However bad he'd been before, he had always been gentle to
_her_.  But he was getting past that.  She tried again to reason with
him when he was sober.  He was sulky at first; then he flew into a
passion.  And once he struck her.  Yes; and _I_ saw it, and I couldn't
bear it.  I was flying at him like a tiger, when my dear mother flung
her arms round me, and chained me to the spot.  My father never forgot
that.  He seemed from that day to have lost all love for me; and I must
own that I had little left for him.  My mother loved him still, and so
did my sister; but they left off talking to him about his drunkenness.
It was of no use; they prayed for him instead.--Steady, Jacob; luff a
bit, my lad; luff you can."

"And did this make you an abstainer?" asked Hubert.

"No, sir; so far from it, that I was just beginning to like my grog when
I could get it.  I didn't see the evil of the drink then; I didn't see
how the habit keeps winding its little cords round and round a man, till
what begins as thin as a log-line, becomes in the end as thick as a
hawser.  My mother trembled for me, I knew; I saw her look at me with
tears in her eyes many a time, when I came home talkative and excited,
though not exactly tipsy.  I could see she was sick at heart.  But I
hadn't learned my lesson yet; I was to have a terrible teacher.

"There was a young man who began to visit at our cottage when my sister
was just about twenty.  They used to call him--well, that don't matter;
better his name should never be spoken by me.  He was a fisherman, as
likely a lad as you'd see anywhere; and he'd one boast that few could
make, he had never been tipsy in his life; he was proud of it; he had
got his measure, he said, and he never went beyond it.  He laughed at
teetotallers; they were such a sneaking, helpless lot, he said--why
couldn't they take what was good for them, and stop there when they'd
had enough; surely a man ought to be master of his own appetites--he
was, he said; he could stop when he pleased.  However, to make a long
story short, he took a great fancy to my dear sister, and she soon
returned it.  Our cottage was near the sea, but on a hill-side some
hundred feet or more above the beach.  High ground rose behind it and
sheltered it from the north and east winds.  It had a glorious view of
the ocean, and one of the loveliest little gardens that any cottage
could boast of.  The young man I spoke of would often sit with my sister
in the little porch, when the roses and jessamine were in full flower
all over it; and I used to think, as I looked at them, that a handsomer
couple could never be made man and wife.  Well, it was agreed that they
should wait a few months till he was fully prepared to give her a home.
My father just then was ashore, and took to the young man amazingly; he
must have him spend many an evening at our cottage, and you may be sure
that the grog didn't remain in the cupboard.  My father had a great many
yarns to spin, and liked a good listener; and as listening and talking
are both dry work, one glass followed another till the young man's eyes
began to sparkle, and my poor sister's to fill with tears; still, he
always maintained, when she talked gently to him about it next day, that
he knew well what he was about, that he never overstepped his mark, and
that she might trust him.  Ah, it was easy to talk; but it was very
plain that his mark began to be set glass after glass higher than it
used to be.  At last, one night she couldn't hold any longer, and
implored him to stop as he was filling another tumbler.  Upon this my
father burst out into a furious passion, and swore that, as he could
find no peace at home, he'd go where he _could_ find it,--that was to
the public-house, of course.  Out they both of them went, and we saw no
more of them that night, you may be sure; and my mother and sister
almost cried their hearts out.  It was some days after this before my
sister's lover ventured to show his face at our place, and then he
didn't dare to meet her eye.  She said very little to him; it was plain
she was beginning to lose all hope; and she had reason too, for when the
demon of drink gets a firm hold, Mr Oldfield, he'll not let go, if he
can help it, till he's strangled every drop of good out of a man.  But I
mustn't be too long; there isn't much left to tell, however.--Steady,
Jacob, my lad; keep her full.--You may suppose that we hadn't much more
of my father's company, or of the young man's either; they found the
public-house more to their mind; and so it went on night after night.
Little was said about the wedding, and my sister never alluded to it
even to us.  At last October came.  It was one lovely moonlight night,
just such a night as this, quiet and peaceful.  My father was to set out
on one of his cruises next morning, and was expecting the mate to bring
round his little vessel, and anchor her in the roads off the shore, in
sight of our cottage.  He had come home pretty sober to tea, bringing my
sister's lover with him.  After tea there were several things he had to
settle with my mother; so, while they were making their arrangements, my
sister and the young man had an earnest talk together.  I didn't mean to
listen, but I could overhear that he was urging her to fix an early day
for the wedding, with many promises of amendment and sobriety, which the
poor girl listened to with a half-unwilling ear, and yet her heart
couldn't say, `No.'  At last my father cried, `Come, my lad, we'll just
go up to the top of the hill, and see if we can make out the _Peggy_.
She ought to be coming round by this time.'

"`Oh, father,' cried my sister, `don't go out again to-night.'

"`Nonsense!' he said, roughly; `do you think I'm a baby, that can't take
care of myself?'

"My mother said nothing; my sister looked at her lover with an imploring
glance.  I shall never forget it; there was both entreaty and despair in
her eyes.  He hesitated a moment, but my father was already out of the
door, and loudly calling on him to follow.

"`I'll be back again in a few minutes,' he said; `it won't do to cross
your father to-night.'

"Ah, those few minutes!  She went to the door.  It was a most lovely
night; there was a flood of moonlight poured out upon land and sea.  All
that God had made was as beautiful as if sin had never spoiled it.  Just
a little to the right of our cottage the ground rose up suddenly, and
sloped up about a quarter of a mile to the top of a high cliff, from the
edge of which was a sheer descent, almost unbroken, to the beach, of
several hundred feet.  It was a favourite spot of observation, for
vessels could be seen miles off.

"My sister watched her father and lover in the clear moonlight to the
top.  There they stood for about half an hour, and then they turned.
But which way?  Home?  It seemed so at first--the young man was plainly
hesitating.  At last he yielded to my father's persuasion, and both
disappeared over the farther side of the high ground.  My unhappy
sister, with a wild cry of distress, came back into the cottage, and
threw herself sobbing into a chair.

"`Oh, mother, mother!' she cried, `they're off again--they're gone to
the public-house; father'll be the death of _him_, body and soul.'

"My mother made no answer.  She could not speak.  She had no comfort to
offer.  She knew that my wretched father was the tempter.  She knew that
there was nothing but misery before her child.

"Oh, what a weary night that was!  We sat for hours waiting, listening.
At last we heard the sound of voices--two voices were shouting out
snatches of sea-songs with drunken vehemence.  We didn't need any one to
tell us whose voices they were.  My sister started up and rushed out.  I
followed her, and so did my mother.  We could see now my father and the
young man, sharp and clear in the moonlight, arm in arm at the top of
the cliff.  They were waving their arms about and shouting, as they
swayed and staggered to and fro.  Then they went forward towards the
edge, and tried to steady themselves as they looked in the direction of
the sea.

"`They'll be over!' shrieked my sister; `oh, let us try and save them!'

"My mother sank senseless on the ground.  For a moment my sister seemed
as if she would do the same.  Then she and I rushed together towards the
cliff at the top of our speed.  We could just see the two poor miserable
drunkards staggering about for a little while, but then a sinking in the
ground, as we hurried on, hid them from our sight.  A few minutes more
and we were on the slope at the top, but where were _they_?  They were
gone--where?  I dared not let my sister go forward, but I could hardly
hold her, till at last she sank down in a swoon.  And then I made my way
to the top of the cliff, and my blood seemed to freeze in my veins as I
looked over.  There they were on the rocks below, some hundred and fifty
feet down.  I shouted for help; some of the neighbours had seen us
running, and now came to my relief.  I left a kind woman with my unhappy
sister, and hurried with some fishermen the nearest way to the beach.
It was sickening work climbing to the place on to which my miserable
father and his companion had pitched in their fall.  Alas! they were
both dead when we reached them, and frightfully mangled.  I can hardly
bear to go on," and the captain's voice faltered, "and yet I must
complete my story.  We made a sort of large hammock, wrapped them in it,
and by the help of some poles carried them up to our cottage.  It was
terrible work.  My sister did not shed a tear for days, indeed I
scarcely ever saw her shed a tear at all; but she pined away, and a few
short months closed her sad life."

The captain paused, and it was long before any one broke the silence.
At last Hubert asked,--

"And your mother?"

"Ah, my mother--well, she did not die.  She mourned over her daughter;
but I can't say that she seemed to feel my father's loss so much, and I
think I can tell you why," he added, looking very earnestly at the two
young men.  "Mark this, young gentlemen, and you Jacob, too--there's
this curse about the drink, when it's got its footing in a home it eats
out all warm affections.  I don't think my mother had much love left for
my father in her heart when he died.  His drunkenness had nearly stamped
out the last spark."

"It's a sad story indeed," said Frank, thoughtfully.

"Ay; and only one among many such sad stories," said the captain.

"And so you were led after this to become a total abstainer?"

"Yes; it was on the day of my sister's funeral.  I came back to the
cottage after the service was over with my heart full of sorrowful
thoughts.  My mother sat in her chair by the fire; her Bible was open
before her, her head was bowed down, her hands clasped, and her lips
moving in prayer.  I heard them utter my own name.

"`Mother,' I said, springing forward, and throwing my arms round her,
`please God, and with his help, I'll never touch another drop of the
drink from this day.'

"`God bless you, my son,' she said, with sobs.  `I've prayed him scores
of times that my son might be preserved from living a drunkard's life,
and dying a drunkard's death.  I believe he's heard me.  I know he has,
and I'll trust him to make you truly his child, and then we shall meet
in glory.'  From that day to this not a drop of intoxicating liquor has
ever passed my lips.  But it's time to turn in; we shan't sleep the less
sound because we're not indebted to the grog for a nightcap."

For some days after the captain had told his story, Frank Oldfield's
manner was subdued and less buoyant than usual--something like a
misgiving about his own ability to resist temptation, mingled with sad
memories of the past.  But his spirits soon recovered their usual
brightness.

It was on a cloudless day, when scarcely a breath of air puffed out the
sails, and the dog-vane drooped lazily, as if desponding at having
nothing to do, that Hubert was looking listlessly over the stern,
marking how the wide expanse of the sea was heaving and swelling like a
vast carpet of silk upraised and then drawn down again by some giant
hand.  Suddenly he cried out,--

"What's that cutting its way behind us, just below the surface of the
water?"

"A shark, most likely," said the mate, coming up.  "Ay, sure enough it
is," he added, looking over the stern.  "Many a poor fellow has lost his
life or his limbs by their ugly teeth.  We'll bait a hook for him."

This was soon done.  A large piece of rusty pork was stuck upon a hook
attached to the end of a stout chain, the chain being fastened to a
strong rope.  All was now excitement on board.  The captain, Hubert,
Frank, and Jacob Poole looked over at the monster, whose dorsal fin just
appeared above the water.  He did not, however, seem to be in any hurry
to take the bait, but kept swimming near it, and now and then knocked it
with his nose.

"Just look at the water," cried Frank; "why, it's all alive with little
fish.  I never saw anything like it."

Indeed, it was an extraordinary sight.  All round the vessel, and as
deep down in the water as the eye could penetrate, the ocean was
swarming with millions upon millions of little fishes, so that their
countless multitudes completely changed the colour of the sea.  Jacob
Poole, who was standing close by the captain, now sprang into the boat
which hung over the stern to get a better look at the shark and his
minute companions.

"Have a care," shouted the captain, "or you'll be over, if you don't
mind."

It was too late; for just as Jacob was endeavouring to steady himself in
the boat, a sudden roll of the ship threw him completely off his
balance.  He tried to save himself by catching at a rope near him, but
missed it, and fell right over the boat's side into the sea below.

All was instantly confusion and dismay, for every one on board knew that
Jacob was no swimmer.  Happily the ship was moving very sluggishly
through the water, so one of the quarter-boats was instantly lowered
from the davits.  But long before it could row to the rescue help had
come from another quarter.  For one moment Hubert and his friend stood
looking on transfixed with dismay, then, without an instant's
hesitation, Frank sprang upon the taffrail, and plunged headlong into
the sea.  He was a capital swimmer, and soon reached poor Jacob.  But
now a cry of horror arose from those on board.

"The shark! the shark!"

The creature had disappeared at the moment of the cabin-boy's fall, the
sudden and violent splash having completely scared him away for the
instant; but scarcely had Frank reached the drowning lad, and raised him
in the water, than the huge monster began to make towards them.  They
were so short a distance from the vessel that those on board could
plainly see the movements of the great fish as he glided up to them.

"Splash about with all your might, for Heaven's sake," roared out the
captain.

"All right," cried young Oldfield with perfect coolness, and at the same
time making a violent commotion in the water all round him, which had
the effect of daunting their enemy for the time.  And now the quarter-
boat was lowered, and reached them in a few vigorous strokes.

"Pull for your lives, my lads," shouted the mate, who was steering.
"Here we are--steady--ship oars.  Now then, Tom Davies, lay hold on
'em--in with 'em quick--there's the shark again.  Jack, you slap away at
the water with your oar.  Ay, my friend, we've puzzled you this time--a
near shave, though.  Now then, all right.  Give way, my lads.  Jacob, my
boy, you've baulked Johnny shark of his dinner this once."

They were soon alongside, and on deck, and were greeted by a lusty
"Hurrah!" from captain and crew.

"Nobly done, nobly done, Mr Oldfield!" cried the captain, with tears in
his eyes, and shaking Frank warmly by the hand.  Hubert was also earnest
in his thanks and congratulations.  As for poor Jacob, when he had
somewhat recovered from the utter bewilderment into which his
unfortunate plunge had thrown him, he came up close to his rescuer and
said,--

"Mr Oldfield, I can't thank you as I should, but I shan't forget as
you've saved my life."

"All right, Jacob," said Frank, laughing; "you'll do the same for me
when I want it, I don't doubt.  But you have to thank our kind friends,
the mate and his crew, as much as me, or we should have been pretty sure
to have been both of us food for the fishes by this time."

And so it was that the cabin-boy's attachment to Frank Oldfield became a
passion--a love which many waters could not quench--a love that was
wonderful, passing the love of women.  Each day increased it.  And now
his one earnest desire was to serve Frank on shore in some capacity,
that he might be always near him.  Day by day, as the voyage drew to its
close, he was scheming in his head how to bring about what he so
ardently desired; and the way was opened for him.

It was in the middle of January, the height of the Australian summer,
that the _Sabrina_ came in sight of Kangaroo Island, and in a little
while was running along the coast, the range of hills which form a
background to the city of Adelaide being visible in the distance.  And
now all heads, and tongues, and hands were busy, for in a few hours, if
the tide should serve for their passing the bar, they would be safe in
Port Adelaide.

"Well, Jacob; my lad," said Captain Merryweather to the cabin-boy, as he
stood looking rather sadly and dreamily at the land, "you don't look
very bright.  I thought you'd be mad after a run ashore.  Here comes the
pilot; he'll soon let us know whether we can get into port before next
tide."

When the pilot had taken charge of the ship, and it was found that there
was water enough for them to cross the bar at once, the captain again
called Jacob to him into the cuddy, where he was sitting with Hubert and
Frank.

"I see, Jacob, my boy," he said, "that there's something on your mind,
and I think I half know what it is.  Now, I'm a plain straightforward
sailor, and don't care to go beating about the bush, so I'll speak out
plainly.  You've been a good lad, and pleased me well, and if you've a
mind to go home with me, I've the mind, on my part, to take you.  But
then I see Mr Oldfield here has taken a fancy to you, and thinks you
might be willing to take service with him.  Ah, I see it in your eyes,
my lad--that settles it.  I promised before we sailed that I'd find you
a good situation out here, and I believe I've done it.  Mr Oldfield,
Jacob's your man."

Poor Jacob; the tears filled his eyes--his chest heaved--he crushed his
cap out of all shape between his fingers--then he spoke, at first with
difficulty, and then in a husky voice,--

"Oh, captain, I'm afraid you'll think I'm very ungrateful.  I don't know
which way to turn.  You've been very good to me, and I couldn't for
shame leave you.  I'd be proud to serve you to the last day of my life.
But you seem to have fathomed my heart.  I wish one half of me could go
back with you, and the other half stay with Mr Oldfield.  But I'll just
leave it with yourselves to settle; only you mustn't think, captain, as
I've forgotten all your kindness.  I'm not that sort of chap."

"Not a bit, my lad, not a bit," replied the captain, cheerily; "I
understand you perfectly.  I want to do the best for you; and I don't
think I can do better than launch you straight off, and let Mr Oldfield
take you in tow; and if I'm spared to come another voyage here, and you
should be unsettled, or want to go home again, why, I shall be right
glad to have you, and to give you your wages too."  And so it was
settled, much to the satisfaction of Frank and the happiness of Jacob.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

ABRAHAM OLIPHANT.

"And so you're my nephew Hubert," said a tall, middle-aged gentleman,
who had come on board as soon as the _Sabrina_ reached the port, and was
now shaking Hubert warmly by the hand.  "A hearty welcome to South
Australia.  Ah, I see; this is Mr Oldfield.  My brother wrote to me
about you.  You're heartily welcome too, my young friend, for so I
suppose I may call you.  Well, you've come at a warm time of the year,
and I hope we shall be able to give you a warm reception.  And how did
you leave your dear father, Hubert?  You're very like him; the sight of
your face brings back old times to me.  And how are your brothers and
sister?  All well?  That's right.  Thank God for it.  And now just put a
few things together while I speak to the captain.  I'll see that your
baggage is cleared and sent up all right after you.  My dog-cart's
waiting, and will take your friend and yourself and what things you may
want for a few days."

The speaker's manner was that of a man of good birth and education, with
the peculiar tone of independence which characterises the old colonist.
Hubert and Frank both felt at their ease with him at once.

It was arranged that Jacob Poole should remain with Captain Merryweather
for a few days, and should then join his new master in Adelaide.  After
a very hearty leave-taking with the captain, the young men and Mr
Abraham Oliphant were soon on shore.

There was no railway from the port to the city in those days, but
travellers were conveyed by coaches and port-carts, unless they were
driven in some friend's carriage or other vehicle.  Driving tandem was
much the fashion, and it was in this way that Hubert and Frank were
making their first journey inland.

"Now, my dear Hubert, and Mr Oldfield, jump in there; give me your
bags; now we're all right;" and away they started.

The first mile or two of their journey was not particularly inviting.
They passed through Albert Town, and through a flat country along a very
dusty road, trees being few and far between.  A mile farther on and they
saw a group of natives coming towards them with at least half-a-dozen
ragged looking dogs at their heels.  The men were lounging along in a
lordly sort of way, entirely at their ease; one old fellow, with a
grizzly white beard and hair, leaning all his weight on the shoulders of
a poor woman, whom he was using as a walking-stick.  The other women
were all heavily-laden, some with wood, and others with burdens of
various sorts, their lords and masters condescending to carry nothing
but a couple of light wooden spears, a waddy, or native club, and a
boomerang.

"Poor creatures!" exclaimed Hubert; "what miserable specimens of
humanity; indeed, they hardly look human at all."

"Ah," said his uncle, "there are some who are only too glad to declare
that these poor creatures are only brutes, that they have no souls.
I've heard a man say he'd as soon shoot a native as a dingo; that is, a
wild dog."

"But _you_ don't think so, dear uncle?"

"Think so! no indeed.  Their intellects are sharp enough in some things.
Yes; it is very easy to take from them their lands, their kangaroo, and
their emu, and then talk about their having no souls, just to excuse
ourselves from doing anything for them in return.  Why, those very men
who will talk the most disparagingly of them, do not hesitate to make
use of them; ay, and trust them too.  They will employ them as
shepherds, and even as mounted policemen.  But let us stop a moment, and
hear what they have to say."

He drew up, and the natives stopped also, grinning from ear to ear.
They were very dark, a dusky olive colour; the older ones were hideously
ugly, and yet it was impossible not to be taken with the excessive good
humour of their laughing faces.

"What name you?" cried the foremost to Mr Oliphant.

"Abraham," was the reply.

"Ah, very good Abraham," rejoined the native; "you give me copper, me
call you gentleman."

"Them you piccaninnies?" asked one of the women, pointing to Hubert and
Frank.

"No," said Mr Oliphant; "there--there are some coppers for you; you
must do me some work for them when you come to my sit-down."

"Gammon," cried the black addressed; "me plenty lazy."

"A sensible fellow," cried Frank laughing, as they drove on; "he knows
how to look after his own interests, clearly enough; surely such as
these cannot be past teaching."

"No indeed," said the other; "we teach them evil fast enough; they learn
our vices besides their own.  You may be sure they drink when they can.
Ah, that curse of drunkenness!  Did you think you had run away from it
when you left England?  Happy for you, Hubert, that you're an abstainer;
and I suppose, Mr Oldfield, that you are one too."

"Not a pledged one," said Frank, colouring deeply, "but one in practice,
I hope, nevertheless."

"Well, I tell you honestly that you'll find neither beer, wine, or
spirits in my house.  To everything else you are both heartily
welcome.--Ah, that's not so pleasant," he exclaimed suddenly.

"Is there anything amiss?" asked Hubert.

"Oh, nothing serious!" was the reply; "only a little disagreeable; but
we may perhaps escape it.  We'll pull up for a moment.  There; just look
on a few hundred yards."

Ahead of them some little distance, in the centre of the road, a
whirling current of air was making the dust revolve in a rapidly
enlarging circle.  As this circle widened it increased in substance,
till at last it became a furious earth-spout, gathering sticks and
leaves, and even larger things, into its vortex, and rising higher and
higher in the air till it became a vast black moving column, making a
strange rustling noise as it approached.  Then it left the direct road,
and rushed along near them, rising higher and higher in the air, and
becoming less and less dense, till its base completely disappeared, and
the column spent itself in a fine streak of sand some hundred feet or
more above their heads.

"A pleasant escape," said Mr Oliphant; "we shouldn't have gained either
in good looks or comfort if we had got into the thick of it."

"I should think not indeed," said Frank.  "Do people often get into
these whirlwinds, or earth-spouts, or whatever they should be called?"

"Sometimes they do," said the other, "and then the results are anything
but agreeable.  I have seen men go into them white--white jacket, white
waistcoat, white trousers, white hat, and come out one universal brown--
brown jacket, waistcoat, trousers, hat, eyebrows, whiskers, all brown."

"Anything but pleasant indeed," said Hubert.  "But do they ever do
serious mischief?"

"Not very serious, as far as I know," replied his uncle.  "Once I knew
of a pastry-cook's man who was caught in one of these whirlwinds; he had
a tray of tarts on his head, and the wind caught the tray, and whirled
it off, tarts and all.  But here we are at the `Half-way house;' people
commonly can't go many miles here without the drink.  They fancy that,
because we live in a country which is very hot in summer, we want more
to drink; but it's just the reverse.  Drink very little of anything in
the specially hot days, and you'll not feel the want of it."

And now, after a further drive of three or four miles, the outskirts of
the city of Adelaide were nearly reached, and the distant hills became
more plainly visible.

"We shall cross the river by the ford at the back of the jail," said Mr
Oliphant, "for there's very little water in the river now."

"And is this the river Torrens?" asked Hubert, with a slight tone of
incredulity in his voice.

"You may well ask," replied his uncle, laughing.  "Torrens is certainly
an unfortunate name, for it leads a stranger naturally to look for a
deep and impetuous stream.  Some gentleman from Melbourne, when he first
saw it, was highly incensed and disgusted, and exclaimed, `Is this
_crack in the earth_ your river Torrens?'"

"But I suppose," inquired Frank, "it is not always as shallow as now?"

"No indeed," said the other; "I've seen it many a time a real Torrens.
When it comes rushing down, swollen by numberless little streams from
the hills, it will carry almost everything before it.  Bridges, and
strong ones too, it has swept away, and you may judge both of its
violence and of the height to which it rises at such times, when I tell
you that, when a flood has subsided, you may sometimes look up and see a
dead horse sticking in the fork of a tree which had for a time been
nearly under water.  And I've often thought that the drink is like this
stream; people will scarce credit at first that it can do so much
mischief--it's only a little drop, or a glass or two, but the drop
becomes a stream, and the glass a mighty river, and down goes all before
it, money, home, love, character, peace, everything.  But see, that's
the jail on our left now.  If there were more total abstainers, we
shouldn't want such a costly building, nor so many policemen, as we do
now.  Here, as in the old country, the drink is at the bottom of nine-
tenths of the crime.  And now we're just coming up to the top of Hindley
Street.  Look down it; it's a busy street; you can see right away
through Rundle Street, which is a continuation of it, to the Park Lands
beyond.  Now, just take a fact about the drinking habits of this colony.
You'll suppose, of course, that this street wants lighting at night.
Well; how is this done?  We have no gas as yet; no doubt we shall have
it by-and-by.  Well, then, look along each side of the street, and
you'll see ordinary lamps projecting from houses at tolerably regular
intervals.  These houses are all public-houses.  Every publican is bound
by law to keep a lamp burning outside his house every dark night; and
these lamps light the street very creditably.  I use the word
`creditably' simply in reference to the lighting; doesn't that speak
volumes?"

"Yes, indeed," said Hubert; "I fear it tells of abundant crime and
misery."

"It does.  But we mustn't dwell on the dark side now, for I want this to
be a bright day for us all.  You see we've some nice shops in Hindley
Street."

"Yes," said Frank; "but what a remarkable variety of style in the
houses; there are no two of them, scarcely, alike in size, shape, or
height.  They remind me rather of a class of boys in our dame school at
home, where big and little boys, tidy and ragged, stand side by side in
one long row."

"You are rather severe upon us," said Mr Oliphant laughing; "but we are
gradually improving; there is, however, plenty of room yet for
improvement, I allow."

And now they turned into King William Street, and drew up at the front
of a large store.

"This is my business place," said the merchant; "but I shall not ask you
to look at it now; we must be off again immediately for my country
residence among the hills.  Here, James, give the horses a little water;
now then, let us start again."

A few minutes more and they were rapidly crossing the Park Lands.

"These are gum trees, I suppose?" asked Hubert.

"Yes, they are," said his uncle; "but not worth much, either for timber,
ornament, or shade.  You wouldn't get much relief from the heat under
the poor shadow of their tassel-like foliage."

"What a very strange noise!" exclaimed Frank; "it seems as if a number
of stocking-looms were at work in the air."

"See now," said Mr Oliphant, "the force of habit.  I'm so used to the
sound, that I was utterly unconscious of it.  It is made by the cicada,
an insect very common in this country.  And now, where do you suppose
we're coming to?  This little village or township before us is Norwood,
and then comes Kensington.  I've no doubt it will strike you as one of
the oddest things in this colony, till you get used to it, though, of
course, it isn't peculiar to this colony, how places are made close
neighbours here, which are very widely separated in the old country,
from which they are borrowed."

"But why not retain the native names?" asked Hubert.

"Ah, why not, indeed?  What can be more musical in sound than Yatala,
Aldinga, Kooringa, Onkaparinga.  But then, we could not always find
native names enough; and, besides this, the Englishman likes to keep the
old country before him, by giving his place some dear familiar name that
sounds like home."

In about another half hour they reached their destination among the
hills.

"The Rocks," as Mr Abraham Oliphant's place was called, was situated on
a hill-side, high above the valley, but on a moderate slope.  A stout
post-and-rail fence surrounded the estate, and one of a more compact
nature enclosed the more private grounds.  The house was large, and
covered a considerable surface, as there were no rooms above the
basement floor.  The front windows commanded a magnificent view of the
city of Adelaide, with its surrounding lands, suburbs, and neighbouring
villages, and of the sea in the extreme distance.  At the back was a
remarkable group of rocks, from which the estate took its name; these
leaned on the hill-side, and were encased in a setting of wild shrubs
and creeping plants of extraordinary beauty.  A stream of purest spring
water perpetually flowed through a wide cleft in these rocks, and
afforded a deliciously cool supply, which never failed in the hottest
summer.  The house was surrounded by a wide verandah, which, like the
building itself, was roofed with shingles, and up the posts and along
the edge of which there climbed a profusion of the multiflora rose.  The
garden sloped away from the house, and contained an abundance of both
flowers and fruits.  There was the aloe, and more than one kind of
cactus, growing freely in the open air, with many other plants which
would need the hothouse or greenhouse in a colder climate.  Fig-trees,
vines, standard peach, and nectarine trees were in great abundance,
while a fence of the sharp Kangaroo Island acacia effectually kept all
inquisitive cattle at a respectful distance.  The inside of the house
was tastefully but not unduly furnished, ancient and modern articles
being ranged side by side in happy fraternity; for a thorough colonist
suits his own taste, and is tolerably independent of fashion.

"Welcome once more to Australia!" exclaimed Mr Oliphant to his young
companions; "and more especially welcome to `the Rocks.'  Come in: here,
let me introduce you to my eldest daughter and youngest son--Jane and
Thomas, here's your cousin Hubert; and here's his friend, Mr Frank
Oldfield; you must give them a hearty welcome."

All parties were soon at their ease together.  A sumptuous dinner-tea
was soon spread on the table of the dining-room--the windows of which
apartment commanded a view, across the valley, of the city and distant
sea.

Mr Oliphant was a widower, with two daughters and four sons.  Jane had
taken her mother's place; the two eldest sons were married, and settled
in other parts of the colony; the third son lived with his younger
sister at a sheep-station about twenty-five miles up the country; the
youngest son, Thomas, a boy about fifteen years old, was still at home,
and rode in daily to the collegiate school, returning in the evening.

"You'll meet your other cousins before long, I hope," said his uncle to
Hubert.  "They know, of course, that you are coming; and when I send
them word that you are actually come, we shall have them riding in at an
early day.  I suppose you're used to riding yourself?  Ah, that's right;
then you're pretty independent.  Horseflesh is cheap enough here, but it
isn't always of the choicest quality; however, I can furnish you with
what you'll want in that way.  All your cousins ride, of course, by a
sort of colonial instinct.  An Australian and his horse almost grow
together like a centaur."

"And do you ride much, Cousin Jane?" asked Hubert.

"Oh, never mind the `cousin;' you must drop it at once," said Mr
Oliphant.  "It's Jane, and you're Hubert.  But I beg Jane's pardon for
smothering her answer."

"Oh yes, Hubert," replied his cousin; "I ride, as a matter of course; we
should never get over much ground, especially in the hot weather, if we
walked as much as people seem to do in England.  But I have not yet
heard how you left my dear aunt and uncle.  Seeing you seems half like
seeing them; I've heard so much of them."

"I suppose you hardly venture out kangaroo-hunting, Miss Oliphant?"
asked Frank.

"I have done so once or twice in the north," she replied; "but the
kangaroo is not fond of so many white faces near his haunts, so he has
retired from these parts altogether."

"And you find you can all stand total abstinence here?" asked Hubert of
his uncle.

"Stand it!" exclaimed Mr Oliphant; "I should think so.  Why, my dear
nephew, it don't need standing; it's the drink I couldn't stand.  You
should see the whole lot of us when we meet at one of our great family
gatherings.  Well, it's not quite the thing perhaps for a father to
say--and yet I fancy it's not very far from the truth--that you'll not
see a stouter, a better grown--Jane, shall I say handsomer?--I certainly
may say a healthier, family anywhere; and not one of us is indebted to
any alcoholic stimulant for our good looks."

"You have always, then, been an abstainer since you came to the colony?"
asked Frank.

"No, I have not; more's the pity," was the reply; "but only one or two
of my children remember the day when I first became an abstainer.  From
the oldest to the youngest they have been brought up without fermented
stimulants, and abhor the very sight of them."

"And might I ask," inquired Frank, "what led to the change in your case,
if the question is not an intrusive one?"

"Oh, by all means; I've nothing to conceal in the matter," said Mr
Oliphant; "the story is a very simple one.  But come, you must make a
good tea; listening is often as hungry work as talking.  Well, the
circumstances were just these: when I was left a widower, more than
fourteen years ago, Jane was about twelve years old and Thomas only six
months; I was then a moderate drinker, as it is called--that is to say,
I never got drunk; but I'm sure if any one had asked me to define
`moderation,' I should have been sorely puzzled to do so; and I am quite
certain that I often exceeded the bounds of moderation, not in the eyes
of my fellow-creatures, but in the eyes of my Creator--ay, and in my own
eyes too, for I often felt heated and excited by what I drank, so as to
wish that I had taken a glass or two less,--yet all this time I never
overstepped the bounds, so as to lose my self-control.  At this time I
kept a capital cellar--I mean a cellar largely stocked with choice wines
and spirits.  I did not live then at `the Rocks,' but in a house on the
skirts of the city.  You may be sure that I needed a good nurse to look
after so many growing children who had just lost their dear mother, and
I was happy enough to light upon a treasure of a woman--she was clean,
civil, active, faithful, honest, forbearing, and full of love to the
children; in a word, all that I could desire her to be.  She took an
immense deal of care off my hands, and I could have trusted her with
everything I had.  Months passed by, and I began to give large dinner-
parties--for I was rather famous for my wines.  Besides this, I was
always having friends dropping in, happy to take a glass.  All went on
well--so it seemed--till one afternoon a maid came running into my
sitting-room and cried out, `Oh, sir, nurse is so very ill; what must we
do?'  I hurried up-stairs.  There was the poor woman, sure enough, in a
very miserable state.  I couldn't make it out at all.

"`Send for a doctor at once!'  I cried.  In a little while the doctor
came.  I waited most anxiously for his report.  At last he came down,
and the door was closed on us.

"`Well, doctor,' I cried, in great anxiety; `nothing very serious, I
hope?  I can ill afford to lose such a faithful creature.'

"I saw a curious smile on his face, which rather nettled me, as I
thought it very ill-timed.  At last he fairly burst out into a laugh,
and exclaimed, `There's nothing the matter with the woman, only she's
drunk.'

"`Drunk!'  I exclaimed with horror; `impossible!'

"`Ay, but it's both possible and true too,' said the doctor; `she'll be
all right, you'll see, in a few hours.'

"And so she was.  I then spoke out plainly and kindly to her.  Oh, I
shall never forget her misery and shame.  She made no attempt to deny
her fault, or even excuse it; she was heart-broken; she said she must go
at once.  I urged her to stay, and to turn over a new leaf.  I promised
to overlook what had passed, and told her that she might soon regain her
former place in my esteem and confidence.  But I could not keep her; she
could not bear to remain, much as she loved the children; she must go
elsewhere and hide her disgrace.

"`But how came you to contract such a habit?' said I.  And then she told
me that she began by finishing what was left in the glasses of my
friends and myself after dinner; then, as I never locked up the
cellaret--the thirst becoming stronger and stronger--she helped herself
from the bottles, till at last she had become a confirmed drunkard.  I
pitied her deeply, as you may well understand; and would have kept her
on, but nothing would induce her to stay.  However, I had learned a
lesson, and had made up my mind: I was determined that thenceforward no
one should ever sow the first seeds of drunkenness in my house, or have
any countenance in drinking from my _example_.  The very morning the
unhappy woman left, I made a vigorous onslaught on the drink.

"`Fetch up the cellar!'  I cried; and the cellar was forthwith fetched
up.  Beer barrels, wine bottles and spirit-bottles, dozens of pale ale
and bitter beer, were soon dragged into light.

"`Now, fetch me the kitchen-poker!'  I shouted; it was brought me, and I
commenced such a smashing as I should think has never been witnessed
before, nor is likely to be witnessed again.  Right and left, and all
round me, the yard was flooded with malt liquors, spirits and wines.
Then I knocked out the bungs of the casks, and joined their contents to
the flood.  You may suppose there was some little staring at all this,
but it mattered nothing to me.  I was resolved that what had ruined my
poor nurse should never ruin any one else at my cost, or in my house; so
from that day to this no alcoholic stimulant has passed my lips; nor
been given by me to man, woman, or child; nor, please God, ever shall
be.--Now, my dear young friends, you have had the history of what first
led me to become a total abstainer."

There was a silence for several minutes, which was at last broken by
Hubert's asking,--

"And what became of the unhappy woman, dear uncle?"

"Ah! don't ask me.  She went from bad to worse while she remained in the
colony.  For so it commonly is with drunkards, but most of all with
female drunkards.  I've known--and I thank God for it--many a reformed
male drunkard; but when women take decidedly to drinking, it is very
rare indeed to see them cured--at least, that has been _my_ experience.
I got poor nurse away with a friend of mine who was going in a
temperance ship to England, hoping that the habit might be broken off
during the voyage.  But, alas! she broke out again soon after reaching
home, and died at last a miserable death in a workhouse.  But I see you
look rather fagged, Mr Oldfield.  Shall we take a turn in the garden
before it gets dark, and then perhaps you'll like a little music?"

And now we must leave Abraham Oliphant and Australia for a while, and
return to Langhurst, and some of the earlier characters of our story.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

AN EXPLOSION IN THE PIT.

"No letter yet from our Sammul," cried Betty, wearily and sadly, as she
came from the mill on a dreary night in the November after her brother's
sudden departure.  "I thought as how he'd have been sure to write to me.
Well, I suppose we must make ourselves content till he's got over the
sea.  But oh, it'll be weary work till we've heard summat from him."

"Hush, hush, there's a good bairn," said her mother, though the tears
were all the while running down her own cheeks as she spoke; "don't take
on so; you'll drive your fayther clean crazy.  He's down in the mouth
enough already.  Come, don't fret in that fashion, Thomas; Sammul'll
come back afore long: you've been crouching down by the hearth-stone
long enough.  If you'll be guided by me, you'll just take a drop of good
ale, it'll liven you up a bit; you want summat of the sort, or you'll
shrivel up till you've nothing but skin on your bones."

"Ale!" cried Thomas, indignantly; "ale'll not make me better--ale won't
make me forget--ale won't bring back our Sammul, it's driven him far
enough away."

"Well," said his wife, soothingly, "you must go your own way; only, if
you keep a-fretting of that fashion, you'll not be able to do your work
gradely, and then we shall all have to starve, and that'll be worse for
you still."

"Better starve," replied her husband moodily, "nor ruin body and soul
with the drink; I'll have no more of it."

"Well, you can please yourself;" replied Alice, "so long as you don't
take me with you.  But I must have my drop of beer and my pipe, I can't
live without 'em; and so you may rest content with that; it's the truth,
it is for sure."

"Mother," said Betty, mournfully, "can you really talk in that fashion
to fayther, when you know how the drink's been the cause of all the
misery in our house, till it's driven our poor Sammul away to crouch him
down on other folk's hearth-stones in foreign parts?  I should have
thought we might all have learnt a lesson by this time."

"It's no use talking, child," replied her mother; "you go your way, and
take your fayther with you if he's a mind, but don't think to come over
me with your talk; I'm not a babe, I can take care of myself.  The
drink's good enough in moderation, and I'm going to be moderate.  But
lads and wenches is so proud now-a-days that mothers has to hearken and
childer does the teaching."

Poor Betty! she sighed, and said no more.  Johnson also saw that it was
no use reasoning with his wife.  Her appetite for the drink was
unquenchable.  It was clear that she loved it better than husband,
children, home, conscience, soul.  Alas! poor Thomas's was a heavy
burden indeed.  Could he only have been sure that his son was alive and
well, he could have borne his troubles better; but now he seemed crushed
to the very earth.  And yet, strange as it might seem, he did not feel
tempted to fly to the drink again for consolation; he rather shrank from
the very sight and thought of it.  Ah, there were many prayers being
offered up for him; unseen hands were guiding him, and in his home was
the daily presence of one who was indeed a help and comfort to him.  He
clung to Betty now, and she to him, with a peculiar tenderness.  _Her_
heart was full of the warm glow of unselfish love, and his was learning
to expand and unfold under the influence of her bright example.  Theirs
was a common sorrow and a common hope, as far as Samuel was concerned.
Why had he not written to them from Liverpool, or from whatever port he
had sailed from?  That he _had_ gone beyond the sea, they were both
firmly convinced.  Betty, of course, had her own special sorrow.  She
could not forget that terrible night--she could not forget the knife and
the blood--though she was still fully persuaded that her brother had not
laid violent hands on himself.  But oh, if he would only write, what a
load of misery would be taken off both their hearts; yet no letter came.
November wore away, December came and went, the new year began, still
there was no news of Samuel.  Ned Brierley did all he could to console
the unhappy father and daughter, and with some success.  He was very
urgent with Thomas to sign the pledge, and thus openly join himself to
the little band of total abstainers, and Thomas had pretty nearly made
up his mind to do so.  He had hesitated, not so much because he dreaded
the sneers and jeers of his companions--he had become callous to those--
but he shrank from encountering the daily, wearing, gnawing trial of his
wife's taunts and reproaches; for the restless uneasiness of a
conscience not yet quite seared into utter insensibility made the
unhappy woman doubly bitter in her attacks upon abstinence and
abstainers.  And thus matters were when February opened.

