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´╗┐Title: Ralph Clavering - We Must Try Before We Can Do
Author: Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
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 "Ralph Clavering - We Must Try Before We Can Do" ***

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Ralph Clavering, by W.H.G. Kingston.

________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________
RALPH CLAVERING, BY W.H.G. KINGSTON.



CHAPTER ONE.

A young girl dressed in a cloak and hat, and looking sad and somewhat
timid, stood in the middle of the large hall of a fine old country
house.  The floor was of oak, and the walls were covered with dark oak
wainscoting, from which hung down several full-length portraits of grim
old knights and gentlemen in bag wigs, and ladies in court suits,
looking very prim and stern.

The hall door was open, and through it was seen a post-chaise, from
which a footman was extracting a small trunk and a variety of other
articles, under the direction of a woman who, it was evident, had also
just arrived.  As there was no one to notice the young lady, she amused
herself by looking round the hall and examining the portraits.

While she was thus employed, a door opened, and a lad appeared, who,
running forward, put out his hand, and said, "And so you are my own
cousin, are you? and your name is Lilly Vernon, is it?"

The young lady looked up with a quick, intelligent glance, and answered,
"If you are Ralph Clavering, I conclude we are cousins, for I am, as you
suppose, Lilly Vernon."

"All right--how jolly!" exclaimed the boy.  "We have been looking for
you for some days, and I have been expecting to have great fun when you
came.  I once had a sister, but she is dead, and I have terribly wanted
some one to help me kill the time since then, though I would far rather
have had a boy cousin, I will tell you that."

"I would rather help you to employ time than to kill it, Cousin Ralph,"
said Lilly, with a smile.  "It may chance to come off the victor
otherwise."

"Oh, is that the way you talk?  I don't like preaching," exclaimed Ralph
petulantly, and turning away with a frown.  He came back, however, and
added, "But I don't want to quarrel with you.  Come into the
dining-room, and warm yourself by the fire, and have some luncheon.  I
was eating mine when you arrived, and I have not finished.  We shall be
all alone, for papa is out hunting, and mamma is ill in bed, as she
always is.  I should have gone out after the hounds too, but I was ill
and lazy.  I intend to take a trot this afternoon though.  You can ride
I hope--if not, I will teach you; but ride you must, that I am
determined."

"Oh, I can ride almost anything.  I had a pony of my own--a spirited
little creature--at home," answered Lilly, a shade of melancholy passing
over her features as she pronounced the word home.

Ralph did not observe it, but answered, "Oh, that's capital!  I should
like to see you ride with me though, and take a ditch or a gate.  There
are not many things I do well, perhaps; but I do that, at all events."

"Perhaps you try to do that, and don't try to do anything else,"
remarked Lilly.

"Oh, there you are again!" exclaimed Ralph, "I will not stand
sermonising--remember that--so you had better knock off at once."

He spoke in a tone so dictatorial and loud that Lilly stared at him,
wondering whether or not he was in earnest.

The two young people had by this time reached the dining-room, where a
substantial luncheon was spread, speaking well for the hospitality of
Clavering Hall.  Ralph, having helped his cousin with a courtesy which
showed that he was well accustomed to do the honours of the table,
filled his own plate with no unsparing hand, and addressed himself
steadily to discuss the viands.

Lilly, who quickly got through her meal, looked up more than once,
wondering when he would finish and talk to her again.  Poor girl! she
could not help feeling sad and forlorn.  She perceived instantly that
Ralph was not a person to treat her with sympathy, and at the best his
kindness would be precarious.  She was the daughter of a clergyman in
the south of Ireland.  Both he and her mother had died during a famine
which had raged in that country.  She had been thus left an orphan, and
had been committed to the guardianship of her uncle and only near
relation, Mr Clavering, of Clavering Hall.  Unhappily he was not a
person well fitted for the responsible office.  Mrs Clavering was an
invalid, and seldom quitted her bed-room.  As Mr Clavering was also
constantly from home, engaged in magisterial duties, or in hunting or
shooting, their son Ralph was very much neglected and left to his own
devices.  These devices were too often bad, while, as was to be
expected, he found his associates among his father's grooms, and other
uneducated persons willing to flatter him.  Thus noxious weeds were
springing up in his disposition, which should carefully have been rooted
out as they appeared; indeed.  Master Ralph Clavering was being utterly
ruined at the time of Lilly Vernon's arrival at Clavering Hall.  He had
been to school for some years, so that he was not altogether uneducated;
but his education was far from finished when he unexpectedly appeared at
home, and it was soon whispered about that he had been expelled for some
act of insubordination and a flagrant exhibition of violence of temper.
After this, as his father did not think fit to send him to another
school, he was placed under the nominal charge of the curate of the
parish, who undertook to superintend his further education till he was
old enough to go to college.  As, however, he only spent with him a few
hours in the morning, and found numerous excuses for keeping away
altogether, neither his character improved, nor did his progress in
learning become satisfactory.  Ralph, thus unchecked, yielded more
frequently to his temper, became more dictatorial and tyrannical every
day, till he was rather feared and disliked than loved by all with whom
he came in contact.  Such is the not very pleasant character our hero
had obtained at the time our history commences.



CHAPTER TWO.

Lilly Vernon had been for some weeks at Clavering Hall.  She had been
kindly received by her uncle and aunt, had completely got over the
timidity she felt on her arrival, and had found herself perfectly at
home.  Not so Biddy O'Reardon, her former nurse, who had accompanied her
from Ireland, and was desired to remain as her personal attendant.
Biddy did not comprehend all that was said, and thought that the other
servants were laughing at her, and declared that though Clavering Hall
was a fine place, its ways were not those to which she had been
accustomed, and she heartily wished herself back at Ballyshannon in the
dear ould country.  Still, for the love of the young mistress, she would
stay wherever she stayed, though it was a pity she had so
ill-conditioned a spalpeen of a cousin to be her companion.  These
remarks reached Ralph's ears, and he and Biddy became on far from good
terms.  He revenged himself by playing her all sorts of tricks.  One day
he came into the little sitting-room in which she sat with Lilly and
begged her to sew a button on his coat.  Poor Biddy good-naturedly
assented, but on opening her workbox found that her thimble had been
trodden flat, her scissors divided, and all her reels of cotton
exchanged for small pebbles!  Enjoying her anger and vexation, Ralph ran
laughing away, while Lilly gently, though indignantly, reproved him for
his unkind and ungenerous conduct.

No one thought that a governess was necessary for Lilly; but happily her
education had been carefully attended to by her parents, and she had
formed the resolution of continuing the studies she had commenced with
them.  As soon as she could get her books unpacked, she set to work, and
with steady perseverance performed her daily task, to the unbounded
astonishment of her cousin, who could not comprehend why she should take
so much trouble when there was no one "to make her," as he expressed
himself.

It was a fine bright day in the winter when Ralph burst into the study
which Lilly had very much to herself.  "Come along, Lilly!" he
exclaimed.  "I have ordered out Apple-blossom for you, and I will ride
Sugar-plum.  Throw those stupid books away.  What can make you drone
over them as you do?"

Lilly looked up at her cousin with a serious expression in her calm
eyes, and said, "Papa and mamma wished me to learn my lessons, and I
want to do exactly as if they were alive.  They always made me do my
lessons before I went out, and so, Ralph, I cannot come."

Ralph Clavering looked very much astonished, and with a contemptuous
curl of his lip and a frown on his brow left the room, exclaiming, "What
can Lilly mean?  She doesn't care for me, that's very positive."  He
threw himself on his pony, and switching it with more than his usual
impetuosity, galloped off down the avenue.  Lilly bent forward again to
her self-imposed studies.  Now and then she got up from her seat, and
putting the book on one side and placing her hands behind her, repeated
her lesson through with an expression of awe in her countenance, as if
she thought her mother was looking over the book and listening to her.
Lilly had just finished her work when Ralph returned.  "What, old
bookworm, have you really finished your stupid lessons?" he exclaimed.
"You've lost a capital gallop, that I can tell you.  However, you shall
have one in the afternoon, though you don't deserve it.  I've ordered
Sugar-plum round to the stable to get a feed of corn while we are at
luncheon, and in an hour he'll be ready again.  Apple-blossom will be
ready for you, and we'll have a capital ride after all."

Lilly said that she should like to ride, and soon afterwards luncheon
was announced.  The young people took it by themselves, for Mr
Clavering was from home, and there were no guests in the house.  Ralph
tossed off a couple of glasses of sherry, scolding the butler for not
quite filling them.  "Good stuff after a gallop this cold weather," he
observed.

Lilly shook her head.  "You could do very well without that," she
remarked.

"Oh, you girls know nothing," he answered contemptuously.  "I could
drink twice as much, and not be the worse for it."

In spite of Lilly's entreaties he took one or two more glasses,
evidently for the sake of teasing her.  Lilly found it difficult not to
show her vexation.  Ralph was in one of his obstinate humours.  He had
never been restrained when a child, and every day he found the task of
restraining his temper become harder and harder.  He owned this to his
cousin.  "Try, Ralph, what you can do," she answered.  "Unless you try
you cannot hope to succeed."

"Impossible," he answered petulantly.  "It is absurd to suppose that I'm
not to get into a rage every now and then.  It is gentlemanly, it is
manly."

"Oh, Ralph, what nonsense!" exclaimed Lilly.  "Which is the most manly,
to guide your pony along the road, or let it run away with you, flinging
out at everybody it meets, and throwing you at last?"

