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Title: Cradock Nowell, Vol. 3 (of 3) - A Tale of the New Forest.
Author: Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cradock Nowell, Vol. 3 (of 3) - A Tale of the New Forest." ***

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                            CRADOCK NOWELL

                       A Tale of the New Forest.

                                  BY

                    _RICHARD DODDRIDGE BLACKMORE_,

                      AUTHOR OF “CLARA VAUGHAN.”


     “You have said: whether wisely or no, let the forest judge.”

                                       AS YOU LIKE IT, Act III. Sc. 2.


                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. III.


              LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.

                                 1866.

               [_The right of Translation is reserved._]



                                LONDON:

            PRINTED BY C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND.



          CONTENTS OF VOLUME III.

  CHAPTER                         PAGE

       I.                            1

      II.                           10

     III.                           21

      IV.                           49

       V.                           64

      VI.                           80

     VII.                          102

    VIII.                          122

      IX.                          142

       X.                          163

      XI.                          173

     XII.                          190

    XIII.                          202

     XIV.                          219

      XV.                          234

     XVI.                          264

    XVII.                          276

   XVIII.                          298



CRADOCK NOWELL.



CHAPTER I.


Upon the Christmas morning the parish flocked to church, and the church
was dressed so beautifully that every one was amazed. Amy and Eoa made
the wreaths, the garlands, and rosettes; there was only one cross out
of the lot, a badly–bred Maltese one; and Eoa walked over the barbarous
pewscreens (like the travisses in a stable), springing from one to
another, with a cable of flowers and evergreens, as easily and calmly
as she would come down–stairs to dinner. Of course she had never heard
of that sort of thing before, but she took to it at once, as she did to
anything pretty; and soon she was Amyʼs mistress, as indeed she must be
every oneʼs, unless she could not bear them.

The sons of the Forest looked up with amazement as they shambled in one
after other, and an old woodcutter went home for his axe, lest the ivy
should throttle the pillars. On the whole, the parish attributed this
great outburst of foliage to the indignation of the pixies at Parson
Johnʼs going to London, and staying there so long.

The prayers were read by Mr. Pell, for the rector was weary and
languid; but he would not forego his pleasant words to the well–known
flock that day. While the choir was making a stupendous din out of
something they called an “anthem,” Octave slipped off to his Rushford
duty, through the chancel–door. Then, with his silken gown on—given him
years ago by subscription, and far too grand for him to wear, except at
Christmas and Easter—John Rosedew mounted the pulpit–stairs, and showed
(as in a holy bower of good–will and of gratitude) the loving–kindness
of his face and the grandeur of his forehead. As he glanced from one to
the other with a general welcome, a genial interest in the welfare both
of soul and body, a stir and thrill ran through the church, and many
eyes were tearful. For already a rumour was abroad that “Uncle John”
must leave them, that another Christmas Day would see a stranger in his
pulpit.

After dwelling briefly on his favourite subject, Christian love, and
showing (by quotations from the noblest of heathen philosophers) how
low and false their standard was, how poor a keystone is earthly
citizenship, the patriotism of a pugnacious village, or a little
presumptuous Attica, to crown and bind together the great arch of
humanity; after showing, too, with a depth of learning wasted on
his audience, how utterly false the assertion is that the doctrines,
or rather the principles, nay, the one great principle of our New
Testament, had ever been anticipated on the banks of the Yellow
River—eloquently he turned himself to the application of his subject.

With some unconscious yearning perhaps, or perhaps some sense of
home–truth, he gazed towards the curtained pew where sat his ancient
friend, brought thither (it was too evident) by tidings of his
absence. As the eyes of the old men met, for the first time after long
estrangement—those eyes that had met so frankly and kindly for more
than fifty years, during all which time each to the other had been
a “necessarius”—and as each observed how pale and grey his veteran
comrade looked, neither heart was wholly free from self–reproach and
sorrow.

John Rosedewʼs mild eyes glistened so, and his voice so shook and
faltered, that all the parish noticed it, and wondered what harm it had
done last week. For none of them had ever known his voice shake, except
when some parishioner had done the unbecoming; and then the village
mourned it, because it vexed the parson so.

The next day, as soon as Parson John had found that all parochial
matters were in proper trim, and that he might leave home again without
neglect of duty, what did he do but order a fly, no less than a
one–horse fly, from the “Jolly Foresters;” which fly should rush to the
parsonage–door, as nearly as might be, at one oʼclock? Now why would
not Coræbus suffice to carry the rector and valise, according to the
laws of the Medes and Persians, a distance of two parasangs?

Simply because our Amy was going, and had every right to go. Beautiful
Amy was going to London, great fountain–head of all visions and
marvels, even from white long–clothes up to the era of striped
crinoline. And who shall object, except on the ground that Amy was too
good to go?

If Amy were put down now in Hyde Park, Piccadilly, or Regent–street,
at the height and cream of the season, when fop, and screw, and fogey,
Frivolus and Frivola, Diana Venatrix, Copa Syrisca, Aphrodite Misthote,
yea, and even some natural honest girls moderately ticketed, are doing
their caravaning—if Amy were put on the pathway there, in her simple
grey hat and feather, and that roundabout chenille thing which she
herself had made, and which followed the lines of her figure so, fifty
fellows, themselves of the most satisfactory figure (at Drummondʼs, or
at Couttsʼs), fifty fellows who had slipped the hook fifty times apiece
(spite of motherly bend OʼShaugnessey) must have received their stroke
of grace, and hated Cradock Nowell.

Although the South–Western Railway had been open so many years, our
forest–child had never been further from green leaf and yellow gorse
than Winchester in the eastern hemisphere, and Salisbury in the
western. And now after all to think that she was going to London,
not for joy, but sorrow. Desperate coaxing it had cost; every known
or new device—transparent every one of them, as the pleading eyes
that urged it—every bit of cozening learned from three years old and
upward, every girlish argument that never can hold water, unless it be
a tear–drop; and, better than a million pleas, every soft caress and
kiss, all loving, all imploring—there was not one of these but came to
batter Amyʼs father, or ever he surrendered. For Johnʼs ideas were very
old–fashioned as to maidenly decorum, and Aunt Eudoxiaʼs view of the
matter was even more prim and grim than his. Yet (as Amy well remarked)
if _she_ could see no harm in it, there certainly could be none; and
how could they insist so much on the _καλόν_ and the _πρέπον_, as if
they over–rode _τὸ δέον_!

It is likely enough that this last stroke won the palm of victory;
for, though Miss Amy knew little of Greek, and her father knew a great
deal, she often contrived, with true feminine skill, to take his
wicket neatly, before he had found his block–hole. And then her father
would smile and chuckle, and ask to have his bat again; which never
was allowed him. To think that any man should be the father of such
_ἐυστοχία_!

Therefore, that father was compelled to throw himself, flat as a
flounder, on Eudoxiaʼs generosity; for the leech–bottle now was dry.

“Darling Doxy, you know quite well you are such a wonderful manager;
you have got a little cash somewhere?”

He put it with a twist of interrogation, a quivering lever of doubt,
and yet a grand fulcrum of confidence, which were totally irresistible.
No wonder his daughter could coax. Oh that I were like you, John, when
I want a bit of money!

Hereupon Aunt Doxy smiled, with the perception of superior mind, and
the power of causing astonishment. Never a word she said, but went to
some unknown recesses in holy up–stair adyta: she fussed about with
many keys, over sounding boards and creaking ones, to signify her
caution; and at last came back with a leathern bag, wash–leather tied
with bobbin. Putting up her hands to keep Amy at a distance, she pursed
her lips, as if to say, “Now donʼt be disappointed; there is really
nothing in it. Nothing, at least, I mean for people of your extravagant
ideas.”

Then, one by one, before Johnʼs eyes, which enlarged with a geometric
progression of amazement, she laid a gorgeous train of gold, as if it
were but dominoes, beginning with half–sovereigns first, then breaking
into the broader gauge, until there must have been twenty pounds, and
John thought of all his poor people. Verily then she stopped awhile, to
enhance her climax; or perhaps she hesitated, as was only natural. But
now the pleasure of the thing was too much for her prudence. Looking
at John and then at Amy, and wanting to look at both at once, she drew
from a little niche in the bag, with a jerk (as if it were nothing) a
dainty marrowfat ten–pound note of the Bank of England, with a name of
substance upon the back, and an authenticity of grease grander than any
water–mark. She tried very hard to make light of it, and not wave it in
the air even; but the tide of her heart was too strong for her, and she
turned away, and cried as hard as if she had no money.

Who may pretend to taste and tell every herb in the soup of nature?
There is no sovereign moly, no paramount amellus; even basil (the herb
of kings) may be lost in garlic. Blest are they who seek not ever for
the forced–meat balls, but find some good in every brewis, homely,
burnt, or overstrained. John Rosedew, putting on his boots for the road
to London, felt himself, at every tug, quite as rich as Megacles—that
man of foremost Athenian blood, but none the more a gentleman,
who walked capaciously into, and rapaciously walked out of, the
gold–granaries of Crœsus. A delightful sense of having gotten great
money out of Eudoxia—a triumph without historic parallel—inspired him,
away with that overdone word!—aerated him with glory. Thirty pounds,
and some odd shillings, wholly at John Rosedewʼs mercy (who never gave
quarter to money, but hewed it as small as Agag when anybody asked
him),—thirty pounds, with no duty upon it, no stamp of responsibility,
and a peculiar and peppery piquancy in the spending of every halfpenny,
to wonder what sister Doxy would think if she could only know it! He
gave careful Amy the note to keep, and 15_l._ to go inside it, because
he had promised to do so, for Doxy knew his nature.

In that noble fly from the “Foresters,” which had only two springs
broken, John and his daughter went away to catch the train at
Brockenhurst. Out of the windows dangerously they pushed their
beautiful heads—the beauty of youth on one side, the beauty of age on
the other—although the coachman had specially warned them that neither
door would fasten. But what could they do, when Aunt Doxy was there by
the great rhododendron, with a kettle–holder over her mouth because it
was so cold; fat Jemima too, and Jenny, and Jem Pottles leading Coræbus
to shake off his dust at the shay–horse, and learn what he might come
to?

Some worthy people had journeyed up from the further end of the
village, to bid an eternal farewell to Amy, and to take home the
washing. They knew she would never come back again; she would never
be let go again; folks in London were so wicked, and parson was so
innocent. Evil though the omens were, as timidly blushing she went
away, tearfully leaving her fatherʼs hearth, though a daw on the left
hand forbade her to go, and a wandering chough was overheard, and a
croaking raven whirled away into the wilds of the woodland—for whom
shall I fear, I the cannie seer, while Amy smiles dexter out of the
cab, and wraps her faith around her?

Make we not half our life here, according as we receive it? Is it not
as the rain that falls, softly when softly taken, as of leaves and
grass and water; but rattling and flying in mud and foul splashes, when
met at wrong angles repulsively?

My little daughter, if you cannot see your way in that simile—a
very common–place one,—take a still more timeworn and venerable
illustration. Our life is but a thread, my child, at any moment
snappable, though never snapped unwisely; and true as it is that we
cannot spin and shape it (as does the spider) out of our own emotions,
yet we have this gift of God, that we can secrete some gold along it,
some diamonds fetching the sunlight. Knowing, then, in whose Hand we
are, and feeling how large that Hand is, let us know and feel therewith
that He will not crush us; that He loves us to rejoice therein, and
tamely to regard Him; with confidence in adoration, a smile in every
bow to Him.



CHAPTER II.


Polly Ducksacre was sitting in state behind the little counter, and
opposite the gas–jet, upon her throne—a bushel basket set upside
down on another. It was the evening of Boxing Day, and Polly was
arrayed with a splendour that challenged the strictest appraisement;
so gorgeous were her gilt earrings, cornelian necklace, sham cameo
brooch—Cupid stealing the sword of Mars—and German–silver bracelets.
The children who came in for “haʼporths of specked” forgot their errand
and hopes of prigging, and, sucking their lips with wild admiration,
cried “Lor now! Ainʼt she stunnin?” “Spexs her sweetheart in a coach
and four,” exclaimed one little girl of great penetration; “oh give us
a ride, miss, when he comes.”

That little girl was right, to a limited extent. Polly did expect
her sweetheart; not in a coach and four, however, but in a smallish
tax–cart, chestnut–coloured, picked out with white; on the panel
whereof was painted, as the Act directs, “Robert Clinkers, Junior,
Coal–merchant, Hammersmith.” Mr. Clinkers, whose first visit had
been paid simply from pity for Cradock, and to acquit himself of all
complicity in Hearty Wibrahamʼs swindle, had called again to make kind
inquiries, after finding how ill the poor fellow was, and that his
landlady sold coals. Nor was it long before he ventured to propose
an arrangement, mutually beneficial, under which the Ducksacre firm
should receive their supply from him. Two or three councils were held,
but the ladies were obliged to surrender at last, because he was so
complimentary, and had such nice white teeth, and spoke in such a
feeling manner of his dear departed angel. On the other hand, their old
wharfinger would come blustering about his sacks, loud enough to make
the potatoes jump, and he kept such impudent men, and bit his nails
without any manners, and called them both “Mrs. Acreducks.”

During this Clinkerian diplomacy, Polly showed such shrewdness, and
such a nice foot and ancle, and had such a manner of rolling her
eyes—blacker and brighter than best Wallsend—that the coals of love
were laid, the match struck, the fire kindled, and drawing well up the
hearth–place, before Robert Clinkers knew what he was at. And now he
came every evening, bringing two sacks of coal with him, and sat on a
bag of Barcelonas, and cracked, and gazed at Polly.

“Miss Ducksacre, you should sell lemonade,’” he had said only Saturday
last, which was Christmas Eve, “it is such a genteel drink, you know,
when a chap is consumed with internal fires, as the great poet says—him
as wrote the operas, or the copperas, bless me, I never know which it
is; likely you can tell, miss?”

“Lor, Mr. Clinkers, why, the proper name is hopperas; we shows the
boards, and we gets a ticket, when nobody else wonʼt go.”

“Oh now! Do you, though? Ah, I was there, afore ever I knew what life
was. A tricksome thing is life, Miss Polly, especially for a ‘andsome
female, and no young fellow to be trusted with it. Valuable cargo on
green wood. Sure to come to shipwreck.”

“Lor, Mr. Clinkers, you donʼt mean _me_! I am sure I am not at all
handsome.”

“Then there isnʼt one in London, miss. Coals is coals, and fire is
fire—oh, I should like some lemonade, with a drop of rum in it. Would
you join me in it now, if I just pop round the corner? It would make
you feel so nice now.”

“Do I ever feel anything else but nice?” Oh, Polly, what a _leading_
question!

“I wishes it was in my province now, with the deepest respect, to try!”
Here Polly flashed away, though nobody was pursuing her, got behind
some Penzance broccoli, and seized a half–pottle to defend herself. Mr.
Clinkers, knowing what he was about, appealed to a bunch of mistletoe,
under which, in distracting distraction, the young lady had taken
refuge.

“Now nobody else in all this London,” said the coal–merchant to the
berries, “in all this mighty Baal, as the poet beautifully expresses
it, especially if a young man, not over five–and–thirty, not so
very bad–looking but experienced in life, and with great veneration
for females, and a business, you may say, of three hundred a year
clear of income–tax and increasing yearly, and a contract with the
company, without no encumbrances, would ever go to think of letting
that beautiful young lady enjoy the sweets of retirement in that most
initing position, without plucking some of the pearls off, and no harm
done or taken. And nothing at all pervents me, no consideration of the
brockolo—could pay for it to–morrow morning—but my deepest respects,
not having my best togs on, through a cruel haxident. Please pigs
theyʼll come home to–morrow morning, and Iʼll do it on Monday, and lock
up yard at four oʼclock, if tailor has made a job of it. Look nice
indeed, and feel nice? I should like to know how she could help it!”

This explains why, when the wheels at the door proved to be not of
the sprightly tax–cart, but a lumbering cab, Polly was disappointed.
Neither was her displeasure removed when she saw a very pretty girl
get out, and glide into the shop, with the loveliest damask spreading
over the softest and clearest cheeks. Though Polly had made up her mind
about Cradock as now a bad speculation, it was not likely that she
should love yet any one who meant to have him.

Amy shrunk back as her nice clean skirt swept the grimy threshold.
She was not by any means fidgety, but had a nervous dislike of dirt,
as most upright natures have. Then she felt ashamed of herself, and
coloured yet more deeply to think that a place good enough for Cradock
should seem too sordid for her, indeed! And then her tears glanced in
the gas–light, that Cradock should ever have come to this, and partly,
no doubt, for her sake, though she never could tell how.

The little shop was afforested with Christmas–trees of all sorts and of
every pattern, as large as ever could be squeezed, with a knuckle of
root to keep them steady, into pots No. 32. The costermongers repudiate
larger pots, because they take too much room on a truck, and involve
the necessity of hiring a boy to push.

Aucuba, Irish yew, Portugal laurel, arbor vitæ, and bay–tree, but
most of all—and for the purpose by far the most convenient, because
of the hat–peg order—the stiff, self–confident, argumentative
spruce. All these, when they have done their spiriting, and yielded
long–remembered fun, will be fondly tended by gentle–hearted girls on
some suburban balcony; they will be watered enough to kill lignum vitæ;
patent compost will be bought at about the price of sugar; learned
consultations will be held between Sylvia and Lucilla; and then, as the
leaves grow daily more yellow, and papa is so provoking that he will
only shake his head (too sagaciously to commit himself), an earnest
appeal will be addressed to some of the gardening papers. Or perhaps
the tree will be planted, with no little ceremony, in the centre of
some grass–plot nearly as large as a counterpane; while the elder
members of the family, though bland enough to drink its health, regard
the measure as very unwise, because the house will be darkened so in a
few short years.

Meanwhile the editorʼs reply arrives—“Possibly Sylviaʼs tree has no
roots.” He is laughed to scorn for his ignorance, until little Charley
falls to work with his Ramsgate spade unbidden. _Factura nepotibus
umbram!_ It has been chopped all round the bole with a hatchet, and is
as likely to grow as a lucifer–match.

Through that Christmas Tabraca John Rosedew led his daughter, begging
her at every step to be careful of the trees, whose claims upon her
attention she postponed to those of her frock.

“Lor bless me, sir, is that you now, and your good lady along of you!
How glad I am, to be sure!”

“Miss Ducksacre, this is my daughter, Miss Amy Rosedew, of whom
you have heard me speak;” here John executed a flourish of great
complacency with his hat; “my only child, but as good to me as any
dozen could be. Will you allow her to stop here a minute, while I go
up–stairs?”

Amy was trembling now, more and more every moment, and John would not
ask how Cradock was, for fear of frightening his daughter.

“To be sure she can stay here,” said Polly, not over graciously; for if
Mr. Clinkers should come in the while, it might alter his ideal.

“Ah, so very sad; so very sad, miss, ainʼt it now?”

“Yes,” said Amy, having no desire to pursue the subject with Polly. But
Pollyʼs tongue could no more keep still than a frond of maiden–hair
fern in the draught of a river archway.

“Ah, so very sad! To think of him go, quite young as he is, to one of
them moonstruck smilems, where they makes rope–mats and tiger rugs! As
‘andsome a young man, miss, as ever I see off a hengine; and of course
he must be such, being as he is your brother.”

Before poor Amy could answer, Mrs. Ducksacre came to fetch her, and
frowned very hard at Polly, who began to look out of the window. In
spite of all her faith and hope, the child could scarcely get up the
stairs, till her father came to meet her.

“There is no one with him now, dear; Mrs. Jupp is in the sitting–room,
so very kindly lent us by the good landlady. Only two more pairs of
stairs, and there our Cradock lies, not a bit worse than he was; if
anything, a little better; and his faithful little Wena with him: she
wonʼt leave him, night or day, dear. Give me your hand, Amy. Why, I
declare, it is rather dark, when you get too far from the windows!
Madam, come in with us.”

But Eliza Ducksacre, though little versed in mintage, and taking
pig–rings for halfpence, knew when her presence had better be absence,
as well as a sleeping partner does at the associationʼs bankruptcy.
So, after showing them up to the door, she slipped away into the
side–cupboard which Mr. Rosedew had called a “sitting–room.”

Then John took Amyʼs bonnet off (after ruining the strings), and
stroked her pretty hair down, and took her young cheeks in his hands,
and begged her not to tremble so, because she would quite upset him.
Only she might cry a little, if she thought it would do her good. But
when she put her hand up, and gave a dry sob only, the father led her
very tenderly into the little chamber.

It was a wretched little room, like a casual pauperʼs home, when he
gets one, only much lower and smaller. Amy took all of it in at a
glance, for in matters of that sort a womanʼs perception is, when
compared to a manʼs, as forked lightning compared to a blunt dessert
fork.

She even knew why the bed was awry; which her father could sooner have
written ten scolia than discover. The bed was placed so because poor
Cradock, jumping up all of a sudden in an early stage of illness, and
before his head grew soft, had knocked a great piece of plaster away
from the projecting hip–beam.

Now Craddy was looking away from them, sitting up in the sack–cloth
bed, and trying with the sage gravity of fixed hallucination to read
some lines which his fancy had written on the glazed dirt that served
for a window. That window perhaps pronounced itself more by candlelight
than by daylight, and the landlord had forbidden any attempt at
cleaning it, because he knew that the frame would drop out. Two
candles, the residue of two pounds which Mr. Rosedew had paid for, only
helped to interpret the squalid room more forcibly.

While Amy stood there, shocked and frightened, and her father was
thinking what to say, the poor sick fellow turned towards them, and
his eyes met hers. She saw that the tint of her loverʼs eyes was gone
from a beautiful deep grey to the tone of a withered oak–leaf, the
pupils forthstanding haggardly, the whites dull and chased with blood
veins, the sockets marked with a cloudy blue, and channeled with storms
of sorrow; the countenance full of long suffering—gaunt, and wan, and
weary.

Amy could not weep, but gazed, never thinking anything, with all the
love and pity, devotion and faith eternal, which are sure to shine in a
womanʼs eyes when trouble strikes its light there. How different from
the shy maidʼs glance which, only a month or two ago, would have met
his youthful overtures! And how infinitely grander! Something of the
good All–Fatherʼs power and mercy in it.

She kept her eyes upon him. She had no power to move them. And they
changed exactly as his did. The pale glance wandering into her gaze,
with an appealing submissive motion, eager to settle somewhere, but
too faint to ask for sympathy, began to feel its way and fasten, began
to quiver with vibrant light and sense of resting somewhere, began to
quicken, flush, and deepen—from what fountain God only knows—then to
waver and suffuse (in feeble consciousness of grief), retire and return
again, fluttering to some remembered home, as a bird in the dark comes
to his nest; then to thrill, and beam, and sparkle with the light, the
life, the love.

So with a weak but joyful cry, like a shipwrecked man at his hearth
again, he stretched out both his wasted arms, and Amy was there without
knowing it. She laid his white cheek on her shoulder, and let her
hair flow over it; she held him up with her own pure breast, till his
worn heart beat on her warm one. Then she sobbed, and laughed, and
sobbed, and called him her world, and heart, and heaven, and kissed his
nestling forehead, and looked, and asked, oh, where the love was. All
she begged for was one word, just one little word, if you please, to
know who was to come to comfort him. Oh, he must know her—of course he
must—wouldnʼt she know him, that was all, though she hadnʼt a breath of
life left? His own, his faith, his truth, his love—his own—let him say
who, and she never would cry again. Only say it once, his own—

“Amy!”

“Yes, your Amy, Amy, Amy. Say it again, oh! say it again, my poor
everlasting love!”

Suddenly the barriers of his frozen grief were loosened. With a feeble
arm staying on her, although it could not cling to her, he burst into a
flood of tears, from the fountain of great waters whose source and home
is God.

Then John, who had stood at the door all the time, with his white head
bowed on his coat–sleeve, came forward and took a hand of each, knelt
by the bed, and gave thanks. They wanted not to talk of it, nor any
doctor to tell them. Because they had an angelʼs voice, that God would
be gracious to them.

“Darlings, didnʼt I tell you,” said Amy, looking up at them, with her
rich curls tear–bespangled, like a young grape–leaf in the vinery;
“donʼt you know that I was sure our Father would never forsake us; and
that even a simple thing like me might fetch back my own blessing? Oh,
you never would have loved me so; only God knew it was good for us.”

While she spoke, Cradock looked at her with a faint far–off
intelligence, not entering into her arguments. He only cared to hear
her voice; to see her every now and then; and touch her to make sure of
it; then to dream that it was an angel; then to wake and be very glad
that it was not, but was Amy.



CHAPTER III.


Slowly from that night, but surely, Cradockʼs mind began to return,
like a child to its mother, who is stretching forth her arms to it;
timid at first and wondering, and apt for a long time to reel and
stagger at very slight shocks or vibrations. Then as the water comes
over the ice in a gradual gentle thaw, beginning to gleam at the margin
first, where the reeds are and the willow–trees, then gliding slowly
and brightly on, following every skate–mark or line where a rope or
stick has been, till it flows into a limpid sheet; so crystal reason
dawned and wavered, felt its way and went on again, tracing many a
childish channel, many a dormant memory, across that dull lethargic
mind, until the bright surface was restored, and the lead line of
judgment could penetrate.