It was on a clear frosty evening in the beginning of that month that
Betty was returning from the mill.  They were running short time that
week, and she was coming home about an hour earlier than usual.  The
ground was hard and crisp, and the setting sun sank a misty red, while a
greyish-yellow tint overspread the whole horizon.  Betty toiled slowly
and listlessly up the hill, the old weight still on her heart.  She had
nearly reached her home, when a sound fearfully loud and awful, like the
discharge of the cannon of two conflicting armies underground in one
vast but muffled roar, made her heart almost stand still with terror.
The next instant a huge body of sulphurous smoke leaped high into the
air from one of the pit-mouths.  In a moment the dreadful cry arose,
"The pit's fired!"

The next minute men, women, and children poured out from houses and
cottages, horror and dismay on every face.  Near two hundred men and
boys were down that pit; scarce a house but had one or more below.  Oh,
who could adequately describe the dreadful scene of misery, wailing; and
confusion which followed!

Betty knew that her father was down, and she felt that in him all she
had to cling to on earth was now, perhaps, torn from her for ever.  Men
and women rushed past her towards the pit's mouth.

"Lord help us," groaned one poor mother; "our Thomas and Matthew's
down."

"Fayther's there too," wailed Betty.  "Oh, the Lord keep him, and bring
him up safe."

"Where's our Bill?--oh, have you seen anything of our Bill?" shrieked
another poor distracted mother.

Then came crowds of men, with overlookers and policemen.  Then a hasty
consultation was held as to what must be done.

"Who'll volunteer to go down with me and send the poor fellows up?"
cries the overlooker.  Three men come forward, and step with him into
the tub; not a word do they say, but they look quite calm and self-
possessed--they have a work to do, and they will do it.  And now the
women are clustered round on the pit-bank in haggard expectation, the
very picture of woe, some wild in their cries, others rocking themselves
to and fro to still, if it may be, their misery; and others bowed down
to the earth, the very image of mute despair.  And now the wheels
rapidly revolve, the rope runs swiftly, at last it slackens speed.  The
tub reaches the top--two ghastly forms are lifted from it--the women,
with straining eyes, pressing forward to look.  Oh, what a sight! the
fiery stream has scorched the faces and limbs of the poor men almost out
of knowledge.  Again the tub descends, again other sufferers are raised,
and still the same sad work continues hour after hour, far into the
night.  Some of those brought up are quite dead, poor blackened corpses;
others still live, and are borne home, moaning piteously.  From the
limbs of many the skin peels with a touch.  Some, less terribly injured,
run and leap like madmen when they reach the open fresh air; some come
up utterly blinded.  And oh, what a vale of tears is that village of
Langhurst the livelong night!  Some call in vain for fathers, husbands,
brothers; they have not yet been found.  Some wring their hands over
bodies which can never live again till the resurrection morning; some
lovingly tend those who lie racked with agony on their beds, every limb
writhing with fiery anguish; while some poor victims are so scorched and
blackened that none can be found to claim them--one can only be known by
his watch-chain, so completely is he burnt out of all remembrance.  And
what of poor Johnson?  Hour after hour Betty and her mother watched near
the pit's mouth, sick with sorrow and suspense, pressing forward as each
fresh tub-load landed its miserable burden, still to be disappointed;
while the wailings, the cries, the tears of those who claimed the dead,
the dying, the scorched, on every fresh arrival, only added fuel to
their burning grief.  At last, about midnight, three men were brought up
and laid on the bank, all apparently lifeless.

"Oh, there's fayther!"

"Oh, there's Thomas!" burst from the lips of Betty and her mother.

"Oh, take him home, take him home, live or dead," entreated Betty.

He was placed accordingly on a shutter, and carried by four men to his
home.  There they laid the body down on the couch, and left it alone
with the mother and daughter.  Alice wrung her hands in the bitterest
distress.

"Oh, he's dead, he's dead; he'll never speak to us any more."

"Mother, hush!" said Betty, softly; "he's not dead, I can see his lips
move and his breast heave.  Maybe the Lord'll be merciful to us, and
spare him.  O Father in heaven," she cried, throwing herself on her
knees, "do hear us, and spare poor fayther, for Jesus' sake."

The sufferer uttered a deep groan.

"Ay, ay, Betty," cried her mother, "the Lord be praised, there's life in
him yet.  Run to old Jenny's, and ask her to come and help us.  Her
master's all right; she'll be glad to give a helping hand to a neighbour
in trouble."

But there was no need to send for assistance, for in a minute after, the
cottage was filled with women, eager to use both hands and tongues in
the sufferer's service.  They carried him to his bed, and gently removed
his clothes from him, though not without great difficulty, for he was
fearfully burnt; and the act of taking off his clothing caused him great
agony, as the skin came away with some of his inner garments.  At last
he was made as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances, till
the doctor should come and dress his burns.  Betty sat watching him,
while her mother and the other women gathered round the fire below, with
their pipes and their drink, trying to drown sorrow.  She, poor girl,
knew where to seek a better consolation; she sought, and found it.  At
last her mother's step was again on the stairs; she came up unsteadily,
and with flushed face approached the bed where her husband lay.  She had
a mug of spirits in her hand.

"I'll give him a drop of this," she said thickly; "it'll put life into
him in no time."

"Oh, mother," cried Betty, "you mustn't do it; it's wrong, you'll be the
death of him."

But Alice would not heed her.  She put some of the spirits in a spoon to
the poor sufferer's lips.  She was astonished to find him perfectly
conscious, for he closed his mouth tightly, and shook his scarred face
from side to side.

"He won't have it, mother," said Betty, earnestly.

"Give me a drink of cold water," said the poor man in a low voice.
Betty fetched it him.  "Ay, that's it; I want nothing stronger."

Alice slipped down again to her companions below, but her daughter
remained in the chamber.

It was a desolate room, as desolate as poverty and drink could make it;
and now it looked doubly desolate, as the scorched figure of the old
collier lay motionless on the low, comfortless, curtainless bed.  A dip
in an old wine bottle standing on a box threw a gloomy light on the
disfigured features, which looked almost unearthly in the clear
moonlight which struggled with the miserable twinkling of the feeble
candle, and fell just across the bed.  Betty sat gazing at her father,
full of anxious and sorrowful thoughts.  How solemn the contrast between
the stillness of that sick-chamber and the Babel of eager tongues in the
house below!  She felt unspeakably wretched, and yet there was a sense
of rebuke in her conscience, for she knew how great a mercy it was that
her father's life was spared.  She sighed deeply, and then, suddenly
rising quietly, she lifted the lid of the box, and brought out a well-
worn Bible.  She was not much of a scholar, but she could make out a
verse or a passage in the Holy Book with a little pains.  She had put
her mark against favourite passages, and now she turned to some of
these.

"`Come, unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.'"

She paused on each word, uttering it half aloud, as she travelled
carefully from one line to another.

"Ah, that's what I want," she said to herself, but in an audible
whisper.  "It means, Come to Jesus, I know."

She turned over several more leaves, and then she read again, and rather
louder,--

"`Be careful for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts
and minds, through Christ Jesus.'

"Oh yes, I must do so myself; I must tell the Lord all my trouble; my
heart'll be lighter, when I've told it all to him."

She stopped, and put the book aside, resting her head on her hands.  She
was startled by hearing her father say,--

"It's very good.  Read on, Betty, my lass."

"Oh, fayther, I didn't think you could hear me!  What shall I read?"

"Read about some poor sinner like me, that got his sins pardoned by
Jesus Christ."

"I can't justly say where it is, fayther; but I know there's one place
where it tells of a sinful man as had his sins pardoned by Jesus Christ,
even when he hung upon the cross.  I know well it was when the Lord were
a-dying.  Ah, here it is;" and she read,--

"`And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If
thou be Christ, save thyself and us.  But the other answering, rebuked
him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same
condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of
our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto
Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus
said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in
paradise.'"

"Do you think, Betty," asked Johnson very earnestly, "I should go to be
with Jesus, if I were to die now?  Oh, if this pain's so bad, what must
hell-fire be?"

"Fayther," replied his daughter quietly, "the Lord's spared you for
summat.  I prayed him to spare you, and he'll not cast you off now as
he's heard my prayer.  If you take him at his word, he'll not tell you
as you're mistaken--he'll not say he hasn't pardon in his heart for
you."

"I believe it, I will believe it," said the poor man, the tears running
down his cheeks.  "O God, be merciful to me a sinner, for Jesus Christ's
sake,"--there was a pause; then, after a while, he added, "I think as
he'll hear me, Betty."

"I am sure he will," she answered; "but you must lie still, fayther, or
maybe you'll do yourself harm.  The doctor'll be here just now."

It was a night of darkness and terror, yet even on that sad night there
was glorious light which man's eye could not see, for there was joy in
the presence of the angels of God over at least one penitent sinner in
Langhurst.  But how full of gloom to most!  Many had been cut off in the
midst of their sins, and those who mourned their loss sorrowed as those
who have no hope.  Two of poor Johnson's persecutors were suddenly
snatched away in their impenitence and hardness of heart, a third was
crippled for life.  Yet the drink kept firm hold of its victims--the
very night of the explosion the "George" gathered a golden harvest.
Death in its ghastliest forms only seemed to whet the thirst for the
drink.  At one house, while the blackened corpse lay in its clothes on
the outside of the bed, preparatory to its being laid out, the dead
man's widow and her female helpers sat refreshing themselves, and
driving away care, with large potations of tea, made palatable with rum,
and that so near the corpse that any one of the party could have touched
it without rising from her seat.

The shock caused by the explosion was a terrible one, but its stunning
effects passed away, only to leave the most who felt that shock harder
and more indifferent than ever.  Yet in one house that awful blow was
found to be a messenger of mercy.  Thomas Johnson rose from his bed of
pain a changed and penitent man.  Oh, what a happy day it was to Ned
Brierley and his little band of stanch Christian abstainers, when Thomas
came forward, as he soon did, and manfully signed the pledge, as
resolved henceforth to be, with God's help, consistent and
uncompromising in his entire renunciation of all intoxicating drinks!



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

MIDNIGHT DARKNESS.

When Thomas Johnson signed the pledge, a storm of persecution broke upon
him which would have rather staggered an ordinary man; but, as we have
said before, Thomas was no ordinary character, but one of those men who
are born to do good service under whatever banner they may range
themselves.  He had long served in Satan's army, and had worked well for
him.  But now he had chosen another Captain, even the Lord Jesus Christ
himself, and he was prepared to throw all the energy and decision of his
character into his work for his new and heavenly Master, and to endure
hardness as a good soldier of the Captain of his salvation.  For he had
need indeed to count the cost.  He might have done anything else he
pleased, except give up the drink and turn real Christian, and no one
would have quarrelled with him.  He might have turned his wife and
daughter out to starve in the streets, and his old boon-companions would
have forgotten all about it over a pot of beer.  But to sign the
pledge?--this was indeed unpardonable.  And why?  Because the drunkard
cannot afford to let a fellow-victim escape: he has himself lost peace,
hope, character, home, happiness, and is drinking his soul into hell,
and every fellow-drunkard reformed and removed from his side makes his
conscience more bare, and exposed to the glare of that eternal wrath
which he tries to shut out from his consciousness, and partly succeeds,
as he gathers about him those like-minded with himself.  So every petty
insult and annoyance was heaped upon Johnson by his former companions:
they ridiculed his principles, they questioned his sincerity, they
scoffed at the idea of his continuing firm, they attributed all sorts of
base motives to him.  He was often sorely provoked, but he acted upon
the advice of that holy man who tells us that, when people throw mud at
us, our wisdom is to leave it to dry, when it will fall off of itself,
and not to smear our clothes by trying of ourselves to wipe it off.  He
had hearty helpers in Ned Brierley and his family; Ned himself being a
special support, for the persecutors were all afraid of him.  But his
chief earthly comforter was Betty.  Oh, how she rejoiced in her father's
conversion and in his signing the pledge!  Oh, if Samuel would only
write, how happy she should be!  She would write back and tell him of
the great and blessed change wrought by grace in their father, and maybe
he would come back again to them when he heard it.  But he came not, he
wrote not; and this was the bitterest sorrow to both Betty and her
father.  Johnson knew that his own sin had driven his son away, and he
tried therefore to take the trial patiently, as from the hand of a
Father who was chastening him in love.  Betty longed for her brother's
return, or at least to hear from him, with a sickening intensity, which
grew day by day; for though she was really convinced that he had not
destroyed himself, yet dreadful misgivings would cross her mind from
time to time.  The knife, with its discoloured blade, was still in her
possession, and the mystery about it remained entirely unexplained.  But
she too prayed for patience, and God gave it to her; for hers was the
simple prayer of a loving, trusting, and believing heart.  Perhaps,
however, the sorest trial to both Johnson and his daughter was the
conduct of Alice.  She was bitterly incensed at her husband's signing
the pledge.  No foul language was too bad for him; and as for Betty, she
could hardly give her a civil word.  They both, however, bore it
patiently.  At one time she would be furious, at another moodily silent
and sulky for days.  But what made the miserable woman most outrageous
was the fact that her husband would not trust her with any money, but
put his wages into the hands of Betty, to purchase what was wanted for
the family, and to pay off old scores.  She was therefore at her wits'
end how to get the drink, for the drink she would have.  Johnson, with
his characteristic decision, had gone round to the different publicans
in Langhurst and the neighbourhood, taking Ned Brierley with him as
witness, and had plainly given them to understand that he would pay for
no more drink on his wife's account.  He then came home and told her
what he had done, when he was alone with her and Betty.  Poor miserable
woman!  She became perfectly livid with passion, and was about to pour
out her rage in a torrent of furious abuse, when Johnson rose from his
seat, and looking her steadily in the face, said in a moderately loud
and very determined voice,--

"Alice, sit you down and hearken to me."

There was something in his manner which forced her to obey.  She dropped
into a chair by the fire, and burst into a hurricane of tears.  He let
her spend herself, and then, himself sitting down, he said,--

"Alice, you've known me long enough to be sure that I'm not the sort of
man to be turned from my purpose.  You and I have lived together many
years now, and all on 'em's been spent in the service of the devil.  I'm
not laying the blame more on you nor on myself.  I've been the worse, it
may be, of the two.  But I can't go on as I have done.  The Lord has
been very merciful to me, or I shouldn't be here now.  I've served the
old lad too long by the half, and I mean now to serve a better Mayster,
and to serve him gradely too, if he'll only help me--and our Betty says
she's sure he will, for the Book says so.  Now, if I'm to be a gradely
servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I must be an honest man--I must pay my
way if I can; but I can't pay at all if my brass is to go for the
drink--and you know, Alice, you can't deny it, that you'd spend the
brass in drink if I gave it yourself.  But, more nor that, if I'd as
much brass as'd fill the coal-pit, shaft and all, I'd not give my
consent to any on it's going for the drink.  I know that you can do
without the drink if you've a mind.  I know you'll be all the better by
being without it.  I know, and you know yourself, that it's swallowed up
the clothes from your own back, and starved and beggared us all.  If
you'll give it up, and live without it like a Christian woman should,
you'll never have an afterthought; and as soon as I see that you can be
trusted with the brass, I'll give it you again with all my heart.  Come,
Alice, there's a good wench; you mustn't think me hard.  I've been a
hard husband, and fayther too, for years, but I must be different now;
and I'll try and do my duty by you all, and folks may just say what they
please."

Alice did not reply a word; her passion had cooled, and she sat rocking
herself backwards and forwards, with her apron to her eyes, sobbing
bitterly.  She knew her husband too well to think of deliberately
attempting to make him change his purpose, yet she was equally resolved
that the drink she would and must have.  At last she said, with many
tears,--

"Well, Thomas, you must please yourself.  I know well, to my cost, that
I might as well try and turn the hills wrong side out as turn you from
what you've set your heart on.  But you know all the while that I can't
do without my little drop of drink.  Well, it makes no odds whether I
starve to death or die for want of the drink--there'll be short work
with me one road or the other; and then you and Betty can fill up my
place with some of them teetottal chaps you're both so fond on, when I'm
in the ground."

Johnson made no reply, but shortly after left for his work, as he was in
the night-shift that week.

Alice sat for a long time turning over in her mind what steps to take in
order to get the means for satisfying her miserable appetite.  She had
no money; she knew that none of the publicans would trust her any
longer; and as for pawning any articles, she had pawned already
everything that she dared lay her hands on.  Her only hope now was in
Betty; she would speak her fair, and see if she could not so work upon
her feelings as to induce her to give her part of her own wages.

"Betty," she said, softly and sadly, "you're all the wenches I have; ay,
and all the childer too, for our Sammul's as good as dead and gone, we
shall never see him no more--ah, he _was_ a good lad to his poor mother;
he'd never have grudged her the brass to buy a drop of drink.  You'll
not do as your father's doing--break your old mother's heart, and let
her waste and die out for want of a drop of drink."

"Mother," replied Betty very quietly, but with a great deal of her
father's decision in her manner, "I can't go against what fayther's made
me promise.  I've worked for you ever since I were a little wench scarce
higher nor the table; and I'll work for you and fayther still, and you
shall neither on you want meat nor drink while I've an arm to work with;
but I can't give you the brass yourself 'cos it'll only go into the
publican's pocket, and we've nothing to spare for him."

"You might have plenty to spare if you'd a mind," said her mother,
gloomily.

"No, mother; all fayther's brass, and all my brass too, 'll have to go
to pay old debts for many a long week to come."

"Ah, but you might have as much brass as you liked, if you'd only go the
right way to work."

"As much brass as I like.  I can't tell what you mean, mother; you must
be dreaming, I think."

"I'm not dreaming," said Alice.  "There's Widow Reeves, she's no better
wage nor you, and yet she's always got brass to spare for gin and
baccy."

"Widow Reeves! mother--yes, but it's other folks' brass, and not her
own."

"Well, but she manages to get the brass anyhow," said her mother coolly.

"I know she does, mother, and she's the talk of the whole village.
She's in debt to every shop for miles round, and never pays nowt to
nobody."

"Maybe she don't," said Alice carelessly, "but she's always brass to
spare in her pocket, and so might you."

"I couldn't do it," cried Betty vehemently, "I couldn't do it, mother.
It's a sin and a shame of Widow Reeves--she takes her brass for a bit to
the last new shop as turns up, and then runs up a long score, and leaves
without paying."

"Well, that's her concern, not mine," said the other; "I'm not saying as
it's just right; you needn't do as she does--but you're not bound to pay
_all_ up at once, you might hold back a little each now and then, and
you'd have summat to spare for your poor old mother."

"But I've promised fayther, and he trusts me."

"Promised fayther!--you need say nowt to your fayther about it--he'll
never be none the wiser."

"O mother, mother, how can you talk so, after all as is come and gone!
How can you ask me to cheat my own poor fayther, as is so changed? he's
trying gradely to get to heaven, and to bring you along with him too,
and you're wanting to pull us all back.  Mother, mother, how can you do
it?  How can you ask me to go agen fayther when he leaves all to me?
You're acting the devil's part, mother, when you 'tice your own child to
do wrong.  Oh, it's cruel, it's cruel, when you know, if I were to
deceive fayther it'd break his heart.  But it's the drink that's been
speaking.  Oh, the cursed drink! that can pluck a mother's heart out of
her bosom, and make her the tempter of her own child!  I must leave you,
mother, now.  I durstn't stay.  I might say summat as I shouldn't, for I
am your child still.  But oh, mother, pray God to forgive you for what
you've said to me this night; and may the Lord indeed forgive you, as I
pray that I may have grace to do myself."  So saying, she hastily threw
her handkerchief over her head and left the cottage.

And what were Alice Johnson's thoughts when she was left alone?  She sat
still by the fire, and never moved for a long time.  Darkness, midnight
darkness, a horror of darkness, was settling down on her soul.  She had
no false support now from the drink, and so her physical state added to
her utter depression.  Conscience began to speak as it had never spoken
before; and then came pressing on her the horrible craving, which she
had no means now of gratifying.  The past and the future fastened upon
her soul like the fiery fangs of two fearful snakes.  She saw the wasted
past--her children neglected; her home desolate, empty, foul,
comfortless; her husband and herself wasting life in the indulgence of
their common sin, living without God in the world;--she saw herself the
cause, in part at least, of her son's flight; she remembered how she had
ever set herself against his joining the band of total abstainers;--and
now she beheld herself about the vilest thing on earth--a mother
deliberately tempting her daughter to deceive her father, that herself
might gratify her craving for the drink.  Oh, how she loathed herself!
oh, what a horror crept over her soul!  Could she really be so utterly
vile? could she really have sunk so low?  And then came up before her
the yet more fearful future: her husband no longer a companion with her
in her sin--she must sin alone; her daughter alienated from her by her
own act; and then the drink, for which she had sold herself body and
soul, she must be without it, she must crave and not be satisfied--the
thought was intolerable, it was madness.  But there was a farther
future; there was in the far distance the blackness of darkness for
ever, yet rendered visible by the glare of a coming hell.  Evening
thickened round her, but she sat on.  The air all about her seemed
crowded with spirits of evil; her misery became deeper and deeper; she
did not, she could not repent--and what then?

An hour later Betty returned from Ned Brierley's.  Where was Alice?
Betty looked for her, but she was nowhere to be found; she called her,
but there was no answer.  She concluded that she had gone into a
neighbour's, and sat down waiting for her till she grew weary: her heart
was softened towards her; she would pray for her, she would try still to
win her back from the bondage of Satan; she was her mother still.  Hour
after hour passed, but still her mother did not come.  Betty took a
light, and went up into the chamber to fetch her Bible.  Something
unusual near the door caught her eye--with a scream of terror she darted
forward.  Oh, what a sight! her miserable mother was hanging behind the
door from a beam!  Betty's repeated screams brought in the neighbours;
they found the wretched woman quite dead.  She had sinned away her day
of grace; and was gone to give in her account of body, soul, time,
talents, utterly wasted, and of her life taken by her own hands; and
all--all under the tyranny of the demon of drink.



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

PLOTTING.

When Betty's cries of horror brought the neighbours round her, they
found the poor girl lying insensible by the corpse of her mother, which
was still suspended by the beam behind the door.  They cut down the
wretched creature, and tried everything to restore her to consciousness;
but life was fled--the day of trial was over.  Johnson returned from the
pit, from whence he was summoned, to find his wife dead, destroyed by
her own hand; and Betty utterly prostrate on her bed with the terrible
and agonising shock.

Oh, drink, drink! most heartless of all fiendish destroyers, thou dost
kill thy victims with a smile, plucking away from them every stay and
support that keeps them from the pit of destruction; robbing them of
every comfort, while hugging them in an embrace which promises delight,
and yet crushes out the life-blood both of body and soul; making
merriment in the eye and on the tongue, while home, love, character, and
peace are melting and vanishing away.  Wretched Alice! she might have
been a happy mother, a happy wife, with her children loving, honouring,
and blessing her; but she had sold herself for the drink, and a life of
shame and a death of despair were her miserable reward.

Poor Johnson's life was now a very weary one.  He had hope indeed to
cheer him--a better than any earthly hope, a hope full of immortality.
Still he was but a beginner in the Christian life, and had hard work to
struggle on through the gloom towards the guiding light through the deep
shadows of earth that were thickening around him.  Betty tried to cheer
him; but, poor girl, she needed cheering herself.  Her brother's flight;
the uncertainty as to what had really become of him; the hope deferred
of hearing from him which made her heart sick; and now the dreadful
death of her unhappy mother, and that, too, so immediately following on
their last miserable conversation;--all these sorrows combined weighed
down her spirit to the very dust.  She longed to flee away and be at
rest; but she could not escape into forgetfulness, and she would not fly
from duty.  So a dark cloud hung over that home, and it was soon to be
darker still.  Ned Brierley was appointed manager of a colliery in
Wales, at a place a hundred miles or more from Langhurst, and a few
months after Alice Johnson's death he removed to his new situation, with
all his family.  A night or two before he left he called upon Johnson.

"Well, my lad," he said, taking a seat near the fire, "I reckon you and
I mayn't meet again for many a long day.  But if you're coming our side
at any time, we shall be right glad to see you, and Betty too, and give
you a hearty total abstainer's welcome."

"I'm afraid," said Betty, "that fayther nor me's not like to be
travelling your road.  I'm sure I'm glad you're a-going to better
yourselves, for you desarve it; but it'll be the worse for us."

"Ay," said Johnson despondingly; "first one prop's taken away, and then
another; and after a bit the roof'll fall in, and make an end on us."

"Nay, nay, man," said his friend reprovingly, "it's not come to that
yet.  You forget the best of all Friends, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He
ever liveth; and hasn't he said, `I will never leave thee nor forsake
thee?'"

"That's true," replied the other; "but I can't always feel it.  He's
helped me afore now, and I know as he'll help me again--but I can't
always trust him as I should."

"Ah, but you _must_ trust him," said Brierley earnestly; "you must stick
firm to your Saviour.  And you must stick firm to your pledge, Thomas--
promise me that."

"Yes; by God's help, so I will," was the reply; "only I see I shall have
hard work.  But it's no odds, they can't make me break if I'm resolved
that I won't."

"No, fayther," said his daughter; "and they can't go the breadth of a
thread further nor the Lord permits."

"That's true, Betty, my lass," said Ned; "so cheer up, Thomas.  I feel
sure--I can't tell you why, but I do feel sure--that the Lord'll bring
back your Sammul again.  He'll turn up some day, take my word for it.
So don't lose heart, Thomas; but remember how the blessed Book says,
`Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.'"

"God bless you," said Johnson, squeezing Ned's hand hard; "you're a
gradely comforter."

And so they parted.

It was not long, however, before Thomas's patience was tried to the
uttermost.  His enemies let him alone for a short time after his wife's
death--for there is a measure of rugged consideration even among
profligates and drunkards.  But a storm had been brewing, and it fell at
last when Ned Brierley had been gone from Langhurst about a month.  A
desperate effort was made to get Johnson back to join his old companions
at the "George," and when this utterly failed, every spiteful thing that
malice could suggest and ingenuity effect was practised on the
unfortunate collier, and in a measure upon Betty also.  But, like the
wind in the fable, this storm only made Johnson wrap himself round more
firmly in the folds of his own strong resolution, rendered doubly strong
by prayer.  Such a thought as yielding never crossed his mind.  His only
anxiety was how best to bear the cross laid on him.  There were, of
course, other abstainers in Langhurst besides the Brierleys, and these
backed him up, so that by degrees his tormentors began to let him alone,
and gave him a space for breathing, but they never ceased to have an eye
towards him for mischief.

The month of October had now come, when one evening, as Johnson and
Betty were sitting at tea after their day's work, there was a knock at
the door, and immediately afterwards a respectable-looking man entered,
and asked,--

"Does not Thomas Johnson live here?"

"Yes; he does," was Johnson's reply.

"And I suppose, then, you're Thomas Johnson yourself?" said the
stranger.

"I reckon you're not so far wrong," was the answer.

"Ah, well; so it is for sure," broke out Betty.  "Why, you're the
teetottal chap as came a-lecturing when me and our poor Sammul signed
the pledge."

"Sit ye down, sit ye down," cried her father; "you're welcome to our
house, though it is but a sorrowful one."

"I think, my friend," said the stranger, "that you are one of us now."

"You may well say _now_," replied the other, "for when you was here
afore, you'd a gone out of the door a deal quicker nor you came in; but,
I bless the Lord, things are changed now."

"Yes, indeed," said the other, "it is the Lord's doing, and it is
marvellous in our eyes; though, indeed, he does work such wonderful
things that we've daily cause to bless and praise him.  Well, my
friend--for we are friends, I see, in the best of bonds now--I have not
long to stay now, but I just want to ask you one thing.  I should like
to have a total abstinence meeting next month in Langhurst.  Will you
say a word for us?  We want some working man who has been rescued,
through God's mercy, from the chains of the drink, to stand up and tell,
in a simple, straightforward way, what he once was, and what God has
done for him as a pledged abstainer; and I judge, from what I hear, that
you're just the man we want."

Johnson paused for a while.

"I don't know," he said, shaking his head; "I don't know.  I'm not so
sure it'll do at all."

"Oh, fayther," cried Betty, "you must do what the gentleman axes you.
It may do good to some poor creatures, and lead 'em to sign.  It's only
a small candle-end as the Lord's given such as we are, but we must light
it, and let it shine."

"Well," said her father, slowly, "maybe I oughtn't to say `No;' and yet
you may be sure, if it gets talked on in the village, it's little peace
as I shall have."

"Well, my friend," said the stranger, "of course I don't wish to bring
you into trouble.  Still this is one of the ways in which you may take
up a cross nobly for your Saviour, and he'll give the strength to carry
it."

"Say no more," replied Johnson; "if the Lord spares me, they shall hear
a gradely tale from me."

It was soon noised abroad in Langhurst that Thomas Johnson was to give
an account of himself as a reformed man and a total abstainer, at a
meeting to be held in the village in the following month of November.

His old companions were half mad with rage and vexation.  What could be
done?  They were determined that he should be served out in some way,
and that he should be prevented from appearing at the meeting.  Come
what would, he should not stand up and triumph in his teetotalism on the
platform--that they were quite resolved on.  Some scheme or plan must be
devised to hinder it.  And fortune seemed to favour them.

A short time after it became generally known that Johnson was to speak,
a young lad might be seen hurrying home in his coal-pit-clothes to a
low, dirty-looking cottage that stood on the outskirts of the village.

"Mother," cried the boy, as soon as he reached the house and could
recover his breath, "where's fayther?"

"He's not come home yet," said the mother; "but what ails you, John?"

"Why, mother," said the boy, with trembling voice, "fayther gave me a
shilling to get change just as we was leaving the pit-bank, and I
dropped it somewhere as I were coming down the lane.  I'm almost sure
Ben Taylor's lad found it, and picked it up; but when I axed him if he
hadn't got it, he said `No,' and told me he'd knock my head against the
wall if I didn't hold my noise.  I see'd fayther go by at the lane end,
but he didn't see me.  He'll thrash the life out of me if he finds I've
lost the shilling.--I've run for my life, but he'll be here directly.
You must make it right, mother--you must."

"Ay, ay, lad; I'll speak to your fayther.  He shan't beat you.  Just
keep out of the road till he's cooled down a bit.  Eh! here he comes for
sure, and a lot of his mates with him.  There--just creep under the
couch-chair, lad.  They'll not tarry so long.  Fayther'll be off to the
`George' as soon as he's had his tea."

So the poor boy crept under the couch, the hanging drapery effectually
hiding him from the view of any who might come in.  Another moment, and
Will Jones the father entered the house with half-a-dozen companions.

"Well, and what's up now?" asked the wife, as the men seated
themselves--some on chairs, and one or two on the couch.

"Never you heed, Martha," said her husband; "but just clap to the door,
and take yourself off to Molly Grundy's, or anywhere else you've a
mind."

"I can tell you I shall do nothing of the sort," was the reply.  "A
likely thing, indeed, as I'm to take myself off and leave my own hearth-
stone while a parcel of chaps is turning the house out of the windows.
If you're up to that sort of game, or if you want to be talking anything
as decent folk shouldn't hear, you'd better be off to the `George.'
It's the fittest place for such work."

"Eh! don't vex Martha," said one of the men.  "She'll promise not to
split, I'll answer for it.  Won't you, Martha?"

"Eh, for sure," said Martha, "if you're bound to have your talk here,
you needn't be afraid of me; only I hope you're not going to do anything
as'll bring us into trouble."

"Never fear," said her husband; "there, sit you down and mend your
stockings, and the less you heed us the less you'll have to afterthink."

The men then began to talk together in a loudish whisper.

"Tommy Jacky'll be making a fine tale about you and me," said Jones.
"Eh, what a sighing and groaning there will be; and then we shall see in
the papers, `Mr Johnson finished his speech amidst loud applause.'"

"Eh, but we must put a stopper in his mouth," said another.

"But how must we do it?" asked a third.  "Thomas is not the chap to be
scared out of what he's made up his mind to."

"No," remarked another; "and there's many a one as'd stand by him if we
were to try anything strong."

"Can't we shame him at the meeting?" asked another.

"Nay," said Jones, "he's gradely.  You couldn't shame him by telling
folks what he was; and all as knows him knows as he's kept his teetottal
strict enough."

"I have it!" cried a man, the expression of whose face was a sad mixture
of sensuality, shrewdness, and malice.  "I'll just tell you what we'll
do.  You know how people keeps saying--`What a changed man Johnson is!
how respectable and clean he looks! how tidy he's dressed when he goes
to church on a Sunday!--you've only to look in his face to see he's a
changed man.'  Now, I'll just tell you what we'll do, if you've a mind
to stand by me and give me a help.  It'll do him no harm in the end,
and'll just take a little of the conceit out on him.  And won't it just
spoil their sport at the meeting!"

"Tell us what it is, man," cried all the others eagerly.

"Well, you know the water-butt at the back of Thomas's house.  Well, you
can reach the windows of the chamber by standing on the butt.  The
window's not hard to open, for I've often seen Alice throw it up; and
I'm sure it's not fastened.  Now, just suppose we waits till the night
afore the meeting; that'll be the twenty-second--there'll be no moon
then.  Thomas won't be in the night-shift that week.  I know he sleeps
sound, for I've heard their Betty say as it were the only thing as kept
'em up, that they slept both on 'em so well.  Suppose, then, as we gets
a goodish-sized furze bush or two, and goes round to the back about two
o'clock in the morning.  We must have a rope or two; then we must take
off our clogs, and climb up by the water-butt.  The one as goes up first
must have a dark lantern.  Well, then, we must creep quietly in, and
just lap a rope loosely round the bed till we're all ready.  Then we'll
just tighten the rope so that he can't move, and I'll scratch his sweet
face all over with the furze; and one of you chaps must have some
gunpowder and lamp-black ready to rub it well into his face where it's
been scratched.  You must stuff a clout into his mouth if he offers to
holler.  We can do it all in two minutes by the help of the lantern.
The light'll dazzle him so as he'll not be able to make any on us out;
and then we must slip out of the window and be off afore he's had time
to wriggle himself out of the ropes.  Eh, won't he be a lovely pictur
next day!--his best friends, as they say, won't know him.  Won't he just
look purty at the meeting!  There's a model teetottaller for you!  Do
you think he'll have the face to say then, `You've heard, ladies and
gentlemen, what I once was; you see what I am now?'  Oh, what a rare
game it'll be!"

This proposition was received by the rest of the company with roars of
laughter and the fullest approbation.

"It'll be first-rate," said Jones, "if we can only manage it."

"Surely," said another, "he'll never dare show his face out of the
door."

"Ah, but," suggested one, "what about Betty?  She's sure to wake and
spoil it all.  It's too risky, with her sleeping close by."

"No," said another man, "it'll just be all right.  Betty'll be off at
Rochdale visiting her aunt.  Our Mary heard Fanny Higson and Betty
talking it over at the mill a day or two since.  `So you'll not be at
the meeting?' says Fanny.  `Why not?' says Betty.  `'Cos you'll be off
at your aunt's at Rochdale,' says Fanny.  `Ah, but I'm bound to be back
for the meeting, and hear fayther tell his tale,' says Betty.  `I'll be
back some time in the forenoon, to see as fayther has his Sunday shirt
and shoes, and his clothes all right, and time enough to dress myself
for the meeting.  Old Jenny'll see to fayther while I'm off.  It'll be
all right if I'm at home some time in the forenoon.'  So you see, mates,
it couldn't be better; as the parson says, it's quite a providence."

"Well, what say you?" cried Will Jones.  "Shall we strike hands on it?"

All at once shook hands, vowing to serve out poor Johnson.

"Ay," exclaimed one, "we must get the chap as takes photographs to come
over on purpose.  Eh, what a rare cart-der-wissit Tommy'll make arter
the scratching.  You must lay in a lot on 'em, Will, and sell 'em for
sixpence a piece.  You'll make your fortune by it, man."

"Martha," said Jones, turning to his wife, "mind, not a word to any
living soul about what we've been saying."

"I've said I won't tell," replied his wife; "and in course I won't.  But
I'm sure you might find summat better to do nor scratching a poor
fellow's face as has done you no harm.  I'm not fond of your teetottal
chaps; but Tommy's a quiet, decent sort of man, and their Betty's as
tidy a wench as you'll meet with anywhere; and I think it's a shame to
bring 'em any more trouble, for they've had more nor their share as it
is.  It'd be a rare and good thing if some of you chaps'd follow Tommy's
example.  There'd be more peace in the house, and more brass in the
pocket at the week end."

"Hold your noise, and mind your own business," shouted her husband,
fiercely.  "You just blab a word of what we've been saying, and see how
I'll sarve you out.--Come, mates, let's be off to the `George;' we shall
find better company there."

So saying, he strode savagely out of the cottage, followed by his
companions.  When they were fairly gone, the poor boy slipped from his
hiding-place.

"Johnny," said his mother, "if you'll do what your mother bids you, I'll
give your fayther the change for the shilling out of my own pocket, and
he'll never know as you lost it."

"Well, mother, I'll do it if I can."

"You've heard what your fayther and t'other chaps were saying?"

"Yes, mother; every word on't."

"Well, John, I promised I wouldn't let out a word of it myself; but I
didn't say that _you_ shouldn't."

"Eh, mother, if I split, fayther'll break every bone in my body."

"But how's your fayther to know anything about it?  He knows nothing of
your being under the couch-chair.  I can swear as I haven't opened my
lips to any one out of the house, nor to any one as has come into it.
You just slip down now to Thomas's, and tell their Betty you wants to
speak with her by herself.  Tell her she mustn't say a word to any one.
She's a good wench.  She's sharp enough, too; she'll keep it all snug.
She were very good to me when our Moses were down with the fever, and I
mustn't let her get into this trouble when I can lend her a helping hand
to get her out."

"But, mother," said her son, "what am I to tell Betty?"

"Why, just tell her all you've heard, and how you were under the couch-
chair, and how I promised myself as I wouldn't split.  Tell her she must
make no din about it, but just keep her fayther out of the way.  He may
go off to his brother Dick's, and come home in the morn, and who's to
say as he's heard anything about the scratching."

"Well, mother," said John, "I'll do as you say.  Betty's a good wench;
she's given me many a kind word, and many a butter cake too, and I'd not
like to see her fretting if I could help it."

"There's a good lad," said his mother; "be off at once.  Fayther's safe
in the `George.'  It'll be pretty dark in the lane.  You can go in at
the back, and you're pretty sure to find Betty at home.  Be sharp, and
I'll keep your tea for you till you come back again."



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

FLITTING.

The twenty-second of November, the day before the total abstinence
meeting, arrived in a storm of wind and rain.  Everything was favourable
to the conspirators.  They had met several times to arrange their plans,
but had always talked them over in the open air and in the dark, under a
hedge, or at the end of a lane.  Martha never alluded to the subject
with her husband.  He had once said to her himself--

"Mind what you've promised."

She replied,--

"Never fear.  I said I wouldn't tell, and I haven't told.  I haven't
breathed a word to any one as wasn't in the house the night when you
talked it over."

Her husband was satisfied.

Betty was gone to her aunt's, and it was positively ascertained that she
was not to return that night.  Johnson had clearly no intention of
spending the night away from home, for, as he was leaving the pit-bank,
when Will Jones stepped up to him and said,--

"Well, Thomas, I suppose you'll have a rare tale to tell about your old
mates to-morrow; we must come all on us and hearken you."

He had quietly replied,--

"I hope, Will, you'll hear nothing as'll do any of you any harm, and I
hope you wish me none, as I'm sure I don't wish any harm to you.  I
mustn't tarry now, for our Betty's off; and I've much to do at home, for
to-morrow'll be a busy day for me."

A little later on, towards nine o'clock, one of the men in the plot
passed by Johnson's house, and heard his voice in conversation with some
one else.  All, therefore, was in a right train for their scheme to
succeed.  At ten o'clock the whole party met in a lane near Will
Jones's.

"It's all right," said the man who had heard Johnson in conversation
with another man a short time before.  "Thomas'll be fast asleep afore
long.  The window's all right, too; I just slipped round to the back and
looked at it."

"Well," said Jones, "now we must all on us go home.  We mustn't be seen
together.  We're all to meet in the field when the church clock strikes
two.  Who's got the powder and the lamp-black?"

"I have," replied a voice.

"And who's got the ropes?"

"I have," whispered another.

"Well, that's all right," said Will, with a low, chuckling laugh.  "I've
got the lantern and furze.  I've picked out some with a rare lot of
pricks on't.  I reckon he'll not look so handsome in the morning."

Quietly and stealthily they separated, and shrunk off to their own
houses.

