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Title: A Bird of Passage and Other Stories
Author: Harraden, Beatrice, 1864-1936
Language: English
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                          BY BEATRICE HARRADEN

                        "IN VARYING MOODS," ETC.

                       DONOHUE, HENNEBERRY & CO.
                          407-425 DEARBORN ST.





                               CHAPTER I.


                              CHAPTER II.


                              CHAPTER III.


                              CHAPTER IV.


                               CHAPTER V.


                              CHAPTER VI.


                              CHAPTER VII.


                             CHAPTER VIII.


                              CHAPTER IX.


                               CHAPTER X.


                              CHAPTER XI.



                          *A BIRD OF PASSAGE.*

                        *BY BEATRICE HARRADEN.*

It was about four in the afternoon when a young girl came into the salon
of the little hotel at C. in Switzerland, and drew her chair up to the

"You are soaked through," said an elderly lady, who was herself trying
to get roasted. "You ought to lose no time in changing your clothes."

"I have not anything to change," said the young girl, laughing.  "Oh, I
shall soon be dry."

"Have you lost all your luggage?" asked the lady sympathetically.

"No," said the young girl, "I had none to lose."  And she smiled a
little mischievously, as though she knew by instinct that her
companion’s sympathy would at once degenerate into suspicion!

"I don’t mean to say that I have not a knapsack," she added
considerately.  "I have walked a long distance--in fact from _Z_."

"And where did you leave your companions?" asked the lady, with a touch
of forgiveness in her voice.

"I am without companions, just as I am without luggage," laughed the

And then she opened the piano, and struck a few notes.  There was
something caressing in the way in which she touched the keys; whoever
she was, she knew how to make sweet music; sad music too, full of that
undefinable longing, like the holding out of one’s arms to one’s friends
in the hopeless distance.

The lady bending over the fire looked up at the little girl, and forgot
that she had brought neither friends nor luggage with her. She hesitated
for one moment, and then she took the childish face between her hands
and kissed it.

"Thank you, dear, for your music," she said gently.

"The piano is terribly out of tune," said the little girl suddenly, and
she ran out of the room and came back carrying her knapsack.

"What are you going to do?" asked her companion.

"I am going to tune the piano," the little girl said; and she took a
tuning-hammer out of her knapsack, and began her work in real earnest.
She evidently knew what she was about, and pegged away at the notes as
though her whole life depended on the result.

The lady by the fire was lost in amazement. Who could she be?  Without
luggage and without friends, and with a tuning hammer!

Meanwhile one of the gentlemen had strolled into the salon; but hearing
the sound of tuning, and being in secret possession of nerves, he fled,
saying, "The tuner, by Jove!"

A few minutes afterwards, Miss Blake, whose nerves were no secret
possession, hastened into the salon, and in her usual imperious fashion
demanded silence.

"I have just done," said the little girl. "The piano was so terribly out
of tune, I could not resist the temptation."

Miss Blake, who never listened to what any one said, took it for granted
that the little girl was the tuner for whom M. le Proprietaire had
promised to send; and having bestowed upon her a condescending nod,
passed out into the garden, where she told some of the visitors that the
piano had been tuned at last, and that the tuner was a young woman of
rather eccentric appearance.

"Really it is quite abominable how women thrust themselves into every
profession," she remarked in her masculine voice.  "It is so unfeminine,
so unseemly."

There was nothing of the feminine about Miss Blake: her horse-cloth
dress, her waistcoat and high collar, and her billy-cock hat were of the
masculine genus; even her nerves could not be called feminine, since we
learn from two or three doctors (taken off their guard) that nerves are
neither feminine nor masculine, but common.

"I should like to see this tuner," said one of the tennis players,
leaning against a tree.

"Here she comes," said Miss Blake, as the little girl was seen
sauntering, into the garden.

The men put up their eye-glasses, and saw a little lady with a childish
face and soft brown hair, of strictly feminine appearance and bearing.
The goat came toward her and began nibbling at her frock.  She seemed to
understand the manner of goats, and played with him to his heart’s
content.  One of the tennis players, Oswald Everard by name, strolled
down to the bank where she was having her frolic.

"Good afternoon," he said, raising his cap. "I hope the goat is not
worrying you.  Poor little fellow!  This is his last day of play. He is
to be killed to-morrow for table d’hôte."

"What a shame!" she said.  "Fancy to be killed, and then grumbled at!"

"That is precisely what we do here," he said, laughing.  "We grumble at
everything we eat.  And I own to being one of the grumpiest; though the
lady in the horse-cloth dress yonder follows close upon my heels."

"She was the lady who was annoyed at me because I tuned the piano," the
little girl said. "Still it had to be done.  It was plainly my duty.  I
seemed to have come for that purpose."

"It has been confoundedly annoying having it out of tune," he said.
"I’ve had to give up singing altogether.  But what a strange profession
you have chosen!  Very unusual, isn’t it?"

"Why, surely not," she answered, amused. "It seems to me that every
other woman has taken to it.  The wonder to me is that any one ever
scores a success.  Nowadays, however, no one could amass a huge fortune
out of it."

"No one, indeed!" replied Oswald Everard, laughing.  "What on earth made
you take to it?"

"It took to me," she said simply.  "It wrapt me round with enthusiasm.
I could think of nothing else.  I vowed that I would rise to the top of
my profession.  I worked day and night.  But it means incessant toil for
years if one wants to make any headway."

"Good gracious!  I thought it was merely a matter of a few months," he
said, smiling at the little girl.

"A few months!" she repeated scornfully. "You are speaking the language
of an amateur.  No; one has to work faithfully year after year, to grasp
the possibilities and pass on to greater possibilities.  You imagine
what it must feel like to touch the notes, and know that you are keeping
the listeners spellbound; that you are taking them into a fairyland of
sound, where petty personality is lost in vague longing and regret."

"I confess that I had not thought of it in that way," he said humbly.
"I have only regarded it as a necessary everyday evil; and to be quite
honest with you, I fail to see now how it can inspire enthusiasm.  I
wish I could see," he added, looking up at the engaging little figure
before him.

"Never mind," she said, laughing at his distress; "I forgive you.  And
after all, you are not the only person who looks upon it as a necessary
evil.  My poor guardian abominated it.  He made many sacrifices to come
and listen to me.  He knew I liked to see his kind old face, and that
the presence of a real friend inspired me with confidence."

"I should not have thought it was nervous work," he said.

"Try it and see," she answered.  "But surely you spoke of singing.  Are
you not nervous when you sing?"

"Sometimes," he replied, rather stiffly. "But that is slightly
different."  (He was very proud of his singing, and made a great fuss
about it.)  "Your profession, as I remarked before, is an unavoidable
nuisance. When I think what I have suffered from the gentlemen of your
profession, I only wonder that I have any brains left.  But I am

"No, no," she said.  "Let me hear about your sufferings."

"Whenever I have specially wanted to be quiet," he said; and then he
glanced at her childish little face, and he hesitated.  "It seems so
rude of me," he added.  He was the soul of courtesy, although he was an
amateur tenor singer.

"Please tell me," the little girl said, in her winning way.

"Well," he said, gathering himself together, "it is the one subject on
which I can be eloquent.  Ever since I can remember I have been worried
and tortured by those rascals. I have tried in every way to escape from
them, but there is no hope for me.  Yes; I believe that all the tuners
in the universe are in league against me, and have marked me out for
their special prey."

"_All the what?_" asked the little girl, with a jerk in her voice.

"All the tuners, of course," he replied, rather snappishly.  "I know
that we cannot do without them; but, good heavens! they have no tact, no
consideration, no mercy.  Whenever I’ve wanted to write or read quietly
that fatal knock has come at the door, and I’ve known by instinct that
all chance of peace was over. Whenever I’ve been giving a luncheon
party, the tuner has arrived, with his abominable black bag, and his
abominable card, which has to be signed at once.  On one occasion I was
just proposing to a girl in her father’s library, when the tuner struck
up in the drawing-room. I left off suddenly, and fled from the house.
But there is no escape from these fiends; I believe they are swarming
about in the air like so many bacteria.  And how, in the name of
goodness, you should deliberately choose to be one of them, and should
be so enthusiastic over your work, puzzles me beyond all words.  Don’t
say that you carry a black bag, and present cards that have to be filled
up at the most inconvenient time; don’t----"

He stopped suddenly, for the little girl was convulsed with laughter.
She laughed until the tears rolled down her cheeks; and then she dried
her eyes and laughed again.

"Excuse me," she said, "I can’t help myself; it’s so funny."

"It may be funny to you," he said, laughing in spite of himself; "but it
is not funny to me."

"Of course it isn’t," she replied, making a desperate effort to be
serious.  "Well, tell me something more about these tuners."

"Not another word," he said gallantly.  "I am ashamed of myself as it
is.  Come to the end of the garden, and let me show you the view down
into the valley."

She had conquered her fit of merriment, but her face wore a settled look
of mischief, and she was evidently the possessor of some secret joke.
She seemed in capital health and spirits, and had so much to say that
was bright and interesting, that Oswald Everard found himself becoming
reconciled to the whole race of tuners.  He was amazed to learn that she
had walked all the way from _Z_, and quite alone too.

"Oh, I don’t think anything of that," she said; "I had a splendid time,
and I caught four rare butterflies.  I would not have missed those for
anything.  As for the going about by myself, that is a second nature.
Besides, I do not belong to any one.  That has its advantages, and I
suppose its disadvantages; but at present I have only discovered the
advantages.  The disadvantages will discover themselves!"

"I believe you are what the novels call an advanced young woman," he
said.  "Perhaps you give lectures on Woman’s Suffrage or something of
that sort."

"I have very often mounted the platform," she answered.  "In fact, I am
never so happy as when addressing an immense audience. A most unfeminine
thing to do, isn’t it?  What would the lady yonder in the horse-cloth
dress and billy-cock hat say?  Don’t you think you ought to go and help
her drive away the goat?  She looks so frightened. She interests me
deeply.  I wonder whether she has written an essay on the Feminine in
Woman.  I should like to read it; it would do me so much good."

"You are at least a true woman," he said, laughing, "for I see you can
be spiteful.  The tuning has not driven that away."

"Ah, I had forgotten about the tuning," she answered brightly; "but now
you remind me, I have been seized with a great idea."

"Won’t you tell it to me?" he asked.

"No," she answered.  "I keep my great ideas for myself, and work them
out in secret. And this one is particularly amusing.  What fun I shall

"But why keep the fun to yourself?" he said.  "We all want to be amused
here; we all want to be stirred up; a little fun would be a charity."

"Very well, since you wish it, but you must give me time to work out my
great idea.  I do not hurry about things, not even about my professional
duties.  For I have a strong feeling that it is vulgar to be always
amassing riches!  As I have neither a husband nor a brother to support,
I have chosen less wealth, and more leisure to enjoy all the loveliness
of life!  So you see I take my time about everything.  And to-morrow I
shall catch butterflies at my leisure, and lie among the dear old pines,
and work at my great idea."

"I shall catch butterflies," said her companion.  "And I too shall lie
among the dear old pines."

"Just as you please," she said; and at that moment the table d’hôte bell

The little girl hastened to the bureau and spoke rapidly in German to
the cashier.

"Ach, Fräulein!" he said.  "You are not really serious?"

"Yes, I am," she said.  "I don’t want them to know my name.  It will
only worry me. Say I am the young lady who tuned the piano."

She had scarcely given these directions and mounted to her room, when
Oswald Everard, who was much interested in his mysterious companion,
came to the bureau and asked for the name of the little lady. "Es ist
das Fräulein welches das Piano gestimmt hat," answered the man,
returning with unusual quickness to his account-book.

No one spoke to the little girl at table d’hôte; but for all that she
enjoyed her dinner, and gave her serious attention to all the courses.
Being thus solidly occupied, she had not much leisure to bestow on the
conversation of the other guests.  Nor was it specially original: it
treated of the shortcomings of the chef, the tastelessness of the soup,
the toughness of the beef, and all the many failings which go to
complete a mountain-hotel dinner.  But suddenly, so it seemed to the
little girl, this time-honored talk passed into another phase; she heard
the word music mentioned, and she became at once interested to learn
what these people had to say on a subject which was dearer to her than
any other.

"For my own part," said a stern-looking old man, "I have no words to
describe what a gracious comfort music has been to me all my life.  It
is the noblest language which man may understand and speak.  And I
sometimes think that those who know it, or know something of it, are
able at rare moments to find an answer to life’s perplexing problems."

The little girl looked up from her plate. Robert Browning’s words rose
to her lips, but she did not give them utterance:

    "God has a few of us whom he whispers in the ear;
    The rest may reason, and welcome; ’tis we musicians know."

"I have lived through a long life," said another elderly man, "and have
therefore had my share of trouble, but the grief of being obliged to
give up music was the grief which held me longest, or which perhaps has
never left me.  I still crave for the gracious pleasure of touching once
more the strings of a violoncello, and hearing the dear tender voice
singing and throbbing and answering even to such poor skill as mine.  I
still yearn to take my part in concerted music, and be one of those
privileged to play Beethoven’s string quartettes.  But that will have to
be in another incarnation, I think."

He glanced at his shrunken arm, and then, as though ashamed of this
allusion to his own personal infirmity, he added hastily:

"But when the first pang of such a pain is over, there remains the
comfort of being a listener.  At first one does not think it a comfort;
but as time goes on, there is no resisting its magic influence.  And
Lowell said rightly that ’one of God’s great charities is music.’"

"I did not know you were musical, Mr. Keith," said an English lady.
"You have never before spoken of music."

"Perhaps not, madam," he answered. "One does not often speak of what one
cares for most of all.  But when I am in London I rarely miss hearing
our best players."

At this point others joined in, and the various merits of eminent
pianists were warmly discussed.

"What a wonderful name that little English lady has made for herself!"
said the Major, who was considered an authority on all subjects.  "I
would go anywhere to hear Miss Thyra Flowerdew.  We all ought to be very
proud of her.  She has taken even the German musical world by storm, and
they say her recitals at Paris have been brilliantly successful.  I
myself have heard her at New York, Leipsic, London, Berlin, and even

The little girl stirred uneasily in her chair.

"I don’t think Miss Flowerdew has ever been to Chicago," she said.

There was a dead silence.  The admirer of Miss Thyra Flowerdew looked
much annoyed, and twiddled his watch chain.  He had meant to say
Philadelphia, but he did not think it necessary to own to his mistake.

"What impertinence!" said one of the ladies to Miss Blake.  "What can
she know about it?  Is she not the young person who tuned the piano?"

"Perhaps she tunes Miss Thyra Flowerdew’s piano!" suggested Miss Blake
in a loud whisper.

"You are right, madam," said the little girl quietly.  "I have often
tuned Miss Flowerdew’s piano."

There was another embarrassing silence, and then a lovely old lady, whom
every one reverenced, came to the rescue.

"I think her playing is simply superb," she said.  "Nothing that I ever
hear satisfies me so entirely.  She has all the tenderness of an angel’s

"Listening to her," said the Major, who had now recovered from his
annoyance at being interrupted, "one becomes unconscious of her
presence, for she _is the music itself_. And that is rare.  It is but
seldom nowadays that we are allowed to forget the personality of the
player.  And yet her personality is an unusual one; having once seen
her, it would not be easy to forget her.  I should recognize her

As he spoke he glanced at the little tuner, and could not help admiring
her dignified composure under circumstances which might have been
distressing to any one; and when she rose with the others, he followed
her, and said stiffly:

"I regret that I was the indirect cause of putting you in an awkward

"It is really of no consequence," she said brightly.  "If you think I
was impertinent, I ask your forgiveness.  I did not mean to be
officious.  The words were spoken before I was aware of them."

She passed into the salon, where she found a quiet corner for herself,
and read some of the newspapers.  No one took the slightest notice of
her; not a word was spoken to her; but when she relieved the company of
her presence her impertinence was commented on.

"I am sorry that she heard what I said," remarked Miss Blake.  "But she
did not seem to mind.  These young women who go out into the world lose
the edge of their sensitiveness and femininity.  I have always observed

"How much they are spared then!" answered some one.