"That's nothing to do with my getting into a rage if I please," said
Ralph.  But he looked as if he fully comprehended the simile; and as
Lilly saw that he did so, and had no wish to irritate him, she changed
the subject.  Soon after this the ponies were brought to the door.
Lilly, who had got on her riding-skirt, sprang lightly on Apple-blossom,
Ralph not even offering to assist her, and away the two cousins galloped
down the avenue.  Ralph's good humour did not return for some time, in
spite of all Lilly could do.  At length her lively remarks and the fine
fresh air gradually brought it back, and this encouraged her to talk on.
They had a delightful and a very long ride.  Sometimes they galloped
over the level sward through a fine extensive forest in the
neighbourhood, and through the deciduous trees, now destitute of leaves.
There were many hollies and firs and other evergreens, which gave a
cheerful aspect to the scene, and with the blue sky overhead they
scarcely remembered that it was winter.  Sometimes they got on a hard
piece of road, and had a good trot for a couple of miles, and then they
reached some fine open downs, when, giving their little steeds the rein,
away they galloped as hard as hoof could be laid to the ground, with the
fresh pure air circulating freely round them.  Now they had to descend
and to pass along lanes full of ruts and holes, where they had carefully
to pick their way, and then they crossed some ploughed fields till they
once more reached a piece of turf by the road-side.  On the turf, Ralph
was again able to make his pony go at the pace which best suited his
taste, Lilly easily keeping up with him.  Once more in the forest, they
galloped as fast as ever along its open glades.

"This is first-rate," cried Ralph.  "There never was a finer day for
riding."

"Oh, indeed it is," responded Lilly.  "This is a beautiful world, and I
always think each season as it comes round the most delightful."

"I don't trouble my head about that," said Ralph, giving his pony a
switch.  "I know when it is a fine day, and I enjoy it."

Lilly had discovered that Ralph always carefully fenced off from any
subject which he thought might lead to serious reflection.  She waited
her time to speak to him, hoping it might come.  Soon after this they
again reached the high road.  Several times Ralph's pony, which had gone
through a good deal of work that morning, attempted to stop, and when
Ralph urged him on he stumbled.

"Sugar-plum must be tired," observed Lilly.

"Let us walk our ponies home."

"No, I hate everything slow," cried Ralph, hastening on the pony.  "If
the beast can't go he won't suit me, and so he shall soon find who is
master."

Lilly again entreated him to pull up, but he would not listen to her.
At some distance before them appeared a figure in a red cloak.  Lilly
perceived that it was an old gipsy woman with a child at her back.  In a
copse by the road-side there was a cart with a tent and a fire before
it, from which ascended into the clear calm air a thin column of smoke.
The old woman was making her way towards the camp, not hearing
apparently the tramp of the pony's hoofs.

"Take care, take care, Ralph," cried Lilly; "you will ride over that
poor old woman if you gallop on."

"I don't care if I do," said Ralph, angry at being spoken to.  "She's
only a wretched old gipsy woman."

"A fellow-creature," answered Lilly.  "Oh, Ralph, take care."

Ralph galloped on till his pony was close up to the old woman, at a spot
where the ground was rough, and there was a somewhat steep descent.  He
could scarcely have intended actually to ride over the old woman.  Just
then she heard the pony's hoofs strike the ground close behind her.  She
started on one side, and the pony dashed on, shying as he did so.  The
animal's foot at that moment struck against a piece of hard clay, and
already almost exhausted, down he came, throwing his rider to a
considerable distance over his head on the ground.  Lilly slipped off
her well-trained little pony, which stood perfectly still while she ran
to her cousin's assistance.  Ralph's countenance was pale as death.  He
groaned heavily, and was evidently much hurt.  His pony, as soon as it
got up, trotted off to a distance to avoid the beating its young master
might have bestowed.

Lilly cried out to the old gipsy woman, who, although she could not
hear, saw and understood her gestures.  The old woman stood at a
distance gazing at the scene, and then slowly and unwillingly came back.
Lilly, as she watched Ralph's countenance, became more and more
alarmed.  She endeavoured, by every gesture she could make use of, to
intimate that she wanted assistance.  The old woman knelt down by the
lad, and putting her hand on his brow, and then on his arm, gave a
grunt, and rising with more agility than could have been expected,
hobbled off towards the gipsy camp.  Lilly would have run on herself for
help, but she dared not leave her cousin on the ground, lest a carriage
coming rapidly down the hill might run over him.  She anxiously watched
the old woman as she approached the tent.  No one came forth, and she
feared that all the gipsies might be absent, and that no help could be
procured.  She was herself, in the meantime, not idle.  She placed
Ralph's head on her lap, loosened his neckerchief, and chafed his
temples, but her efforts were vain; he still remained unconscious, and
she fancied that he was growing rather worse than better.  Lilly knew
that she could not lift him, though she longed to be able to carry him
even as far as the green bank by the road-side.  She was in despair, and
could not refrain from bursting into tears.  At last a thin dark man,
with long elf-locks, accompanied by two boys as wild-looking as he was,
and still more ragged, came running up.

"Ah! my pretty lady, don't take on; your brother has still life in him,"
he exclaimed when he saw Ralph.  "Here, you Seth, lift up the young
master's legs; and Tim, you be off after his pony.  Be quick, like
lightning, in a hurry."

Without more ado he raised Ralph from the ground, and bore him in his
arms towards the tent.  Lilly followed, leading Apple-blossom.  They
soon reached the gipsy tents.  In one of them was a heap of straw.
Ralph was placed on it.  Lilly saw that the sooner medical aid could be
procured the better.  Still she did not like to leave him in charge of
such doubtful characters as the gipsies.

"You will take care of him, and I will hurry home to bring assistance,"
she said to the gipsy.

"Whatever you like, pretty mistress, for your sake we will do," was the
gallant answer.

Lilly mounted Apple-blossom, and galloped on to the Hall.  Great was the
consternation her news caused.  Mrs Clavering was so ill that no one
ventured to tell her of the accident.  Mr Clavering was away from home,
and the butler and housekeeper were out on a visit.  Lilly found that
she must decide what was to be done.  She ordered the carriage to be got
ready, and then she sat down and wrote a note to the doctor, which she
sent off by a groom.  By that time the carriage was at the door, and,
with Biddy as her companion, she drove back to the gipsy encampment.
They considerately took with them some food, and all sorts of things
which they thought might be required.  Just as they reached the camp
they found the doctor, whom the groom had happily met.  There, on a heap
of dirty straw, under cover of a tattered tent, lay the heir of
Clavering Hall.  Lilly had hoped to take Ralph home; but directly Doctor
Morison saw him, he said that he must on no account be carried to such a
distance, although he might be moved on a litter to a neighbouring
cottage, as the gipsy tent afforded neither warmth nor shelter from rain
or snow.  A door was accordingly procured, and Ralph was carried by the
gipsy and his two sons to a cottage about a quarter of a mile off, while
the carriage was sent back for some bedding and clothes.  No sooner had
the gipsies performed the office they had undertaken than they hurried
away; and when, some time afterwards Doctor Morison, at Miss Vernon's
request, sent to call them back that they might receive a reward, they
had moved their ground: the black spot caused by their fire, and some
patches of straw, alone showed where their camp had been pitched.

"I fear, Miss Vernon, that your cousin is in a very dangerous state,"
said Doctor Morison, after again examining Ralph.  "I think that it will
be well if you return in the carriage, and break the news to his father.
Remember, however, that I do not despair of his life."

This information made Lilly's heart very sad.

"He may die, and so unprepared," she whispered to herself.  "Oh, may he
be graciously preserved!"

How many, young as Ralph Clavering, have been cut off in the midst of
their evil doings!  An old woman and her daughter, the occupants of the
cottage, gladly consented to give up the best accommodation their small
abode offered to their wealthy neighbours.  Mr Clavering, who had just
reached the Hall, scarcely comprehended at first what had happened.
Lilly had to repeat her tale.  At length, when he really understood what
had occurred, like a frantic person he threw himself into the carriage,
and ordered the coachman to drive on as fast as the horses could go.

"What a wretched, miserable hole for my boy!" he exclaimed as he entered
the cottage.

"Poor young master bean't accustomed to cottage rooms," observed the old
woman, Dame Harvey, to her daughter.  She could not forget that, humble
as was her cottage, it was her own, and that she was bestowing a favour
on those she had admitted within it.  She was conscious at the same time
that she was doing her duty towards them as a Christian, and this made
her overlook, without complaint, many other slights she received.  It
was an anxious night to all concerned in Ralph's welfare.  Doctor
Morison feared that he had received a concussion of the brain, but could
not decide whether it would prove serious till the next day.  Mr
Clavering scarcely left his son's bedside, nor would Lilly, had not
Biddy filled her place, and she then consented to lie down on some
chairs in a back room, where a large fire had been made up, a cart with
fuel having arrived from the Hall.  Ralph breathed painfully, it was
evident that his life hung by a thread.



CHAPTER THREE.

Two days passed by, and it seemed very uncertain whether Ralph Clavering
would recover.  Lilly, by the doctor's orders, had to return home, but
she begged that Biddy might remain to watch the invalid, and a more
faithful nurse could not have been found.  She, indeed, discovered with
sorrow the true estimation in which her cousin was held at Clavering
Hall; for among all the pampered servants not one volunteered, or seemed
anxious to attend by his bedside.  When he was well he ordered them
roughly about, and abused them if they did not obey his often
unreasonable commands.  Now, as mean and irreligious persons are wont to
do, they retaliated by treating him with neglect.  Mr Clavering, whose
fears for his son's life were fully aroused, only rushed out of the
cottage for a few minutes at a time to calm his agitation, or to give
way to his grief, and then hurried back to his bedside.  He had sent for
the housekeeper to attend on Ralph, but Mrs Gammage declined coming on
the plea that her mistress required her attendance, and that her own
health was so delicate that she should die of cold in Dame Harvey's
cottage.  The dame, therefore, and her daughter volunteered their
services, and more careful attendants could not have been found.  Mrs
Harvey had been in service in her youth, and as she observed knew how to
attend on gentlefolks.  Food, and bedding, and furniture and all sorts
of things had been sent from the Hall, and as the cottage was neat and
clean, Mr Clavering might well have been thankful that his son had so
comfortable a refuge.