Mr. Rosedew quartered himself and his Amy at the Portland Hotel hard
by, and reckless of all expense moved Cradock into Mrs. Ducksacreʼs
very best room. He would have done this long ago, only the doctor would
not allow it. Then Amy, who did not like London at all, because there
were so few trees in it, hired some of the Christmas–grove from the
fair greengrocers, and decked out the little sitting–room, so that
Cradock had sweet visions of the Queenʼs bower mead. As for herself,
she would stay in the shop, perhaps half an hour together, and rejoice
in the ways of the children. All her pocket–money went into the till as
if you had taken a shovel to it. Barcelonas, Brazils, and cob–nuts she
was giving all day to the “warmints;” and golden oranges rolled before
her as from Atalantaʼs footstep.

It is a most wonderful fact, and far beyond my philosophy, that instead
of losing her roses in London, as a country girl ought to have done,
Amy bloomed with more Jacqueminot upon very bright occasions—more
Louise Odier constantly, with Goubalt in the dimples, then toning off
at any new fright to Malmaison, or Devoniensis—more of these roses now
carmined or mantled in the delicate turn of her cheeks than ever had
nestled and played there in the free air of the Forest. Good Aunt Doxy
was quite amazed on the Saturday afternoon, when meeting her brother
and niece at the station—for it made no difference in the outlay, and
the drive would do her good—she found, not a pale and withered child,
worn out with London racket, and freckled with dust and smokespots, but
the loveliest Amy she had ever yet seen—which was something indeed to
say,—with a brilliance of bloom which the good aunt at once proceeded
to test with her handkerchief.

But before the young lady left town—to wit, on the Friday evening—she
had a little talk with Rachel Jupp, or rather with strapping Issachar,
which nearly concerns our story.

“Oh, Miss Amy,” said Rachel that morning—”Miss Amy” sounded more
natural somehow than “Miss Rosedew” did—”so youʼre going away, miss,
after all, and never see my Looey; and a pretty child she is, and a
good one, and a quiet one, and father never lift hand to her now; and
the poor young gentleman saved her life, and he like her so much, and
she like him.”

“I will come and see her this evening, as you have so kindly asked me.
That is, with my papaʼs leave, and if you donʼt mind coming for me to
the inn at six oʼclock. I am afraid of walking by myself after dark in
London. My papa has found some books at the bookstalls, and he is so
delighted with them he never wants me after dinner.”

“Dear Miss Amy, would you mind, then—would you mind taking a drop of
tea with us?”

“To be sure I will. I mean, if it is quite convenient, and if you can
be spared here, and if—oh nothing else, Mrs. Jupp, only I shall be
most happy.” She was going to say, “and if you wonʼt make any great
preparations,” but she knew how sensitive poor people are at restraints
upon hospitality.

So grand preparations were made; and grander still they would have
been, and more formal and uncomfortable, if Amy had finished her
sentence. Rachel at once rushed off to her lord, whose barge–shaped
frame was moored alongside of his wharf, dreaming as stolidly as
none except a bargee can dream. He immediately shelled out seven and
sixpence from the cuddy of his inexpressibles, and left his wife to
her own devices, except in the matter of tea itself. The tea he was
resolved to fetch from a little shop in the barge–walk, where, as
Mother Hamp declared, who kept the tobacco–shop by the gate, they sold
tea as strong as brandy.

“If you please to excuse our Zakey, miss, taking no more tea,” said
Mrs. Jupp, after Issachar had laboured very hard at it, the host being
bound, in his opinion, to feast even as the guest did; “because he
belong to the antiteatotallers, as takes nothing no stronger than gin,
miss.”

“Darrnʼt take more nor one noggin of tay, miss,” cried Mr. Jupp,
touching his short front curl with a hand scrubbed in quick–lime and
copperas; “likes it, but it donʼt like me, miss. Makes me feel quite
intemperant like,—so narvous, and queer, and staggery. Looey, dear,
dadʼs mild mixture, for to speak the young ladyʼs health in. Leastways,
by your lave, miss.”

Dadʼs mild mixture soon made its appearance in a battered half–gallon
can, and Mr. Jupp was amazed and grieved that none but himself would
quaff any. The strongest and headiest stuff it was, which even the
publicans of London, alchymists of villainy, can quassify, and
cocculise, and nux–vomicise up to proof. Then, the wrath of hunger and
thirst being mollified, Issachar begged leave to smoke, if altogether
agreeable, and it would all go up the chimney; which, however, it
refrained from doing.

Now, while he is smoking, I may admit that the contents of Mr. Juppʼs
census–paper (if, indeed, he ever made legal entries, after punching
the collectorʼs head) have not been transcribed to the satisfaction
of the Registrar–General or Home–Office, or whoever or whatever he or
it is, who or which insists upon knowing nine times as much about us
as we know about ourselves. Mr. Jupp was a bargee of Catholic views;
“it warnʼt no odds to he” whether he worked upon wharf or water, sea
or river or canal, at coal, or hay, or lime, breeze, or hop–poles, or
anything else. Now and then he went down to Gravesend, or up the river
to Kingston or Staines; but his more legitimate area was navigable
by three canals, where a chap might find time to eat his dinner,
and give his wife and nag theirʼn. Issacharʼs love of nature always
culminated at one oʼclock; and then how he loved to halt his team under
a row of alders, and see the painted meadows gay, and have grub and
pipe accordinʼ. His three canals, affording these choice delights
unequally, were the Surrey, the Regentʼs, and the Basingstoke.

That last was, indeed, to his rural mind, the nearest approach to
Paradise; but as there is in all things a system of weights and
measures, Mr. Jupp got better wages upon the other two, and so could
not very often afford to indulge his love of the beautiful. Hence he
kept his household gods within reach of the yellow Tibers, and took
them only once a year for a treat upon the Anio. Then would Rachel Jupp
and Looey spend a summer month afloat, enjoying the rural glimpses
and the sliding quietude of inland navigation, and keeping the pot
a–boiling in the state–cabin of the _Enterprise_ or the _Industrious
Maiden_.

Now Amy having formed Looʼs acquaintance, and said what was right and
pretty in gratitude for their entertainment and faithful kindness to
Cradock, was just about to leave them, when Issachar Jupp delivered
this speech, very slowly, as a man who has got to the marrow and
popeʼs–eye of his pipe:—

“Now ‘scuse me for axing of you, miss, and if any ways wrong in so
doing, be onscrupulous for to say so, and no harm done or taken. But
I has my raisons for axing, from things as Iʼve a ‘earʼd him say, and
oncommon good raisons too. If you please, what be the arkerate name
and dwellinʼ–place of the young gent as saved our Loo? Mr. Clinkers
couldnʼt find out, miss, though he knowed as it warnʼt ‘Charles
Newman.’”

“Donʼt you know his story, then?” asked Amy, in some astonishment. “I
thought you knew all about it, and were so kind to him partly through
that, though you were kind enough not to talk to me about it.”

“We guesses a piece here and there, miss, since he talk so wild in his
illness. And thatʼs what made me be axing of you; for I knowed one
name right well as he out with once or twice; not at all a common name
nother. But we knows for sartin no more nor this, that he be an onlucky
young gent, and the best as ever come into these parts.”

“There can be no harm in my telling you, such faithful friends as you
are. And the sad tale is known to every one, far and wide, in our part
of Hampshire.”

“Hampshire, ah!” said Mr. Jupp, with a very mysterious look; “we knowed
Mr. Rosedew come from Hampshire, and that set us the more a–thinkinʼ
of it. Loo, child, run for dadʼs bacco–box, as were left to Mother
Richardsonʼs, and if it ainʼt there, try at Blinkin’ Davyʼs, and if he
ainʼt got it, try Mother Hamp.”

The child, sadly disappointed, for her eyes were large with hopes of
a secret about her “dear gentleman,” as she called Cradock, departed
upon her long errand. Then Amy told, as briefly as possible, all she
knew of the great mishap, and the misery which followed it. From time
to time her soft voice shook, and her tears would not be disciplined;
while Rachel Juppʼs strayed anyhow. But Issachar listened dryly and
sternly, with one great brown hand on his forehead. Not once did he
interrupt the young lady, by gesture, look, or question. But when she
had finished, he said very quietly,

“One name, miss, as have summat to do with it, Iʼve not ‘earʼd you
sinnify; and it were the sound o’ that very name as fust raised my
coorosity. ‘Scuse me, miss, but I wouldnʼt ax, only for good raison.”

“I hardly know what right I have to mention any other names,” replied
Amy, blushing and hesitating, for she did not wish to speak of Pearl
Garnet; “there is only one other name connected at all with the matter,
and that one of no importance.”

“Ah,” returned Jupp, with a glance as intense as a catʼs through a
dairy keyhole, “maybe the tow–rope ainʼt nothin’ to do with the goin’
of the barge, miss. That name didnʼt happen permiskious now to be the
name of Garnet, maʼam?”

“Yes, indeed it did. But how could you know that, Mr. Jupp?”

“Pearl Garnet were the name I ‘earʼd on, and that ainʼt a very common
name, leastways to my experience. Now, could it ‘ave ‘appened by a
haxident that her good fatherʼs name were Bull Garnet?”

Amy drew back, for Mr. Jupp, in his triumph and excitement, had laid
down his pipe, and was stretching out his unpeeled crate of a hand, as
if to take her by the shoulder, and shake the whole truth out of her.
It was his fashion with Rachel, and he quite forgot the difference.
Mrs. Jupp cried, “Zakey, Zakey!” in a tone of strong remonstrance. But
he was not abashed very seriously.

“It couldnʼt be now, could it, miss; it wornʼt in any way possible that
Pearl Garnetʼs father was ever known by the name of Bull Garnet?”

“But indeed that is his name, Mr. Jupp. Why should you be so
incredulous?”

“Oncredulous it be, miss; oncredulous, as I be a sinner. Rachey, whoʼd
ha’ thought it? How things does come about, to be sure! Now please to
tell me, miss—very careful, and not passinʼ lightly of anything; never
you mind how small it seem—every word you knows about Pearl Garnet and
that there—job there; and all you knows on her father too.”

“You must prove to me first, Mr. Jupp, that I have any right to do so.”

Issachar now was strongly excited, a condition most unusual with him,
except when his wife rebelled, and that she had, years ago, ceased to
do. He put his long black face, which was working so that the high
cheek–bones almost shut the little eyes, quite close to Amyʼs little
white ear, and whispered,

“If ye dunna tell me, yeʼll cry for it arl the life long, yeʼll never
right the innocent, and yeʼll let the guilty ride over ye. I canna
tell no more just now, but every word is gospel. I be no liar, miss,
though I be rough enough, God knows. Supposes He made me so.”

Then Amy, trembling at his words, and thinking that she had hurt his
feelings, put her soft little hand, for amends, into Zakeyʼs great
black piece of hold, which looked like the bilge of a barge; and he
wondered what to do with it, such a sort of chap as he was. He had
never heard of kissing a hand, and even if he had it would scarcely
be a timely offering, for he was having a chaw to compose himself—yet
he knew that he ought not, in good manners, to let go her hand in a
hurry; so what did he do but slip off a ring (one of those so–called
galvanic rings, in which sailors and bargemen have wonderful faith as
an antidote to rheumatics, tick dolorous, and the Caroline Morgan), and
this ring he passed down two of her fingers, for all females do love
trinkets so. Amy kept it carefully, and will put it on her chatelaine,
if ever she institutes one.

Then, being convinced by his words and manner, she told him everything
she knew about the Garnet family—their behaviour in and after the
great misfortune; the strange seclusion of Pearl, and Mr. Garnetʼs
illness. And then she recurred to some vague rumours which had preceded
their settlement in the New Forest. To all this Issachar listened,
without a word or a nod, but with his narrow forehead radiant with
concentration, his lips screwed up in a serrate ring, after the manner
of a medlar, and a series of winks so intensely sage that his barge
might have turned a corner with a team of eight blind horses, and no
nod wanted for one of them.

“Ainʼt there no more nor that, miss?” he asked, with some
disappointment, when the little tale was ended; “canʼt you racollack no
more?”

“No, indeed I cannot. And if you had not some important object, I
should be quite ashamed of telling you so much gossip. If I may ask you
a question now, what more did you expect me to tell you?”

“That they had knowʼd, miss, as Bull Garnet were Sir Cradock Nowellʼs
brother.”

“Mr. Garnet Sir Cradockʼs brother! You must be mistaken, Mr. Jupp. My
father has known Sir Cradock Nowell ever since he was ten years old;
and he could not have failed to know it, if it had been so.”

“Most like he do know it, miss. But dunna you tell him now, nor any
other charp. It be true as gospel for all that, though.”

“Then Robert and Pearl are Cradockʼs first cousins, and Mr. Garnet is
his uncle!”

“Not ezackly as you counts things,” answered the bargeman, looking at
the fire; “but in the way as we does.”

Amy felt that she must ask no more, at least upon that subject; and
that she was not likely to speak of it even to her father.

“Let him go, miss,” continued Issachar, referring now to Cradock; “let
him go for a long sea–vohoyage, same as doctor horders un. He be better
out of the way for a spell or two. The Basingstoke ainʼt fur enoo, whur
I meant to ‘ave took him. ‘A mun be quite out o’ the kintry till this
job be over like. And niver a word as to what I thinks to coom anigh
his ear, miss, if so be you vallies his raison.”

“But you forget, Mr. Jupp, that you have not told me, as yet, at all
what it is you do think. You said some things which frightened me, and
you told me one which astonished me. Beyond that I know nothing.”

“And better so, my dear young leddy, a vast deal better so. Only you
have the very best hopes, and keep your spirits roaring. Zakey Jupp
never take a thing in hand but what he go well through with it. Ask
Rachey about that. Now this were a casooal haxident, mind you, only a
casooal haxident——”

“Of course we all know that, Mr. Jupp. No one would dare to think
anything else.”

“Yes, yes; all right, miss. And weʼll find out who did the casooal
haxident—thatʼs all, miss, thatʼs all. Only you hold your tongue.”

She was obliged to be content with this, and on the whole it greatly
encouraged her. Then she returned to the Portland Hotel under convoy
of all the Jupp family, and Issachar got into two or three rows by
hustling every one out of her way. Although poor Amy was frightened
at this, no doubt it increased her faith in him through some feminine
process of dialectics unknown to the author of the Organon.

Though Amy could not bear to keep anything secret from her father,
having given her word she of course observed it, and John was greatly
surprised at the spirits in which his daughter took leave of Cradock.
But there were many points in Amyʼs character, as has been observed
before, which her father never understood; and he concluded that this
was a specimen of them, and was delighted to see her so cheerful.

Now, being returned to Nowelhurst, he held counsel with sister
Eudoxia, who thoroughly deserved to have a vote after contributing so
to the revenue. And the result of their Lateran—for they both were
bricks—council was as follows: That John was bound, howsoever much
it went against his proud stomach after his previous treatment, to
make one last appeal from the father according to the spirit to the
father according to the flesh, in favour of the unlucky son who was
now condemned to exile, so as at least to send him away in a manner
suitable to his birth. That, if this appeal were rejected, and the
appellant treated unpleasantly—which was almost sure to follow—he
could not, consistently with his honour and his clerical dignity, hold
any longer the benefices (paltry as they were), the gifts of a giver
now proved unkind. That thereupon Mr. Rosedew should first provide
for Cradockʼs voyage so far as his humble means and small influence
permitted; and after that should settle at Oxford, where he might get
parochial duty, and where his old tutorial fame and repute (now growing
European from a life of learning) would earn him plenty of pupils——

“And a professorship at least!” Miss Eudoxia broke in; for, much as she
nagged at her brother, she was proud as could be of his knowledge.

“Marry, ay, and a bishopric,” John answered, smiling pleasantly; “you
have often menaced me, Doxy dear, with Jemimaʼs apron.”

So, on a bright day in January, John Rosedew said to Jem Pottles,
“Saddle me the horse, James.” And they saddled him the “horse”—not so
called by his master through any false aggrandisement (such as maketh
us talk of “the servants,” when we have only got a maid–of–all–work),
but because the parson, in pure faith, regarded him as a horse of full
equine stature and super–equine powers.

After tightening up the girths, then—for that noble cob, at the
saddling period, blew himself out with a large sense of humour
(unappreciated by the biped who bestraddled him unwarily), an abdominal
sense of humour which, as one touch of nature makes the whole world
kin, induced the pigskin to circulate after the manner of a brass dogʼs
collar—tush, I mean a dogʼs brass collar—in order to learn what the
joke was down in those festive regions; therefore, having buckled him
up six inches, till the witty nag creaked like a tight–laced maid,
away rode the parson towards the Hall. Much liefer would he have walked
by the well–known and pleasant footpath, but he felt himself bound, as
one may say, to go in real style, sir.

The more he reflected upon the nature of his errand, the fainter grew
his hopes of success; he even feared that his ancient friendship would
not procure him a hearing, so absorbed were all the echoes of memory in
the pique of parental jealousy, and the cajoleries of a woman. And the
consequences of failure—how bitter they must be to him and his little
household! Moreover, he dearly loved his two little quiet parishes;
and, though he reaped more tithe from them in kindness than in kind or
by commutation, to his contented mind they were far sweeter than the
incumbency of Libya–cum–Gades, and both Pœni for his beadles.

He thought of Amy with a bitter pang, and of his sister with heaviness,
as he laid his hand—for he never used whip—on the fat flank of the pony
to urge him almost to a good round trot, that suspense might sooner be
done with. And when the Hall was at last before him, he rode up, not to
the little postern hard by the housekeeperʼs snuggery (which had seemed
of old to be made for him), but to the grand front entrance, where the
orange–trees in tubs were, and the myrtles, and the pilasters.

Most of the trees had been removed, with the aid of little go–carts,
before the frosts began; but they impressed John Rosedew none
the less, so far as his placid and simple mind was open to small
impressions.

Dismounting from Coræbus, whose rusty snaffle and mildewed reins would
have been a disgrace to any horse, as Amy said every day, he rang the
main entrance bell, and wondered whether they would let him in.

That journey had cost him a very severe battle, to bear himself humbly
before the wrong, and to do it in the cause of the injured. In the true
and noble sense of pride, there could not be a prouder man than the
gentle parson. But he ruled that noble human pride with its grander
element, left in it by the Son of God, His incarnationʼs legacy, the
pride which never apes, but is itself humility.

At last the door was opened, not by the spruce young footman (who
used to look so much at Amy, and speer about as to her expectations,
because she was only a parsonʼs daughter), but by that ancient and most
respectable Job Hogstaff, patriarch of butlers. Dull and dim as his
eyes were growing, Job, who now spent most of his time in looking for
those who never came, had made out Mr. Rosedewʼs approach, by virtue of
the ponyʼs most unmistakable shamble. Therefore he pulled down his best
coat from a jug–crook, twitched his white hair to due stiffness, pushed
the ostiary footman back with a scorn which rankled for many a day
under a zebra waistcoat, and hobbled off at his utmost pace to admit
the visitor now so strange, though once it was strange without him.

Mr. Rosedew walked in very slowly and stiffly, then turned aside to a
tufted mat, and began to wipe his shoes in the most elaborate manner,
though there was not a particle of dirt upon them. Old Jobʼs eyes
blinked vaguely at him: he felt there was something wrong in that.

“Donʼt ye do that, sir, now; for Godʼs sake donʼt do that. I canʼt
abear it; and thatʼs the truth.”

Full well the old man remembered how different, in the happy days, had
been John Rosedewʼs entrance; and now every scrub on the mat was a rub
on his shaky hard–worn heart.

Mr. Rosedew looked mildly surprised, for his apprehension (as we know)
was swifter on paper than pavement. But he held forth his firm strong
hand, and the old man bowed tearfully over it.

“Any news of our boy, sir? Any news of my boy as was?”

“Yes, Job; very bad news. He has been terribly ill in London, and
nobody there to care for him.”

“Then Iʼll throw up my situation, sir. Manyʼs the time I have
threatened them, but didnʼt like to be too hard like. And pretty goings
on thereʼd be, without old Job in the pantry. But I bainʼt bound
to stand everything for the saving of them as goes on so. And that
Hismallitish woman, as find fault with my buckles, and nice things
she herself wear—Iʼd a given notice a week next Monday, but that I
likes Miss Oa so, and feel myself bound, as you may say, to see out
this Sir Cradock; folk would say I were shabby to leave him now he be
gettin’ elderly. Man and boy for sixty year, and began no more than
boot–cleaning; man and boy for sixty–three year, come next Lammas–tide.
I should like it upon my tombstone, sir, with what God pleases added,
if I not make too bold, and you the master of the churchyard, if so be
you should live long enough, when my turn come, God willing.”

“It will not be in my power, Job. But if ever it is, you may trust me.”

“And I wants that in I was tellin’ my niece about, ‘Put Thy hand in the
hollow of my thigh.’ Holy Bible, you know, sir, and none canʼt object
to that.”

“Come, Job, my good friend, you must not talk so sepulchrally. Leave
His own good time to God.”

“To be sure, sir; I bainʼt in no hurry yet. Iʼve a sight of things to
see to, and my master must go first, he be so very particular. Iʼll
live to see the young master yet, as my duty is for to do. _He_ ‘ont
carry on with a Hismallitish woman; _he_ ‘ont say, ‘What, Hogstaff, are
your wits gone wool–gatherinʼ?’ and his own wits all the time, sir,
fleeced, fleeced, fleeced——”

Here John Rosedew cut short the contrast between the present and the
future master (which would soon have assumed a golden tinge as of the
Fourth Eclogue), for the parson was too much a gentleman to foster
millennial views at the expense of the head of the household.

“Job, take my card to your master; and tell him, with my compliments,
that I wish to see him alone, if he will so far oblige me. By–the–by,
I ought to have written first, to request an interview; but it never
occurred to me.”

He could scarcely help sighing as he thought of formality
re–established on the ruins of familiarity.

“Heʼll be in the little coved room, no doubt, long o’ that Hismallitish
woman. But step in here a moment, sir.”

Instead of passing the doorway, which the butler had thrown open for
him, Mr. Rosedew stood scrupulously on the mat, as if it marked his
territory, until the old man came back and showed him into the black
oak parlour.

The little coved room was calmly and sweetly equal to the emergency.
The moment Jobʼs heels were out of sight, Mrs. Corklemore, who had
been indulging in a nice little chat with Sir Cradock, “when she
ought to have been at work all the while, plain–sewing for her little
household, for who was to keep the wolf from the door, if she shrank
from a womanʼs mission—though irksome to her, she must confess, for it
did hurt her poor fingers so”—here she held up a dish–cloth rather
rougher than a coal–sack, which she had stolen cleverly from her hostʼs
own lower regions, and did not know from a glass–cloth; but it suited
her because it was brown, and set off her lily hands so;—”oh, Uncle
Cradock, in all this there is something sweetly sacred, because it
speaks of _home_!” She was darning it all the while with white silk,
and took good care to push it away when any servant came in. It had
lasted her now for a week, and had earned her a hundred guineas, having
made the most profound impression upon its legitimate owner. She would
earn another hundred before the week was out by knitting a pair of
rough worsted socks for her little Flore, “though it made her heart
bleed to think how that poor child hated the feel of them.”

Now she rose in haste from her chair, and pushed the fortunate
dish–cloth, with a very expressive air, into her pretty work–basket,
and drew the strings loudly over it.

“What are you going for, Georgie? You need not leave the room, I am
sure.”

“Yes, uncle dear, I must. You are so clear and so honest, I know; and
most likely I take it from you. But I could not have anything to do
with any secret dealings, uncle, even though you wished it, which I am
sure you never could. I never could keep a secret, uncle, because I
am so shallow. Whenever secrecy is requested, I feel as if there was
something dishonest, either done or contemplated. Very foolish of me, I
know, but my nature is so childishly open. And of course Mr. Rosedew
has a perfect right, and is indeed very wise, to conceal his scheme
with respect to his daughter.”

“Georgie, stay in this room, if you please; he is not coming here.”

“But that poor simple Amy will, if he has brought her with him. Well, I
will stay here and lecture her, uncle, about her behaviour to you.”

After all this the old man set forth, in some little irritation, to
receive his once–loved friend. He entered the black oak parlour in a
cold and stately manner, and bowed without a word to John, who had
crossed the room to meet him. The parson held out his hand, as a lover
and preacher of peace should do; but the offer, ay, and the honour too,
not being at all appreciated, he withdrew it with a crimson blush all
over his bright clear cheeks, as deep as his daughterʼs would have been.

Then Sir Cradock Nowell, trying to seem quite calm and collected,
addressed his visitor thus:

“Sir, I am indebted to you for the honour of this visit. I apologize
for receiving you in a room without a fire. Pray take a chair. I have
no doubt that your intentions are kind towards me.”