Meanwhile the little girl slept soundly. She had merry dreams, and
finally woke up laughing.  She hurried over her breakfast, and then
stood ready to go for a butterfly hunt.  She looked thoroughly happy,
and evidently had found, and was holding tightly the key to life’s

Oswald Everard was waiting on the balcony, and he reminded her that he
intended to go with her.

"Come along, then," she answered; "we must not lose a moment."

They caught butterflies, they picked flowers, they ran; they lingered by
the wayside, they sang; they climbed, and he marveled at her easy speed.
Nothing seemed to tire her, and everything seemed to delight her: the
flowers, the birds, the clouds, the grasses, and the fragrance of the

"Is it not good to live?" she cried, "Is it not splendid to take in the
scented air? Draw in as many long breaths as you can. Isn’t it good?
Don’t you feel now as though you were ready to move mountains?  I do.
What a dear old nurse Nature is!  How she pets us, and gives us the best
of her treasures!"

Her happiness invaded Oswald Everard’s soul, and he felt like a
schoolboy once more, rejoicing in a fine day and his liberty; with
nothing to spoil the freshness of the air, and nothing to threaten the
freedom of the moment.

"Is it not good to live?" he cried.  "Yes, indeed it is, if we know how
to enjoy."

They had come upon some haymakers, and the little girl hastened up to
help them. There she was in the midst of them, laughing and talking to
the women, and helping them to pile up the hay on the shoulders of a
broad-backed man, who then conveyed his burden to a pear-shaped stack.
Oswald Everard watched his companion for a moment, and then, quite
forgetting his dignity as an amateur tenor singer, he too, lent his aid,
and did not leave off until his companion sank exhausted on the ground.

"Oh," she laughed, "what delightful work for a very short time!  Come
along; let us go into that brown chalet yonder and ask for some milk.  I
am simply parched with thirst. Thank you, but I prefer to carry my own

"What an independent little lady you are!" he said.

"It is quite necessary in our profession, I can assure you," she said,
with a tone of mischief in her voice.  "That reminds me that my
profession is evidently not looked upon with any favor by the visitors
at the hotel. I am heartbroken to think that I have not won the esteem
of that lady in the billy-cock hat.  What will she say to you for coming
with me?  And what will she say of me for allowing you to come?  I
wonder whether she will say, ’How unfeminine!’  I wish I could hear

"I don’t suppose you care," he said.  "You seem to be a wild little

"I don’t care what a person of that description says," replied his

"What on earth made you contradict the Major at dinner last night?" he
asked.  "I was not at the table, but some one told me of the incident;
and I felt very sorry about it. What could you know of Miss Thyra

"Well, considering that she is in my profession, of course I know
something about her," said the little girl.

"Confound it all!" he said, rather rudely. "Surely there is some
difference between the bellows-blower and the organist."

"Absolutely none," she answered--"merely a variation of the original

As she spoke she knocked at the door of the chalet, and asked the old
dame to give them some milk.  They sat in the _Stube_, and the little
girl looked about, and admired the spinning-wheel, and the quaint
chairs, and the queer old jugs, and the pictures on the walls.

"Ah, but you shall see the other room," the old peasant woman said, and
she led them into a small apartment, which was evidently intended for a
study.  It bore evidences of unusual taste and care, and one could see
that some loving hand had been trying to make it a real sanctum of
refinement.  There was even a small piano.  A carved book-rack was
fastened to the wall.

The old dame did not speak at first; she gave her guests time to recover
from the astonishment which she felt they must be experiencing; then she
pointed proudly to the piano.

"I bought that for my daughters," she said, with a strange mixture of
sadness and triumph.  "I wanted to keep them at home with me, and I
saved and saved and got enough money to buy the piano.  They had always
wanted to have one, and I thought they would then stay with me.  They
liked music and books, and I knew they would be glad to have a room of
their own where they might read and play and study; and so I gave them
this corner."

"Well, mother," asked the little girl, "and where are they this

"Ah!" she answered sadly, "they did not care to stay.  But it was
natural enough; and I was foolish to grieve.  Besides, they come to see

"And then they play to you?" asked the little girl gently.

"They say the piano is out of tune," the old dame said "I don’t know.
Perhaps you can tell."

The little girl sat down to the piano, and struck a few chords.

"Yes," she said.  "It is badly out of tune. Give me the tuning-hammer.
I am sorry," she added, smiling at Oswald Everard, "but I cannot neglect
my duty.  Don’t wait for me."

"I will wait for you," he said sullenly; and he went into the balcony
and smoked his pipe, and tried to possess his soul in patience.

When she had faithfully done her work, she played a few simple melodies,
such as she knew the old woman would love and understand; and she turned
away when she saw that the listener’s eyes were moist.

"Play once again," the old woman whispered. "I am dreaming of beautiful

So the little tuner touched the keys again with all the tenderness of an

"Tell your daughters," she said, as she rose to say good-bye, "that the
piano is now in good tune.  Then they will play to you the next time
they come."

"I shall always remember you, mademoiselle," the old woman said; and,
almost unconsciously, she too took the childish face and kissed it.

Oswald Everard was waiting in the hayfield for his companion; and when
she apologized to him for this little professional intermezzo, as she
called it, he recovered from his sulkiness and readjusted his nerves,
which the noise of the tuning had somewhat disturbed.

"It was very good of you to tune the old dame’s piano," he said, looking
at her with renewed interest.

"Some one had to do it, of course," she answered brightly, "and I am
glad the chance fell to me.  What a comfort it is to think that the next
time those daughters come to see her, they will play to her, and make
her very happy!  Poor old dear!"

"You puzzle me greatly," he said.  "I cannot for the life of me think
what made you choose your calling.  You must have many gifts; any one
who talks with you must see that at once.  And you play quite nicely

"I am sorry that my profession sticks in your throat," she answered.
"Do be thankful that I am nothing worse than a tuner.  For I might be
something worse--a snob, for instance."

And so speaking, she dashed after a butterfly, and left him to recover
from her words. He was conscious of having deserved a reproof; and when
at last he overtook her, he said as much, and asked for her kind

"I forgive you," she said, laughing.  "You and I are not looking at
things from the same point of view; but we have had a splendid morning
together, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.  And to-morrow I go on
my way."

"And to-morrow you go!" he repeated.  "Can it not be the day after

"I am a bird of passage," she said, shaking her head.  "You must not
seek to detain me. I have taken my rest, and off I go to other climes."

They had arrived at the hotel, and Oswald Everard saw no more of his
companion until the evening, when she came down rather late for table
d’hôte.  She hurried over her dinner and went into the salon.  She
closed the door and sat down to the piano, and lingered there without
touching the keys; once or twice she raised her hands, and then she let
them rest on the notes, and half-unconsciously they began to move and
make sweet music, and then they drifted into Schumann’s _Abendlied_, and
then the little girl played some of his _Kinderscenen_, and some of his
_Fantasie Stucke_, and some of his songs.

Her touch and feeling were exquisite; and her phrasing betrayed the true
musician.  The strains of music reached the dining-room, and one by one
the guests came creeping in, moved by the music, and anxious to see the

The little girl did not look up; she was in a Schumann mood that
evening, and only the players of Schumann know what enthralling
possession he takes of their very spirit.  All the passion and pathos
and wildness and longing had found an inspired interpreter; and those
who listened to her were held by the magic which was her own secret, and
which had won for her such honor as comes only to the few.  She
understood Schumann’s music, and was at her best with him.

Had she, perhaps, chosen to play his music this evening because she
wished to be at her best?  Or was she merely being impelled by an
overwhelming force within her?  Perhaps it was something of both.

Was she wishing to humiliate these people who had received her so
coldly?  This little girl was only human: perhaps there was something of
that feeling too.  Who can tell? But she played as she had never played
in London, or Paris, or Berlin, or New York, or Philadelphia.

At last she arrived at the Carneval, and those who heard her declared
afterward that they had never listened to a more magnificent rendering;
the tenderness was so restrained, the vigor was so refined.  When the
last notes of that spirited _Marche des Davidsbundler contre les
Philistins_ had died away, she glanced at Oswald Everard, who was
standing near her, almost dazed.

"And now my favorite piece of all," she said; and she at once began the
Second Novellette, the finest of the eight, but seldom played in public.

What can one say of the wild rush of the leading theme, and the pathetic
longing of the Intermezzo?

    "... The murmuring dying notes,
    That fall as soft as snow on the sea;"


    "The passionate strain that deeply going,
    Refines the bosom it trembles through."

What can one say of those vague aspirations and finest thoughts which
possess the very dullest among us when such music as that which the
little girl had chosen catches us and keeps us, if only for a passing
moment, but that moment of the rarest worth and loveliness in our
unlovely lives?

What can one say of the highest music, except that, like death, it is
the great leveler: it gathers us all to its tender keeping--and we rest.

The little girl ceased playing.  There was not a sound to be heard; the
magic was still holding her listeners.  When at last they had freed
themselves with a sigh, they pressed forward to greet her.

"There is only one person who can play like that," cried the Major, with
sudden inspiration; "she is Miss Thyra Flowerdew."

The little girl smiled.

"That is my name," she said simply; and she slipped out of the room.

The next morning, at an early hour, the Bird of Passage took her flight
onward, but she was not destined to go off unobserved. Oswald Everard
saw the little figure swinging along the road, and he overtook her.

"You little wild bird!" he said.  "And so this was your great idea: to
have your fun out of us all, and then play to us and make us feel, I
don’t know how--and then to go."

"You said the company wanted stirring up," she answered; "and I rather
fancy I have stirred them up."

"And what do you suppose you have done for me?" he asked.

"I hope I have proved to you that the bellows-blower and the organist
are sometimes identical," she answered.

But he shook his head.

"Little wild bird," he said, "you have given me a great idea, and I will
tell you what it is: _to tame you_.  So good-bye for the present."

"Good-bye," she said.  "But wild birds are not so easily tamed."

Then she waved her hand over her head, and went on her way singing.

                                THE END.

           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

                         *AT THE GREEN DRAGON.*

                        *BY BEATRICE HARRADEN.*

                              *CHAPTER I.*

                          *HIERONYMUS COMES.*

It was a pouring September evening when a stranger knocked at the door
of the Crown Inn.  Old Mrs. Howells saw that he carried a portmanteau in
his hand.

"If it’s a bedroom you want," she said, "I can’t be bothered with you.
What with brewing the beer and cleaning the brass, I’ve more than I can
manage.  I’m that tired!"

"And so am I," said the stranger pathetically.

"Go over the way to the Green Dragon," suggested Mrs. Howells.  "Mrs.
Benbow may be able to put you up.  But what with the brewing and the
cleaning, I can’t do with you."

The stranger stepped across the road to the Green Dragon.  He tapped at
the door, and a cheery little woman made her appearance. She was
carrying what they call in Shropshire a devil of hot beer.  It smelt

"Good-evening, ma’am," said the stranger. "Can you house me for the
night?  The hostess of the Crown Inn has turned me away.  But you surely
will not do the same? You observe what a bad cold I have."

Mrs. Benbow glanced sharply at the stranger.  She had not kept the Green
Dragon for ten years without learning to judge somewhat of character;
and to-night she was particularly on her guard, for her husband had gone
to stay for two days with some relatives in Shrewsbury, so that Mrs.
Benbow and old John of the wooden leg, called _Dot and carry one_, were
left as sole guardians of the little wayside public house.

"It is not very convenient for me to take you in," she said.

"And it would not be very convenient for me to be shut out," he replied.
"Besides which, I have had a whiff of that hot beer."

At that moment a voice from the kitchen cried impatiently.  "Here,
missus! where be that beer of your’n.  I be feeling quite faint-like!"

"As though he could call out like that if he was faint!" laughed Mrs.
Benbow, running off into the kitchen.

When she returned she found the stranger seated at the foot of the

"And what do you propose to do for me?" he asked patiently.

There was no mistaking the genial manner. Mrs. Benbow was conquered.

"I propose to fry some eggs and bacon for your supper," she said
cheerily.  "And then I propose to make your bedroom ready."

"Sensible woman!" he said, as he followed her into the parlor, where a
fire was burning brightly.  He threw himself into the easychair, and
immediately experienced that sensation of repose and thankfulness which
comes over us when we have found a haven. There he rested, content with
himself and his surroundings.  The fire lit up his face, and showed him
to be a man of about forty years.

There was nothing especially remarkable about him.  The face in repose
was sad and thoughtful; and yet when he discovered a yellow cat sleeping
under the table, he smiled as though some great pleasure had come into
his life.

"Come along, little comrade!" he said, as he captured her.  She looked
up into his face so frankly that the stranger was much impressed.  "Why,
I do believe you are a dog undergoing a cat incarnation," he continued.
"What qualities did you lack when you were a dog, I wonder?  Perhaps you
did not steal sufficiently well; perhaps you had net cultivated
restfulness.  And your name? Your name shall be Gamboge.  I think that
is a suitable appellation for you--certainly more suitable than most of
the names thrust upon unoffending humanity.  My own name, for instance,
Hieronymus!  Ah, you may well mew!  You are a thoroughly sensible

So he amused himself until Mrs. Benbow came with his supper.  Then he
pointed to the cat and said quietly:

"That is a very companionable dog of yours."

Mrs. Benbow darted a look of suspicion at the stranger.

"We call that a cat in Shropshire," she said, beginning to regret that
she had agreed to house the stranger.

"Well, no doubt you are partially right," said the stranger solemnly;
"but, at the same time, you are partially wrong.  To use the language of
the theosophists----"

Mrs. Benbow interrupted him.

"Eat your supper while it is hot," she said, "then perhaps you’ll feel
better.  Your cold is rather heavy in your head, isn’t it?"

He laughed good-temperedly, and smiled at her as though to reassure her
that he was quite in his right senses; and then, without further
discussion, he began to make short work of the fried eggs and bacon.
Gamboge, sitting quietly by the fireside, scorned to beg; she preferred
to steal.  That is a way some people have.

The stranger finished his supper, and lit his pipe.  Once or twice he
began to doze.  The first time he was aroused by Gamboge, who had jumped
on the table, and was seeking what she might devour.

"Ah, Gamboge," he said sleepily, "I am sorry I have not left anything
appetizing for you.  I was so hungry.  Pray excuse."

Then he dozed off again.  The second time he was aroused by the sound of
singing. He caught the words of the chorus:

    "I’ll gayly sing from day to day,
      And do the best I can;
    If sorrows meet me on the way,
      I’ll bear them like a man."

"An excellent resolution," murmured the stranger, becoming drowsy once
more.  "Only I wish they’d kept their determinations to themselves."

The third time he was disturbed by the sound of angry voices.  There was
some quarreling going on in the kitchen of the Green Dragon.  The voices
became louder. There was a clatter of stools and a crash of glasses.

"You are a pack of lying gypsies!" sang out some one.  "You know well
you didn’t pay the missus!"

"Go for him! go for him!" was the cry.

Then the parlor door was flung open and Mrs. Benbow rushed in.  "Oh!"
she cried, "those gypsy men are killing the carpenter!"

Hieronymus Howard rushed into the kitchen, and threw himself into the
midst of the contest.  Three powerful tramps were kicking a figure
prostrate on the ground. One other man, Mr. Greaves, the blacksmith, was
trying in vain to defend his comrade. He had no chance against these
gypsy fellows, and though he fought like a lion, his strength was, of
course, nothing against theirs.  Old John of the one leg had been
knocked over, and was picking himself up with difficulty.  Everything
depended on the promptness of the stranger.  He was nothing of a
warrior, this Hieronymus Howard; he was just a quiet student, who knew
how to tussle with Greek roots rather than with English tramps.  But he
threw himself upon the gypsies, fought hand to hand with them, was
blinded with blows, nearly trampled beneath their feet, all but crushed
against the wall. Now he thrust them back.  Now they pressed on him
afresh.  Now the blacksmith, with desperate effort, attacked them again.
Now the carpenter, bruised and battered, but wild for revenge, dragged
himself from the floor, and aimed a blow at the third gypsy’s head. He
fell.  Then after a short, sharp contest, the other two gypsies were
driven to the door, which Mrs. Benbow had opened wide, and were thrust
out.  The door was bolted safely.