A few hours later, and several dusky figures were slipping along with as
little noise as possible towards the dwelling of the poor victim.  It
was still very boisterous, but the rain had almost ceased.  Thick, heavy
clouds, black as ink, were being hurried across the sky, while the wind
was whistling keenly round the ends of the houses.  There were gaslights
which flickered in the gale along the main road; but everything was in
the densest gloom at the rear of the buildings and down the side
streets.  As the church clock struck two, the first stroke loud and
distinct, the next like its mournful echo--as the sound was borne away
by the fitful breeze, the conspirators crept with the utmost caution to
the back of Johnson's house.  Not a sound but their own muffled
footsteps could be heard.  Not a light was visible through any window.
No voice except that of the wailing wind broke the deep stillness.  The
black walls of the different dwellings rose up dreary and solemn, with
spectral-looking pipes dimly projecting from them.  The drip, drip of
the rain, as it fell off the smoky slates, or streamed down the walls,
giving them here and there a dusky glaze, intensified the mournful
loneliness of the whole scene.

"Crouch you down under the water-butt," whispered Ben Stone, the man who
had proposed the scheme, and who now acted as leader.

"Will, give me your shoulder--where's the lantern?"

In another moment he was close to the window, which was gently raised,
but at that instant something struck him on the back, he uttered a half-
suppressed exclamation, and nearly loosed his hold.

"It's only a cat," whispered one of the men below.  "All's right."
Stone again raised himself to the window, and pushed it farther up; then
he drew himself down out of sight and listened.  Not a sound came from
the chamber to show that Johnson's sleep was disturbed.  Again the man
raised himself.  He had previously taken off his clogs, as had also the
others.  Very gradually and warily, with suppressed breath, he lowered
himself on to the floor.  All was safe so far.  Betty had slept here,
but her bed was now empty; indeed, to Ben Stone's surprise, the bedstead
was bare both of mattress and bedclothes.  Johnson's was the inner
chamber.  Ben stole softly to the door, all was dark and quiet; he could
just make out the bed, and that a figure lay upon it.  He hastily caused
the light of the lantern to flash on the recumbent form for a single
moment, it seemed to him to move; he crouched down close to the floor,
and listened--again all was still.  He was now convinced that Johnson
lay there in a deep sleep.  Now was the time.  Stepping back to the
window on tiptoe, he put out his head, and whispered,--

"All's right; come up as quietly as you can."

They were all soon in the outer chamber.

"Now," said Stone in a low voice, "you give me the furze--there, that'll
do.  Will, have you got the pot with the powder and lamp-black?--that's
your sort--where's the ropes?--all right--now then."

All reached the floor of the outer room without any mishap, and then,
treading with the utmost caution, approached the bed in the inner room.
The sleeper did not stir.  Ben Stone threw the light upon the prostrate
figure, which lay coiled up, and apparently quite unconscious.  A rope
was now thrown loosely round, the men crawling along the floor, and just
raising themselves on one elbow as they jerked it lightly across the
bedstead; then another coil was made higher up, still the sleeper did
not stir hand or foot.

"Now, then," cried Ben, half out loud, and throwing the full blaze of
the lantern on the bed's head; in a moment the other men had drawn the
ropes tight, and Jones leant over with his pot.  But before Ben had time
to plunge the furze upon the unhappy victim's face, a suppressed cry
broke from the whole group.  It was no living being that lay there, but
only a bundle of old carpeting, with a dirty coverlid thrown over it.
The next instant the truth burst upon them all.  Johnson was gone.  They
looked at one another the very picture of stupid bewilderment.  A hasty
flash of the lantern showed that there was no other bed in the chamber.

"Well, here's a go," whispered Jones; "the bird's flown, and a pretty
tale we shall have to tell."

"Stop," said Ben, in an under-voice, and motioning the others to keep
quiet, "maybe he's sleeping on the couch-chair in the house."

"I'll go and see," said Jones.

Cautiously he descended the stairs, terrified at every creak they made
under his weight.  Did he hear anything?  No; it was only the pattering
of the rain-drops outside.  Stealthily he peeped into the kitchen; no
one was there, the few smouldering ashes in the grate being the only
token of recent occupation.  So he went back to his friends in the
chamber.

"Eh, see, what's here!" cried one of the men, in an agitated voice;
"look on the floor."

They turned the light of the lantern on to the chamber-floor, and a
strange sight indeed presented itself.  Right across the room, in
regular lines, were immense letters in red and black adhering to the
boards.

"Ben, you're a scholar," said Jones; "read 'em."

Stone, thus appealed to, made the light travel slowly along the words,
and read in a low and faltering voice,--

"_No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God_."

Then he passed on to the red letters, and the words were,--

"_Prepare to meet thy God_."

A deathlike stillness fell on the whole party, who had hitherto spoken
in loud whispers.  Terror seized the hearts of some, and bitter shame
stung the consciences of others.

"We must get out of this as fast as we can," said Jones.  "If we're
taken roving about the house this fashion, we shall all be clapped in
prison for housebreakers.  Least said about this, mates, soonest mended.
We'd best hold our tongues.  Old Tommy's clean outwitted us; he has for
sure.  Maybe it serves us right."

All made their way back as hastily as possible through the window, and
separated to their several homes, only too glad to have escaped
detection.

And what was become of Thomas Johnson?  Nobody could tell.  When the
morning arrived, old Jenny went to the house, but the door was locked.
A piece of furze, an old rag, and some black-looking stuff were found
near the water-butt at the back, but what they could have to do with
Johnson's disappearance no one could say.  He was, however, manifestly
gone, and Betty too, for neither of them made their appearance that day.
The meeting was held, but no Thomas Johnson made his appearance at it,
and his friends were lost in conjecture.  But days and weeks passed
away, and nothing turned up to gratify or satisfy public curiosity in
the matter.  Jones never spoke of it to his wife or any one else, and
the rest of the party were equally wise in keeping their own counsel as
to the intended assault and its failure.  The landlord of Johnson's
house claimed the scanty furniture for the rent, and no one turned up to
dispute the claim.  So all traces of Thomas Johnson were utterly lost to
Langhurst.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

FALLING AWAY.

And now we must leave the mystery for a future unravelling, and return
to Abraham Oliphant and his guests at "The Rocks."

For several days Hubert and Frank remained with Mr Oliphant, riding out
among the hills and into the town, as pleasure or business called them.
But an idle, objectless life was not one to suit Hubert; and Frank, of
course, could not continue much longer as a guest at "The Rocks."  It
was soon settled that the nephew should assist his uncle, and Frank
determined to look-out for a home.  It was arranged that Jacob Poole
should come to him as soon as he was settled, and in the meanwhile Mr
Oliphant found the boy employment.  Unfortunately for himself, Frank
Oldfield was not in any way dependent for his living on his own
exertions.  His father allowed him to draw on him to the amount of three
hundred pounds a year, so that, with reasonable care, he could live very
comfortably, especially if he voluntarily continued the total abstinence
which he had been compelled to practise on board ship.  The reader is
aware that he had never been a pledged abstainer at any time.  Even when
most overwhelmed with shame, and most anxious to regain the place he had
lost in Mary Oliphant's esteem and affection, he would not take the one
step which might have interposed a barrier between himself and those
temptations which he had not power to resist, when they drew upon him
with a severe or sudden strain.  He thought that he was only asserting a
manly independence when he refused to be pledged, whereas he was simply
just allowing Satan to cheat him with a miserable lie, while he held in
reserve his right to commit an excess which he flattered himself he
should never be guilty of; but which he was secretly resolved not to
bind himself to forego.  Thus he played fast and loose with his
conscience, and was really being carried with the tide while he fancied
himself to be riding safely at anchor.  Had he then forgotten Mary?  Had
he relinquished all desire and hope of seeing her once more, and
claiming her for his wife?  No; she was continually in his thoughts.
His affection was deepened by absence and distance; but by a strange
infatuation, spite of all that had happened in the past, he would always
picture her to himself as his, irrespective of his own steadfastness and
sobriety.  He knew she would never consent to be a drunkard's wife, yet
at the same time he would never allow himself to realise that he could
himself forfeit her hand and love through the drunkard's sin.  He would
never look steadily at the matter in this light at all.  He was sober
now, and he took for granted that he should continue to be so.  It was
treason to himself and to his manhood and truth to doubt it.  And so,
when, after he had been about a month in the colony, he received a
letter from Mrs Oliphant full of kindly expressions of interest and
hopes that, by the time he received the letter, he would have formally
enrolled himself amongst the pledged abstainers, he fiercely crumpled up
the letter and thrust it from him, persuading himself that he was justly
annoyed that the permanence of his sober habits should be doubted;
whereas, in truth, the sting was in this, that the reading of the letter
dragged out from some dark recess of his consciousness the conviction
that, with all his high resolve and good intentions, he was standing on
an utterly sandy foundation, and leaning for support on a brittle wand
of glass.  And thus he was but ill-fortified to wrestle with his special
temptation when he settled down, a few weeks after his arrival, in a
commodious cottage not very far from "The Rocks."  His new dwelling was
the property of a settler, who, having realised a moderate fortune, and
wishing to have a peep at the old country, was glad to let his house for
a term of three years at a reasonable rent.  The rooms were small but
very snug, the fittings being all of cedar, which gave a look of
refinement and elegance to the interior.  There were good stables,
coach-house, and offices, and a well of the purest water--a great matter
in a place where many had no water at all except what dropped from the
heavens, or had to content themselves with brackish wells.  There was a
lovely garden, with everything in fruit and flower that could be
desired; while, in the fields around, grew the aromatic gum, the
canidia, or native lilac, with its clusters of purple blossoms, and the
wattle, with its waving tufts of almond-scented flowers.

When Jacob joined his master in his Australian home, he hardly knew how
to express his delight and admiration.

"Well, Jacob," said Frank, "you're likely to have plenty of fresh air
and exercise if you stay with me.  I shall want you to be gardener,
groom, and valet.  Mrs Watson,"--(a widow who had undertaken the
situation of housekeeper)--"will look after the house, and the eatables
and drinkables."

"Indeed, sir," said Jacob, "I'll do my best; but I shall have to learn,
and you must excuse a few blunders at the first.  I shall manage the
garden well enough, I reckon, after a bit, though I'm not certain which
way the roots of the flowers grows in these foreign parts;--the
cherries, I see, has their stones growing outside on 'em, and maybe the
roots of the flowers is out in the air, and the flowers in the ground.
As for the horses, I'm not so much of a rider; but I must stick to their
backs, I reckon.  They'll be rayther livelier, some on 'em, I suppose,
nor our old pit horses, as hadn't seen daylight for ten years or more.
But as for being a wally, you must insense me into that, for I don't
know anything about it.  If it's anything to do with making beds or
puddings, I have never had no knowledge of anything of the sort."

Frank was highly entertained at the poor boy's perplexity.

"Oh, never fear, Jacob; where there's a will there's a way--and I see
you've got the will.  I'll trust you to learn your gardening from Mr
Oliphant's man at `The Rocks.'  You must go and get him to give you a
lesson or two; and if the seeds should not come up at first, I must take
it for granted that you've sown them wrong side upwards.  As for the
riding, I'll undertake myself to make you a good horseman in a very
little time.  So there's only one thing left, and that's the valet.  You
needn't be afraid of it; it's nothing whatever to do with making beds or
puddings--that's all in Mrs Watson's department.  What I mean by valet
is a person who will just wait upon me, as you waited on Captain
Merryweather on board ship."

"Oh, is that it!" cried Jacob, greatly relieved; "then I can manage it
gradely, I haven't a doubt."

And he did manage it gradely.  Never was there a more willing learner or
trustworthy servant--his was the service of love; and every day bound
him more and more firmly to his young master with the cords of devoted
affection.  Frank returned the attachment with all the natural warmth of
his character.  He delighted in the rough openness, which never
degenerated into rudeness or disrespect; for Jacob, while free and
unconstrained in his manner, instinctively knew his place and kept it.
There was also a raciness and good sense in his observations, which made
Frank find in him a pleasant companion in their many wanderings, both on
horse and on foot.  Frank was always a welcome guest at "The Rocks,"
where he learned to value and reverence Abraham Oliphant, and to feel a
hearty liking for his sons and daughters.  But his heart was over the
water, and he felt that he could never settle alone and without Mary in
that far-off land.  He often wrote to his mother, and also to Mary.  To
the latter he expressed himself full of hope that he should be able to
return home before many years were passed, and claim her for his own;
but he never alluded to the cause of his temporary banishment, nor did
he reply to the questions which she put to him on the subject of total
abstinence, except by saying briefly that she might trust him, and need
not fear.

"Jacob," he said one day, as he concluded a letter to his mother, "I
believe the mail leaves to-day for England, and these letters ought to
be in Adelaide by three o'clock.  You shall ride in with them, and bring
me out a `Reporter.'  By the way, isn't there any one in the old country
you would like to write to yourself?  Perhaps you do write, only I've
never noticed you doing so!"

The colour flushed up into Jacob's face, as he replied, with some
confusion and hesitation,--

"Well, you see, sir--why--I'm not so sure--well--truth to tell, in the
first place, I'm not so much of a scholar."

"Ah, exactly," said his master; "but that need be no hindrance.  I shall
be very glad to write for you, if you don't want to send any secrets,
and you'll only tell me what to say."

Jacob got very uneasy.  The tears came into his eyes.  He did not speak
for several minutes.  At last he said, with much emotion,--

"'Deed, sir, and you're very kind; but there's none as I care to write
to gradely.  There's them as should be all the world to me, but they're
nothing to me now.  I can't tell you just what it is; but it's even as
I'm saying to you.  There's one as I should have liked--ah, well--she'll
be better without it.  Thank you, sir; you're very kind indeed, but I
won't trouble you."

Frank saw that there was a secret; he had therefore too much delicacy of
feeling to press Jacob any further; so he merely said,--

"Well, at any time, if you like me to write home, or anywhere else for
you, I shall be glad to do so.  And now you'd better be off.  Take
little Silvertail; a canter will do her good.  I shall ride Roderick
myself up through the gully.  You may tell Mrs Watson not to bring tea
in till she sees me, as I may be late."

Jacob was soon off on his errands, and his master proceeded slowly up
the hilly gorge at the back of his house.

"There's some mystery about Jacob," he said to himself; as he rode
quietly along; "but I suppose it's the case with a great many who come
to these colonies.  `Least said, soonest mended,' is true, I fancy, in a
great many cases."

It was a lovely afternoon.  The sun was pouring forth a blaze of light
and heat, such as is rarely experienced out of tropical countries.  And
yet, when the heat was most intense, there was an elasticity about the
air which prevented any feeling of oppression or exhaustion.

The road wound up through quaint-looking hills, doubled one into
another, like the upturned knuckles of some gigantic hand.  Every now
and then, at a bend in the track, the high lands, sloping away on either
side, disclosed the distant town lying like a child's puzzle on the
plain, with the shadowy flats and dim ocean in the far background.  By
overshadowing rocks and down sudden steeps the road kept its irregular
course; and now it would cleave its way along a mile of table-land,
elevated above a perfect ocean of trees on either side, which seemed as
though human hand or foot had never trespassed on their sombre solitude.
Yet, every here and there the marks of destruction would suggest
thoughts of man's work and presence.  Whole tracts of forest would be
filled with half-charred trunks, the centres black and hollowed out, the
upper parts green and flourishing as ever.

Nothing, for a time, broke the silence of Frank's solitary ride, as he
made his way along the serpentine road rising still higher and higher,
and every now and then emerging upon broader and broader views of the
plains and ocean beyond them, while the interlocking hills beneath his
feet had dwindled down into a row of hillocks like funeral mounts in
some Titanic graveyard.  And now, as he paused in admiration to gaze on
the lovely view spread out before him, he felt the burning heat relieved
for a moment by a flying cloud; he looked upward--it was a flight of the
yellow-crested cockatoo, which passed rapidly on with deafening
screeches.  A while after, and a flock of the all-coloured parakeet sped
past him like the winged fragments of a rainbow.  Look where he would,
all was beautiful: the sky above, a pure Italian blue--the distant ocean
sparkling--the lands of the plain smiling in peaceful sunshine--the
hills on all sides quaint and fantastic--the highlands around him thick
with their forests--the sward, wherever trees were thickly scattered,
enamelled with flowers of the brightest scarlet.  Oh, how sad that sin
should mar the beauties with which the hand of God has so lavishly
clothed even this fallen world.

Frank's heart was filled with a delight that ascended into adoration of
the Great Creator; then tenderer thoughts stole over him--thoughts of
home, thoughts of the hearts which loved him still, spite of the past.
Oh, how his spirit yearned for a sight of the loved and dear familiar
faces he had left behind in the old but now far-off land!  Tears filled
his eyes, and he murmured something like a prayer.  It was but for a
little while, however, that thoughts like these kept possession of his
heart; for he was brought rudely back to things before him by the rapid
sound of horses' feet.  The next moment, round a turn of the road came a
saddled horse without a rider, the broken bridle dangling from its head.

"Stop her, if you please," cried a young lady, who was following at the
top of her speed.

Frank immediately crossed the path of the runaway animal, and succeeded
in catching it.

"I hope you have not been thrown or hurt," he said, as he restored it to
its owner.

"Oh no, thank you," she replied.  "I'm so much obliged to you.  We--that
is, some friends and myself--are up in these hills to-day, on a
picnicking excursion.  My mare was hung up to a tree, and while we were
looking after the provisions, she broke her bridle and got off."

Several gentlemen now came running up.  They thanked Frank for his
timely help, and asked him if he would not come and join their party.
There was a heartiness and cheeriness of manner about them which made it
impossible for him to say, "No," so he assented, and followed them to an
open space a short way off the road, round the next turn, where a very
merry company were gathered among the trees, with the scarlet-
embroidered sward for their table.

"Pray, take a seat among us," said one of the gentlemen who had invited
him.  "I'll secure your horse--is he tolerably quiet?"

"Perfectly so; but you'd better take his saddle off, lest he should be
inclined to indulge in a roll."

"I am sure, sir, I owe you many thanks," said the young lady whose horse
he had caught; "for, if you had not stopped my mare, she would have been
half-way to Adelaide by this time, and one of us must have walked."

Frank made a suitable reply, and was at once quite at ease with his new
companions.  There were four gentlemen and as many ladies, the latter in
the prime of life, and full of spirits, which the stranger's presence
did not check.  No spot could be more lovely than the one chosen for
their open-air meal.  Before them was the deep, sloping chasm, revealing
the distant town and ocean, and clothed on either side with unbroken
forests.  All around was the brilliant carpeting of flowers; overhead,
the intensely blue sky, latticed here and there with the interlacing
boughs of trees.  The dinner or luncheon was spread out on a white
cloth, and consisted of the usual abundance of fowls, pies, and tarts,
proper to such occasions, and flanked by what was evidently considered
no secondary part of the refreshments--a compact regiment of pale ale,
porter, wine, and spirit-bottles.  Under ordinary circumstances such a
sight would have been very inviting; but it was doubly so to Frank,
after his long and hot ride.  All were disposed to treat him, as the
stranger, with pressing hospitality; but his own free and gentlemanly
bearing, and the openness with which he answered the questions put to
him, as well as the hearty geniality of his conversation, made all his
new acquaintances delighted with him, and eager to supply his wants as
their guest.  It is not, therefore, much to be wondered at that any
half-formed resolutions as to total abstinence which he might have
vaguely entertained soon melted away before the cordial entreaties of
the gentlemen that he would not spare the ale, wine, or spirits.

"You'll have found riding in such a sun thirsty work, I'm sure, sir,"
said a stout, jolly-looking man, who was evidently one of the leaders of
the party.  Frank made just a feeble answer about not drinking, and a
pretence of holding back his glass, and then allowed himself to be
helped first to one tumbler, then another, and then another, of foaming
Bass.  He was soon past all qualms, regrets, or misgivings.

"Capital stuff this," he said; "do you know where I can get some?"

"Most proud to serve you, my dear sir," said the stout gentleman.  "I
have a large stock on hand; anything in the way of ale, porter, wine, or
spirits, I flatter myself no one in Adelaide is better able to supply;
perhaps you'll kindly favour me with an order!"

"Certainly," said Frank, and gave his address, and an order for ale,
wine, and spirits to be sent over to his cottage the following day.  And
now, from his long previous abstinence, what he had already drunk had
begun to tell upon him.  He felt it, and rose to go, but his
entertainers would not hear of his leaving them; for, under the
excitement of the strong drink, he had been pouring forth anecdotes, and
making himself in other ways so entertaining and agreeable, that his new
friends were most anxious to detain him.  So wine and brandy were added
to his previous potations; and when at last, with assistance, he mounted
his horse, it was with the greatest difficulty he could retain his seat
in the saddle.  And thus the whole party, singing, shouting, laughing,
descended along the winding track, making God's beautiful creation
hideous by the jarring of their brutal mirth; for surely that mirth is
brutal which springs, not from a heart filled with innocent rejoicing,
but from lips that sputter out the frenzies of a brain on fire with the
stimulants of alcohol.  How Frank Oldfield got home he could not tell.
His horse knew his road, and followed it; for, dumb brute as he was, his
senses were not clouded by the unnatural stimulant which had stolen away
the intellects of his _rational_ master.

Darkness had settled down when horse and rider reached the slip-rail at
the entrance of the field before Frank's house.  Jacob was there, for he
had heard his master's voice some ten minutes earlier singing snatches
of songs in a wild exaggerated manner.  Poor Jacob, he could hardly
believe his ears, as he listened to "Rule Britannia" shouted out by
those lips which, he had imagined, never allowed strong drink to pass
them.

"Is that you, Jacob, my boy?" cried Frank thickly.

"Yes, sir," said Jacob sorrowfully.

"Let down--shlip-rail--th-there's--good lad," added his master.

"It's down," replied the other shortly.

"Tchick--tchick, Roderick," cried Frank, almost tumbling over his
horse's head.  At last they reached the house door.  Mrs Watson came
out, candle in hand.

"How are you, Mrs Watson?" hiccupped her master.  "Lend us a light--all
right; that's poetry, and no mistake--ha, ha, ha! capital, Jacob, my
boy, ain't it?" and he tumbled over one side of his horse, only saving
himself from falling to the ground by catching hold of one of the posts
of the verandah.  But we need not follow him further.  He slept the
heavy drunkard's sleep that night, and rose the next morning feverish,
sick, thirsty, degraded, humbled, miserable.  Poor Jacob's face would
have been a picture, could it have been taken as he looked upon his
master staggering into the house by the light of Mrs Watson's candle--a
very picture it would have been of mingled astonishment, perplexity,
distress, disgust.

"Well," he said to himself moodily, "I thought the old lad had his hands
full in the old country, but it's like he's not content with that; I'd
as soon have thought of the Queen of England taking pick and Davy-lamp
and going down to work in the pit, as of my young mayster coming home
beastly drunk.  My word, it's awful; 'tis for sure."

When master and servant met next day each avoided the other's eye.
Frank spoke moodily, and Jacob answered surlily.  But it was not in
Frank's nature to continue long in constraint of manner with any one,
so, calling to his servant in a cheery voice,--

"Here, Jacob," he cried, "I want you in the garden."  Jacob ran to him
briskly, for there was a charm in his young master's manner which he
could not resist.

"Jacob," said Frank Oldfield, "you saw me last night as I trust you will
never see me again, overcome with drink."

"Ay, mayster," said the other, "I see'd you sure enough, and I'd sooner
have see'd a yard full of lions and tigers nor such a sight as that."

"Well, Jacob, it was the first, and I trust the last time too; it was
wrong, very wrong.  I'm thoroughly ashamed that you should have seen me
in such a plight.  I was betrayed into it.  I ought to have been more on
my guard; you mustn't think any more of it; I'll take care it doesn't
happen again."

"Ah, mayster," said the other, "I shall be rare and glad if it doesn't.
I hope you'll keep gradely teetottal, for the drink's a cheating and
lying thing."

"I hope so too," said Frank, and then the conversation dropped.

But now he remembered that the wine, beer, and spirits which he had
ordered were to come that very evening.  What was he to do?  Conscience
said very plainly, "Stand forth like a man, be at once a total
abstainer, it is your only safe course; tell Jacob all about it, and
send a counter-order by him at once, with a note of apology; call to-
morrow on the merchant, and tell him in a straightforward way that you
feel it your duty to become an abstainer forthwith; thus you will at
once show your colours, and will save yourself from much annoyance, and,
what is better still, from sin; and sign the pledge, that you may have a
barrier between yourself and the drink which all the world can
understand."  Thus conscience spoke softly but clearly, as with the
vibrations of a silver bell; but lust, with its hot hand, stilled those
vibrations with a touch.  Frank would not counter-order the drink, for
he loved it; he persuaded himself that he should be strictly moderate,
while he was secretly determined to keep within his reach the means of
excess.  And yet he was very anxious that Jacob should not be aware of
the coming of any drink into the house.  So he watched hour after hour
as evening drew on, feeling more like a felon bent on some deed of
darkness than an honest, straightforward Englishman.  At last he saw the
merchant's spring-cart in the distance.  Making some excuse for sending
Jacob to a house about a quarter of a mile off, and setting Mrs Watson
down in the kitchen to an interesting article in the newspaper, he met
the cart at the gate, and assisted the driver to carry the hampers of
strong drinkables, with all possible haste, into his bed-room.  Then,
quickly dismissing the man, he locked himself into his chamber, and
carefully deposited the hampers in a large cupboard near the head of his
bed.  When he had completed all this he began to breathe freely again.
And thus he commenced the downward course of unfaltering, deliberate
deceit.  Hitherto he had deceived himself chiefly, keeping the truth in
the background of his consciousness; now he was carefully planning to
deceive others.  And oh, what a mean, paltry deceit it was--so low does
rational, immortal man stoop when under the iron grasp of a master sin!
And so, with carefully-locked door, and stealthy step, and cautious
handling of glass and bottle, lest any one should hear, Frank Oldfield
drank daily of the poison that was ruining his body and paralysing his
moral nature; for whatever it might or might not be to others, it was
assuredly poison to him.  Jacob Poole mused and wondered, and could not
make him out--sometimes he saw him deeply depressed, at another time in
a state of overboiling spirits and extravagant gaiety.  Poor Jacob's
heart misgave him as to the cause, and yet he fully believed that there
were no intoxicating liquors in the house.  But things could not remain
in this position; there is no sin which runs with such accumulating
speed as the drunkard's.  Frank would now be seldom riding to "The
Rocks," and often to the town; he would stay away from home night after
night, and no one knew what had become of him.  Poor Jacob began to get
very weary, and to dread more and more that he should find his young
master becoming a confirmed slave to the drink.  Frank's fine temper,
too, was not what it once was, and Jacob had to wince under many a hasty
word.

At last his master began to find that his expenses were getting greatly
in advance of his income.  He called one day at the bank, drew a cheque,
and presented it over the counter.  The cashier took it to the manager's
desk: there was a brief consultation, and then a request that Mr
Oldfield would step into the manager's private room.

"I am exceedingly sorry, Mr Oldfield," said the manager, "that we feel
ourselves in a difficulty as to the cheque you have just drawn; the fact
is that you have already overdrawn your account fifty pounds, and we
hardly feel justified in cashing any more of your cheques till we
receive further remittances to your credit."

"Very well, sir," said Frank haughtily, and rising; "I shall transfer my
account to some other bank, which will deal more liberally and
courteously with me;" saying which, he hurried into the street in a
state of fierce excitement.  When, however, he had had time to cool down
a little, he began to feel the awkwardness of his position.  He was
quite sure that his father would not increase his allowance, and an
overdrawn account was not a thing so easy to transfer.  Besides which,
he began to be aware that his present habits were getting talked about
in the city.  But money he must have.  To whom could he apply?  There
was but one person to whom he could bring himself to speak on the
subject, and that was Hubert.  He had seen very little of him, however,
of late, for the company and pursuits he had taken to were not such as
would find any countenance from young Oliphant.  Something, however,
must be done.  So he called at the office in King William Street, and
had a private interview with his friend.

"Money," said Hubert, when he had heard of Frank's necessities, "is not
a thing I have much at command at present."

"But you can procure me the loan of a hundred pounds, I daresay?" asked
the other; "my next half-yearly payment will be made in two months, and
then I shall be able to repay the money, with the interest."

"You want a hundred pounds now, as I understand," said his friend, "and
you have already overdrawn your account fifty pounds; when your money is
paid in it will just cover this hundred and fifty pounds, without any
interest.  How do you mean to manage for the interest and your next
half-year's expenses?"

"Oh, I don't know," replied Frank testily; "what's the use of bothering
a fellow with calculations like that?  Of course the tradespeople must
trust me, and it'll be all right by the time another half-year's payment
comes in."

"Well, if you've paid your tradesmen up to now," rejoined Hubert, "of
course they may be willing to wait.  Still, excuse my saying, dear
Frank, that it's not a very healthy thing this forestalling, and I don't
see how you're to pay the interest when you get your next payment."

"What a fuss about the interest!" cried the other.  "The fellow that
lends it must clap on so much more for waiting a little longer, that's
all.  And as for the tradesmen, they must be content to be paid by
degrees.  They'll take precious good care not to be losers in the end,
I'll warrant them."

"Dear Frank," said Hubert kindly, but very gravely, and laying his hand
affectionately on the other's shoulder, "you must bear with me if I
speak a little plainly to you--you must bear with me, indeed you must.
You know that you came out here hoping to redeem the past, and to return
home again a new character.  You know what lies at the end of such a
hope fulfilled.  Are you really trying to live the life you purposed to
live?  There are very ugly rumours abroad.  You seem to have nearly
forsaken old friends; and the new ones, if report says true, are such as
will only lead you to ruin.  Oh, dear Frank, if you would only see
things in the right light--if you would only see your own weakness, and
seek strength in prayer in your Saviour's name--oh, surely you would
break off at once from your present ways and companions, and there might
be hope--oh yes, hope even yet."

Frank did not speak for some time.  At last he said, in a stern, husky
voice,--

"Can you--or can you not--borrow the money for me?"

"If I could feel convinced," was the reply, "that you would at once
break off from your present associates, and that you would seriously set
about retrenching, I would undertake to procure for you the hundred
pounds you require--nay, I would make myself responsible for it."

Frank sat down, and buried his face in his hands.

"Oh, help me, Hubert," he cried, "and I will promise all you wish.  I
will pay off old debts as far as possible, and will incur no new ones.
I will keep myself out of harm's way; and will take to old friends, if
they will receive me again.  Can I say more?"

"Will you not become a genuine pledged abstainer?  And will you not pray
for grace to keep your good resolution?"

"Well, as far as the total abstinence is concerned, I will think about
it."

"And will you not pray for strength?"

"Oh, of course--of course."

And Frank went off with a light heart, the present pressure being
removed.  Hubert procured the money for him.  And now for a time there
was a decided outward improvement.  Frank was startled to find how
rapidly he was being brought, by his expensive habits, to the brink of
ruin.  He tore himself, therefore, from his gay associates, and was
often a visitor at "The Rocks."  But he did not give up the drink.  He
contrived, by dexterous management, to keep up the stock in his bed-
room, without the knowledge of either Jacob or Mrs Watson.  But one day
he sent Jacob for a powder-flask which he had left on his dressing-
table, having forgotten, through inadvertence, to lock his cupboard door
or remove a spirit-bottle from his table.  Jacob remained staring at the
bottle, and then at the open hamper in the closet, as if fascinated by
the gaze of some deadly serpent.  He stood there utterly forgetting what
he was sent for, till he heard Frank's voice impatiently calling him.
Then he rushed out empty-handed and bewildered till he reached his
master's presence.

"Well, Jacob, where's the powder-flask?  Why, man, what's scared your
wits out of you?  You haven't seen a boggart, as you tell me they call a
ghost in Lancashire?"

"I've seen what's worse nor ten thousand boggarts, Mayster Frank," said
Jacob, sorrowfully.

"And pray what may that be?" asked his master.

"Why, mayster, I've seen what's filled scores of homes and hearts with
boggarts.  I've seen the bottles as holds the drink--the strong drink as
ruins millions upon millions."

Frank started as if pierced by a sudden sting.  His colour went and
came.  He walked hastily a step or two towards the house, and then
turned back.

"And pray, my friend Jacob," he said, with a forced assumption of
gaiety, "why should my little bottle of spirits be worse for you than
ten thousand boggarts?"

"Oh, Mayster Frank, Mayster Frank," was the reply, "just excuse me, and
hearken to me one minute.  I thought when I left my home, where the
drink had drowned out all as was good, as I should never love any one
any more.  I thought as I'd try and get through the world without heart
at all--but it wasn't to be.  The captain found a soft place in my
heart, and I loved him.  But that were nothing at all to the love I've
had to yourself, Mayster Frank.  I loved you afore you saved my life,
and I've loved you better nor my own life ever since you saved it.  And
oh, I can't abide to see you throw away health and strength, and your
good name and all, for the sake of that wretched drink as'll bring you
to misery and beggary and shame.  Oh, don't--dear mayster, don't--don't
keep the horrid poison in your house.  It's poison to you, as I've seen
it poison to scores and scores, eating out manhood, withering out
womanhood, crushing down childhood, shrivelling up babyhood.  I'll live
for you, Mayster Frank, work for you, slave for you, wage or no wage--
ay, I'll die for you, if need be--only do, do give up this cursed,
ruinous, body and soul-destroying drink."

"Jacob, I will--I will!" cried his master, deeply touched.  "Every word
you say is true.  I'm a miserable, worthless wretch.  I don't deserve
the love and devotion of a noble lad like you."

"Nay, mayster--don't say so," cried Jacob; "but oh, if you'd only sign
the pledge, and be an out-and-out gradely teetottaller, it'd be the
happiest day of my life."

"Well, Jacob, I'll see about the signing.  I daresay I shall have to do
it.  But you may depend upon me.  I'll turn over a new leaf.  There--if
it'll be any pleasure to you--you may take all that's left in my
cupboard, and smash away at the bottles, as good Mr Oliphant did."

Jacob needed no second permission.  Ale, wine, and spirit-bottles were
brought out--though but few were left that had not been emptied.
However, empty or full, they fell in a few moments before the energetic
blows of the delighted Jacob Poole.

"You'll never repent it," he said to his master.

But, alas! he did not know poor Frank, who did repent it--and bitterly,
too.  The sudden generosity which dictated the sacrifice was but a
momentary flash.  Frank would have given a great deal could he have
recalled the act.  But what was to be done?  He could not, for very
shame, lay in a fresh stock at present; and, equally, he could not
resolve to cross his miserable appetite.  So he devised a plan by which
he could still indulge in the drink, and yet keep Jacob Poole completely
in the dark; for, alas! it was becoming less and less painful to him to
breathe in an atmosphere of deception.  There was a small cottage not
far from Frank's dwelling.  It had belonged to a labouring man, who had
bought a small piece of ground with his hard earnings, had fenced it
round, and built the cottage on it.  This man, when "the diggins" broke
out in Melbourne, sold his little property for a third of its value to a
worthless fellow, whose one great passion was a love for the drink.
Through this man Frank was able to obtain a constant supply of the
pernicious stimulant.  He would call at the house in the evening, and
bring home in his pockets a flask or two of spirits, which he could
easily keep out of the sight of Jacob and his housekeeper.  But though
he could conceal the drink, he could not conceal its effects.  Again and
again he became intoxicated--at first slightly so, and then more and
more grossly and openly--till poor Jacob, wearied out and heart-sick,
retired from Frank's service, and obtained work from Mr Abraham
Oliphant in his store at Adelaide.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

AN UNHAPPY SURPRISE.

The half-year's remittance came in due time, but Frank was quite unable
to pay the £100 loan.  Ruin was now staring him in the face.  Tradesmen
were clamorous, rent and wages were unpaid, and he was getting into a
state of despair, when, to his great and unspeakable joy, a letter
arrived one morning announcing that a legacy of £500, left him by an old
lady--his godmother--would be paid into his account at the Adelaide
Bank.  Here was, indeed, a reprieve.  In a transport of gratitude he
threw himself on his knees, and gave thanks to God for this unlooked-for
help.  Then he lost not a moment, but rode at once into Adelaide, and
went first to the bank, where he ascertained that the money had been
paid in.  Then he called on his creditors and discharged their bills.
And last of all he went to Hubert Oliphant and repaid the loan of the
£100, with the interest.

"Oh, Hubert," he said, "I can't tell you how thankful and grateful I
feel for this relief.  I was getting into hopeless difficulties.  I was
at my wits' end what to do.  I felt like a miserable slave, just as if I
was walking in irons; and now I could do nothing but shout all the way
home, I feel so light and free!"

"I don't doubt it," said his friend.  "But you were talking just now
about being thankful.  Won't you let it be more than mere words?  Won't
you show, dear Frank, that you really are grateful to God?"

"I have," replied the other.  "I thanked God on my knees for his
goodness as soon as I got the letter."

"I'm truly rejoiced to hear it.  And now, what do you mean to _do_?"

"To _do_?  Why, what should I do?"

"Does not your own conscience tell you, Frank?"

"Ah, I suppose you mean, give up the drink altogether.  Well, I intend
to do it--and at once too."

"And will you ask for strength where you know it can be found?"

"Yes," said Frank, grasping the other's hand warmly; "I promise you I
will."

"And what about the pledge?" pursued Hubert, with a loving, entreating
smile.

"Ah, that pledge!  You can never let me rest about the pledge.  I see
you're afraid to trust me."

"Dear Frank, is there not a cause?  Can you trust yourself?"

"Yes I think I can this time--especially if I pray for help."

Hubert sighed.

"By the way," he said, "I was nearly forgetting that I have a little
note for you from Mary, which came to-day in a letter to myself.  Here
it is."

The note was brief and constrained in its tone, though kind.  It was as
follows:--

  "DEAR FRANK,--I wrote to you by the last mail, and just send a few
  lines now in Hubert's letter.  I can scarce tell how to write.  I do
  not know whether to hope or fear, whether I dare venture to believe
  that I shall ever see you again with joy.  O Frank, I have dreadful
  misgivings.  Miserable rumours come across the sea to make all our
  hearts sick.  Will you not at once and for ever renounce what has been
  the occasion of sin and disgrace to yourself and of misery to us both?
  Will you not go to the Strong for strength, and cast yourself at once
  on him?  I cannot write more now, for I am almost broken-hearted.  I
  shall not cease to pray for you.--Yours, MARY OLIPHANT."

Frank hastily thrust the note into his pocket after reading it, and
hurried home.  There he shut-to his door, and flung himself on his
knees.  He prayed to be forgiven his sin, and that he might live a
steady and sober life for the time to come.  He rose up comforted and
satisfied.  He felt he had done a duty.  He was resolved to become a
water-drinker, to pay no more visits to the man at the cottage, and to
keep no intoxicating drinks in his house.  Mary's letter had touched him
to the quick; he saw how nearly he had lost her; he felt that the stand
must be made now or never.  But yet he had in no way pledged himself to
total abstinence.  True, he had prayed to be kept sober; but had his
heart fully and sincerely desired what his lips had prayed for?  Alas,
it is to be feared not; for it is no difficult thing to delude ourselves
in the matter of prayer.  It is easy, when we have sinned, and before
the next strong temptation to the same sin presents itself, to pray
against repeating it, and so to give a sop to our conscience, without
having either the heart's desire or the honest resolve to abstain from
that sin.  And it is equally easy to pray that we may not fall into a
sin, and to have a sort of half sincere desire to that effect; and yet,
at the same time, to be quite unwilling to avoid those steps which,
though they are not themselves the sin, yet almost of necessity and
inevitably lead to it.  So it was with poor Frank, but he did not think
so; on the contrary, he was now quite persuaded that his resolution was
like a rock, that he was thoroughly fortified against yielding to his
old temptations, and that he should never again deviate from the
strictest sobriety.  Yet he would not sign the pledge, and so put a
check between himself and those circumstances and occasions which might
lead or surprise him into a transgression.  He meant to be a total
abstainer at _present_, but he was quite as resolved not to sign the
pledge.

Things were in this state.  He had rigidly kept himself to non-
intoxicants for more than a month after the receipt of Mary's note.  He
had paid his way and observed a strict economy; he was getting back his
character as a steady and sober man; and many looked on with approbation
and applauded him.  There were, however, three at least in the colony
who had but little faith in him as yet; these were Hubert, Mr Oliphant,
and Jacob Poole.

Things were in this state when one morning, as Frank was riding slowly
down Hindley Street, he noticed a man, whose face and whole appearance
seemed very familiar to him, talking to a shopman at his door.  Just as
he came opposite, the man turned fully towards him--there could be no
longer any doubt.