Lilly rode over every morning from the Hall, and generally again in the
afternoon, but she was not allowed to remain many minutes at a time with
her cousin.  For several days the doctor continued to look grave, and
said that he might possibly recover, but that he must not yet hold out
too strong hopes on the subject.

"I do trust he may recover," she answered.  "It would be so dreadful for
him to die, and I really think that there is some good in him."

"There is no good thing in any of us, young lady," remarked the doctor;
"yet I pray that if he lives the very best of things may be put into
him--a new heart, or we cannot hope to see him changed from what he
was."

"I will pray that he may recover, and that he may get a new heart," said
Lilly, artlessly.

"Do, Miss Vernon," said Doctor Morison.  "Human skill avails us nothing
without God's aid."

Lilly rode home much happier.  She could not have much of what might
properly be called affection for her cousin, for his behaviour had
prevented that, but she sincerely pitied him, and was anxious for his
welfare.

Day after day passed by.  "I will tell you to-morrow what to hope,"
answered Dr Morison to her usual inquiries.  Lilly cantered home more
anxious than ever to make her report to her aunt.

"Of course he will die," observed Mrs Clavering; "what have we to
expect?"

"God is ever merciful and good," said Lilly, calmly.

The lady stared.  "I shall not believe that he will live till I see him
recovered," she answered.

"We can pray that he may, dear aunt, at all events," replied Lilly.

The next day Lilly rode off at an early hour to Dame Harvey's cottage.
Dr Morison arrived nearly at the same moment.  She waited anxiously for
his report.  He remained, it seemed, a very long time with his patient.
At last he appeared with a smile on his countenance.  "He will yet do
well.  He requires careful nursing more than anything else, and I hope
that in a few days he will be strong enough to be removed to the Hall."
Lilly rode back to carry the joyful news to her aunt.

Mr Clavering, when he heard this opinion, poured out expressions of
gratitude to the doctor, and called him the preserver of his son's life,
assuring him that there was nothing he would not do to show his sense of
the obligation.

"Give thanks where they are due," said Dr Morison.  "And, my dear sir,
you cannot please me more than by endeavouring to correct his faults,
and to bring him up in the way he should go."

"A very odd man, that doctor," said Mr Clavering, to himself.  "Under
other circumstances I should think his remarks highly impertinent."

Dame Harvey could hardly be persuaded to take the sum of money offered
her by Mr Clavering.  She had only done her duty, and she had done it
without thought of reward; she would have done the same for any poor
neighbour who would have been unable to repay her.  Mr Clavering was
incredulous as to her disinterestedness.  Lilly took her part.

"I am sure, uncle, she nursed Ralph so kindly and gave up her cottage to
him simply from kindness of heart," she observed.  "Had any young
nobleman been thrown from his horse out hunting would you not have taken
him in, and kept him till he was well, without thought of reward?  Papa
used to say that the poor feel as we do, and often more acutely, and
that we should treat their feelings with the same consideration that we
should those of the rich."

"You have vast experience, Miss Lilly, about such matters," answered Mr
Clavering, with a laugh.  "I know that the poor pull down my fences, and
do all sorts of mischief, and I judge them by their deeds."

"And how do the rich treat each other, and how would they behave if they
were exposed to the temptations of poverty?" argued Lilly, with unusual
vehemence.

"We have put up your Irish spirit, young lady," answered her uncle,
laughing.  "However, I dare say that you are right, and I have no doubt
of Dame Harvey's good intentions."

Ralph having as the doctor said, once turned the corner, got rapidly
well.  Lilly was in hopes that from what had occurred his character
would have improved, indeed, while he still remained weak and unable to
help himself he was far less dictatorial than he used to be, and more
than once, though not, perhaps, in the most gracious of ways, expressed
himself obliged for what had been done for him.

"He'll do better by-and-by," thought his sanguine cousin.  "He is
fretful now from his long confinement.  When he gets out in the fresh
air he will recover his temper."



CHAPTER FOUR.

There is an old saying that, "What is born in the grain is shown in the
fruit."  No sooner had Ralph Clavering recovered his physical strength
than he was himself again in all other respects, or even still more
dictatorial and abusive if any one offended him than before.  At first
Lilly was in despair.  At last she recollected her own motto, "We must
try before we can succeed."

"Yes, I will try again, and very hard before I give it up in despair."

The winter had been very severe, and numbers of labourers had been
thrown out of work.  Ralph was allowed at first only to drive out in the
carriage.  One day as he was waiting in the porch, filled with the warm
sunshine, for his luxurious vehicle to come to the door, two ragged
objects were seen approaching up the avenue.  One was a thin and tall
dark man, the other was a lad of the same foreign complexion.  A frown
gathered on Ralph's brow as he saw them.  "What do you want here, you
fellows?" he shouted out.

"Food and money to pay the doctor, young master," answered the man,
coming up to the floor.  "The rest of the family are down with sickness
camped in Fouley Copse, and they'll die if they don't get help."

"Then you are gipsies, and we don't encourage gipsies," said Ralph.

"You wouldn't let us die, young master, would you?" asked the man,
humbly.

"No fear of that, I'm up to you," cried Ralph, growing angry.  "Be off
with you."

"I've always heard that one good turn deserves another, and believed it
too, gipsy though I am, but I am not likely to get it this time," said
the man, eyeing Ralph with a glance of contempt.

Just then Lilly, hearing her cousin speaking loudly, came to the hall
door.  No sooner did she see the man than she exclaimed, "Why, that is
the kind gipsy who carried you to Dame Harvey's cottage, and would take
no reward.  What is it you want, poor man?  Tell us, that we may do what
we can."

The gipsy repeated his previous story.

"We will go there immediately, and carry some food and other things for
your family," she said.  "But you are hungry yourselves, Ralph, tell
Mrs Gammage that she must let them have some dinner, and that she must
put up some food and blankets, and some other things for you to carry."

Ralph demurred.  Lilly grew impatient.  "If we do not find matters as
they are described, we can but bring the things back," she observed.

This satisfied her cousin, who had thus suddenly become so scrupulous.
It is wonderful how careful people are not to make a mistake in doing an
act of charity.

"Blessings on thee, young mistress!  You remember me, then, sweet lady?"
said the gipsy.

"I do, indeed," answered Lilly; "but I did not hear your name."

"Arnold I am called in this country, sweet lady," answered the gipsy.
"My people are not wont to ask favours, but we are starving; and though
you call us outcasts and heathens, we can be grateful."

Ralph had gone to ask Mrs Gammage, very much to that lady's
astonishment, to give the gipsies some food.  Still greater was her
surprise when he insisted on having some provisions put up to carry to
their encampment.  "Cousin Lilly will have it so," he answered, when she
expostulated with him on the subject.

This settled the matter; and the gipsies, being invited into the
servants' hall, had a more abundant meal placed before them than they
had seen for many a day.

Ralph felt a pleasure which he had never before experienced, as he got
into the pony-carriage with the stores the housekeeper had provided.
Lilly rode by his side, and away they went.  They got to the encampment
before Arnold and his son could reach it.  It was in the centre of a
thick copse, which sheltered the tents from the wind.  They had need of
such shelter, for the tents were formed of old canvas thickened by mats
of rushes, but so low, that they scarcely allowed the inmates to sit
upright.  They took the gipsies completely by surprise, and Lilly saw at
a glance that Arnold had in no way exaggerated their miserable
condition.  Great was the astonishment, therefore, of the poor people at
having a plentiful supply of provisions presented to them.  Lilly, who
soon saw that those who were most ill were far beyond her skill,
promised to send Dr Morison to them.

Lilly and Ralph were still at the encampment when Arnold and his son
arrived.  Their expressions of gratitude, if not profuse, were evidently
sincere.  So reduced were the whole party to starvation, that it seemed
likely, had aid not arrived, they must all soon have died.  There were
two or three girls and boys sitting on the ground, covered up with old
mats, their elf-locks almost concealing their features, of which little
more than their black sparkling eyes were visible, while some smaller
children were crouching down under the rags which their mother had
heaped over her.  There was an iron pot hanging from a triangle over the
fire; but it contained but a few turnips and other vegetables, not a
particle of meat.  Even the pony which drew the family cart looked
half-starved, as if sharing the general distress.

"It is a pleasure to help those poor people," observed Ralph to his
cousin, as they returned homeward.  "I did not suppose so much
wretchedness existed in England."

"There is far more than we have seen to-day," said Lilly.  "When hard
times come, there are thousands and thousands thrown out of work, who
then from one day to another do not know how they are to find food to
put into their mouths on the next."

"I should think that they might lay by when they are getting full
wages," remarked Ralph.

A carriage passing prevented Lilly from hearing the remark.  The groom,
who was driving, replied to it.  "A hard job, Mr Ralph, for a poor man
with a large family of hungry boys and girls able to eat, but to earn
nothing, to lay by out of eight or nine shillings a week.  Many a
hard-working, strong man, gets no more.  Why, Mr Ralph, you spend more
on your clothes, gloves, and washing, and such like things."

"Yes; but I am different, Thomas, you know.  I couldn't do without good
clothes and other things," answered Ralph.

Thomas, fancying that he would be supported by Miss Lilly, ventured to
say more than he would otherwise have done, and so he replied, "Don't
see the difference, Mr Ralph.  A rich man can't wear many more clothes
at a time, or eat much more, than a poor one; and a poor one wants food
and clothing as much as his betters.  If he can't get them by honest
means he sickens and dies, or takes to stealing.  I don't know how the
rich would act if they were to have the temptations the poor are exposed
to!"