But they had bolted one gypsy in with them.  When they returned to the
kitchen they found him waiting for them.  He had recovered himself.

Mrs. Benbow raised a cry of terror.  She had thought herself safe in her
castle.  The carpenter and the blacksmith were past fighting.
Hieronymus Howard gazed placidly at the great tramp.

"I am sorry we had forgotten you," he said courteously.  "Perhaps you
will oblige us by following your comrades.  I will open the door for
you.  I think we are all rather tired--aren’t we?  So perhaps you will
go at once."

The man gazed sheepishly at him, and then followed him.  Hieronymus
Howard opened the door.

"Good-evening to you," he said.

And the gypsy passed out without a word.

"Well now," said Hieronymus, as he drew the bolt, "that is the end of

Then he hastened into the parlor.  Mrs. Benbow hurried after him, and
was just in time to break his fall.  He had swooned away.

                             *CHAPTER II.*

                          *HIERONYMUS STAYS.*

Hieronymus Howard had only intended to pass one night at the Green
Dragon.  But his sharp encounter with the gypsies altered his plans.  He
was battered and bruised and thoroughly shaken, and quite unable to do
anything else except rest in the arm-chair and converse with Gamboge,
who had attached herself to him, and evidently appreciated his
companionship.  His right hand was badly sprained.  Mrs. Benbow looked
after him most tenderly, bemoaning all the time that he should be in
such a plight because of her. There was nothing that she was not willing
to do for him; it was a long time since Hieronymus Howard had been so
petted and spoiled.  Mrs. Benbow treated every one like a young child
that needed to be taken care of.  The very men who came to drink her
famous ale were under her strict motherly authority.  "There now, Mr.
Andrew, that’s enough for ye," she would say; "not another glass
to-night.  No, no, John Curtis; get you gone home.  You’ll not coax
another half-pint out of me."

She was generally obeyed; even Hieronymus Howard, who refused rather
peevishly to take a third cup of beef-tea, found himself obliged to
comply.  When she told him to lie on the sofa, he did so without a
murmur.  When she told him to get up and take his dinner while it was
still hot, he obeyed like a well-trained child.  She cut his food, and
then took the knife away.

"You mustn’t try to use your right hand," she said sternly.  "Put it
back in the sling at once."

Hieronymus obeyed.  Her kind tyranny pleased and amused him, and he was
not at all sorry to go on staying at the Green Dragon.  He was really on
his way to visit some friends just on the border between Shropshire and
Wales, to form one of a large house-party, consisting of people both
interesting and intellectual: qualities, by the way, not necessarily
inseparable.  But he was just at the time needing quiet of mind, and he
promised himself some really peaceful hours in this little Shropshire
village, with its hills, some of them bare, and others girt with a belt
of trees, and the brook gurgling past the wayside inn.  He was tired,
and here he would find rest.  The only vexatious part was that he had
hurt his hand.  But for this mishap he would have been quite content.

He told this to Mr. Benbow, who returned that afternoon, and who
expressed his regret at the whole occurrence.

"Oh, I am well satisfied here," said Hieronymus cheerily.  "Your little
wife is a capital hostess: somewhat of the tyrant, you know.  Still, one
likes that; until one gets to the fourth cup of beef-tea!  And she is an
excellent cook, and the Green Dragon is most comfortable.  I’ve nothing
to complain of except my hand.  That is a nuisance, for I wanted to do
some writing.  I suppose there is no one here who could write for me."

"Well," said Mr. Benbow, "perhaps the missus can.  She can do most
things.  She’s real clever."

Mrs. Benbow, being consulted on this matter, confessed that she could
not do much in that line.

"I used to spell pretty well once," she said brightly; "but the brewing
and the scouring and the looking after other things have knocked all
that out of me."

"You wrote to me finely when I was away," her husband said.  He was a
quiet fellow, and proud of his little wife, and liked people to know how
capable she was.

"Ah, but you aren’t over-particular, Ben, bless you," she answered,
laughing, and running away to her many duties.  Then she returned to
tell Hieronymus that there was a splendid fire in the kitchen, and that
he was to go and sit there.

"I’m busy doing the washing in the back-yard," she said.  "Ben has gone
to look after the sheep.  Perhaps you’ll give an eye to the door, and
serve out the ale.  It would help me mighty.  I’m rather pressed for
time to-day.  We shall brew to-morrow, and I must get the washing done
this afternoon."

She took it for granted that he would obey, and of course he did.  He
transferred himself, his pipe, and his book to the front kitchen, and
prepared for customers.  Hieronymus Howard had once been an ambitious
man, but never before had he been seized by such an overwhelming
aspiration as now possessed him--to serve out the Green Dragon ale!

"If only some one would come!" he said to himself scores of times.

No one came.  Hieronymus, becoming impatient, sprang up from his chair
and gazed anxiously out of the window, just in time to see three men
stroll into the opposite inn.

"Confound them!" he cried; "why don’t they come here?"

The next moment four riders stopped at the rival public-house, and old
Mrs. Howells hurried out to them, as though to prevent any possibility
of them slipping across to the other side of the road.

This was almost more than Hieronymus could bear quietly.  He could
scarcely refrain from opening the Green Dragon door and advertising in a
loud voice the manifold virtues of Mrs. Benbow’s ale and spirits. But he
recollected in time that even wayside inns have their fixed code of
etiquette, and that nothing remained for him but to possess his soul in
patience.  He was rewarded; in a few minutes a procession of wagons
filed slowly past the Green Dragon; he counted ten horses and five men.
Would they stop? Hieronymus waited in breathless excitement. Yes, they
did stop, and four of the drivers came into the kitchen.  "Where is the
fifth?" asked Hieronymus sharply, having a keen eye to business.  "He is
minding the horses," they answered, looking at him curiously.  But they
seemed to take it for granted that he was there to serve them, and they
leaned back luxuriously in the great oak settle, while Hieronymus poured
out the beer, and received in exchange some grimy coppers.

After they had gone the fifth man came to have his share of the
refreshments; and then followed a long pause, which seemed to Hieronymus
like whole centuries.

"It was during a lengthened period like this," he remarked to himself,
as he paced up and down the kitchen--"yes, it was during infinite time
like this that the rugged rocks became waveworn pebbles!"

Suddenly he heard the sound of horses’ feet.

"It is a rider," he said.  "I shall have to go out to him."  He hastened
to the door, and saw a young woman on a great white horse. She carried a
market basket on her arm. She wore no riding-habit, but was dressed in
the ordinary way.  There was nothing picturesque about her appearance,
but Hieronymus thought her face looked interesting.  She glanced at him
as though she wondered what he could possibly be doing at the Green

"Well, and what may I do for you?" he asked.  He did not quite like to
say, "What may I bring for you?"  He left her to decide that matter.

"I wanted to see Mrs. Benbow," she said.

"She is busy doing the washing," he answered.  "But I will go and tell
her, if you will kindly detain any customer who may chance to pass by."

He hurried away, and came back with the answer that Mrs. Benbow would be
out in a minute.

"Thank you," the young woman said quietly.  Then she added: "You have
hurt your arm, I see."

"Yes," he answered; "it is a great nuisance. I cannot write.  I have
been wondering whether I could get any one to write for me. Do you know
of any one?"

"No," she said bitterly; "we don’t write here.  We make butter and
cheese, and we fatten up our poultry, and then we go to market and sell
our butter, cheese, and poultry."

"Well," said Hieronymus, "and why shouldn’t you?"

He looked up at her, and saw what a discontented expression had come
over her young face.

She took no notice of his interruption, but just switched the horse’s
ears with the end of her whip.

"That is what we do year after year," she continued, "until I suppose we
have become so dull that we don’t care to do anything else.  That is
what we have come into the world for: to make butter and cheese, and
fatten up our poultry, and go to market."

"Yes," he answered cheerily, "and we all have to do it in some form or
other. We all go to market to sell our goods, whether they be brains, or
practical common-sense (which often, you know, has nothing to do with
brains), or butter, or poultry.  Now I don’t know, of course, what you
have in your basket; but supposing you have eggs, which you are taking
to market.  Well, you are precisely in the same condition as the poet
who is on his way to a publisher’s, carrying a new poem in his vest
pocket.  And yet there is a difference."

"Of course there is," she jerked out scornfully.

"Yes, there _is_ a difference," he continued, placidly; "it is this: you
will return without those eggs, but the poet will come back still
carrying his poem in his breast-pocket!"

Then he laughed at his own remark.

"That is how things go in the great world, you know," he said.  "Out in
the great world there is an odd way of settling matters. Still they must
be settled somehow or other!"

"Out in the world!" she exclaimed.  "That is where I long to go."

"Then why on earth don’t you?" he replied.

At that moment Mrs. Benbow came running out.

"I am so sorry to keep you waiting, Miss Hammond," she said to the young
girl; "but what with the washing and the making ready for the brewing
to-morrow, I don’t know where to turn."

Then followed a series of messages to which Hieronymus paid no
attention.  And then Miss Hammond cracked her whip, waved her greetings
with it, and the old white horse trotted away.

"And who is the rider of the horse?" asked Hieronymus.

"Oh, she is Farmer Hammond’s daughter," said Mrs. Benbow.  "Her name is
Joan.  She is an odd girl, different from the other girls here.  They
say she is quite a scholar too. Why, _she_ would be the one to write for
you.  The very one, of course!  I’ll call to her."

But by that time the old white horse was out of sight.

                             *CHAPTER III.*

                          *THE PRIMARY GLORY.*

The next day at the Green Dragon was a busy one.  Mrs. and Mr. Benbow
were up betimes, banging casks about in the cellar. When Hieronymus
Howard came down to breakfast, he found that they had brought three
barrels into the kitchen, and that one was already half full of some
horrible brown liquid, undergoing the process of fermentation. He felt
himself much aggrieved that he was unable to contribute his share of
work to the proceedings.  It was but little comfort to him that he was
again allowed to attend to the customers.  The pouring out of the beer
had lost its charm for him.

"It is a secondary glory to pour out the beer," he grumbled.  "I aspire
to the primary glory of helping to make the beer."

Mrs. Benbow was heaping on the coal in the furnace.  She turned round
and looked at the disconsolate figure.

"There is one thing you might do," she said.  "I’ve not half enough
barm.  There are two or three places where you might call for some; and
between them all perhaps you’ll get enough."

She then mentioned three houses, Farmer Hammond’s being among the

"Very likely the Hammonds would oblige us," she said.  "They are
neighborly folk. They live at the Malt-House Farm, two miles off.  You
can’t carry the jar, but you can take the perambulator and wheel it
back. I’ve often done that when I had much to carry."

Hieronymus Howard looked doubtfully at the perambulator.

"Very well," he said submissively.  "I suppose I shall only look like an
ordinary tramp. It seems to be the fashion to tramp on this road!"

It never entered his head to rebel.  The great jar was lifted into the
perambulator, and Hieronymus wheeled it away, still keeping up his
dignity, though under somewhat trying circumstances.

"I rather wish I had not mentioned anything about primary glory," he
remarked to himself. "However, I will not faint by the wayside; Mrs.
Benbow is a person not lightly to be disobeyed.  In this respect she
reminds me distinctly of Queen Elizabeth, or Margaret of Anjou, with
just a dash of Napoleon Bonaparte!"

So he walked on along the highroad. Two or three tramps passed him,
wheeling similar perambulators, some heaped up with rags and old tins
and umbrellas, and occasionally a baby; representing the sum total of
their respective possessions in the world. They looked at him with
curiosity, but no pleasantry passed their lips.  There was nothing to
laugh at in Hieronymus’ appearance; there was a quiet dignity about him
which was never lost on any one.  His bearing tallied with his
character, the character of a mellowed human being.  There was a
restfulness about him which had soothed more than one tired person; not
the restfulness of stupidity, but the repose only gained by those who
have struggled through a great fever to a great calm.  His was a
clean-shaven face; his hair was iron-gray.  There was a kind but firm
expression about his mouth, and a suspicion of humor lingering in the
corners.  His eyes looked at you frankly.  There seemed to be no
self-consciousness in his manner; long ago, perhaps, he had managed to
get away from himself. He enjoyed the country, and stopped more than
once to pick some richly tinted leaf, or some tiny flower nestling in
the hedge.  He confided all his treasures to the care of the
perambulator.  It was a beautiful morning, and the sun lit up the hills,
which were girt with a belt of many gems: a belt of trees, each rivaling
the other in colored luxuriance. Hieronymus sang.  Then he turned down a
lane to the left and found some nuts.  He ate these, and went on his way
again, and at last found himself outside a farm of large and important
aspect.  A man was stacking a hayrick.  Hieronymus watched him keenly.

"Good gracious!" he exclaimed; "I wish I could do that.  How on earth do
you manage it?  And did it take you long to learn?"

The man smiled in the usual yokel fashion, and went on with his work.
Hieronymus plainly did not interest him.

"Is this the Malt-House Farm?" cried Hieronymus lustily.

"What else should it be?" answered the man.

"These rural characters are inclined to be one-sided," thought
Hieronymus, as he opened the gate and wheeled the perambulator into the
pretty garden.  "It seems to me that they are almost as narrow-minded as
the people who live in cities and pride themselves on their breadth of
view.  Almost--but on reflection, not quite!"

He knocked at the door of the porch, and a great bustling woman opened
it.  He explained his mission to her, and pointed to the jar for the

"You would oblige Mrs. Benbow greatly, ma’am," he said.  "In fact, we
cannot get on with our beer unless you come to our assistance."

"Step into the parlor, sir," she said, smiling, "and I’ll see how much
we’ve got.  I think you are the gentleman who fought the gypsies.
You’ve hurt your arm, I see."

"Yes, a great nuisance," he answered cheerily; "and that reminds me of
my other request.  I want some one to write for me an hour or two every
day.  Mrs. Benbow mentioned your daughter, the young lady who came to us
on the white horse yesterday."

He was going to add: "The young lady who wishes to go out into the
world;" but he checked himself, guessing by instinct that the young lady
and her mother had probably very little in common.

"Perhaps, though," he said, "I take a liberty in making the suggestion.
If so, you have only to reprove me, and that is the end of it."

"Oh, I daresay she’d like to write for you," said Mrs. Hammond, "if she
can be spared from the butter and the fowls.  She likes books and pen
and paper.  They’re things as I don’t favor."

"No," said Hieronymus, suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of his
own littleness; "you are occupied with other more useful matters."

"Yes, indeed," rejoined Mrs. Hammond fervently.  "Well, if you’ll be
seated, I’ll send Joan to you, and I’ll see about the barm."

Hieronymus settled down in an old chair, and took a glance at the
comfortable paneled room.  There was every appearance of ease about the
Malt-House Farm, and yet Farmer Hammond and his wife toiled incessantly
from morning to evening, exacting continual labor from their daughter
too.  There was a good deal of brass-work in the parlor; it was kept
spotlessly bright.

In a few minutes Joan came in.  She carried the jar.

"I have filled the jar with barm," she said, without any preliminaries.
"One of the men can take it back if you like."

"Oh no, thank you," he said cheerily, looking at her with some interest.
"It came in the perambulator; it can return in the same conveyance."

She bent over the table, leaning against the jar.  She smiled at his
words, and the angry look of resentfulness, which seemed to be her
habitual expression, gave way to a more pleasing one.  Joan was not
good-looking, but her face was decidedly interesting. She was of middle
stature, slight but strong; not the typical country girl with rosy
cheeks, but pale, though not unhealthy.  She was dark of complexion;
soft brown hair, over which she seemed to have no control, was done into
a confused mass at the back, untidy, but pleasing.  Her forehead was not
interfered with; you might see it for yourself, and note the great bumps
which those rogues of phrenologists delight to finger.  She carried her
head proudly, and from certain determined jerks which she gave to it you
might judge of her decided character.  She was dressed in a dark gown,
and wore an apron of coarse linen.  At the most she was nineteen years
of age.  Hieronymus just glanced at her, and could not help comparing
her with her mother.