"What!  Juniper; Juniper Graves--you here!"

"What!  Mr Frank, my dear young master!  Do I really see you once more?
Ah, how I've longed for this suspicious day; but it's come at last."

"Ah, I see it's just yourself," said Frank, laughing.  "Give us your
hand, my good fellow.  But what has brought you out here?  It looks like
old times in the dear old country seeing you again."

"Why, Mr Frank, the truth's the truth, and it's no use hiding it,
though `self-praise is no accommodation,' as the proverb says.  You see,
sir, I couldn't be happy when you was gone.  I missed my dear young
master so much.  People wondered what was amiss with me, when they found
me, as they often did, in a state of refraction.  `Why, Juniper,' they'd
say, `what's amiss?  Are you grieving after Mr Frank?'  I could only
nod dissent; my heart was too full.  But I mustn't be too long, a-
keeping you too, sir, under the vertebral rays of an Australian sun.  I
just couldn't stand it no longer--so I gets together my little savings,
pays my own passage, sails across the trackless deep to the southern
atmosphere--and here I am, to take my chance for good fortune or bad
fortune, if I may only now and then have a smile from my dear young
master Mr Frank, and gaze once more on those familiar ligaments which I
loved so much in dear old England.  Mr Frank, it's the simple truth, I
assure you.  With all my failings and interjections, you'd never any
cause to doubt my voracity."

"You're a warm-hearted, good fellow, I know," said Frank, wiping his
eyes, "or you never could have made such a sacrifice on my account.  But
what do you mean to do with yourself?  Have you got into any situation
or employment?"

"Oh no, sir.  I felt sure--that is to say, I hoped that I should find
you out, for you'd be sure to be well-known in the colony, and that I
might have the irresponsible happiness of serving you again, either as
groom, or in some other capacity."

It so happened that Frank was parting with his man, so Juniper at once
stepped into the place.  Had his master known how matters really were,
he would not have been so ready to take his old tempter into his house.
The fact was, that Juniper Graves had gone to such lengths of
misbehaviour after Frank's departure for Australia, that Sir Thomas had
been compelled to dismiss him; feeling, however, sorry for the man, as
the favourite servant of his absent son, the squire had not noised
abroad his misdemeanours; so that when Juniper quitted Greymoor Park, he
did so apparently of his own choice.  He had contrived, while in the
baronet's service, to appropriate to himself many small valuables of a
portable character.  These he managed safely to dispose of, and with the
money purchased an outfit and paid his passage to South Australia.  His
shallow brains had been fired with the idea of making his fortune at the
diggings.  He felt sure that, if he could find Frank Oldfield, he should
soon ingratiate himself with him, and that he might then take advantage
of his good-nature and of his intemperance to gather to himself
sufficient funds to enable him to start as gold-digger.  A wretched
compound of vanity, selfishness, and shrewdness, where his own interests
were concerned, he had no other view as regarded his young master than
to use him as a ladder by which he might himself mount to fortune.  A
week later, and Juniper Graves was established as general man-servant at
Frank Oldfield's cottage in the hills.

"And pray, Mrs Watson," he asked, on the evening of his arrival,
"whereabouts is one to find the cellar in these outlandish premises?"

"Why, much in the same place as you'd look for it in England," was the
answer; "only here you'll find nothing but cellar walls, for our
master's turned teetotaller."

Juniper replied to this by opening his eyes very wide, and giving
utterance to a prolonged whistle.

"Teetottaller!" at last he exclaimed; "and pray how long has he taken to
this new fashion?"

"Not many weeks," was the reply.

"And how many weeks do you think he'll stick to it?"

"A great many, I hope," replied the housekeeper; "for I'm sure there's
neither pleasure nor profit where the drink gets the master.  It's
driven poor Jacob away."

"And who may poor Jacob be?"

"Why, as nice, and steady, and hearty a lad as ever I set eyes on, Mr
Graves.  He was master's first groom and gardener.  He came out in the
same ship with master and Mr Hubert Oliphant.  Mr Frank saved Jacob
from being drowned, and the young man stayed with him here, and worked
for him with all his heart till the drink drove him away, for he was a
teetotaller, as he used to say of himself, to the back-bone."

"Well, Mrs Watson," said Graves, "it isn't for me to be contradicting
you, but, for my part, I never could abide these teetottallers.  What
with their tea and their coffee, their lemonade and ginger beer, and
other wishy-washy, sour stuffs--why, the very thought of them's enough
to cause an involution of one's suggestive organs."

But what was he to do?  Drink there was none in the house, and he was
too crafty to make any direct request for its introduction; but, "as
sure as my name's Juniper," he said to himself, "Mr Frank shall break
off this nonsense afore I'm a month older; it won't suit him, I know,
and I'm certain sure it won't suit me."

So he submitted to the unfermented beverages of the establishment with
as good a grace as he could, turning over in his mind how he should
accomplish his object.  He had not to wait long.  The drunken cottager
who had formerly supplied Frank with spirits, was of course not best
pleased to lose so good a customer, for he had taken care to make a very
handsome profit on the liquors which he had supplied.  It so happened
that this man lighted on Juniper one day near his master's house, and a
very few minutes' conversation made the groom acquainted with the former
connection between this cottager and Frank Oldfield.

"Ho, ho!" laughed Juniper to himself.  "I have it now.  Good-bye to
teetottalism.  We'll soon put an end to him."

So bidding his new acquaintance keep himself out of sight and hold his
tongue, for he'd soon manage to get back his master's custom to him,
Juniper purchased a few bottles of spirits on his own account, and
stowed them safely away in his sleeping-place.  A few days after this
transaction, Frank bid his groom prepare himself for a ride of some
length.  It was a blazing hot day, and when they had gone some fifteen
miles or more, principally in the open, across trackless plains, they
struck up suddenly into a wooded pass, and Frank, giving the bridle to
Juniper, threw himself on to the ground, under some trees, and lay
panting with the excessive heat.

"Stiff work this, Juniper," he said.  "Just hang the bridles somewhere,
and come and get a little shade.  It's like being roasted alive."

"Ay, sir," replied the other, "it's hot work, and thirsty work too; only
you see, sir, total abstainers ain't at liberty to quench their thirst
like ordinary mortals."

"Why not?" asked his master, laughing.  "I hear the sound of water not
far-off; and I don't doubt there's enough to quench the thirst of all
the teetotallers in the colony."

"Phew!" replied Juniper, "it'd be madness to drink cold water in the
heat we're in.  Why, I'm in such a state of respiration myself, sir,
that it'd be little better than courting self-destruction if I were to
drink such chilly quotations."

"Perhaps so," replied Frank; "certainly it isn't always safe, I believe,
to drink cold water when you're very hot; but we must be content with
what we can get, and wait till we're a little cooler."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the other, in the blandest of voices;
"but I've had the sagacity to bring with me a little flask of something
as'll air the cold water famously.  Here it is, sir; you can use the
cover as a cup."  He was soon at the stream and back again.  "Now, sir,
shall I just mix you a little? it's really very innocent--as immaculate
as a lamb.  You must take it as a medicine, sir; you'll find it an
excellent stomach-ache, as the doctors say."

"I'm more afraid of it's giving me the heart-ache, Juniper," replied his
master; "but a very little in the water will certainly perhaps be wise.
There, thank you; hold--hold--you're helping me, I suppose, as you love
me."  The cup, however, was drained, and then a second was taken before
they started again; and twice more before they reached home they halted,
and Juniper's flask was produced and emptied before they finally
remounted.

"I have him," chuckled Graves to himself.  "I've hooked my trout; and he
only wants a little playing, and I'll have him fairly landed."

Alas! it was too true.  Frank was in skilful hands; for Juniper had a
double object: he wanted to indulge his own appetite for the drink at
his master's expense; and he also wanted to get into his clutches such a
sum of money as would enable him to make a fair start at the diggings on
the Melbourne side of the Australian continent.  His friend of the
cottage, through whom he obtained his supply of spirits, was well
acquainted with many of the returned diggers, and gave him full
information on all subjects about which he inquired connected with the
gold-digging.  His object in the first place was to get as much of his
master's money into his own possession as he could do without direct
robbery; his next object was to keep his master out of every one else's
clutches but his own.  So he laid himself out in every way to keep Frank
amused and occupied, and to leave him as little time as possible for
reflection.  The spirit-bottle was never allowed to be empty or out of
the way; Juniper could produce it at a moment's notice.  He took care to
do so with special dexterity whenever he could engage his master in a
game of cards.  Juniper was an accomplished gambler; he had often played
with his young master when they were out alone on fishing or shooting
expeditions at Greymoor Park.  Frank used then to lose money to him in
play occasionally, but Juniper was always wily enough not to push his
advantage too far--he never would allow himself to win more than small
sums.  But now he had a different purpose on hand; and so, from time to
time, he would draw on his master to play for hours together, keeping
the drink going all the while, and managing himself to preserve a
sufficient sobriety to prevent his losing his self-possession and
defeating his end in view.  Thus, by degrees, Frank found his money
melting fast and faster away.  If he complained of this to Juniper, that
worthy either assured him he was mistaken, or that the money had only
gone to defray the necessary expenses of the establishment; or else he
laughed, and said, "Well, sir, you didn't play as well as usual last
night.  I suppose your luck was bad, or your head wasn't very clear.
You lost more than usual, but you'll win it all back; and, after all, I
should never think of keeping it if you're really in want of it at any
time."

"Juniper, you're a good fellow," said his poor miserable dupe; "you mean
well--I know you do.  I'm sure you wouldn't deceive or rob me."

"Me deceive! me rob, Mr Frank!  No indeed, sir; I hope I've too much
duplicity to do anything of the kind.  Why, didn't I come out here just
because I'd such a hampering after you, Mr Frank?  No; I trust, indeed,
that you'll never ascertain such hard thoughts of me for a moment."

"Never fear," was his master's reply; "I believe you love me too well,
Juniper, to wrong me."

But there was one who did not think so.  Hubert Oliphant had discovered,
with dismay, that Frank's new servant was none other than the reprobate
groom of Greymoor Park.  He had called as soon as he heard of it, and
implored his friend to dismiss Graves from his service.  But Frank would
not hear of such a thing.  He dwelt on his old servant's affection,
self-sacrifice, and devotion to himself; he palliated his faults, and
magnified his virtues; so that poor Hubert had to retire baffled and
heart-sick.  There remained but one other effort to be made, and that
was through Jacob Poole, who was informed by Hubert of Juniper's
character.  Jacob did not decline the duty, though the service was both
a difficult and delicate one; for there was a decision and simple
earnestness about his character which made him go forward, without
shrinking, to undertake whatever he was persuaded he was rightly called
upon to do.

It was on a lovely summer's evening that Jacob made his way, with a
heavy heart, to his former master's cottage.  How he had once loved that
place! and how he loved it still!--only there had fallen a blight on all
that was beautiful, and that was the blight of sin.  As he approached
the house, he heard singing from more than one voice.  He drew near the
verandah; and there, by a little round table--on which was a bottle and
tumblers, and a box of cigars--sat, or rather lolled, Frank and his man,
smoking, drinking, and playing cards.

"And so it's you, Jacob, my boy!" cried Frank; "it's quite an age since
I've seen you; the boggarts haven't kept you away, I hope?"

"No, mayster, it's not the boggarts; it's my own heart as has kept me
away."

"What, Jacob! you've fallen in love with some fair maiden--is that it?"

"No, Mr Frank; I haven't fallen in love with any young wench, and
there's some of the other sex as I'm still less like to fall in love
with."

"Oh, you mean my friend Juniper here!  Well, I'm sorry any one should
fall foul of poor Juniper; he's an old servant of mine, Jacob, and he's
come all the way over from England on purpose to serve me again."

"I'm thinking," said Jacob, who had too much Lancashire downrightness
and straightforwardness to use any diplomacy, or go beating about the
bush, "as it's very poor service ye'll get from him, Mr Frank, if I may
be allowed to speak out my mind.  He's drawn you into the mire again
already, that's plain enough.  Oh, dear mayster, I cannot hold my
tongue--I must and I _will_ speak plain to you.  If you let this man
serve you as he's doing now, he'll just make a tool on you for his own
purposes, till he's squeezed every drop of goodness out of you, and left
you like a dry stick as is fit for nothing but the burning."

It is impossible to describe adequately the changes which passed over
the countenance of Juniper Graves while this brief conversation was
being carried on.  Rage, malice, fear, hatred--all were mingled in his
mean and cunning features.  But he controlled himself; and at last spoke
with an assumed smoothness, which, however, could not quite hide the
passion that made his voice tremulous.

"Really, sir, I don't know who this young man is--some escaped convict,
I should think; or American savage, I should imagine, by his talk.  I
really hope, sir, you're not going to listen to this wild sort of
garbage.  If it wasn't demeaning myself, and making too much of the
impertinent young scoundrel, I'd bring an action against him for
reformation of character."

"There, there, Juniper," said Frank, motioning him to be quiet; "don't
distress yourself.  Jacob's prejudiced; he don't really know you, or
he'd speak differently.  You must be friends; for I know you both love
me, and would do anything to serve me.  Come, Jacob, give Juniper your
hand; take my word for it, he's an honest fellow."

But Jacob drew back.

"I know nothing about his honesty," he said; "but I _do_ know one thing,
for Mr Hubert's told me--he's led you into sin at home, Mayster Frank,
and he'll lead you into sin again here; and he's just cutting you off
from your best friends and your brightest hopes; and I've just come over
once more to beg and beseech you, by all as you holds dear, to have
nothing no more to do with yon drunken profligate.  I'd rayther have
said this to yourself alone, but you've forced me to say it now, and
it's better said so nor left unsaid altogether.  And now I'll bid you
good evening, for it's plain I can do little good if I tarry longer."
He turned and left them: as he did so, Frank's last look was one of
mingled anger, shame, remorse, despair; Juniper's was one of bitter,
deadly, fiery hatred.

But other thoughts soon occupied the mind of the tempter.  It was plain
to him that, if he was to keep a firm hold on his young master, he must
get him, as speedily as possible, out of the reach of his old friends.
How was he to accomplish this?  At last a scheme suggested itself.

"What say you, Mr Frank," he asked suddenly one morning, when his
master was evidently rather gloomily disposed--"what say you to a tramp
to the diggings? wouldn't it be famous?  We could take it easy; there's
first-rate fishing in the Murray, I hear.  We could take our horses, our
fishing-tackle, our guns, our pannikins, and our tether-ropes; we must
have plenty of powder and shot, and then we shall be nice and
independent.  If you'd draw out, sir, what you please from the bank,
I'll bring what I've got with me.  I've no doubt I shall make a first-
rate digger, and we'll come back again with our fortunes made."

"It's rather a random sort of scheme," said his master; "but I'm sick of
this place and of my present life.  Anything for a bit of a change--so
let's try the diggings."

A few days after Jacob's visit to the cottage, it was rumoured that
Frank Oldfield and his man had left the colony.  Hubert called at the
place and found that they were indeed gone, and that it was quite
uncertain when they purposed to return.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

THE LONE BUSH.

It was about a fortnight after Hubert's call at the cottage that a
bullock-driver, dusty and bronzed, came into the office at King William
Street, and asked to speak to Mr Oliphant's nephew.

"I suppose, sir, you're Mr Hubert Oliphant," said the man.

"I am."

"Well, I've just come in from the bush.  It's four days now since I left
Tanindie--it's a sheep-station down on the Murray.  Thomas Rowlands, as
shepherds there, asked me to come and tell you that there's a young gent
called Scholfield, or Oldfield, or some such name, as is dangerously ill
in a little log-hut near the river.  The chap as came down with him has
just cut and run, and left him to shift for himself; and he's likely to
have a bad time of it, as he seems to have some sort of fever, and
there's no doctor nearer than forty miles."

Hubert was greatly shocked.

"And how came the shepherd to think about sending to _us_?" he asked.

"Oh, the poor young man's been raving and talking about you scores of
times; and Mr Abraham's name's well-known all over the colony."

Hubert went to his uncle with the information.

"What can we do?" he asked; "I'll gladly go to him, if you can spare me
for a few days."

Jacob Poole, who was in the office, and had heard the conversation, now
interposed,--

"Oh, Mayster Oliphant, let me go to him.  I'm more used to roughing it
nor you.  I'll see to poor Mayster Frank.  I can't forget what he's done
for me; and maybe, if God spares him, and that rascal Juniper Graves
keeps out of the road, he'll do well yet."

This plan commended itself to Mr Oliphant and his nephew, and it was
resolved that Jacob should go at once.  His master furnished him with
what he needed, and bade him send word to him if he should find himself
in any trouble or difficulty.

"You'll find him out easy enough," said the bullock-driver to Mr
Oliphant, "for there's a party of mounted police setting off this
afternoon for the Murray, and the crossing's only about two miles lower
down than the hut.  If he as goes joins the police, he'll be there in
half the time it took me to come up."

So it was arranged that Jacob should start immediately.

"And never mind," said Mr Oliphant, "about the time of your coming
back.  If you can be of any service to your poor young master by staying
on with him, do so.  And keep with him altogether if he wishes to take
you again into his service.  It may keep him from the drink, now that
vagabond's taken himself off, though I'll be bound he hasn't gone empty-
handed.  Should you wish, however, Jacob, to come back again to me,
either now or at any future time, I'll find you a place, for I can
always make an opening for a stanch total abstainer."

Jacob's preparations were soon made.  He furnished himself with all
necessaries, and then joined the party of police on a stout little bush
horse, and started that afternoon on his journey.  It was drawing
towards the evening of the second day after their departure from
Adelaide, when they came in sight of the river Murray, where a long
shelving bank of reeds, like a small forest, intervened between
themselves and the river.  The country all round them was wild and
wooded, with little to remind of civilised man except the tracks of
bullock-drays.

"And here we part," said the leader of the police.  "I've no doubt
you'll soon reach the hut you're seeking if you keep along the bank of
the river; but be sure you don't lose sight of that."

"Perhaps," said one of the men, "there may be some one not far-off who
could show him his way, so that he'd lose no time.  Shall I cooey?"

"Ay, do," said the captain.  So the man uttered a prolonged "Coo-oo-oo-
ee!" and all paused.  A faint answering "Cooey" was heard in the
distance.  Then a second "Cooey" was answered by a nearer response, and
soon after a stout-looking bushman made his appearance.

"Can you take this young man to a hut about two miles up the river,
where there's a young Englishman lying sick?" asked the captain.

"Ay, surely I can," was the reply.  "I've only left it an hour since."

So Jacob took a hearty farewell of his escort, and in another minute was
following his new guide.

"A relation of the young gent's, I guess?" asked the bushman.

"No, only an old servant.  He saved my life, and I want to help save
his, please God."

"You'll not do much towards saving it if you give him the same sort of
medicine the last chap did," remarked the other drily.

"The drink, you mean," said Jacob.  "No; I'm not likely to do anything
of the sort, for I'm an out-and-out total abstainer."

"I'm right glad to hear it; give me your hand, friend," cried the
bushman, treating him, at the same time, to a grip which made his
fingers tingle.  "I wish we'd more of your sort among us.  It'd be
better for 'em, body and soul."

"Then, of course, you're an abstainer yourself."

"To be sure I am.  I've four brothers, and not one of us has ever tasted
any intoxicating drink."

"And do you live hereabouts?" inquired Jacob.

"Yes; my father's head-shepherd at Tanindie.  We all live together, my
mother and all."

"And you find you can do your work without the drink?"

"Look there," said the other, stopping short, and baring his arm.  "Feel
that; some muscle there, I reckon.  That muscle's grown on unfermented
liquors.  Me and my four brothers are all just alike.  We never trouble
the doctor, any of us."

"Ah!" said Jacob; "I've heard strange talk about `can't do without
wine;' `can't do without beer;' `can't do without spirits;' `heat of the
climate makes it needful to make up for wear and tear of body,' and so
on.  And then, I've seen a many shake their heads and say as young
people can't do without a little now and then `to brace up their
nerves,' as they call it, `and give a tone to the constitootion.'  I've
heard a deal of this talk in the old country."

"`Plenty gammon, plenty gammon,' all that, as the black fellows say,"
replied the other.  "Truth is, people makes artificial wants, and then
they must have artificial stimulants.  We're no great scholars in our
house, but we gets a good many books even out here in the bush, and
reads them at odd times; and we've read a great deal of nonsense about
young people wanting beer and wine, and such things.  If people gets
themselves into an unnatural state, they wants unnatural food.  But
where's the real need?  I don't believe the world would suffer a pin if
all the intoxicating drinks were thrown into the sea to-morrow.  Indeed,
I'm sure it would be a thousandfold better."

"I'm sure of the same," said Jacob.  "But I suppose it isn't all of your
trade as thinks so."

"No, indeed; more's the pity.  There's plenty about us that loves their
drink a vast deal too well.  I can tell you strange tales about some of
them.  I've known hardworking fellows, that have kept sober all the
year, go up at the year's end, with all they have saved, to Adelaide,
and put it into the publican's hand, telling him, `There, you keep that,
and give me drink, as I calls for it, till I've drunk it all out.'"

"And I'll warrant," said Jacob, "as publicans'll not be particular as to
a gallon or two about giving them the full worth of their brass."

"Not they, you may be very sure; and as soon as the publican has
squeezed them dry, out they go, neck and crop."

"And don't that larn 'em better?" asked Jacob.

"Not a bit of it," replied his companion; "for there's no fool like a
drunken fool.  They'll do anything for a spree.  They're like madmen
when they go off with their wages.  You may find three or four shepherds
clubbing together.  They'll call for champagne, and then for a pail.
Then they'll knock the necks off the bottles, pour the champagne into
the pail, and ladle it out with their pannikins as they sit round.  And
if that don't satisfy them, they'll add a bottle of brandy, or rum, or
some other spirit.  I think they're fairly crazy after the drink in this
colony."

"I shouldn't be surprised," said Jacob.  "It's much the same in most
places in the old country."

"Here we are," said the young bushman, shortly after, as they made their
way through the tangled trees and shrubs, and came upon a large-sized
log-hut.

How strange it was, that solitary hut in that lone wilderness, and in
view of the shining river!  All around was wild and primitive; and fair
in its negligent beauty as though it had never been disturbed by the
hand of man.  The hut was large and well-constructed, though now a
little falling to decay.  It was built of logs laid horizontally in
order one above another, and rendered tolerably wind-proof by the moss
and clay which served to fill up the crevices.

Into this primitive dwelling Jacob followed his guide.  He was surprised
at the air of comfort presented by the interior.  Not that there was
much to boast of in the way of furniture, but great pains and skill had
evidently been used to give an air of snugness to the one long, desolate
apartment of which the hut consisted.  On a low, roughly-made bedstead
lay poor Frank Oldfield, judiciously shielded from draughts by hangings
of carefully arranged drapery.  His various possessions lay around him,
neatly piled up, or hung on the walls.  And what struck Jacob with both
pleasure and surprise, was a text in large printed characters on the
wall--opposite the foot of the bed.  The words of the text were: "The
blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin."  Oh, what a marvellous
power have the words of the blessed Bible to prove their own heavenly
origin in circumstances like these!  In a moment it was clear to Jacob
that his master was in good hands.  These words out of that volume which
is the revelation of the God of love to poor guilty sinners, told him so
with a force which no eloquence or assurance from human lips could
strengthen.  Yet there were other, and very pleasing, proofs also, for
at the bed's head sat a middle-aged, kindly-looking woman, who was
acting the part of nurse to the poor emaciated figure that lay on that
couch of sickness.

"Who is it?" asked a feeble voice, as the newcomers entered the hut.

"An old servant, mother, of the gentleman's," answered the young
bushman.

"What, Jacob Poole!" exclaimed Frank, raising himself up.

"There, don't worry or excite yourself," said the kind woman.  "I'll
prop you up a bit, but you mustn't talk too much.  It'll only make you
bad again."

Jacob came forward.

"Mr Frank," he said, "I've come over, as soon as I heard as you was
badly, to do whatever I can for you.  Mr Oliphant's let me come; and he
and Mr Hubert's rare and vexed as you're so ill.  So I'm to see as you
want for nothing, and to let them know how you're coming on.  And I'm
bound to stay with you till you gets round again."

The poor patient held out his hand to Jacob, while the tears streamed
down his face.

"You're all very good to me," he said; "too good, far better than I
deserve.  But I hope God may spare me to reward you, if I can.  You see,
Jacob, I'm brought very low.  That rascal Juniper robbed me of fifty
pounds, and deserted me when I was getting ill.  He would have taken all
my money, I've no doubt, if he'd only known where to find it.  If it had
not been for my kind nurse here, and her husband, I should not have been
alive now."

Here he sank back, exhausted with the effort of speaking.  He was sadly
altered.  His fine features were sunk and pinched, his cheeks blanched,
and his lips cracked and swollen; while his beautiful hair, once his
mother's pride, had fallen under the scissors of the shepherd's wife.
He was about to speak again, when his nurse motioned Jacob to be seated,
and said to her patient,--

"Now, sir, you must just keep silent, and let me tell all about your
troubles to this young man.  You see, it seems that Mr Oldfield and
that man of his, who appears to be a regular scoundrel, came down and
settled in this hut, to try a taste of `bush' life, fishing and
shooting, and the like.  But, dear heart, it was all well enough for a
day or two; but after a bit the young gentleman got weary of it.  So
they took to passing a good deal of their time in drinking and playing
cards, I'm afraid.  I hope, young man, you're not given to anything of
the sort?"

"Me!" exclaimed Jacob; "no, ma'am; that's not in my line, I can assure
you.  It's the drink as parted my poor mayster and me afore.  I'm a
gradely total abstainer, and mean to be all the days of my life, please
God."

"I'm heartily glad to hear it," said the good woman.  "You'll do the
young gentleman no harm then, I hope, but good.  Well, as I was saying,
when they'd been a long time at this drinking and card-playing, what
with the heat, and what with the change in his way of living, the poor
gentleman took ill; so what did that man of his do?  Why, he looked
after him for a day or so, and then he made pretence that he'd take one
of the horses, and go and look for a doctor, or for some one who could
come and give a help.  But, bless you, he never cared about doctor, but
went straight off with both the horses, and one of the guns, and all the
powder and shot as was left, and whatever else he could carry; and it
seems too, from what the gentleman says, that he's taken and robbed his
master of fifty pounds."

"And how did you happen to light on him, and find out he was sick?"
asked Jacob.

"Why, I was just going to tell you.  My master and Dick--Dick's our
youngest boy, you know--was looking after a stray sheep, when they comes
up to this hut, and hears a strange moaning noise.  They went in at
once, and there was this young gentleman in a high fever, raving, and
talking all sorts of wild things, and half dead for want of water.  So
my master goes back at once to our cottage and fetches me, and here I've
been, off and on, ever since.  It's a mercy my master found him when he
did, or he must have died afore long."

Frank Oldfield nodded his head in assent, and held out his hand, first
to the shepherd's wife, and then to Jacob.  "And so you've come to stay
a bit with your old master, Jacob.  Thank God for that."

"Ay, that's right," said the good woman; "thank Him--you've cause to do
so, I'm sure God seems nearer to us who live out in the bush, in one
way.  I mean, our mercies and blessings seem to come straighter like
from his own hand when we've so few of our fellow-Creatures about us."

"Jacob," said his master earnestly, "I trust, if I'm spared, that I
shall really turn over a new leaf, gradely, as you'd say.  The drink has
been my curse, my ruin, and almost my death.  I'll give it up
altogether, and sign the pledge, if God raises me up to health and
strength again."

"Ay, do, mayster," replied the other; "it'll be the best thing you ever
did in all your life."

The shepherd's wife was now able to delegate many of her kind offices to
Jacob, who proved a most loving and tender nurse.  In a few days their
patient was able to sit up without difficulty, and, after a while, to
leave the hut for the shepherd's comfortable cottage, to which he was
conveyed on a litter of boughs by the stout arms of the shepherd and his
sons.  Here it was agreed that he should remain as a regular lodger, at
a moderate remuneration for himself and Jacob, which his host and
hostess were rather loath to accept, but the refusal of which they saw
would give Frank Oldfield much pain.  Jacob was his master's devoted
attendant, watching over him as a mother over her child.

It was one fine afternoon, when Frank was better than usual, that he
turned to Jacob in the midst of a walk, and said abruptly, "Jacob,
should you like to go to the diggings?"

"Why, Mayster Frank," was the reply, "I've often thought I should just
like to try my hand at it, for I was trained as a lad to pit-work.  But
I should never think of leaving you till you're all right again, nor
then either, unless you'd wish it yourself."

"What made me ask you," said his master, "was this.  My kind landlord's
three eldest sons are going, as you know, to try their hands for three
months or so at gold-digging.  Now, if you'd like to go with them, it
would be a real pleasure to me.  You would go in capital company, as
they are all stanch teetotallers, like yourself; and nothing would
rejoice me more than to find you coming back with a bag full of
nuggets."

"But what'll _you_ do while I'm off, Mr Frank?"

"Oh, that's easily answered.  My kind hostess, and her husband, and two
youngest sons will be able to do all I want, as I'm getting well so
fast; and I shall be glad of an excuse to stop here in this quiet place
for a while, and not return to Adelaide.  I can say, and say with truth,
that I am waiting till you and your party come back from the diggings."

Jacob Poole had no objections to make; so in a few days the four young
men had crossed the Murray, and were on their way to the gold-fields.

It is not necessary to describe in detail the history of the party from
Tanindie during their stay at the diggings, but one or two scenes must
be introduced which will further our story.

It was a calm Sabbath evening; the click of the pick, the rattle of the
cradle, the splashing of the water-buckets--all were still.  Outwardly
the day had been kept strictly as a day of rest by all.  Beneath a tall
tree stood, in the dress of a minister of the gospel, a middle-aged but
grey-headed man.  A rough stool served him for a seat, and a few
upturned buckets, supporting some loose planks, were appropriated to the
few women and children, while the men stood behind these in various
attitudes, but all very attentive; for in such a congregation as this
there were none but willing listeners.  Those who had no mind to the
preaching simply pleased themselves, and stayed away.  After the singing
of a hymn, given out two lines at a time, for the minister alone
possessed a hymn-book, a fervent prayer was offered up by the good man,
at the commencement of which almost all the little company sank gently
on their knees.  A few stood, but all remained bareheaded till its
conclusion.  Then he drew forth his pocket Bible, and read the first
chapter of the First Epistle of Peter, and took from it as his text the
third, fourth, and fifth verses: "Blessed be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten
us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth
not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God
through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

From these words he addressed his earnestly attentive congregation in
the simplest language, but every word came from the heart, and made his
hearers feel that he was not standing himself on one side, and bidding
them go forward, but was beckoning to them to follow along the path on
which he was already going before them.  He spoke of the uncertainty of
life, and they knew that he spoke the truth; for many who had come there
to search for gold had been cut off in the midst of their labours.  He
spoke of the uncertainty of earthly gain and prosperity, and they knew
that he spoke the truth; for many who had left home, and had sold all to
come to these diggings, had returned beggars.  He spoke of the emptiness
of the earthly compared with the fulness of the heavenly inheritance,
and bid them set eternity against time, the riches of heaven against the
gold of the earth, the house of glory against their shifting tents, the
rest of a home with God against their present wanderings, and many a
sigh and tear escaped from lips and eyes that seldom spoke or looked
except for earthly things.  And then he told them of the blood of Christ
that was shed for their souls, and must be infinitely more precious than
corruptible silver or gold, and urged them never to rest satisfied till
they could feel that they were truly the children of God and followers
of Jesus; for what would it profit them if they gained the whole world
and lost their own souls?  Lastly, he pleaded with them to lose no time,
but to come at once just as they were, and not any of them to hang back
through fear or doubt; for the love of Jesus Christ was deep enough to
swallow up the sins of them all, and was, like himself, "the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever."  The simple service concluded with
another hymn and prayer, and then all dispersed, silent and thoughtful.
On Jacob Poole, who had been one of the congregation, the sermon of the
good minister made a deep impression.  He had often heard the gospel
preached before, but it had never hitherto come home to his heart as a
personal concern, as it did now.  There was to him a reality about it
such as he had never understood before.  His heart was yearning for
something; he felt that the gospel was that something, that it could
satisfy his heart's cravings.  All through the service, but for about
half a minute, he had kept his eyes fixed on the preacher.  He withdrew
them for that half minute to glance round at a man who brushed past him
and walked on.  As he turned, the man averted his face.  He thought it
was a face not altogether strange to him, and yet he could not recall
where he had seen it.  But his eyes returned to the preacher, and other
thoughts occupied his mind and heart.  During the rest of that week he
was ill at ease.  Many thoughts came crowding in upon him as he worked
vigorously in the hole assigned to him.  Hitherto he had believed men
sinners in the gross, and himself as bad but not worse than the general
average.  Now he began to know that he was really himself a sinner,
whose transgressions of God's holy laws would bring upon him eternal
death, unless he sought and found the only refuge.  But was the gospel
message really for _him_?  Would Jesus, whom he had so long reverenced,
yet never hitherto really loved, be still willing to receive him?  He
waited impatiently for the return of the Sabbath.  It came at last, and
Christ's ambassador was at his old place under the tree with words full
of love and encouragement.  At the end of his sermon, before retiring,
he said,--

"If there is any one of you, my dear hearers, who is in any way troubled
in conscience, or for any other reason would wish any conversation with
me on religious subjects, I shall be only too happy to talk with him now
in my tent."

No one spoke, and the good man went his way.  But in a little while
Jacob Poole followed him, and asked to be allowed to speak with him for
a few minutes.  He entered the minister's tent with a distressed and
anxious countenance; but when he came away from the interview in which
he had unburdened his sorrows, and laid open all his difficulties, there
was a bright and happy look on his features, which spoke of a mind
stayed on God and a heart at peace.  Just as he was leaving the
minister's tent, a swift, quiet step came behind him; he turned very
quickly, and again his eyes fell on the same countenance which he had
seen when a person brushed by him at the previous Sunday's service.
Another moment, and the man had vanished in the dusk.  Again he was
puzzled.  He could not at all remember where he had seen that face, and
yet certainly he _had_ seen it before.  There was something forbidding
and malicious in it, and a sort of dread crept over him.  And yet he
could not tell why he should fear.  However, he resolved to be on his
guard, for strange things had often happened at the diggings, and there
were men prowling about the colony who would care nothing about shedding
blood, if they could secure thereby the gains of a successful digger.
He said nothing, however, to his companions; for it seemed an absurd
thing to trouble them with his vague impressions and misgivings,
especially as the man who had thus twice been near him had done nothing
more than approach him and pass on.

It was some ten days later, and violent winds with heavy rains had
driven the most ardent diggers early to their tents.  Jacob was
revolving in his mind what he had heard at the last Sunday's preaching,
and thoughts of home, and duties left undone there, made him very sad.
Then he thought of his young master at Tanindie, and wondered how he was
progressing, and whether he would at length really take the one decided
step and become a pledged abstainer.  Thus he mused on, till the
twilight melted rapidly into darkness.  Then, having lifted up his heart
to God in prayer, he threw himself down on his bed.  But he could not
sleep, though weary enough with the exhausting labours of many days.
Suddenly he half raised himself; he thought he heard a strange noise
like some one breathing not far from his head.  Then the wind, which had
lulled for a second or two, resumed its violence, and flapped the canvas
of his tent backwards and forwards.  Again he lay down, but shortly
afterwards thought he heard the breathing again--or was he only
deceiving himself?  It was difficult to hear anything else distinctly
for the noise made by the flapping of the tent and the creaking of its
supports.  Still, he did not feel easy.  And now in the dusk it seemed
to him that the lower part of the folds of the tent near his bed's head
moved in a peculiar manner, such as the wind could not cause.  Without
rising, he silently and cautiously rolled himself over from the bed till
he could lay his hand on a large rug;--this he quietly folded up, and,
creeping back, laid it in his own place on the bed itself.  Then,
drawing himself round noiselessly, he lay at full-length on the ground,
at right angles to the bed, with his face not far from the bolster.  Not
a sound, except the flapping and creaking of the tent, was heard for
some time, till Jacob, feigning to be asleep, began to breathe hard, and
then to snore louder and louder.  Suddenly he was aware that the canvas
was lifted slowly a few feet from where he was stretched along.  He
continued, however, still to breathe hard, as one in a deep sleep.
Another moment, and a man was stealthily raising himself to his knees
inside the tent.  Then the intruder raised his arm.  Jacob, concealed by
a fold of the tent, could just make out that the man's hand grasped some
weapon.  The next instant there was a plunge downward of the hand, and a
suppressed exclamation of surprise.  But Jacob waited to see and hear no
more.  Catching up a spade, which he knew was close by, he aimed a
furious blow at the intended assassin.  He did not, however, fully reach
his mark--the blow fell partly short, yet not altogether; there was a
cry of pain and terror, and then the murderous intruder rushed from the
tent, and made his escape, before Jacob could recover his balance, which
he had lost in the violence of his stroke.  And now conjecture and
suspicion were changed to certainty.  He could not doubt whose was the
voice that uttered that cry; it was too hateful to him ever to be
forgotten; he was now sure that his surmises were true, and that the man
whom he had twice seen so near him was the same who had just been
attempting his life, and was none other than Juniper Graves.  He must
have blackened his hair and cultivated a moustache, which would account
for Jacob's being puzzled to identify him.  As soon as he could recover
from his surprise, Jacob armed himself with a revolver, and cautiously
examined the ground outside his tent, thinking that perhaps his enemy
might be lurking about, or might have been disabled by the blow of his
spade.

"I'm certain I marked the villain," he said to himself.  "I'm sure, by
the way he hollered out, he's got summat with him as he'll remember me
by."  But all was still, except the howling of the wind and the
pattering and splashing of the driving rain.  Then he made his way to
the large tent which the brothers, his companions, all occupied in
common.  He told his story, which, of course, excited both the sympathy
and indignation of his hearers.  But what was to be done?

"No use looking for him to-night," said one; "he's bolted off far enough
by this time, you may depend on't.  As good look for a black fellow in
the Murray reeds, as search for this precious scoundrel in the dark.
Here; one of us'll come and share your tent to-night, and to-morrow
we'll raise a hue and cry."

But hue and cry were raised in vain.  Juniper Graves, if he were the
culprit, was gone, and had left no trace behind.  Nothing more was seen
or heard of him; no such person was to be found at the diggings, and no
one seemed to know anything about him.  So Jacob was left in peace till
the three months were gone, and then returned to Tanindie, the party
having met with rather more than average good fortune.

When the first greetings were over, and Jacob had expressed his delight
at the thorough restoration of his master's health, Frank turned to his
faithful servant and said,--

"Well, Jacob, you've brought me good news, as you've come back safe, and
a rich man; and, indeed, if you'd only brought yourself it would have
been good news to me.  But I am not quite so sure that you'll think my
news good news, when you hear what I have to tell you."

A cloud gathered on Jacob's face, as he said tremblingly,--

"Eh, surely, mayster, you--you--you've not been--"

"Oh, no, no," laughed Frank; "set your mind at rest, Jacob; I'm a
thorough teetotaller now, and have been ever since you left."

"And mean to be so still, I hope, mayster."

"I hope so," was the reply.  "But you have not heard my news, Jacob.
I'm thinking of going home; not home to Adelaide, but back across the
sea again--home to England."

"Indeed, Mayster Frank.  Well, I'm not so sorry to hear it."

"Are you not?" said his master, with a look of disappointment.  "I
thought you might have been.  At any rate, I shall be sorry to lose
_you_, Jacob, for you've been more like a brother than a servant to me;
though, it's true, you'll not be much of a sufferer by losing me."

"Ay, but, Mayster Frank, there's no reason why either on us should lose
t'other.  I haven't forgotten what you did for me on board ship; and
I'll serve ye still here or in the old country, till you can find one
as'll suit you better."

"Jacob, you're a good fellow," replied his master; "you shall be my
servant, then, and we will go back to Old England together.  I'll tell
you just how it is.  My dear mother wants me home again--it seems she
can't be content without me; and as there really is no special reason
why I should remain in the colony--and certainly I haven't been much of
an ornament to it, nor credit to my friends here--I think it better to
meet her wishes and return."

"And I'll go with you, with all my heart," said the other; "only then
you mustn't think, mayster, as it's all on your own account as says so;
it wouldn't be honest to let you think so.  Truth is, I've been having a
talk wi' a good minister as came a-preaching where we were on the
Sabbath up at the diggings; and he's opened my eyes a bit; or, rather,
the Lord's opened 'em through him.  So you see, I've been asking him
what's my duty about them as I've left at home, and it seems to me, by
what the good man says, as I haven't dealt by 'em quite as I should.
It's a long story, and I needn't trouble you with it; but it just comes
to this: I came back from the diggings with my mind made up to go home
again first opportunity.  So, you see, mayster, as you're going
yourself, I can go with you all right now."