“I thank you,” replied the parson, speaking much faster than usual,
and with the frill of his shirt–front rising; “I thank you, Sir
Cradock Nowell; but I will not sit down in the house of a gentleman
who declines to take my hand. I am here much against my own wishes,
and only because I supposed that it was my duty to come. I am here
on behalf of your son, a noble but most unfortunate youth, and now in
great trouble of mind.”

If he had only said “in great bodily danger,” it might have made a
difference.

“Your interest in him is very kind; and I trust that he will be
grateful, which he never was to me. He has left his home in defiance of
me. I can do nothing for him until he comes back, and is penitent. But
surely the question concerns me rather than you, Mr. Rosedew.”

“I am sorry to find,” answered John, quite calmly, “that you think me
guilty of impertinent meddling. But even that I would bear, as becomes
my age and my profession,”—here he gave Sir Cradock a glance, which was
thoroughly understood, because they had been at school together,—”and
more than that I would do, Cradock Nowell, for a man I have loved like
you, sir.”

That “sir” came out very oddly. John poked it in, as a retractation
for having called him “Cradock Nowell,” and as a salve to his own
self–respect, lest he should have been too appealing. And to follow up
this view of the subject, he made a bow such as no man makes to one
from whom he begs anything. But Sir Cradock Nowell lost altogether the
excellence of the bow. The parson had put up his knee in a way which
took the old man back to Sherborne. His mind was there playing cob–nut
as fifty years since, with John Rosedew. Once more he saw the ruddy,
and then pugnacious, John bringing his calf up, and priming his knee,
for the cob–nut to lie upon it. This he always used to do, and not care
a flip for the whack upon it, instead of using his blue cloth cap, as
all the rest of the boys did; because his father and mother were poor,
and could only afford him one cap in a year.

And so the grand bow was wasted, as most formalities are: but if John
had only known when to stop, it might have been all right after all, in
spite of Georgie Corklemore. But urged by the last infirmity (except
gout) of noble minds, our parsons never do know the proper time to
stop. Excellent men, and admirable, they make us shrink from eternity,
by proving themselves the type of it. Mr. Rosedew spoke well and
eloquently, as he was sure to do; but it would have been better for his
cause if he had simply described the sonʼs distress, and left the rest
to the fatherʼs heart. At one time, indeed, poor old Sir Cradock, who
was obstinate and misguided, rather than cold and unloving, began to
relent, and a fatherly yearning fluttered in his grey–lashed eyes.

But at this critical moment, three little kicks at the door were heard,
and the handle rattled briskly; then a shrill little voice came through
the keyhole:

“Oh pease let Fore tum in. Pease do, pease do, pease do. Me ‘ost me
ummy top. Oh you naughty bad door!”

Then another kick was administered by small but passionate toe–toes. Of
course your mother did not send you, innocent bright–haired popples,
and with a lie so pat and glib in that pouting pearl–set mouth. Foolish
mother, if she did, though it seal Attalic bargain!

Sir Cradock went to the door, and gently ordered the child away. But
the interruption had been enough—_ibi omnis effusus labor_. When he
returned and faced John Rosedew the manner of his visage was altered.
The child had reminded him of her mother, and that graceful, gushing,
loving nature, which tried so hard not to doubt the minister. So he did
what a man in the wrong generally does instinctively; he swept back the
tide of war into his adversaryʼs country.

“You take a very strong interest, sir, in one whose nearest relations
have been compelled to abandon him.”

“I thought that your greatest grievance with him was that he had
abandoned you.”

“Excuse me; I cannot split hairs. All I mean is that something has come
to my knowledge—not through the proper channel, not from those who
ought to have told me—something which makes your advocacy seem a little
less disinterested than I might have supposed it to be.”

“Have the kindness to tell me what it is.”

“Oh, perhaps a mere nothing. But it seems a significant rumour.”

“What rumour, if you please?”

“That my—that Cradock Nowell is attached to your daughter, who behaved
so ill to me. Of course, it is not true?”

“Perfectly true, every word of it.” And John Rosedew looked at Sir
Cradock Nowell as proudly as ever a father looked. Amy, in his opinion,
was peeress for any mortal. And perhaps he was not presumptuous.

“Ah!” was the only reply he received: an “ah” drawn out into half an
ell.

“Why, I would have told you long ago, the moment that I knew it, but
for your great trouble, and your bitterness towards him. You have often
wished that a son of yours should marry my daughter Amy. Surely you
will not blame him for desiring to do as you wished?”

“No, because he is young and foolish; but I may blame you for
encouraging it, now that he is the only one.”

“Do you dare to think that I am in any way influenced by interested
motives?”

“I dare to think what I please. No bullying here, John, if you please.
We all know how combative you are. And, now you have forced me to it,
I will tell you what will be the conviction, ay, and the expression of
every one in this county, except those who are afraid of you. ‘Mr.
Rosedew has entrapped the future Sir Cradock Nowell, hushed up the
crime, and made all snug for his daughter at Nowelhurst Hall.’”

Sir Cradock did not mean half his words, any more than the rest of us
do, when hurt; and he was bitterly sorry for them the moment they were
uttered. They put an impassable barrier between him and John Rosedew,
between him and his own conscience, for many a day and night to come.

Have you ever seen a pure good man, a man of large intellect and heart,
a lover of truth and justice more than of himself, confront, without
warning, some black charge, some despicable calumny, in a word (for I
love strong English, and nothing else will tell it), some damned lie?
If not, I hope you never may, for it makes a manʼs heart burn so.

John Rosedew was not of the violent order. Indeed, as his sister
Eudoxia said, and to her own great comfort knew, his cistern of
wrathfulness was so small, and the supply–pipe so unready—as must be
where the lower passions filter through the intellect—that most people
thought it impossible “to put the parson out.” And very few of those
who knew him could have borne to make the trial.

Even now, hurt as he was to the very depth of his heart, he was
indignant more than angry.

“It would have been more manly of you, Sir Cradock Nowell, to have said
this very mean thing yourself, than to have put it into the mouths of
others. I grieve for you, and for myself, that so mean a man was ever
my friend. Perhaps you have still some relics of gentlemanly feeling
which will lead you to perform a hostʼs duty towards his visitor. Have
the kindness to order my horse.”

Then John Rosedew, so punctilious, so polite to the poorest cottager,
turned his broad back upon the baronet, and as he slowly walked to the
door, these words came over his shoulder:—

“To–day you will receive my resignation of your two benefices. If
I live a few years more, I will repay you all they have brought me
above a curateʼs stipend. My daughter is no fortune–hunter. She never
shall see your son again, unless he renounce you and yours for ever,
or you come and implore us humbly as now you have spoken arrogantly,
contemptibly, and meanly.”

Then, fearing lest he had been too grand about a little matter—not his
daughterʼs marriage, but the aspersion upon himself—he closed the door
very carefully, so as not to make any noise, and walked away towards
his home, forgetting Coræbus utterly. And, before his fine solid face
began to recover its healthy and bashful pink, he was visited by sore
misgivings as to his own behaviour; to wit, what claim had any man,
however elate with the pride of right and the scorn of wrong, to talk
about any fellow–man becoming humble to him? Nevertheless, he could not
manage to retract the wrong expression in his letter of resignation;
not from any false pride—oh no!—but for fear of being misunderstood.
But that very night he craved pardon of Him before whom alone we need
humbly bow; who alone can grant us anything.



CHAPTER IV.


What is lovelier, just when Autumn throws her lace around us, and begs
us not to begin to think of any spiteful winter, because she has not
yet unfolded half the wealth of her bosom, and will not look over her
shoulder—when we take that rich one gaily for her gifts of beauty; what
among her clustered hair, freshened with the hoar–frost in imitation of
the Spring (all fashions do recur so), tell us what can be more pretty,
pearly, light, and elegant, more memoried of maidenhood, than a jolly
spiderʼs web?

See how the diamonds quiver and sparkle in the September morning; what
jeweller could have set them so? All of graduated light and metrical
proportion, every third pre–eminent, strung on soft aerial tension,
as of woven hoar–frost, and every carrying thread encrusted with the
breath of fairies, then crossed and latticed at just angles, with
narrowing interstices, to a radiated octagon—the more we look, the
more we wonder at the perfect tracery. Then, if we gently breathe
upon it, or a leaf of the bramble shivers, how from the open centre
a whiff of waving motion flows down every vibrant radius, every weft
accepts the waft slowly and lulling vibration, every stay–rope jerks
and quivers, and all the fleeting subtilty expands, contracts, and
undulates.

Yet if an elegant spider glide out, exquisite, many–dappled, pellucid
like a Scotch pebble or a calceolaria, with a dozen dimples upon his
back, and eight fierce eyes all up for business, the moment he slips
from the blackberry–leaf all sense of beauty is lost to the gazer,
because he thinks of rapacity.

And so, I fear, John Rosedewʼs hat described in the air a flourish of
more courtesy than cordiality, when he saw Mrs. Corklemore gliding
forth from the bend of the road in front of him. Although she had left
the house after him, by the help of a short cut through the gardens,
where the rector would no longer take the liberty of trespassing, she
contrived to meet him as if herself returning from the village.

“Oh, Mr. Rosedew, I am so glad to see you,” cried Georgie, as he tried
to escape with his bow: “what a fortunate accident!”

“Indeed!” said John, not meaning to be rude, but unwittingly suggesting
a modified view of the bliss.

“Ah, I am so sorry; but you are prejudiced against me, I fear, because
my simple convictions incline me to the Low Church view.”

That hit was a very clever one. No other bolt she could have shot would
have brought the parson to bay so, upon his homeward road, with the
important news he bore.

“I assure you, Mrs. Corklemore, I beg to assure you most distinctly,
that you are quite wrong in thinking that. Most truly I hope that I
have allowed no prejudice, upon such grounds, to dwell for a moment
with me.”

“Then you are not a ritualist? And you think, so far as I understand
you, that the Low Church people are quite as good as the High Church?”

“I hope they are as good; still I doubt their being as right. But
charity is greater even than faith and hope. And, for the sake of
charity, I would wash all rubrics white. If the living are rebuked for
lagging to bury their dead, how shall they be praised for battling over
the Burial Service?”

Mrs. Corklemore, quick as she was, did not understand the allusion. Mr.
Rosedew referred to a paltry dissension over a corpse in Oxfordshire,
which had created strong disgust, far and near, among believers; while
infidels gloried in it. It cannot be too soon forgotten and forgiven.

“Oh, Mr. Rosedew, I am so glad that your sentiments are so liberal. I
had always feared that liberal sentiments proceeded from, or at least
were associated with, weak faith.”

“I hope not, madam. The most liberal One I have ever read of was God as
well as man. But I cannot speak of such matters casually, as I would
talk of the weather. If your mind is uneasy, and I can in any way help
you, it is my duty to do so.”

“Oh, thank you. No; I donʼt think I could do that. We are such
Protestants at Coo Nest. Forgive me, I see I have hurt you.”

“You misunderstand me purposely,” said John Rosedew, with that crack of
perception which comes (like a chapped lip) suddenly to folks who are
too charitable, “or else you take a strangely intensified view of the
simplest matters. All I intended was——”

“Oh yes, oh yes, I am always misunderstanding everybody. I am so
dreadfully stupid and simple. But you _will_ relieve my mind, Mr.
Rosedew?”

Here Georgie held out the most beautiful hand that ever darned a
dish–cloth, so white, and warm, and dainty, from her glove and pink
muff–lining. Mr. Rosedew, of course, was compelled to take it, and she
left it a long time with him.

“To be sure I will, if it is in my power, and you will only tell me
how.”

“It is simply this,” she answered, meekly, dropping her eyes, and
sighing; “I do so long to do good works, and never can tell how to set
about it. Unhappily, I am brought so much more into contact with the
worldly–minded, than with those who would improve me, and I feel the
lack of something, something sadly deficient in my spiritual state.
Could you assign me a district anywhere? I am sadly ignorant, but I
might do some little ministering, feeling as I do for every one. If it
were only ten cottages, with an interesting sheep–stealer! Oh, that
would be so charming. Can I have a sheep–stealer?”

“I fear I cannot accommodate you”—the parson was smiling in spite of
himself, she looked so beautifully earnest; “we have no felons here,
and scarcely even a hen–stealer. Though I must not take any credit
for that. Every house in the village is Sir Cradock Nowellʼs, and Mr.
Garnet is not long in ousting the evil–doers.”

“Oh, Sir Cradock; poor Sir Cradock!” Here she came to the real object
of her expedition. “Oh, Mr. Rosedew, tell me kindly, as a Christian
minister; I am in so difficult a position,—have you noticed in poor Sir
Cradock anything strange of late, anything odd and lamentable?”

Mr. Rosedew hated to be called a “minister,”—the Dissenters love the
word so, and even the great John had his weaknesses.

“I trust I should tell you the truth, Mrs. Corklemore, whether invoked
as a minister, or asked simply as a man.”

“No doubt you would—of course you would. I am always making such
mistakes. I am so unused to clever people. But do tell me, in any
capacity which may suit you best”—it was foolish of her not to forego
that little repartee—”whether you have observed of late anything odd
and deplorable, anything we who love him so——” Here she hesitated, and
wiped her eyes.

“Though Sir Cradock Nowell,” replied Mr. Rosedew, slowly, and buttoning
up his coat at the risk of spoiling his cockʼs–comb frill, “is no
longer my dearest friend, as he was for nearly fifty years, it does
not become me to speak about him confidentially and disparagingly
to a lady whom I have not had the honour of seeing more than four
times, including therein the celebration of Divine service, at which a
district–visitor should attend with _some_ regularity, if only for the
sake of example. Mrs. Corklemore, I have the honour of wishing you good
morning.”

Although the parson had neither desire nor power to pierce the ladyʼs
schemes, he felt, by that peculiar instinct which truly honest men have
(though they do not always use it), that the lady was dishonest, and
dishonestly seeking something. Else had he never uttered a speech so
unlike his usual courtesy. As for poor simple Georgie, she was rolled
over too completely to do anything but gasp. Then she went to the gorse
to recover herself; and presently she laughed, not spitefully, but with
real amusement at her own discomfiture.

Being quite a young woman still, and therefore not _spe longa_,
and feeling a want of sympathy in waiting for dead menʼs shoes,
Mrs. Corklemore, who had some genius—if creative power prove it;
if _gignere_, not _gigni_, be taken as the test, though perhaps it
requires both of them,—that sweet mother of a sweeter child (if so
much of the saccharine be admitted by Chancellors of the Exchequer,
themselves men of more alcohol), what did she do but devise a scheme
to wear the shoes, _ipso vivo_, and put the old gentleman into the
slippers.

How very desirable it was that Nowelhurst Hall, and those vast estates,
should be in the possession of some one who knew how to enjoy them,
and make a proper use of them! Poor Sir Cradock never could do so; it
was painfully evident that he never more could discharge his duties
to society, that he was listless, passive, somnolent,—somnambulant
perhaps she ought to say, a man walking in a dream. She had heard
of cases,—more than that, she had actually known them,—sad cases in
which that pressure on the brain, which so frequently accompanies the
slow reaction from sudden and terrible trials, had crushed the reason
altogether, especially after a “certain age.” What a pity! And it might
be twenty years yet before it pleased God to remove him. He had a tough
and wiry look about him. In common kindness and humanity, something
surely ought to be done to relieve him, to make him happier.

Nothing rough, of course; nothing harsh or coercive. No personal
restraint whatever, for the poor old dear was not dangerous; only to
make him what she believed was called a “Committee in Chancery”—there
she was wrong, for the guardian is the Committee—and then Mr.
Corklemore, of course, and Mr. Kettledrum would act for him. At least
she should think so, unless there was some obnoxious trustee, under his
marriage–settlement. That settlement must be got at; so much depended
upon it. Probably young Cradock would succeed thereunder to all the
settled estate upon his fatherʼs death. If so, there was nothing for
it, except to make him incapable, by convicting him of felony. Poor
fellow! She had no wish to hang him. She would not have done it for the
world; and she had heard he was so good–looking. But there was no fear
of his being hanged, like the son of a tradesman or peasant.

Well, when he was transported for life, with every facility for
repentance, who would be the next to come bothering? Why, that odious
Eoa. As for her, she would hang her to–morrow, if she could only get
the chance. Though she believed it would never hurt her; for the child
could stand upon nothing. Impudent wretch! Only yesterday she had
frightened Georgie out of her life again. And there was no possibility
of obtaining a proper influence over her. There was hardly any crime
which that girl would hesitate at, when excited. What a lamentable
state of morality! She might be made to choke Amy Rosedew, her rival
in Bobʼs affection. But no, that would never do. Too much crime in one
family. How would society look upon them? And it would make the house
unpleasant to live in. There was a simpler way of quenching Eoa—deny at
once her legitimacy. The chances were ten to one against her having
been born in wedlock—such a loose, wild man as her father was. And even
if she had been, why, the chances were ten to one against her being
able to prove it. Whereas it would be very easy to get a few Hindoos,
or Coolies, or whatever they were, to state their opinion about her
mother.

Well, supposing all this nicely managed, what next? Why, let poor Sir
Cradock live out his time, as he would be in her hands entirely, and
would grow more and more incapable; and when it pleased God to release
him, why then, “thou and Ziba divide the land,” and for the sake of her
dear little Flore, she would take good care that the Kettledrums did
not get too much.

This programme was a far bolder one than that with which Mrs.
Corklemore had first arrived at the Hall. But she was getting on so
well, that of course her views and desires expanded. All she meant at
first was to gain influence over her host, and irrevocably estrange
him from his surviving son, by delicate insinuations upon the subject
of fratricide; at the same time to make Eoa do something beyond
forgiveness, and then to confide the reward of virtue to obituary
gratitude.

Could anything be more innocent, perhaps we should say more laudable?
What man of us has not the privilege of knowing a dozen Christian
mothers, who would do things of nobler enterprise for the sake of their
little darlings?

But now, upon the broader gauge which the lady had selected, there were
two things to be done, ere ever the train got to the switches. One
was, to scatter right and left, behind and before, and up and down,
wonder, hesitancy, expectation, interrogation, commiseration, and every
other sort of whisper, confidential, suggestive, cumulative, as to poor
Sir Cradockʼs condition. The other thing was to find out the effect
in the main of his marriage–settlement. And this was by far the more
difficult.

Already Mrs. Corklemore had done a little business, without leaving
a tongue–print behind her, in the distributory process; and if Mr.
Rosedew could just have been brought, after that rude dismissal, to
say that he had indeed observed sad eccentricity, growing strangeness,
on the part of his ancient friend, why then he would be committed to a
line of most telling evidence, and the parish half bound to approval.

But Johnʼs high sense of honour, and low dislike of Georgie, had saved
him from the neat, and neatly–baited, trap.

That morning Mr. Rosedewʼs path was beset with beauty, though his
daughter failed to meet him; inasmuch as she very naturally awaited
him on the parish road. When he had left the chase, and was fetching
a compass by the river, along a quiet footway, elbowed like an old
oak–branch, overlapped with scraggy hawthorns, paved on either side
with good intention of primroses, there, just in a nested bend where
the bank overhangs the stream, and you would like to lie flat and flip
in a trout fly about the end of April, over the water came lightly
bounding, and on a mossy bank alighted, young Eoa Nowell.

“To and fro, thatʼs the way I go; donʼt you see, Uncle John, I must;
only the water is so narrow. It scarcely keeps me in practice.”

“Then your standard, my dear, must be very high. I should have thought
twice about that jump, in my very best days!”

“_You_ indeed!” said Eoa, with the most complacent contempt; eyeing the
parsonʼs thick–set figure and anterior development.

“Nevertheless,” replied John, with a laugh, “it is but seven and forty
years since I won first prize at Sherborne, both for the long leap
and the high leap; and proud enough I was, Eoa, of sixteen feet four
inches. But I should have had no chance, thatʼs certain, if you had
entered for the stakes.”

“But how could I be there, Uncle John, donʼt you see, thirty years
before I was born?”

“My dear, I am quite prepared to admit the validity of your excuse.
Tyrio cothurno! child, what have you got on?”

“Oh, I found them in an old cupboard, with tops, and whips, and
whistles; and I made Mother Biddy take them in at the ancle, because I
do hate needles so. And I wear them, not on account of the dirt, but
because people in this country are so nasty and particular; and now
they canʼt say a word against me. Thatʼs one comfort, at any rate.”

She wore a smart pair of poor Claytonʼs vamplets, and a dark
morning–frock drawn tightly in, with a little of the skirt tucked up,
and a black felt hat with an ostrich feather, and her masses of hair
rolled closely. As the bright colour shone in her cheeks, and the
heartlight outsparkled the sun in her eyes, John Rosedew thought that
he had never seen such a wildly beautiful, and yet perfectly innocent,
creature.

“Well, I donʼt know,” he answered, very gravely, “about your gaiters
proving a Palladium against calumny. But one thing is certain, Eoa,
your face will, to all who look at you. But why donʼt you ride, my dear
child, if you must have such rapid exercise?”

“Because they wonʼt let me get up the proper way on a horse. Me to
sit cramped up between two horns, as if a horse was a cow! Me, who
can stand on the back of a horse going at full gallop! But it doesnʼt
matter now much. Nobody seems to like me for it.”

She spoke in so wistful and sad a tone, and cast down her eyes so
bashfully, that the old man, who loved her heartily, longed to know
what the matter was.

“Nobody likes you, Eoa! Why, everybody likes you. You are stealing
everybodyʼs heart. My Amy would be quite jealous, only she likes you so
much herself.”

“I am sure, I have more cause to be jealous of her. Some people like
me, I know, very much; but not the people I want to do it.”

“Oh, then you donʼt want us to do it. What harm have we done, Eoa?”

“You donʼt understand me at all, Uncle John. And perhaps you donʼt want
to do it. And yet I did think that you ought to know, as the clergyman
of the parish. But I never seem to have right ideas of anything in this
country!”

“Tell me, my dear,” said Mr. Rosedew, taking her hand, and speaking
softly, for he saw two great tears stealing out from the dark shadow of
her lashes, and rolling down the cheeks that had been so bright but a
minute ago; “tell me, as if you were my own daughter, what vexes your
pure heart so. Very likely I can help you, and I will promise to tell
no one.”

“Oh no, Uncle John, you never can help me. Nobody in the world can help
me. But do you think that you ought to know?”

“That depends upon the subject, my dear. Not if it is a family–secret,
or otherwise out of my province. But if it is anything with which I
have to deal, or which I understand——”

“Oh yes, oh yes! Because you manage, you manage all—all the banns of
matrimony.”

This last word was whispered with such a sob of despairing
tantalization, that John, although he was very sorry, could scarcely
keep from laughing.

“You need not laugh, Uncle John. You wouldnʼt if you were in my place,
or could at all understand the facts of it. And as for its being a
family–secret, ever so many people know it, and I donʼt care two pice
who knows it now.”

“Then let me know it, my child. Perhaps an old man can advise you.”

The child of the East looked up at him, with a mist of softness moving
through the brilliance of her eyes, and spake these unromantic words:—

“It is that I do like Bob so; and he doesnʼt care one bit for me.”

She looked at the parson, as much as to say, “What do you think of
that, now? I am not at all ashamed of it.” And then she stooped for a
primrose bud, and put it into his button–hole, and then she burst out
crying.

“Upon my word,” said John, “upon my word, this is too bad of you, Eoa.”

“Oh yes, I know all that; and I say it to myself ever so many times.
But it seems to make no difference. You canʼt understand, of course,
Uncle John, any more than you could jump the river. But I do assure you
that sometimes it makes me feel quite desperate. And yet all the time
I know how excessively foolish I am. And then I try to argue, but it
seems to hurt me here. And then I try not to think of it, but it will
come back again, and I am even glad to have it. And then I begin to
pity myself, and to be angry with every one else; and after that I get
better and whistle a tune, and go jumping. Only I take care not to see
him.”

“There you are quite right, my dear: and I would strongly recommend you
not to see him for a month.”

“As if that could make any difference! And he would go and have
somebody else. And then I should kill them both.”

“Well done, Oriental! Now, will you be guided by me, my dear? I have
seen a great deal of the world.”

“Yes, no doubt you have, Uncle John. And you are welcome to say just
what you like; only donʼt advise me what I donʼt like; but tell the
truth exactly.”

“Then what I say is this, Eoa: keep away from him altogether—donʼt
allow him to see you, even when he wishes it, for a month at least.
Hold yourself far above him. He will begin to think of you more and
more. Why, you are ten times too good for him. There is not a man in
England who might not be proud of you, Eoa, when you have learned a
little dignity.”

Somehow or other none of the Rosedews appreciated the Garnets.

“Yes, I dare say; but donʼt you see, I donʼt want him to be proud of
me. I only want him to like me. And I do hate being dignified.”

“If you want him to like you, do just what I have advised.”

“So I will, Uncle John. Kiss me now, to make it up. Oh, you are such a
dear!—donʼt you think a week would do, now?”



CHAPTER V.