"Well," he said pleasantly, "and now, having settled the affairs of the
Green Dragon, I proceed to my own.  Will you come and be my scribbler
for a few days?  Or if you wish for a grander title, will you act as my
amanuensis?  I am sadly in need of a little help.  I have found out that
you can help me."

"I don’t know whether you could read my writing," she said shyly.

"That does not matter in the least," he answered.  "I shan’t have to
read it.  Some one else will."

"My spelling is not faultless," she said.

"Also a trifle!" he replied.  "Spelling, like every other virtue, is a
relative thing, depending largely on the character of the individual.
Have you any other objection?"

She shook her head, and smiled brightly at him.

"I should like to write for you," she said, "if only I could do it well

"I am sure of that," he answered kindly. "Mrs. Benbow tells me you are a
young lady who does good work.  I admire that beyond everything.  You
fatten up the poultry well, you make butter and pastry well--shouldn’t I
just like to taste it!  And I am sure you have cleaned this brass-work."

"Yes," she said, "when I’m tired of every one and everything, I go and
rub up the brasses until they are spotless.  When I am utterly weary of
the whole concern, and just burning to get away from this stupid little
village, I polish the candlesticks and handles until my arms are worn
out.  I had a good turn at it yesterday."

"Was yesterday a bad day with you, then?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered.  "When I was riding the old white horse yesterday,
I just felt that I could go on riding, riding forever.  But she is such
a slow coach.  She won’t go quickly!"

"No, I should think you could walk more quickly," said Hieronymus.
"Your legs would take you out into the world more swiftly than that old
white horse.  And being clear of this little village, and being out in
the great world, what do you want to do?"

"To learn!" she cried; "to learn to know something about life, and to
get to have other interests: something great and big, something worth
wearing one’s strength away for."  Then she stopped suddenly.  "What a
goose I am!" she said, turning away half ashamed.

"Something great and big," he repeated. "Cynics would tell you that you
have a weary quest before you.  But I think it is very easy to find
something great and big.  Only it all depends on the strength of your
telescope. You must order the best kind, and unfortunately one can’t
afford the best kind when one is very young.  You have to pay for your
telescope, not with money, but with years. But when at last it comes
into your possession--ah, how it alters the look of things!"

He paused a moment, as though lost in thought; and then, with the
brightness so characteristic of him, he added:

"Well, I must be going home to my humble duties at the Green Dragon, and
you, no doubt, have to return to your task of feeding up the poultry for
the market.  When is market-day at Church Stretton?"

"On Friday," she answered.

"That is the day I have to send off some of my writing," he said; "my
market-day, also, you see."

"Are you a poet?" she asked timidly.

"No," he answered, smiling at her; "I am that poor creature, an
historian: one of those restless persons who furridge among the annals
of the past."

"Oh," she said enthusiastically, "I have always cared more about history
than anything else!"

"Well, then, if you come to-morrow to the Green Dragon at eleven
o’clock," he said kindly, "you will have the privilege of writing
history instead of reading it.  And now I suppose I must hasten back to
the tyranny of Queen Elizabeth.  Can you lift that jar into the
perambulator?  You see I can’t."

She hoisted it into the perambulator, and then stood at the gate,
watching him as he pushed it patiently over the rough road.

                             *CHAPTER IV.*

                      *THE MAKING OF THE PASTRY.*

That same afternoon Mrs. Hammond put on her best things and drove in the
dogcart to Minton, where Auntie Lloyd of the Tan-House Farm was giving a
tea-party.  Joan had refused to go.  She had a profound contempt for
these social gatherings, and Auntie Lloyd and she had no great love, the
one for the other.  Auntie Lloyd, who was regarded as the oracle of the
family, summed Joan up in a few sentences:

"She’s a wayward creature, with all her fads about books and book
learning.  I’ve no patience with her.  Fowls and butter and such things
have been good enough for us; why does she want to meddle with things
which don’t concern her?  She’s clever at her work, and diligent too.
If it weren’t for that, there’d be no abiding her."

Joan summed Auntie Lloyd up in a few words:

"Oh, she’s Auntie Lloyd," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

So when her mother urged her to go to Minton to this tea-party, which
was to be something special, Joan said:

"No, I don’t care about going.  Auntie Lloyd worries me to death.  And
what with her, and the rum in the tea, and those horrid crumpets, I’d
far rather stay at home, and make pastry and read a book."

So she stayed.  There was plenty of pastry in the larder, and there
seemed no particular reason why she should add to the store. But she
evidently thought differently about the matter, for she went into the
kitchen and rolled up her sleeves and began her work.

"I hope this will be the best pastry I have ever made," she said to
herself, as she prepared several jam-puffs and an open tart. "I should
like him to taste my pastry.  An historian.  I wonder what we shall
write about to-morrow."

She put the pastry into the oven, and sat lazily in the ingle, nursing
her knees, and musing.  She was thinking the whole time of Hieronymus,
of his kind and genial manner, and his face with the iron-gray hair; she
would remember him always, even if she never saw him again.  Once or
twice it crossed her mind that she had been foolish to speak so
impatiently to him of her village life.  He would just think her a
silly, discontented girl, and nothing more.  And yet it had seemed so
natural to talk to him in that strain; she knew by instinct that he
would understand, and he was the first she had ever met who would be
likely to understand.  The others--her father, her mother, David Ellis
the exciseman, who was supposed to be fond of her, these and others in
the neighborhood--what did they care about her desires to improve her
mind, and widen out her life, and multiply her interests?  She had been
waiting for months, almost for years indeed, to speak openly to some
one; she could not have let the chance go by, now that it had come to

The puffs meanwhile were forgotten.  When at last she recollected them,
she hastened to their rescue, and found she was only just in time.  Two
were burned; she placed the others in a dish, and threw the damaged ones
on the table.  As she did so the kitchen door opened, and the exciseman
came in, and seeing the pastry, he exclaimed:

"Oh, Joan, making pastry!  Then I’ll test it!"

"You’ll do nothing of the sort," she said half angrily, as she put her
hands over the dish.  "I won’t have it touched.  You can eat the burnt
ones it you like."

"Not I," he answered.  "I want the best. Why, Joan, what’s the matter
with you? You’re downright cross to-day."

"I’m no different from usual," she said.

"Yes, you are," he said; "and what’s more, you grow different every

"I grow more tired of this horrid little village and every one in it, if
that’s what you mean," she answered.

He had thrown his whip on the chair, and stood facing her.  He was a
prosperous man, much respected, and much liked for many miles round
Little Stretton.  It was an open secret that he loved Joan Hammond, the
only question in the village being whether Joan would have him when the
time came for him to propose to her.  No girl in her senses would have
been likely to refuse the exciseman; but then Joan was not in her
senses, so that anything might be expected of her. At least such was the
verdict of Auntie Lloyd, who regarded her niece with the strictest
disapproval.  Joan had always been more friendly with David than with
any one else; and it was no doubt this friendliness, remarkable in one
who kept habitually apart from others, which had encouraged David to go
on hoping to win her, not by persuasion but by patience. He loved her,
indeed he had always loved her; and in the old days, when he was a
schoolboy and she was a little baby child, he had left his companions to
go and play with his tiny girl-friend up at the Malt-House Farm. He had
no sister of his own, and he liked to nurse and pet the querulous little
creature who was always quiet in his arms.  He could soothe her when no
one else had any influence.  But the years had come and gone, and they
had grown apart; not he from her, but she from him.  And now he stood in
the kitchen of the old farm, reading in her very manner the answer to
the question which he had not yet asked her.  That question was always
on his lips; how many times had he not said it aloud when he rode his
horse over the country?  But Joan was forbidding of late months, and
especially of late weeks, and the exciseman had always told himself
sadly that the right moment had not yet come.  And to-day, also, it was
not the right moment.  A great sorrow seized him, for he longed to tell
her that he loved her, and that he was yearning to make her happy. She
should have books of her own; books, books, books; he had already bought
a few volumes to form the beginning of her library. They were not well
chosen, perhaps, but there they were, locked up in his private drawer.
He was not learned, but he would learn for her sake.  All this flashed
through his mind as he stood before her.  He looked at her face, and
could not trace one single expression of kindliness or encouragement.

"Then I must go on waiting," he thought, and he stooped and picked up
his whip.

"Good-bye, Joan," he said quietly.

The kitchen door swung on its hinges, and Joan was once more alone.

"An historian," she said to herself, as she took away the rolling-pin,
and put the pastry into the larder.  "I wonder what we shall write about

                              *CHAPTER V.*

                    *PASTRY AND PERSONAL MONARCHY.*

Joan sat in the parlor of the Green Dragon, waiting until Hieronymus had
finished eating a third jam-puff, and could pronounce himself ready to
begin dictating.  A few papers were scattered about on the table, and
Gamboge was curled up on the hearth-rug.  Joan was radiant with
pleasure, for this was her nearest approach to intellectuality; a new
world had opened to her as though by magic.  And she was radiant with
another kind of pleasure: this was only the third time she had seen the
historian, and each time she was the happier.  It was at first a little
shock to her sense of intellectual propriety that the scholar yonder
could condescend to so trivial a matter as pastry; but then Hieronymus
had his own way about him, which carried conviction in the end.

"Well," he said cheerily.  "I think I am ready to begin.  Dear me!  What
excellent pastry!"

Joan smiled, and dipped her pen in the ink.

"And to _think_ that David nearly ate it!" she said to herself.  And
that was about the first time she had thought of him since yesterday.

Then the historian began.  His language was simple and dignified, like
the man himself.  His subject was "An Introduction to the Personal
Monarchy, which began with the reign of Henry VIII."  Everything he said
was crystal-clear.  Moreover, he had that rare gift, the power of
condensing and of suggesting too.  He was nothing if not an
impressionist.  Joan had no difficulty in keeping pace with him, for he
dictated slowly. After nearly two hours he left off, and gave a great
sigh of relief.

"There now," he said, "that’s enough for to-day."  And he seemed just
like a schoolboy released from lessons.

"Come, come," he added, as he looked over the manuscript.  "I shall be
quite proud to send that in to the printer.  You would make a capital
little secretary.  You are so quiet and you don’t scratch with your pen:
qualities which are only too rare.  Well, we shall be able to go on with
this work, if you can spare the time and will oblige me. And we must
make some arrangements about money matters."

"As for that," said Joan hastily, "it’s such a change from the
never-ending fowls and that everlasting butter."

"Of course it is," said Hieronymus, as he took his pipe from the
mantel-shelf.  "But all the same, we will be business-like. Besides,
consider the advantage; you will be earning a little money with which
you can either buy books to read, or fowls to fatten up.  You can take
your choice, you know."

"I should choose the books," she said, quite fiercely.

"How spiteful you are to those fowls!" he said.

"So would you be, if you had been looking after them all your life,"
Joan answered, still more fiercely.

"There is no doubt about you being a volcanic young lady," Hieronymus
remarked thoughtfully.  "But I understand.  I was also a volcano once.
I am now extinct.  You will be extinct after a few years, and you will
be thankful for the repose.  But one has to go through a great many
eruptions as preliminaries to peace."

"Any kind of experience is better than none at all," Joan said, more
gently this time. "You can’t think how I dread a life in which nothing
happens.  I want to have my days crammed full of interests and events.
Then I shall learn something; but here--what can one learn?  You should
just see Auntie Lloyd, and be with her for a quarter of an hour.  When
you’ve seen her, you’ve seen the whole neighborhood.  Oh, how I dislike

Her tone of voice expressed so heartily her feelings about Auntie Lloyd
that Hieronymus laughed, and Joan laughed too.

She had put on her bonnet, and stood ready to go home.  The historian
stroked Gamboge, put away his papers, and expressed himself inclined to
accompany Joan part of the way.

He ran to the kitchen to tell Mrs. Benbow that he would not be long

"Dinner won’t be ready for quite an hour," she said, "as the butcher
came so late.  But here is a cup of beef-tea for you.  You look rather

"I’ve had such a lot of pastry," Hieronymus pleaded, and he turned to
Mr. Benbow, who had just come into the kitchen followed by his faithful
collie.  "I don’t feel as though I could manage the beef-tea."

"It’s no use kicking over the traces," said Mr. Benbow, laughing.  "I’ve
found that out long ago.  Sarah is a tyrant."

But it was evidently a tyranny which suited him very well, for there
seemed to be a kind of settled happiness between the host and hostess of
the Green Dragon.  Some such thought passed through Hieronymus’ mind as
he gulped down the beef-tea, and then started off happily with Joan.

"I like both the Benbows," he said to her. "And it is very soothing to
be with people who are happy together.  I’m cozily housed there, and not
at all sorry to have had my plans altered by the gypsies; especially now
that I can go on with my work so comfortably. My friends in Wales may
wait for me as long as they choose."

Joan would have wished to tell him how glad she was that he was going to
stay.  But she just smiled happily.  He was so bright himself that it
was impossible not to be happy in his company.

"I’m so pleased I have done some dictating to-day," he said, as he
plucked an autumn leaf and put it into his buttonhole.  "And now I can
enjoy myself all the more.  You cannot think how I do enjoy the country.
These hills are so wonderfully soothing.  I never remember being in a
place where the hills have given me such a sense of repose as here.
Those words constantly recur to me:

    ’His dews drop mutely on the hill,
    His cloud above it saileth still,
    (Though on its slopes men sow and reap).
    More softly than the dew is shed,
    Or cloud is floated overhead,
    He giveth His beloved sleep.’

"It’s all so true, you know, and yonder _are_ the slopes cultivated by
men.  I am always thinking of these words here.  They match with the
hills and they match with my feelings."

"I have never thought about the hills in that way," she said.

"No," he answered kindly, "because you are not tired yet.  But when you
are tired, not with imaginary battlings, but with the real campaigns of
life, then you will think about the dews falling softly on the hills."

"Are you tired, then?" she asked.

"I have been very tired," he answered simply.

They walked on in silence for a few minutes, and then he added: "You
wished for knowledge, and here you are surrounded by opportunities for
attaining to it."

"I have never found Auntie Lloyd a specially interesting subject for
study," Joan said obstinately.

Hieronymus smiled.

"I was not thinking of Auntie Lloyd," he said.  "I was thinking of all
these beautiful hedges, these lanes with their countless treasures, and
this stream with its bed of stones, and those hills yonder; all of them
eloquent with the wonder of the earth’s history.  You are literally
surrounded with the means of making your minds beautiful, you country
people.  And why don’t you do it?"

Joan listened.  This was new language to her.

Hieronymus continued:

"The sciences are here for you.  They offer themselves to you, without
stint, without measure.  Nature opens her book to you. Have you ever
tried to read it?  From the things which fret and worry our souls, from
the people who worry and fret us, from ourselves who worry and fret
ourselves, we can at least turn to Nature.  There we find our right
place, a resting place of intense repose. There we lose that troublesome
part of ourselves, our own sense of importance.  Then we rest, and not
until then.

"Why should you speak to me of rest?" the girl cried, her fund of
patience and control coming suddenly to an end.  "I don’t want to rest.
I want to live a full, rich life, crammed with interests.  I want to
learn about life itself, not about things.  It is so absurd to talk to
me of rest.  You’ve had your term of unrest--you said so.  I don’t care
about peace and repose!  I don’t----"

She left off as suddenly as she had begun, fearing to seem too

"Of course you don’t," he said gently, "and I’m a goose to think you
should.  No, you will have to go out into the world, and to learn for
yourself that it is just the same there as everywhere: butter and cheese
making, prize-winning and prize-losing, and very little satisfaction
either over the winning or the losing; and a great many Auntie Lloyds,
probably a good deal more trying than the Little Stretton Auntie Lloyd.
Only, if I were you, I should not talk about it any more. I should just
go.  Saddle the white horse and go!  Get your experiences, thick and
quick.  Then you will be glad to rest."