"And do you know, Jacob--or rather, I'm pretty sure that you don't know,
that your old friend, Captain Merryweather, has been to Adelaide.  He's
gone to Melbourne now, but he'll be back in a month, and we can take our
passage home in the dear old _Sabrina_."



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

It was a month after the return of Jacob and his party from the diggings
that Frank, Jacob, and Captain Merryweather met on board the _Sabrina_
at Port Adelaide.

"So, Jacob, my boy," cried the captain; "why, how you're grown!
Colonial life agrees with you.  I should hardly have known you.  And
you're coming home in the old ship.  I'm heartily glad of it; that is,
supposing you're the same lad as when you sailed with me before.  I
mean, as stanch an abstainer."

"Ay, that he is," said Frank warmly.

"And you too, Mr Oldfield?"

"Well, I am at present," replied the other, colouring; "and I hope to
continue so."

"Ah, then, I suppose you've never signed the pledge."

"No; more's the pity."

"Oh, Mayster Frank," interposed Jacob, "you promised me, when you were
so ill, as you'd sign when you got better."

"And so I will; but it's no use signing for the first time now, when I'm
going home in a total abstinence ship.  I'll join some society at home.
Our good rector's, for instance.  Yes; I'll join his, and my name and
example will be really of some use then."

"Excuse me, Mr Oldfield, pressing you on the subject, but I hope you'll
allow me the privilege of an old friend," said the captain.  "I feel so
very strongly on the matter.  I've seen so very much mischief done from
putting off; and if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing at once;
take my advice--`There's no time like the present;' `Never put off till
to-morrow what you can do to-day;' these are two good proverbs.  I've
found them of immense value in my line of life."

"Yes; they're very good proverbs, no doubt," said Frank, laughing; "but
there are some as good, perhaps, on the other side, though you won't
think so; for instance, `Second thoughts are best,' and `Better late
than never.'"

"True, Mr Oldfield; but `late' often runs into never."

Frank made a gay, evasive reply, and turned hastily away, leaving Jacob
to arrange some matters in his cabin, while he went himself on shore.

He was loitering about among the warehouses till Jacob should join him,
when a figure which seemed familiar to him approached, in earnest
conversation with another man, but he could not see the face of either
distinctly.  After a while they parted, and the man whom he seemed to
recognise was left alone, and turned towards him.  But could it really
be?  Dare he believe his eyes?  Yes; there could be no mistake, it was
indeed Juniper Graves.  That rather reckless character was, however,
much more spruce in his appearance, and better dressed, than when in
Frank Oldfield's service.  There was an assumption of the fine gentleman
about him, which made him look ludicrously contemptible, and had Frank
not been roused to furious indignation at the sight of him, he could
hardly have refrained from a violent outburst of merriment at the absurd
airs and graces of his former servant.  As it was, breathless with
wrath, his eyes flashing, and his face in a crimson glow, he rushed upon
the object of his just resentment, and, seizing him by the collar,
exclaimed in a voice of suppressed passion,--

"You--you confounded scoundrel! you rascally thief!  So I've caught you
at last.  I'll make very short work with _you_, you ungrateful villain."

Then he paused for a moment, and shaking him violently, added,--

"What have you to say for yourself, why I shouldn't hand you over at
once to the police?"

Nothing could be more whimsically striking than the contrast between
Juniper Graves' grand and jaunty bearing a moment before, and his
present utter crawling abjectness.  He became white with terror, and
looked the very picture of impotent cowardice.  But this was but for a
minute; then his self-possession returned to him.  He felt that, if his
master gave him over immediately in charge to the police, everything was
lost; but if he could only get a hearing for a few minutes, before any
further step was taken, he was persuaded that he could manage to stem
the torrent that was bearing against him, especially as, fortunately for
him, Frank Oldfield and himself were alone.  His first object,
therefore, was to gain time.

"Oh, Mr Frank, Mr Frank!" he cried beseechingly, "spare me--spare me--
you don't know all--you're labouring under a great misapplication; if
you only knew all, you'd think very indifferently of me."

"That's just what I do now," said the other, smiling in spite of
himself.  Juniper saw the smile.  He was satisfied that his case was not
hopeless.

"Pray, Mr Frank," he said humbly and softly, "pray do take your hand
off my coat; there's no need, sir--I shan't try to escape, sir--I'll
follow you as impressively as a lamb--only give me time, and I'll
explain all."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Frank; "do you mean to tell me that you'll explain
back my fifty pounds into my pocket again?"

"Yes, sir, and more besides, if you'll only be patient and hear me.
Thank you, sir.  If you'll just step in here, sir, I hope to be able to
explain all to your satisfaction."

They entered a little office connected with a weighing-machine, which
happened to be vacant at the time.

"Now, mind," said Frank Oldfield, when they were shut in alone, "I'll
have a straightforward statement, without any prevarication, or I give
you over at once into custody.  If you can't clear yourself, and I don't
see how you possibly can, there's the jail before you, the only place
you're fit for."

"I'm quite aware, sir, that appearances are against me," said the other
meekly; "but, Mr Frank, you'll not refuse to listen to your old
servant, that's devoted himself so faithfully to you and yours in
England, and came across the seas just because he couldn't abide to be
separated from you any longer."

"Come, sir," said Frank Oldfield sternly; "I'm not to be talked over in
this way.  You weren't so very anxious to avoid separation when you left
me on a sick-bed, and made off with my fifty pounds.  Come, sir, give me
your explanation, as you call it, at once, and without any nonsense
about your faithfulness to me and mine, or I shall put the prison-door
between you and me, and that'll be a separation you'll not get over so
easily."

"But you haven't heard me, sir; you haven't heard all.  You don't know
what I have to say in attenuation of my offence."

"I mayn't have heard all, Juniper, but I've both heard and seen about
you a great deal more than I like; so let me warn you again, I must have
a plain, straightforward statement.  What have you done with my money,
and how can you justify your abandoning me in my illness?"

"Ah!  Mr Frank, you little know me--you little know what's in my heart.
You little know how every pulse reverberates with deepest affection.
But I'll go to the point, sir, at once;" for Frank began to exhibit
signs of impatience.  "When I saw you was getting ill, sir, and not able
to care for yourself, I says to myself, `I must ride off for a doctor.
But what'll my poor master do while I'm gone? he's no power to help
himself, and if any stranger should come in--and who knows it mightn't
be one of these bushrangers!--he'd be sure to take advantage of him and
steal his money while he lay helpless.'  So says I to myself again, `I
think I'll risk it.  I know it'll look awkward,'--but there's nothing
like a good conscience, when you know you haven't meant to do wrong.
`I'll just take the money with me, and keep it safe for him till I get
back.'  Nay, please, Mr Frank, hear me out.  Well, I took the fifty
pounds, I don't deny it; it may have been an error in judgment, but
we're all of us infallible beings.  I rode off to find a doctor, but no
doctor could I find; but I met a young bushman, who said he'd get some
one to look after you till I could return."

"And why didn't you return; and how came you to want two horses to fetch
the doctor with?" asked Frank impatiently.

"Ah! dear sir, don't be severe with me till you know all.  I took both
the horses for the same reason that I took the money.  I was afraid a
stranger might come while I was away, perhaps a bushranger, and the very
first thing he'd have laid his hands on would have been the horse."

"Well; and why didn't you come back?"

"I did try, sir, to come back, but I missed my road, and made many
fruitful efforts to regain my lost track.  At last, after I'd tried, and
tried, and tried again, I gave up in despair, and I should have perished
in the scowling wilderness if I hadn't met with a party going to the
diggings.  Then the thought crossed my mind, `I'll go and dig for gold;
if I succeed, I'll show my dear master that I'm no slave to Mammoth, but
I'll lay down my spoils at his feet; and if I fail, I cannot help it.'
Well, sir, I went and dug with a good will.  I prospered.  I came back
to look for my dear master, but I could not find him--he was evacuated.
At last I heard that you were going to England, Mr Frank, and I said to
myself; `I'll go too.  I'll pay my own passage.  I'll be the dear young
master's devoted servant, and he shall see by my unwearied intentions
that I never really could have meant to do him wrong.'"

"And do you really think me such a fool as to believe all this?" asked
Frank contemptuously.

"Yes, sir; I do hope you will, sir," was the reply of Juniper.  "There,
sir," he added, "I'll give you the best proof that I'm not the rogue you
took me for.  Please, sir, to read what's on that packet, and then open
it."

Frank took from his hands a heavy parcel, on which was clearly written,
"F Oldfield, Esquire; from Juniper Graves."  He opened it.  It contained
six ten-pound notes and a leather bag full of nuggets.

"There, sir," said Juniper, triumphantly, "you can tell that this is no
got-up thing.  I've had no time to write these words on the paper since
you collared me.  I've carried it about just as it is for weeks, as you
may plainly see by looking at the cover of it, till I could give it into
your own hands."

It was clear, certainly, that the paper had been folded and directed
some considerable time back, as was manifest from the marks of wear and
rubbing which it exhibited.  Frank was staggered.

"Really, Juniper," he said, "I don't know what to think, I can't deny
that this packet has been made up for me before our present meeting, and
it has all the appearance of having been some considerable time just as
it now is.  It certainly looks as if you didn't mean to rob me, as
you've paid me, I should think, nearly double what you took.  Of course,
I don't want that.  I shall not take more than my fifty pounds."

"Oh, sir, do take the rest, as some amends for the anxiety I've caused
you by my foolish act, in taking charge of your money in the way I did
without your knowledge or permission.  It was wrong, and I oughtn't to
have done it; but I meant it for the best.  And oh, dear master, do
think the best of me.  I never did mean to harm you; and I'm ready to go
with you now from the Pole to the Antipathies."

"No, Juniper, I shall only take my own," said his master; and he
restored him one of the ten-pound notes and the nuggets, which Juniper
accepted with apparent reluctance.

"So far," said Frank Oldfield, "let bygones be bygones.  I trust that
you'll not make any more such awkward mistakes."

"You're satisfied then, sir?" asked Graves.

"Yes, so far as my money is concerned.  But there's a graver charge
against you still.  Jacob Poole has informed me, and asserts it most
positively, that you stole into his tent at the diggings and tried to
murder him."

"Well, did I ever!" exclaimed Juniper, holding up both his hands in
amazement.  "I really think, sir, that young man can't be quite right in
his head.  _Me_ try to murder him! why, I've never set eyes on him since
the day he spoke so impertinently to me at the cottage.  _Me_ murder
him! what can the poor, silly young man be thinking of.  It's all his
fancy, sir; merely congestion of the brain, sir, I assure you; nothing
but congestion of the brain."

"It may be so," replied Frank; "but here he comes himself; let us hear
what he has to say on the subject."

They both stepped out into the open air as Jacob Poole came up.

Poor Jacob, had he seen the "father of lies" himself walking with his
master, he could hardly have been more astounded.  He rubbed his eyes,
and stared hard again at Frank and his companion, to assure himself that
he was not mistaken or dreaming.  No; there could be no doubt of it.
Frank Oldfield was there, and Juniper Graves was as clearly there; and
it was equally plain that there was more of confidence than of distrust
in his master's manner towards the robber and intended murderer.  What
could it all mean?

"Come here, Jacob," said Frank.  "I see you look rather aghast, and I
don't wonder; but perhaps you may find that Juniper Graves here is not
quite so black as we have thought him.  He acknowledges that he took my
fifty pounds, but he says he never meant to keep it; and that he missed
his way in looking for a doctor, and afterwards joined a party at the
diggings."

"Well, Mayster Frank?" said Jacob, with a look of strong incredulity.

"Ah, I see you don't believe it, and I own it don't sound very likely;
but then, you see, he has given me a proof of his wish not to wrong me;
for--look here, Jacob--he has returned me my fifty pounds, and wanted me
to take another ten pounds, and some nuggets besides, his own hard
earnings at the diggings; only, of course, I wouldn't have them."

"Indeed, mayster," replied Jacob, with a dry cough of disbelief; and
glancing at Juniper, who had assumed, and was endeavouring to keep up on
his cunning countenance, an appearance of injured virtue.

"Yes, indeed, Jacob," said his master; "and we mustn't be too hard upon
him.  He did wrong, no doubt, and he has made the best amends he could.
If he had been a thorough rogue, he never would have cared to seek me
out and return me my money with large interest.  And, what's more, he's
coming over to England in the same ship with us; not as my servant, but
paying his own passage, just for the sake of being near me.  That
doesn't look like a thoroughly guilty conscience."

"Coming home in the same vessel with us!" cried Jacob, in utter
astonishment and dismay.  "Coming home in the same vessel!"

"Yes, Mr Poole," said Juniper, stepping forward, and speaking with an
air of loftiness and injured innocence; "and, pray, why not coming home
in the same vessel?  What have _you_ to say against it, I should like to
know?  Am I to ask _your_ leave in what ship I shall cross the brawny
deep?  Have you a conclusive right to the company of our master?--for he
is mine as well as yours till he himself banishes me irresolutely from
his presence."

"You shall not sail in the same vessel with us, if I can hinder it, as
sure as my name's Jacob Poole," said the other.

"And how _can_ you hinder it, Mr Poole, I should like you to tell me?
I ask nobody's favour.  I've paid my passage-money.  I suppose my brass,
as you wulgarly call it, is as good as any other man's."

"Well," said Jacob, "I'll just tell you what it is.  You'll have to
clear up another matter afore you can start for England.  You'll have to
tell the magistrate how it was as you crept into my tent at the
diggings, and tried to stick your knife into me.  What do you say to
that, Mr Juniper Graves?"

Just the very slightest tremor passed through Juniper's limbs, and the
faintest tinge of paleness came over his countenance at this question,
but he was himself again in a moment.

"Really," he exclaimed, "it's enough to throw a man off his balance, and
deprive him of his jurisprudence, to have such shocking charges brought
against him.  But I should like, sir, to ask this Mr Poole a question
or two, as he's so ready to accuse me of all sorts of crimes; he don't
suppose that I'm going to take him for judge, jury, and witnesses,
without having a little shifting of the evidence."

"Well, of course, it's only fair that you should ask him for proof;"
said Frank.

"Come, then, Mr Poole," said Juniper, in a fierce swaggering tone,
"just tell me how you can _prove_ that I ever tried to murder you?
Pooh! it's easy enough to talk about tents; and knives, and such things,
but how can you prove it that I ever tried to murder you? a likely
thing, indeed."

"Prove it!" exclaimed Jacob, evidently a little at fault.

"Yes, prove it.  Do you think I'm going to have my character sworn away
on such unsubstantial hallucinations?  Tell me, first, what time of the
day did it happen?"

"It didn't happen in the day at all, as you know well enough."

"Was it dark?"

"Yes."

"Could you see who it was as tried to murder you, as you say?"

"No."

"Then how do you know it was me?"

"I hit the scoundrel with my spade," said Jacob, indignantly, "and made
him sing out, and I knowed it were your voice; I should have knowed it
among a thousand."

"And that's all your proof," said the other, sneeringly.  "You knowed my
voice."

"Ay," replied Jacob; "and I left my mark on you too.  There's a scar on
your hand.  I haven't a doubt that's it."

"Can you prove it?" asked the other, triumphantly.  "A scar, indeed!  Do
you think scars are such uncommon things with men as works hard at the
diggings, that you can swear to one scar?  A precious likely story!"

"Ah, but I saw you myself."

"When?"

"At two of the preachings."

"Preachings! and what then?  I didn't try and murder you at the
preachings, did I?  But are you sure it was me, after all, as you saw at
the preachings?"

"Quite."

"How was I dressed?  Was the person you took for me just the same as me?
Had he the same coloured hair--smooth face, like me?"

"I'll tell you plain truth," said Jacob, warmly; "it were you.  I'm as
sure as I'm here it were you; but you'd blacked your sandy hair, and
growed a beard on your lip."

"Well, I never!" cried the other, in a heat of virtuous indignation.
"Here's a man as wants to make out I tried to murder him; but when I
asks him to prove it, all he says is, he couldn't see me do it, that he
heard my voice, that I've got a scar on my hand, that he saw me twice at
some preachings, but it wasn't me neither; it wasn't my hair, it wasn't
my beard, and yet he's sure it was me.  Here's pretty sort of evidence
to swear away a man's life on.  Why, I wonder, young man, you ain't
ashamed to look me in the face after such a string of tergiversations."

"I think, Jacob," said his master, "you'd better say no more about it.
It's plain you've no legal proof against Juniper; you may be mistaken,
after all.  Let us take the charitable side, and forget what's past.
There, shake hands; and as we're to be all fellow-voyagers, let us all
be friends."

But Jacob drew back.

"No, mayster; I'll not grip the hand of any man, if my heart cannot go
with it.  Time'll show.  By your leave, I'll go and get the dog-cart
ready; for I suppose you'll be going back to Adelaide directly?"

His master nodding assent, Jacob went to fetch the vehicle, and on his
return found his master in earnest conversation with Juniper.

"Good-bye, then, Juniper, till we meet next Thursday on board the
_Sabrina_," he cried.

"Good-bye, sir; and many thanks for your kindness."

Jacob, of course, uttered no word of farewell; but just looking round
for an instant, he saw Juniper's eyes fixed on him with such a look of
deadly, savage hatred, as assured him--though he needed no such
assurance--that his intended murderer was really there.

"I think, Jacob, you're rather hard on Juniper," said his master, as
they drove along.  "He has done wrong; but I am persuaded he has still a
strong attachment to me, and I really cannot think he can have been the
person who tried to murder you.  Why should you think it, Jacob?  He's
never done you any harm before."

"Mr Frank, you must excuse me; but I'm sure I'm not mistaken.  He's
always hated me ever since the day I spoke out my mind to you at the
cottage.  Take my word for it, Mr Frank, he's no love for you; he only
wants to make a tool of you, just to serve his own purposes."

"Nay, nay, Jacob, my good fellow; not so fast.  He cannot be so utterly
selfish, or he never would have offered me the extra ten-pound note and
the nuggets, over and above the fifty pounds, if he hadn't really a love
for me, and a true sorrow for what he has done wrong."

"I cannot see that," was the reply.  "Of course, he knowed he was likely
to meet you when he came to Adelaide; and he was pretty sure what'd
happen if you gave him in charge to the police.  He knowed well enough
they wouldn't listen to his tale; so, just to keep clear of the prison,
he gave you the money, and made up his story just to save hisself.  He
knowed fast enough as you'd never take more nor your fifty pounds."

"Ah, but Jacob," said his master, "you're wrong there.  He had made up
the parcel, nuggets and all, and directed it to me long before he saw
me.  Don't that show that he intended it all for me, whether he met me
or no?"

"Not a bit of it, Mr Frank," replied Jacob, bluntly.  "He knowed
precious well how to play his game.  I'll be bound there's summat wrong
about his getting this gold; I'll ne'er believe he dug it up hisself.  I
shouldn't wonder if he hasn't robbed some poor chap as has worked hard
for it; and now he wants to get out of the colony as fast as he can
afore he's found out.  And, in course, he's been carrying this brass
lapped up a long time, just in case you should light on him at any time,
and he might seem to have a proper tale to tell.  But you may be right
sure, Mr Frank, as you'd ne'er have seen a penny of it if he could only
have got clear out of the colony without coming across yourself."

"You're not very charitable, Jacob, I think," said his master; "but it
may be as you say.  And yet, why should he be so anxious to go out in
the same ship with me?  If he wanted to keep his money to himself; why
didn't he keep close till the _Sabrina_ was gone, and then sail by the
next vessel?"

"Perhaps he did mean it, Mr Frank, only you happened to light on him."

"No, that cannot be, for he says he has paid for his own passage."

"Then, if that's a true tale," said the other, "I'll be bound he's not
done it with any good meaning for you or me.  I shall keep both my eyes
well open, or he'll be too much for me.  And as for you, Mr Frank, oh,
don't listen to him, or he'll hook all your brass as he's given you out
of your pocket again, or he'll lead you back to the drink if he can."

Frank coloured, and looked troubled, and turned the conversation to
another subject.

At last the day of sailing came.  The _Sabrina_, taken in tow by a
steam-tug, soon made her way to Holdfast Bay, where she was to lie at
anchor till Saturday morning.  Hubert and his uncle accompanied Frank
Oldfield thus far, and then returned in the steam-tug.  Before they
parted, Hubert had a long conversation with his friend in his cabin.
His last words were of Mary, and Frank's one special temptation; and
they separated with a fervent grasp, and eyes brimming with tears.  Yet
in neither of their hearts was there hope.  Hubert felt that his friend
had not satisfied him that he really meant utterly and for ever to
renounce strong drink; and Frank felt that he had withheld any positive
promise so to abstain, because he knew that the deep-rooted purpose of
his heart was to resume the indulgence which would be his ruin, body and
soul.

And where was Juniper?  No one saw him on deck; and yet assuredly he was
on board the vessel, for Jacob had seen him come up the side.

Saturday morning, and a fine favourable wind.  Up comes the anchor--the
_Sabrina_ bends to the breeze--away they go!  Kangaroo Island is reached
and passed.  Then emerges Juniper Graves from his cabin between decks,
and smiles as he looks around him.  All is safe now.

The _Sabrina_ had been gone ten days, when a weary, downcast-looking man
entered Mr Abraham Oliphant's office.

"Your name ain't Oliphant, is it?" he asked, doggedly.

"Yes, it is," said Hubert, whom he was addressing.

The man got up, and stared steadily at him for a minute.

"It ain't him!" he muttered to himself.

Hubert was inclined at first to be amused; but there was something in
the man's manner that checked his merriment.

"You want my uncle, perhaps," he said.

Mr Abraham Oliphant came at his nephew's summons.  The man, who had all
the appearance of a returned digger, shook his head.

"_You've_ neither on you been to the diggings, I reckon?"

"No; we have neither of us been," said the merchant.

"Are there any of your name as has been?" asked the other.

"None; I can answer for it," was the reply.  "My sons have none of them
been; and we, with my nephew here, are all the Oliphants in this colony.
No Oliphant has been to the diggings from South Australia."

The man sighed deeply.

"Can you make anything out o' that?" he asked, handing a piece of soiled
paper to Mr Oliphant.  "I can't read myself, but you can read it."

The merchant took the piece of paper and examined it.  It had once been
part of an envelope, but had been torn and rolled up to light a pipe,
and one end, where it had been used, was burned.  The words left on it
were all incomplete, except the names "Oliphant" and "Australia."  What
was left was as follows:--

  _yes_,
  _Oliphant_,
  _delaide_,
  _th Australia_.

Both uncle and nephew scrutinised it attentively.  At last Hubert
said,--

"I can tell now who this belonged to."

"Who?" cried the man, eagerly.

"Why, to one Juniper Graves, a servant of Mr Frank Oldfield's.  He
chose to take upon himself to have his letters from England directed to
the care of my uncle, and this is one of the envelopes."

"And where is he?  Can you tell me where I can find him?" cried the
digger, in great excitement.

"I'm afraid you'll not find him at all, my friend," replied the
merchant, "for he left the colony in the _Sabrina_ for England ten days
ago."

The effect of this announcement on the poor man was tremendous.  He
uttered a violent imprecation, stamped furiously on the ground, while he
ground his teeth together.  Then he sat down, and covered his face with
his hands in mute despair.

"I fear there has been some foul play," said Mr Oliphant to his nephew.

"Foul play!" cried the unfortunate digger, starting up furiously.  "I'll
tell you what it is.  Yon rascal's been and robbed me of all as I got by
my hard labour; and now he's got clean off.  But I'll follow him, and
have the law of him, if I work my passage home for it."

"I've always had a suspicion that the fellow had not come honestly by
his gains," said Hubert.

"And why didn't you stop him?  Why didn't you have him taken up on
suspicion?" exclaimed the other bitterly.

"I had no grounds for doing so," replied Hubert.  "He might have come
honestly by his money for anything I knew to the contrary.  There was
nothing to show that he had not been successful, as many other diggers
have been."

"Successful!" cried the poor man.  "Ay, he's been successful in making a
precious fool of me."

"Tell us how it happened," said Mr Oliphant.

"Why, you see, gentlemen, my mates and me had done very well; and they
was for going to Melbourne with what they'd got, but I was for stopping
to get a little more.  Well, I was all alone, and a little fidgetty like
for fear of getting robbed, when one evening I sees a sandy-haired chap
near my tent as didn't look much used to hard work; so I has a bit o'
talk with him.  He seemed a greenish sort of piece, and I thought as
p'raps I might just make use of him, and keep him for company's sake.
So he and I agreed to be mates; he was to do the lighter work, and I was
to do the hard digging, and keep the biggest share of what we got.  So
we chummed together; and he seemed a mighty pleasant sort of a cove for
a bit.  He was always a-talking, and had his mouth full o' big words.  I
never said nothing about what I'd got afore, and he never seemed to care
to ask me.  But it were all his deepness.  One night he pulls out a pack
of cards, and says, `Let's have a game.  Only for love,' says he, when
he saw me look a little shyly at him.  `I'm not a gambler,' says he; `I
never plays for money.'  So we has a game and a pipe together, and he
pulls out a little flask of spirits, and we got very cheerful.  But I
was careful not to take too much that night.  However, the rum set my
tongue loose, and I let out something about having more gold than he
knowed of.  I was mighty vexed, however, next day, when I remembered
what I'd said.  But he never said a word about it, but looked werry
innocent.  A few nights arterwards we gets drinking and smoking again.
Then he took a little too much himself.  I knowed it, because next day
he was axing me if I'd see'd anything of an envelope as he'd lost.  I
told him `no;' but the real fact was, he'd twisted it up to light his
pipe with, and I'd picked up the bit as he threw away, and put it in my
pocket.  I didn't think anything about it then; but next day, when he
made a great fuss about it, and the day after too, I said to myself;
`I'll keep the bit of paper; maybe summat'll turn up from it one of
these days.'  So I took it out of my pocket when he were not by, and
stowed it away where I knew he couldn't find it.  But I shall weary you,
gentlemen, with my long story.  Well, the long and short of it was just
this.  He managed to keep the spirit-bottle full, and got me jolly well
drunk one night; and then I've no doubt I told him all he wanted to know
about my gold, for I know no more nor the man in the moon what I said to
him.  I asked him next day what I'd been talking about; and he said I
was very close, and wouldn't let out anything.  Well, it seems there was
a strong party leaving the diggings a day or so arter; but it was kept
very snug.  Jemmy Thomson--that was what my new mate called himself to
me--had managed to hear of it, and got leave to join 'em.  So, the night
afore they went, he gets me into a regular talk about the old country,
and tells me all sorts of queer stories, and keeps filling my pannikin
with grog till I was so beastly drunk that I knew nothing of what had
happened till it was late the next morning.  Then I found he was off.
He'd taken every nugget I'd got, and some bank-notes too, as I'd stowed
away in a safe place.  The party had started afore daybreak; and nobody
knowed which way they'd gone, for they'd got off very secret.  I was
like one mad, you may be sure, when I discovered what he'd been and
done.  I took the bit of paper with me, and managed somehow to get to
Melbourne.  I tried to find him out; some only laughed at me.  I went to
the police; they couldn't do nothing for me--some on 'em told me it
served me right for getting drunk.  Then I went to a minister; and he
was very kind, and made all sorts of inquiries for me.  He said he'd
reason to believe as Jemmy Thomson--as the rascal called himself--was
not in Melbourne.  And then he looked at my paper.  `Call on me to-
morrow,' says he.  And so I did.  Then he says, `There's no Oliphant
here as I can find out; but there's a Mr Abraham Oliphant, a merchant,
in Adelaide.  This letter's been to him; you'd better see him.'  So I've
come here overland with a party; and now I must try my hand at summat or
starve, for I shall never see my money nor the villain as stole it no
more."

Mr Oliphant was truly sorry for the unfortunate man, and bade him take
heart, promising to find him employment if he was willing to stick to
his work and be sober.  The man was thankful for the offer, and worked
for a few weeks, but he was still all athirst for the gold, and, as soon
as he could purchase the necessary tools, set out again for the
diggings, with an earnest caution from Mr Oliphant to keep from the
drink if he would not suffer a repetition of his loss and misery.

And thus it was that Juniper Graves had acquired his ill-gotten wealth.
Having ascertained that a party was returning to South Australia, he
joined himself to them, and got safe off with his stolen gold.  As Jacob
Poole had surmised, he had made up the packet of notes with the nuggets,
that, should he happen to fall in with his master, he might be able to
pacify him, and so prepare the way for regaining his favour and his own
hold upon him.  He felt quite sure, from what he knew of Frank
Oldfield's generous character, that he never would take more than the
fifty pounds, and he was aware that unless he made unhesitating
restitution of that sum, he was in danger of losing all, and of being
thrown into prison.  And now he was anxious to leave the colony as soon
as possible, that he might put the sea between himself and the man he
had robbed; and, having ascertained that Frank Oldfield and Jacob Poole
were returning to England in the _Sabrina_, he took his passage in the
same vessel, partly with the view of getting his young master once more
into his power, and partly in the hope of finding an opportunity of
wreaking his vengeance on Jacob Poole.  Therefore he was determined to
leave no stone unturned to regain his influence over Frank, for his
object was to use him for his own purposes both during and after the
voyage.  To this end his first great aim would be to cause, if possible,
an estrangement between Jacob and his master.  He also hoped to do his
rival--as he considered Jacob--some injury of a serious kind, without
exposing himself to detection.  So far he had succeeded.  All had
prospered to his utmost wishes; and, as the shores of Kangaroo Island
faded from the view of the voyagers, he hugged himself in secret and
said,--

"Bravo, Juniper!--bravo!  You've managed it to a T.  Ah, Mr Jacob
Poole!  I'll make your master's cabin too hot to hold you afore any of
us is a month older."



CHAPTER TWENTY.

A MAN OVERBOARD.

And now we bid farewell to Australia, and follow the _Sabrina_ in her
homeward voyage.  It was soon evident that there was no love lost
between Captain Merryweather and Juniper Graves, nor between that
cunning gentleman and honest, straightforward Jacob.  With Frank,
however, it was different.  Jacob soon found that his place was often
taken by Juniper, and that himself was gradually losing his old place in
his master's confidence and good graces: Frank would also frequently
spend a long time in Juniper's cabin between decks, from which he
returned in a state of great hilarity.

"Jacob," said the captain to him one day, "I can't quite make it out.  I
thought your master was an abstainer."

Jacob shook his head.

"I thought so too, captain; but I've found myself grievously mistaken.
He's no mind to give up the drink, you may be sure.  He's only teetotal
when he cannot get it."

"I'm pretty sure," said the other, "that he takes it now.  That fellow
Juniper Graves is no fit companion for him."

"Ah, captain, that man's been his ruin in Australia; and he'll be his
ruin when he gets back to the old country, if he doesn't shake him off.
But I fear he'll ne'er do that.  The old lad hasna a fitter tool in all
the world nor yon chap.  He'll not stick at anything.  He's tried
robbery and murder, and he'll not be over nice about squeezing all he
can out of the poor young mayster."

Jacob then related to Captain Merryweather all he knew of Juniper
Graves' proceedings, and both he and the captain agreed together to
watch him, and do their utmost to keep poor Frank out of his clutches.

"I don't care so much about myself," said Jacob; "though I'm quite sure
he'd knock me overboard any day, if he'd the chance of doing it without
being seen, for he hates me worse nor poison.  But I'm grieved to the
heart to see him winding hisself round Mayster Frank, who's so kind and
so warm-hearted and so free.  I cannot forget how he risked his life to
save mine when we was coming out, as you know, captain; and I'd give my
own life for him now, if I could only get him clear of yon cunning
rascal as is leading him blindfold to hell."

"I've no doubt," said the other, "that this man has brought spirits on
board, and that he and Mr Oldfield drink in his cabin together."

"Yes," replied Jacob; "and you may be quite sure as he'll hook all the
brass out of the young mayster afore the voyage is over."

It was just as Jacob and the captain surmised.  Juniper Graves had
brought a good stock of brandy and rum on board with him, and took care
that Frank Oldfield should pay handsomely for what he was willing, after
much solicitation, to part with.  Let us look in upon them, as they sit
together by Juniper's berth.  The time is midnight.  Frank has stolen in
while the captain has been sleeping, for he fears being seen going there
by the honest sailor.  There is a curtain hung up before the door to
hide the light.  A small candle lamp hung on gymbals is fixed to the
woodwork, and throws a scanty gleam on the two figures which are engaged
in earnest play.  Yet how different are these two, spite of their
companionship in evil!  Frank, still beautiful in the refined cast of
features, out of which intemperance has not yet been able to sear the
traces of gentle blood and early culture; bright too and graceful in the
masses of rich chestnut hair which adorn a forehead high and noble, yet
now, alas! often crossed by lines of weary, premature care.  Juniper, a
compound of cat, fox, monkey, wolf--every feature of his contemptible
face instinct with the greediest, most self-satisfied cunning.  How
could two such, so widely different in natural character, be yet so
agreed?  Alas! what will not the love of the drink, the slavery of the
drink, the tyranny of the drink accomplish?  Each holds his cards
characteristically.  Frank so carelessly that his adversary can see
them; Juniper grasping and shading his with jealous vigilance, lest a
single glimpse of them should be visible to his opponent.  A large
spirit-flask stands under the berth close by Juniper's hand, and a glass
is within the reach of each.  They play on, for a while, in silence.
Frank's money is clearly slipping through his fingers, though he is
allowed now and then to win, especially when he gets at all restive or
suspicious.

"There, Juniper," says Frank at last, and in no steady voice, "I declare
you'll clean me out before long.  I do believe you've come on board for
the sake of squeezing me dry, as Jacob says."

"As Jacob says!" cries the other, with affected indignation and
astonishment.  "I wish, sir, that conceited young puppy had never set
foot on this vessel.  What does he know of the sort of aversions as are
suited to a gentleman of your birth and retrospects?"

"Juniper," replies the other, "I think the `aversions,' as you call
them, belong to you and not to me, if I may judge by your aversion for
poor Jacob; and as for `retrospects,' I think the less I say about them
the better."

"Well, sir, I don't know," replies Juniper, huffily; "you may amuse
yourself; sir, with my humble efforts at a superior style of soliloquy;
but I'm sure you're doing me injustice, and allowing yourself to be
bamboozled, if you let yourself be talked over by that canting
hypocrite."

"Steady--steady, my boy!" cries Frank; "you're half-seas over, Juniper,
or you could not say so.  Come, hand us the brandy.  We'll let Jacob
alone, and drink his health, and the health of all good lads and
lasses."

"As you please, sir," says Juniper, sulkily.

The next morning, when Frank Oldfield appeared on deck, his face and
whole appearance bore the unmistakable marks of last night's excess.
His very breath also told the same miserable tale.  As for Juniper,
though he had drunk more cautiously, yet he did not show himself outside
his cabin till the afternoon.  The captain had his eye upon him, and
could not help remarking to himself what a look of deadly malice and
venomous baseness pervaded every feature of the villain's face.

"He's up to some mischief more than common, I'll be bound," he said to
himself.  "I'll keep a sharp look-out for you, my friend."

A short time after, and Juniper had disappeared, nor did he emerge from
his retreat till the evening.  He was then in high spirits, laughing and
chatting with the sailors, and every now and then glancing up at Jacob,
who was walking up and down the poop with Captain Merryweather.  At
last, just as Jacob was descending to the main-deck, and had his foot on
the topmost step of the ladder, the vessel lying over under a breeze on
the quarter, Juniper suddenly sprang up the steps in a state of great
excitement, shouting out, "A whale!--a whale!"  Every one but the
captain turned suddenly round in the direction to which Juniper was
pointing, Jacob among the number, so that he hung partly over the water.

"Where?" cried several voices.

"There!" he exclaimed, suddenly stumbling with his whole might against
Jacob, so as very nearly to hurl him into the sea.  Indeed, had not the
captain, who was on the watch, sprung forward and caught hold of him, he
must have inevitably gone overboard.

"You scoundrel!" shouted the captain, seizing Juniper by the collar, and
sending him spinning down the ladder on to the deck below, where he lay
half stunned for a few moments.

"I'm up to your tricks, my man," he added, as Juniper limped off to his
cabin, vowing vengeance.

"What's amiss, captain?" asked Frank, in great astonishment.  "What's
poor Juniper been doing?  No great harm in fancying he saw a whale, even
supposing he was mistaken."

"Mr Oldfield," said the captain, sorrowfully, "you don't know that
fellow.  If ever there was a serpent in a human body, there's one in
that man of yours.  Bear with me, my dear sir, if I offer you an earnest
word or two of caution.  I can see that you are not the man you were
when we crossed the seas together before.  We had a very happy voyage
then, and you remember how strong and settled you were on the subject of
total abstinence.  Is it so now?  Ah! don't let that wretched fellow
take all that's good and noble out of you.  He don't care a straw for
you nor for any one but himself; I'm quite certain.  He has mischief in
his eye, and there's a black heart under that smooth tongue--if I know
anything of what a rogue's like, and I've boarded many that have been
sailing under false colours in my day.  You must excuse my speaking so
warmly and plainly, Mr Oldfield; but I really cannot bear to see you
running on to the reefs without giving you a word of warning."

"Thank you--thank you, captain," said Frank.  "I know you mean kindly,
but I still think you're hard upon Juniper.  I believe he's a faithful
fellow, with all his faults; and he isn't without them, I'll allow.  But
he's sincerely attached to me, I believe, and that makes up for a good
deal."

"Attached to you, Mr Oldfield! don't think it!  He's only making a tool
of you--he'll just get all he can out of you, and then he'll scuttle
you, and leave you to sink."

"I can't think it, I cannot indeed," was Frank's reply; "there's an old
proverb about giving a dog a bad name.  He's no friend of yours, I know,
nor of Jacob Poole's either, and I'm sorry for it."

"And is he really acting a friend's part by you, Mr Oldfield?" asked
the other.  Frank coloured, and evaded the question.

"At any rate, Jacob has no real cause to be at such daggers-drawn with
him," he said.

"Do you think not?  Are you aware that he was trying to knock Jacob
overboard only a few minutes ago, and that he attempted his life at the
diggings?"

"Oh, captain, it's all fancy; you're mistaken, both of you.  I'm sure
you're mistaken.  Juniper's not the sort of fellow--he hasn't it in
him--he hasn't the pluck to commit murder, even if he had the will to do
it."

"Ah, Mr Oldfield," cried the captain, "I say again, beware of him; you
don't know him; if you'd seen the spite in his eye that I've seen you
wouldn't talk so.  He has malice enough in him to take away life, if he
felt sure he could do it without detection and punishment.  And is he
not, at this very moment, stealing away from you the life of body and
soul?  Don't be offended, pray, Mr Oldfield; but I say again, I can't
bear to see you drifting on to the rocks, and not lend a helping hand to
keep you off."

"I'm not offended, my kind friend," said Frank sorrowfully; "you tell
the truth, I fear, when you say I'm drifting on to the rocks; and yet I
don't mean to go on as I'm doing now, I assure you--when I touch land
again I'm going to turn over a new leaf altogether, and paste it down
over the old ones, so that I shall make quite a fresh start."

"And do you think," asked the other, "that this fellow will let you keep
your good resolutions, even if you had the wish to do so?"

"Oh yes," replied Frank, carelessly; "I've told Master Juniper that his
reign will only last on board ship; I'm to be master, and we're both to
say `good-bye' to the drink when once we set foot on shore, and he's
quite agreeable."

"Of course he is," said the captain; "he'll be willing to promise
anything for the future, if you'll only let him keep his hold on you
now.  Well, sir, I've warned you, and I hope you may lay it to heart."

"I will, my good friend; indeed I will," was the reply.  That evening
Frank kept himself out of Juniper's reach, much to the disgust and
annoyance of that gentleman, who began to dread lest he had over-reached
himself; and set his old master against him.  It was not so, however.
Juniper had become necessary to Frank, and a day or two found them as
fast friends as ever.

And now the _Sabrina_ had accomplished half her homeward course, and
many a heart on board rejoiced in the hope of a speedy and prosperous
completion of the voyage.

It was a chilly and boisterous afternoon, the clouds were hurrying in
leaden-coloured layers along the sky, the sea was all in a foam, and
patches of whitish upper clouds, beneath which the lower drift was
scudding, threw a lurid light over the wide expanse of ocean.  The wind,
which had hitherto been favourable, now veered, and obliged them to
tack.  The captain, at this juncture, was on the poop, with Frank
Oldfield by him.

"I haven't seen Mr Juniper Graves to-day," said the former.