At high noon of a bright cold day in the early part of March, a
labourer who had been “frithing,” that is to say, cutting underwood in
one of the forest copses, came out into the green track, which could
scarce be called a “lane,” to eat his well–earned dinner.

As it happened to be a Monday, the poor man had a better dinner than
he would see or smell again until the following Sunday. For there, as
throughout rural England, a working man, receiving his wages on the
Saturday evening, lives upon a sliding scale throughout the dreary
week. He has his bit of hot on Sunday, smacking his lips at every
morsel; and who shall scold him for staying at home to see it duly
boiled, and feeling his heart move with the steaming and savoury
pot–lid more kindly than with the dry parson?

And he wants his old woman ‘long of him; he see her so little all the
week, and she be always best–tempered on Sundays. Let the young uns go
to school to get larning—though he donʼt much see the use of it, and
his father lived happy without it—‘bating that matter, which is beyond
him, let them go, and then hear parson, and bring home the news to the
old folk. Only let ‘em come home good time for dinner, or they had best
look out. “Now, Molly, lift the pot–lid again. Oh, it do smell so good!
Got ever another onion?”

Having held high feast on Sunday, and thanked the Lord, without
knowing it (by inhaling happiness, and being good to the children—our
Lordʼs especial favourites), off he sets on the Monday morning, to
earn another eighteenpence—twopence apiece for the young uns. And he
means to be jolly that day, for he has got his pinch of tobacco and
two lucifers in his waistcoat pocket, and in his frail a most glorious
dinner hanging from a hedge–stake.

All the dogs he meets jump up on his back; but he really cannot
encourage them, with his own dog so fond of bones, and having the first
right to them. Of course, his own dog is not far behind; for it is a
law of nature, admitting no exception, that the poorer a man is, the
more certain he is to have a dog, and the more certain that dog is to
admire him.

Pretermitting the dog, important as he is, let us ask of the masterʼs
dinner. He has a great hunk of cold bacon, from the cabbage–soup of
yesterday, with three short bones to keep it together, and a cross
junk from the clod of beef (out of the same great pot) which he will
put up a tree for Tuesday; because, if it had been left at home, mother
couldnʼt keep it from the children; who do scarce a stroke of work yet,
and only get strong victuals to console them for school upon Sundays.
Then upon Wednesday our noble peasant of this merry England will have
come down to the scraping of bones; on Thursday he may get bread and
dripping from some rich manʼs house; on Friday and Saturday nothing but
bread, unless there be cold potatoes. And he will not have fed in this
fat rich manner unless he be a good workman, a hater of public–houses,
and his wife a tidy body.

Now this labourer who came out of the copse, with a fine appetite for
his Mondayʼs dinner (for he had not been “spreeing” on Sunday), was no
other than Jem—not Jem Pottles, of course, but the Jem who fell from
the oak–branch, and must have been killed or terribly hurt but for
Cradock Nowellʼs quickness. Everybody called him “Jem,” except those
who called him “father;” and his patronymic, not being important, may
as well continue latent. Now why could not Jem enjoy his dinner more
thoroughly in the copse itself, where the witheys were gloved with
silver and gold, and the primroses and the violets bloomed, and the
first of the wood–anemones began to star the dead ash–leaves? In the
first place, because in the timber–track happen he might see somebody
just to give “good day” to; the chances were against it in such a
lonesome place, still it might so happen; and a man who has been six
hours at work in the deep recesses of a wood, with only birds and
rabbits moving, is liable to a gregarious weakness, especially at
feeding–time. Furthermore, this particular copse had earned a very bad
name. It was said to be the harbourage of a white and lonesome ghost, a
ghost with no consideration for embodied feelings, but apt to walk in
the afternoon, in the glimpses of wooded sunshine. Therefore Jem was
very uneasy at having to work alone there, and very angry with his mate
for having that day abandoned him. And but that his dread of Mr. Garnet
was more than supernatural, he would have wiped his billhook then and
there, and gone all the way to the public–house to fetch back that mate
for company.

Pondering thus, he followed the green track as far as the corner of
the coppice hedge, and then he sat down on a mossy log, and began to
chew more pleasantly. He had washed his hands at a little spring,
and gathered a bit of watercress, and fixed his square of cold bacon
cleverly into a mighty hunk of brown bread, like a whetstone in its
socket; and truly it would have whetted any plain manʼs appetite to see
the way he sliced it, and the intense appreciation.

With his mighty clasp–knife (straight, not curved like a gardenerʼs)
he cut little streaky slips along, and laid each on a good thickness
of crust, and patted it like a piece of butter, then fondly looked
at it for a moment, then popped it in, with the resolution that the
next should be a still better one, supposing such excellence possible.
And all the while he rolled his tongue so, and smacked his lips so
fervently, that you saw the man knew what he was about, dealt kindly
with his hunger, and felt a good dinner—when he got it.

“There, Scratch,” he cried to his dog, after giving him many a taste,
off and on, as in fairness should be mentioned; “hie in, and seek it
there, lad.”

With that he tossed well in over the hedge—for he was proud of his
dogʼs abilities—the main bone of the three (summum bonum from a canine
point of view; and, after all, perhaps they are right), and the flat
bone fell, it may be a rod or so, inside the fence of the coppice.
Scratch went through the hedge in no time, having watched the course of
the bone in air (as a cricketer does of the ball, or an astronomer of
a comet) with his sweet little tail on the quiver. But Scratch, in the
coppice, was all abroad, although he had measured the distance; and the
reason was very simple—the bone was high up in the fork of a bush, and
there it would stay till the wind blew. Now this apotheosis of the bone
to the terrier was not proven; his views were low and practical; and he
rushed (as all we earth–men do) to a lowering conclusion. The bone must
have sunk into ĕraʼs bosom, being very sharp at one end, and heavy at
the other. The only plan was to scratch for it, within a limited area;
and why was he called “Scratch,” but for scarifying genius?

Therefore that dog set to work, in a manner highly praiseworthy (save,
indeed, upon a flowerbed). First he wrought well with his fore–feet,
using them at a trot only, until he had scooped out a little hole,
about the size of a ratʼs nest. This he did in several places, and with
sound assurance, but a purely illusory bonus. Presently he began in
earnest, as if he had smelled a rat; he put out his tongue and pricked
his ears, and worked away at full gallop, all four feet at once, in a
fashion known only to terriers. Jem came through the hedge to see what
it was, for the little dog gave short barks now and then, as if he were
in a rabbit–hole, with the coney round the corner.

“Mun there, mun, lad; show whutt thee carnst do, boy.”

Thus encouraged, Scratch went on, emulative of self–burial, throwing
the soft earth high in the air, and making a sort of laughing noise in
the rapture of his glory.

After a while he sniffed hard in the hole, and then rested, and then
again at it. The master also was beginning to share the little dogʼs
excitement, for he had never seen Scratch dig so hard before, and his
mind was wavering betwixt the hope of a pot of money, and the fear of
finding the skeleton belonging to the ghost.

Scratch worked for at least a quarter of an hour, and then ran to the
ditch and lapped a little, and came back to work again, while Jem
stood by at a prudent distance, and puffed his pipe commensurately, and
wished he had somebody with him. Presently he saw something shining in
the peaty and sandy trough, about two feet from the surface, something
at which Scratch tried his teeth, but found the subject ungenial. So
Jem ran up, making sure this time that it was the pot of money. Alas,
it was nothing of the sort, nothing at all worth digging for. Jem was
so bitterly disappointed that he laid hold of Scratch, and cuffed
him well, and the little dog went away and howled, and looked at his
bleeding claws, and stood penitent, with his tail down.

Nevertheless, the thing dug up had cost some money in its time, for
gunmakers know the way to charge, if never another soul does. It was
a pair of gun–barrels, without any stock, or lock, or ramrod, heavily
battered and marked with fire, as if an attempt had been made to burn
the entire implement, and then, the wood being consumed, the iron parts
had been kicked asunder, and the hot barrels fiercely trampled on. Now
Jem knew nothing whatever of guns, except that they were apt to go
off, whether loaded or unloaded; so after much ponderous thinking and
fearing—_fiat experimentum in corpore vili_—he summoned poor Scratch,
and coaxed him, and said, “Hie, boy, vetch thic thur thinʼ!”

When he found that the little dog took the barrels in his mouth without
being hurt by them, and then dragged them along the ground, inasmuch
as he could not carry them, Jem plucked up courage and laid them by, to
take them home that evening.

After his bit of supper that night, Jem and his wife held counsel, the
result of which was that he took his prize down to Roger Sweetlandʼs
shop, at the lower end of the village. There he found the blacksmith
and one apprentice working overtime, repairing a harrow, which must be
ready for Farmer Blackers next morning. The worthy Vulcan received Jem
kindly, for his wife was Jemʼs wifeʼs second cousin; and then he blew
up a sharp yellow fire, and examined the barrels attentively.


“Niver zeed no goon the likes o’ thissom, though a ‘ave ‘eered say as
they makes ‘em now to shut out o’ tʼother end, man. Whai, her hanʼt gat
niver na brichinʼ! A must shut the man as shuts wiʼ her.”

“What wull e’ gie vor un, Roger? Her bainʼt na gude to ussen.”

“Gie thee a zhillinʼ, lad, mare nor her be worth, onʼy to bate up vor
harse–shoon.”

After vainly attempting to get eightee–pence, Jem was fain to accept
the shilling; and this piece of beautiful workmanship, and admirable
“Damascus twist,” was set in the corner behind the door, to be forged
into shoes for a cart–horse. So, as Sophocles well observes, all
things come round with the rolling years: the best gun–barrels used
to be made of the stub–nails and the horse–shoes (though the thing was
a superstition); now good horse–shoes shall be made out of the best
gun–barrels.

But, in despite of this law of nature, those gun–barrels never were
made into horse–shoes at all, and for this simple reason:—Rufus Hutton
came over from Nowelhurst to have his Polly shodden; meanwhile he
would walk up to the Hall, and see how his child Eoa was. It is a most
worshipful providence, and as clever as the works of a watch, that all
the people who have been far abroad, whether in hot or cold climates (I
mean, of course, respectively, and not that a Melville Bay harpooner
would fluke in with a Ceylon rifleman), somehow or other, when they
come home, groove into, and dovetail with, one another; and not only
feel a _pudor_ not to contradict a brother alien, but feel bound by a
_sacramentum_ to back up the lies of each other. To this rule of course
there are some exceptions (explosive accidents in the _Times_, for
instance), but almost every one will admit that it is a rule; just as
it is not to tell out of school.

As regards Rufus and Eoa, this association was limited (as all of
them are now–a–days, except in their powers of swindling), strictly
limited to a keen and spicily patriarchal turn. Eoa, somehow or other,
with that wonderful feminine instinct (which is far in advance of
the canine, but not a whit less jealous) felt that Rue Hutton had
admired her, though he was old enough to be her grandfather in those
precocious climates. And though she would not have had him, if he had
come out of Golconda mine, one stalactite of diamonds, she really never
could see that Rosa had any business with him. Therefore, on no account
would she go to Geopharmacy Lodge, and she regarded the baby, impending
there, as an outrage and an upstart.

Dr. Hutton knew more about shoeing a horse than any of the country
blacksmiths; and as Polly, in common with many fast trotters, had a
trick of throwing her hind–feet inwards, and “cutting” (as it is termed
in the art), she liked to have her hind–shoes turned up, and her hoofs
rasped in a peculiar manner, which Sweetland alone could execute to her
perfect satisfaction.

“Ha, Roger, what have you got here?” said Rufus, having returned from
the Hall, and inspected Pollyʼs new shoes, which she was very proud to
show him.

“Naethin’ at all, yer honour, but a bit o’ a old anshent goon, as
happed to coom in last avening.”

“Ancient gun, man! Why, it is a new breech–loader, only terribly
knocked about. I found it all out in London. But there are none in this
part of the country. How on earth did you come by it? And what made you
spoil it, you stupid, in your forge–fire?”

“Her hanʼt a bin in my varge–vire. If her had, herʼd nivir a coom out
alaive. Her hath bin in a wood vire by the look o’ the smo–uk.”

Then Roger Sweetland told Rufus Hutton, as briefly as it is possible
for any New Forest man to tell anything, all he knew about it; to which
the inquisitive doctor listened with the keenest interest.

“And what will you take for it, Sweetland? Of course it is utterly
ruined; but I might stick it up in my rubbish–hole.”

“Iʼll tak whutt I gie vor ‘un; no mare, nor no less. Though be warth a
dale mare by the looks ov ‘un.”

“And what did you give for it—twopence?”

“As good a croon–pace as wor iver cooined. Putt un barck in carner, if
a bainʼt worth thart.”

Dr. Hutton was glad to get it for that, but the blacksmith looked
rather blue when he saw him, carefully wielding it, turn his mareʼs
head towards the copse where poor Jem was at work. For to lose the
doctorʼs custom would make his lie at four shillings premium an
uncommonly bad investment, and Jem was almost sure to “let out” how
much he had got for the gun–barrels.

After hearing all that Jem had to say, and seeing the entire process
of discovery put dramatically, and himself searching the spot most
carefully without any further result, and (which was the main point
of all, at least in Jemʼs opinion) presenting the woodman with
half–a–crown, and bidding him hold his tongue, Rufus Hutton went home,
and very sagely preferred Harpocrates to Hymen.

The which resolution was most ungrateful, for Hymen had lately
presented him with a perfect little Cupid, according to the very best
judges, including the nurse and the mother, and the fuss that was made
at the Lodge about it (for to us men a baby is neuter, a heterogeneous
vocable, unluckily indeclinable); really the way everybody went on, and
worst of all Rufus Hutton, was enough to make a sane bachelor bless
the memory of Herod. However, of that no more at present. Some one was
quite awake to all the ridiculous parts of it, and perfectly ready to
turn it all to profitable account, as an admirable reviewer treats the
feeble birth of a novel.

Mrs. Corklemoreʼs sympathetic powers were never displayed more
brilliantly, or to better effect; and before very long she had added
one, and that the primal, step to the ascending scale of the amiable
monarch. For she could manage baby, and baby could manage Rosa, and
Rosa could manage Rufus. Only Rufus was not king of the world, except
in his own opinion.

As soon as Dr. Hutton could get away, he took the barrels to his own
little room, and examined them very carefully. Scarred as they were,
and battered, and discoloured by the fire, there could be no question
as to their having formed part of a patent breech–loading gun; even
the hinge and the bolt still remained, though the wooden continuation
of the stock was, of course, consumed; moreover, there was no loop for
ramrod, nor screw–thread to take the breeching. Then Rufus went to
a little cupboard, and took out a very small bottle of a strong and
rodent acid, and with a feather slightly touched the battered, and
crusted, and rusty “bridge,” in the place where a gunmaker puts his
name, and for the most part engraves it wretchedly. In breech–loading
guns, the bridge itself is only retained from the force of habit,
and our conservatism of folly; for as the breech–end is so much
thicker than the muzzle–end of the barrel, and the interior a perfect
cylinder, the line of sight (if meddled with) should be raised instead
of being depressed at the muzzle–end, to give us a perfect parallel.
Of course we know that shot falls in its flight, and there is no
pure point–blank; but surely the allowance for, and correction of,
these defeasances, according to distance, &c., should be left to the
marksmanʼs eye and practice, not slurred by a crossing of planes at one
particular distance.

Leaving that to wiser heads, which already are correcting it (by
omitting the bridge entirely), let us see what Dr. Hutton did. As the
acid began to work, it was very beautiful to watch the clouding and
the clearing over the noble but fiercely–abused metal. There is no
time now to describe it—for which readers will be thankful—enough that
the result revealed the makerʼs name and address, “L——, C——r–street,”
and the number of the gun. Dr. Hutton by this time had made the
acquaintance of that eminent gunmaker, who, after improving greatly
upon a French design, had introduced into this country a rapid and
striking improvement; an implement of slaughter as far in advance of
the muzzle–loader as a lucifer–match is of flint and tinder. And Rufus,
although with a set design to work out his suspicions, would have found
it a very much slower work, but for a bit of accident.

He was sauntering along one day from Charing Cross to the westward,
looking in at every window (as his manner was, for he loved all
information), when suddenly he espied the very “moral”—as the old women
say—the exact fac–simile of the thing in his waistcoat pocket.

Instantly he entered the shop, and asked a number of questions.
Though it was clear that he came to purchase nothing, he was received
most courteously, for it is one of the greatest merits of men who
take the lead with us, that they scale or skin the British dragon,
and substitute for John Bullʼs jumble of surliness and serfdom, the
courtesy of self–respect.

Then the brevity and simplicity of the new invention—for everything
is new with us during five–and–twenty years; and it took thirty years
of persistent work to make Covent Garden own rhubarb—all the great
advantages, which true Britons would “consider of,” were pointed out to
Rufus Hutton, and he saw them in a moment, though of guns he had known
but little.

And now he saw so much of import in his new discovery, that he
resolved to neglect all other business, and start for London the very
next morning, if Rosa could be persuaded to let him, without having
heard his purpose. But, in spite of all his eagerness, he did nothing
of the sort; for Rufus junior that very night was taken with some
infantile ailment of a serious kind, and for more than a month the
doctor could not leave home for a day even, without breach of duty
towards his wife, and towards the unconscious heir of his orchard–house
and pyramids.

Troubles were closing round Bull Garnet, but he knew nothing of them;
and, to tell the truth, he cared not now what the end would be, or in
what mode it would visit him. All he cared for was to defer (if it
might be so) the violence of the outburst, the ruin of the household,
until his darling son should be matured enough of judgment, and shaped
enough in character, to feel, and to make others feel, that to answer
for our own sins is quite enough for the best of us.

Yet there was one other thing which Mr. Garnet fain would see in likely
course of settlement, ere the recoil of his own crime should sweep upon
his children. It regarded only their worldly affairs; their prospects,
when he should have none. And being the mixture he happened to be—so
shrewd, and so sentimental—he saw how good it was to exert the former
attributive, when his children were concerned; and the latter, and far
larger one, upon the world at large.

He had lately made some noble purchase from the Government
Commissioners—who generally can be cheated, because what they sell
is not their own—and he felt that he was bound by the very highest
interests to be a capable grantee, till all was signed, and sealed,
and safely conveyed to uses beyond attaint of felony. Therefore he was
labouring hard to infuse some of his old energy into the breasts of
lawyers—which attempt proves the heat of his nature more than would a
world of testimony.



CHAPTER VI.


“Why should I care for life or death? The one is no good, and the
other no harm. What is existence but sense of self, severance for one
troubled moment from the eternal unity? We disquiet ourselves, we fume,
and pant—lo, our sorrows are gone, like the smoke of a train, and our
joys like the glimmer of steam. Why should I fear to be mad, any more
than fear to die? What harm if the mind outrun the body upon the road
of return to God? And yet we look upon madness as the darkest of human
evils!

“How this gliding river makes one think of life and eternity! Not
because the grand old simile lives in every language. Not because we
have read and heard it, in a hundred forms and more. A savage from the
Rocky Mountains feels the same idea—for ideas strongly stamped pierce
into the feelings.

“Why does the mind so glide away to some calm sea of melancholy, when
we stand and gaze intently upon flowing water? And the larger the
spread of the water is, and the grander the march of the current, the
deeper and more irresistible grows the sadness of the gazer.

“That naval captain, so well known as an explorer of the Amazon, who
dined with us at Nowelhurst one day last July, was a light–hearted
man by nature, and full of wit and humour. And yet, in spite of wine
and warmth, he made the summer twilight creep with the sadness of his
stories. Nevertheless, we hung upon them with a strange enchantment; we
drew more real pleasure from them than from a world of drolleries. Poor
Clayton tried to run away, for he never could bear melancholy; but all
he did was to take a chair nearer to the voyager. As for me, I cried;
in spite of myself, I cried; being carried away by the flow of his
language, so smooth, and wide, and gliding, with the mystery of waters.

“And he was not one of those shallow men who talk for effect at
dinner–parties. Nothing more than a modest sailor, leaving his mind to
its natural course. Only he had been so long upon that mighty river,
that he nevermore could cease from gliding, ever gliding, with it.

“Once or twice he begged our pardon for the sweep of hazy sadness
moving (like the night on water) through his tales and scenery. He is
gone there again of his own free choice. He must die upon that river.
He loves it more than any patriot ever loved his country. Betwixt a
man and flowing water there must be more than similitude, there must be
a sort of sympathy.”

“_Tap–Robin_, ahoy there! Ahoy, every son of a sea–cook of you. Heave
us over a rope, you lubbers. Would yer swamp us with parson aboard of
me?”

This was Mr. Jupp, of course, churning up Cradʼs weak ideas, like a
steam–paddle in a fishpond. Perhaps the reason why those ideas had been
of such sad obscurity, and so fluxed with sorry sentiment, was that the
vague concipient believed himself to be shipped off for an indefinite
term of banishment, without even a message from Amy. Whereas, in truth,
he was only going for a little voyage to Ceylon, in the clipper ship
_Taprobane_, A 1 for all time at Lloydʼs, and never allowed to carry
more than twice as much as she could.

How discontented mortals are! He ought to have been jollier than a
sandboy, for he had a cabin all to himself (quite large enough to
turn round in), and, what of all things we Britons love best, a happy
little sinecure. He was actually appointed—on the strength of his
knowledge of goods earned at the Cramjam terminus, but not through any
railway influence (being no chip of the board, neither any attorneyʼs
“love–child”—if there be such a heterogeny), only through John
Rosedewʼs skill and knowledge of the world, Cradock was actually made
“under–supercargo” of a vessel bound to the tropics.

The clipper had passed Greenhithe already, and none had hailed her or
said “Farewell.” The _Taprobane_ would have no tug. She was far too
clean in the bows for that work. Her mother and grandmother had run
unaided down the river; even back to the fourth generation of ships,
when the Dutchmen held Ceylon, and doubtless would have kept it, but
for one great law of nature: no Dutchman must be thin. But even a
Dutchman loses fat within ten degrees of the line. So Nature reclaimed
her square Dutchmen from the tropics, which turned them over. Most
likely these regions are meant, in the end, for the Yankee, who has no
fat to lose, and is harder to fry than a crocodile.

But who can stop to theorize while the _Taprobane_ is dancing along
under English colours, and swings on her keel just in time to avoid
running down Mr. Rosedew and Issachar? Mr. Jupp is combining business
with pleasure, being, as you may say, under orders to meet the _Saucy
Sally_, and steer her home from Northfleet to the Surrey Docks. So
he has taken a lift in a collier, and met Mr. Rosedew at Gravesend,
according to agreement, and then borrowed a boat to look out alike for
_Saucy Sally_ and _Taprobane_.

When words and gifts had been interchanged—what Amy sent is no matter
now; but Loo Jupp sent a penny ‘bacco–box, which beat fatherʼs out
and out (as he must be sure to tell Cradock), and had “Am I welcome?”
on it, in letters of gold at least—when “God bless you” had been said
for the twentieth time, and love tied the tongue of gratitude, the
_Taprobane_ lay–to for a moment, and the sails all shivered noisily,
and the water curled crisply, and hissed and bubbled, and the little
boats hopped merrily to the pipe of the rising wind.

Then Mr. Rosedew came down the side, lightly of foot and cleverly;
while the under–supercargo leaned upon the rail and sorrowfully watched
him. Ponderously then and slowly, with his great splay feet thrust into
the rope–ladder, even up to the heel, quite at his leisure descended
that good bargeman, Issachar Jupp. This noble bargee had never been
seen to hurry himself on his own account. He and his deeds lagged
generally on the bight of a long and slack tow–rope.

The sailors, not entering into his character, thought that he was
frightened, and condemned his apprehensive luminaries, in words of a
quarter the compass. Then Mr. Jupp let go with both hands, stood bolt
upright on the foot–rope, and shook his great fists at them. “Let him
catch them ashore at Wapping, if the devil forewent his due; let him
catch them, that was all!” Thereupon they gave him a round of cheers,
and promised to square the account, please God.

Mr. Rosedew and the bargeman looked up from the tossing wherry, and
waved their last farewell, the parson reckless of Sunday hat, and
letting his white locks glance and flutter on the cold March wind. But
Cradock made no reply.

“All right, govʼnor!” said Jupp, catching hold of the parson; “no call
for you to take on so. Iʼve a been the likes o’ that there mysel’ in
the days when I tuk’ blue ruin. The rattisination of it are to fetch it
out of him by travellinʼ. And the _Tap–Robin_ are a traveller, and no
mistake. Dʼrectly moment I comes to my fortinʼ, Iʼll improve self and
family travellinʼ.”

Zakey, to assert his independence as his nature demanded, affected a
rough familiarity with the man whom he revered. The parson allowed it
as a matter of course. His dignity was not so hollow as to be afraid
of sand–paper. The result was that Issachar Jupp, every time, felt
more and more compunction at, and less and less of comfort in, the
unresented liberties.