"Are you making fun of me?" she asked half suspiciously, for he had
previously joked about the slow pace of the white horse.

"No," he answered, in his kind way; "why should I make fun of you?  We
cannot all be content to go on living a quiet life in a little village."

At that moment the exciseman passed by them on horseback.  He raised his
hat to Joan, and looked with some curiosity at Hieronymus.  Joan
colored.  She remembered that she had not behaved kindly to him
yesterday; and after all, he was David, David who had always been good
to her, ever since she could remember.

"Who was that?" asked Hieronymus. "What a trim, nice-looking man!"

"He is David Ellis, the exciseman," Joan said, half reluctantly.

"I wonder when he is going to test the beer at the Green Dragon," said
the historian anxiously.  "I wouldn’t miss that for anything.  Will you
ask him?"

Joan hesitated.  Then she hastened on a few steps, and called "David!"

David turned in his saddle, and brought his horse to a standstill.  He
wondered what Joan would have to say to him.

"When are you going to test the beer at the Green Dragon?" she asked.

"Some time this afternoon," he answered. "Why do you want to know?"

"The gentleman who is staying at the inn wants to know," Joan said.

"Is that all you have to say to me?" David asked quietly.

"No," said Joan, looking up at him.  "There is something more: about the

But just then Hieronymus had joined them.

"If you’re talking about pastry," he said cheerily, "I never tasted any
better than Miss Hammond’s.  I ate a dishful this morning!"

The exciseman looked at Joan, and at the historian.

"Yes," he said, as he cracked his whip, "it tastes good to those who can
get it, and it tastes bad to those who can’t get it."

And with that he galloped away, leaving Joan confused, and Hieronymus
mystified. He glanced at his companion, and seemed to expect that she
would explain the situation; but as she did not attempt to do so he
walked quietly along with her until they came to the short cut which led
back to the Green Dragon.  There he parted from her, making an
arrangement that she should come and write for him on the morrow.  But
as he strolled home he said to himself, "I am much afraid that I have
been eating some one else’s pastry! Well, it was very good, especially
the jam-puffs!"

                             *CHAPTER VI.*

                       *THE EXCISEMAN’S LIBRARY.*

David Ellis did not feel genially disposed toward the historian; and yet
when he stood in the kitchen of the Green Dragon, testing the new brew,
and saw Hieronymus eagerly watching the process, he could not but be
amused.  There was something about Hieronymus which was altogether
irresistible.  He had a power, quite unconscious to himself, of drawing
people over to his side.  And yet he never tried to win; he was just
himself, nothing more and nothing less.

"I am not wishing to pry into the secrets of the profession," he said to
David Ellis; "but I do like to see how everything is done."

The exciseman good-naturedly taught him how to test the strength of the
beer, and Hieronymus was as pleased as though he had learned some great
secret of the universe, or unearthed some long-forgotten fact in

"Are you sure the beer comes up to its usual standard?" he asked
mischievously, turning to Mrs. Benbow at the same time. "Are you sure it
has nothing of the beef-tea element about it?  We drink beef-tea by the
quart in this establishment.  I’m allowed nothing else."

David laughed, and said it was the best beer in the neighborhood; and
with that he left the kitchen and went into the ale-room to exchange a
few words with Mr. Howells, the proprietor of the rival inn, who always
came to the Green Dragon to have his few glasses of beer in peace, free
from the stormy remonstrances of his wife.  Every one in Little Stretton
knew his secret, and respected it.  Hieronymus returned to the parlor,
where he was supposed to be deep in study.

After a few minutes some one knocked at the door, and David Ellis came

"Excuse me troubling you," he said, rather nervously, "but there is a
little matter I wanted to ask you about."

"It’s about that confounded pastry!" thought Hieronymus, as he drew a
chair to the fireside and welcomed the exciseman to it.

David sank down into it, twisted his whip, and looked now at Hieronymus
and now at the books which lay scattered on the table. He evidently
wished to say something, but he did not know how to begin.

"I know what you want to say," said Hieronymus.

"No, you don’t," answered the exciseman. "No one knows except myself."

Hieronymus retreated, crushed, but rather relieved too.

Then David, gaining courage, continued:

"Books are in your line, aren’t they?"

"It just does happen to be my work to know a little about them," the
historian answered.  "Are you interested in them too?"

"Well," said David, hesitating, "I can’t say I read them, but I buy

"Most people do that," said Hieronymus; "it takes less time to buy than
to read, and we are pressed for time in this century."

"You see," said the exciseman, "I don’t buy the books for myself, and
it’s rather awkward knowing what to get.  Now what would you get for a
person who was really fond of reading: something of a scholar, you
understand?  That would help me for my next lot."

"It all depends on the taste of the person," Hieronymus said kindly.
"Some like poetry, some like novels; others like books about the moon,
and others like books about the north pole, or the tropics."

David did not know much about the north pole or the tropics, but he had
certainly bought several volumes of poetry, and Hieronymus’ words gave
him courage.

"I bought several books of poetry," he said, lifting his head up with a
kind of triumph which was unmistakable.  "Cowper, Mrs. Hemans--"

"Yes," said Hieronymus patiently.

"And the other day I bought Milton," continued the exciseman.

"Ah," said the historian, with a faint smile of cheerfulness.  He had
never been able to care for Milton (though he never owned to this).

"And now I thought of buying this," said David, taking from his pocket a
small slip of paper and showing it to his companion.

Hieronymus read: "Selections from Robert Browning."

"Come, come!" he said cheerily, "this is a good choice!"

"It is not my choice," said David simply. "I don’t know one fellow from
another.  But the man at the shop in Ludlow told me it was a book to
have.  If you say so too, of course that settles the matter."

"Well," said Hieronymus, "and what about the other books?"

"I tell you what," said David suddenly, "if you’d come to my lodgings
one day, you could look at the books I’ve got and advise me about
others.  That would be the shortest and pleasantest way."

"By all means," said the historian.  "Then you have not yet given away
your gifts?"

"Not yet," said David quietly.  "I am waiting awhile."

And then he relapsed into silence and timidity, and went on twisting his

Hieronymus was interested, but he had too much delicate feeling to push
the inquiry, and not having a mathematical mind he was quite unable to
put two and two together without help from another source.  So he just
went on smoking his pipe, wondering all the time what possible reason
his companion could have for collecting a library beginning with Mrs.

After a remark about the weather and the crops--Hieronymus was becoming
quite agricultural--David rose in an undecided kind of manner, expressed
his thanks, and took his leave, but there was evidently something more
he wanted to say, and yet he went away without saying it.

"I’m sure he wants to speak about the pastry," thought Hieronymus.
"Confound him!  Why doesn’t he?"

The next moment the door opened, and David put his head in.

"There’s something else I wanted to say," he stammered out.  "The fact
is, I don’t tell anybody about the books I buy.  It’s my own affair, and
I like to keep it to myself. But I’m sure I can trust you."

"I should just think you could," Hieronymus answered cheerily.

So he promised secrecy, and then followed the exciseman to the door, and
watched him mount his horse and ride off.  Mr. Benbow was coming in at
the time, and Hieronymus said some few pleasant words about David Ellis.

"He’s the nicest man in these parts," Mr.  Benbow said warmly.  "We all
like him. Joan Hammond will be a lucky girl if she gets him for a

"Is he fond of her, then?" asked Hieronymus.

"He has always been fond of her since I can remember," Mr. Benbow

Then Hieronymus, having received this valuable assistance, proceeded
carefully to put two and two together.

"Now I know for whom the exciseman intends his library!" he said to
himself triumphantly.

                             *CHAPTER VII.*

                        *AUNTIE LLOYD PROTESTS.*

Auntie Lloyd was a material, highly prosperous individual, utterly
bereft of all ideas except one; though, to be sure, the one idea which
she did possess was of overwhelming bulk, being, indeed, the sense of
her own superiority over all people of all countries and all centuries.
This was manifest not only in the way she spoke, but also in the way she
folded her hands together on the buckle of her waist-belt, as though she
were murmuring: "Thank heaven, I am Auntie Lloyd, and no one else!"  All
her relations, and indeed all her neighbors, bowed down to her
authority; it was recognized by every one that the mistress of the
Tan-House Farm was a personage who must not be disobeyed in the smallest
particular.  There had been one rebel in the camp for many years now:
Joan.  She alone had dared to raise the standard of revolt.  At first
she had lifted it only an inch high; but strength and courage had come
with years, and now the standard floated triumphantly in the air.  And
to-day it reached its full height, for Auntie Lloyd had driven over to
the Malt-House Farm to protest with her niece about this dictation, and
Joan, though she did not use the exact words, had plainly told her to
mind her own business.

Auntie Lloyd had been considerably "worked up" ever since she had heard
the news that Joan went to write for a gentleman at the Green Dragon.
Then she heard that Joan not only wrote for him, but was also seen
walking about with him; for it was not at all likely that an episode of
this description would pass without comment in Little Stretton; and
Auntie Lloyd was not the only person who remarked and criticised.  A bad
attack of sciatica had kept her from interfering at the outset; but as
soon as she was even tolerably well she made a descent upon the
Malt-House Farm, having armed herself with the most awe-inspiring bonnet
and mantle which her wardrobe could supply.  But Joan was proof against
such terrors.  She listened to all Auntie Lloyd had to say, and merely
remarked that she did not consider it was any one’s affair but her own.
That was the most overwhelming statement that had ever been made to
Auntie Lloyd.  No wonder that she felt faint.

"It is distinctly a family affair," she said angrily.  "If you’re not
careful, you’ll lose the chance of David Ellis.  You can’t expect him to
be dangling about your heels all his life.  He will soon be tired of
waiting for your pleasure.  Do you suppose that he too does not know you
are amusing yourself with this newcomer?"

Joan was pouring out tea at the time, and her hand trembled as she
filled the cup.

"I won’t have David Ellis thrust down my throat by you or by any one,"
she said determinedly.

And with that she looked at her watch, and calmly said that it was time
for her to be off to the Green Dragon, Mr. Howard having asked her to go
in the afternoon instead of the morning.  But though she left Auntie
Lloyd quelled and paralyzed, and was conscious that she had herself won
the battle once and for all, she was very much irritated and distressed
too.  Hieronymus noticed that something was wrong with her.

"What is the matter?" he asked kindly. "Has Auntie Lloyd been paying a
visit to the Malt-House Farm, and exasperated you beyond all powers of
endurance?  Or was the butter-making a failure?  Or is it the same old
story--general detestation of every one and everything in Little
Stretton, together with an inward determination to massacre the whole
village at the earliest opportunity?"

Joan smiled, and looked up at the kind face which always had such a
restful influence on her.

"I suppose that _is_ the root of the whole matter," she said.

"I am sorry for you," he said gently, as he turned to his papers, "but I
think you are not quite wise to let your discontent grow beyond your
control.  Most people, you know, when their lives are paralyzed, are
found to have but sorry material out of which to fashion for themselves
satisfaction and contentment."

Her face flushed as he spoke, and a great peace fell over her.  When she
was with him all was well with her; the irritations at home, the
annoyances either within or without, either real or imaginary, and
indeed all worries passed for the time out of her memory. David Ellis
was forgotten, Auntie Lloyd was forgotten; the narrow, dull, everyday
existence broadened out into many interesting possibilities.  Life had
something bright to offer to Joan.  She bent happily over the pages,
thoroughly enjoying her congenial task; and now and again during the
long pauses of silence when Hieronymus was thinking out his subject, she
glanced at his kind face and his silvered head.

And restless little Joan was restful.

                            *CHAPTER VIII.*

                         *THE DISTANCE GROWS.*

So the days slipped away, and Joan came regularly to the Green Dragon to
write to the historian’s dictation.  These mornings were red-letter days
in her life; she had never before had anything which she could have
called companionship, and now this best of all pleasures was suddenly
granted to her. She knew well that it could not last; that very soon the
historian would go back into his own world, and that she would be left
lonely, lonelier than ever.  But meanwhile she was happy.  She always
felt after having been with him as though some sort of peace had stolen
over her.  It did not hold her long, this sense of peace.  It was merely
that quieting influence which a mellowed nature exercises at rare
moments over an unmellowed nature, being indeed a snatch of that
wonderful restfulness which has something divine in its essence.  She
did not analyze her feelings for him, she dared not.  She just drifted
on, dreaming.  And she was grateful to him too, for she had unburdened
her heavy heart to him, and he had not laughed at her aspirations and
ambitions.  He had certainly made a little fun over her, but not in the
way that conveyed contempt; on the contrary, his manner of teasing gave
the impression of the kindliest sympathy.  He had spoken sensible words
of advice to her, too; not in any formal set lecture--that would have
been impossible to him--but in detached sentences given out at different
times, with words simple in themselves, but able to suggest many good
and noble thoughts.  At least that was what Joan gathered, that was her
judgment of him, that was the effect he produced on her.

Then he was not miserly of his learning. He was not one of those
scholars who keep their wisdom for their narrow and appreciative little
set; he gave of his best to every one with royal generosity, and he gave
of his best to her.  He saw that she was really interested in history,
and that it pleased her to hear him talk about it.  Out then came his
stores of knowledge, all for her special service!  But that was only
half of the process; he taught her by finding out from her what she
knew, and then returning her knowledge to her two-fold enriched.  She
was eager to learn, and he was interested in her eagerness. It was his
nature to be kind and chivalrous to every one, and he was therefore kind
and chivalrous to his little secretary.  He saw her constantly in
"school hours," as he called the time spent in dictating, and out of
school hours too.  He took such an interest in all matters connected
with the village that he was to be found everywhere, now gravely
contemplating the cows and comparing them with Mr. Benbow’s herd, now
strolling through the market-place, and now passing stern criticisms on
the butter and poultry, of which he knew nothing.  Once he even tried to
sell Joan Hammond’s butter to Mrs. Benbow.

"I assure you, ma’am," he said to the landlady of the Green Dragon, "the
very best cooking butter in the kingdom!  Taste and see."

"But it _isn’t_ cooking butter!" interposed Joan hastily.

But she laughed all the same, and Hieronymus, much humbled by his
mistake, made no more attempts to sell butter.

He seemed thoroughly contented with his life at Little Stretton, and in
no hurry to join his friends in Wales.  He was so genial that every one
liked him and spoke kindly of him. If he was driving in the
pony-carriage and saw any children trudging home after school, he would
find room for four or five of them and take them back to the village in
triumph. If he met an old woman carrying a bundle of wood, he
immediately transferred the load from herself to himself, and walked
along by her side, chatting merrily the while.  As for the tramps who
passed on the highroad from Ludlow to Church Stretton, they found in him
a sympathetic friend.  His hand was always in his pocket for them.  He
listened to their tales of woe, and stroked the "property" baby in the
perambulator, and absolutely refused to be brought to order by Mrs.
Benbow, who declared that she knew more about tramps than he did, and
that the best thing to do with them was to send them about their
business as soon as possible.

"You will ruin the reputation of the Green Dragon," she said, "if you go
on entertaining tramps outside.  Take your friends over to the other

She thought that this would be a strong argument, as Hieronymus was
particularly proud of the Green Dragon, having discovered that it was
patronized by the aristocrats of the village, and considered infinitely
superior to its rival, the Crown Inn opposite.

But the historian, so yielding in other respects, continued his
intimacies with the tramps, sometimes even leaving his work if he
chanced to see an interesting-looking wanderer slouching past the Green
Dragon.  Joan had become accustomed to these interruptions. She just sat
waiting patiently until Hieronymus came back, and plunged once more into
the History of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, or the Attitude of
the Foreign Powers to each other during the latter years of Henry VIII.

"I’m a troublesome fellow," he would say to her sometimes, "and you are
very patient with me.  In fact, you’re a regular little brick of a

Then she would flush with pleasure to hear his words of praise.  But he
never noticed that, and never thought he was leading her further and
further away from her surroundings and ties, and putting great distances
between herself and the exciseman.