Ralph was not inclined to say anything more on the subject to Thomas; he
felt angry at his speaking so plainly.  Thomas had never before done so,
undoubtedly because he was sensible how useless it would have been.

Not long after this they reached Dr Morison's house.  Lilly told her
tale, and the doctor promised to set off immediately to the gipsy
encampment.

Never had Ralph appeared to greater advantage than he did on that day at
dinner.  He laughed and talked, and made himself generally agreeable.
His father and mother were surprised, and hailed the change as a sign of
returning health.  The doctor called in the evening.  He had visited the
gipsy encampment, and stated his belief, that if aid had not been sent
to them, two or more of their number would have died before many days
were over.  "They owe their lives under Providence to you, Miss Vernon,
I assure you," said the doctor.

"Not more to me than to my cousin," answered Lilly, promptly.  "He got
the eatables from Mrs Gammage, and carried them to the encampment.  I
should have been afraid of going alone."

The doctor did not repeat a version of the story which he had heard from
Arnold, but he replied, "I am truly glad to hear that Mr Ralph busies
himself about the welfare of his fellow-creatures."

Mr and Mrs Clavering looked surprised; the words struck strangely on
their ears.  They were so different to what they were accustomed to
hear.  Mrs Clavering had been inclined to complain of her son and niece
having visited the gipsies for fear they might catch a fever from them
or get robbed, and now she heard them praised by Dr Morison, for whose
opinion she had great respect; so she said nothing.  Every day after
this Lilly and Ralph paid a visit to the encampment, taking not only
food but some blankets, with some of which Mrs Gammage had supplied
them.  Others had actually been bought by Ralph, at his cousin's
instigation, with his own money.  There could be no doubt from the way
they expressed themselves, that the gipsies really were grateful for the
kindness shown them, so different from the treatment they had been
accustomed to receive from the world.  Their hand was supposed to be
against every man, and every man's hand was undoubtedly against them.

At length the whole family had so completely recovered, that Arnold told
them that he should leave the neighbourhood.  "The gentlefolks don't
like our ways, and we should be sorry, after what you have done for us,
if we came foul of any of your people," said the gipsy.

"So should we, indeed," answered Lilly.  "And I hope you will not do
anything elsewhere to get yourselves into trouble."

"No fear, sweet lady," said Arnold, with the courtesy so often found
among his people.  "The thought that you would be offended would prevent
us."



CHAPTER FIVE.

The days flew by; the spring returned; Ralph completely recovered his
strength, and renewed his daily visits to his tutor; while Lilly,
unaided, pursued her own studies with unwavering steadiness, and
employed herself in calling, with her aunt, on some of the surrounding
families of their own rank, in riding, sketching, in visiting the poor
in the neighbourhood, and in doing good to all around as far as she had
the power.  Doctor Morison called her his bright intelligence, and said
that he considered her a ministering angel, sent into their district to
awaken these people from the Boetian lethargy into which they had sunk.
Lilly, however, did not hear these compliments.  Had she, her reply
would have been that she was only doing what she knew to be right.

Ralph occasionally joined his cousin in her occupations.  Sometimes he
rode with her, and sat by her side while she sketched; and he even
condescended to carry her basket when she visited the cottages of their
poor neighbours.  He was rising, though he was not aware of it, in their
estimation, and many expressed a belief that he would turn out well
after all.  To be sure, he would occasionally cast that hope to the
ground by some outbreak of temper and violence of language.  Lilly was
often almost in despair, but she remembered her motto, "We must try
before we can do," and so she determined to try on.

It must not be supposed that she had distinctly said to herself, "I will
set to work to give my cousin good principles, or to reform my cousin."
The nearest approach was to think, "I wish that anything I could say or
do would make Ralph give up some of his bad habits, and to act as I am
sure he ought."

Still, had she clearly seen all the difficulties of the task which she
had in reality, although unknowingly, undertaken, she would not have
shrunk from it.  "It would be so delightful to have Cousin Ralph what he
ought to be," she said, over and over again, to herself.

She undoubtedly was setting properly about the work by gently leading
him into the right way.  He had too undisciplined a mind to be reasoned
with, and had been too much indulged to be driven.

Ralph had since his recovery taken a great fancy for rowing.  A broad
stream passed at no great distance from the Hall, which ultimately fell
into a rapid river.  Ralph had persuaded his father to have a small boat
built for him, which he could manage by himself.  He had hitherto had
but little practice; he had, however, learned to pull sufficiently well
to send on the boat ahead a short distance without catching a crab, and
this made him fancy himself already a proficient.

Lilly very naturally believed his assertions that he could row perfectly
well; and the boat having been repainted and put in order, she gladly
accompanied him on one of the first warm days in spring down to the
stream.  John Hobby, a cottager near, had charge of the boat and kept
the oars.  He was out when Ralph called for them, and so his wife told
their son to take them down to the boat.

"But you surely are not going alone, Mr Ralph, without my good man or
our lad?" said the dame.  "It's a main dangerous stream, and needs a
strong arm and a practised hand to guide a boat along it."

"That's all you know about it, mistress!" answered Ralph, in his usual
self-satisfied, contemptuous tone.  "I've rowed often enough on the
stream to know that I've no reason to be afraid."

"Well, maybe, Mr Ralph; but you won't go far, I do hope," persisted the
dame.

"Just as far as I please; and I'll thank you not to interfere with your
advice, mistress," answered Ralph, walking off to follow Lilly, who had
unfortunately not heard the warning voice.

Lilly had got to some distance before Dame Hobby saw her, or she would
undoubtedly have entreated her not to venture on the water.  Ralph, with
unusual politeness, handed his cousin into the boat.

"John, John!" cried the dame, "here lad, take the oars down to the boat
for Master Ralph Clavering, and just give him a hint, that if he goes
without you, he may chance to drown himself and the pretty young lady
with him."  Then she added, in a lower tone, to herself, "A nice young
gentleman to order people about as he does.  He'll learn some day who's
who."

A fine handsome young lad, who had been working in the garden at the
back of the house, appeared at her call.  He appeared to be about the
same age as Ralph Clavering, but was taller and stouter.  There was a
look, too, of health and conscious strength about him, and withal, a
pleasant, good-natured smile on his well-formed countenance, which
showed that he was on good terms with himself and the world in general.
He took the oars from an outhouse, and followed Ralph and Lilly to the
boat.

Young John Hobby was about to follow, when Ralph told him to keep back,
and seizing the oars, exclaimed, "Now, Lilly, I will show you what I can
do; and we'll make a voyage unsurpassed since the days of Columbus!"

Lilly was but little accustomed to boating, and believing that her
cousin's experience was equal to what he asserted it to be, she
entrusted herself to him without hesitation.  John Hobby stood watching
their proceedings, and scratching his head, evidently wishing to say
something.  "You'd better go up stream, Master Clavering," he cried out
at length, as Ralph shoved off from the bank.  "The current runs very
strong, and it's easier to go with, than against it."

"Hold your tongue, you lout," answered Ralph, angrily.  "I know how to
row, and don't want to be dictated to."

"Beg pardon, Master Clavering: I only said what I knew would be best,"
answered John Hobby, sturdily.

Though a tenant of Mr Clavering's, John Hobby, the elder, paid his
rent, improved his land, and feared neither him nor anyone else.  Of
young John, more will be said hereafter.  Ralph had been undecided which
way to go.  To show his independence, he immediately turned the boat's
head down the stream.  He had skill enough to keep her in the centre of
the river, and down she floated smoothly and easily.  He was delighted
with his own performance.

"Hurrah!" he shouted.  "Away we go, right merrily.  That lout wanted to
frighten you.  I told you, Cousin Lilly, how pleasant it would be."

Lilly found it extremely pleasant.  The sun shone brightly and sparkled
on the surface of the stream; and so clear was the water, that the fish
could be seen swimming about on each side of the boat.  The water-fowl
skimmed lightly over it, or flew from bank to bank, every now and then
giving forth strange cries, which made Lilly declare that the river must
be infested by water kelpies, who were attempting to lure them to
destruction.

On the little boat glided.  It did not seem to occur to Ralph that the
current, rather than his exertions, was carrying them on.

"This is what I like.  Isn't it pleasant?" he exclaimed, again and
again.  Lilly was inclined to enjoy it, although, perhaps, a suspicion
might have arisen that it would have been wiser to have followed John
Hobby's advice, and to have gone up the stream first, so as to have
returned with the current in their favour.  They did not go very fast,
but had ample time to admire the scenery.  Sometimes the stream expanded
in width, the banks were low, and little else than beds of rushes and
willows, green meadows with cows feeding, were to be seen, with,
perhaps, far off, a row of trees, a few Lombardy poplars, and the spire
of a church peeping above them.  In other places there were steep
slopes, and rocks and cliffs, crowned with birch and alder, and even
oak, and a variety of other trees.  There were bends or angles in the
course of the stream, which afforded a variety of pretty views, with
here and there a cottage, or some fine old tree, whose branches extended
over the water, forming a prominent feature.

"Oh! how I wish that I had brought my sketch-book," exclaimed Lilly.
"These views are so different to those I have been accustomed to take.
We must come again to-morrow, and then you must stop as we go up and
down the stream at the points I most admire to-day."  Ralph promised to
do as his cousin wished, but it did not occur to him to ascertain how
far he could keep the boat in one place.  At last, Lilly recollected
that she had the back of a letter and a pencil in her bag, and, with a
piece of board which was in the boat, she extemporised a drawing block.
"Now, Ralph, here is a very pretty spot, turn the boat round a little,
and I will quickly sketch it," she cried out, not doubting that her
wishes would be fulfilled.  Ralph got the boat round, as he was
directed, but Lilly soon found herself receding so rapidly from her
subject, that it was impossible to take a correct sketch.  Again and
again she called to him to keep the boat in one place.  Ralph persisted
that he was doing his best.