As he said “good–bye” at the landing–place—for he had seen the _Sally_
coming—he put out his hand, and then drew it back with a rough bow
(disinterred from long–forgotten manners), and his raspy tongue thrust
far into the coal–mine of his cheek. But John Rosedew accepted his
hand, and bowed, as he would have done to a nobleman. Even if a baby
smiled at him, John always acknowledged the compliment. For he added
Christian courtesy, and the humility of all thoughtful minds, to a
certain grand and glorious gift of radiating humanity.

Cradock Nowell was loth to be sent away, and could not see the need of
it; but doubtless the medical men were right in prescribing a southern
voyage, a total change of scene and climate, as the likeliest means
to re–establish the shattered frame and the tottering mind. And so he
sailed for the gorgeous tropics, where the sun looks not askance, where
the size of every climbing, swimming, fluttering, or crawling thing
(save man himself) is doubled; where life of all things bounds and
beats—until it is quickly beaten—as it never gets warm enough to do in
the pinching zones, tight–buckled.

Meanwhile John Rosedew went to his home—a home so loved and
fleeting—and tried to comfort himself on the road with various
Elzevirs. Finding them fail, one after another, for his mind was not in
cue for them, he pulled out his little Greek Testament, and read what a
man may read every day, and never begin to be weary; because his heart
still yearns the more towards the grand ideal, and feels a reminiscence
such as Plato the divine, alone of heathens, won.

John Rosedew read once more the Sermon on the Mount, and wondered how
his little griefs could vex him as they did. That sermon is grander in
English, far grander, than in the Greek; for the genius of our language
is large, and strong, and simple—the true spirit of the noblest words
that ever on earth were spoken. How cramped they would be in Attic
Greek (like Mount Athos chiselled); in Latin how nerveless and alien!
Ours is the language to express; and ours the race to receive them.

What man, in later life, whose reading has led him through vexed
places—whence he had wiser held aloof—does not, on some little touch,
brighten, and bedew himself with the freshness of the morning, thrill
as does the leaping earth to see the sun come back again, and, dashing
all his night away, open the power of his eyes to the kindness of his
Father?

John Rosedew felt his cares and fears vanish like the dew–cloud among
the quivering tree–tops; and bright upon him broke the noon, the heaven
wherein our God lives. Earth and its fabrics may pass away; but that
which came from heaven shall not be without a home.

Meditating, comforted, strengthened on the way, John Rosedew came to
his little hearth, and was gladdened again by little things, such as
here are given or lent us to amuse our exile life. Most of us, with
growing knowledge and keener sense of honesty, more strongly desire
from year to year that these playthings were distributed more equally
amongst us. But let us not say “equably.” For who shall impugn the
power of contrast even in heightening the zest of heaven?

Amy met him, his own sweet Amy, best and dearest of all girls, a
thoroughly English maiden, not salient like Eoa, but warmly kind, and
thoughtful, and toned with self–restraint. But even that last she
threw to the winds when she saw her father returning, and ran with her
little feet pattering, like sweet–gale leaves, over the gravel, to the
unpretentious gate.

“Darling father!” was all she said; and perhaps it was quite enough.

Of late she had dropped all her little self–will (which used to vex her
aunt so), and her character seemed to expand and ripen in the quiet
glow of her faithful love.

Thenceforth, and for nearly a fortnight, Amy Rosedew, if suddenly
wanted, was sure to be found in a garret, whose gable–window faced
directly towards the breadth of sea. When a call for her came through
the crazy door, she would slam up with wonderful speed her own little
Munich telescope, having only two slides and a cylinder, but clearer
and brighter than high–powered glasses, ten stories long perhaps, and
of London manufacture: and then she would confront the appellant,
with such a colour to be sure, and a remark upon the weather, as sage
as those of our weather–clerks, who allow the wind so much latitude
that they never contrive to hit it. But which of the maids knew
not, and loved her not the more for knowing, that she was a little
coast–guard, looking out for her _eau de vie_? Of course she saw fifty
_Taprobanes_—every one more genuine than its predecessor—and more than
fifty Cradocks, some thirty miles away, leaning over hearts of oak,
with a faint sweet smile, waving handkerchiefs as white as their own
unsullied constancy, and crying with a heavy sigh, “My native land,
good night!”

Facts, however, are stubborn things, and will not even make a bow to
the sweetest of young ladies. And the fact was that the Ceylon trader
fetched away to the southward before a jovial north–east wind, and, not
being bound to say anything to either Plymouth or Falmouth, never came
near the field of gentle Amyʼs telescope.

That doctor knew something of his subject—the triple conglomerate
called man—who prescribed for Cradock Nowell, instead of noxious
medicines—_medicina a non medendo_—the bounding ease and buoyant
freedom of a ship bound southward.

Go westward, and you meet the billows, headers all of them, staggering
faith even in the Psalmistʼs description (for he was never in the Bay
of Biscay), and a wind that stings patriotic tears with the everlasting
brine. Go eastward, and you meet the ice, or (in summer) shoals and
soundings, and a dreary stretch of sand–banks. Go northward, and the
chances are that you find no chance of return. But go full–sail to the
glorious south, and once beyond the long cross–ploughings and headland
of the Gulf Stream, you slide into a quiet breast, a confidence of
waters, over which the sun more duly does his work and knows it, and
under which the growth of beauty clothes your soul with wonder.

When shall we men leave off fighting, cease to prove the Darwinian
theory, and the legends of Kilkenny (by leaving only our tails behind
us, a legacy for new lawsuits); and in the latter days ask God the
reason we were made for? When our savage life is done with, and we
are no longer cannibals—and at present cannibals are perhaps of more
practical mind than we, for they have an object in homicide, and the
spit justifies the battle–field—when we do at last begin not to hate
one another; not to think the evil first, because in nature prior;
not to brand as maniacs, and marks for paltry satire, every man who
dares to think that he was not born a weasel, and that ferocity is
cowardice—then a man of self–respect may begin to be a patriot. At
present, as our nations are, all abusing one another, none inquiring,
none allowing, all preferring wrong to weakness, if it hit the breed
and strain; each proclaiming that it is the favoured child of God,
the only one He looks upon (merging His all–seeing eye in its squint
ambition)—at present even we must feel that “patriotism” is little more
than selfishness in a balloon.

Poor Cradock, wasted so and altered (when he left black London) that
nothing short of womanʼs true love could run him home without check,
began to feel the change of sky, and drink new health from the balmy
air, and relish the wholesome mind–bread, leavened with the yeast of
novelty. A man who can stay in the same old place, and work the blessed
old and new year at the same old work, dwell on and deal with the same
old faces, receive and be bound to reciprocate the self–same old ideas,
without crying out, “Oh bother you!” without yearning for the sea–view,
or pining for the mountain—that man has either a very great mind, or
else he has none at all. For a very great mind can create its own food,
fresh as the manna, daily, or dress in unceasing variety the fruit of
other intellects, and live thereon amid the grand and ever–shifting
scenery of a free imagination. On the other hand, a man of no mind
gets on quite contentedly, having never tasted thought–food; only wind
him up with the golden key every Saturday night, and oil him with
respectability at the Sunday service.

Now the under–supercargo of the _Taprobane_ was beginning to eat his
meals like a man, to be pleased with the smell of new tar, and the
head–over–heel of the porpoises, and to make acquaintance with sailors
of large morality. In a word, he was coming back, by spell and spate,
to Cradock Nowell, but as yet so merely skew–nailed to the pillar of
himself, that any change of weather caused a gape, a gap, a chasm.

Give him bright sun and clear sky, with a gentle breeze over the water
spreading wayward laughter, with an amaranth haze just lightly veiling
the union of heaven and ocean, and a few flying–fish, or an albatross,
for incident in the foreground—and the young man would walk to and fro
as briskly, and talk as clearly and pleasantly, as any one in the ship
could.

But let the sky gather weight and gloom, and the sullen sun hang back
in it, and the bright flaw of wind on the waters die out, and the
sultry air, in oppressive folds, lean on the slimy ocean—and Cradockʼs
mind was gone away, like a bat flown into darkness.

Sometimes it went more gradually, giving him time to be conscious that
his consciousness was departing; and that of all things was perhaps
the most woeful and distressing. It was as if the weak mind–fountain
bubbled up reproachfully, like a geyser over–gargled, and flushed the
thin membrane and cellular tissue with more thought than they could
dispose of. Then he felt the air grow chill, and saw two shapes of
everything, and fancied he was holding something when his hands were
empty. Then the mind went slowly off, retreating, ebbing, leaving
shoal–ground, into long abeyance, into faintly–known bayous, feebly
navigated by the nautilus of memory.

It is not pleasant, but is good, now and then to see afar these
pretty little drawbacks upon our self–complacency—an article imported
hourly, though in small demand for export. However, that is of little
moment, for the home consumption is infinite. How noble it is to vaunt
ourselves, how spirited to scorn as _faber_ Him who would be father;
when a floating gossamer breathed between the hemispheres of our brain
makes imperial reason but the rubbish of an imperious flood. Then
the cells and clever casemates, rammed home with explosive stuff to
blow God out of heaven, are no mortar, but a limekiln, crusted and
collapsing (after three days’ fire), a stranded cockle, dead and
stale, with the door of his shell a bubble; and so ends the philosopher.

Upon a glaring torpid sea, a degree or two south of the line, the
_Taprobane_ lay so becalmed that the toss of a quid into the water was
enough to drive her windward, or leeward, whichever you pleased to call
it. The last of the trade winds, being long dead, was buried on the
log by this time; and the sailors were whistling by day and by night,
and piping into the keys of their lockers; but no responsive dimple
appeared in the sleek cadaverous cheek of the never–changing sea.

What else could one expect? They had passed upon the windʼs–eyes so
adverse a decision—without hearing counsel on either side—that really,
to escape ophthalmia, it must close its eyelids. So everything was
heavy slumber, sleep of parboiled weariness. Where sea and sky met one
another—if they could do it without moving—the rim of dazzled vision
whitened to a talc–like glimmer. Within that circle all was tintless,
hard as steel, yet dull and oily, smitten flat with heat and haze. Not
a single place in sky and sea to which a man might point his finger,
and say to his mate, “Look there!” No skir of fish, not even a sharkʼs
fin, or a mitching dolphin, no dip of wing, no life at all, beyond
the hot rim of the ship, or rather now the “vessel,” where many a man
lay frying, with scarcely any lard left. And oh, how the tar and the
pitch did smell, running like a cankered apricot–tree, and the steam
of the bilge–water found its way up, and reeked through the yawning
deck–seams!

But if any man durst look over the side (being gifted with an Egyptian
skull, for to any thin head the sunstroke is death, when taken upon
the crown), that daring man would have seen in blue water, some twenty
fathoms below him, a world of life, and work, and taste, complex, yet
simple, more ingenious than his wisest labours. For here no rough
rivers profane the sea with a flood of turbulent passion, like a foul
oath vented upon the calm summer twilight; neither is there strong
indraught from the tossing of distant waters, nor rolling leagues of
mountain surf, as in the Indian Ocean. All is heat and sleep above,
where the sheer dint of the sun lies; but down in the depth of those
glassy halls they heed not the fervour of the noon–blaze, nor the dewy
sparkle of starlight.

“Typhoon by–and–by,” said the first mate, yawning, but too lazy to
stretch, under the awning of a sail which they wetted with a hydropult,
a most useful thing on shipboard, as well as in a garden.

“Not a bit of it,” answered the captain, looking still more lazy, but
managing to suck cold punch.

“We shall see,” was all the mate said. It was a deal too hot to argue,
and he was actually drinking ale, English bottled ale, hoisted up from
a dip in blue water, but as hot as the pipes in a pinery.

The under–supercargo heeded not these laconic interchanges. The
oppression was too great for him. Amid that universal blaze and
downright pour of stifling heat, his mind was gone woolgathering back
into the old New Forest. The pleasant stir of the stripling leaves,
the shadows weaving their morrice–dance, and trooping away on the
grass–tufts at the pensive steps of evening; the sound and scent of
the vernal wind among the blowing gorse; the milky splash of the
cuckoo–flower in swarded breaks of woodland, the bees in the belfry of
cowslips, the frill of the white wind–flower, and the fleeting scent
of violets—all these in their form and colour moved, or lay in their
beauty before him, while he was leaning against the side–rail, and it
burned his hand to touch it.

“Wants a wet swab on his nob,” said the first mate, tersely; “never
come to himself sure as my name is Cracklins.”

“Donʼt agree with you,” answered the captain, who always snubbed the
mate; “heʼs a sight better now than at Blackwall. Poor young gent, I
like him.”

“So do I,” said the mate, pouring out more boiling beer; “but that
ainʼt much to do with it. Thereʼs the wet swab anyhow.”

About an hour before sunset, when the sky was purple, and the hot
vapours piling away in slow drifts, like large haycocks walking, a
gentle breeze came up and made little finger–marks on the water. First
it awoke shy glances and glosses, light as the play upon richly–glazed
silk, or the glimpse upon mother–of–pearl. Then it breathed on the
lips of men, and they sucked at it as at spring–water. Then it came
sliding, curling, ruffling, breaking the image of sky upon sea, but
bringing earthly life and courage, hope, and the spirit of motion. Many
a rough and gruff tar shed tears, not knowing the least about them,
only from natureʼs good–will and power, as turpentine flows from the
pine–wood.

“Hearty, my lads, and bear a hand.” “Pipe my eye, and be blessed to
me!” They rasped it off with their tarry knuckles, and would knock down
any one of canine extraction, who dared to say wet was the white of
their eyes.

The gurgling of the water sounded like the sobs of a sleeping child,
as it went dapping and lipping and lapping, under the bows and along
the run of the sweetly–gliding curvature. Soon you could see the quiet
closure of the fluid behind her, the fibreing first (as of parted hair)
convergent under the counter, the dimples circling in opposite ways
on the right and left of the triangle, and then the linear ruffles
meeting, and spreading away in broad white union, after a little
jostling. You may see the same at the tail of a mill–stream, when the
water is bright in July, and the alder–shade falls across it. For the
sails were beginning to draw again now, and the sheets and tacks were
tightening, and the braces creaking merrily, and every bit of man–stuff
on board felt his heart go, and his lungs work. Therefore all were glad
and chaffing, as the manner is of Britons, when the man in the foretop
shouted down, “Land upon the port–bow.”

“I have looked for it all day,” said the captain; “I was right to half
a league, Smith.”

The skipper had run somewhat out of his course to avoid a cyclone to
the westward, but he had not allowed sufficiently for the indraught of
the Gulf of Guinea, and was twenty leagues more to the eastward than
he had any idea of being. Nevertheless, they had plenty of sea–room,
and now from the trending of the coast might prudently stand due south.
They had passed Cape Lopez three days ago, of course without having
sighted it, and had run by the log three hundred miles thence, despite
the dead calm of that day. So they knew that they could not be very far
from the mouth of the river Congo.

As they slipped along with that freshening breeze, the water lost its
brightness, and soon became of a yellowish hue, as if mixed with a
turbulent freshet. Then they lay to in fifteen fathoms, and sent off
a boat to the island, for the intense heat of the last few days had
turned their water putrid. The first and second mates were going, and
the supercargo took his gun, and declared that he would stretch his
legs and bring home some game for supper. What island it was they were
not quite sure, for there was nothing marked on the charts just there,
to agree with their reckoning and log–run. But they knew how defective
charts are.

When the water–casks were lowered, and all were ready to shove off,
and the mast of the yawl was stepped, and the sail beginning to flap
and jerk in a most impatient manner, Cracklins, who was a good–natured
fellow, hollaed out to Cradock—

“Come along of us, Newman, old fellow. You want bowsing up, I see.
Bring your little dog for a run, to rout up some rabbits or monkeys for
Tippler. And have a good run yourself, my boy.”

Without stopping to think—for his mind that day had only been a dream
to him—Cradock Nowell went down the side, with Wena on his arm, and
she took advantage of the occasion to lick his face all over. Then he
shuddered unconsciously at the gun which lay under the transoms.

“Look sharp, Cracklins,” shouted the captain from his window; “the
glass is down, I see, half an inch. I can only give you two hours.”

“All right, sir,” answered the mate; “but we canʼt fill the casks in
that time, unless we have wonderful luck.”

The land lay about a mile away, and with the sail beginning to tug,
and four oars dipping vigorously,—for the men were refreshed by the
evening breeze, and wild for a run on shore,—they reached it in about
ten minutes, and nosed her in on a silvery beach strewn with shells
innumerable. A few dwarf rocks rose here and there, and the line of the
storms was definite, but for inland view there was nothing more than
a crescent terrace of palm–trees. The air felt beautifully fresh and
pure, and entirely free from the crawling miasma of the African coast.
No mangrove swamps, no festering mud, no reedy bayou of rottenness.

But the boat–crew found no fresh water at first; and they went in
three parties to search for it. The mate with three men struck off to
the right, the boatswain with three more made away to the left, only
Cradock and the supercargo walked directly inland. Wena found several
rabbits, all of a sandy colour, and she did enjoy most wonderfully her
little chivies after them. Most of the birds were going to rest, as the
rapid twilight fell, but the trees were full of monkeys, and here and
there a squirrel shook the light tracery of the branches.

Tippler and Cradock wandered inland for half a mile or more, keeping
along a pleasant hollow which they feared to leave, lest they should
lose the way back, and as yet they had seen neither spring nor brook,
although from the growth and freshness they knew that water must be
near them. Then suddenly the supercargo fired his gun at a flying green
pigeon, whose beauty had caught his eyes.

To his great amazement Cradock fell down, utterly helpless, pale as a
corpse, not trembling, but in a syncope. His comrade tried to restore
him, but without any effect, then managed to drag him part way up the
slope, and set him with his back to an ebony–tree, while he ran to
fetch assistance. Suddenly then an ominous sound trembled through the
thick wood, a mysterious thrill of the earth and air, at the coming of
war between them. It moved the wild grapes, the flowering creepers,
the sinuous caoutchouc, the yellow nuts of the palm–oil–tree, and the
pointed leaves of the ebony.

When the supercargo ran down to the boat, the men were pushing
off hastily, the water curling and darkening, and a sullen swell
increasing. A heavy mass of cloud hung to leeward, and the tropical
night fell heavily, till the ship was swallowed up in it.

“Jump in, Tippler! Just in time,” cried the first mate, seizing the
tiller–ropes; “not a moment to lose. We must go without water; we shall
have enough out of the sky to–night. I could not tell what to do about
you, and the signalʼs ‘Return immediately.’”

“But I tell you, we canʼt go, Cracklins. Poor Newman is up there in a
fit or something. Send two men with me to fetch him.”

“How far off is he?”

“Nearly a mile.”

“Then I darenʼt do it. We are risking our lives already. The typhoon
will be on us in half an hour. Said so this morning—skipper wouldnʼt
listen. Jump in, man, jump in; or weʼre off without you. Canʼt you see
how the sea is rising? Ease off the sheet, you lubber there. We must
down with the sail in two minutes, lads, soon as ever weʼve got way
on her. Lend a grip of your black fist, Julep, instead of yawing there
like a nigger. Now will you come, or wonʼt you?”

Tippler was a brave and kind–hearted man; but he thought of his wife
and children, and leaped into the boat. Although he was not a sailor,
he saw the urgency of the moment, and confessed that nine lives must
not be sacrificed for the sake of one. The power of the wind was
growing so fast, and the lift of the waves so menacing, that the nine
men needed both skill and strength to recover their ship, ere the storm
burst.

And a terrible storm it was, of the genuine Capricorn type, sudden,
deluging, laced with blue lightning, whirling in the opposite direction
to that which our cyclones take. At midnight the _Taprobane_ was
running under bare poles, shipping great seas heavily, with an electric
coronet gleaming and bristling all around truck and dog–vane. And by
that time she was sixty miles from her under–supercargo.



CHAPTER VII.


Dr. Huttonʼs baby was getting better, and Rosa, who had been, as the
nurse said, “losing ground so sadly, poor dear,” was beginning to pick
up her crumbs again. Therefore Rufus, who (in common with Rosa and
all the rest of the household) regarded that baby as the noblest and
grandest sublimation of humanity, if not as the final cause of this
little worldʼs existence, was beginning now to make up his mind that
he really might go to London that week, without being (as his wife
declared he must be, if he even thought about it) cruel, inhuman,
unfatherly, utterly void of all sense of duty, not to say common
affection. And she knew quite well what he wanted. All he wanted was
to go and see Mr. Riversʼs peach–trees in blossom, as if that was such
a sight as her baby. Yes, _her_ baby, maʼs own darling, a dove of a
dumpling dillikins; to think that his own pa should prefer nasty little
trees without a hair on them, and that didnʼt even know what bo meant,
to the most elegant love of a goldylocks that ever was, was, was!

Master Goldylocks had received, from another quarter, a less classical,
and less pleasing, but perhaps (from an objective point of view) a more
truthful and unprismatic description of the hair it pleased God to give
him.

“Governorʼs carrots, and no mistake,” cried Mrs. OʼGaghan the
moment she saw him, which, of course, was upon his first public
appearance—catch Biddy out of the way when any baby, of any father or
mother she had ever heard of, was submitted even to the most privileged
inspection—”knew he must have ‘em, of course. You niver can conquer
that, maʼam, if your own hair was like a sloe, and you tuk me black
briony arl the time. Hould him dacent, will ye, nurse? Not slot his
head down that fashion! He donʼt want more blood in his hair, child. Oh
yes, I can see, maʼam! Niver knowed more nor two wi’ that red–hot poker
colour, colour of the red snuff they calls ‘Irish blackguard’ in the
top of a hot shovel; and one of the two were Mr. Hutton, maʼam, saving
your presence to spake of it; and the other were of Tim Brady, as were
hung at the crossroads, near Clonmel, for cutting the throat of his
grandmother.”

“Oh, Mary, take her away. What a horrid woman!”

Here Mrs. OʼGaghan was marched away, amid universal indignation, which
she could not at all understand. But she long had borne against Rufus
Hutton the bitterest of all bitter spites (such as only an Irishwoman
can bear), for the exposure of her own great mistake, and the miserable
result which (as she fully believed) had sprung from all his meddling.
And yet she was a “good–hearted” woman. But a good heart is only the
wad upon powder, when a violent will is behind it.

Not to attach undue importance to Biddyʼs prepossessions, yet to give
every facility for a verdict upon the question, I am bound to state
what an old–young lady, growing every month more satirical, because
nobody would have her, yet quite unconscious that the one drawback was
the main cause of the other (for all men hate sarcastic women),—how
tersely she expressed herself.

“Ridiculous likeness! Was he born with two cheroots in his mouth?”

But a lady, who would marry for ever because she was so soft and nice,
came to see darling baby again, the moment she was quite assured that
he was equal to the interview, having denied herself from day to
day, although it had affected her appetite, and was telling upon her
spirits. Neither would she come alone—that would be too selfish: she
must make a gala day of it, and gratify her relatives. So Mrs. Hutton
had the rapture of sitting behind her bedroom curtain, and seeing no
less than three carriages draw up in a thundering manner, while Rufus
was in the greatest fright that they would not find room to turn, but
must cut up his turf. Luckily the roller was in the way; or else those
great coachmen, who felt themselves lowered by coming to a place of
that size, would have had their revenge on the sod. The three carriages
were, of course, that of Nowelhurst Hall in the van (no pun, if you
please), with two noble footmen behind it, and Georgie in state inside.
Then the “Kettledrum rattletrap,” as the hypercritical termed it, with
Mr. Kettledrum driving, and striking statuesque attitudes for the
benefit of the horses, and Mrs. Kettledrum inside, entreating him not
to be rash. Last of all the Coo Nest equipage, a very neat affair, with
Mr. Corklemore inside, wanting to look at his wife in the distance, and
wondering what she was up to.

“Oh, such shocking taste, I know,” cried Georgie, directly the lower
order were supposed to be out of hearing, “horribly bad taste to come
in such force; but what could we do, Dr. Hutton? There was my sister,
there was my husband, there was my own silly self, all waiting, as for
a bulletin, to know when baby would receive. And so, at the very first
moment, by some strange coincidence, here we are all at once. And I do
hope darling Rosa will allow _some_ of us to come in.”

“Jonah,” shouted Rufus Hutton, going away to the door very rudely
(according to our ideas, but with Anglo–Indian instincts), “see that
all those men have beer.”

“Plaise, sir, there bainʼt none left. Brewer hainʼt a been since you
drank.” As every one in the house heard this, dear Georgie had some
revenge.

However, babe Rufus received his ovation; and the whole thing went off
well, as most things do in the counties of England, when plenty of good
wine produces itself. Lunch was ready in no time; and, as all had long
ago assented to Mrs. Corklemoreʼs most unselfish proposition that she,
as privileged of pet Rosa, should just steal up–stairs for a minute,
and then come down again—after giving notice, of course, that dear
baby should have all his lace on—the pleasant overture of the host was
accepted with little coyness—

“Let us suppose that we have dined: because the roads are so very bad.
Let us venture upon a light dessert. I have a few pears, even now in
April, which I am not altogether afraid to submit to the exquisite
taste of ladies,—‘Madame Milletʼ and ‘Josephine.’ May we think that we
have dined?”