So little did he guess it that one day he even ventured to joke with
her.  He had been talking to her about John Richard Green, the
historian, and he asked her whether she had read "A Short History of the
English People."  She told him she had never read it.

"Oh, you ought to have that book," he said; and he immediately thought
that he would buy it for her.  Then he remembered the exciseman’s
library, and judged that it would be better to let him buy it for her.

"I hear you have a very devoted admirer in the exciseman," Hieronymus
said slyly.

"How do you know that?" Joan said sharply.

"Oh," he answered, "I was told."  But he saw that his volcanic little
companion was not too pleased; and so he began talking about John
Richard Green.  He told her about the man himself, his work, his
suffering, his personality.  He told her how the young men at Oxford
were advised to travel on the Continent to expand their minds, and if
they could not afford this advantage after their university career, then
they were to read _John Richard Green_.  He told her, too, of his grave
at Mentone, with the simple words, "He died learning."

Thus he would talk to her, taking her always into a new world of
interest.  Then she was in an enchanted kingdom, and he was the

It was a world in which agriculture and dairy-farming and all the other
wearinesses of her everyday life had no part.  Some people might think
it was but a poor enchanted realm which he conjured up for her pleasure.
But enchantment, like every other emotion, is but relative after all.
Some little fragment of intellectuality had been Joan’s idea of
enchantment.  And now it had come to her in a way altogether unexpected,
and in a measure beyond all her calculations.  It had come to her,
bringing with it something else.

She seemed in a dream during all that time; yes, she was slipping
further away from her own people, and further away from the exciseman.
She had never been very near to him, but lately the distance had become
doubled.  When she chanced to meet him her manner was more than
ordinarily cold. If he had chosen to plead for himself, he might well
have asked what he had done to her that he should deserve to be treated
with such bare unfriendliness.

One day he met her.  She was riding the great white horse, and David
rode along beside her.  She chatted with him now and again, but there
were long pauses of silence between them.

"Father has made up his mind to sell old Nance," she said suddenly, as
she stroked the old mare’s head.  "This is my last ride on her."

"I am sorry," said David kindly.  "She’s an old friend, isn’t she?"

"I suppose it is ridiculous to care so much," Joan said; "but you know
we’ve had her such a time.  And I used to hang round her neck, and she
would lift me up and swing me."

"I remember," said David eagerly.  "I’ve often watched you.  I was
always afraid you would have a bad fall."

"You ran up and caught me once," Joan said, "And I was so angry; for it
wasn’t likely that old Nance would have let me fall."

"But how could I be sure that the little arms were strong enough to
cling firmly to old Nance’s neck?" David said.  "So I couldn’t help
being anxious."

"Do you remember when I was lost in that mist," Joan said, "and you came
and found me, and carried me home?  I was so angry that you would not
let me walk."

"You have often been angry with me," David said quietly.

Joan made no answer.  She just shrugged her shoulders.

There they were, these two, riding side by side, and yet they were miles
apart from each other.  David knew it, and grieved.

                             *CHAPTER IX.*

                            *DAVID LAMENTS.*

David knew it, and grieved.  He knew that Joan’s indifference was
growing apace, and that it had taken to itself alarming proportions ever
since the historian had been at the Green Dragon.  He had constantly met
Joan and Hieronymus together, and heard of them being together, and of
course he knew that Joan wrote to the historian’s dictation.  He never
spoke on the subject to any one.  Once or twice Auntie Lloyd tried to
begin, but he looked straight before him and appeared not to understand.
Once or twice some other of the folk made mention of the good-fellowship
which existed between Joan and the historian.

"Well, it’s natural enough," he said quietly. "Joan was always fond of
books, and one feels glad she can talk about them with some one who is
real clever."

But was he glad?  Poor David!  Time after time he looked at his little
collection of books, handling the volumes just as tenderly as one
handles one’s memories, or one’s hopes, or one’s old affections.  He had
not added to the library since he had spoken to Hieronymus and asked his
advice on the choice of suitable subjects.  He had no heart to go on
with a hobby which seemed to have no comfort in it.

To-night he sat in his little sitting-room smoking his pipe.  He looked
at his books as usual, and then locked them up in his oak chest.  He sat
thinking of Joan and Hieronymus.  There was no bitterness in David’s
heart; there was only sorrow.  He shared with others a strong admiration
for Hieronymus, an admiration which the historian never failed to win,
though it was often quite unconsciously received.  So there was only
sorrow in David’s heart, and no bitterness.

The clock was striking seven of the evening when some one knocked at the
door, and Hieronymus came into the room.  He was in a particularly
genial mood, and puffed his pipe in great contentment.  He settled down
by the fireside as though he had been there all his life, and chatted
away so cheerily that David forgot his own melancholy in his pleasure at
having such a bright companion. A bottle of whisky was produced, and the
coziness was complete.

"Now for the books!" said Hieronymus. "I am quite anxious to see your
collection. And look here; I have made a list of suitable books which
any one would like to have. Now show me what you have already bought."

David’s misery returned all in a rush, and he hesitated.

"I don’t think I care about the books now," he said.

"What nonsense!" said Hieronymus.  "You are not shy about showing them
to me?  I am sure you have bought some capital ones."

"Oh, it wasn’t that," David said quietly, as he unlocked the oak chest
and took out the precious volumes and laid them on the table.  In spite
of himself, however, some of the old eagerness came over him, and he
stood by, waiting anxiously for the historian’s approval.  Hieronymus
groaned over Mrs. Hemans’ poetry, and Locke’s "Human Understanding," and
Defoe’s "History of the Plague," and Cowper, and Hannah More. He groaned
inwardly, but outwardly he gave grunts of encouragement.  He patted
David on the shoulder when he found "Selections from Browning," and he
almost caressed him when he proudly produced "Silas Marner."

Yes, David was proud of his treasures; each one of them represented to
him a whole world of love and hope and consolation.

Hieronymus knew for whom the books were intended, and he was touched by
the exciseman’s quiet devotion and pride.  He would not have hurt
David’s feelings on any account; he would have praised the books,
however unsuitable they might have seemed to him.

"My dear fellow," he said, "you’ve done capitally by yourself.  You’ve
chosen some excellent books.  Still, this list may help you to go on,
and I should advise you to begin with ’Green’s History of the English

David put the volumes back into the oak chest.

"I don’t think I care about buying any more," he said sadly.  "It’s no

"Why?" asked Hieronymus.

David looked at the historian’s frank face, and felt the same confidence
in him which all felt.  He looked, and knew that this man was loyal and

"Well, it’s just this," David said, quite simply.  "I’ve loved her ever
since she was a baby-child.  She was my own little sweetheart then.  I
took care of her when she was a wee thing, and I wanted to look after
her when she was a grown woman.  It has just been the hope of my life to
make Joan my wife."

He paused a moment, and looked straight into the fire.

"I know she is different from others, and cleverer than any of us here,
and all that.  I know she is always longing to get away from Little
Stretton.  But I thought that perhaps we might be happy together, and
that then she would not want to go.  But I’ve never been quite sure.
I’ve just watched and waited.  I’ve loved her all my life.  When she was
a wee baby I carried her about, and knew how to stop her crying.  She
has always been kinder to me than to any one else. It was perhaps that
which helped me to be patient.  At least, I knew she did not care for
any one else.  It was just that she didn’t seem to turn to any one."

He had moved away from Hieronymus, and stood knocking out the ashes from
his pipe.

Hieronymus was silent.

"At least, I knew she did not care for any one else," continued David,
"until you came. Now she cares for you."

Hieronymus looked up quickly.

"Surely, surely, you must be mistaken," he said.  David shook his head.

"No," he answered, "I am not mistaken. And I’m not the only one who has
noticed it.  Since you’ve been here, my little Joan has gone further and
further away from me."

"I am sorry," said Hieronymus.  He had taken his tobacco-pouch from his
pocket, and was slowly filling his pipe.

"I have never meant to work harm to her or you, or any one," the
historian said sadly. "If I had thought I was going to bring trouble to
any one here, I should not have stayed on.  But I’ve been very happy
among you all, and you’ve all been good to me; and as the days went on I
found myself becoming attached to this little village.  The life was so
simple and refreshing, and I was glad to have the rest and the change.
Your little Joan and I have been much together, it is true.  She has
written to my dictation, and I found her so apt that, long after my hand
became well again, I preferred to dictate rather than to write.  Then
we’ve walked together, and we’ve talked seriously and merrily, and sadly
too.  We’ve just been comrades; nothing more.  She seemed to me a little
discontented, and I tried to interest her in things I happen to know,
and so take her out of herself.  If I had had any idea that I was doing
more than that, I should have left at once.  I hope you don’t doubt me."

"I believe every word you say," David said warmly.

"I am grateful for that," Hieronymus said, and the two men grasped

"If there is anything I could do to repair my thoughtlessness," he said,
"I will gladly do it.  But it is difficult to know what to do and what
to say.  For perhaps, after all, you may be mistaken."

The exciseman shook his head.

"No," he said, "I am not mistaken.  It has been getting worse ever since
you came. There is nothing to say about it; it can’t be helped.  It’s
just that sort of thing which sometimes happens: no one to blame, but
the mischief is done all the same.  I don’t know why I’ve told you about
it.  Perhaps I meant to, perhaps I didn’t.  It seemed to come naturally
enough when we were talking of the books."

He was looking mournfully at the list which Hieronymus had drawn out for

"I don’t see that it’s any use to me," he said.

He was going to screw it up and throw it into the fire, but the
historian prevented him.

"Keep it," he said kindly.  "You may yet want it.  If I were you, I
should go on patiently adding book after book, and with each book you
buy, buy a little hope too.  Who knows?  Some day your little Joan may
want you.  But she will have to go out into the world first and fight
her battles.  She is one of those who _must_ go out into the world and
buy her experiences for herself. Those who hinder her are only hurting
her. Don’t try to hinder her.  Let her go.  Some day when she is tired
she will be glad to lean on some one whom she can trust.  But she must
be tired first, and thus find out her necessity.  And it is when we find
out our necessity that our heart cries aloud.  Then it is that those who
love us will not fail us. They will be to us like the shadow of a great
rock in a weary land."

David made no answer, but he smoothed out the crumpled piece of paper
and put it carefully into his pocket.

                              *CHAPTER X.*

                          *HIERONYMUS SPEAKS.*

Hieronymus was unhappy; the exciseman might or might not be mistaken,
but the fact remained that some mischief had been done, inasmuch as
David Ellis’ feelings were wounded.  Hieronymus felt that the best thing
for him to do was to go, though he quite determined to wait until he saw
the hill-ponies gathered together.  There was no reason why he should
hasten away as though he were ashamed of himself.  He knew that not one
word had been spoken to Joan which he now wished to recall.  His
position was a delicate one.  He thought seriously over the matter, and
wondered how he might devise a means of telling her a little about his
own life, and thus showing her, without seeming to show her, that his
whole heart was filled with the memories of the past.  He could not say
to Joan: "My little Joan, my little secretary, they tell me that I have
been making havoc with your heart.  Now listen to me, child.  If it is
not true, then I am glad.  And if it is true, I am sad; because I have
been wounding you against my knowledge, and putting you through
suffering which I might so easily have spared you.  You will recover
from the suffering; but alas! little Joan, that I should have been the
one to wound you."

He could not say that to her, though he would have wished to speak some
such words.

But the next morning after his conversation with David Ellis he sat in
the parlor of the Green Dragon fondling the ever faithful Gamboge.

Joan Hammond looked up once or twice from her paper, wondering when the
historian would begin work.  He seemed to be taking a long time this
morning to rouse himself to activity.

"I shall take Gamboge with me when I go," he said at last.  "I’ve bought
her for half a crown.  That is a paltry sum to give for such a precious

"Are you thinking of going, then?" asked Joan fearfully.

"Yes," he answered cheerily.  "I must just wait to see those rascals,
the hill-ponies, and then I must go back to the barbarous big world,
into which you are so anxious to penetrate."

"Father has determined to sell Nance," she said sadly; "so I can’t
saddle the white horse and be off."

"And you are sorry to lose your old friend?" he said kindly.

"One has to give up everything," she answered.

"Not everything," Hieronymus said.  "Not the nasty things, for
instance--only the nice things!"

Joan laughed and dipped her pen into the ink.

"The truth of it is, I’m not in the least inclined to work this
morning," said Hieronymus.

Joan waited, the pen in her hand.  He had said that so many times
before, and yet he had always ended by doing some work after all.

"I believe that my stern task-mistress, my dear love who died so many
years ago--I believe that even she would give me a holiday to-day,"
Hieronymus said.  "And she always claimed so much work of me; she was
never satisfied.  I think she considered me a lazy fellow, who needed
spurring on.  She had great ambitions for me; she believed everything of
me, and wished me to work out her ambitions, not for the sake of the
fame and the name, but for the sake of the good it does us all to
grapple with ourselves."

He had drawn from his pocket a small miniature of a sweet-looking woman.
It was a spiritual face, with tender eyes; a face to linger in one’s

"When she first died," Hieronymus continued, as though to himself, "I
could not have written a line without this dear face before me.  It
served to remind me that although I was unhappy and lonely, I must work
if only to please her.  That is what I had done when she was alive, and
it seemed disloyal not to do so when she was dead. And it was the only
comfort I had; but a strong comfort, filling full the heart.  It is ten
years now since she died; but I scarcely need the miniature, the dear
face is always before me.  Ten years ago, and I am still alive, and
sometimes, often indeed, very happy; she was always glad when I laughed
cheerily, or I made some fun out of nothing. ’What a stupid boy you
are!’ she would say. But she laughed all the same.  We were very happy
together, she and I; we had loved each other a long time, in spite of
many difficulties and troubles.  But the troubles had cleared, and we
were just going to make our little home together when she died."

There was no tremor in his voice as he spoke.

"We enjoyed everything," he went on; "every bit of fun, every bit of
beauty--the mere fact of living and loving, the mere fact of the world
being beautiful, the mere fact of there being so much to do and to be
and to strive after.  I was not very ambitious for myself.  At one time
I _had_ cared greatly; then the desire had left me.  But when she first
came into my life, she roused me from my lethargy; she loved me, and did
not wish me to pause one moment in my life’s work. The old ambitions had
left me, but for her sake I revived them; she was my dear good angel,
but always, as I told her, a stern task-giver.  Then when she was gone,
and I had not her dear presence to help me, I just felt I could not go
on writing any more.  Then I remembered how ambitious she was for me,
and so I did not wait one moment.  I took up my work at once, and have
tried to earn a name and a fame for her sake."

He paused and stirred the fire uneasily.

"It was very difficult at first," he continued; "everything was
difficult.  And even now, after ten years, it is not always easy. And I
cared so little.  That was the hardest part of all: to learn to care
again.  But the years pass, and we live through a tempest of grief, and
come out into a great calm.  In the tempest we fancied we were alone; in
the calm we know that we have not been alone; that the dear face has
been looking at us lovingly, and the dear voice speaking to us through
the worst hours of the storm, and the dear soul knitting itself closer
and closer to our soul."

Joan bent over the paper.

"So the days have passed into weeks and months and years," he said, "and
here am I, still looking for my dear love’s blessing and approval; still
looking to her for guidance, to her and no one else.  Others may be able
to give their heart twice over, but I am not one of those.  People talk
of death effacing love! as though death and love could have any dealings
the one with the other.  They always were strangers; they always will be
strangers.  So year after year I mourn for her, in my own way, happily,
sorrowfully, and always tenderly; sometimes with laughter, sometimes
with tears.  When I see all the beautiful green things of the world, and
sing from very delight, I know she would be glad.  When I make a good
joke or turn a clever sentence, I know she would smile her praise.  When
I do my work well, I know she would be satisfied.  And though I may fail
in all I undertake, still there is the going on trying.  Thus I am
always a mourner, offering to her just that kind of remembrance which
her dear beautiful soul would cherish most."

He was handling the little miniature.

"May I see the face?" Joan asked very gently.

He put the miniature in her hands.  She looked at it, and then returned
it to him, almost reverently.