"Why, Ralph, I thought that you were so expert an oarsman, that you
could make your boat go anywhere, or do anything?" said Lilly.

Ralph could not stand being jeered, even by his cousin.  He quickly lost
his temper, and at the same time while increasing his exertions, he lost
his oar.  Away it went out of his grasp, and floated down the stream.
"There, you made me do that, you silly girl!" he exclaimed, angrily.
"What is to be done now?"

"Try and pick it up, to be sure," answered Lilly.  "Paddle after it with
the other oar."

Ralph stood up to use the other oar as a paddle, and very nearly tumbled
over in making the attempt.  Lilly now became somewhat alarmed.  She
knew, however, that the wisest thing to do was to sit still, especially
as Ralph began jumping about, and beating the water without any definite
object.  The boat continued to float down, following the oar, which
gained but very little on her.  Lilly again urged her cousin to try and
recover it.  His next attempt was as unsuccessful as the first, and the
other oar nearly slipped from his hands.  At last he sat down, almost
crying, and looking exceedingly foolish.  "The boat may go where it
chooses," he exclaimed, pettishly.  "How am I to row with only one oar?"

In spite of her fears, Lilly almost burst into a fit of laughter.

"Try again, cousin Ralph; you can do nothing unless you try," she
answered.  "If you will not try to row, I must put you to shame by
making the attempt myself."

Thus put on his mettle, Ralph again roused himself, but it was to little
purpose; and he and Lilly now found that they had reached the mouth of
the stream, and were entering the main river, which was far broader and
more rapid.  In vain he now tried to gain the bank, the rapid current
bore the boat on into the very middle of the river.  They both had
ridden along the bank, and they remembered that some way down the water
rushed over a ledge of rocks, with a fall of several feet.

"Never mind," said Ralph; "there is a ford there, and I can but jump out
and drag the boat to land."

"Ah, but that was in the summer," answered Lilly.  "I remember a man
telling us that in the spring a great body of water falls over the
ledge; and that when we passed, with the water scarcely up to our
horse's knees, there is a regular cataract, and that once some people
who were attempting to cross in a boat, got drifted near it, and were
carried down and all drowned."

"Oh, how dreadful!" exclaimed Ralph, now fairly wringing his hands.
"Why did we come?  How foolish we were.  I wish that we had followed
that lout Hobby's advice.  He, of course, knows more about the river
than we do."

Lilly was very much inclined to say, "Speak for yourself, cousin Ralph;
I believed your boastful assertions, and trusted myself to you."

Instead of that, she only said, "Still we must try to save ourselves.
We ought, at all events, to try to reach the bank.  Ah! what is this?"
She lifted up a loose board from the bottom of the boat: "Here, do you
use this as a paddle, and give me the oar.  We shall be able to guide
the boat if we try."

Ralph, once more roused, took the plank and used it as his cousin
directed.  Still, from want of skill, they made but little progress.
The other oar had been caught in an eddy, and had been drifted so far
away, that they had lost sight of it altogether.  As they were exerting
themselves with might and main, their attention was aroused by a shout,
and looking up, they saw a man standing on the bank and waving the lost
oar.  This encouraged them; while the roar of the cataract, a little way
below, made them still more feel the necessity of exertion.  The boat
was, of course, all the time drifting down, sideways, nearer and nearer
to the dangerous spot.  Still they were approaching the shore.  The man
with the oar ran along the bank.  They had got within twenty yards of
it, when the current seemed to increase in rapidity.  The man shouted to
them to use more exertion, but that was beyond their power.  Poor
Lilly's arms were already aching, and her hands were hot and blistered
with the oar.  Glancing on one side, they could see the ledge of rocks
against which the river rushed, breaking into a mass of foam.  It seemed
impossible that they could reach the bank before they got within its
influence.  The man with the oar, seeing their danger, sprang forward
and swam out towards them.  He was not, apparently, a very good swimmer,
but he struggled on.

"He'll be drowned, and do us no good," cried Ralph.

"Oh, no!  I pray God that he may be preserved!" exclaimed Lilly, with a
fervour, which showed that the expression came from her heart, and was
truly a prayer.

It was heard, the man struggled on, and seized the stem of the boat.

"Go back to the other end," he cried out; and, as Ralph obeyed the
order, he threw in the oar, and climbed up himself over the bow.
Without speaking a word more, he seized both oars, and began rowing away
with might and main towards the shore.  Only then did Lilly and her
cousin discover that the stranger was no other than Arnold, the gipsy.

"Why, Arnold, we little thought that it was you!" they exclaimed in the
same breath.

"No time to talk," was the answer.  "I'll tell you when we are all
safe."

In a few seconds the boat reached the land.  Ralph shuddered when he saw
how short a distance they were above the place where the waters, raging
and foaming, dashed over the rocks.  Lilly remarked, also, the great
danger they had escaped.  Her first impulse was to offer their gratitude
to God for their preservation; her next was, to thank the gipsy for the
effort he had made on their behalf.

"But you will surely catch cold, Arnold, if you remain in your wet
things," said Lilly.

"No fear for me, young lady," he answered; "I am seasoned for all
weathers, and a little wetting will do me no harm; but, I'm thinking
that you young people will be wishing to get home again.  How are you to
do it?"

"My cousin said that he would row back," answered Lilly, with a glance
at Ralph, indicative of her real opinion on the subject.

"Perhaps, then, you'll give me a passage, Master Ralph," said the gipsy.
"It's a long way round by land, and the roads, such as they are, are
not a little muddy in some places, and rough in others."

"Oh, yes, I'll row you round--or, that is to say, you shall go round in
the boat if you will take the oars, for I feel rather tired after rowing
all the way down," replied Ralph, looking very sheepish.

"Well, young gentleman, after my wetting it will be wise to keep in
exercise; so, sit down, and I will try what I can do," said Arnold,
taking the oars in a way which showed that he was accustomed to their
use.

He put the boat in motion, but instead of rowing out in the stream, he
kept close in with the bank, following all its sinuosities, so as to
avoid the opposing current.  He bent sturdily to the oars, and sent the
boat so rapidly through the water, that she went up the stream even
faster than she had descended it when Ralph was rowing.  For some time
he said nothing; perhaps he felt rather ashamed of himself, but if such
was the case the feeling wore off.  Arnold made the boat skim over the
water so easily, that at last he began to fancy that he could do the
same.  Surely he could do everything better than a wretched gipsy, who
only the other day was almost starving.

Meantime, Lilly had asked Arnold after his wife and family, and how he
had happened to be on the bank of the river at a moment so opportune for
her and Ralph.

"The questions, sweet lady, are easily answered," said Arnold.  "My wife
and children are as well as scant food and hard living will allow them.
We are camped about a mile from where you saw me.  Knowing of old that
the river is full of fish, I had gone to catch some.  I had only just
thrown in my line when I caught sight of your boat, and guessed that you
would be the better for any help I could give you."

"Then your family will lose the supper you expected to catch for them,
and will not know what has become of you," said Lilly.

"They are too well accustomed to go without supper to complain of that,"
said Arnold; "and as to not knowing what has become of me, we make it a
rule never to trouble ourselves if one or the other does not appear at
the time expected.  We suppose that the absent one has some good reason
for not coming back to camp.  We gipsies do not allow ourselves to have
more cares than we can help.  It is all very well for the rich who live
in fine houses, and ride in fine carriages, and wear fine clothes, and
have more food than they can eat, to make cares for themselves; that
would never do for us."

Ralph thought that the gipsy was growing rather impertinent in his
observations; yet, as Lilly encouraged him by her remarks, he said
nothing.  They had for some time re-entered the tributary stream, and
were proceeding quickly up it.  At last, Ralph, having recovered his
confidence, insisted on taking the oars, he had contemplated desiring
Arnold to get out, but he had a suspicion that Lilly would not approve
of such a proceeding.  Arnold, without hesitation, relinquished his
seat, and allowed him to take the oars.

Ralph at first rowed away sturdily enough, but the boat at once began to
go on one side, and then to cross over to the other side of the stream;
and even Ralph could not help discovering that instead of progressing
upwards, the boat was once more dropping down with the current.

"I cannot tell how it is," he exclaimed at last, in a tone of vexation,
"there is something or other prevents me from managing the boat as I
used.  The oars have been changed, or they have been doing something to
the boat."

Lilly's lips curled, but she saw that her cousin was not in a humour to
bear any quizzing; so she merely said--

"Never mind then, Ralph; let Arnold take the oars and row us home as
fast as he can, for I am afraid that Uncle and Aunt Clavering will be
very anxious about us, if they hear the report John Hobby is likely to
give."

"He'd better not have said anything--that's all," growled Ralph, looking
as if he could annihilate the low-born Hobby, had he dared to commit
such an atrocity.

Happily for that individual, now so unconscious of evil, nearly an hour
elapsed after this ere the boat reached the landing-place near the Hall.
There stood Hobby.

"I am truly glad to see you--that I am!" he exclaimed, honest
satisfaction lighting up his countenance.  "I was terribly alarmed you
would never get back of your own selves--indeed I was, let me tell you."

Ralph was going to make an angry reply to what he considered Hobby's
impertinent remarks, but Lilly interrupted him--

"You are right, John Hobby," she said, kindly.  "If it had not been for
our friend Arnold here, we might never have got back at all; and had we
followed your advice we should have saved ourselves a great deal of
anxiety, and not have been exposed to the great danger from which we
have been preserved."

"As to the danger, it's all well that ends well, Miss," remarked Hobby,
bluntly.  "But I do hope Master Ralph won't be taking you on the water
again till he's learnt to row properly."

"Make the boat fast, and take the oars away with you!" exclaimed Ralph,
walking off homewards.