As the company not only thought, but felt that they had made an
uncommonly good dinner, this little proposal did pleasant violence to
their sense of time. It would be so charmingly novel to think that they
had dined at three oʼclock! Oh, people of brief memory! For Kettledrum
Hall and Coo Nest loved nothing better than to dine at two; which,
perhaps, is two hours too late, according to nature _versus_ fashion.

“For such an occasion as this,” said Rufus, under all the excitement
of hospitality multiplied by paternity, “we will have a wine worth
talking of. Clicquot, of course, and Paxarette for the ladies, if
they prefer it; which perhaps they will do because it is sweeter than
port. But I do hope that some will deign to taste my 1820, Presidentʼs
unrefreshed.”

Georgieʼs pretty lip came out, like the curl of an opening convolvulus;
to think of offering her sweet wine, when choice port was forthcoming.
There are few better judges of a good glass of port than Mrs. Nowell
Corklemore.

“Port, sir, for my wife, if you please. She likes a rather dry wine,
sir, but with plenty of bouquet. There is no subject, I may say, in
which she has—ha, haw—a more profound capacity.”

“My dear Nowell, why you are perfectly calumnious. Thank you, no
champagne. It spoils the taste of—your beautiful water. How dreadfully
we were alarmed in Ringwood. We all but drove over a child. What a
providential escape! I have scarcely yet recovered it. It has made me
feel so nervous. What, Dr. Hutton, port for a lady, at this time of
day, and not ordered medically!”

Thereupon, of course Rufus prescribed it, till Georgie, being quite
overcome by the colour, as the host himself decanted it, capitulated at
last for “strictly half a glass.”

After a little, the ladies withdrew, to see double perfections in the
baby, and Mrs. Hutton, who knew quite well what they had been doing,
while she was discussing arrowroot, received them at first rather
stiffly. But she had no chance with Georgie, who entered beautifully
into the interesting room, and exclaimed with great vivacity—

“Oh, dear Mrs. Hutton, as the little boys say, ‘here we are again.’
And so glad to get away, because your husband is so hospitable, and we
thought of you all the time. I wanted so much to bring you a glass of
that very exquisite—let me see, I think it must have been port, though
I never know one wine from another—only I feared it might seem rude, if
I had ventured to propose it. Of course Dr. Hutton knew best.”

“Of course he didnʼt,” said Rosa, pettishly; “he never thought about
it. Not that I would have taken it; oh dear no! Ladies cannot have too
little wine, I think. It seems to make them so masculine.”

“Well, dear, you know best. Very likely you heard us laughing. I assure
you we were quite merry. We drank his health ‘three times threeʼ—donʼt
they call it about a baby? And I was nearly proposing _yours_; only a
gentleman ought to do that. Oh, it was so interesting, and the wine
superb—at least, so said the gentlemen; I do wish they had brought you
some, dear.”

“I am very glad they did not. It is so very lowering to a fine sense
of the ideal. I heard you laughing, or making some noise; only I was
so absorbed in these lovely poems. ‘To my Babe’ is so very beautiful,
so expressive, so elevating! I feel every single word of it. And
this sonnet about the first cropper! And the stanzas to his little
red shoes, terminating with ‘pinch his nose!’ You have had so many
husbands, dear; you must know all about it.”

“My darling child, how I feel for you! But, in all probability, he
will come up when both decanters are empty; let him find you in a good
temper, dear.”

But this (which must have grown into a row, for Georgie had even more
spirit than tact, and Rosa was equal to anything), all this evil was
averted, and harmony restored by the popping in of nurse, who had not
taken her half–crowns yet, but considered them desirable, and saw them
now endangered.

“Goldylocks, Goldylocks! Oh, bring him here, nurse. Skillikins,
dillikins! oh, such a dove! And if nobody else cares for poor mamma, he
has got so much better taste, hasnʼt he?”

Goldylocks very soon proved that he had; and Georgie, having quite
recovered her temper, admired him so ecstatically, that even his mother
thought her judgment was really worth something.

“Give him to me; I canʼt do without him. O you beautiful cherub!
Kicklewick, I am sure you never saw any one like him.”

“That indeed I never did, maʼam,” answered nurse Kicklewick, holding
her arms out, as if she must have him back again; “many a fine child I
have seen, and done for to my humble ability, maʼam, since the time I
were at Lord Eldergunʼs; and her ladyship said to me—ʼKicklewick,’ says
she——”

“Oh, his love of a nosey–posey! Oh, then his bootiful eyes, dick, dock!
And then his golden hair, you know, so lovely, chaste, and rare, you
know! Will um have a dancey–prancey?”

And Georgie, forgetting all dignity, went through a little Polish
dance, with the baby in her arms, to his very grave amazement, and the
delight of all beholders.

Although of the genuine Hutton strain, he was too young to crow yet,
nevertheless he expressed approval in the most emphatic water–colours.
Mrs. Huttonʼs heart was won for ever.

“Oh, darling, I am so obliged to you. He has positively popped two
bubbles. A thing he never did before! How can I ever repay you?”

“By letting me come over and dance him twice a week. Oh, that I only
had a boy!—because I do love boy–babies so.”

“One would think that you must have had fifty, at least, before you
were five–and–twenty! How on earth do you understand him so? I only
know half what he means, though I try for hours and hours.”

“Simply by sympathizing with him. I feel all his ideas come home to me,
and I put them into shape.”

“You are the loveliest creature I ever saw.” And, indeed, Georgie did
look very well, for it was not all mere humbug now, though perhaps
it was at first. “Oh, no wonder baby loves you. Kicklewick, isnʼt it
wonderful?”

“Indeed, then, and it would be, maʼam,” replied Mrs. Kicklewick,
rapturously—for now she had four half–crowns in her pocket—“only for
it beinʼ nature, maʼam. Nature it is as does it, as must be. Nothing
else no good again it. And how I should like to beʼlong of you, maʼam,
when your next time come, please God. Would you mind to accept of my
card, maʼam, unpretenshome but in good families,—Sarah Kicklewick, late
to Lord Eldergun, and have hopes to be again, maʼam, if any confidence
in head–footman. ‘Mrs. Kicklewick,’ he says, and me upon the bridge,
maʼam, with the wind a blowinʼ——”

“To be sure,” said Georgie, “and the water flowing; how clearly you
describe it!”

But we must cut her short, even as she cut nurse Kicklewick. Enough
that she won such influence over the kind but not too clever Rosa,
that Rufus Huttonʼs plans and acts, so far as they were known to his
wife, were known also to his wifeʼs best friend. But one thing there
was which Mrs. Corklemore could not at all understand,—why should he
be going to London so, and wanting to go again, in spite of domestic
emergencies? She very soon satisfied herself that Rosa was really
in the dark upon this point, and very indignant at being so. This
indignation must be fostered and pointed to a practical end. Mrs.
Kettledrum, of course, had been kept in the background all this time,
and scarcely allowed to dandle the baby, for fear of impairing her
sisterʼs triumph.

“How wonderfully kind and thoughtful of you!” said Rosa, as Georgie
came in again. “Have you really brought me a glass of wine? And no one
else in the house to suppose that I ought to have any nourishment! How
can I thank you, Mrs. Corklemore?”

“No more ‘Mrs. Corklemore,’ if you please. I have begun to call you
‘Rosaʼ—it is such a pretty name—and you must call me ‘Georgie,’
darling. Every one does who loves me.”

“Then I am sure all the world must. Dearest Georgie, how did you get
it? I am sure I would not touch it, only for your sake.”

“Oh, I did such a shameful thing. Such a liberty I never took before! I
actually sent the servant to say, with Mrs. Corklemoreʼs compliments,
that she felt the effect of the fright this morning, and would like
another glass of port, but would not touch it if any of the gentlemen
left the table even for a moment. And they actually sent me a
dock–glass, in pleasantry, I suppose: but I am very glad they did.”

“I will take some, if you take half, dear.”

“Not a drop. My poor weak head is upset in a moment. But you really
need it, dear; and I can so thoroughly feel for you, because the poor
Count, when my Flore was born, waited on me with such devotion, day and
night, hand and foot.”

“And I am sure Mr. Corklemore must do the same. No husband could help
adoring you.”

“Oh, he is very good, ‘according to his lights,’ as they say. But I
have known him let me cough three times without getting up for the
jujubes. And once—but perhaps I ought not to tell you: it was so very
bad.”

“Oh, you may safely tell me, dear. I will never repeat it to any one.”

“He actually allowed me to sneeze in the carriage without saying that I
must have a new fur cloak, or even asking if I had a cold.”

“Oh dear, is that all? I may sneeze six times in an hour, and my
husband take no notice, but run out and leave the front door open,
and prune his horrid little trees. And then he shouts for his patent
top–dressing. He thinks far more of dressing them than he does of
dressing me.”

“And donʼt you know the reason? Donʼt cry, sweet child; donʼt cry. I
have had so much experience. I understand men so thoroughly.”

“Oh yes, I know the reason. I am cross to him sometimes. And of course
I canʼt expect a man with a mind like his——”

“You may expect any man to be as wise as Solomon, if you only know how
to manage him. It is part of the law of nature.”

“Then I am sure I donʼt know what that means: except that people must
get married, and ought to love one another.”

“The law of nature is this. Between a wife and a husband there never
must be a secret, except when the lady keeps one. Now, your husband is,
to some extent, a rather superior man——”

“Oh yes, to the very greatest extent. No one of any perception can help
perceiving that.”

“Then he is quite sure to attempt it; to reserve himself, upon _some_
point, in an unsympathetic attitude. This is just what you must not
allow. You have no idea how it grows upon them, and how soon it
supplants affection, and makes a married man a bachelor.”

“Oh, how dreadful! But I really do think, dear, that you must be wrong
this once. My husband has never kept anything from me; anything, I
mean, which I ought to know.”

“Then he told you about that poor wild Polly? How very good and kind of
him!”

“Polly! What Polly? You donʼt mean to say——”

“No, no, dear, nothing of that sort! Only the mare running away with
him at night through the thickest part of the forest.”

“My Polly that eats from my hand! Run away with Rufus!”

“Yes, your Polly. A perfect miracle that both of them were not killed.
But, of course, he must have told you.”

Then, after sundry ejaculations, Rosa learned all about that matter,
and was shocked first, and then thankful, and then hurt.

“And now,” said Mrs. Corklemore, when the sense of wrong was paramount,
“he has some secret, I am almost sure, about our sad affair at
Nowelhurst. And I am sure, even if you were not his wife, dear, he need
not conceal any matter of that sort from the daughter of Sir Cradock
Nowellʼs old friend, Mr. Ralph Mohorn.”

“I will tell you another thing,” answered Rosa, shaking all her pillows
with the vehemence of her emotions, “whether he ought or not, he shall
not do it, Georgie, darling. As sure as I am his lawful wife I will
know every word of it before I sleep one wink. If not, he must take the
consequences upon both his wife and child.”

“Darling, I think you are quite right. Only donʼt tell me a word of it.
It is such a dreadful matter, it would make me so unhappy——”

“I will tell you every single word, just to prove to you, Georgie, that
I have found the whole of it out.”

After this laudable resolution, Rosa may be left to have it out with
Rufus. It requires greater skill than ours to interfere between man and
wife, even without the _tertium quid_ of an astounding baby.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ides of March were come and gone, the balance of day and night was
struck; and Sleep, the queen of half the world, had wheeled across the
equator her poppy–chintzed throne, or had got the stars to do it for
her, because she was too lazy. Ha, that sentence is almost worthy of a
great stump–orator. All I mean to say is, that All Foolsʼ Day was over.
Blessed are the All Fools who begin the summer (which accounts for its
being a mull with us); and blessed be the All Saints who begin the
winter, and then hand it over to Beelzebub.

“In April she tunes her bill.” Several nightingales were at it, for
the spring was early, and right early were many nests conned, planned,
and contracted for. Blessed birds, that never say, “What are your
expectations, sir?” or “How much will you give your daughter?”—but
feather their nests without waiting for an appointment in the Treasury.
Nest–eggs, too, almost as sweet as those of addled patronage, were
beginning to accumulate; and it took up half a birdʼs time to settle
seniority and precedence among them, fettle them all with their heads
the right way, and throw overboard the cracked ones. Perhaps, in this
last particular, they exercised a discretion, not only unknown to, but
undreamed of, by any British Government.

It was nearly dark by this time, and two nightingales, across the
valley, strove in Amoibæan song till the crinkles of the opening leaves
fluttered with soft melody.

  “In poplar shadows Philomel complaineth of her brood,
  Her callow nestlings plunderʼd from her by the ploughman rude:
  From lonely branch all night she pours her weeping musicʼs flow,
  Repeats her tale, and fills the world with melody and woe.”

  _Georg._ iv. 511.

Mr. Garnet heeded neither crisp young leaf nor bulbul; neither did
his horse appear to be a judge of music. Man and horse were drooping,
flagging, jaded and bespent; wanting only the two things which,
according to some philosophers, are all that men want here below—a
little food, and a deal of sleep.

Bull Garnet was on his return from Winchester, whither he now went
every week, for some reason known only to himself, or at least unknown
to his family. It is a long and hilly ride from the west of Ytene to
Winton, and to travel that distance twice in a day takes the gaiety
out of a horse, and the salience out of a man. No wonder then that Mr.
Garnet slouched his heavy shoulders, and let his great head droop; for
at five–and–forty a powerful man jades sooner than does a slight one.

Presently he began to drowse; for the stout grey gelding knew every
step of the road, and would take uncommonly good care to avoid all
circumambience: and of late the rider had never slept, only dozed, and
dreamed, and started. Then he muttered to himself, as he often did in
sleep, but never at home, until he had seen to the fastening of the
door.

“Tried it again—tried very hard and failed. Thought of Bob, at last
moment. Bob to stand, and see me hang—and hate me, and go to the devil.
No, I donʼt think he would hate me, though; he would say, ‘Father could
not help it.’ And how nice that would be for me, to see Bob take my
part. To see him with his turn–down collars standing proudly up, and
saying, ‘Father was a bad man—according to your ideas—I am not going to
dispute them—but for all that I love him, and so my children shall.’ If
I could be sure that Bob would only think so, only make his mind up,
his mind up, his mind up—for there is nothing like it—whoa, Grayling,
what be looking at?—and take poor little Pearl with him, I would go
to–morrow morning, and do it over at Lymington.”

“Best do it to–night, govʼnor. No time like the praysent, and us knows
arl about it.”

A tall man had leaped from behind a tree, and seized Bull Garnetʼs
bridle. The grey gelding reared and struck him; but he kept his hold,
till the muzzle of a large revolver felt cold against his ear. Then
Issachar Jupp fell back; he knew the man he had to deal with, how stern
in his fury, how reckless, despite the better part of him. And Issachar
was not prepared to leave his Loo an orphan.

“No man robs me,” cried Mr. Garnet, in his most tremendous voice,
“except at the cost of my life, and the risk of his. I have seven and
sixpence about me; I will give it up to no man. Neither will I shoot
any man, unless he tries to get it.”

“Nubbody wants to rob you, govʼnor, only to have a little rattysination
with you. Possible you know me now?”

Bull Garnet fell back in his saddle. He would rather have met a dozen
robbers. By the voice he recognised a man whom he had once well known,
and had good cause to know;—through his outrage upon whom, he had left
the northern counties; the man whom he had stricken headlong down a
coal–shaft, as the leader of rebellion, the night after Pearl was
christened, nigh twenty years ago.

“Yes, I know you; Jupp your name is. Small credit it is to know you.”

“And smarler still to know you, Bull Garnet. Try your pistol thing, if
you like. You must have rare stommick, I should think, to be up for
another murder.”

“Issachar, I am sorry for you. Do you call it a murder to keep such a
fellow as you off?”

“No, I dunna carl that a murder, because I be arl alive. But I do carl
a murder what you did to young Clayton Nowell.”

“Fool, what do you know of it? Let go my horse, I say. You know pretty
well what _I_ am.”

“I know you haʼnʼt much patience, govʼnor, and be arlways in a hurry.”

Jupp hesitated, but would not be beaten, whatever might be the end of
it.

“I am in no hurry now, Jupp; I will listen to all you have to say. But
not with your hand on my bridle.”

“There goeth free then. Arl knows you be no liar.”

“I am glad you remember that, Issachar. Hold the horse, while I get
off. Now throw the bridle over that branch, and I will sit down here.
Come here into the moonlight, man; and look me in the face. Here is
the pistol for you, if you bear me any revenge.”

Scarcely knowing what he did, because he had no time to think, Jupp
obeyed Bull Garnetʼs orders even to the last—for he took the pistol in
his hand, and tried to look straight at his adversary; but his eyes
would not co–operate. Then he laid the pistol on the bank; but so that
he could reach it.

“Issachar Jupp,” said Mr. Garnet, looking at him steadily, and speaking
very quietly; “have you any children?”

“Only one—a leetle gal, but an oncommon good un.”

“How old is she?”

“Five year old, plase God, come next Valentineʼs Day.”

“Now, when she grows up, and is pure and good, would you like to have
her heart broken?”

“Iʼd break any coveʼs head as doed it.”

“But supposing she were betrayed and ruined, made a plaything, and then
thrown away—what would you do then?”

“God Almighty knows, man. I canʼt abide to think of it.”

“And if the—the man who did it, was the grandson of the man who had
ruined your own mother, lied before God in the church to her, and then
left her to go to the workhouse, with you his outcast bastard—while he
rolled in gold, and laughed at her—what would you do then, Jupp?”

“By the God that made me, Iʼd have my revenge, if I went to hell for
it.”

“I have said enough. Do exactly as you please. Me you cannot help or
harm. Death is all I long for—only for my children.”

Still he looked at Issachar, but now without a thought of him; only as
a man looks out upon the sea or sky, expecting no return. And Issachar
Jupp, so dense and pig–headed—surly and burly, and weasel–eyed—in a
word, retrospectively British—gazing at Bull Garnet then, got some
inkling of an anguish such as he who lives to feel—far better were it
for that man that he had never been born.



CHAPTER VIII.


To bar the entail of crime. A bitter and abortive task; at least, in
this vindictive world, where Christians dwell more on Mount Sinai than
on the mount that did not quake and burn with fire.

And yet for this, and little else, still clung to fair fame and life
the man who rather would have lain beneath the quick–lime of Newgate.
It was not for the empty part, the reputation, the position, the
respect of those who prove the etymon of the word by truly looking
backward—not for these alone, nor mainly, did Bull Garnet bear the
anguish now from month to month more bitter, deeper, less concealable.
He strove with himself, and checked himself, and bit his tongue, and
jerked back his heart, and nursed that shattered lie, his life, if so
might be that Pearl and Bob should start anew in another land, with a
fair career before them. Not that he cared, more than he could help,
whether they might be rich or poor; only that he would like them to
have the chance of choosing.

This chance had not been fair for him, forsaken as he was, and outcast;
banned by all the laws of men, because his mother had been trustful,
and his father treacherous. Yet against all chances, he, by his own
rightful power, deeply hating and (which was worse) conscientiously
despising every social prejudice, made his way among smaller men,
taught himself by day and night, formed his own strong character,
with the hatred of tyranny for its base, and tyranny of his own for
its apex; and finally gained success in the world, and large views of
Christianity. And in all of this he was sincere!

It was a vile and bitter wrong to which he owed his birth. Sir Cradock
Nowell, the father of the present baronet, had fallen in love of some
sort with a comely Yorkshire maiden, whose motherʼs farm adjoined the
moors, whereon the shooting quarters were. Then, in that period of mean
license, when fashionable servility was wriggling, like a cellar–slug,
in the slime–track of low princes, Sir Cradock Nowell did what few of
his roystering friends would have thought of—unfashionable Tarquinian,
he committed a quiet bigamy. He had lived apart from Lady Nowell, even
before her second confinement; because he could not get on with her.
So Miss Garnet went with him to the quiet altar of a little Yorkshire
church, and fancied she was Lady Nowell; only that must be a secret,
“because they had not the kingʼs consent, for he was not in a state to
give it.”

When she learned her niddering wrong, and the despite to her unborn
child, she cast her curse upon the race, not with loud rant, but long
scorn, and went from her widowed mother, to a cold and unknown place.

So soon as Bull Garnet was old enough to know right from wrong, and
to see how much more of the latter had fallen to his share, two
courses lay before him. Two, I mean, were possible to a strong and
upright nature; to a false and weak one fifty would have offered, and
a little of each been taken. Conscious as he was of spirit, energy,
and decision, he might apply them all to very ungenial purposes, to
sarcasm, contemptuousness, and general misanthropy. Or else he might
take a larger view, pity the poor old–fashioned prigs who despise a man
for his fatherʼs fault, and generously adapt himself to the broadest
Christianity.

The latter course was the one he chose; in solid earnest, too, because
it suited his nature. And so perhaps we had better say that he chose no
course at all, but had the wiser one forced upon him. Yet the old Adam
of damnable temper too often would rush out of Paradise, and prove in
strong language that he would not be put off together with his works.
Exeter Hall would have owned him, in spite of all his backslidings, as
a very “far–advanced Christian;” because he was so “evangelical.” And
yet he never dealt in cant, nor distributed idyllic tracts, Sabbatarian
pastorals, where godly Thomas meets drunken John, and converts him to
the diluted _vappa_ of an unfermented Sunday.

And now this man, whom all who knew him either loved or hated, felt the
troubles closing around him, and saw that the end was coming. He had
kept his own sense of justice down, while it jerked (like a thistle on
springs) in his heart; he had worn himself out with thinking for ever
what would become of his children, whom he had wronged more heavily
than his own bad father had wronged him—only the difference was that
he loved them; and most of all he had let a poor fellow, whom he liked
and esteemed most truly, bear all the brunt, all the misery, all the
despair of fratricide.

Now all he asked for, all he prayed for—and, indeed, he prayed more
than ever now, and with deeper feeling; though many would have feared
to do it—now his utmost hope was to win six months of life. In that
time all might be arranged for his childrenʼs interest; his purchase of
those five hundred acres from the Crown Commissioners—all good land,
near the Romsey–road, but too full of juice—would soon be so completed
that he could sell again at treble the price he gave, so well had he
reclaimed the land, while equitably his; and then Bob should have half,
and Pearl take half (because she had been so injured), and, starting
with the proceeds of all his earthly substance before it should
escheat, be happy in America, and think fondly of dead father.

This was all he lived for now. It may seem a wild programme; but,
practical as he was in business, and not to be wronged of a halfpenny,
Bull Garnet was vague and sentimental when he “took on” about his
children. Furious if they were wronged, loving them as the cow did
(who, without a horn to her head, pounded dead the leopard), ready
to take most liberal views of everything beyond them, yet keeping
ever to his eyes that parental lens, whose focus is so very short,
and therefore, by the optic laws, its magnifying power and aberration
glorious.

Now three foes were closing round him; all of whom, by different
process, and from different premises, had arrived at the one
conclusion. The three were, as he knew too well, Rufus Hutton, Issachar
Jupp, and Mr. Chope, of Southampton. Of the first he held undue
contempt (not knowing all his evidence); the second he had for the
time disarmed, by an appeal _ad hominem_; the third was the most to be
feared, the most awful, because so crafty, keen, and deep, so utterly
impenetrable.

Mr. Chope, the partner and “brains” of Cole, the coroner, was absent
upon a lawyerʼs holiday at the time of the inquest. When he came home,
and heard all about it, and saw the place, and put questions, he
scarcely knew what to think. Only upon one point he was certain—the
verdict had been wrong. Either Cradock Nowell had shot his brother
purposely, or some one else had done so. To Chopeʼs clear intuition,
and thorough knowledge of fire–arms—for his one relaxation was
shooting—it was plain as possible that there had been no accident. To
the people who told him about the cartridge “balling,” he expressed
no opinion; but to himself he said, “Pooh! I have seen Cradock Nowell
shoot. He always knew all he was doing. He never would put a _green_
cartridge into his gun for a woodcock. And the others very seldom ball.
And even if he had a green cartridge, look at the chances against it. I
would lay my life Clayton Nowell was shot on purpose.”

Then, of course, Mr. Chope set to, not only with hope of reward, but
to gratify his own instinct, at the puzzle and wards of the question.
If he had known the neighbourhood well, and all the local politics, he
must have arrived at due conclusion long before he did. But a heavy
piece of conveyancing came into the office of Cole, Chope, and Co.,
and, being far more lucrative than amateur speculations, robbed them
of their attention. But now that stubborn piece was done with, and
Mr. Chope again at leisure to pursue his quest. Twice or thrice every
week he was seen, walking in his deliberate way, as if every step were
paid for, through the village of Nowelhurst, and among the haunts of
the woodcutters. He carried his great head downwards, as a bloodhound
on the track does, but raised it, and met with a soft sweet smile all
who cared to look at him. In his hand he bore a fishing–rod, and round
his hat some trout–flies; and often he entered the village inn, and
had bread and cheese in the taproom, though invited into the parlour.
Although his boots were soaked and soiled as if he had been wading, and
the landing–net, slung across his back, had evidently been dripping,
he opened to none his fishing creel, neither had any trout fried,
but spoke in a desponding manner of the shyness of the fish, and the
brightness of the water, and vowed every time that his patience was now
at last exhausted. As none could fish in that neighbourhood without
asking Sir Cradockʼs permission, or trespassing against him, and as
the old baronet was most duly tenacious of all his sporting rights,
everybody wondered what Mark Stote was about to allow a mere far–comer
to carry on so in Nowelhurst water. But Mark Stote knew a great deal
better what was up than they did.