"To tell you the truth," answered Frank, "he and I have been having a
few words together."

"I'm not sorry for it," remarked the captain drily; "nothing serious,
however, I hope."

"Nothing very, perhaps; but the matter's simply this: I've been fool
enough to play cards with him for rather high stakes lately, and I fancy
that I've detected my man peeping over my cards, and using a little
sleight of hand in his shuffling too."

"I'll be bound he has," remarked the other.

"If he'd been a poor man," added Frank, "I could have excused it; but
the fellow's got a whole fortune in nuggets and notes stowed about him.
He's a sort of walking `Crocus,' as he told me once, when he wasn't over
sober,--meaning `Croesus,' of course."

"And so you've given him a little of your mind, I suppose."

"Yes; and it's wounded my gentleman's dignity considerably; so there he
is below, hugging his gold, and comforting himself in his own way, which
isn't much in your line or Jacob's, captain, and I wish it wasn't in
mine."

"In other words," said Captain Merryweather, "he's pretty nearly drunk
by this time."

"You're somewhere about right," was the reply.  Immediately after this
short dialogue the captain proceeded to give the orders for tacking in a
stentorian voice, as the wind was high.

"Ready, ho! ready!" he cried.  All were standing ready at their posts.
Then the word was given to the man at the wheel.

"Helm's a-lee!" roared the captain.  There was rattling of chains,
flapping of canvas, and shuffling of feet.

"Mainsail h-a-u-aul!" bellowed the captain in a prolonged shout.  Round
went the great sail under the swift and strong pulls of willing hands.

"Let go, and h-a-u-aul!" once more roared out the captain in a voice of
thunder.

It was just at this moment, when all was apparent confusion, when ropes
were rattling, feet stamping, sails quivering, that Juniper Graves
emerged from his cabin on to the main-deck, his head bare, and his sandy
hair flying out wildly into the breeze.  His eyes were strained and
bloodshot, and his whole appearance was that of a person in an agony of
terror.  Aroused from his drunken sleep by the noise overhead, and
terrified to find the vessel heeling over to the other side, he
imagined, in his drunken bewilderment, that the ship had struck, and
that himself and his gold were in danger of perishing with her.  Filled
with frenzy at this idea, he rushed out upon deck, where the general
apparent confusion confirmed his fears; then he sprung upon the
bulwarks, gazed around him in utter dismay at the crew in busy motion
about him, tottered on his insecure standing-ground, caught at a rope to
save himself; missed it, and then, with a terrible shriek of horror and
despair, fell headlong overboard into the boiling waters.

"Save him! oh, save him!" cried Frank Oldfield imploringly.  "Where is
he?  Let me go, let me go," he screamed, for he was about to plunge
overboard, and the captain was holding him back with his powerful grasp.

"It's no use, Mr Oldfield; it'll only be two lives instead of one."

"Oh, yes, yes," besought Frank; "put the ship about--lie-to--throw over
a hen-coop, a life-buoy, for mercy's sake--the poor wretch isn't fit to
die," and he still struggled to free himself.

"Listen to reason, sir," said the captain.  "We can do nothing; the
ship's running nine knots, and no one knows where to look for him;
nothing can save him, miserable man; he's sunk no doubt, at once, and
all the faster for having his gold about him."

"Can nothing be done?" cried Frank, beseechingly.

"Nothing, I assure you," replied the other; "there's not a trace of him
to be seen, is there, Mr Walters?"  The first mate shook his head.
"We're far enough off now from the spot where he fell in.  It's in mercy
to you, sir, that he's been taken away."

Frank sank upon a seat, and buried his face in his hands, sobbing
bitterly.

Yes; the tempter was gone, gone to his account--suddenly cut off in the
midst of his sins, hurried away in righteous retribution by the very
death himself had planned for Jacob Poole.  Yes; the tempter was gone,
and the tempted still remained.  Would he take home to his heart the
lesson and warning God had thus sent him?  The tempter was gone, but,
alas! the temptation was not gone.  Frank had even now in his cabin
several flasks of that drink which had already borne such miserable
fruits for himself and the guilty wretch just hurried into the presence
of his offended God.  He had bought the spirits from Juniper at an
exorbitant price, but would he use them now, after what had happened?
The night after Juniper's awful death he sat in his cabin weeping.
Thoughts of home, of mother, father, Mary, crowded in upon his heart.
The days that once were, when he would have joined with real willingness
and hearty earnestness the band of abstainers, as he sat in all boyish
sincerity at Mr Bernard Oliphant's table, eager to make the trial and
bear the cross, were fresh upon his memory now.  And all the bitter
past, with its shameful, degrading, sinful records, gathered its thick
shadows round his soul.  What should he do?  He sank upon his knees and
prayed--prayed to be forgiven, prayed that he might do better--and then
he rose, and was in part comforted.  And now, what should he do with the
spirits which were still in his possession?  He took them out and ranged
the flasks on his berth.  His scuttle stood open.  One minute and he
could have thrown them all into the sea.  Conscience said, "Do it, and
do it at once."  But another voice whispered, "Pity to waste so much
good stuff; drink these out, but only a moderate quantity at a time, and
then you can renounce the drink for ever."  He listened to the second
voice, and conscience sighed itself to sleep.

Alas! alas! what fiend like the fiend of drink?  It can steal away every
good resolution, drown the voice of conscience, and make a man cheat
himself into the belief that the indulgence of to-day is a warrant and
guarantee for the abstinence of to-morrow.  Frank was satisfied; he felt
sure that it would be wiser to wean himself gradually from his drinking
habits; he would use the strictest moderation with his present little
stock, and then he should more readily forsake it altogether when this
was gone.  And so he continued to drink, but more and more sparingly, as
he himself supposed, because he was really training himself to a gradual
surrender of the drink, but in reality because he dreaded to be left
altogether without it.  And so the taste was kept up during the
remainder of the voyage, and Frank Oldfield landed on the shores of his
native country with the thirst strong upon him.



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

HOMELESS AND HEARTLESS.

The _Sabrina_ was bound for Liverpool, and entered that port some two
years after the time when she left it with Hubert Oliphant and Frank
Oldfield as fellow-passengers.  Alas! how different were the feelings of
the latter now, from those with which he trod the deck of that vessel
when preparing for his temporary exile.  Then, though sad, he was full
of hope; now he was both heartless and hopeless; he knew he was the
bond-slave of the drink, and, whatever he might say to others, he felt
in his own heart that it was useless any longer to try and cheat himself
with the transparent phantom of a lie.  Yet he could not for shame
acknowledge thus much to others, nor would he allow his conscience to
state it deliberately to himself; he still clung to something, which was
yet neither conviction nor hope, that he might even now master his
besetting sin.  Alas! he desired the good end, but he would not use the
only means to that good end; and so, when he landed on the soil of the
old country again, it was with the settled determination, (though he
would not have believed his own handwriting, had he put down that
determination on paper) not to give up the drinking of intoxicating
liquors at present.  How then should he face his parents and Mary
Oliphant?  He could not face them at all as yet.  He could not at once
make up his mind what to do.  Happily for him, Juniper Graves had been
cut off before he had been able to effect a complete spoliation of his
master, so that Frank had still rather more than two hundred pounds in
his possession.  While this money lasted, he resolved to stave off the
evil day of taking any decided step.  He would not write to his mother
or Mary till he had quite made up his mind what course he was intending
to pursue.  He was also well aware that the family of Bernard Oliphant
could give him no welcome with his present habits of excess still upon
him.  So, on the day of reaching Liverpool, he said to Jacob Poole,--

"Well, Jacob, are you quite tired of my service, or will you stay by me
a little longer?  I've no right or wish to stand in your way, and if you
would like to make another voyage with Captain Merryweather, or can find
any other situation that will suit you better than mine, I would not
have you consider yourself bound to me at all."

"Mayster Frank," was Jacob's reply, "I'm not going to leave you now,
unless you wish to part with me yourself.  I don't feel happy in leaving
you to go by yourself nobody knows where."

"Really, Jacob, you make a capital nurse," said the other, laughing;
"you seem to be quite convinced that I'm not to be trusted to run
alone."

"And it's true, sir," replied Jacob, seriously; "you need looking after,
and I mustn't be letting you get into the hands of any of those chaps
as'll hook all as you have out o' you in no time--that is, if you're
going to stay by yourself in this big town."

"Why, yes, Jacob; I shall not go down to my father's at once.  I don't
seem as if I _could_ go.  I'd better wait a little bit.  I seem out of
trim, and out of sorts altogether."

"You must please yourself," replied Jacob; "and you must know best,
Mayster Frank, what you're bound to do.  But, if you'd take my advice,
you'd go home at once, afore anything worse happens."

"No, Jacob, I cannot yet, and so that's settled.  Now we must look-out
for lodgings; they mustn't be expensive ones, else the brass, as you
call it, won't hold out, and you can wait on me, and keep me in order,
you know.  But, by the way, I was forgetting that you have friends of
your own to look after.  Don't let anything I've been saying prevent
your going to them, and doing what's right by them.  I shall be quite
willing to come into any arrangement you may like to make.  Don't
consider yourself bound to me, Jacob, but just do whatever you feel to
be your duty."

"You're very kind, Mayster Frank: it's just this way with me.  I should
like to go and see arter them as I left behind when I sailed for
Australia, and see how they're coming on.  But it don't matter for a
week or so, for they're not looking for me.  I'll see you settled first
properly, Mayster Frank, if you mean to settle here for a bit, and then
I'll just take a run over yonder for a few days, and come back to you
again, and what I do afterwards'll depend on how I find things yonder."

And thus it was finally settled.  Frank took quiet lodgings in a
respectable by-street, in the house of an aged widow, who was delighted
with his cheerful open manners, and did her best to make him and Jacob
comfortable.  But the time hung heavily on the hands of both master and
man.  Frank purposed daily writing home, and yet each to-morrow found
him more reluctant to do so than the day before.  Jacob loitered about
the town and docks when his master did not want him, and got exceedingly
weary of his idleness.

"Eh, ma'am," he said one day to their landlady, "my arms fair ache with
hanging down and doing nothing."

Thus things went on for about a fortnight, when one evening at tea-time
Frank failed to make his appearance.  Seven o'clock, then nine and ten,
but no master came to remove poor Jacob's misgivings.  At last, about
midnight, a stumbling against the door and a violent knock made his
heart die within him.

"Who's there?" he cried, before opening the door.

"Me, old king of trumps!" cried a voice which he knew to be Frank's.
The minute after, the wretched young man staggered in almost helpless.
Next day was a season of bitter sorrow, self-reproach, and remorse; but,
alas! not to be followed by any real amendment, for Frank was now seldom
home till late, though he was never again grossly intoxicated.  But a
shadow had now settled habitually on his once bright and open
countenance, which Jacob could not quite understand, and which was
almost more sad to him than the degrading flush and vacant stare
produced by excess in drink.  Something dreadful was amiss, he was sure,
but he could not tell, and hardly dare conjecture what it might be.
Very, very loth then was he to go, when the time came for his leaving
his master entirely to his own devices.  He would gladly have put off
his journey, but Frank would not hear of it, and was evidently annoyed
when Jacob urged the matter.  So it was finally settled that he should
be away for a few days, not exceeding a fortnight.  The night but one
before his intended departure, Jacob was pleased to find that his master
did not leave home, but took his tea at his lodgings, a very unusual
thing of late.  After tea he made Jacob come and sit with him, and they
had a long talk over Australian matters, and the events of their late
voyage.  At last Frank said,--

"Jacob, I don't wish to pry into your concerns, or to ask questions
which you may not like to answer.  I hope, however, that you will not
scruple to ask my advice on any matter in which I can be of service to
you."

"Well, thank you, sir," replied Jacob, with a sort of embarrassment in
his manner, "you're very kind, but I've reasons just now why I'd like to
say as little as possible about myself to any one.  If I find them as
I'm going to seek, I may have much to say; but maybe I may find things
so as'll make it better I should forget as ever I'd any belonging me."

"Just so," said his master; "you must be the best judge of your own
matters, and I would not intrude on your private concerns for a moment;
only I should just like to know what you mean to do with your bag of
nuggets; you must be careful where you put it.  It would be hardly wise
to carry it about with you, if you don't mean to turn it into money at
present."

Jacob was troubled at the question, yet he could hardly tell why; he
answered, however,--

"Well, Mayster Frank, I'm not thinking of meddling with my nuggets at
present."

"Hadn't you better then leave them with me till you return?" asked
Frank.

Poor Jacob was sorely puzzled what to reply.  He looked down, and there
was an awkward pause.  At last he said,--

"I cannot rightly tell what'll be the best to do.  Mayster Oldfield, you
mustn't be offended, but I'd better be plain and outspoken.  You'd not
mean to wrong me of a farthing, I know; but you must be well aware
you're not always your own mayster.  So if you cannot keep your own
brass safe, I can hardly think it wise to trust you to take charge of
mine.  I don't wish to vex you, Mayster Frank, but that's just the
honest truth."

"Quite right, Jacob, quite right," said his master, laughing; "you don't
vex me at all.  I should do just the same, if I were in your place.
Suppose, then, you give your bag in charge to our landlady the morning
you start; that'll be soon enough, for, poor soul, she'll be glad, I
daresay, not to have charge of other folk's treasure a day longer than
necessary; and I'll be a witness that you give it into her charge."

"Thank you, mayster," said Jacob, greatly relieved; "that's good advice,
and I'll follow it."

The next evening, the last before Jacob's expedition, Frank again
remained at home.  He had been out all the morning.  Jacob looked
anxiously at him when he returned.  He clearly had not been drinking--at
any rate immoderately--yet there was something in his look which Jacob
could not fathom, and if ever Frank met his servant's eye, his own
immediately fell.

"I'm not satisfied as all's right," said Jacob to himself, "and yet I
cannot tell what's amiss."

That night his sleep was restless and disturbed.  Once he fancied that
his door was opened, and that his master appeared and drew back again.
Their rooms were on the opposite sides of the same landing.  Again he
fancied, or dreamt, that a hand passed under his pillow, where he kept
his nuggets.  It was quite dark--he started up and felt for the bag; it
was there quite safe, and he laid him down again.  But yet again he
seemed to feel a hand behind his pillow.

"I must have been dreaming," he muttered to himself; "the bag's right."

Yes, there it was all right when he rose in the morning.  He was to
start by an early train, so, hastily dressing himself, and having
breakfasted, he came to say farewell to his master.

"Oh, Mayster Frank," he said, grasping the other's outstretched hand,
"I'm heavy at the heart at leaving you.  I cannot tell why, but there's
a weight like lead upon me.  Oh, dear Mayster Frank, for my sake, for
your own sake, for the sake of all them as loves you, will you promise
me to keep off the drink, leastways till I come back?  Will you pray the
Lord to help you, Mayster Frank?  He _will_ help you, if you'll pray
honestly."

What was it that affected his unhappy master so powerfully?  Frank's
whole frame shook with emotion.  He stared at Jacob with a gaze of
mingled remorse and agony such as touched the other to the quick.

"Jacob," gasped his master, at last, "I cannot let you go thus--you
don't know--I've--I've--" He paused for a moment, and tears and sobs
burst from him.  Then he sat down, and bowed his head on his knees,
clasping his hands tightly together.  Then an unnatural calmness
followed; he muttered something to himself, and then said, in a tone of
affected indifference and gaiety,--

"There, it don't matter; the best of friends must part.  You'll be back
before so very long, and I'll try and be a good boy meanwhile.

"Just call up the landlady, Jacob, and we can see her take charge of
your nuggets."

Jacob did as his master bade him.

"There, Mrs Jones," he said, taking the bag hastily from Jacob's hands;
"this bag of nuggets belongs to my man.  You see it contains gold," he
added, opening the mouth of the bag, and taking out a small nugget;
"there," tying it up with the string which he had removed from it,
"he'll know where to look for them when he comes back.  We've the
fullest confidence, Mrs Jones, that they will be safe in your keeping."

"Indeed, sir," said the landlady, curtseying, "I'd rather _you_ should
keep them."

"No, no, Mrs Jones; Jacob knows very well that you're to be trusted,
but that I'm not."

"Oh, sir!" exclaimed Mrs Jones; but she was at a loss what farther to
say, for she felt that poor Frank spoke only the sober truth.  At last
she said,--

"Well, sir, I'll take charge of them, as you both seem to wish it, and
I'll take care that no one sees where I put them."

And so Jacob and his master parted.

Ten days passed by, and then Jacob, downcast and weary, made his way to
the lodgings.  His heart died within him at the expression of the
landlady's face when she had opened the door to him, and found that he
was alone.

"Where's Mr Oldfield?" he gasped.

"That's just what I was going to ask you, Mr Poole."

"What! you don't mean to say he's left your house?"

"He has indeed," was the reply.  "I've seen nothing of him since the day
after you left."

"Seen nothing of him!" exclaimed Jacob in complete bewilderment; "but
has he sent you no message--no letter?"

"No, Mr Poole, he's neither sent nor written.  He paid me all he owed
me up to the last night he slept here, and that's all I know."

"And has he left no message, nothing to tell one where he's gone?" asked
Jacob.

"Nothing," she said, "unless this letter's from him--it came a few days
ago."

Jacob seized it, and tore it open.  When he had read a few lines he let
it drop upon the floor, and stood gazing at it as though some strange
fascination glared out from it upon him.  Then he took it up again, read
it deliberately through, laid it on the table, and sitting down, burst
into an agony of weeping.  The letter was as follows:--

  "DEAR JACOB,--I _must_ write to you, though I hardly can hold my pen,
  and every letter, as I write, seems like blood wrung out from my
  heart.  Well, it's no use; you shall have the naked truth at once.  I
  have robbed you, Jacob, artfully, basely, deliberately, cruelly robbed
  you, and all through the cursed drink.  I hate myself for it as the
  vilest wretch upon earth.  And yet I have no excuse to make.  I have
  been gambling with a wretched set of sharpers, who got hold of me when
  I was drunk.  They cleaned me out of every penny.  I was ruined--I was
  desperate--I thought if I could get hold of your nuggets I could turn
  them into money, win back what I had lost, and repay you with
  interest.  I got some lead, melted it in a shovel, (I need not tell
  you _where_ I did this; it was in no good place, you may be sure).  I
  made the lead into the shape of nuggets.  The night but one before you
  left I tried to find out where you kept your bag; you were restless
  and clutched at your pillow.  I knew then that it was there.  I got
  another leather bag and filled it with the leaden nuggets I had made.
  These I slipped behind your pillow, and took away the real ones, the
  night before you left; you felt for them, and fancied you had them
  safe.  When I had got out the gold, I crouched down in the dark till
  you were fast asleep again.  Then I drew out the bag very carefully
  from behind your head, and changed it for your own bag, having first
  filled your own bag with the leaden nuggets and one or two little bits
  of gold at the top, so that you had your own bag when you woke in the
  morning, but I had your gold in the other bag.  There, you know all
  now, you can understand all the rest.  I sold your nuggets--I spent
  part of the money in drink--I played again--I've lost all--I shall
  never be able to repay you--I dare not look you in the face--I dare
  not look my father and mother in the face--I dare not look--it's no
  matter.  You are an honest fellow, Jacob, and will get on, spite of my
  villainy.  If you ever marry and have children, make them total
  abstainers, if you would keep them safe in body and soul.  As for
  myself, I cannot mend--I'm past it--I've been cheating myself with the
  belief that I meant to mend, but I never did.  I see it now.  There,
  Jacob, I don't ask you to forgive me, but I do ask one thing--grant it
  me for the love you once had to me--it is this: wait a month, I shall
  be out of the way by that time, and then post the enclosed letter to
  my poor mother.  I have told her how I have robbed you.  My father
  will repay you.  Tell him where he can find you.  I shall soon be out
  of everybody's reach.  And now all I have got to ask you is just to
  wipe me out of your thoughts altogether, and to forget that there ever
  was such a person as your guilty, miserable, degraded master."

"Oh, Mr Poole," said his landlady, compassionately, when he had begun
to recover from the first vehemence of his grief, "I fear there's
something dreadfully wrong."

Jacob shook his head.

"All lost--all ruined," he replied.  Yet even now his heart yearned
towards his miserable master.  He would not expose him to Mrs Jones;
she at least should know nothing of his own loss.

"Mrs Jones," he said, holding out his hand, "I must say good-bye.  I
fear my poor master's got into very bad hands.  I don't rightly know
what's become of him; but where there's life there's hope, and I trust
he isn't past that.  If you and I meet again, may it be a happier
meeting.  Be so good as to hand me my--my--bag I left in your charge,"
he added, with quivering voice.

"I'm so sorry," said the good woman, when she had fetched the bag.  "I
wish I could do anything to comfort you.  I'm sure I'm truly sorry for
the poor young gentleman.  It's a thousand pities he's thrown himself
away, for a nicer or freer-spoken gentleman never was, when he was in
his proper senses.  There, Mr Poole, there's your bag.  You see it's
just as you gave it me.  No one has seen it or touched it but myself."

"Thank you, Mrs Jones.  It's all right; farewell, and the Lord be with
us both."

He turned from the door utterly broken down in spirit.  Whither should
he go?  What should he do?  Should he really abandon his master to his
fate?  He could not.  Should he delay posting the letter?  No; and yet
he felt a difficulty about it; for Frank had stated in his letter to
himself that he had told his mother of the robbery, and that Jacob must
be repaid his loss.  But who was to say what was the worth of the
nuggets?  He had never ascertained their value.  He felt that he could
not face his master's father; that he could not himself put a value upon
what he had lost.  His master had saved his life, and he would set that
against the pilfered gold, and would forgive what had been done against
himself.  So having ascertained that it was only too true that his bag
contained but two or three little pieces of the precious metal, he cast
the rest of its contents into the sea, and determined to start afresh in
life, as if the sorrowful part of his past history never had been.  But
first he posted Frank's letter, with one of his own, in which he stated
where he had lodged in Liverpool, that so his master's parents might
have every opportunity of endeavouring to trace their unhappy son.  His
own letter was as follows:--

  "MADAM,--Mr Frank Oldfield, your son, has bid me send you the letter
  from him which comes with this.  Mr Frank is my master.  You have no
  doubt heard him say something in his letters from Australia about
  Jacob Poole.  Well, I am Jacob Poole.  And we came to England
  together, my master and me; and my master has took, I am sorry to say
  it, to drinking again since he came back.  I wanted him to go home at
  once, but he has kept putting it off, and he has got into the hands of
  some gamblers as has stripped him of all his brass; and he has taken,
  too, some nuggets of mine, which I got at the diggings, but he didn't
  mean to keep them, only to borrow them, and pay me back.  But, poor
  young gentleman, he has been quite ruinated by these cheating chaps as
  has got hold of him.  So I don't want anybody to think anything more
  about me or my nuggets--I should not like any fuss to be made about
  them--I had rather the whole thing was kept snug.  I shall go and get
  work somewhere or other; and, thank the Lord for it, I am young and
  strong.  So, dear madam, don't think any more about me or my nuggets;
  for Mr Frank saved my life when he might have lost his own, so he is
  welcome to the nuggets, and more into the bargain.  I am sorry that
  Mr Frank has gone off; so I cannot tell you where to find him.  I
  have tried, but it isn't any use.  We--that is, my master and me--was
  lodging with Mrs Jones, as I've written at the top of the letter.  I
  can tell you no more about where to find him.  So no more at present
  from your very humble servant, JACOB POOLE."

  "Mr Frank has written to me not to post his letter for a month, but I
  don't think it is right to keep it from you, so I send it at once."

Such was Jacob's letter, when cleared of mistakes in spelling and
expression.

Frank's letter to his mother was in these words:--

  "DEAREST MOTHER,--How shall I write to you!  What shall I say to you?
  I feel as if my pen scorched my fingers, and I could not hold it.  I
  feel as though this very paper I am writing on would carry on it the
  blush of burning shame that covers me.  Darling mother, how shall I
  tell you what I am?  And yet I must tell you; I _must_ lift the veil
  once for all, and then it shall drop for ever on your miserable son.
  I am in England now.  I do not know where I shall be when you receive
  this.  I went out to Australia, as you know, hoping to become a sober,
  steady man.  I am returned to England a confirmed drunkard, without
  hope, ay, even without the _wish_ to break off from my sin.  I cannot
  look you or my father in the face as I am now.  I never could look
  Mary in the face again.  I shall never write or breathe her name
  again.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I have no strength left to
  fight against my sin.  I am as weak before the drink as a little
  child, and weaker.  I could pray, but it's no use praying; for I have
  prayed often, and now I know that I never really desired what I prayed
  for.  I dare not face the prospect of entirely renouncing strong
  drink.  I once dreamed that I could, but it was only a dream; at
  least, since I first began habitually to exceed.  But can I go on and
  tell you what my love for the drink has led me to?  I must, for I want
  you or my dear father to do one thing for me, the last I shall ever
  ask.  Oh, don't cast me utterly out of your heart when you hear it,
  but I must tell it.  I have robbed my poor faithful servant, Jacob
  Poole, of his nuggets, which he got by his own hard labour.  I
  secretly took them from him, and spent what they fetched in drink and
  gaming.  I meant to win and pay him back, but I might have known I
  never could.  Yes, I robbed the poor young man who nursed me, worked
  for me, prayed for me, remonstrated with me, bore with me.  I robbed
  him when his back was turned.  Oh, what a vile wretch the drink has
  made me!  Can you have any love for me after reading this?  Oh, if you
  have, I want you or my father to repay Jacob for his nuggets which I
  stole.  He's as honest as the day.  You may trust him to put no more
  than a fair value on them.  One more request I have to make, darling
  mother.  Oh,--deal kindly by _her_--I said I would never write her
  name again, and I will not.  I dare not write to her, it would do no
  good.  Tell her that I'm lost to her for ever; tell her to forget me.
  And do _you_ forget me too, dearest mother.  I could be nothing but a
  thorn, a shame, a burden in my old home.  I will not tell you where I
  am, nor where I shall be; it is better not.  Forget me if you can, and
  think of me as dead.  I am so for all better purposes; for everything
  good or noble has died out of me.  The drink has done it.  Your
  hopeless son, FRANK OLDFIELD."



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

A MISERABLE DEATH.

Three days after Jacob Poole had posted his letter and its enclosure, a
cab drove up to Mrs Jones's door.  In it were Sir Thomas and Lady
Oldfield.  No one who saw them could doubt of the bitter sorrow that had
stamped its mark upon their noble features.

"Are you Mrs Jones, my poor--poor son's landlady?" asked Lady Oldfield,
when they were seated in the parlour.  She could add no more for
weeping.

"Yes, ma'am," was the reply.  "I'm sure I'm very sorry, ma'am, very
indeed; for Mr Oldfield was a most kind, free-spoken gentleman; and if
he'd only--only--"

"I understand you," said the poor sorrowing mother.

"And Jacob Poole; what has become of him?" asked Sir Thomas.

"I'm sure, sir, I don't know.  All I can tell is, that he's sure not to
be anywhere in Liverpool; for he told me the morning he left me that he
was going to leave the town, and should not come back again."

"I'm grieved to hear it," said the baronet.  "And can you give us a
clue, Mrs Jones, to our dear misguided child's present place of abode?
Can you suggest no way of finding it out?"

"I fear not, sir; Mr Oldfield has left nothing behind him except his
Bible and Prayer-book, which he asked me to accept as a token of his
kind feeling and regard, he was good enough to say."

"His Bible and Prayer-book!  Oh, let me look at them," exclaimed Lady
Oldfield.

Mrs Jones brought them.  The Prayer-book was one given him on his
twelfth birthday by his mother.  His name in it was in her own
handwriting.  The Bible was a much newer book, and bore but few marks of
use.  It was a gift from Mary Oliphant.  The handwriting of his name was
hers, as was also that of two texts below the name, which were written
out in full--

"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but
God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are
able, but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye
may be able to bear it."

Lady Oldfield gazed at these books and the writing in them for a long
time without uttering a word, and without shedding a tear.  It seemed as
though the sight had for the moment chained every other feeling, and
left her only the power to stare wildly at the two familiar
handwritings.

"And he has parted with these," she said at last, half out loud; "he has
given them away.  Oh, merciful Father in heaven, what has become of my
unhappy boy?"

"Calm yourself, my dear," said Sir Thomas; "let us hope that things may
be better than our fears."

"I'm sure, ma'am," said Mrs Jones, "I should never think of keeping
these books if you or Mr Oldfield's father wish to have them."

"Oh, it is not that, it is not that," sobbed Lady Oldfield.  "Are you a
mother, Mrs Jones?" she cried, turning abruptly to her.

"Yes, ma'am; I've had seven children, and five are living now."

"Then you'll understand _my_ feelings as a mother.  I fear, oh, I cannot
say how terribly I fear, that poor Frank means to do something dreadful;
perhaps to--to--oh, I can't bear to think of it."

"Why, my dear, why," asked her husband, "should you think so?"

"Why, Thomas!  Oh, isn't there something terrible in his parting with
these two books, my gift and dear Mary's gift, and at such a time?
Doesn't it seem as if he was turning his back upon everything that is
good and holy, and simply giving himself up to despair.  Isn't it like
saying, `The Bible's no longer a book for me, for God is no longer my
God?'  Isn't it like saying, `Prayer is no longer for me, for God will
not hear me.'"

"My dearest wife," said Sir Thomas, anxiously, "don't look at the
darkest side.  Don't lose your faith and trust now.  My good Mrs Jones,
you see we're in sore trouble.  You can understand how our hearts are
almost broken about our erring son, but still he _is_ our son, and very
dear to us; and we want you to help us to find him, if it be possible."

"I'm sure, sir," replied the kind-hearted landlady, "I do feel for you
both with all my heart, and only wish I knew what to advise.  But really
I know no more than yourselves where Mr Oldfield is likely to be found.
It seems that he's wished to keep it a secret, and so he has purposely
kept me in the dark."

Sir Thomas sighed.

"I understand exactly how it is," he said.  "I do not see what we can
do, except endeavour to get a clue through the police.  By the way, Mrs
Jones, you don't happen to know the names or lodgings of any of his
associates?  That might help us, if you did."

"I do not, sir; for I never saw one of them enter this house.  Your son
never brought any one home with him as I know of.  Jacob Poole and he
were the only persons who ever were together here while he had my
lodgings."

"Do you happen, then, ever to have heard him mention where any of his
companions lived?  I mean those persons he used to stay out with at
night or in the day?"

"Never, sir."

"Nor so much as the name of any of his associates?"

"Not once, sir.  I fear--that is to say--"

"Speak out, Mrs Jones, pray.  You know this may be a matter of life and
death to him, and perhaps to us also.  Don't be afraid of wounding us;
we want to know everything that can in the least help us in our search."

"Well, sir, I was going to say, only I hesitated to say so much to my
lodger's own father and mother, that I feared he had got mixed up with
companions as wouldn't be likely to meet him in any private house."

"I understand you; you think he met his friends, (his companions or
associates, I mean), at some common rendezvous or club."

"Yes, sir; I fear so from all I heard and saw, and from what Mr Poole
has said."

"I fear, then, that you can afford us no information that will help us
at present.  But here is my card; we shall be staying for some days
probably, possibly for some weeks, at the Albion Hotel.  Will you
kindly, without fail, let us know, and that without loss of time, if you
hear or see anything either of our poor son or of Jacob Poole, or of any
one who may be able to give us any light or any help in our search?"

"You may depend upon me, Sir Thomas," said Mrs Jones; "and I'm sure,
sir, I hope you and her ladyship will excuse this homely room.  It's
only very plainly furnished, but it's the one your son occupied."

"Pray, don't make any apologies," said her ladyship; "they are not
needed.  It is not fine rooms and grand furniture that can give peace.
I have just one thing to ask you to grant me before we go, and we must
not delay, for time is precious."

"I'm sure, my lady, I'll grant you anything in my power."

"Let me, then, see the room where my poor boy slept."

"Certainly, ma'am, though it's in a sadly untidy state.  I've not had
time--"

"Never mind, Mrs Jones; I shall not notice any defects.  My heart aches
too sorely for me to heed these trifles.  There, thank you; now leave me
alone in the room for five minutes.  And will you kindly tell my husband
that I will join him almost directly!"

When the door was closed upon the unhappy mother, she threw herself on
her knees beside the bed on which her son had slept, too commonly, alas!
the drunkard's sleep, and poured out her heart with tears to God that
she might find her poor, lost, and guilty child before it should be too
late.  Rendered calmer by this prayer, she joined Sir Thomas.

"Farewell, Mrs Jones," she said, as they left the house; "many thanks
for your kind sympathy.  I trust we may have a less sad tale to tell
when we meet again."

They drove to their hotel, and Sir Thomas wrote at once to the
superintendent of police, requesting him to call upon him at the
"Albion" at his earliest convenience.  In about an hour that functionary
appeared.  He was a tall and stoutly-built man, of a decidedly military
carriage; slightly bald, with a peculiarly searching eye, and thin
decided lips.  His manner was remarkably quiet, and his language precise
and deliberate.  He evidently always thought before he spoke, and then
spoke what he thought, and nothing more.  Taking the seat offered him by
Sir Thomas, but declining any refreshment, he put himself in the
attitude of listening, as one accustomed to weigh evidence, and to put
every fact and conjecture into its right box.

"I have requested your kind attendance, Mr Superintendent," began the
baronet, "that I might ask your advice and help in a matter in which
Lady Oldfield here and myself are most deeply concerned."

The superintendent gave a slight bend forward, as much as to say that
this introduction to the subject in hand was a matter of course.

Sir Thomas then, with some embarrassment of manner, gave his hearer an
account of his son's unhappy career, and his own difficulties about
tracing him, and concluded by saying,--

"And now, sir, I would ask your help to discover my poor boy before it
be too late."

The superintendent signified his assent.

"What do you think?" asked Sir Thomas.

"We can find him, no doubt, if he is still in Liverpool," said the
officer.

"And do you think he _is_ now in Liverpool?" asked Lady Oldfield.

"I do."

"What makes you think, so?" asked the baronet.

"Several things.  First, he'll be likely to stay where he can get most
easily at the drink.  Secondly, he'll not go away to any near country
place, because he'd get sooner marked there.  Thirdly, as he seems hard
up for money, he'll have to pawn anything he may have left that's worth
pawning, and he can do that best and most secretly in a large town."

Poor Sir Thomas and his lady felt a shiver through their hearts at the
matter-of-fact way in which these words were uttered.

"You don't think, then," asked the baronet, "that he has started in any
vessel for America or Australia?"

"No; because no captain would take him as a sailor, and he'd not be able
to raise money to go even as a steerage passenger.  Besides, he wouldn't
risk it, as he'd know that all the outward bound vessels might be
searched for him by that man of his--Poole, I think you called him."

"But don't you suppose he may have left by railway, and gone to some
other large town?"

"Of course he may, but I don't think he has, because he'll have sense
enough to know that he can't have much to spare for travelling, if he's
gambled away his ready money, and don't mean to ask you for any more."

"Perhaps he has done, or means to do, something desperate," said Lady
Oldfield, tremblingly; "he seemed to hint at something of the kind in
his letter to me."

"No, he'll not do that, I think--at least not just yet.  Habitual
drunkards have seldom got it in them.  They'll talk big, but still
they'll go on hanging about where they can get the drink."

"Then you believe that he is still in Liverpool?" said Sir Thomas.

"That's my belief."

"And you think that you can find him?"

"I do think so.  Was your son fond of low company when he lived at
home?"

Poor Sir Thomas and his wife winced at this question, but it was put by
the superintendent simply as a matter of business.

"Why, not exactly," was the reply; "that is to say, he never frequented
any gatherings of low people, as far as I know.  But he was very much in
the habit of making a companion of my under-groom, Juniper Graves."

"Ah, exactly so!  And this man drank?"

"Yes."

"And they played cards together?"

"I fear so."

"Then he's most likely hooked in with a low set--that makes it easier."

"Do you suppose that he is still in connection with any such set?" asked
Lady Oldfield.

"Pretty certain, if he has let out, when he was tipsy, that his father
is a gentleman of property.  They'll help him on a bit, if they think
there's a chance of bleeding him again."

"But you know he has resolved to keep us in ignorance of his abode, and
all about himself."

"Yes, he meant it when he wrote; but when he's so hard up as to be near
starving, perhaps he'll change his mind."

"How then would you propose to proceed?" asked Sir Thomas.

The superintendent thought for half a minute, and then said,--

"Have you a photograph of your son with you?"

"I have," said the poor mother.  She took it out of her pocket-book, and
handed it to the officer.  He looked at it very carefully for some time,
and then said,--

"I suppose he must be a little older looking than this."

"Yes, surely," was the reply, "for it was taken three years ago, before
he went out to Australia."

"I must ask you then to spare it me for a few days, as it may help us
materially."

"And how soon may we hope to hear anything from you?"

"In a day or two I expect, perhaps sooner.  But don't call at the
office; it will do no good.  You may depend upon hearing from me as soon
as I have anything to communicate."

That day passed over, a second, and a third day of sickening suspense.
How utterly powerless the poor parents felt!  Lady Oldfield prayed, but
oh, there were sad thoughts of bitter self-reproach mingling with her
prayers.  She could not but remember how she had herself been the chief
hindrance to her son's becoming a total abstainer when he was bent on
making the attempt, and had avowed his intention.  Oh, she would have
given worlds now could she but recall the time, and her own words, when
she had dissuaded him from renouncing those stimulants which had proved
to him the cause of sin, ruin, and perhaps death.  Yes; who could tell
what might have been now had that unhappy remonstrance never passed her
lips.  Ah, it is easy to laugh down, or press down by a mother's
authority, the holy resolve of a child who sees the gigantic monster
drunkenness in some of his hideous proportions, and would gladly take
that step which would keep him, if leaning on grace for strength, free
from the deadly snare; easy to laugh down or crush down that resolve;
but oh, impossible to recall the past, impossible to give back to the
utterly hardened drunkard his fresh vigorous intellect, his nervous
moral power, his unstrained will, his unwarped conscience, his high and
holy resolution!  Lady Oldfield felt it; but the past was now gone from
her, beyond the reach of effort, remorse, or prayer.  At last, on the
morning of the fourth day, the superintendent again made his appearance.

"Have you found him?" cried both parents in a breath.

"I believe I am on his tracks," was the reply.

"Oh, thank God for that!" cried the poor mother, clasping her hands
together.  "He still lives then?"

"I cannot be sure, but I should think so."

"Oh, then, cannot you take us to him?"

"No, madam, not yet; we are only on his tracks at present."

"Would you tell us in what way you have proceeded?" asked Sir Thomas.

"Certainly.  In the first place, the young man's photograph was shown to
all our constables.  Some thought they knew the face, and could fix upon
the right person in one of the low haunts they are acquainted with.  But
after a two days' search they were all disappointed.  Young men dress so
much alike in these days that it's often very difficult to tell who's
who till you see them very close.  Then I had the likeness taken round
to all the publicans' wives, for the women are closer observers of
features than the men.  Some thought they'd seen such a face, some
hesitated, one was quite sure she had.  I could tell at once that she
was right."

"When was this?" eagerly asked Lady Oldfield.

"Yesterday."

"And what did she say?"

"She said that he had been there several nights running with two regular
cardsharpers, and they'd been drinking.  She was sure it was him, though
he had disguised himself a little."

"And did you find him?"

"No; he hadn't been there for the last two or three nights.  Perhaps he
had nothing to spend, for he came the last time in his shirt-sleeves; so
she supposed he'd pawned his coat."

"Well?"

"Well, I sent one of our men last night to see if he'd come again, but
he never did."

"And what can you do now?"

"Oh, I've left the photograph with the landlady, and she is to see if
any of her customers recognise it; it'll stand on the counter."

"And what do you think about him now?" asked Sir Thomas.

"That he'll turn up again in a day or two, if he's not ill."

"Oh, can he--can he have destroyed himself in a fit of despair?" gasped
Lady Oldfield.

"I think not, madam.  Pray don't distress yourself.  I believe we shall
be able to hunt him out in a day or two.  I shall send a man in plain
clothes to the gin-shop again to-night to watch for him."

Early the next day the superintendent called again.

"We've found him," he said.

"Oh, where, where is he?" exclaimed the poor mother; "take us to him at
once!  Oh, is he living?" she asked vehemently, for there was a look of
peculiar seriousness on the superintendent's face which made her fear
the worst.

"He is living, madam, but I'm sorry to say that he's seriously ill."

"Send for a cab at once," cried Sir Thomas.

"I have one at the door," said the officer; "one of you had better
secure a respectable lodging and nurse for him at once, while the other
goes with me."

"Let _me_ go to him," cried Lady Oldfield.

"It will be a strange place for a lady, but you will be safe with me."