"Stop, cousin!  You have not thanked Arnold, or asked him to come up to
the Hall, where I am sure Uncle and Aunt Clavering would wish to see
him," cried Lilly; but Ralph was so angry with Hobby's remarks, that he
would not return.

"Do not trouble him, young lady," said Arnold, casting a glance after
the young heir of Clavering Hall, in which he did not conceal his
contempt.  "I do not require his thanks, nor any reward from him or his.
You show me by your looks that you thank me, and that pays me more than
enough."

"Oh, but his father and mother will not be satisfied with that; they
will wish to repay you," answered Lilly.  "And besides, your wife and
children are not well off; some money or some clothing will be of use to
them, surely."

"I'll not deny it; but we value such things less than you fancy, young
lady," said the gipsy.  "We have enough for the present, and we do not
trouble ourselves much as to what is to come.  But I won't keep you
talking.  The young gentleman has just remembered that he ought to wait
for you, and is sitting down on the bank there.  He thinks himself very
rich and very important, and that he can do everything, I daresay; but
if he knew all about himself that I know about him, he would act more
kindly towards others and think less of himself.  You may tell him so
whenever you like from me."

The meaning of this last remark did not strike Lilly at the moment.  She
still pressed Arnold to come to the Hall, but he declined, saying that
he must of necessity go back to his family.  Lilly again expressing her
thanks, hurried after Ralph, who did not recover his self-complacency
till they reached the Hall.



CHAPTER SIX.

When Mr and Mrs Clavering heard Lilly's version of the boating
expedition, they were anxious to repay Arnold for the service he had
rendered; but when they sent over a servant on horseback to the locality
where he had said his tents were pitched, he was not to be found.  Lilly
was extremely sorry to hear this.  She wished also to express her
gratitude more fully than she had before done, and although he had
refused to receive any reward, she had hopes that his wife and children
would be willing to accept any presents she might be able to give them.
Every effort, however, made by Mr Clavering to discover him proved
unavailing.  Perhaps his steward, whom he employed, did not take as much
pains as he might have done.  Ralph and Lilly went on much as they had
been accustomed to do.  Although Lilly often asked Ralph, when he was
going to take her for another excursion on the water, he invariably
offered some excuse.  She observed also that he never went near the
river if he could help it, and that he invariably seemed much annoyed
whenever John Hobby's name was mentioned.  It was evident that he had
not forgotten the remarks made by honest John about his rowing.
Sometimes Lilly suspected that he had even some stronger reason for
disliking the young peasant.  She feared that it was from the meanest of
all reasons, jealousy.  Hobby was better looking and more active, and
excelled him in all athletic exercises.  Hobby also was very
good-natured, and had a great deal of humour, so that he was a general
favourite among all who knew him in the country round.  Ralph felt
annoyed that one so much his inferior in birth, wealth, and education
should in all other respects be his superior.

Again Lilly felt almost in despair that Ralph would ever become what he
ought to be.  She was a sensible and wise girl, and had not formed too
high a standard of perfection, but still there was a standard which she
knew he could and ought to reach, and she did not feel disposed to be
satisfied with any measure below it.  She had flattered herself that she
had got him out of many of his bad habits, but he had fallen back into
most of them, and she found that the influence, which she fancied she
had gained over him, was in no way secured.  He mixed as before,
whenever he had an opportunity, with low associates, and he used to
abuse and swear at all around him at the slightest provocation.  As a
young boy, this conduct had only met with contempt, but as he grew older
it gained him every day fresh enemies, so that there was scarcely a
person in the district round who was so much disliked.

During the last few years a great and happy change has taken place among
the peasantry of England, and except a limited number of Chartists and
other ill-instructed persons mostly confined to the towns, it may truly
be said that the whole of the population is contented and orderly and
patient under inevitable suffering and poverty.  It was not so formerly,
and directly they began to suffer from a scarcity of provisions or low
wages, their only idea of remedying the evil, was to burn or destroy the
property of their more wealthy and prosperous neighbours.  Bad times, as
they were called, were now occurring, and the whole rural population,
especially in the neighbourhood of Clavering Hall, were in a state of
great discontent.  Incendiary fires were of nightly occurrence
throughout the country.  Not only haystacks, but wheat-stacks and barns
and farm buildings were set on fire.  This way which the country people
took of showing their suffering was both very wicked and exceedingly
foolish, but it proved indubitably that something or other required
amendment.  The magistrates took very naturally a somewhat one-sided
view of the case, and regarding the people as evil-disposed and
rebellious, employed the most stringent measures to repress these
outrages.  Whenever any supposed incendiaries were caught they seldom
escaped conviction and were always punished with the utmost severity.
Mr Clavering especially was conspicuous for the zeal with which he
hunted down offenders and the unrelenting sternness with which he
brought them to punishment.  He, in consequence, brought upon himself a
large amount of odium, and coupled with his conduct generally towards
the peasantry, it made him probably the most unpopular man in the
county.  While the proud owner of Clavering Hall was the most unpopular,
the poor tenant of one of his humble cottages was one of the most
popular.  This was no other than John Hobby.  Hobby's popularity arose
from several causes.  A good deal of it was owing to the estimation in
which his son was held, while he himself was looked upon as a hearty,
good-natured fellow, ever ready with his tongue or his single stick to
stand up for a friend or to defend the right; but, above all this, he
had been falsely accused and tried on the charge of an act of
incendiarism or of instigating others to commit it, and likewise of
afterwards heading a number of persons who had committed various lawless
acts.  After a long imprisonment John Hobby had proved his innocence,
and not being of either a humble or forgiving temper, he was not
backward in speaking on all occasions of the way in which he had been
treated.  The summer passed away, the autumn came round, and matters
grew worse.  Lilly Vernon, however, rode out as usual, fearless of evil.
Sometimes her uncle accompanied her, at others Ralph condescended to do
so; but more usually of late she was followed by a groom, one of the
most respectable and honest of the household.  She had one day gone a
considerable distance from home, when as she was walking her horse up a
hill, with a copse wood on either side, she saw among the trees a small
fire with a tent and carts near it, and the other usual features of a
gipsy encampment.  "Perhaps that is Arnold's camp," she said to herself,
and just then she caught sight of the gipsy himself coming along the
road.  As soon as he perceived who it was he hurried towards her.

"I was coming this very day to watch for you near the Hall, young lady,"
he said, putting his hand on her horse's neck.  "You wished, I know, to
do me a service, and you have it now in your power to help me.  My
eldest boy has been taken up by the constables on a charge of setting
fire to Farmer Low's haystacks.  He is innocent of the crime, for crime
I hold it; but he is a gipsy, he was taken near the spot, and it will go
hard with him.  Your uncle has an affection for you, and will listen to
the truth from your lips.  If you put the matter before him, and tell
him whose son the lad is, may be he will exert himself in his favour.
Though he is a hard man, he is not one to let the innocent suffer."

Lilly willingly promised to do all that the gipsy asked.  Having paid a
visit to his wife and children, who warmly welcomed her, she hurried
homeward.  On her return she met considerable bodies of men proceeding
along the road, all armed with scythes, or hooks, or sticks.  On
enquiring of the groom what they were about his only reply was, "They
are up to some mischief, Miss, but it's as much as my life's worth to
ask them.  I did not like their looks as they passed, and cast their
eyes on the Clavering livery."

On reaching the Hall Lilly hastened to find her uncle, who was at home,
and without saying anything of what she had just seen, laid the young
gipsy's case before him and placed the evidence of his innocence in so
clear a light that he at once promised he would befriend him.  She had
promised the gipsy's wife to ride out the next day to tell her of the
success of her petition.

To assist in keeping down the disturbances which have been mentioned,
the yeomanry were called out.  The magistrates announced that the next
time a mob assembled for mischief they should be fired on, and ridden
down without mercy.  No one was louder than Ralph Clavering in asserting
that this was the only way to treat them.

"I cannot help thinking, cousin, that milder measures would answer
better," observed Lilly; "I would rather go unarmed among them, and show
them the folly and wickedness of their proceedings."

"You are very wise, Lilly, but you know nothing of the management of
men," answered Ralph, contemptuously.

A body of cavalry had been quartered near Clavering Hall for some time,
but information being brought that an outbreak was expected in a town in
the other end of the county they were immediately ordered off in that
direction.

A number of guests were assembled that day at the Hall at dinner.  The
cloth had just been removed, when the butler hurried in, and with a pale
face and a trembling voice, announced the startling fact that one of the
grooms had met a large body of armed men marching up through the park.
His report was so circumstantial that there was no doubt about the
matter.  Some of the ladies took the matter calmly enough, others gave
utterance to various expressions of terror, while the gentlemen were
unanimous in the opinion that the windows and doors should be instantly
barricaded, and that the Hall should be defended to the last if
attacked.  Not a moment was to be lost.  There was no time to take out
the sashes, but the shutters of all the lower rooms were closed and
barred, as also were the doors, and chests of drawers, and tables and
chairs were piled against them.

Ralph seemed highly pleased with the proceedings.  He had never been so
energetic, and no one was more active in carrying about the furniture
and placing it, so as to strengthen the fortifications.  There were a
number of fowling-pieces and pistols and other fire-arms in the house.
Those fit for use were at once loaded, and consigned to the different
guests and men servants; others which had long been laid aside were
hunted up, and while one part of the garrison set to work to clean them,
others commenced casting bullets, and a third party went about to forage
for lead for the purpose.  A leaden cistern and some leaden pipes
leading to it were quickly cut to pieces and the material carried below.

Lilly, though fully believing the report from what she had seen in the
afternoon, and considerably alarmed in consequence, devoted herself to
comforting her aunt, who was in a sad state of agitation, and kept
declaring that the house would be burned down, and that they would all
be murdered.  Some of the ladies, however, volunteered to assist in
casting bullets, and expressed their readiness to fight if the house
were attacked.