"And now, little secretary," he said, in his old cheery way, "I do
believe I could do some work if I tried.  It’s only a question of
will-power.  Come, dip your pen in the ink, and write as quickly as you

He dictated for nearly an hour, and then Joan slipped off quickly home.

Up in her little bedroom it was all in vain that she chased the tears
from her face. They came again, and they came again.

"He has seen that I love him," she sobbed. "And that was his dear kind
way of telling me that I was a foolish little child.  Of course I was a
foolish little child, but I couldn’t help it!  Indeed I couldn’t help
it. And I must go on crying.  No one need know."

So she went on crying, and no one knew.

                             *CHAPTER XI.*

                           *HIERONYMUS GOES.*

They were captured, those little wretches, the hill-ponies, having been
chased down from all directions, and gathered together in the enclosure
set apart for their imprisonment. There they were, cribbed, cabined, and
confined, some of them distressed, and all of them highly indignant at
the rough treatment which they had received.  This gathering together of
the wild ponies occurred two or three times in the year, when the owners
assembled to identify their particular herd, and to reimpress their mark
on the ponies which belonged to them.  It was no easy matter to drive
them down from the hills; though indeed they came down willingly enough
at night to seek what they might devour.  Then one might hear their
little feet pattering quickly over the ground, helter-skelter! The
villagers were well accustomed to the sound.  "It’s only the
hill-ponies, the rascals!" they would say.  But when they were wanted,
they would not come.  They led the beaters a rare dance over hill and
dale; but it always ended in the same way.  Then, after four or five
years of life on the hills, their owners sold them, and that was the end
of all their fun, and all their shagginess too.

Hieronymus stood near the enclosure watching the proceedings with the
greatest interest.  The men were trying to divide the ponies into
groups, according to the mark on their backs.  But this was no easy
matter either; the little creatures kicked and threw themselves about in
every direction but the right one, and they were so strong that their
struggles were generally successful.  The sympathies of Hieronymus went
with the rebels, and he was much distressed when he saw three men
hanging on to the tail of one of the ponies, and trying to keep him back
from another group.

"I say, you there!" he cried, waving his stick.  "I can’t stand that."

Mrs. Benbow, who was standing near him, laughed, and called him to

"Now don’t you be meddling with what you don’t understand," she said.
"You may know a good deal about books, but it’s not much you’ll know
about hill-ponies."

"That’s quite true," said Hieronymus humbly.

"Come along with me now," commanded Mrs. Benbow, "and help me buy a red

Nothing but a red pig would have made Hieronymus desert the hill-ponies.
A red pig was of course irresistible to any one in his senses; and the
historian followed contentedly after the landlady of the Green Dragon.
She made her way among the crowds of people who had come to this great
horse-fair, which was the most important one of the whole year.
Hieronymus was much interested in every one and everything he saw; he
looked at the horses, and sheep, and cows, and exchanged conversation
with any one who would talk to him.

"There’s a deal of money will change hands to-day," said a jolly old
farmer to him. "But prices be dreadful low this year.  Why, the pigs be
going for a mere nothing."

"I’m going to buy a pig," Hieronymus said proudly, "a red one."

"Ah," said the farmer, looking at him with a sort of indulgent disdain,
"it’s a breed as I care nothing about."

Then he turned to one of his colleagues, evidently considering
Hieronymus rather a feeble kind of individual, with whom it was not
profitable to talk.

The historian was depressed for the moment, but soon recovered his
spirits when he saw the fascinating red pigs.  And his pride and conceit
knew no bounds when Mrs. Benbow actually chose and bought the very
animal which he had recommended to her notice.  He saw David Ellis, and
went to tell him about the pig.  The exciseman laughed, and then looked
sad again.

"My little Joan is very unhappy," he said, half in a whisper.  "The old
white horse is to be sold.  Do you see her there yonder? How I wish I
could buy the old mare and give her to Joan!"

"That would be a very unwise thing for you to do," said Hieronymus.

"Yes," said David.  "And do you know, I’ve been thinking of what you
said about her going out into the world.  And I found this
advertisement.  Shall I give it to her?"

Hieronymus looked at it.

"You’re a dear fellow, David," he said warmly.  "Yes, give it to her.
And I too have been thinking of what you said to me. I’ve told her a
little of my story, and she knows now how my heart is altogether taken
up with my past.  So, if I’ve done any harm to her and you, I have tried
to set it right. And to-morrow I am going home.  You will see me off at
the station?"

"I’ll be there," said the exciseman.

But there was no sign in his manner that he wished to be rid of
Hieronymus.  The historian, who all unconsciously won people’s hearts,
all unconsciously kept them too. Even Auntie Lloyd, to whom he had been
presented, owned that he "had a way" about him.  (But then he had asked
after her sciatica!)  He spoke a few words to Joan, who stood lingering
near the old white mare. She had been a little shy of him since he had
talked so openly to her; and he had noticed this, and used all his
geniality to set her at her ease again.

"This is my last afternoon," he said to her, "and I have crowned the
achievements of my visit here by choosing a red pig.  Now I’m going back
to the big barbarous world to boast of my new acquirements--brewing
beer, eating pastry, drinking beef-tea, cutting up the beans, making
onion pickles, and other odd jobs assigned to me by Queen Elizabeth of
the Green Dragon.  Here she comes to fetch me, for we are going to drive
the red pig home in the cart.  Then I’m to have some tea with rum in it,
and some of those horrible Shropshire crumpets.  Then if I’m alive after
the crumpets and the rum, there will be a few more odd jobs for me to
do, and then to-morrow I go.  As for yourself, little secretary, you are
going to put courage into your heart, and fight your battles well.  Tell

"Yes," she said; and she looked up brightly, though there were tears in
her eyes.

"Do you know those words, ’_Hitch your wagon to a star?_’" he said.
"Emerson was right.  The wagon spins along merrily then. And now
good-bye, little secretary.  You must come and see me off at the station
to-morrow. I want all my friends around me."

So on the morrow they gathered round him, Mr. Benbow, Mrs. Benbow, two
of the Malt-House Farm boys, the old woman who kept the grocer’s shop,
and who had been doing a good trade in sweetmeats since Hieronymus came,
the exciseman, and Joan Hammond, and old John of the wooden leg. They
were all there, sorrowful to part with him, glad to have known him.

"If you would only stay," said Mrs. Benbow; "there are so many odd jobs
for you to do!"

"No, I must go," said the historian.  "There is an end to everything,
excepting to your beef-tea.  But I’ve been very happy."

His luggage had increased since he came to Little Stretton.  He had
arrived with a small portmanteau; he went away with the same
portmanteau, an oak chair which Mr. Benbow had given him, and a small
hamper containing Gamboge.

"Take care how you carry that hamper," he said to the porter.  "There is
a dog inside undergoing a cat incarnation!"

To Joan he said: "Little secretary, answer the advertisement and go out
into the world."

And she promised.

And to David he said: "When you’ve finished that book-list write to me
for another one."

And he promised.

Then the train moved off, and the dear kind face was out of sight.

                     *      *      *      *      *

Mrs. Benbow went home to do the scouring and cleaning.

David rode off to Ludlow and bought a book.

Joan sat in her room at the Malt-House Farm, and cried her heart out.
Then she looked at the advertisement and answered it. "It was kind of
David," she said.

                     *      *      *      *      *

So Joan went out into the world.

                     *      *      *      *      *

The weeks, the months, seem long without her.  He buys his books, and
with every new book he buys new comfort.  He recalls the historian’s
words: "Some day, when she is tired, she will be glad to lean on some
one whom she can trust."

So David waits.

                                THE END.

           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

                         *AN IDYLL OF LONDON.*

                        *BY BEATRICE HARRADEN.*

It was one o’clock, and many of the students in the National Gallery had
left off work, and were refreshing themselves with lunch and
conversation.  There was one old worker who had not stirred from his
place; but he had put down his brush, and had taken from his pocket a
small book, which was, like its owner, thin and shabby of covering. He
seemed to find pleasure in reading it, for he turned over its pages with
all the tenderness characteristic of one who loves what he reads.  Now
and again he glanced at his unfinished copy of the beautiful portrait of
Andrea del Sarto, and once his eyes rested on another copy next to his,
better and truer than his; and once he stooped to pick up a girl’s
prune-colored tie which had fallen from the neighboring easel.  After
this he seemed to become unconscious of his surroundings, as unconscious
indeed as any one of the pictures near him.  Any one might have been
justified in mistaking him for the portrait of a man, but that his lips
moved; for it was his custom to read softly to himself.

The students passed back to their places, not troubling to notice him,
because they knew from experience that he never noticed them, and that
all greetings were wasted on him, and all words were wanton expenditure
of breath.  They had come to regard him very much in the same way as
many of us regard the wonders of Nature, without astonishment, without
any questionings, and often without any interest.  One girl, a newcomer,
did chance to say to her companion:

"How ill that old man looks!"

"Oh, he always looks like that," was the answer.  "You will soon get
accustomed to him.  Come along!  I must finish my ’Blind Beggar’ this

In a few minutes most of the workers were busy again, although there
were some who continued to chat quietly, and several young men who
seemed reluctant to leave their girl friends, and who were by no means
encouraged to go!  One young man came to claim his book and pipe, which
he had left in the charge of a bright-eyed girl, who was copying Sir
Joshua’s Angels.  She gave him his treasures, and received in exchange a
dark-red rose, which she fastened in her belt; and then he returned to
his portrait of Mrs. Siddons. But there was something in his
disconsolate manner which made one suspect that he thought less of Mrs.
Siddons’ beauty than of the beauty of the girl who was wearing the
dark-red rose!  The strangers strolling through the rooms, stopped now
and again to peer curiously at the students’ work. They were stared at
indignantly by the students themselves, but they made no attempt to move
away, and even ventured sometimes to pass criticisms of no tender
character on some of the copies.  The fierce-looking man who was copying
"The Horse Fair" deliberately put down his brushes, folded his arms, and
waited defiantly until they had gone by; but others, wiser in their
generation, went on painting calmly.  Several workers were painting the
new Raphael; one of them was a white-haired old gentlewoman, whose hand
was trembling, and yet skillful still.  More than once she turned to
give a few hints to the young girl near her, who looked in some distress
and doubt.  Just the needful help was given, and then the girl plied her
brush merrily, smiling the while with pleasure and gratitude.  There
seemed to be a genial, kindly influence at work, a certain homeliness
too, which must needs assert itself where many are gathered together,
working side by side.  All made a harmony: the wonderful pictures
gathered from many lands and many centuries, each with its meaning, and
its message from the Past; the ever-present memories of the painters
themselves, who had worked and striven and conquered; and the living
human beings, each with his wealth of earnest endeavor and hope.

Meanwhile, the old man read on uninterrupted, until two hands were put
over his book, and a gentle voice said:

"Mr. Lindall, you have had no lunch again. Do you know, I begin to hate
Lucretius.  He always makes you forget your food."

The old man looked up, and something like a smile passed over his
joyless face when he saw Helen Stanley bending over him.

"Ah!" he answered, "you must not hate Lucretius.  I have had more
pleasant hours with him than with any living person."

He rose, and came forward to examine her copy of Andrea del Sarto’s

"Yours is better than mine," he said critically; "in fact, mine is a
failure.  I think I shall only get a small price for mine; indeed, I
doubt whether I shall get sufficient to pay for my funeral."

"You speak dismally," she answered, smiling.

"I missed you yesterday," he continued, half-dreamily.  "I left my work,
and I wandered through the rooms, and I did not even read Lucretius.
Something seemed to have gone out from my life; at first I thought it
must be my favorite Raphael, or the Murillo; but it was neither the one
nor the other, it was you.  That was strange, wasn’t it?  But you know
we get accustomed to anything, and perhaps I should have missed you less
the second day, and by the end of a week I should not have missed you at
all.  Mercifully, we have in us the power of forgetting."

"I do not wish to plead for myself," she said, "but I do not believe
that you or any one could really forget.  That which outsiders call
forgetfulness might be called by the better name of resignation."

"I don’t care about talking anymore now," he said suddenly, and he went
to his easel and worked silently at his picture; and Helen Stanley
glanced at him, and thought she had never seen her old companion look so
forlorn and desolate as he did to-day.  He looked as if no gentle hand
had ever been placed on him in kindliness and affection; and that seemed
to her a terrible thing, for she was one of those prehistorically-minded
persons who persist in believing that affection is as needful to human
life as rain to flower-life. When first she came to work at the gallery,
some twelve months ago, she had noticed this old man, and had wished for
his companionship; she was herself lonely and sorrowful, and, although
young, had to fight her own battles, and had learned something of the
difficulties of fighting; and this had given her an experience beyond
her years. She was not more than twenty-four years of age, but she
looked rather older, and though she had beautiful eyes, full of meaning
and kindness, her features were decidedly plain as well as unattractive.
There were some in the Gallery who said among themselves jestingly, that
Mr. Lindall had waited so many years before talking to any one, he might
have chosen some one better worth the waiting for!  But they soon got
accustomed to seeing Helen Stanley and Mr. Lindall together, and they
laughed less than before; and meanwhile the acquaintance ripened into a
sort of friendship, half sulky on his part, and wholly kind on her part.
He told her nothing about himself, and asked nothing about herself; for
weeks he never even knew her name.  Sometimes he did not speak at all,
and the two friends would work silently side by side until it was time
to go; and then he waited until she was ready, and walked with her
across Trafalgar Square, where they parted and went their own ways.

But occasionally, when she least expected it, he would speak with
glowing enthusiasm on art; then his eyes seemed to become bright, and
his bent figure more erect, and his whole bearing proud and dignified.
There were times, too, when he would speak on other subjects; on the
morality of free thought, and on those who had died to indicate free
thought; on Bruno, of blessed memory, on him, and scores of others too.
He would speak of the different schools of philosophy; he would laugh at
himself, and at all who, having given time and thought to the study of
life’s complicated problems, had not reached one step farther than the
old world thinkers.  Perhaps he would quote one of his favorite
philosophers, and then suddenly relapse into silence, returning to his
wonted abstraction, and to his indifference to his surroundings.  Helen
Stanley had learned to understand his ways, and to appreciate his mind,
and, without intruding on him in any manner, had put herself gently into
his life, as his quiet companion and his friend.  No one, in her
presence, dared to speak slightingly of the old man, to make fun of his
tumble-down appearance, or of his worn-out silk hat with a crack in the
side, or of his rag of a black tie, which, together with his overcoat,
had "seen better days."  Once she brought her needle and thread, and
darned the torn sleeve during her lunch time; and though he never knew
it, it was a satisfaction to her to have helped him.

To-day she noticed that he was painting badly, and that he seemed to
take no interest in his work; but she went on busily with her own
picture, and was so engrossed in it that she did not at first observe
that he had packed up his brushes, and was preparing to go home.

"Three more strokes," he said quietly, "and you will have finished your
picture.  I shall never finish mine.  Perhaps you will be good enough to
set it right for me.  I am not coming here again.  I don’t seem to have
caught the true expression; what do you think? But I am not going to let
it worry me, for I am sure you will promise to do your best for me.
See, I will hand over these colors and these brushes to you, and no
doubt you will accept the palette as well.  I have no further use for

Helen Stanley took the palette which he held out toward her, and looked
at him as though she would wish to question him.

"It is very hot here," he continued, "and I am going out.  I am tired of

He hesitated, and then added: "I should like you to come with me, if you
can spare the time."

She packed up her things at once, and the two friends moved slowly away,
he gazing absently at the pictures, and she wondering in her mind as to
the meaning of his strange mood.

When they were on the steps inside the building, he turned to Helen
Stanley and said:

"I should like to go back to the pictures once more.  I feel as if I
must stand among them just a little longer.  They have been my
companions for so long that they are almost part of myself.  I can close
my eyes and recall them faithfully.  But I want to take a last look at
them; I want to feel once more the presence of the great masters, and to
refresh my mind with their genius.  When I look at their work, I think
of their life, and can only wonder at their deaths.  It was so strange
that they should die."