Four or five times now, Bull Garnet, riding on his rounds of business,
had met Simon Chope, and bowed politely to him. On the first occasion,
Mr. Chope, knowing very little of Garnet, and failing to comprehend
him (as we fail, at first sight, with all antipodes), lost his slow
sequacious art, because he over–riddled it. All very cunning men do
this; even my Lord Bacon, but never our brother Shakespeare.

But Mr. Garnet read him truly, and his purpose also, by the aid of
his own consciousness; and a thrill of deep, cold fear went through
that hot and stormy heart. Nevertheless, he met the case in his usual
manner, and puzzled Mr. Chope on the third or fourth encounter by
inviting him to dinner. The lawyer found some ready plea for declining
this invitation; sleuth and cold–blooded as he was, he could not
accept hospitality to sift his host for murder. Of course Mr. Garnet
had foreseen the refusal of this overture; but it added to his general
alarm, even more than it contributed to his momentary relief. Clearly
enough he knew, or felt, that now he was running a race against time;
and if he could only win that race, and give the prize to his children,
how happily would he yield himself to his only comfort—death. With his
strong religious views—right or wrong, who shall dare to say? for the
matter is not of reason—he doubted Godʼs great mercy to him in another
world no more than he doubted his own great love to his own begotten.

And sad it was, enough to move the tears of any Stoic, to behold
Bull Garnet now sitting with his children. Instead of being shy and
distant (as for a while he had been, when the crime was new upon him)
he would watch them, word by word, smile by smile, or tear for tear,
as if he never could have enough of the little that was left to him.
They had begun to talk again carelessly in his presence, as the manner
of the young is. Bob had found that the vague, dark cloud, of whose
origin he knew nothing, was lifted a little, and lightened; and Pearl,
who knew all about it, was trying to slip from beneath its shadow,
with the self–preservation of youth, and into the long–obscured but
native sunlight of a daughterʼs love. And all the while their father,
the man of force and violence, would look from one to the other of
them, perceiving, with a curious smile, little traits of himself;
often amused at, and blessing them for, their very sage inexperience;
thinking to show how both were wrong, yet longing not to do it. And
then he would begin to wonder which of them he loved more deeply. Pearl
had gained upon him so, by the patience of her wrong, by coming to the
hearth for shelter from the storms of outer love.

In all races against time, luck, itself the child of time, is apt to
govern the result more than highest skill may. So far, most of the luck
had been in Mr. Garnetʼs favour; the approach of unlucky Cradock that
day, the distraction of his mind—the hurried and jostled aim which even
misled himself; the distance of John Rosedew; the blundering and timid
coroner and the soft–hearted jury; even the state of the weather; and
since that time the perversion and weakness of the fatherʼs mind: all
these had prevented that close inquiry which must have led to either
his conviction or confession. For, of course, he would have confessed
at once, come what might, if an innocent man had been apprehended for
his guilt.

Only in one important matter—so far at least as he knew yet, not having
heard of Jemʼs discovery, and Mr. Huttonʼs advance upon it—had fortune
been against him; that one was the crashing of his locked cupboard, and
the exposure of the broken gun–case to Rufus Huttonʼs eyes. And now it
was an adverse fate which brought Mr. Chope upon the stage, and yet it
was a kindly one which kept him apart from Hutton. For Simon Chope and
Rufus Hutton disliked one another heartily; as the old repulsion is
between cold blood and hot blood.

As it happened, Mr. Chope was Mrs. Corklemoreʼs pet lawyer: he had
been employed to see that she was defrauded of no adequate rights
uxorial upon her second marriage. And uncommonly good care he took to
secure the lionʼs share for her. Indeed, had it been possible for him
to fall in love at all with anything but money, that foolish lapse
would have been his, at the very first sight of Georgie. Sweetly
innocent and good, she did so sympathize with “to wit, whereas, and
notwithstanding;” she entered with such gush of heart into the bitter
necessity of making many folios, and charging for every one of them,
which the depravity of human nature has forced on a class whose native
bias rather tends to poetry; she felt so acutely (when all was made
plain to her, and Mr. Corklemore paid the bill) how very very wrong
it was not to have implicit confidence—”in being cheated,” under her
breath, and that shaft was Cupidʼs to Mr. Chope—in a word, he was so
smitten, that he doubled all his charges, and inserted an especial
power of appointment, for (Mr. Corklemore having the gout) he looked on
her as his reversion.

“Hang it,” he said, for his extreme idea of final punishment was legal;
“hang it, if I married that woman, our son would be Lord Chancellor. I
never saw such a liar.”

Now it was almost certain that, under Sir Cradock Nowellʼs settlement
upon marriage, an entail had been created. The lawyers, who do as they
like in such matters, and live in a cloud of their own breath, are sure
to provide for continuance, and the bills of their grandchildren.

“Alas, how sad!” thought Georgie, as she lay back in the Nowelhurst
carriage on her way to Cole, Chope, and Co.; “how very sad if it should
be so. Then there will be no cure for it, but to get up the evidence,
meet the dreadful publicity, and get the poor fellow convicted. And
they say he is so good–looking! Perhaps I hate ugly people so much,
because I am so pretty. Oh, how I wish Mr. Corklemore walked a little
more like a gentleman. But as a sacred duty to my innocent darling, I
must leave no stone unturned.”

Fully convinced of her pure integrity, Georgie drove up in state and
style to the office of Cole, Chope, and Co., somewhere in Southampton.
She would make no secret of it, but go in Sir Cradock Nowellʼs
carriage, and then evil–minded persons could not misinterpret her. Mr.
Chope alone could tell her, as she had said to “Uncle Cradock” (with
a faint hope that he might let slip something), what really was the
nature and effect of her own marriage–settlement. Things of that sort
were so far beyond her, so distasteful to her; sufficient for the
day was the evil thereof; she could sympathize with almost any one,
but really not with a person who looked forward to any disposal of
property, unless it became, for the sake of the little ones, a matter
of strict duty; and even then it must cause a heart–pang—oh, such a
bitter heart–pang!

“Coleʼs brains” was not the man to make himself too common. He always
required digging out, like a fossil, from three or four mural _septa_.
Being disinterred at last from the innermost room, after winks, and
nods, and quiet knocks innumerable, he came out with both hands over
his eyes, because the light was too much for him, he had been so hard
at work.

And the first thing he always expressed was surprise, even though he
had made the appointment. Mr. Simon Chope, attorney and solicitor, was
now about five–and–thirty years old, a square–built man, just growing
stout, with an enormous head, and a frizzle of hair which made it
look still larger. There was a depth of gravity in his paper–white
countenance—slightly marked with small–pox—a power of not laughing,
such as we seldom see, except in a man of great humour, who says odd
things, but rarely smiles till every one else is laughing. But if
Chope were gifted, as he may have been, with a racy vein of comedy,
nobody ever knew it. He was not accustomed to make a joke gratis,
neither to laugh upon similar terms at the jokes of other people.
Tremendous gravity, quiet movements, very clear perception, most
judicious reticence—these had been his characteristics since he started
in life as an office–boy, and these would abide with him until he got
everything he wanted; if any man ever does that.

With many a bow and smile, expressing surprise, delight, and deference,
Mr. Chope conducted to a special room that lady in whom he felt an
interest transcending contingent remainder. Mrs. Corklemore swam
to her place with that ease of movement which was one of her chief
fascinations, and fixed her large grey eyes on the lawyer with the
sweetest expression of innocence.

“I fear, Mr. Chope—oh, where is my husband? he promised to meet me
here—I fear that I must give you, oh, so much trouble again. But you
exerted yourself so very kindly on my behalf about eighteen months ago,
that I cannot bear to consult any other gentleman, even in the smallest
matter.”

“My services, such as they are, shall ever be at the entire disposal of
Madame la Comtesse.”

Mr. Chope would always address her so; “a countess once, a countess
for ever,” was his view of the subject. Moreover, it ignored Mr.
Corklemore, whom he hated as his supplanter; and, best reason of all,
the lady evidently liked it.

“You are so very kind, I felt sure that you would say so. But in this
case, the business is rather Mr. Corklemoreʼs than my own. But he
has left it entirely to me, having greater confidence, perhaps, in my
apprehension.”

She knew, of course, that so to disparage her husband, by implication,
was not in the very best taste; but she felt that Mr. Chope would be
pleased, as she quite understood his sentiments.

“And not without excellent reason,” answered the lawyer, softly; “if
any lady would be an ornament to our profession, it is Madame la
Comtesse.”

“Oh no, Mr. Chope, oh no! I am so very simple. And I never should have
the heart to do the things you are compelled to do. But to return:
this little matter, in which I hope for your assistance, is a trifling
exchange of mixed land with Sir Cradock Nowell.”

“Ah, to be sure!” said Chope, feeling slightly disappointed, for he had
some idea that the question would be more lucrative; “if you will give
me particulars, it shall have our best attention.”

“I think I have heard,” said Georgie, knowing thoroughly all about it,
“that there is some mode of proceeding, under some Act of Parliament,
which lightens, perhaps, to some extent, the legal difficulties—and, oh
yes, the expenses.”

Mrs. Corklemore knew how Mr. Chope had drawn her a very long bill—upon
his imagination.

“Oh, of course,” replied Mr. Chope, smitten yet more deeply with the
legal knowledge, and full of the future Lord Chancellor; “there is a
rough and ready way of dealing with almost anything. What they call
a statutory proceeding, shockingly careless and haphazard, and most
ungermainely thrust into an Enclosure Act. But we never permit any
clients of ours to imperil their interests so, for the sake, perhaps,
of half a sovereign. There is such a deal of quackery in all those
dabblesome interferences with ancient institutions. For security, for
comfort of mind, for scientific investigation, there is nothing like
the exhaustive process of a good common law conveyance. Look at a
proper abstract of title! A charming thing to contemplate; and still
more charming, if possible, the requisitions upon it, when prepared by
eminent counsel. But the tendency of the present age is to slur and cut
short everything. Melancholy, most melancholy!”

“Especially for the legal gentlemen, I suppose, Mr. Chope?”

“Yes. It does hurt our feelings so to see all the grand safeguards,
invented by men of consummate ability, swept away like old rubbish.
I even heard of a case last week, where a piece of land, sold for
900_l_., actually cost the purchaser only 50_l_. for conveyance!”

“Oh, how disgraceful!” cried Georgie, so nicely, that Chope detected no
irony: “and now, I presume, if we proceed in the ordinary way, we must
deliver and receive what you call ‘abstracts of title.’”

“Quite so, quite so, whichever way you proceed. It is a most
indispensable step. It will be my duty and privilege to deduce Mr.
Corklemoreʼs title; and Mr. Brockwoodʼs, I presume, to show Sir Cradock
Nowellʼs. All may be completed in six months’ time, if both sides act
with energy. If you will favour me with the description of parcels,
I will write at once to Mr. Brockwood; or, indeed, I shall see him
to–night. He will be at the Masonsʼ dinner.”

For a moment Mrs. Corklemore was taken quite aback. It is needless
to say that no interchange of land had ever been dreamed of, except
by herself, as a possible method of learning “how the land lay;” and
indeed there was no intermixed land at all, as Mr. Chope strongly
suspected. Neither was he, for the matter of that, likely to meet Mr.
Brockwood; but when it becomes a _professional_ question, a man can
mostly out–lie a woman, because he has more experience.

“Be guided by me, if you please,” said Georgie, smiling enough to
misguide any one; “we must not be premature, lest we seem too anxious
about the bargain. And, I am sure, we have done our very best to be
perfectly fair with Sir Cradock. Only we trust you, of course, to
be sure that he has reposing, composing—oh, how stupid I am! I mean
disposing power; that there is no awkward entail.”

Here she looked so preternaturally simple, which she would never have
done but for her previous flutter, that Simon Chope in a moment knew
exactly what her game was. Nevertheless, he answered nicely in that
tantalizing way which often makes a woman flash forth.

“We shall see, no doubt, ere long. Of course Sir Cradock would not
propose it, unless he had full power. Is it quite certain that poor
Clayton Nowell left no legitimate offspring?”

Oh, what a horrible suggestion! Such a thing would quite upset every
scheme. Georgie had never thought of it. And yet it might even be so.
There was something in the tone of Mr. Chopeʼs whisper, which convinced
her that he had heard something.

And only think; young men are so little looked after at Oxford, that
they can get married very easily, without anything being heard of it.
At least, so thought Mrs. Corklemore. And then oh, if poor Clayton had
left a child, how his grandfather would idolize him! Sir Cradock would
slip from her hands altogether; and scarcely any hope would remain of
diverting the succession. Even if the child was a daughter, probably
she would inherit, and could not yet have committed felony. Oh, what a
fearful blow it would be!

All this passed through that rapid mind in about half a second, during
which time, however, the thinker could not help looking nonplussed.
Mr. Chope of course perceived it, and found himself more and more
wide–awake.

“Well, what a strange idea!” she exclaimed, with unfeigned surprise.
“There has not been the slightest suggestion of anything of the kind.
And indeed I have lately heard what surprised me very much, that he had
formed an—an improper attachment in a quarter very near home.”

“Indeed! Do you know to whom?” It was Mr. Chope who was trying now to
appear indifferent.

“Yes. I was told. But it does not become me to repeat such stories.”

“It not only becomes you in this case, but it is your absolute duty,
and—and your true interest.”

“Why, you quite frighten me, Mr. Chope. Your manner is so strange.”

“It would grieve me deeply indeed to alarm Madame la Comtesse,”
answered the lawyer, trying in vain to resume his airiness; “but I
cannot do justice to any one who does not fully confide in me. In a
case like this, especially, such interests are concerned, the title
is so—so complicated, that purely as a matter of business we must be
advised about everything.”

“Well, I see no reason why I should not tell you. It cannot be of any
importance. Poor Clayton Nowell had fallen in love with a girl very far
beneath him—the daughter, I think she was, of a Mr. Garnet.”

“Oh, I think I had heard a report of that sort”—he had never heard, but
suspected it—”it can, of course, signify nothing, if the matter went no
further; nevertheless, I thank you for your gratifying confidence. I
apologize if I alarmed you; there is nothing alarming at all in it. I
was thinking of something very different.” This was utterly false; but
it diverted her from the subject.

“Oh, yes, I see. Of something, you mean, which might have caused
a disagreement between the unfortunate brothers. Now tell me your
opinion—in the strictest confidence, of course—as to that awful
occurrence. Do you think—oh, I hope not——”

“I was far away at the time, and can form no conclusion. But I know
that my partner, Mr. Cole, the coroner, was too sadly convinced,—oh, I
beg your pardon, I forgot for the moment that Madame la Comtesse——”

“Pray forget my relationship, or rather consider it as a reason; oh, I
would rather know the sad, sad truth. It is the suspense, oh the cruel
suspense. What was Mr. Coleʼs conclusion?”

“That if Cradock Nowell were put on his trial, he would not find a jury
in England but must convict him.”

“Oh, how inexpressibly shocking! Excuse me, may I ask for a glass of
water? Oh, thank you, thank you. No wine, if you please. I must hurry
away quite rudely. The fresh air will revive me. I cannot conclude my
instructions to–day. How could I think of such little matters? Please
to do nothing until you hear from me. Yes, I hear the carriage. I told
Giles to allow me ten minutes only, unless Mr. Corklemore came. You
see how thoroughly well I know the value of your time. We feel it so
acutely; but I must not presume; no further, if you please!”

Having thus appraised Mr. Chope, and apprised him of his distance, from
a social point of view, Georgie gave him a smile which disarmed him, at
least for the moment. But he was not the lawyer, or the man, to concede
her the last word.

“We lawyers never presume, madam, any more than we assume. We must have
everything proved.”

“Except your particulars of account, which you leave to prove
themselves.”

“Ha, ha! You are too clever for the whole profession. We can only prove
our inferiority.”

He stood, with his great bushy head uncovered, looking after the grand
apparatus, and three boys sitting behind it; and then he went sadly
back, and said, “Our son might have been Lord Chancellor. But I beat
her this time in lying.”



CHAPTER IX.


Two months of opening spring are past, and the forest is awaking. Up,
all we who love such things; come and see more glorious doings than of
man or angel. However hearts have been winter–bound with the nip of
avarice, and the iron frost of selfishness, however minds have checked
their sap in narrowness of ideal, let us all burst bands awhile before
the bright sun, as leaves do. Heavenʼs young breath is stirring through
crinkled bud and mossy crevice, peaceful spears of pensioned reeds,
and flags all innocent of battle. Lo, where the wind goes, while we
look, playing with and defying us, chasing the dip of a primrose–bank,
and touching sweet lips with dalliance. Lifting first the shining
tutsan, gently so, and apologizing, then after a tender whisper to the
nodding milkwort, away to where the soft blue eyes of the periwinkle
hesitate. Last, before he dies away, the sauntering ruffler looks and
steps into a quiet tufted nook, overhung with bank, and lintelled
with the twisted oak–roots. Here, as in a niche of Sabbath, dwells
the nervous soft wood–sorrel, feeding upon leaf–mould, quivering with
its long–stalked cloves, pale of hue, and shunning touch, delicate
wood–sorrel, coral–rooted, shamrock–leafed, loved and understood of
few, except good Fra Angelico.

Tut—we want stronger life than that; and here we have it overhead,
with many a galling boss and buff, yet, on the whole, worth treeʼs
exertion, and worth manʼs inspection. See the oak–leaves bursting out,
crimped and crannied at their birth, with little nicks and serrate jags
like “painted lady” chrysalids, or cowries pushing their tongues out,
throwing off the hidesome tuck, and frilled with pellucid copper. See,
as well, the fluted beech–leaves, started a full moon ago, offering
out of fawn–skin gloves, and glossed with waterproof copal. Then the
ash—but hold, I know not how the ash comes out, because it gives so
little warning; or rather, it warns a long, long time, and then does
it all of a sudden. Tush—what man cares now to glance at the yearly
manuscript of God? Let the leaves go; they are not _inscripti nomina
regum_.

Yet the brook—though time flees faster, who can grudge one glance at
brooklet? Where the mock–myrtle begins to dip, where the young agrimony
comes up, and the early forget–me–not pushes its claim upon our
remembrance, and the water–lily floats half–way up, quivering dusk in
the clearness, like a trout upon the hover. Look how the little waves
dance towards us, glancing and casting over, drawing a tongue with
limpid creases from the broad pool above, then funnelling into a narrow
neck over a shelf of gravel, and bubbling and babbling with petulant
freaks into corners of calmer reflection. There an old tree leans
solemnly over, with brows bent, and arms folded, turning the course of
the brook with his feet, and shedding a crystal darkness.

Below this, the yellow banks break away into a scoop on either side,
where a green lane of the forest comes down and wades into the water.
Here is a favourite crossing–place for the cattle of the woodland,
and a favourite bower for cows to rest in, and chew the cud of soft
contemplation. And here is a grey wooden bridge for the footpath,
adding to rather than destroying the solitude of the scene, because it
is plain that a pair of feet once in a week would astonish it. Yet in
the depth of loneliness, and the quiet repose of shadow, all is hope,
and reassurance, sense of thanks, and breath of praise. For is not
the winter gone by, and forgotten, the fury and darkness and terror,
the inclination of March to rave, and the April too given to weeping?
Surely the time of sweet flowers is come, and the glory of summer
approaching, the freedom of revelling in the sun, the vesture of the
magnificent trees, and the singing of birds among them.

Through the great Huntley Wood, and along the banks of the Millaford
brook, this fine morning of the May, wander our Rosalind and Celia,
Amy to wit, and Eoa. It is a long way from Nowelhurst, but they have
brought their lunch, and mean to make a day of it in the forest,
seeking balm for wounded hearts in good green leaf and buoyant air.
Coming to the old plank–bridge, they sit upon a bank to watch the
rising of the trout, for the stone–fly is on the water. Eoa has a
great idea that she could catch a trout with a kidney–bean stick and a
fly; but now she has not the heart for it; and Amy says it would be so
cruel, and they are so pretty.

“What a lovely place!” says Amy; “I could sit here all day long. How
that crab–apple, clothed with scarlet, seems to rouge the water!”

“It isnʼt scarlet, I tell you, Amy, any more than you are. Itʼs only a
deep, deep pink. You never can tell colours.”

“Well, never mind. It is very pretty. And so are you when you are
good and not contradictory—ʼcontradictionary,’ as James Pottles calls
Coræbus.”

“Well, it does just as well. Whatʼs the good of being so particular? I
am sure I am none the better for it; and I have not jumped the brook
ever so long, and have thrown away my gaiters just because Uncle John
said—oh, you are all alike in England.”

“What did my father say, if you please, that possessed such odious
sameness?”

“There, there, I am so glad to see you in a passion, dear; because I
thought you never could be. Uncle John only said that no doubt somebody
would like me better, if I gave up all that, and stayed in–doors all
day. And I have been trying hard to do it; but he is worse than he was
before. I sat on a bench in the chase last Monday, and he went by and
never noticed me, though I made quite a noise with my hat on the wood
until I was nearly ashamed of myself. But I need not have been alarmed,
for my lord went by without even looking.”

“And what do you mean to do about it?” Amy took the deepest interest in
Eoaʼs love–affair.

“Oh, you need not smile, Amy. It is all very well for you, I dare say;
but it makes me dreadfully angry. Just as if I were nobody! And after I
have told Uncle Cradock of my intentions to settle.”

“You premature little creature! But my father was quite right in his
advice, as he always is; and not for that reason only. You belong to
a well–known family, and, for their sake as well as your own, you are
bound to be very nice, dear, and to do only what is nice, instead of
making a tomboy of yourself.”

“Tomboy, indeed! And nice! Nice things they did, didnʼt they—shooting
one another?”

Almost before she had uttered the words, she was thoroughly ashamed
of herself, for she knew about Amy and Cradock from the maidenʼs own
confession. Amy arose without reply, and, taking her little basket,
turned into the homeward path, with a little quiet sigh. Eoa thought
for a moment, and then, having conquered herself, darted after the
outraged friend.

“I wish to have no more to do with you. That is all,” cried Amy, with
Eoaʼs strong arms round her waist.

“But, indeed, you shall. You know what a brute I am. I canʼt help it;
but I will try. I will bite my tongue off to be forgiven.”

“I simply wish, Miss Nowell, to have nothing more to do with you.”

“Then you are a great deal worse than I am; because you are
unforgiving. I thought you were so wonderfully good; and now I am sorry
for you, even more than for myself. I had better go back to the devilʼs
people, if this is the way of Christians.”

“Could you forgive any one in a moment who had wounded you most
savagely?”

“In a moment,—if they were sorry, and asked me.”

“Are you quite sure of that?”

“Sure, indeed! How could I help it?”

“Then, Eoa, you cannot help being more like a Christian than I am. I am
very persistent, and steadily bitter to any one who wrongs me. You are
far better than I am, Eoa; because you cannot hate any one.”

“I donʼt know about being better, Amy; I only know that I donʼt hate
any one—with all my heart I mean—except Mrs. Nowell Corklemore.”

Here Amy could not help laughing at Eoaʼs method of proving her rule;
and the other took advantage of it to make her sit down, and kiss her,
and beg her pardon a dozen times, because she was such a little savage;
and then to open her own lunch–basket, and spread a white cloth,
and cover it with slices of rusk and reindeerʼs tongue, and hearted
lettuce, and lemonade, and a wing of cold duck at the corner.

“I left it to Hoggy,” she cried in triumph, “and he has deserved my
confidence. Beat that if you can now, my darling.”

“Oh, I can beat that out and out,” said Amy, who still was crying,
just a drop now and then, because her emotions were “persistent:” then
she smiled, because she knew so well no old butler could touch her in
catering; but I must not tell what Amy had, for fear of making people
hungry. Only in justice it should be said that neither basket went home
full; for both the young ladies were “hearty;” and they kissed one
another in spite of the stuffing.

“Oh, Amy, I do love you so, whenever you donʼt scold me. I am sure I
was meant for a Christian. Hereʼs that nasty sneakʼs lawn handkerchief.
I picked her pocket this morning. I do twice a week for practice. But I
wonʼt wipe your pretty eyes with it, darling, because I do so loathe
her. Now, if you please, no more crying, Amy. What a queer thing you
are!”

“Most truly may I return the compliment,” answered Amy, smiling through
the sparkle of her tears. “But you donʼt mean to say that you keep what
you steal?”