Mr Clavering appeared at this juncture to considerable advantage.  He
showed that he felt as an Englishman, and that, as Englishmen may well
glory in the privilege of doing, he looked upon his house as his castle.
He at once took the lead, and went about calmly from room to room,
superintending all the arrangements.

While affairs were in this state, it occurred to one of the gentlemen to
enquire how near the rioters had got to the house?  No one could say; in
fact, no one had seen them since Bill Snookes, the groom, had reported
their approach.  One old gentleman, who enjoyed a practical joke,
suggested that they had perhaps been taking a great deal of trouble, and
disarranging the house to no purpose, and that the rioters might not be
coming at all, which, of course made the rest very angry; at the same
time that it induced two or three others to volunteer to go out and
ascertain the position and force of the enemy.

Bill's report had been somewhat vague, and he might possibly have
exaggerated their numbers.  The night was very dark, and from the upper
windows no persons were visible in the park, and not a sound was heard--
even the dogs were silent, which they would not have been had people
been moving about.  Beyond the park, however, were seen in two or more
places a bright glare in the sky, which, there could be little doubt,
was caused by incendiary fires.

We at the present day can scarcely realise that such was possible.  The
inmates of the Hall watched anxiously; any moment the well-formed corn
and haystacks on the estate might burst into a blaze, and so might even
the extensive outhouses of the Hall itself.

Still the Hall was not attacked.  Two volunteers offered to go out and
ascertain the state of affairs.  A strong party accompanied them to one
of the side-doors to repel any attack of the enemy who might be in
ambush near and attempt to surprise them.  Ralph wanted to accompany the
scouts, but they politely declined having his company.

The night was now drawing on; several of the party reiterated their
belief that the rioters would not come near them.  At length the
probability of an attack being made on the Hall was set at rest by the
return of the two scouts, who stated that they had encountered a large
body of men marching towards it and loudly threatening its destruction.
They themselves were almost discovered, and had had no little difficulty
in making their escape.

Everybody within the mansion was now in greater bustle than before.
Again Mr Clavering looked at all the doors and fastenings, and
inspected all the points of possible approach, and men servants or maid
servants were stationed at all the windows which could be reached by
ladders, several of which it was recollected, when too late, were left
exposed to view in the outhouses.  Several of the gentlemen stood with
fire-arms in their hands at some of the windows of the upper rooms
commanding the approach to the house.  The night was calm, not a sound
was yet to be heard.  At length the low, dull tramp of a body of men
moving rapidly onward, broke the stillness.  It grew more and more
distinct; voices were heard mingling with it.  They became louder and
louder.  Shouts and cries broke forth which soon evolved themselves into
threats of vengeance against Clavering Hall and its proprietor.  At last
the open space before the house became filled with men.  The cries
became more prolonged.

"Now, lads, destruction to the Hall and death to its owner.  Hurrah!"
shouted some one from the crowd.  The shout was repeated by a hundred
voices.

It might well have made the defenders of the Hall tremble, for it was
known that the cavalry had been sent off to a distance, and that there
was no prospect of succour.

"We'll fight it out, and we must needs be ashamed of ourselves if we
cannot drive the scoundrels away," exclaimed Mr Clavering.

"Light your torches, lads--fire is the thing for us," shouted one of the
mob.  "We'll soon smoke out these monsters."

Soon after this, a small light was seen.  It seemed to spread from hand
to hand; and now some hundred torches waved to and fro in front of the
Hall.  The female occupants had now good reason for trembling with
alarm.  Still Mr Clavering was unwilling to give the order to fire.
Not that he had much compunction about killing them, but it would only
have exasperated the people, without driving them away.

"The doors are closed," cried the man who had before spoken.  "We must
burst them open.  Bring forward the battering rams."

No sooner was the command issued, than a number of men were seen
hurrying up with some trunks of small trees, slung on ropes, between
them.  This proceeding had not been foreseen; and it was evident that
the doors could not withstand the force about to be applied to them.

"If you proceed to violence, understand all of you below this, that we
will fire," shouted Mr Clavering.  "Many of you will lose your lives--
mark that.  I give you warning."

"And we give you warning, that we will burn you and your fine Hall, and
everybody in it.  Mark that, Ralph Clavering," was the answer.  "Huzza,
lads.--No more delay.--On with the work."

The men thus incited brought forward a battering ram, and made a furious
attack on the front door.  Stout as it was, it cracked throughout.
Another such blow would have burst it open, and allowed the angry
assailants a free entrance.

Still Mr Clavering and his companions were unwilling to fire, till it
appeared that they had no longer any other resource.

"Again I give you warning, men--we will take the lives of some of you if
you approach the door," he shouted out.

"Do your worst--we don't fear you, squire," was the answer; and again a
rush was made towards the door.

A shower of bullets rattled down among the assailants, and several shots
were fired from the crowd in return.  Loud shrieks and cries of
vengeance arose on all sides.  The hall door was burst open, and fierce
men, maddened by hunger, with all their worst passions aroused, were
rushing in, with torches in their hands, bent on destroying the mansion,
when they were met by a party of the defenders, who resolutely kept them
back.  Still it was too evident that numbers would prevail, when, at
that moment, a voice which rose high and clear above the din shouted
out--

"What, men, are you about?  Do you wish to destroy the property of one
of your best friends?  You fancy that Clavering Hall is to belong to the
lad known as young Ralph Clavering; but you are mistaken.  The rightful
heir is no other than he whom we all have called John Hobby.  Look at
him, any one of you; and who can doubt it?  When the right moment comes
it will be proved.  In the meantime let that high and mighty young
gentleman, Master Ralph Clavering, enjoy his dignity as best he can, and
look down on those whom he will soon find are his equals."

While the stranger was speaking, there was so perfect a silence among
the rioters that every word was heard by those within the house.  Ralph
Clavering heard them with feelings of astonishment and dismay.  So did
Lilly, and so did Mr and Mrs Clavering.  They did not believe the
extraordinary assertion; but still it created most painful feelings
within their bosoms.  The effect on the mob, however, was highly
satisfactory.  Although some insisted that they should continue the
attack, because the property, as it still belonged to Squire Clavering,
ought to be destroyed, but by far the larger majority agreed to abandon
it.  The majority carried the day, and the small minority had no
inclination to continue fighting alone.

"But before we go, lads, let us give three cheers for the rightful heir
of Clavering Hall.  Hip! hip! hip! hurra for honest John Hobby! and when
he comes into his property, may he not forget his poorer neighbours!"

Again and again they shouted this assertion, creating even more
astonishment and dismay in the minds of the owner of the Hall and his
friends than their attack had done.  The volley from the fowling-pieces
did not appear to have produced much effect, or, if any of the people
had been hit, they were carried off by their friends.

After the last cheer, the whole body suddenly moved off, the rear ranks
pushing hurriedly on, evidently not wishing to be the last, lest they
might be assailed by the inmates of the Hall.  Some of the gentlemen,
indeed, proposed sallying out, and punishing the rioters; but Mr
Clavering told them that he would not sanction such an act, as it would
be utterly useless, and might lead to their own destruction.  In a few
minutes not a person was to be seen in the park, while the sound of the
retreating footsteps of the mob gradually faded away.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

The assertion made by the stranger, which had so unexpectedly raised the
siege of the Hall, created the most painful doubts in the minds of Mr
and Mrs Clavering.  At the time of their child's birth Mr Clavering
had been away, and his conscience told him that it had been for the sake
of his own gratification and amusement.  The housekeeper and several
other servants in the Hall at the time had been dismissed for
misconduct, and, from circumstances which occurred, Mrs Clavering had
no proof or certainty whatever that her child had not been changed.
Seldom has a mother been placed in a more painful position.  Another
circumstance which gave the statement a greater air of truth was, that
the woman Hobby had been employed at the Hall at the time Mrs
Clavering's child was born, that she herself was said to have given
birth to an infant shortly afterwards, and that certainly a boy had been
brought up by her who was now known as John Hobby.  She was by some
means or other better off than her neighbours.  Young Hobby was always
well dressed and well cared for, and had been sent to the best village
school the neighbourhood afforded; so that, considered only a cottager's
child, he soon became the associate on equal terms of the sons of the
well-to-do farmers in the neighbourhood.  Mrs Hobby had not spoiled
him; and John Hobby the elder, who was a conscientious man, had, to the
best of his power, done his duty by him, and given him such religious
instruction as he was able.  He was also a firm, mild-tempered man, and
had never failed firmly and gently to punish him whenever he committed a
fault.

The morning after the events which have been described, Mr Clavering
met his guests at the breakfast-table with a calmer countenance than
could have been expected.

"You all heard the strange assertion made last night, and saw the effect
it produced," he observed.  "In its truth I am not inclined to believe,
though I shall, of course, make the most searching inquiry as to the
origin of the report.  I have sent for the youth, the supposed rival of
Ralph, and I am endeavouring to discover the person who last night made
the statement which probably saved the Hall from destruction.  I cannot
look upon him otherwise than as a friend."

"Then, uncle, I will tell you who he is," exclaimed Lilly, eagerly; "I
recognised his voice.  He is Arnold the gipsy.  I was certain of it the
moment he began speaking."

"Those gipsies pick up strange tales, which can seldom be relied on,"
observed one of the guests.

"I should think not," exclaimed Ralph Clavering, whose features had been
much agitated since he took his seat at the table, but who had
endeavoured to preserve a calm demeanour.  "You are not going to discard
me as your son, I hope, merely from the assertion of a vagabond gipsy?"

"No, indeed, Ralph, my dear boy; but you would surely wish the report to
be inquired into," said Mr Clavering, calmly.

Lilly had come round, and put her hand on his shoulder.