"Oh yes, yes, let me go," was the reply; "am not I his mother?  Oh, let
us go at once."

"Well, then, Sir Thomas," said the superintendent, "we will call at the
hotel as we return, if you will leave the direction of the lodgings with
the landlord."

"And how did you find out my poor boy?" asked Lady Oldfield, as they
hurried along through a labyrinth of by-streets, each dirtier and more
dismal than the last.

"My man in plain clothes, madam, watched last night for a long time by
the bar, but saw no one come in like your son.  At last an old woman,
who was come for a quartern of gin, stared hard at the likeness, and
said, `Laws, if that ain't the young gent as is down ill o' the fever in
our attic!'"

"Ill of the fever!" exclaimed Lady Oldfield.

"Yes; it seems so.  Of course that was enough.  My man went home with
her, taking the photograph with him, and soon ascertained that the young
gentleman in question is your son.  But we must stop here.  I'm sorry to
bring your ladyship into such a place; but there's no help for it, if
you really wish to see the young man yourself."

"Oh yes, yes," cried the other; "anything, everything, I can bear all,
if I may only see him alive, and rescue him from his misery and sin."

"Wait for us here," said the officer to the cabman, as they alighted in
the middle of a nest of streets, which seemed as though huddled
together, by common consent, to shut out from public gaze their filth
and guilty wretchedness.  Wretched indeed they were, as the haunts of
destitution and crime.  All was foul and dingy.  Distorted roofs patched
with mis-shapen tiles; chimneys leaning at various angles out of the
perpendicular; walls vile with the smoke and grime of a generation;
mortar that looked as though it never in its best days could have been
white; shattered doors whose proper colour none could tell, and which,
standing ajar, seemed to lead to nothing but darkness; weird women and
gaunt children imparting a dismal life to the rows of ungainly
dwellings;--all these made up a picture of squalid woe such as might
well have appalled a stouter heart than poor Lady Oldfield's.  And was
she to find her delicately-nurtured son in such a place as this?  They
turned down one street, under the wondering eyes of old and young, and
then plunged into a narrow court that led to nothing.  Here, two doors
down on the left hand, they entered, and proceeded to climb a rickety
stair till they reached the highest floor.  A voice that sent all the
blood rushing back to poor Lady Oldfield's heart was heard in high
strain, and another, mingling with it, muttering a croaking
accompaniment of remonstrance,--

"Well, you're a fine young gentleman, I've no doubt; but you'll not bide
long in that fashion, I reckon."

Then came a bit of a song in the younger voice,--

  "Drink, boys, drink, and drive away your sorrow;
  For though we're here to-day, we mayn't be here to-morrow."

The superintendent knocked at the door, and both entered.  The old woman
uttered an exclamation of terror at the sight of the strangers, but the
appearance of Lady Oldfield reassured her, for she divined almost
immediately who she must be.  On her part, Lady Oldfield instinctively
shrunk back at her first entrance, and well she might; for the revolting
sights and odours almost overpowered her, spite of her all-absorbing
anxiety to find and rescue her beloved child.

The room, if it could be justly called so--for it was, more properly
speaking, a kind of loft--was lighted, or rather, rendered less dark by
a sort of half window, half skylight, which looked out upon a stack of
decayed and blackened chimneys, and so much sickly-looking sky as could
be seen through the undamaged panes, which were but few, for lumps of
rags, old stockings, and similar contrivances blocked up many a space
which had once been used to admit the light, while the glass still
remaining was robbed of its transparency by accumulated dirt.  There was
neither stove nor fire-place of any kind.  The walls, if they had ever
been whitened, had long since lost their original hue, and exhibited
instead every variety of damp discoloration.  Neither chair nor table
were there--an old stool and a box were the only seats.  In the corner
farthest from the light, and where the ceiling sloped down to the floor,
was the only thing that could claim the name of a bedstead.  Low and
curtainless, its crazy, worm-eaten frame groaned and creaked ominously
under the tossings to and fro of the poor sufferer, who occupied the
mass of ragged coverings spread upon it.  In the opposite corner was a
heap of mingled shavings, straw, and sacking, the present couch of the
aged tenant of this gloomy apartment.  The box stood close at the bed's
head; there were bottles and a glass upon, it, which had plainly not
been used for medicinal purposes, as the faded odour of spirits,
distinguishable above the general rank close smell of the room, too
clearly testified.  Across the floor, stained with numberless
abominations, Lady Oldfield made her shuddering way to the bed, on which
lay, tossing in the delirium of fever, her unhappy son.  His trousers
and waistcoat were thrown across his feet; his hat lay on the floor near
them; there was no coat, for it had been pawned to gratify his craving
for the stimulant which had eaten away joy and peace, hope and heart.
Flinging herself on her knees beside the prostrate form, his mother
tried to raise him.

"O Frank, Frank, my darling boy," she cried, with a bitter outburst of
weeping; "look at me, speak to me; I'm your own mother.  Don't you know
me?  I'm come to take you home."

He suddenly sat up, and jerked the clothes from him.  His eyes glittered
with an unnatural light, his cheeks were deeply flushed with fever heat;
his hair, that mother's pride in former days, waved wildly over his
forehead.  How fair, how beautiful he looked even then!

"Ah, poor young creetur," croaked the old woman; "it's a pity he's come
to this.  I knowed he were not used to sich a life--more's the shame to
them as led him into it."

Ay, shame to them, indeed!  But oh, how sad, how grievous that the young
hand, which might have raised to untainted lips none but those pure
draughts which neither heat the brain nor warp the sense of right,
should ever learn to grasp the cup that gives a passing brightness to
the eye and glitter to the tongue, but clouds at length the intellect,
fires the brain, and leaves a multitude of wretched victims cast ashore
as shattered moral wrecks.  To such results, though from the smallest
beginnings, does the drink _tend_ in its very nature.  Oh, happy they
who are altogether free from its toils!

The wretched young man stared wildly at his mother.

"Who are you?" he cried.  "I don't know you.  More brandy--where's the
bottle?  `Here's a health to all good lasses; pledge it merrily, fill
your glasses.'  Shuffle the cards well; now then, nothing wenture
nothing win.  Spades are trumps."

"Oh, my boy, my boy," cried the agonised mother, "can nothing be done
for you?  Has a doctor been sent for?" she cried suddenly, turning to
the old woman.

"Doctor!" was the reply.  "No, ma'am; who's to pay for a doctor?  The
young gent's been and popped all his things for the play and the drink;
and I haven't myself so much as a brass farden to get a mouthful o' meat
with."

"Oh, will any one run for a doctor?" implored the miserable mother.
"Here, my good woman," taking out a shilling, "give this to somebody to
fetch a doctor; quick--oh, don't lose a moment."

"Ay, ay, I'll see about it," mumbled the old woman; "that'll fetch a
doctor quick enough, you may be sure."

She made her way slowly and painfully down the creaking stairs, and
after a while returned.

"Doctor'll be here soon, ma'am, I'll warrant," she said.

Lady Oldfield sat on the box by the bed, watching her son's wild stare
and gesticulations in silent misery.

"I'm glad you've came, ma'am," continued the old woman; "I've had weary
work with the young gentleman.  I found him outside the door of the
`Green Dragon' without his coat, and shaking like an aspen.  I couldn't
help looking at him, poor soul.  I asked him why he didn't go home; he
said he hadn't got no home.  I asked him where his friends lived; he
said he hadn't got no friends.  I asked him where he lodged; he said he
didn't know.  I was a-going to ask him summat else, but afore I could
speak he tumbles down on the ground.  We'd hard work to lift him up;
some was for calling police, others wanted to make short work with him.
But I said, says I, `You just let him alone, I'll look arter him;' and
so I did.  I just heaved him up, and got him to a door-step, and then I
fetched him a quartern o' gin, and he got a little better; and then I
helped him here.  I'd hard work to get him to climb up, but I managed it
at last.  So here he's been ever since, and that's a week come Friday."

"God bless you for your kindness," cried Lady Oldfield.  "You shall have
no cause to repent it."

"Nay," said the kind-hearted old creature, "I knows I shan't repent it.
It's a poor place, is this, for such as he, but it's the best I have,
and it's what the drink has brought me to, and scores and thousands
better nor me, and will do again."

In a short time the doctor arrived.  A very rapid inspection of his
patient was sufficient to show him the nature and extent of his
complaint.

"Is he in any danger?" asked the poor mother, with deep anxiety.

The doctor shook his head gravely.

"In great danger, I fear."

"Can we remove him without risk?"

"Not without risk, I'm afraid," was the reply; "and yet it may be worse
for him to be left here.  It is simply a choice of risks.  We had better
wrap him up well in blankets, and convey him to proper lodgings at
once."

"Is there any hope?" asked poor Lady Oldfield, with streaming eyes.

"I trust so," was all the doctor dared to say.  Blankets were at once
procured, and the emaciated body of the patient was borne by strong and
willing arms to the cab, for there is a wondrous sympathy with those
suffering from illness even in the breasts of the most hardened and
godless; while, at the same time, great was the excitement in the little
court and its neighbourhood.  Lady Oldfield poured out her thanks once
more to the old woman who had taken compassion on her son, and put into
the poor creature's hand more money than it had ever grasped at one time
before.

"Eh! my lady," she exclaimed, in delighted astonishment, "you're very
good.  I'm sure, never a thought came into my head, when I brought home
the poor young gentleman, as any one would have come down so handsome.
I'd have done it all the same if I'd never have got a penny."

"I'm sure of it," replied her ladyship; "but you have done for me what
money can never repay.  I shall not lose sight of you; but I must not
stop now.  God bless and reward you;--and oh, give up the drink, the
wretched drink, which has been my poor boy's ruin, and come for pardon
and peace to your gracious Saviour."

"Ah!" muttered the old creature, as she turned back to her miserable
garret, fondly eyeing the golden treasure which she grasped tight with
her withered fingers; "it's easier said nor done, my lady.  Give up the
drink?  No, it cannot be.  Come to my gracious Saviour?  Ah!  I used to
hear words like those when I were a little 'un, but the drink's drowned
'em out of my heart long since.  I'm too old now.  Give up the drink!
No; not till the drink gives _me_ up.  It's got me, and it's like to
keep me.  It's taken all I've had--husband, children, home, money--and
it'll have all the rest afore it's done.  I must just put this safe by,
and then I'll go and wet my lips with a quartern o' mountain dew.  It's
a rare thing, is the drink; it's meat and drink too, and lodging and
firing and all."

In the meanwhile the cab sped swiftly on its way to the Albion Hotel,
and from thence to the lodgings, where Sir Thomas was anxiously waiting
their arrival.  They carried the sufferer up to his bed-room.  What a
contrast to the miserable, polluted chamber from which Lady Oldfield had
just rescued him!  Here all was cleanliness and comfort, with abundant
light and ventilation, and a civil and experienced nurse waited to take
charge of the unhappy patient.  Having parted with the superintendent
with many heartfelt expressions of gratitude, Sir Thomas, Lady Oldfield,
and the doctor proceeded to the sick-room.  Frank lay back on the snow-
white pillow, pale and motionless, his eyes closed, his lips apart.  Oh!
was he dead?  Had the shock been too much for his enfeebled body?  Had
they found him only to lose him at once for ever?  Sir Thomas and his
wife approached the bed with beating hearts.  No; there was life still;
the lips moved, and the hectic of the fever returned to the cheeks.
Then the eyes opened wide, and Frank sprang up into a sitting posture.

"Frank, Frank, don't you know me?" asked Sir Thomas, in a voice of keen
distress.

"Know you?  No; I never saw you before.  Where's Juniper?  Come here,
old fellow.  You're a regular trump, and no mistake.  Give us some
brandy.  That's the right sort of stuff; ain't it, old gentleman?" said
Frank, glaring at his father, and uttering a wild laugh.

"This is terrible, terrible!" groaned the baronet.  "Doctor, what can we
do?"

The medical man looked very grave.

"We must keep him as quiet as possible," he replied; "but it's a bad
case.  He's a bad subject, unhappily, because of his intemperate habits.
I hope we shall reduce the fever; but what I fear most is the after
exhaustion."

"Oh!" exclaimed Lady Oldfield, "if he would only know us--if he would
only speak rationally--if he would only keep from these dreadful
ramblings about spirits and drinking!  It breaks my heart to hear him
speak as he does.  Oh!  I could bear to lose him now, though we have
just found him, if I could only feel that he was coming back, like the
poor prodigal, in penitence to his heavenly Father."

"You must calm yourself, madam," said the doctor; "we must hope that it
will be so.  Remember, he is not responsible for the words he now
utters; they are only the ravings of delirium."

"Yes; _he_ is not responsible for the words he now utters," cried the
poor mother--"but oh, misery, misery!  I am responsible.  _I_ held him
back, _I_ laughed him from his purpose, when he would have pledged
himself to renounce that drink which has been his bane and ruin, body
and soul."

"Come, come, my dearest wife," said her husband, "you must be comforted.
You acted for the best.  We are not responsible for his excess.  He
never learned excess from us."

"No; but I cannot be comforted, for I see--I know that he might now have
been otherwise.  Ay, he might now have been as the Oliphants are, if his
own mother had not put the fatal hindrance in his way.  Oh, if I had
worlds to give I would give them, could I only undo that miserable
past!"

"I think," said the medical man, "it will be wiser if all would now
leave him except the nurse.  The fewer he sees, and the fewer voices he
hears, the less he will be likely to excite himself.  I will call early
again to-morrow."

Lady Oldfield retired to her chamber, and poured out her heart in
prayer.  Oh, might she have but one hour of intelligence--one hour in
which she might point her erring child to that loving Saviour, whom she
had herself sought in earnest and found in truth since the departure of
her son from home!  Oh, might she but see him return to the Gatherer of
the wandering sheep!  She did not ask life for him--she dared not ask it
absolutely; but she did ask that her heavenly Father would in pity grant
her some token that there was hope in her beloved child's death, if he
must die.  And does not God answer prayer?  Yes, alway; but not always
in our way.  When sin has found the sinner out--when warnings have been
slighted, mercies despised, the Spirit quenched, the gentle arm that
would guide us to glory rudely and perseveringly flung aside--then,
then, it may be, not even a believing mother's prayer shall avail to
turn aside the righteous stroke of the hand of that holy God who is to
his determined enemies a consuming fire.

All the night long did Frank Oldfield toss to and fro, or start up with
glaring eyes, calling on his drunken associates, singing wild songs, or
now and then recalling days when sin had not yet set its searing brand
on his heart and conscience.  About midnight his father and mother stole
into his chamber.  The nurse put up her finger.  They cautiously shrank
back behind the screen of the bed-curtains out of his sight.

"Juniper, my boy!" exclaimed the wretched sufferer, "where's my mother?
Gone down to the rectory!  Ah, they're water-drinkers there.  That don't
do for you and me, Juniper.  `This bottle's the sun of our table.'  Ha,
ha!--a capital song that!"

Lady Oldfield sank on her knees, and could not repress her sobs.

"Who's crying?" exclaimed Frank.  "Is it Mary?  Poor Mary!  She loved me
once--didn't she?  My poor mother loved me once--didn't she?  Why don't
she love me now?  Where's my mother now?"

"Here I am--here's your mother--your own loving mother--my Frank--my
darling boy!" burst from the lips of the agonised parent.

She flung herself down on her knees beside the bed.  He stared at her,
but his ramblings went off the next moment to something else.  Then
there was a pause, and he sank back.  Lady Oldfield took the opportunity
to send up a fervent prayer.  He caught the half-whispered words, and
sat up.  He looked for the moment so collected, so much himself, that
his mother's lips parted with joyful astonishment, and she gasped,--

"He knows us--his reason is restored!"

The next moment she saw her sad mistake.

"How funny!" cried the poor patient; "there's our old parson praying.
Poor old parson!--he tried to make me a teetotaller.  It wouldn't do,
Jacob.  Ah, Jacob, never mind me.  You're a jolly good fellow, but you
don't understand things.  Give us a song.  What shall it be?  `Three
jolly potboys drinking at the "Dragon."'  What's amiss?  I'm quite
well--never was better in my life.  How d'ye do, captain?"

These last words he addressed to his father, who was gazing at him in
blank misery.

And was it to be always so?  Was he to pass out of the world into
eternity thus--thrilling the hearts of those who heard him with
bitterest agony?  No; there came a change.  Another day, the remedies
had begun to tell on the patient.  The fever gradually left him.  The
fire had faded from his eye, the hectic from his cheek.  And now father
and mother, one on either side, bent over him.  Lady Oldfield read from
the blessed Book the parable of the Prodigal Son.  She thought that
Frank heard her, for there was on his face a look of mingled surprise,
pleasure, and bewilderment.  Then no one spoke for a while.  Nothing was
heard but the ticking of Lady Oldfield's watch, which stood in its case
on the dressing-table.  Again the poor mother opened the same precious
Gospel of Saint Luke, and read out calmly and clearly the parable of the
Pharisee and the Publican.  Then she knelt by the bed and prayed that
her boy might come with the publican's deep contrition to his God,
trusting in the merits of his Saviour.  There was a whispered sound from
those feeble lips.  She could just distinguish the words, "To me a
sinner."  They were all, but she blessed God for them.  An hour later,
and the doctor came.  There was no hope in his eye, as he felt the
pulse.

"What report?" murmured Sir Thomas.  The doctor shook his head.

"Oh, tell me--is he dying?" asked the poor mother.

"He is sinking fast," was the reply.

"Can nothing restore him?"

"Nothing."

"Oh, Frank--darling Frank," appealed his mother, in a whisper of
agonised entreaty, "let me have one word--one look to tell me you know
me."

The weary eyes opened, and a faint smile seemed to speak of
consciousness.

"Hear me--hear me, my beloved child," she said again.  "Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners.  Jesus died for you.  Jesus loves
you still.  Look to him--believe in him.  He is able to save you even
now."

Again the eyes slowly opened.  But the dying glaze was over them.  A
troubled look came across the brow, and then a faint smile.  The lips
opened, but could frame no words for a while.  Lady Oldfield put her ear
close to those parted lips.  They spoke now, but only three short words,
very slowly and feebly, "Jesus--Mother--Mary."  Then all was over.

So died Frank Oldfield.  Was there hope in his death?  Who shall say?
That heart-broken mother clung, through years of wearing sorrow, to the
faint hope that flickered in those few last words and in that feeble
smile.  He smiled when she spoke of Jesus.  Yes; she clung to these as
the drowning man clings to the handful of water-reeds which he clutches
in his despair.  But where was the happy evidence of genuine repentance
and saving faith?  Ah, miserable death-bed!  No bright light shone from
it.  No glow, caught from a coming glory, rested on those marble
features.  Yet how beautiful was that youthful form, even though defaced
by the brand of sin!  How gloriously beautiful it might have been as the
body of humiliation, hereafter to be fashioned like unto Christ's
glorious body, had a holy, loving soul dwelt therein in its tabernacle
days on earth?  Then an early death would have been an early glory, and
the house of clay, beautiful with God's adornments, would only have been
taken down in life's morning to be rebuilt on a nobler model in the
paradise of God.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

"OULD CROW," THE KNIFE-GRINDER.

"Knives to grind!--scissors to grind!--tools to grind!--umbrels to
mend!"

These words were being uttered in a prolonged nasal tone by an old grey-
haired man of a rather comical cast of countenance in one of the streets
in the outskirts of the town of Bolton.  It was about a week after the
sad death of Frank Oldfield that we come upon him.  Certainly this
approach to the town could not be said to be prepossessing.  The houses,
straggling up the side of a hill, were low and sombre, being built of a
greyish stone, which gave them a dull and haggard appearance.  Stone was
everywhere, giving a cold, comfortless look to the dwellings.  Stone-
paved roads, stone curbs, stone pathways--except here and there, where
coal-dust and clay formed a hard and solid footway, occasionally
hollowed out by exceptional wear into puddles which looked like gigantic
inkstands.  High stone slabs also, standing upright, and clamped
together by huge iron bolts, served instead of palings and hedges, and
inflicted a melancholy, prison-like look on the whole neighbourhood.

It was up this street that the old knife-grinder was slowly propelling
his apparatus, which was fitted to two large light wheels.  A very neat
and comprehensive apparatus it was.  There was the well-poised
grindstone, with its fly-wheel attached; a very bright oil-can, and pipe
for dropping water on to the stone; various little nooks and
compartments for holding tools, rivets, wire, etcetera.  Everything was
in beautiful order; while a brass plate, on which was engraved the
owner's name, blazed like gold when there was any sunshine to fall upon
it.  At present the day was drizzling and chilly, while the huge volumes
of smoke from a whole forest of factory chimneys tended to impart a
deeper shade of dismalness to the dispiriting landscape.  The old man
himself was plainly a character.  No part of his dress seemed as if it
could ever have been new, and yet all was in such keeping and harmony
that every article in it appeared to have faded to a like degree of
decay by a common understanding.  Not that the component parts of this
dress were such as could well have been contemporaries on their being
first launched into the world, for the whole of the old man's personal
outward clothing might almost have been mapped off into divisions--each
compartment representing a different era, as the zones on a terrestrial
globe enclose differing races of plants and animals.  Thus, his feet
were shod with stout leather shoes, moderately clogged, and fastened,
not by the customary clasps, but by an enormous pair of shoe-buckles of
a century old at least.  His lower limbs were enclosed in leathern
garments, which fastened below the knee, leaving visible his grey
worsted stockings.  An immense waistcoat, the pattern of which was
constantly being interrupted by the discordant figuring of a large
variety of patches--inserted upside down, or sideways, or crossways, as
best suited--hung nearly to his knees; and over this he wore a coat, the
age and precise cut of which it would have puzzled the most learned in
such things to decide upon.  It probably had been two coats once, and
possibly three may have contributed to its formation.  It was clearly
put together for use and not for ornament--as was testified by its
extreme length, except in the sleeves, and by the patches of various
colours, which stood out upon the back and skirts in startling contrast
to the now almost colourless material of the originals.  On his head the
old man wore a sort of conical cap of felt, which looked as though it
had done service more than once on the head of some modern
representative of Guy Fawkes of infamous memory.  And yet there was
nothing beggarly about the appearance of the old knife-grinder.  Not a
rag disfigured his person.  All was whole and neat, though quaint and
faded.  Altogether, he would have formed an admirable subject for an
artist's sketch-book; nor could any stranger pass him without being
struck with pleasure, if he caught a glimpse of his happy face--for
clearly there was sunshine there; yet not the full, bright sunshine of
the cloudless summer, but the sunshine that gleams through the storm and
lights up the rainbow.

"Knives to grind!--scissors to grind!"

The cry went on as the old man toiled along.  But just now no one
appeared to heed him.  The rain kept pattering down, and he seemed
inclined to turn out of his path and try another street.  Just then a
woman's voice shouted out,--

"Ould Crow--Ould Crow!  Here, sithee!  Just grind me these scissors.
Our Ralph's been scraping the boiler lid with 'em, till they're nearly
as blunt as a broom handle."

"Ay, missus, I'll give 'em an edge; but you mustn't let your Ralph have
all his own way, or he'll take the edge off your heart afore so long."

The scissors-grinding proceeded briskly, and soon a troop of dirty
children were gathered round the wheel, and began to teaze the old man.

"I'll warm thee!" he cried to one of the foremost, half seriously and
half in joke.

At last the scissors were finished.

"I'll warm thee, Ould Crow!" shouted out the young urchin, in a
mimicking voice, and running up close to him as he was returning to his
wheel.

The long arm of the knife-grinder darted forward, and his hand grasped
the lad, who struggled hard to get away; and at last, by a desperate
effort, freed himself, but, in so doing, caused the old man to lose his
balance.  It was in vain that he strove to recover himself.  The stones
were slippery with the wet: he staggered a step or two, and then fell
heavily forward on his face.  Another moment, and he felt a strong arm
raising him up.

"Are you much hurt, old friend?" asked his helper, who was none other
than Jacob Poole.

"I don't know--the Lord help me!--I'm afeerd so," replied Old Crow,
seating himself on the kerb stone with a groan.

"Those young rascals!" cried Jacob.  "I'd just like to give 'em such a
hiding as they've ne'er had in all their lives afore."

"Nay, nay, friend," said the other; "it wasn't altogether the lad's
fault.  But they're a rough lot, for sure; not much respect for an old
man.  Most on 'em's mayster o' their fathers and mothers afore they can
well speak plain.  Thank ye kindly for your help; the Lord'll reward
ye."

"You're welcome, old gentleman," said Jacob.  "Can I do anything more
for you?"

"Just lend me your arm for a moment; there's a good lad.  I shall have
hard work, I fear, to take myself home, let alone the cart."

"Never trouble about that," said Jacob, cheerily.  "I'll wheel your cart
home, if you can walk on slowly and show me the road."

"Bless you, lad; that'll be gradely help--`a friend in need's a friend
indeed.'  If you'll stick to the handles, I'll make shift to hobble on
by your side.  I'm better now."

They turned down a by-street; and after a slow walk of about a quarter
of a mile--for the old man was still in considerable pain, and was much
shaken--they arrived at a low but not untidy-looking cottage, with a
little outbuilding by its side.

"Here we are," said the knife-grinder.  "Now come in, my lad.  You shall
have your tea, and we'll have a chat together arterwards."

Old Crow pulled a key out of his pocket, and opened the house door.  The
fire was burning all right, and was soon made to burst into a cheerful
blaze.  Then the old man hobbled round to the shed, and unbolting it
from the inside, bade Jacob wheel in the cart.  This done, they returned
into the kitchen.

"Sit ye down, my lad," said the knife-grinder.  "Deborah'll be back
directly; the mills is just loosed."

"Is Deborah your daughter?" asked Jacob.

The old man shook his head sorrowfully.

"No; I've never a one belonging me now."

"That's much same with myself," said Jacob.  "I've none as belongs me;
leastways I cannot find 'em."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the other.  "Well, we'll talk more about that just
now.  Deborah, ye see, is widow Cartwright's wench; and a good wench she
is too, as e'er clapped clog on a foot.  She comes in each morn, and
sees as fire's all right, and fills kettle for my breakfast.  Then at
noon she comes in again to see as all's right.  And after mill's loosed,
she just looks in and sets all straight.  And then, afore she goes to
bed, she comes in, and stretches all up gradely."

"And are you quite alone now?"

"Quite.  But I've a better Friend as never leaves me nor forsakes me--
the Lord Jesus Christ.  I hope, my lad, you know summat about him."

"Yes; thank the Lord, I do," replied Jacob.  "I learned to love him when
I was far away in Australia."

"In Australia!" cried the old man.  "Deborah'll be glad to hear what you
have to say about Australia, for she's a brother there.  And how long
have you been come back from yon foreign land?"

"Not so very long; but I almost wish as I'd never been."

"And why not?"

"'Cos I shouldn't have knowed one as has caused me heavy sorrow."

Poor Jacob hid his face in his hands, and, spite of himself; the tears
_would_ ooze out and trickle through his fingers.

"Come, my lad," said his new friend, compassionately; "you mustn't fret
so.  You say you love the Lord; well, he will not leave you
comfortless."

"It's the drink, the cursed drink, as done it," said the other, half to
himself.

"Well, my lad; and if you _have_ been led astray, and are gradely sorry
for it, there's room in the Lord's heart for you still."

"Nay, it isn't that.  I'm a total abstainer to the back-bone, and have
been for years."

"The Lord be praised!" cried Old Crow, rising from his seat, and
grasping the hand of his companion with all his might.  "I shall love
you twice over now.  I'm an old teetotaller myself; and have been these
many years.  Come, you tell me your tale; and when we've had our tea,
I'll tell you mine."

Jacob then told his story, from his first encountering Captain
Merryweather at Liverpool, till the time when he lost sight of his young
master.

"And now, old friend," he concluded, "I'm just like a ship afloat as
don't know which way to steer.  I'm fair weary of the sea, an' I don't
know what to turn myself to on land."

"Perhaps we may set that right," replied the old man.  "But here's
Deborah; so we'll just get our tea."

The kitchen in which they were seated was a low but comfortable
apartment.  There was nothing much in the way of furniture there, but
everything was clean and tidy; while the neat little window-curtain, the
well-stuffed cushion in the old man's rocking-chair, and the broad warm
rug on the hearth, made of countless slips of cloth of various colours
dexterously sewn together, showed that loving female hands had been
caring for the knife-grinder's comfort.  Deborah was a bright, cheery-
looking factory-girl, who evidently loved the old man, and worked for
him with a will.  The tea was soon set out, Deborah joining them by Old
Crow's invitation.  Jacob had much to tell about Australia which deeply
interested both his hearers, especially Deborah.  When the tea-things
were removed, and Old Crow and Jacob were left alone, the former said,--

"Come; friend Jacob, draw thy chair to the fire.  Thou hast given me thy
tale, and a sad one it is; now thou shalt hear mine."

They drew closer up on to the hearth, and the old man proceeded with his
story.

"I were born and reared in a village many miles from Bolton; it makes no
odds where it were, my tale will be all the same.  My fayther and mother
were godly people, and taught me to love the Lord by precept and example
too.  I worked in the pit till I were about twenty; when one day, as my
butty and me was getting coal a long way off from the shaft, the prop
nearest me began to crack, and I knowed as the roof were falling in.  I
sung out to him, but it were too late.  I'd just time to save myself,
when down came a big stone a-top of him, poor lad.  I shouted for help,
and we worked away with our picks like mad; and by the help of crows we
managed to heave off the stone.  The poor young man were sadly crushed.
We carried him home as softly as we could; but he were groaning awful
all the way.  He were a ghastly sight to look on as he lay on his bed;
and I'd little hope for him, for he'd been a heavy drinker.  I'd talked
to him scores of times about it, but he never heeded.  He used to say--
`Well, you're called a sober man, and I'm called a drunkard; but what's
the difference?  You takes what you like, and I takes what I like.  You
takes what does you good, and I takes what does me good.'  `No,' says I,
`you takes what does you harm.'  `Ah, but,' says he, `who's to say just
where good ends and harm begins?  Tom Roades takes a quart more nor me,
and yet he's called to be a sober man; I suppose 'cos he don't fuddle so
soon.'  Well, but to come back to my poor butty's misfortune.  There he
lay almost crushed out of all shape, with lots of broken bones.  They
sends for the doctor, and he says-- `You must keep him quiet.  Nurse him
well; and whatever ye do, don't let him touch a drop of beer or spirits
till I give ye leave.'  Well--would ye believe it?--no sooner were
doctor's back turned than they pours some rum down the poor lad's
throat, sure as it'd do him good.  And so they went on; and the end on
it was, they finished him off in a few days, for the poor fellow died
mad drunk.  Arter that I couldna somehow take to the pit again, and I
couldn't have anything more to do with the drink.  I said to myself; `No
one shall take encouragement to drink from _you_ any more.'  So I joined
a Temperance Society, and signed the pledge.  I'd saved a little money,
and looked about for summat to do.  I hadn't larning enough to go into
an office as a writer; and I wouldn't have gone if I had, for I should
have wasted to skin and bone if I'd sat up all the day on a high stool,
scrat, scratting with a pen, and my nose almost growing to the papper.
So I bethowt me as I'd larn to be a knife-grinder.  It'd just suit me.
I could wander about from place to place, and have plenty of fresh air,
and my liberty too.  So I paid a chap to teach me the trade, and set
myself up with my cart and all complete.  But after a bit, my fayther
and mother died; and I felt there were one thing as I were short on, and
that were a wife.  My brothers and sisters had all gotten married; so I
wanted a home.  But I wasn't going to take up with any sort; I meant to
get a real good wife, or I'd have none at all.  Well, I found one just
the right make for me--a tidy, loving Christian she were.  I loved my
home, and were seldom off more nor two or three days at a time, when I
took my cart a little further nor usual.  We never had but one child;
and she were a girl, and as likely a wench as were to be found in all
the country round.  She were a good daughter to me, Jacob, for many a
long year; for her mother died when she were but ten year old, and I
didn't wed again.  Poor Rachel! she were no ordinary wench, you may be
sure.  She were quite a little woman afore she were as high as my
waistcoat.  All the neighbours used to say, `He'll get a good wife as
gets your Rachel;' and I used to say, `Well, I don't want her to leave
me, but I'll ne'er say No if she keeps company with a fellow as loves
his Bible and hates the drink.'  Well, there were an old widow in our
village as made a great profession of religion.  She were always at
chapel and meeting, and as full of pious talk as an egg's full of meat.
Our Rachel thought her almost too good for this sinful world; but
somehow I couldn't take to her myself.  I feared she were not the right
side out.  I had many a talk with Ruth Canters--for that were her name.
She were always a-sighing o'er the wickedness of the neighbours, and
wishing she knew where she could find a young woman as'd suit her son
for a wife.  I didn't like her looks always, and I thought as there were
a smell of spirits sometimes, as didn't suit me at all.  But she were
ever clean and tidy, and I never see'd any drink in the house.  There
were always the Bible or some other good book at hand, and I couldn't
prove as all were not right.  Howsever, her Jim took a fancy to our
Rachel, and she to him.  So they kept company, and were married: and the
widow came to live with us, for Rachel wouldn't hear of leaving me.  Jim
were a good young man, honest and true, and a gradely Christian.  But
now our Rachel began to suspect as summat was wrong.  I were often away
with my cart for three or four days together; and when I were at home I
didn't take so much notice of things, except it always seemed to me as
widow Canter's religion tasted more of vinegar nor sugar--there were
plenty of fault-finding and very little love.  Says I to Rachel one day,
when we was by ourselves, `Thy mother-in-law's religion has more of the
"drive" nor the "draw" in't.'  The poor thing sighed.  I saw there were
summat wrong; but I didn't find it out then."

"Ah," interrupted Jacob, "it were the drink, of course.  That's at the
bottom of almost all the crime and wickedness."

"You're right, my lad," continued the other, with a deep sigh.  "Ruth
Canters drank, but it were very slily--so slily that her own son Jim
wouldn't believe it at first; but he were obliged to at last.  Oh, what
a cheating thing is the drink!  She were never so pious in her talk as
when she'd been having a little too much; and nothing would convince her
but that she were safe for heaven.  But I mustn't go grinding on, or I
shall grind all your patience away.  Rachel had a little babe--a bonny
little wench.  Oh, how she loved it--how we both loved it!  Poor
Rachel!"

The old man paused to wipe away his tears.

"Well, it were about six months old, when Rachel had to go off for some
hours to see an aunt as were sick.  She wouldn't take the babe with her,
'cos there were a fever in the court where her aunt lived, and she were
feart on it for the child.  Old Ruth promised to mind the babe gradely;
and our Rachel got back as quick as she could, but it were later nor she
intended.  Jim were not coming home till late, and I were off myself for
a day or two.  When our Rachel came to the house door, she tried to open
it, but couldn't; it were fast somehow.  She knocked, but no one
answered.  Again she tried the door; it were not locked, but summat
heavy lay agen it.  She pushed hard, and got it a bit open.  She just
saw summat as looked like a woman's dress.  Then she shrieked out, and
fell down in a faint.  The neighbours came running up.  They went in by
the wash-house door, and found Ruth Canters lying dead agen the house
door inside, and the baby smothered under her.  Both on 'em were stone
dead.  She'd taken advantage of our Rachel being off to drink more nor
usual, and she'd missed her footing with the baby in her arms, and
fallen down the stairs right across the house door.  Our Rachel never
looked up arter that; she died of a broken heart.  And Jim couldn't bear
to tarry in the neighbourhood; nor I neither.  Ah, the misery, the
misery as springs from the cursed drink!  Thank the Lord, Jacob, over
and over again a thousand times, as he's given you grace to be a total
abstainer."

There was a long pause, during which the old man wept silent but not
bitter tears.

"Them as is gone is safe in glory," he said at last; "our Rachel and her
babe, I mean; and I've done fretting now.  I shall go to them; but they
will not return to me.  And now, Jacob, my lad, what do ye say to
learning my trade, and taking shares with me?  I shan't be good for much
again this many a day, and I've taken a fancy to you.  You've done me a
good turn, and I know you're gradely.  I'm not a queer chap, though I
looks like one.  My clothes is only a whim of mine.  They've been in the
family so long, that I cannot part with 'em.  They'll serve out _my_
time, though we've patched and patched the old coat till there's scarce
a yard of the old stuff left in him, and he looks for all the world like
a _map_ of England, with the different counties marked on it."

"Well, Mayster Crow," began Jacob in reply; but the other stopped him by
putting up his hand.

"Eh, lad, you mustn't call me _Mayster_ Crow; leastwise, if you do afore
other folks, they'll scream all the wits out of you with laughing.  I'm
`Old Crow' now, and nothing else.  My real name's Jenkins; but if you or
any one else were to ask for Isaac Jenkins, there's not a soul in these
parts as'd know as such a man ever lived.  No; they call me `Old Crow.'
Maybe 'cos I look summat like a scarecrow.  But I cannot rightly tell.
It's my name, howsever, and you must call me nothing else."

"Well, then, Old Crow," said Jacob, "I cannot tell just what I'm going
to do.  You see I've no friends, and yet I should have some if I could
only find 'em."

"Have you neither fayther nor mother living then?" asked the old man.

"I cannot say.  My mother's dead.  As for the rest--well, it's just this
way, Old Crow, I'm a close sort o' chap, and always were.  I left home a
fugitive and a vagabond, and I resolved as I'd ne'er come back till I
could come as my own mayster, and that I'd ne'er tell anything about my
own home and them as belonged me, till I could settle where I pleased in
a home of my own.  But I learnt at the diggings as it were not right to
run off as I did, for the Lord sent us a faithful preacher, and he
showed me my duty; and I came back with my mind made up to tell them as
owned me how God had dealt with me and changed my heart.  But I couldn't
find nor hear anything about 'em at the old place.  They'd flitted, and
nobody could tell me where.  So I'd rayther say no more about 'em till
I've tried a bit longer to find 'em out.  And if I cannot light on 'em
arter all, why then, I'll start again, as if the past had never been,
for it were but a dark and dismal past to me."

Old Crow did not press Jacob with further questions, as he was evidently
not disposed to be communicative on the subject of his early history,
but he said,--

"Well, and suppose you take to the grinding; you can drive the cart
afore ye, from town to town, and from village to village, as I've done
myself scores and scores of times, and maybe you'll light on them as
you're seeking.  It's strange how many an old face, as I'd never thought
to see no more, has turned up as I've jogged along from one place to
another."

"Ah," exclaimed Jacob, "I think as that'd just suit me!  I never thought
of that.  I'll take your offer then, Old Crow, and many thanks to ye,
and I hope you'll not find me a bad partner."

So it was arranged as the old man suggested, and Jacob forthwith began
to learn his new trade.

It was some weeks before he had become at all proficient in the knife-
grinding and umbrella-mending arts; and many a sly laugh and joke on the
part of Deborah made him at times half-inclined to give up the work; but
there was a determination and dogged resolution about his character
which did not let him lightly abandon anything he had once undertaken.
So he persevered, much to Old Crow's satisfaction, for he soon began to
love Jacob as a son, and the other was drawn to the old man as to a
father.  After a while Jacob's education in his new art was pronounced
complete, not only by the old knife-grinder himself but even by Deborah,
critical Deborah, who declared that his progress was astonishing.

"Why," she said, addressing Old Crow, "when he first took to it, nothing
would serve him but he must have mother's old scissors to point; and he
grund and grund till the two points turned their backs t'one on t'other,
and looked different ways, as if they was weary of keeping company any
longer.  And when he sharped yon old carving-knife of grandfather's, you
couldn't tell arter he'd done which side were the back and which side
were the edge.  But he's a rare good hand at it now."