They went back together, and he took her to his favorite pictures, but
remained speechless before them, and she did not disturb his thoughts.
At last he said:

"I am ready to go.  I have said farewell to them all.  I know of nothing
more wonderful than being among a number of fine pictures.  It is almost
overwhelming.  One expects Nature to be grand; but one does not expect
Man to be grand."

"You know we don’t agree there," she answered.  "_I_ expect everything
grand and great from Man."

They went out of the Gallery, and into Trafalgar Square.  It was a
scorching afternoon in August, but there was some cooling comfort in
seeing the dancing water of the fountains sparkling so brightly in the

"Do you mind stopping here a few minutes?" he said.  "I should like to
sit down and watch.  There is so much to see."

She led the way to a seat, one end of which was occupied by a workman,
who was sleeping soundly, and snoring too, his arms folded tightly
together.  He had a little clay pipe in the corner of his mouth; it
seemed to be tucked in so snugly that there was not much danger of its
falling to the ground. At last Helen spoke to her companion.

"What do you mean by saying that you will not be able to finish your
picture? Perhaps you are not well--indeed, you don’t look well.  You
make me anxious, for I have a great regard for you."

"I am ill and suffering," he answered quietly.  "I thought I should have
died yesterday; but I made up my mind to live until I saw you again, and
I thought I would ask you to spend the afternoon with me and go with me
to Westminster Abbey, and sit with me in the Cloisters.  I do not feel
able to go by myself, and I know of no one to ask except you; and I
believed you would not refuse me, for you have been very kind to me.  I
do not quite understand why you have been kind to me, but I am
wonderfully grateful to you.  To-day I heard some one in the Gallery say
that you were plain; I turned round and I said, ’I beg your pardon, I
think she is very beautiful.’  I think they laughed, and that puzzled
me; for you have always seemed to me a very beautiful person."

At that moment the little clay pipe fell from the workman’s mouth, and
was broken into bits.  He awoke with a start, gazed stupidly at the old
man and his companion, and at the broken clay pipe.

"Curse my luck!" he said, yawning.  "I was fond of that damned little

The old man drew his own pipe and his own tobacco-pouch from his pocket.

"Take these, stranger," he said.  "I don’t want them.  And good luck to

The man’s face brightened up as he took the pipe and pouch.

"You’re uncommon kind," he said.  "Can you spare them?" he added,
holding them out half-reluctantly.

"Yes," answered the old man; "I shall not smoke again.  You may as well
have these matches, too."

The laborer put them in his pocket, smiled his thanks, and walked some
little distance off; and Helen watched him examine his new pipe, and
then fill it with tobacco and light it.

Mr. Lindall proposed that they should be getting on their way to
Westminster, and they soon found themselves in the Abbey. They sat
together in the Poet’s Corner.  A smile of quiet happiness broke over
the old man’s tired face as he looked around and took in all the solemn
beauty and grandeur of the resting place of the great.

"You know," he said half to himself, half to his companion, "I have no
belief of any kind, and no hopes and no fears; but all through my life
it has been a comfort to me to sit quietly in a church or a cathedral.
The graceful arches, the sun shining through the stained windows, the
vaulted roof, the noble columns, have helped me to understand the
mystery which all our books of philosophy cannot make clear, though we
bend over them year after year, and grow old over them, old in age and
in spirit.  Though I myself have never been outwardly a worshiper, I
have never sat in a place of worship but that, for the time being, I
have felt a better man. But directly the voice of doctrine or dogma was
raised, the spell was broken for me, and that which I hoped was being
made clear had no further meaning for me.  There was only one voice
which ever helped me, the voice of the organ arousing me, filling me
with strange longing, with welcome sadness, with solemn gladness.  I
have always thought that music can give an answer when everything else
is of no avail.  I do not know what you believe."

"I am so young to have found out," she said, almost pleadingly.

"Don’t worry yourself," he answered kindly. "Be brave and strong, and
let the rest go. I should like to live long enough to see what you will
make of your life.  I believe you will never be false to yourself or to
any one. That is rare.  I believe you will not let any lower ideal take
the place of your high ideal of what is beautiful and noble in art, in
life. I believe that you will never let despair get the upper hand of
you.  If it does, you may as well die; yes, you may as well die.  And I
entreat you not to lose your entire faith in humanity.  There is nothing
like that for withering up the very core of the heart.  I tell you,
humanity and nature have so much in common with each other that if you
lose your entire faith in the former, you will lose part of your
pleasure in the latter; you will see less beauty in the trees, the
flowers, and the fields, less grandeur in the mighty mountains and the
sea; the seasons will come and go, and you will scarcely heed their
coming and going; winter will settle over your soul, just as it settled
over mine.  And you see what I am."

They had now passed into the Cloisters, and they sat down in one of the
recesses of the windows, and looked out upon the rich plot of grass
which the Cloisters inclose. There was not a soul there except
themselves; the cool and the quiet and the beauty of the spot refreshed
these pilgrims, and they rested in calm enjoyment.

Helen was the first to break the silence. "I am glad you have brought me
here," she said; "I shall never grumble now at not being able to afford
a fortnight in the country. This is better than anything else."

"It has always been my summer holiday to come here," he said.  "When I
first came I was like you, young and hopeful, and I had wonderful
visions of what I intended to do and to be.  Here it was I made a vow
that I would become a great painter, and win for myself a resting-place
in this very abbey. There is humor in the situation, is there not?"

"I don’t like to hear you say that," she answered.  "It is not always
possible for us to fulfill all our ambitions.  Still, it is better to
have had them and failed of them, than not to have had them at all."

"Possibly," he replied coldly.  Then he added: "I wish you would tell me
something about yourself.  You have always interested me."

"I have nothing to tell you about myself," she answered frankly.  "I am
alone in the world, without friends and without relations. The very name
I use is not a real name.  I was a foundling.  At times I am sorry I do
not belong to any one, and at other times I am glad there is no one whom
I might possibly vex and disappoint.  You know I am fond of books and of
art, so my life is not altogether empty, and I find my pleasure in hard
work.  When I saw you at the gallery I wished to know you, and I asked
one of the students who you were.  He told me you were a misanthrope,
and I was sorry, because I believed that humanity ought to be helped and
loved, not despised.  Then I did not care so much about knowing you,
until one day you spoke to me about my painting, and that was the
beginning of our friendship."

"Forty years ago," he said sadly, "the friend of my boyhood deceived me.
I had not thought it possible that he could be false to me.  He screened
himself behind me, and became prosperous and respected at the expense of
my honor.  I vowed I would never again make a friend.  A few years
later, when I was beginning to hold up my head, the woman whom I loved
deceived me.  Then I put from me all affection and all love.  Greater
natures than mine are better able to bear these troubles, but my heart
contracted and withered up."

He paused for a moment, many recollections overpowering him.  Then he
went on telling her the history of his life, unfolding to her the story
of his hopes and ambitions, describing to her the very home where he was
born, and the dark-eyed sister whom he had loved, and with whom he had
played over the daisied fields and through the carpeted woods, and all
among the richly tinted bracken.  One day he was told she was dead, and
that he must never speak her name; but he spoke it all the day and all
the night--Beryl, nothing but Beryl; and he looked for her in the fields
and in the woods and among the bracken.  It seemed as if he had unlocked
the casket of his heart, closed for so many years, and as if all the
memories of the past and all the secrets of his life were rushing out,
glad to be free once more, and grateful for the open air of sympathy.

"Beryl was as swift as a deer," he exclaimed.  "You would have laughed
to see her on the moor.  Ah, it was hard to give up all thoughts of
meeting her again.  They told me I should see her in heaven, but I did
not care about heaven.  I wanted Beryl on earth, as I knew her, a merry,
laughing sister.  I think you are right; we don’t forget, we become
resigned in a dead, dull kind of way."

Suddenly he said: "I don’t know why I have told you all this.  And yet
it has been such a pleasure to me.  You are the only person to whom I
could have spoken about myself, for no one else but you would have

"Don’t you think," she said gently, "that you made a mistake in letting
your experiences embitter you?  Because you had been unlucky in one or
two instances, it did not follow that all the world was against you.
Perhaps you unconsciously put yourself against all the world, and
therefore saw every one in an unfavorable light.  It seems so easy to do
that.  Trouble comes to most people, doesn’t it? and your philosophy
should have taught you to make the best of it.  At least, that is my
notion of the value of philosophy."

She spoke timidly and hesitatingly, as though she gave utterance to
these words against her will.

"I am sure you are right, child," he said eagerly.

He put his hands to his eyes, but he could not keep back the tears.

"I have been such a lonely old man," he sobbed; "no one can tell what a
lonely, loveless life mine has been.  If I were not so old and so tired,
I should like to begin all over again."

He sobbed for many minutes, and she did not know what to say to him of
comfort; but she took his hand within her own and gently caressed it, as
one might do to a little child in pain.  He looked up and smiled through
his tears.

"You have been very good to me," he said, "and I dare say you have
thought me ungrateful.  You mended my coat for me one morning, and not a
day has passed but that I have looked at the darn and thought of you. I
like to remember that you have done it for me.  But you have done far
more than this for me; you have put some sweetness into my life.
Whatever becomes of me hereafter, I shall never be able to think of my
life on earth as anything but beautiful, because you thought kindly of
me, and acted kindly for me. The other night, when this terrible pain
came over me, I wished you were near me; I wished to hear your voice.
There is very beautiful music in your voice."

"I would have come to you gladly," she said, smiling quietly at him.
"You must make a promise that when you feel ill again you will send for
me.  Then you will see what a splendid nurse I am, and how soon you will
become strong and well under my care; strong enough to paint many more
pictures, each one better than the last.  Now, will you promise?"

"Yes," he said, and he raised her hand reverently to his lips.

"You are not angry with me for doing that?" he asked suddenly.  "I
should not like to vex you."

"I am not vexed," she answered kindly.

"Then perhaps I may kiss it once more?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered, and again he raised her hand to his lips.

"Thank you," he said quietly, "that was kind of you.  Do you see that
broken sun-ray yonder?  Is it not golden?  I find it very pleasant to
sit here; and I am quite happy and almost free from pain.  Lately I have
been troubled with a dull, thudding pain near my heart, but now I feel
so strong that I believe I shall finish that Andrea del Sarto after

"Of course you will," she answered cheerily, "and I shall have to
confess that yours is better than mine.  I am quite willing to yield the
palm to you."

"I must alter the expression of the mouth," he replied.  "That is the
part which has worried me.  I don’t think I told you that I have had a
commission to copy Rembrandt’s old Jew.  I must set to work on that next

"But you have given me your palette and brushes!" she laughed.

"You must be generous enough to lend them to me," he said, smiling.  "By
the way, I intend to give you my books, all of them.  Some day I must
show them to you; I especially value my philosophical books, they have
been my faithful companions through many years.  I believe you do not
read Greek. That is a pity, because you would surely enjoy Aristotle.  I
think I must teach you Greek; it would be an agreeable legacy to leave
you when I pass away into the Great Silence."

"I should like to learn," she said, wondering to hear him speak so
unreservedly.  It seemed as if some great barrier had been rolled aside,
and as if she were getting to know him better, having been allowed to
glance into his past life, to sympathize with his past mistakes, and
with the failure of his ambitions, and with the deadening of his heart.

"You must read Æschylus," he continued enthusiastically, "and if I
mistake not, the ’Agamemnon’ will mark an epoch in your life.  You will
find that all these studies will serve to ennoble your art, and you will
be able to put mind into your work, and not merely form and color.  Do
you know, I feel so well that I believe I shall not only live to finish
Andrea del Sarto, but also to smoke another pipe?"

"You have been too rash to-day," she laughed, "giving away your pipe and
pouch, your palette and brushes in this reckless manner!  I must get you
a new pipe to-morrow. I wonder you did not part with your venerable

"That reminds me," he said, fumbling in his pocket, "I think I have
dropped my Lucretius.  I fancy I left it somewhere in the Poet’s Corner.
It would grieve me to lose that book."

"Let me go and look for it," she said, and she advanced a few steps and
then came back to him.

"You have been saying many kind words to me," she said, as she put her
hand on his arm, "and I have not told you that I value your friendship
and am grateful to you for letting me be more than a mere stranger to
you.  I have been very lonely in my life, for I am not one to make
friends easily, and it has been a great privilege to me to talk with
you.  I want you to know this; for if I have been anything to you, you
have been a great deal to me.  You see, although I am young, I have long
since learned somewhat of sorrow. I have had hard times and hard words,
and have never met with much sympathy from those of my own age.  I have
found them narrow and unyielding, and they found me dull and
uninteresting.  They had passed through few experiences and knew nothing
about failure or success, and some of them did not even understand the
earnestness of endeavor, and laughed at me when I spoke of a high ideal.
So I withdrew into myself, and should probably have grown still more
isolated than I was before, but that I met you, and as time went on we
became friends.  I shall always remember your teaching, and, though all
the world may laugh, I will try to keep to a high ideal of life and art,
and I will not let despair creep into my heart, and I will not lose my
faith in humanity."

As she spoke, a lingering ray of sunshine fit up her face and gently
caressed her soft brown hair; slight though her form, and somber her
clothes, and unlovely her features, she seemed a gracious presence,
beautiful and gladdening, because of her earnestness.

"Now," she said, "you rest here until I come back with your Lucretius,
and then I think I must be getting on my way home.  But you must fix a
time for our first Greek lesson; for we must begin to-morrow."

When she had gone he walked in the Cloisters, holding his hat in his
hand and his stick under his arm.  There was a quiet smile on his face,
which was called forth by pleasant thoughts in his mind, and he did not
look quite so shrunken and shriveled as usual. His eyes were fixed on
the ground; but he raised them and observed a white cat creeping toward
him.  It came and rubbed itself against his foot, and purring with all
its might, seemed determined to win some kind of notice from him.  The
old man stooped down to stroke it, and was just touching its sleek coat,
when he suddenly withdrew his hand and groaned deeply.  He struggled to
the recess and sank back.  The stick fell on the stone with a clatter,
and the battered hat rolled down beside it, and the white cat fled away
in terror; but realizing that there was no cause for alarm, it came back
and crouched near the silent figure of the old man, watching him
intently.  Then it stretched out its paw and played with his hand, doing
its utmost to coax him into a little fun; but he would not be coaxed,
and the cat lost all patience with him, and left him to himself.

Meanwhile Helen Stanley was looking for the lost Lucretius in the Poet’s
Corner. She found it lying near Chaucer’s tomb, and was just going to
take it to her friend when she saw the workman to whom they had spoken
in Trafalgar Square.  He recognized her at once and came toward her.

"I’ve been having a quiet half-hour here," he said.  "It does me a sight
of good to sit in the Abbey."

"You should go into the Cloisters," she said kindly.  "I have been
sitting there with my friend.  He will be interested to hear that you
love this beautiful Abbey."

"I should like to see him again," said the workman.  "He had a kind way
about him, and that pipe he gave me is an uncommon good one; still, I am
sorry I smashed the little clay pipe.  I’d grown used to it.  I’d smoked
it ever since my little girl died and left me alone in the world.  I
used to bring my little girl here, and now I come alone; but it isn’t
the same thing."

"No, it could not be the same thing," said Helen gently; "but you find
some little comfort here?"

"Some little comfort," he answered.  "One can’t expect much."

They went together into the Cloisters, and as they came near the recess
where the old man rested, Helen said:

"Why, he has fallen asleep!  He must have been very tired.  And he has
dropped his hat and stick.  Thank you, if you will put them down there I
will watch by his side-until he wakes up.  I don’t suppose he will sleep
for long."

The workman stooped down to pick up the hat and stick, and glanced at
the sleeper. Something in the sleeper’s countenance arrested his
attention.  He turned to the girl and saw that she was watching him.

"What is it?" she asked anxiously.  "What is the matter with you?"

He tried to speak, but his voice failed him, and all he could do was to
point with trembling hand to the old man.

Helen looked, and a loud cry broke from her lips.  The old man was dead.

                                THE END.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Bird of Passage and Other Stories" ***

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