"Whatever is the case, dear Ralph, I will be your sister-cousin as long
as we live," she said, in her sweet, gentle voice.  "Endeavour to bear
this great trial well; you can if you strive properly."

Ralph bent his head down between his hands, and bursting into tears,
murmured--

"But it is very hard to bear."

It was the first time in his life that he had ever shown signs of a
softened heart, and it made Lilly inwardly rejoice, for she had expected
to see him fly out, and abuse Hobby as a vile impostor, and, as it were,
strike right and left at any one who ventured to question that he was
the lawful heir of Clavering Hall.  She observed, also, that during the
day, though occasionally moody, he was far less dictatorial and haughty
in his manner towards others than usual, while to her he was especially
gentle and polite.

Mr Clavering attended the magistrates' meeting, and not unmindful of
his promise to his niece, succeeded in getting the young gipsy, Arnold's
son, discharged, though the evidence against him would, perhaps, have
been sufficient in those days, to convict him, had he not had a friend
to speak in his favour.

In the evening young John Hobby, with Mrs Hobby, arrived at the Hall.
She was given in charge of the housekeeper, with strict orders to
prevent her from communicating with any one.  John was habited in his
Sunday suit, and with his good looks and modest and unassuming yet
unembarrassed manners, he won many sympathisers.  He was extremely
astonished to find himself at the Hall, for he had not heard the report
promulgated by Arnold, nor had he nor Mrs Hobby been told why they had
been sent for.

When the young gipsy had been discharged, Mr Clavering told him that he
wished to see his father; but it was not till another day had nearly
passed that Arnold made his appearance.  There could be little doubt
that he was well aware of the object for which he had been requested to
come to the Hall, though Mrs Hobby and John had been kept out of his
way.

A lawyer had come down from London, and two or three other friends
remained at the Hall to assist Mr Clavering in investigating the case.
Arnold was first brought up.  His story was very simple.  He had no
personal interest whatever in young Hobby.  He had obtained the
information through his wife, who, in the course of her calling of
fortune-telling, had got it from Mrs Hobby herself.  He considered the
secret of value, but had not intended to make use of it, though he was
induced to do so for the purpose of saving the Hall from destruction.

Mrs Hobby's evidence was next taken.  She stated that neither of the
children about whom this question had arisen was her own; that Mrs
Duffy, the housekeeper at the Hall, had brought her an infant, stating
that it was the child of Mrs Clavering; that it would never be reared
if brought up by its mother, and that to save its life she had taken it
away, and substituted another in its stead.  She owned that she had her
doubts as to the propriety of the proceeding, but that her scruples had
been quieted by a sum of money, and that she was told she would receive
a similar sum every year as long as she did not betray the secret.  The
gipsy wife had, however, wormed it out of her, and this year the
looked-for sum had not arrived at the usual time.

Although there were some discrepancies, and even improbabilities, in the
details of the statement, it still appeared possible that the story
might in the main be true; and, at all events, it wore an air of
sufficient probability to make the positions of the two youths extremely
painful.  Ralph came forward in a way which was little expected, but
which gave Lilly great satisfaction.  He earnestly begged that John
Hobby might remain at the Hall, and be treated in all respects as he had
been, and that he might accompany him to his tutor, and obtain the
education which would fit him for the position in life he might possibly
be destined to gain.  No conclusion could possibly be arrived at,
however, it appeared, unless Mrs Duffy and her accomplices could be
found; and what had become of her no one knew.  Another question also
arose: if Ralph was not the heir of Clavering Hall, who was he?  Again,
should he be proved to be the son of Mr and Mrs Clavering, who was
John Hobby?  For the present, however, Mr Clavering's legal adviser
assured him that the law would in no way interfere with the right of his
supposed son Ralph as heir of Clavering Hall.

John Hobby himself made no claim, while the whole story rested on the
assertions of a gipsy and an ignorant woman, who had no proofs to bring
forward in its support.  The persons who suffered most were Mr and Mrs
Clavering.  They had looked upon Ralph as their son, and had loved him
as such, too blindly indeed; and now they felt that they might possibly
have been bestowing this love on a stranger, and neglecting their own
offspring.  As they saw young Hobby, indeed, they could not help
acknowledging that he was worthy of the love of any parents, though they
could discover no likeness in him to themselves, or any of their near
relatives, while Ralph had always been considered the very image of Mr
Clavering.  Thus they continued in the most painful state of uncertainty
as to which was their son, without any possibility of solving the
mystery.



CHAPTER EIGHT.

Ralph Clavering was becoming a changed character.  His spirit had been
humbled, if not broken.  He had persuaded himself that any moment he
might have to descend from his proud position as heir of Clavering Hall,
and become a nameless beggar, ignorant even of who were his parents.
John Hobby had truly heaped coals of fire on his head that had
completely softened and won his heart.  In their studies, John Hobby's
quickness and perseverance stimulated him to make greater exertions than
he had ever before used.  Hobby remained on as a guest at the Hall and
was soon looked upon as one of the family.  The only thing certain with
regard to him was that he was not the son of Dame Hobby and her husband
John; and Lilly, at all events, hoped that he had the right to bear some
more euphonious name.  He also daily improved in manners and in the tone
of his voice and accent, so that after the lapse of a few months, a
stranger visiting the Hall would not have supposed that his early days
had been spent in one of the humblest cottages on the estate.  He did
not, however, lose his modest demeanour and simple manners.  They
remained, but became those of a cultivated and polished person.  At
length the time arrived when it had been arranged that Ralph should go
to the University.  He wished that his friend should accompany him.
Here in an open field Hobby's talents had full space for development.
Ralph was inclined to feel jealous at finding himself distanced by his
friend, but he stifled the unworthy feeling, and rejoiced at his
success.  It was considerable, for Hobby carried off all the prizes for
which he was able to contend.

Thus three years passed rapidly away, and at the end of that time, while
Ralph Clavering passed a very creditable degree, John Hobby took high
honours.  He now resolved, by the advice of his tutors and other
friends, to enter at the Bar, where he might carve out his own fortune.
He invariably spent his vacations with Ralph.  Sometimes they made tours
together on the Continent or elsewhere, but the winters were generally
spent at Clavering Hall.  Ralph was now as much loved and respected by
the household and tenants as he had before been disliked, and all agreed
that it would be a grievous pity if it should be proved that he was not
the rightful heir, though it was acknowledged that a finer or better
young gentleman than Mr John Hobby was not to be found.

The two young men were at the Hall for the early part of the Christmas
vacation, just as they had left College.  After it they proposed making
a tour in the East.  Snow covered the ground and a biting north-east
wind blew out side, while all within was cheerful and bright.  A large
party staying in the house were assembled in the dining-room; the cloth
had just been removed and the young collegians were receiving the
congratulations of their friends at their success at the University,
when the butler entering whispered to Mr Clavering that a man desired
to see him immediately on important business.  Desiring that the man
might be shown into his study he apologised to his friends and hurriedly
left the room.

On entering the study a tall thin man stepped forward--"It's a long time
since you have seen me, Squire Clavering, but maybe you may remember the
gipsy Arnold," said the stranger.  "You and yours acted kindly towards
me and mine, and I have ever since been wishing to do you a service in
return.  I knew that the occasion would some day come.  It has arrived.
You have long been anxious to find the woman Duffy.  She is in the
neighbourhood, and I suspect on her death-bed.  If you hasten to her you
may yet be in time to take her depositions, as she alone is able to
settle who is your rightful son and heir."

Fortunately a brother magistrate and Mr Clavering's lawyer were staying
in the house.  Ordering a carriage to be got ready, he sent for them,
and, without delay, accompanied by Arnold, they set off to the cottage
where Mrs Duffy was to be found.

The old woman was in bed and evidently very ill.  At first, when told
why they had come, she was greatly alarmed and refused to say anything,
but being soothed and assured that no injury would be done her, she
expressed her readiness to say all she knew.  Mr Clavering, who had
hitherto been so calm, now that the painful mystery was about to be
cleared up, could scarcely restrain his feelings.  As she spoke the
lawyer, unobserved by her, wrote down her words.  The description of a
life of crime is not edifying.  Avarice, the eager desire for money, had
been the incentive which urged her on from crime to crime.  By a bribe
she had been induced by the wicked brother of a gentleman of property in
the north of England to assist in carrying off his son and heir, and not
knowing what to do with the infant, she had committed it to the charge
of Dame Hobby, leading her by further falsehood to suppose that it was
the heir, lately born, of Clavering Hall.  Part of the money she had
received from the uncle she had remitted regularly to the Dame for the
boy's support.  She asserted most positively that Ralph Clavering was
truly the child, born to Mr and Mrs Clavering, and that no change had
been effected to her knowledge and belief.

Mr Clavering uttered an ejaculation of thankfulness when he heard this,
and his brother magistrate warmly congratulated him.  The lawyer rubbed
his hands, exclaiming--"This other affair will, however, give the
gentlemen of the long robe a nice supply of occupation for the spring
months.  I know the gentleman, and believe every word; he'll fight it
out to the last.  Really if all people were honest, it would be hard
work for barristers to find support."

The trial predicted by the lawyer took place; and, thanks to Mr
Clavering's purse, it was brought to a successful issue for the
interests of Ralph's friend.

As Sir Harry Olcotte, the owner of many broad acres, the latter never
forgot that he had once been simple John Hobby, while Ralph Clavering
had reason to bless the day which aroused him from his state of
self-conceit and self-indulgence, and which made him feel the necessity
of self-exertion and self-command.

It may be satisfactory to some readers to know that Lilly Vernon, not
many years after the events recorded, became Lady Olcotte; that Arnold
the gipsy and all his family settled down near them, and became
respectable members of society; and that old John Hobby and his dame
were placed on one of the best farms of the estate, and that the
Steward, in the most unaccountable way, always forgot to call for their
rent.





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