And, to tell the truth, Deborah greatly prized a new pair of scissors, a
present from Jacob, with the keenest of edges, the result of his first
thoroughly successful grinding; indeed, it was pretty clear that the
young knife-grinder was by no means an object of indifference to her.
The public proclaiming of his vocation in the open streets was the most
trying thing to Jacob.  The very prospect of it almost made him give up.
Deborah was very merry at his expense, and told him, that "if he were
ashamed, she wouldn't mind walking in front of the cart, the first day,
and doing all the shouting for him."  This difficulty, however, was got
over by the old man himself going with Jacob on his first few journeys,
and introducing him to his customers; after which he was able to take to
his new calling without much trouble.  But it was quite plain that Old
Crow himself was too much injured by his fall to be able to resume the
knife-grinding for many months to come, even if indeed, he were ever
able to take to it again.  But this did not distress him, for he had
learned to trace God's hand, as the hand of a loving Father, in
everything.  Though old and grey-headed, he was hearty and cheerful, for
his old age was like a healthy winter, "kindly, though frosty;" for "he
never did apply hot and rebellious liquors to his blood."  Spite of his
accident, these were happy days for him, for he had found in Jacob Poole
one thoroughly like-minded.  Oh, the blessings of a home, however
humble, where Christ is loved, and the drink finds no entrance; for in
such a home there are seen no forced spirits, no unnatural excitements!
It was a touching sight when the quaint old man, having finished his
tea, would bring his rocking-chair nearer to the fire, and bidding Jacob
draw up closer on the other side, would tell of God's goodness to him in
times past, and of his hopes of a better and brighter home on the other
side of the dark river.  Deborah would often make a third, and her
mother would join them too at times, and then Jacob would tell of the
wonders of the deep, and of the distant colony where he had sojourned.
Then the old man would lay aside the tall cap which he wore even in the
house, displaying his scattered white hairs, and would open his big
Bible with a smile,--

"I always smile when I open the Bible," he said one day to Jacob, "'cos
it's like a loving letter from a far-off land.  I'm not afraid of
looking into't; for, though I light on some awful verses every now and
then, I know as they're not for me.  I'm not boasting.  It's all of
grace; but still it's true `there is therefore now no condemnation to
them that are in Christ Jesus,' and I know that through his mercy I am
gradely in him."

Then they would sing a hymn, for all had the Lancashire gift of good ear
and voice, after which the old man would sink on his knees and pour out
his heart in prayer.  Yes, that cottage was indeed a happy home, often
the very threshold of heaven; and many a time the half-drunken collier,
as he sauntered by, would change the sneer that curled his lip at those
strains of heartfelt praise, into the tear that melted out of a smitten
and sorrowful heart, a heart that knew something of its own bitterness,
for it smote him as he thought of a God despised, a soul perishing, a
Bible neglected, a Saviour trampled on, and an earthly home out of which
the drink had flooded every real comfort, and from which he could have
no well-grounded hope of a passage to a better.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

FOUND.

Four years had passed away since Jacob Poole raised the old knife-
grinder from his fall in the street in Bolton.  All that time he had
made his abode with the old man, traversing the streets of many a town
and village far and near, and ever returning with gladness to his new
home.  His aged friend had never so far recovered from his accident as
to be able to resume his work.  He would occasionally go out with Jacob,
and help him in some odd jobs, but never again took to wheeling out the
machine himself.  He was brighter, however, than in even more prosperous
days, and had come to look upon Jacob as his adopted son.  It was
understood, also, that Deborah would ere long become the wife of the
young knife-grinder.  There was one employment in which the old man
delighted, and that was the advocating and forwarding, in every way in
his power, the cause of Christian total abstinence.  For this purpose he
would carry suitable tracts with him wherever he went, and would often
pause in fine weather, when he accompanied Jacob Poole on his less
distant expeditions; and, sitting on a step or bank, as the case might
be, while the wheel was going round, would gather about him old and
young, and give them a true temperance harangue.  Sometimes he met with
scoffs and hard words, but he cared little for them; he had his answer
ready, or, like his Master, when reviled he opened not his mouth.  Some
one called him "a canting old hypocrite."

"Nay, friend," he replied, "you're mistaken there.  I'm not a hypocrite.
A hypocrite's a man with two faces.  Now, you can't say you have ever
seen me with two faces.  I've seen many a drunkard with two faces--t'one
as makes the wife and childer glad, and t'other as makes their hearts
ache and jump into their mouths with fear.  But you've ne'er seen that
in a gradely abstainer."

"You're a self-righteous old sinner," said another.

"I'm a sinner, I know," was Old Crow's reply; "but I'm not self-
righteous, I hope.  I don't despise a poor drunkard; but I cannot
respect him.  I want to pull him out of the mire, and place him where he
can respect hisself."

But generally he had ready and attentive listeners, and was the means of
winning many to the good way; for all who really knew him respected him
for his consistency.  And Jacob was happy with him, and yet to him there
was one thing still wanting.  He had never in all his wanderings been
able to discover the least trace of those whom he was seeking, and the
desire to learn something certain about them increased day by day.  At
last, one fine July evening, he said to his old companion,--

"Ould Crow, I can't be content as I am.  I must try my luck further off.
If you've nothing to say against it, I'll just take the cart with me
for a month or six weeks, and see if the Lord'll give me success.  I'll
go right away into Shropshire, and try round there; and through
Staffordshire and Derbyshire."

"Well, my son," was the reply, "you'll just do what you know to be
right.  I won't say a word against it."

"And if," added Jacob, "I can't find them as I'm seeking, nor hear
anything gradely about 'em, I'll just come back and settle me down
content."

"The Lord go with you," said the old man; "you'll not forget me nor poor
Deborah."

"I cannot," replied Jacob; "my heart'll be with you all the time."

"And how shall we know how you're coming on?"

"Oh, I'll send you a letter if I ain't back by the six week end."

So the next morning Jacob started on his distant journey.  Many were the
roads he traversed, and many the towns and villages he visited, as he
slowly made his way through Cheshire into Shropshire; and many were the
disappointments he met with, when he thought he had obtained some clue
to guide him in his search.

Three weeks had gone by, when one lovely evening in the early part of
August he was pushing the cart before him, wearied with his day's work
and journey, along the high-road leading to a small village in
Shropshire.  The turnpike-road itself ran through the middle of the
village.  On a dingy board on the side of the first house as he entered,
he read the word "Fairmow."

"Knives to grind!--scissors to grind!--umbrels to mend!" he cried
wearily and mechanically; but no one seemed to need his services.  Soon
he passed by the public-house--there was clearly no lack of custom
there, and yet the sounds that proceeded from it were certainly not
those of drunken mirth.  He looked up at the sign.  No ferocious lion
red or black, urged into a rearing posture by unnatural stimulants, was
there; nor griffin or dragon, white or green, symbolising the savage
tempers kindled by intoxicating drinks; but merely the simple words,
"Temperance Inn."  Not a letter was there any where about the place to
intimate the sale of wine, beer, or spirits.

Waggons were there, for it was harvest-time, and men young and old were
gathered about the door, some quenching their thirst by moderate
draughts of beverages which slaked without rekindling it; others taking
in solid food with a hearty relish.  A pleasant sight it was to Jacob;
but he would not pause now, as he wished to push on to the next town
before night.  So he urged his cart before him along the level road,
till he came to a turn on the left hand off the main street.  Here a
lovely little peep burst upon him.  Just a few hundred yards down the
turn was a cottage, with a neat green paling before it.  The roof was
newly thatched, and up the sides grew the rose and jessamine, which
mingled their flowers in profusion as they clustered over a snug little
latticed porch.  The cottage itself was in the old-fashioned black-
timbered style, with one larger and one smaller pointed gable.  There
was a lovely little garden in front, the very picture of neatness, and
filled with those homely flowers whose forms, colours, and odours are so
sweet because so familiar.  Beyond the cottage there were no other
houses; but the road sloped down to a brook, crossed by a little rustic
bridge on the side of the hedge furthest from the cottage.  Beyond the
brook the road rose again, and wound among thick hedges and tall stately
trees; while to the left was an extensive park, gradually rising till,
at the distance of little more than a mile, a noble mansion of white
stone shone out brightly from its setting of dark green woods, over
which was just visible the waving outline of a dim, shadowy hill.  Jacob
looked up the road, and gazed on the lovely picture with deep
admiration.  He could see the deer in the park, and the glorious
sunlight just flashing out in a blaze of gold from the windows of the
mansion.  He sighed as he gazed, though not in discontent; but he was
foot-sore and heart-weary, and he longed for rest.  He thought he would
just take his cart as far as the cottage, more from a desire of having a
closer view of it than from much expectation of finding a customer.  As
he went along he uttered the old cry,--

"Knives to grind--scissors to grind."

The words attracted the notice of a young man, who came out of the
cottage carrying a little child in his arms.

"I'll thank you to grind a point to this knife," he said, "and to put a
fresh rivet in, if you can; for our Samuel's took it out of his mother's
drawer when she was out, and he's done it no good, as you may see."

Jacob put out his hand for the knife, but started back when he saw it as
if it had been a serpent.  Then he seized it eagerly, and looked with
staring eyes at the handle.  There were scratched rudely on it the
letters SJ.

"Where, where did you get this?" he cried, turning first deadly pale,
and then very red again.  The young man looked at him in amazement.
"Who, who are you?" stammered Jacob again.

"Who am I?" said the other; "why, my name's John Walters.  I am afraid
you're not quite sober, my friend."

But just then a young woman came out from the cottage, leading by the
hand a boy about five years old.  She looked round first at her husband
and then at the knife-grinder with a perplexed and startled gaze.  The
next moment, with a cry of "Betty!"  "Sammul!" brother and sister were
locked in each other's arms,--it was even so--the lost were found at
last.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

MUTUAL EXPLANATIONS.

"Father, father!" cried Betty, rushing into the house, "come hither;
here's our Sammul come back."

"Eh!  What do ye say?  Our Sammul come back?" exclaimed a well-known
voice, and Johnson hurried out and clasped his son to his heart.  "Eh!
the Lord be praised for this," he cried, with streaming eyes.  "I've
prayed, and prayed for it, till I thought it were past praying for; but
come in and sit ye down, and let me look at you."

Samuel was soon seated, with the whole household gathered round him.

"It _is_ his own self, for sure," said Betty.  "O Sammul, I never
thought to see you no more."

"I should scarce have knowed you, had I met you on the road," said his
father, "you're so much altered."

"Ay," said his sister; "he's gotten a beard to his face, and he's taller
and browner like, but his eye's the same--he's our Sammul, sure enough.
You'll not be for flitting again for a-while," she said, looking at him
half playfully and half in earnest.

"No," he replied; "I've had flitting enough for a bit.  But eh, Betty,
you've growed yourself into a gradely woman.  And this is your husband,
I reckon, and these are your childer; have you any more?"

"No," said John Walters; "these two are all.  Well, you're heartily
welcome, Samuel.  I'm glad to see you.  Betty'll leave fretting now."

"Ay, and fayther too," cried Betty.  "O Sammul, I am _so_ glad to see
you.  I've prayed, and fayther's prayed too, scores of times; and he's
had more faith nor me--though we've both begun to lose heart--but we've
never forgot ye, Sammul.  Oh, I shall be happy now.  The Lord's too good
to me," she said, with deep emotion; "as the blessed Book says, `My cup
runneth over'--ay, it do for sure--I've got the best husband as ever
woman had, (you needn't be frowning, John, it's true); and I've got
fayther, and they're both total abstainers, and gradely Christians too,
and now I've got our Sammul."

"And he's a total abstainer," said Samuel, "and, he humbly hopes, a
gradely Christian."

"Oh, that's best, that's best of all," cried his sister, again throwing
her arms around him.  "Oh, Sammul, I _am_ so glad to see you--you can't
wonder, for you're all the brothers I have, and I'm all the sisters
_you_ have; you can't wonder at it, John."

"I'm not wondering at anything but the Lord's goodness," said her
husband, in a husky voice, and wiping his eyes.

"Here, Sammul," exclaimed Betty to her eldest child, "get on your Uncle
Sammul's knee, and hug him with all your might.  Eh!  I didn't think
this morn as I should have to tell you to say `Uncle Sammul.'  He's
called arter yourself.  If you hadn't been off, he'd a been John or
Thomas, maybe.  But our John knowed how I longed to have him called
Sammul, so we've called the babe John Thomas, arter the fayther and
grandfayther.  And now you'll want your tea, and then we must all have a
gradely talk when childers in bed."

Oh, what a happy tea that was!  The cart was drawn into a shed, and
Samuel sat gazing through the door, hardly able to eat or drink for
happiness.  What a peaceful picture it was!  Betty was bustling in and
out of the room, radiant with delight, sometimes laughing and sometimes
crying, tumbling over the children, misplacing the tea-things, putting
the kettle on the fire without any water in it, and declaring that,
"she'd lost her head, and were good for nothing," all which delighted
her husband amazingly, who picked up the children by turns, and
corrected his wife's mistakes by making others himself; while Thomas
Johnson sat in a corner smiling quietly to himself, and looking with
brimming eyes at his son, as being quite satisfied for the time without
asking questions.  Samuel leaned back in his seat, as one who has
accomplished the labour of a life, and would rest a while.  The house
door stood ajar, and he could see the roses and jessamine straggling in
through the porch, the sunny road, the noble trees on its farther side,
while a herd of cattle slowly made their way towards the brook.  Every
now and then, when the back door opened, (as it did many a time more
than was necessary, for Betty often went out and returned without
remembering what she had gone for), he could see the neat, well-stocked
garden, with its hives of bees against the farthest wall, and its
thriving store of apple and plum trees, besides all sorts of useful
vegetables.  He looked round the room, and saw at a glance that
neatness, cleanliness, and order reigned there.  He looked at a small
side-table, and marked among its little pile of books more than one copy
of the Word of Life, which told him that the brighter world was not kept
out of sight; he could also gather from the appearance of the furniture
and articles of comfort that surrounded him, that his beloved sister's
lot was in earthly things a prosperous one.  As they drew their chairs
to the tea-table, which was at last furnished and arranged to Betty's
complete satisfaction, and John had reverently asked a blessing, Samuel
said,--

"Fayther, you're looking better than ever I saw you in my life."

"Yes, I don't doubt, my lad, you never seed me in my right mind afore; I
were a slave to the drink then.  I'd neither health of body nor peace of
mind--now, thank the Lord for it, I enjoy both."

"Have you heard, Sammul?" asked Betty,--she tried to finish her sentence
but could not, and the tears kept dropping on to her hands, as she bowed
down her head in the vain endeavour to conceal them.

"She's thinking of her poor mother," said John in a soothing tone.

"Yes; I've heard about it," replied her brother sadly.  There was a long
pause, and then Samuel asked, "Did you know as I'd been back to
Langhurst?"

"No," replied his father; "we heard as a stranger had been asking about
me and mine, but nobody knowed who it was."

"We never got no letter from you, Sammul," said his sister; "there was a
man as would have seen as we got it, if any letter had come for us arter
we flitted."

"I never wrote; but I ought to have done; it were not right," replied
Samuel; "and when I see'd it were my duty, it were too late for writing,
for I were coming home myself."

"Weel," said Betty, "we have all on us much to ask, and much to tell;
but just you finish your tea, and I'll put the childer to bed; and then
you and John can take a turn round the garden, if you've a mind, while I
clear the table and tidy up a bit."

And now, by common consent, when Betty had made all things straight, the
whole party adjourned to the garden, and brought their chairs under an
old cherry-tree, from which they could see the distant mansion with its
embowering woods, and the sloping park in front.  Samuel sat with his
father on one side and Betty on the other, one hand in the hand of each.
John was on the other side of his wife holding her other hand.

"You know, John," she said with a smile, "I only gave you the one hand
when we were wed, so our Sammul's a right to t'other.  And now, tell us
all, Sammul dear, from the very first.  You needn't be afraid of
speaking out afore our John; he knows all as we know, and you must take
him for your brother."

"I'll do so as you say, Betty; and when I've told you all, there'll be
many things as I shall have to ax you myself.  Well, then, you remember
the night as I went off?"

"I shall ne'er forget it as long as I live," said his sister.

"Well," continued Samuel, "I hadn't made up my mind just what to do, but
I were resolved as I wouldn't bide at home any longer, so I hurried
along the road till I came to the old pit-shaft.  I were just a-going to
pass it by, when I bethought me as I'd like to take a bit of holly with
me as a keepsake.  So I climbed up the bank, where there were a fine
bush, and took out my knife and tried to cut a bit; but the bough were
tough, and I were afraid of somebody coming and finding me, so I cut
rather random, for my knife were not so sharp, and I couldn't get the
branch off at first, and as the bank were rather steep, I slipped about
a good deal, and nearly tumbled back.  Just then I heard somebody a-
coming, and I felt almost sure it were fayther; so I gave one great pull
with my knife, the branch came in two all of a suddent, and the knife
slipped, and gave my left hand a great gash.  I kept it, however, in my
hand, but I slipped in getting back into the road, and dropped it.  I
durstn't stop long, for the man, whoever he were, came nearer and
nearer, so I just looked about for a moment or two, and then I set off
and ran for my life, and never saw my poor knife again till your John
gave it me to sharpen an hour since."

"Eh, Sammul," cried Betty, with a great sigh of relief, "you little
thought what a stab your knife'd give your poor sister.  I went out,
same night as you went off, to seek you, and coming home from Aunt
Jenny's I seed a summat shining on the road near the old pit-shaft, for
moon were up then; it were this knife o' yourn.  I picked it up, and oh,
Sammul, there were blood on it, and I saw the bank were trampled, and
oh, I didn't know what to make on it.  I feart ye'd been and kilt
yourself.  I feart it at first, but I didn't arter a bit, when I'd time
to bethink me a little.  But I've kept the knife ever since; you shall
have it back now, and you mustn't charge us anything for grinding it."

"Poor Betty!" said her brother, "I little thought what sorrow my knife
would bring you."

"Well, go on, it's all right now."

"When I'd run a good way," continued Samuel, "I began to think a bit
what I should do with myself.  One thing I were resolved on--I'd make a
fresh start--I'd forget as I'd ever had a home--I'd change my name, and
be my own mayster.  It were not right--I see it now--I were misguided--
it were not right to my poor Betty, my loving sister--it were selfish to
leave her to bear all the trouble by herself, and it were not right by
you, fayther, nor by poor dear mother.  I should have borne my trials
with patience, and the Lord would have made a road through 'em; but I've
prayed to be forgiven, and, bless the Lord, he's brought good out of
evil.  Arter a while, I thought as I'd walk to Liverpool, and see if I
couldn't work my passage to America or Australia.  I didn't wish any one
to know where I was gone, so I never wrote.  I wished to be as dead to
all as had gone before.  It were the third day arter I left Langhurst
that I got to Liverpool.  I were very foot-sore, and almost famished to
death, for I hadn't had a gradely meal since I left home.  I were
standing near a public, feeling very low and done, when some sailor
chaps as was drinking there began to chaff me, and one was for giving me
some beer and grog, but I wouldn't taste.  Just then a Captain
Merryweather, commander of the barque _Sabrina_, comes up.  He hears
what was going on, and takes me to a temperance inn and gives me a good
breakfast, and asks me if I'd go with him to Australia as cabin-boy."

"To Australia!" exclaimed both Thomas and Betty; "have you really been
to Australia, Sammul?"

"Ay, that I have, and back again too.  Well, I were right glad to go
with the captain, more particularly arterwards, as I seed Will Jones a-
coming out on a public, and I thought if he'd a seen me, he might talk
on it at Langhurst.  When captain axed me if I'd go with him, he wanted
to know my name.  Eh, I were never so taken aback in all my life.  I
couldn't tell what to say, for I'd made up my mind as I'd drop the name
of Samuel Johnson, but I hadn't got any other at hand to take to.  So he
axes me my name again.  All at once I remembered as I'd see'd the name
`Jacob Poole' over a little shop in a lane near the town, so I thought,
`that'll do;' so says I, when he axed me my name again, `Jacob Poole.'
But I were nearly as fast next time as he called to me, for when he
says, `Jacob,' I takes no notice.  So he says again, `Jacob Poole,' in a
loud voice, and then I turns round as if I'd been shot.  I wonder he
didn't find me out.  But I'm used to the name now.  I hardly know myself
as Samuel."

"And which must we call you?" asked Betty, with a merry twinkle in her
eyes.  "Eh! fancy, `Uncle Jacob,' `Brother Jacob.'  And yet it's not a
bad name neither.  I were reading in John to our Sammul t'other day
about Jacob's well--that were gradely drink; it were nothing but good
spring wayter.  But go on, Sammul--Jacob, I mean."

Samuel then proceeded to describe his voyage, his attachment to Frank
Oldfield, his landing in Australia, and subsequent separation from his
master till he joined him again at Tanindie.  He then went on to tell
about his life at the diggings, and his conversion under the preaching
of the faithful missionary.

"I began to see then," he continued, "as I'd not done the thing as was
right.  I talked it over with the minister; and I made up my mind as I'd
come home again and find you out."

Then he told them of his voyage back to England, and of his landing with
his master at Liverpool.

"Well, then," he proceeded, "as soon as I could be spared I went over to
Langhurst.  I went to our old place and opened the door.  There were
none but strange faces.  `Where's Thomas Johnson?' says I.  `Who do ye
say?' says a woman as was by the hearth-stone.  `Thomas Johnson? he
don't live here.'  `Where does he live then?' says I again.  `There's
nobody o' that name in Langhurst,' says the woman.  It were night when I
got there, so I wasn't noticed.  Then I went to old Anne Butler's, and I
thought I'd not say who I were, for I were always a closeish sort o'
chap; and if fayther and our Betty had flitted, I didn't want to have
all the village arter me.  So I just went to old Anne's.  She didn't
know me a bit.  So I got talking about the village, and the folks as had
come and gone; and I let her have her own way.  So she goes from t'one
to t'other, till at last she says, `There's poor Tommy Johnson, as used
to live in the stone row; he's flitted with his wench Betty, and nobody
knows where they've gone.'  `That's strange,' says I, `what made 'em
flit that fashion?'  `Oh,' she says, `they'd a deal of trouble.  Thomas
wasn't right in his head arter his lad Sammul went off, so he took up
with them Brierleys, and turned teetotaller; and then his missus,'--but
I canna tell ye what she said about poor mother.  I were fair upset, ye
may be sure, when she told me her sad end; but old Anne were so full of
her story that she didna heed anything else.  Then she said, `Many of
his old pals tried to turn poor Tommy back, but they couldn't, but they
nearly worritted him out of his life.  So one night Tommy and his Betty
went clean off, and nobody's heard nothing no more on 'em, nor of their
Sammul neither; and what's strangest thing of all, when they came to
search the house arter it were known as Tommy had flitted, they found
some great letters sticking to the chamber-floor in black and red; they
was verses out of the Bible and Testament.  The verse in black were, "No
drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God;" t'other verse, in red, were,
"Prepare to meet thy God."  Some thought as the old lad had put 'em
there; other some said, "The old lad's not like to burn his own tail in
the fire."  Howsever, verses were there for several days; I seed 'em
myself: but one stormy night there came a terrible clap of thunner, and
an awful flash of lightning, and it went right through chamber of
Tommy's house, and next morn letters were all gone, and nothing were
left but a black mark, like a great scorch with a hot iron.'  This were
old Anne's tale.  I didn't tarry long in her house, for I didn't want to
be seen by any as knowed me; but I went to many of the towns round about
to see if I could hear anything about fayther, but it were no good; so I
went back to Liverpool arter I'd been off about ten days."  Samuel then
gave them an account of the sad tidings that awaited his return, and
then added,--

"I didn't know what to do, nor where to go, but I prayed to the Lord to
guide me, and lead me in his own good time to fayther and our Betty, and
the Lord has heard me, and he's done it in his own gracious way."

He then recounted his meeting with Old Crow, the knife-grinder, and his
subsequent history to the time when, on that very evening, he was led in
the good providence of his heavenly Father to turn down the lane to the
little cottage.

"The Lord be praised, the Lord be praised!" exclaimed poor Johnson, when
the story was finished.  "Surely goodness and mercy he's been to us all.
And, oh, he's been very good in bringing back our Sammul."

"We shall have a rare family gathering when we all meet, Old Crow,
Deborah, and all," said Betty.  "There'll be fayther, and our John, and
our Sammul, and our Jacob, and our Deborah, and Old Crow, and little
Sammul, and the babe.  We must get the squire to build us another
cottage."

"Ah, Betty, my own sister," said Samuel, "it does my heart good to hear
your voice once more.  Add now I want fayther to tell his tale.  I want
to know all about the flitting, and the black and red letters, and all,
and how you came to light on this lovely spot."

Johnson raised himself in his chair, and prepared to speak.  What a
wondrous change Christian total abstinence had made in his whole
appearance.  The prominent animal features had sunk or softened down,
the rational and intellectual had become developed.  He looked like a
man, God's thinking and immortal creature now; before, he had looked
more like a beast, with all that was savage intensified by the venom of
perverted intelligence.  Now he sat up with all that was noble in his
character shining out upon his countenance, specially his quiet iron
determination and decision, in which father and son were so much alike.
And there was, hallowing every line and look, that peace which passeth
understanding, and which flows from no earthly fountain.

"Sammul, my lad," he said, "God has been very good to me, for I can say,
`This my son was lost, and is found.'  He's given me a cup brimful of
mercies; but the biggest of all is, he's sent us our Sammul back again.
But I will not spin out my tale with needless talk, as you'll be
impatient to know all about our flitting.  You'll remember Ned
Brierley?"

"Ay, well enough," said his son.

"Well, Ned were my best friend on earth, for you must know it were he as
got me to sign the pledge.  That were arter I got well arter the
explosion.  Ye heard of the explosion?"

"Yes," replied Samuel; "I heard on it arter I left Langhurst."

"It were a marvellous mercy," continued his father, "as I were spared.
I'd halted rather 'tween two opinions afore, but when I left my sick-bed
I came forward, and signed.  Then Ned Brierley and all the family
flitted, for the mayster'd given him a better shop somewhere in Wales.
That were a bad job for me.  I'd a weary life of it then.  I thought
some of my old mates 'ud a torn me in pieces, or jeered the very life
out of me.  Then, besides, you were not come back to us; and I were very
down about your poor mother, so that I were casting about to see if I
couldn't find work somewhere at a distance from Langhurst, where I could
make a fresh start.  It were in the November arter the explosion that
same total abstinence chap as got yourself to sign came to our house,
and axed me to tell my experience at a meeting as was to be held in
Langhurst on the twenty-third of the month.  I'd sooner have had nothing
to do wi't, but our Betty said she thought I were bound to speak for the
good of the cause, so I told the gentleman as I would.  Now, you may
just suppose as my old mates at the `George' were in a fury when they
heard of this, and some on 'em were resolved to sarve me out, as they
called it, though I'd done 'em no harm.  So they meets at Will Jones's
house, a lot on them, and makes a plot to get into our house the night
afore the meeting, and scratch my face over with a furze bush while I
was asleep, and rub lamp-black and gunpowder all over my face, so as I
shouldn't be able for shame to show myself at the meeting.  But it so
happened as Will Jones's lad John were under the couch-chair, hiding
away from his fayther, all the time they was arranging their plans, and
he heard all as they was saying.  So Will Jones's wife Martha sends the
lad to tell our Betty when the men was gone.  She'd promised not to say
anything herself, but that didn't bind the lad, so he came and told.
What were we to do?  Why, just the right thing were being ordered for
us.  Do ye remember old Job Paynter, the bill-sticker?"

"Ay, for sure I do," replied Samuel.  "He were a good Christian man, and
a thorough total abstainer."

"You're right there, Sammul," said his father; "now old Job's uncle to
our John here.  I'd seen a good deal of old Job of late.  He'd taken to
me and our Betty, and used often to call and have a cup of tea with us.
He knowed how I wished to get away from Langhurst; and one night he says
to me, `I've a nephew, John Walters, down at Fairmow, in Shropshire.
He's one of the right sort.  I heard from him a while since as his
squire wants a steady man to overlook a small colliery as he's got on
his estate.  The man as is there now's taken to drinking, so the
squire's parting with him in December.  Would you like me to mention
yourself to my nephew?'  You may be sure, Sammul, I were very thankful
for the chance.  But it wasn't chance--the word slipped out of my mouth;
but I've done with chance long since--it were the Lord's doing.  So old
Job wrote to our John about it, and the end were, the squire offered the
place to me.  I got Job to keep it quite snug, for I didn't want my old
mates to know anything about it.  This were all settled afore I'd agreed
to speak at the meeting.  So when we found, from Martha Jones's lad,
what my old mates was up to, I talked the matter over with old Job
Paynter, and we hit upon a plan as'd just turn the tables on 'em, and
might do 'em some good.  It were all arranged with our John as we should
be at liberty to come to his cottage here till the place were ready for
me at the colliery.  Then Job and I talked it over, and it were settled
as our Betty should go to her aunt's at Rochdale, and take all her
things with her, and meet me on the twenty-third of November at
Stockport.  Job was to come to our house on the twenty-second.  So, a
little afore nine, he slips in when it were very dark, and brings a lot
of old letters with him ready cut out, and some paste.  You must know as
he'd a large quantity of old posters by him as had been soiled or torn.
So he cuts what black letters he wants out of these, and some red 'uns
too, enough to make the two texts, `No drunkard shall inherit the
kingdom of God,' and `Prepare to meet thy God.'  Then Job and me goes
quietly up-stairs, and I holds the candle while he pastes the words on
the chamber-floor.  Then we rolls up some old bits of stuff into a
bundle, and lays 'em on my bed, and puts the old coverlid over 'em.
Then Job and me leaves the house, and locks the door; and that, Sammul,
is last I've seen of Langhurst."

"And what about the thunder and lightning as scorched out the letters?"
asked Samuel.

"Only an old woman's tale, I'll be bound," said his father.  "You may be
sure the next tenant scoured 'em off."

"And now," said John Walters, "it comes to my turn.  Father and Betty
came down to our house on the twenty-third of November.  My dear mother
was living then.  I was her only son.  I was bailiff then, as I am now,
to Squire Collington of the Hall up yonder.  Father worked about at any
odd jobs I could find him till his place were ready for him, and Betty
took to being a good daughter at once to my dear mother.  She took to it
so natural, and seemed so pleased to help mother, and forget all about
herself, that I soon began to think, `If she takes so natural to being a
good daughter, she'll not find it hard maybe to learn to be a good
wife.'  And mother thought so too; and as Betty didn't say, `No,' we
were married in the following spring."

"Yes, Sammul," said Betty, laughing and crying at the same time; "but I
made a bargain with John, when we swopped hearts, as I were to leave a
little bit of mine left me still for fayther and our Sammul."

Thomas Johnson looked at the whole group with a face radiant with
happiness, and then said,--

"The Lord bless them.  They've been all good childer to me."

"We've always gotten the news of Langhurst from Uncle Job," said Betty.
"He settled with the landlord about our rent, and our few odd bits of
things; and he was to send us any letter as came from yourself."

"And so you've been here ever since?"

"Yes.  Our John's mother died two years since come Christmas; and then
fayther came to live with us.  He'd had a cottage of his own afore, with
a housekeeper to look arter him."

"And is your squire, Mr Collington, a total abstainer?"

"Ay, he is, for sure, and a gradely 'un too.  He's owner of most of the
land and houses here.  The whole village belongs to him; and he'll not
have a drop of intoxicating drinks sold in it.  You passed the public.
You heard no swearing nor rowing, I'll warrant.  You'll find church, and
chapel too, both full of Sundays; and there's scarce a house where the
Bible isn't read every night.  Ah! the drink's the great curse as robs
the heart of its love, the head of its sense, and the soul of its
glory!"



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

CONCLUSION.

There just remain a few creases to be smoothed out, and our story is
done.

The morning after Samuel's arrival Betty made her way to the Hall,
taking her brother with her.  She knew that the squire and his lady, and
indeed the whole family, would rejoice to hear that the wanderer was
returned, for all loved the simple-hearted Lancashire girl, and had long
sympathised with her and her father in their sorrow about Samuel.

Mr Collington and his lady having heard Betty's statement with the
deepest interest, sent for Samuel, and had a long conversation with him.

"And what do you say to entering my service?" asked the squire.  "We
have learned to prize your father and sister so highly, that I shall
feel perfect confidence in taking you with no other recommendation than
your story and your relationship to them."

"Well, sir," replied Samuel, "you're very good.  I'm tired of roving,
and shall be glad to settle, if you can find me a place as'll suit me;
only I mustn't forget as there's others I owe a duty to."

"You mean the friends you have left behind in Bolton?"

"Yes, sir," said Betty; "he's bound to be looking arter them.  And
there's Deborah, as he'll be bringing to share his home with him."

"And Old Crow too?" asked Mrs Collington.

"I cannot say, ma'am," replied Samuel; "but I must either take his cart
back to him, or bring him over this side to his cart."

"Well, we'll see what can be done," said the squire.

Let us leave them for a while, and pass to Greymoor Park.  Sir Thomas
and Lady Oldfield have left it for an absence of several years; indeed,
many doubts are expressed in the neighbourhood whether they will ever
come back to reside there again.  There is the stamp of neglect and
sorrow upon the place.  Sir Thomas has become a more thoughtful man--he
is breaking up, so people say.  His wife has found a measure of comfort
at the only true Fountain, for her religion is now the substance--it was
once only the shadow.  But the past cannot be recalled, and a sorrow
lies heavy on her heart which must go with her to her grave; and oh,
there is a peculiar bitterness in that sorrow when she reflects what her
poor boy might have been had she never herself broken down his resolve
to renounce entirely that drink which proved his after-ruin.  And what
of the Oliphants at the Rectory?  Bernard Oliphant still keeps on his
holy course, receiving and scattering light.  Hubert is abroad and
prospers, beloved by all who know him.

And Mary, poor Mary, she carries a sorrow which medicine can never heal.
Yet she sorrows not altogether without hope; for, according to her
promise, she never ceased to pray for the erring object of her love; and
she still therefore clings to the trust that there may have been light
enough in his soul at the last for him to see and grasp the outstretched
hand of Jesus.  And sorrow has not made her selfish.  She has learned to
take a deepening interest in the happiness of others; and thus, in her
self-denying works of faith and labours of love, she finds the
throbbings of her wounded spirit to beat less fiercely.  She has gained
all she hopes for in this life, peace--not in gloomy seclusion, but in
holy activity--and she knows that there is joy for her laid up in that
bright, eternal land where the sorrows of the past can cast no shadows
on present glory.

And now let us pass from those who mourn to those who rejoice.  It is a
lovely day in early September, and there is evidently something more
than ordinary going on at Fairmow Park.  In the village itself there is
abundance of bustle and excitement, but all of the most innocent kind,
for alcohol has nothing to do with it.  Old and young are on the move,
but the young seem to be specially interested.  In fact, it is the
"Annual Meeting of the Fairmow Band of Hope," which is to gather for
dinner and recreation, as it always does, in the Park.  So banners are
flying, and children hurrying to and fro, and parents looking proud, and
all looking happy.  But to-day there is to be a double festivity, for
Samuel Johnson and Deborah Cartwright are to be married.  Deborah is
staying at John Walters', and Samuel has got a snug little cottage no
great way on the other side of the brook; and not far-off, and a little
nearer to the Hall, is still another cottage, where Old Crow is just
settled with Deborah's mother for housekeeper, for the old man could not
rest content to be so far away from his adopted son Jacob, for he "means
to call him Jacob and nothing else as long as he lives."  The old man is
not without money of his own, and he still means to do a little in the
knife-grinding line.  So his cart is to be wheeled up for him to the
Park this afternoon, and he is to sharpen just as many or just as few
knives for the squire, and scissors for the ladies, as he pleases.  And
now--for it is almost half-past ten o'clock--there is a straggling of
various groups up to the neat little ivy-covered church.  Oh, what a
joyful day it is for Thomas Johnson and Betty!  They hardly know how to
hold all the love that swells in their hearts, and every one is so kind
to them.  Then the bells ring out joyfully, and the churchyard is filled
with expectant faces of old and young.  The squire, his wife, and
daughters are to be there, and after the wedding there is to be a short
service and an address from the clergyman.  And now the little wedding-
party winds up the hill, two and two, from John Walters' cottage, all
supremely happy down to little Samuel and the babe, who are to share in
the festivities of the day.  All enter the church; the squire and his
party being already seated.  Old Crow is there, of course, for he is to
give Deborah away.  He has a Sunday suit on now, the garments of various
eras being only for working days.  Who so full of joy as Samuel, as he
passes through the gazing throng with Deborah on his arm.  They are to
drive at once after the wedding to the Park in the squire's dog-cart.
The marriage-ceremony is duly performed, and the address delivered.
Then comes the band, with its brazen roar strangely jangling with the
merry bells.  The road is all alive with labourers in clean smocks, and
lads with polished faces.  The children in their holiday attire and Band
of Hope ribbons run in and out everywhere.  Fathers and mothers look
glad, and old men and women benevolent.  Flowers are to be seen in
profusion, for total abstinence and flowers go everywhere together:
there are flowers in the churchyard, flowers in the church, flowers in
button-holes, belts, and bonnets, flowers in huge fragrant nosegays,
flowers in choice little bouquets.  And so, laughing, smiling, running,
walking, hastening, sauntering, chatting, greeting, on go young and
middle-aged and old, and the sloping sward of the Park is gained, and
the Hall comes into close view.  And there, under a wide expanse of
canvas, is spread the healthful, bountiful repast--plenty of meat,
plenty of drink of the right sort, and nothing to stimulate appetite but
those odours which never tempt any but the gluttonous to excess.  All
are now gathered and take their places; young and old sit side by side.
The squire, his lady, his daughters, and the clergyman are there.  Every
one is assured of a hearty welcome, and falls to in earnest when the
grace has been sung.  At length the vehement clashing of knives and
forks and clattering of plates has subsided to a solitary click or two;
all have been satisfied, and the squire rises.  He has a word of
kindness, love, and encouragement for each.  They know how he loves
them, and they listen with the deepest attention.  And thus he speaks:--

"Our kind and beloved pastor has addressed us all in church this
morning, and I trust we shall remember well the words of truth and
wisdom which he spoke.  And now it falls to myself to speak to you.  I
can most truthfully declare how it rejoices myself and my dear wife to
see so many healthy, happy faces at our yearly `Band of Hope' festivity.
But to-day we specially rejoice, because we see here a happy couple who
have just been joined together as man and wife in our church, with the
blessed prospect of being fellow-partakers of the happiness of heaven.
I am very thankful to number them among my tenants and people.  You all
of you now know something of Samuel Johnson, his trials, temptations,
and struggles as a Christian total abstainer.  (`Hear, hear,' from Old
Crow.)  What a truly happy gathering this is!  I have no need to look at
any with misgiving lest their bright faces should owe their brightness
to excess in intoxicating liquors.  We have no false stimulants here--we
have no clouded brains, no aching consciences here--none will go home
needing to rue the gathering and recreations of this day.  And now,
young people of the `Band of Hope,' my dear boys and girls, I have just
a parting word for you.  Never let any one persuade you, go where you
may, to forsake your pledged total abstinence.  Never care for a laugh
or a frown, they can do you no harm while God is on your side.  Oh,
remember what an insidious, what a crafty tempter the drink is!  I have
a short story to tell you that will illustrate this.  Many years ago,
when the English and French were at war with one another in North
America, a portion of the English army was encamped near a dense and
trackless forest.  The French were on friendly terms with a tribe of Red
Indians who lived thereabouts, and our men were therefore obliged to be
specially on their guard against these crafty savage foes.  A sentinel
was placed just on the border of the forest, and he was told to be very
watchful against a surprise from the Indians.  But one day, when the
sergeant went to relieve guard, he found the sentinel dead, his scalp,
(that is, the hair with the skin and all), torn from his head, and his
musket gone.  This was plainly the work of an Indian.  Strict charge was
given to the new sentinel to fire his musket on the first approach of an
enemy.  Again they went to relieve guard, and again they found the
sentinel dead and scalped as the one before him.  They left another
soldier in his place, and after a while, hearing the discharge of a
musket, they hurried to the spot.  There stood the sentinel uninjured,
and close at his feet lay a Red Indian dead.  The sentinel's account was
this.  While he was keeping his eyes on the forest, he saw coming from
it a sort of large hog common in those parts, which rolls itself about
in a peculiarly amusing manner.  In its gambols it kept getting nearer
and nearer to him, when all of a sudden it darted into his mind,
`Perhaps this creature is only an Indian in disguise.'  He fired at it,
and found it was even so.  The crafty savage had thus approached the
other sentinels, who had been thrown off their guard by his skilful
imitation of the animal's movements, so that the Indian had sprung up
and overpowered them before they could fire or call for help.  Now it is
just so, dear boys and girls, with the drink.  It comes, as it were, all
innocence and playfulness: it raises the spirits, unchains the tongue,
makes the eyes bright, and persuades a man that the last thing he will
do will be to exceed; and then it gets closer and closer, and springs
upon him, and gets the mastery over him, before he is at all aware.  But
don't you trifle with it, for it comes from the enemy's country--it is
in league with the enemy--repel it at the outset--have nothing to do
with it--it has surprised and slain millions of immortal beings--never
taste, and then you will never crave.  Oh, how happy to show that you
can live without it!  Then you may win others to follow your example.
Ay, the young total abstainer who will not touch the drink because he
loves his Saviour, does indeed stand on a rock that cannot be moved, and
he can stretch out the helping hand to others, and cry, `Come up here
and be safe.'  And now away to your games and your sports, and may God
bless you all!"





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