“Oh no; it is not worth it. And I hate her too much to keep anything.
Last week I lit the fire in my dressing–room, on purpose to burn her
purse. You should have seen the money melting. I took good care, of
course, not to leave it in the ashes, though. I am forming quite a
collection of it; for I donʼt mind keeping it at all, when it has been
through the fire. And you canʼt think how pretty it is, all strings and
dots of white and yellow.”

“Well! I never heard such a thing. Why, you might be transported, Eoa!”

“Yes, I know, if they found me out; but they are much too stupid for
that. Besides, it is such fun; the only fun I have now, since I left
off jumping. You know the old thing is so stingy.”

“Old thing, indeed! Why, she is not five–and–twenty!”

“I donʼt care; she has got a child. She is as old as Methusalem in
her heart, though she is so deucedly sentimental”—the old Colonelʼs
daughter had not forgotten all her beloved papaʼs expressions—”I know
I shall use what you call in this country ‘physical force,’ some day,
with her. I must have done it long ago, only for picking her pocket.
She would be but a baby in my hands, and she is quite aware of it. Look
at my arm; itʼs no larger than yours, except above the elbow, and it is
nearly as soft and delicate. Yet I could take you with one hand, Amy,
and put you into the brook. If you like, Iʼll do it.”

“Much obliged, dear; but I am quite content without the crucial test. I
know your wonderful strength, which none would ever suspect, to look at
you. I suppose it came to you from your mother.”

“Yes, I believe. At any rate, I have heard my father say so; and I
could hold both his hands most easily. But oh, she is such a screw,
Amy, that sympathetic Georgie! She never gives any one sixpence; and it
is so pleasant to hear her go on about her money, and handkerchiefs,
and, most of all, her gloves. She is so proud of her nasty little
velvet paws. She wonʼt get her gloves except in Southampton, and three
toll–gates to pay, and I steal them as fast as she gets them. She
grumbles about it all dinner–time, and I offered her eighteenpence for
turnpikes—out of her own purse, of course—because she was so poor,
I said. But she flew into such a rage that I was forced to pick her
pocket again at breakfast–time next morning. And the lies she told
about the amount of money in her purse! Between eight and nine pounds,
she said the last time, and there was only two pounds twelve. Uncle
Cradock made it good to her, because he guessed that I had done it,
though he was afraid to tell me so. But, thank God, I stole it again
the next day when she went out walking; and that of course he had
nothing to say to, because it did not occur in his house. Oh what a
rage she was in! She begins to suspect me now, I think; but she never
can catch me out.”

“You consummate little thief! why, I shall be afraid to come near you.”

“Oh, I would never do it to any one but her. And I should not do it
to her so much, only she thinks me a clumsy stupid. Me who was called
‘Never–spot–the–dust!’ But I have got another thing of hers, and she
had better take care, or Iʼll open it.”

“Something else! Take care, Eoa, or I will go and tell.”

“No, you know better than that. It is nothing but a letter she wrote,
and was going to post at Burley. I knew by her tricks and suspicious
ways that there was something in it; and she would not let it go in the
post–bag. So I resolved to have it; and of course I did. And she has
been in such a fright ever since; but I have not opened it yet.”

“And I hope you never will. Either confess, or post it at once, or
never call me your friend any more.”

“Oh, you need not be hot, Amy; you donʼt understand the circumstances.
I know that she is playing a nasty game; and I need not have any
scruples with her, after what I caught her doing. Twice she has been
at my desk, my own new desk Uncle Cradock gave me, where I put all the
letters and relics that were found on my dear, dear father.” Here Eoa
burst out crying, and Amy came near again and kissed her.

“Darling, I did not mean to be cross; if the wretch would do such a
thing as that, it justifies almost anything.”

“And what do you think I did?” said Eoa, half crying, and half
laughing: “I set a fishhook with a spring to it, so that the moment she
lifted the cover, the barb would go into her hand; and the next day she
had a bad finger, and said that little Flore bit it by accident while
she was feeling her tooth, which is loose. I should like to have seen
her getting the barb out of her nasty little velvet paw.”

“I am quite surprised,” cried Amy; “and we all call you so simple—a
mere child of nature! If so, nature is up to much more than we give her
credit for. And pray, what is your next device?”

“Oh, nothing at all, till she does something. I am quits with her now;
and I cannot scheme as she does.”

Suddenly Amy put both her hands on Eoaʼs graceful shoulders, and
poured the quick vigour of English eyes into the fathomless lustre of
darkly–fringed Oriental orbs.

“You will not tell me a story, dear, if I ask you very particularly?”

“I never tell stories to any one; you might know that by this time. At
any rate, not to my friends.”

“No, I donʼt think you would. Now, do you think that Mrs. Corklemore is
at the bottom of this vile thing?”

“What vile thing? The viler it is, the more likely she is to have done
it.”

“Oh no, she cannot have done it, though she may have had something to
do with it. I mean, of course, about poor Cradock.”

“What about Cradock? I love Cousin Cradock, because he is so unlucky;
and because you like him, dear.”

“Donʼt you know it? You must have seen that I was in very poor spirits.
And this made me feel it so much the more, when you said what you did.
We have heard that an application has been made in London, at the Home
Office, or somewhere, that a warrant should be issued against Cradock
Nowell, and a reward be offered for him as——Oh, my Cradock, my Craddy!”

“Put your head in here, darling. What a brute you must have thought me!
Oh, I do so love you. Donʼt think twice about it, dear. I will take
care that it all comes right. I will go to London to–day, dearest,
and defy them to dare to do it. And Iʼll open that letter at once. It
becomes a duty now; as that nasty beast always says, when she wants to
do anything wrong.”

“No, no!” sobbed Amy, “you have no right to open her letter, and you
shall not do it, Eoa, unless my father says that it is right. Will you
promise me that, dear? Oh, do promise me that.”

“How can I promise that, when I would not have him know, for a lac of
rupees, that I had ever stolen it? He would never perceive how right
it was; and, though I donʼt know much about people, I am sure he would
never forgive me. He is such a fidget. But I will promise you one
thing, Amy—not to open it without _your_ leave.”

Amy was obliged at last to be contented with this; though she said
it was worse than nothing, for it forced the decision upon her; and,
scrupulously honest and candid as she was, she would feel it right to
settle the point against her own desires.

“Old Biddy knows I have got it,” cried Eoa, changing her humour: “and
she patted me on the back, and said, ‘Begorra, thin, you be the cliver
one; hould on to that same, me darlint, and weʼll bate every bit of
her, yit; the purtiest feet and ancles to you, and the best back legs,
more than iver she got, and now you bate her in the stalinʼ. And plase,
Miss, rade yer ould Biddy every consuminʼ word on it. Mullygaslooce,
but weʼve toorned her, this time, and thank Donats for it.’”

Eoa dramatised Biddy so cleverly, even to the form of her countenance,
and her peculiar manner of standing, that Amy, with all those griefs
upon her, could not help laughing heartily.

“Come along, I canʼt mope any longer; when I have jumped the brook nine
times, you may say something to me. What do you think of a bathe, Amy?
I am up for it, if you are—and our tablecloths for towels. Nobody comes
here once in a year; and if they did, they would run away again. What
a lovely deep pool! I can swim like a duck; and you like a stone, I
suppose.”

Amy, of course, would not hear of it, and her lively friend, having
paddled with her naked feet in the water, and found it colder—oh, ever
so much—than the tributaries of the Ganges, was not so very sorry
(self–willed though being) to keep upon the dry land, only she must
go to Queenʼs Mead, and Amy must come with her, and run the entire
distance, to get away from trouble.

Amy was light enough of foot, when her heart was light; but Eoa could
“run round her,” as the sporting phrase is, and she gave herself the
rein at will that lovely afternoon; as a high–mettled filly does, when
she gets out of Piccadilly. And she chatted as fast as she walked all
the time, hoping so to divert her friend from this new distress.

“I should not be one bit surprised, if we saw that—Bob, here somewhere.
We are getting near one of his favourite places—not that I know
anything about it; and he is always away now in Mark Ash Wood, or
Puckpits, looking out for the arrival of honey–buzzards, or for a
merlinʼs nest. Oh, of course we shall not see him.”

“Now, you know you will,” replied Amy, laughing at Eoaʼs clumsiness;
“and you have brought me all this way for that very reason. Now, if we
meet him, just leave him to me, and stay out of hearing. I will manage
him so that he shall soon think you the best and the prettiest girl in
the world.”

“Well, I wish he would,” said Eoa, blushing beautifully; “wouldnʼt I
torment him then?”

“No doubt you would, and yourself as well. Now where do you think he
will be?”

“Oh, Amy, how can I possibly guess? But if I did guess at all, I should
say there was just an atom of a chance of his being not far from the
Queenʼs Mead.”

“Suppose him to be there. What would bring him there? Not to see you, I
should hope?”

“As if he would go a yard for that! Oh no, he is come to look for—at
least, perhaps he might, just possibly, I mean——”

“Come to look for whom?” Amy was very angry, for she thought that it
was herself, under Eoaʼs strategy.

“A horrid little white mole.”

“A white mole! Why, I had no idea that there was such a thing.”

“Oh yes, there is: but it is very rare; and he has set his heart upon
catching this one.”

“That he shanʼt. Oh, I see exactly what to do. Come quickly, for fear
he should catch it before we get there. Oh, I do hate such cruelty. Ah,
there, I see him! Now, you keep out of sight.”

In a sunny break of tufted sward, embayed among long waves of wood,
young Bob Garnet sat, more happy than the king of all the world of
fairies. At his side lay several implements of his own devising, and
on his lap a favourite book with his open watch upon it. From time to
time he glanced away at a chain of little hillocks about twenty yards
in front of him, and among which he had stuck seven or eight stout
hazel rods, and brought them down as benders. He was trying not only to
catch his mole, but also to add another to his many observations as to
the periods of molar exertion. Whether nature does enforce upon those
clever miners any Three Hour Act, as the popular opinion is; or whether
they are free to work and rest, at their own sweet will, as seems a
world more natural.

Amy walked into the midst of the benders, in her self–willed,
characteristic manner, as if they were nothing at all. She made believe
to see nought of Bob, who, on the other side of the path was fluttering
and blushing, with a mixture of emotions. “Some very cruel person,”
she exclaimed, in loud self–commune, “probably a cruel boy, has been
setting mole–traps here, I see. And papa says the moles do more good
than harm, except perhaps in my flower–beds. Now Iʼll let them all off
very quietly. The boy will think he has caught a dozen; and then how
the moles will laugh at him. He will think itʼs a witch, and leave
off, very likely, for all cruel boys are ignorant. My pretty little
darlings; so glossy, and so clever!”

“Oh, please not to do that,” cried Bob, having tried in vain to contain
himself, and now leaping up in agony; “I have taken so much trouble,
and they are set so beautifully.”

“What, Master Robert Garnet! Oh, have you seen my companion, Miss
Nowell, about here?”

“Look there, you have spoiled another! And theyʼll never set so well
again. Oh, you canʼt know what they are, and the trouble I have had
with them.”

“Oh yes, Master Garnet, I know what they are; clumsy and cruel
contrivances to catch my innocent moles.”

“_Your_ moles!” cried Bob, with great wrath arising, as she coolly
destroyed two more traps; “why are they _your_ moles, I should like to
know? I donʼt believe you have ever even heard of them before.”

“Suppose I have not?” answered Amy, screwing up her lips, as she always
did when resolved to have her own way.

“Then how can they be your moles? Oh, if you havenʼt spoiled another!”

“Well, Godʼs moles, if you prefer it, Master Garnet. At any rate, you
have no right to catch them.”

“But I only want to catch one, Amy; a white one, oh, such a beauty! I
have heard of him since he was born, and had my eye on him down all
the galleries; and now he must be full–grown, for he was born quite
early in August.”

“I hope heʼll live to be a hundred. And I will thank you, Master
Garnet, to speak to _me_ with proper respect.”

Up went another riser. There was only one left now, and that a most
especial trap, which had cost a whole weekʼs cogitation.

“I declare you are a most dreadful girl. You donʼt like anything I do.
And I have thought so much of you.”

“Then, once for all, I beg you never more to do so. I have often wished
to speak with you upon that very subject.”

“What—what subject, Miss Rosedew? I have no idea what you mean.”

“That is altogether false. But I will tell you now. I mean the silly,
ungentlemanly, and very childish manner, excusable only in such a boy,
in which I have several times observed you loitering about in the
forest.”

Bob knew what she meant right well, although she would not more
plainly express it—his tracking of her footsteps. He turned as red as
meadow–sorrel, and stammered out what he could.

“I am—very—very sorry. But I did not mean it. I mean—I could not help
it.”

“You will be kind enough to help it now, for once and for all.
Otherwise, my father, who has not heard of it yet, shall speak to
yours about it. Insufferable impudence in a boy just come from school!”

Amy was obliged to turn away, for fear he should look up again, and see
the laughter in her eyes. For all her wrath was feigned, inasmuch as
to her Bob Garnet was far too silly a butterfly–boy to awake any real
anger. But of late he had been intrusive, and it seemed high time to
stop it.

“If I have done anything wrong, Miss Rosedew, anything in any way
unbecoming a gentleman——”

“Yes, try to be a good boy again,” said Amy, very graciously; at the
same time giving the stroke of grace to his masterpiece of mechanism,
designed to catch the white mole alive; “now take up your playthings
and go, if you please; for I expect a young lady here directly;
and your little tools for cockchafer–spinning would barbarize the
foreground of our sketch, besides being very ugly.”

“Oh!” cried Bob, with a sudden access of his fathers readiness—”you
spin a fellow worse than any cockchafer, and you do it in the name of
humanity!”

“Then think me no more a divinity,” answered Amy; because she must
have the last word; and even Bob, young as he was, knew better than
to paragogize the feminine termination. Utterly discomfited, as a
boy is by a woman—and Amyʼs trouble had advanced her almost to that
proud claim—Bob gathered up his traps and scuttled cleverly out of
sight. She, on the other hand (laughing all the while at herself for
her simple piece of acting, and doubting whether she had been right in
doing even a little thing so much against her nature), there she sat,
with her sketching–block ready, and hoped that Eoa would have the wit
to come and meet her beloved Bob, now labouring under his fierce rebuff.

But Eoa could not do it. She had wit enough, but too much heart. She
had heard every word of Amyʼs insolence, and was very indignant at it.
Was Bob to be talked to in that way? As if he knew nothing of science!
As if he really had an atom of any sort of cruelty in him! Was Amy so
very ignorant as not to know that all Bob did was done with the kindest
consideration, and for the interest of the species, though the pins
through the backs were unpleasant, perhaps? But that was over in a
moment, and he always carried ether; and it was nothing to the Fakirs,
or the martyrs of Christianity.

Therefore Eoa crouched away, behind a tuft of thicket, because her
maidenhood forbade her to come out and comfort him, to take advantage
of his wrong, and let him know how she felt it. Therefore, too, she
was very sharp with Amy all the homeward road; vindicating Bob, and
snapping at all proffered softness; truth being that she had suspected
his boyish whim for Amy, and now was sorry for him about it, and very
angry with both of them.

From that little touch of womanʼs nature she learned more dignity, more
pride, more reservation, and self–respect, than she could have won from
a score of governesses, or six seasons of “society.”



CHAPTER X.


“Not another minute to lose, and the sale again deferred! All the lots
marked, and the handbills out, and the particulars and conditions
ready; and then some paltry pettifogging, and another fortnight will
be required to do ‘justice to my interests.’ Justice to my interests!
How they do love round–mouthed rubbish! The only justice to me is,
from a legal point of view, to string me up, and then quick–lime me;
and the only justice to my interests is to rob my children, because I
have robbed them already. Robbed them of their birth and name, their
power to look men in the face, their chance of being allowed to do
what God seems chiefly to want us for—to marry and have children, who
may be worse than we are; though, thank Him, mine are not. Robbed them
even of their chance to be met as Christians (though I have increased
their right to it), in this wretched, money–seeking, servile, and
contemptuous age. But who am I to find fault with any, after all my
wasted life? A life which might, in its little way, have told upon
the people round me, and moved, if not improved them. Which might, at
least, have set them thinking, doubting, and believing. Oh the loss
of energy, the loss of self–reliance, and the awful load of fear and
anguish—I who might have been so different! Pearl is at the window
there. I know quite well who loves her—an honest, upright, hearty
man, with a true respect for women. But will he look at her when he
knows——Oh God, my God, forsake me, but not my children!—Bob, what are
you at with those cabbages?”

“Why, they are clubbed, donʼt you see, father, beautifully clubbed
already, and the leaves flag directly the sun shines. And I want to
know whether it is the larva of a _curculio_, or _anthomyia brassicæ_;
and I canʼt tell without pulling the plants up, and they canʼt come to
any good, you know, with all this ambury in them.”

“I know nothing of the sort, Bob. I know nothing at all about it. Go
into the house to your sister. I canʼt bear the sight of you now.”

Bob, without a single word, did as he was told. He knew that his father
loved him, though he could not guess the depth of that love, being
himself so different. And so he never took offence at his fatherʼs odd
ways to him, but thought, “Better luck next time; the governor has got
red spider this morning, and he wonʼt be right till dinner–time.”

Bull Garnet smiled at his sonʼs obedience, with a mighty fount of pride
in him; and then he sighed, because Bob was gone—and he never could
have enough of him, for the little time remaining. He loved his son
with a love surpassing that of woman, or that of man for woman. Men
would call him a fool for it. But God knows how He has made us.

Thinking none of this, but fretting over fierce heart–troubles, which
now began to be too many even for his power of life—as a hundred
wolves kill a lion—he turned again down the espalier–walk, where the
apple–trees were in blossom. Pinky shells spread to the sun, with the
little close tuft in the middle; some striped, some patched, some
pinched with white, some streaking as the fruit would be, and glancing
every gloss of blush—no two of them were quite alike, any more than two
of us are. Yet the bees knew every one among the countless multitude,
and never took the wrong one; even as the angels know which of us
belongs to them, and who wants visitation.

Bull Garnet, casting to and fro, and taking heed of nothing, not even
of the weeds which once could not have lived before his eyes, began
again in a vague loose manner (the weakness of which would have angered
him, if he had been introspective) to drone about the lawʼs delays, and
the folly of institution. He stood at last by his wicket gate, where
the hedge of Irish yew was, and there carried on his grumbling.

“Lawyers indeed! And cannot manage a simple thing of that sort! Thank
God, I know nothing of law.”

“Excuse me, Mr. Garnet. It is possible that you may want to know
something of law, shortly.”

“By what right, sir, dare you break in upon my privacy like this?”

Pale as he was, and scorning himself for the way in which his blood
shrunk back, Bull Garnet was far too strong and quick ever to be
dumb–foundered. Chope looked at him, with some admiration breaking
through the triumph of his small comprehensive eyes.

“Excuse me, Mr. Garnet. I forgot that a public man like you must have
his private moments, even at his own gate. I am sorry to see you so
hot, my dear sir; though I have heard that it is your character. That
sort of thing leads to evil results, and many deplorable consequences.
But I did not mean to be rude to you, or to disturb you so strangely.”

“You have not disturbed me at all, sir.”

“I am truly happy to hear it. All I meant, as to knowledge of law, was
to give you notice that there is some heavy trouble brewing, and that
you must be prepared to meet some horrible accusations.”

“May I trespass further upon your kindness, to ask what their subject
is?”

“Oh, nothing more than a very rash and unfounded charge of murder.”

Mr. Chope pronounced that last awful word in a deeply sepulchral
manner, and riveted his little eyes into Bull Garnetʼs great ones. Mr.
Garnet met his gaze as calmly as he would meet the sad clouded aspect
of a dead rabbit, or hare, in a shop where he asked the price of them,
and regarded their eyes as the test of their freshness. Chope could not
tell what to make of it. The thing was beyond his experience.

But all this time Bull Garnet felt that every minute was costing him a
year of his natural life, even if he ever got any chance of living it
out.

“How does this concern me? Is it any one on our estates?”

“Yes, and the heir to ‘your estates.’ Young Mr. Cradock Nowell.”

Bull Garnet sighed very heavily; then he strode away, and came back
again, with indignation swelling out the volume of his breast, and
filling the deep dark channels of brow, and the turgid veins of his
eyeballs.

“Whoever has done this thing is a fool; or a rogue—which means the
same.”

“It may be so. It may be otherwise. We always hope for the best. Very
likely he is innocent. Perhaps they are shooting at the pigeon in order
to hit the crow.”

“Perhaps you know best what their motives are. I see no use in
canvassing them. You have heard, I suppose, the rumour that Mr. Cradock
Nowell has left England?”

“I know very little about it. I have nothing to do with the case; or
it might have been managed differently. But I heard that the civil
authorities, being called upon to act, discovered, without much
trouble, that he had sailed, under a false name, in a ship called the
_Taprobane_, bound direct for Ceylon. And that, of course, told against
him rather heavily.”

“Ah, he sailed for Ceylon, did he? A wonderful place for insects. I had
an uncle who died there.”

“Yes, Ceylon, where the flying foxes are. Not so cunning, perhaps,
as our foxes of the Forest. And yet the fox is a passionate animal.
Violent, hot, and hasty. Were you aware of that fact?”

“Excuse me; my time is valuable. I will send for the gamekeeper, if you
wish to have light thrown upon that question; or my son will be only
too glad——”

“Ah, your son! Poor fellow!”

Those few short words, pronounced in a tone of real feeling, with no
attempt at inquiry, quite overcame Bull Garnet. First extrinsic proof
of that which he had so long foreseen with horror—the degradation of
his son. He dropped his eyes, which had borne, till now, and returned
the lawyerʼs gaze; and the sense of his own peril failed to keep the
tears from moving. Up to this time Mr. Chope had doubted, and was even
beginning to reject his shrewd and well–founded conclusion. Now he saw
and knew everything. And even he was overcome. Passion is infectious;
and lawyers are like the rest of us. Mr. Chope had loved his mother.

Bull Garnet gave one quick strange glance at the eyes of Simon Chope,
which now were turned away from him, and then he looked at the ground,
and said,

“Yes; I have wronged him bitterly.”

Simon Chope drew back from him mechanically, instinctively, as our
skin starts from cold iron in the arctic regions. He could not think,
much less could he speak, though his mind had been prepared for it. To
human nature it is so abhorrent to take the life of another: to usurp
the rights of God. To stand in the presence of one who has done it,
touches our pulse with death. We feel that he might have done it to us,
or that we might have done it to him; and our love of ourselves is at
once accelerated and staggered. And then we feel that “life for life”
is such low revenge; the vendetta of a drunkard. Very slowly we are
beginning to see the baseness of it.

Bull Garnet was the first to speak, and now he spoke quite calmly.

“You came with several purposes. One of them was, that I should break
to Sir Cradock Nowell these tidings of new trouble; the news of the
warrant which you and others have issued against his luckless son. I
will see to it to–day, and I will try to tell him. Good God, he does
not deserve it—I have watched him—he is no father. Oh, I wish you had
a son, Chope; then you could feel for me.”

Mr. Chope had two sons, not to be freely discoursed of; whom he meant
to take into the office, pseudonymously, some day; and he was rather
inclined to like the poor little _nullius filii_. First, because they
were his own; secondly, because they had big heads; thirdly, because
they had cheated all the other boys. Nevertheless, he was in no hurry
to be confidential about them. Yet without his knowing it, or at least
with only despising it, this little matter shaped its measure upon his
present action. The lawyer lifted his hat to Bull Garnet in a very
peculiar manner, conveying to the quick apprehension, what it would not
have been safe to pronounce—to wit, that Mr. Chope quite understood
all that had occurred; that he would not act upon his discovery until
he had well considered the matter, for, after all, he had no evidence;
lastly, that he was very sorry for Mr. Garnetʼs position, but would
rather not shake hands with him.

The steward watched him walking softly among the glad young leaves,
and down the dell where the sunlight flashed on the merry leaps of
the water. Long after the lawyer was out of sight, Bull Garnet stood
there watching, as if the forest glades would show him the approaching
destiny. Strong and firm as his nature was, he had suffered now such
wearing, wearying agonies, that he almost wished the weak manʼs wish—to
have the mastery taken from him, to have the issue settled without his
own decision.

“Poor Cradock sailed in the _Taprobane_! What an odd name,” he
continued, with that childishness to which sometimes the overtaxed
brain reverts, “tap, tap–root, tap–robin! Tush, what a fool I am! Oh
God, that I could think! Oh God, that I could only learn whether my
first duty is to you, or to my children. I will go in and pray.”

In the passage he met his son, and kissed his forehead gently, as if to
atone for the harshness with which he had sent him away.

“Father,” said Bob, “shall you want me to–day? Or may I be from home
till dark? I have so many things, most important things, to see to.”

“Birds’ nests, I suppose, and grubs, field–mice, and tadpoles. Yes, my
son, you are wise. Enjoy them while you can. And take your sister also
for a good run, if you can. You may carry your dinner with you: I shall
do well enough.”

“Oh, itʼs no use asking Pearl; she never will come with me. And I am
sure I donʼt want her. She does much more harm than good; she canʼt
kill anything properly, nor even blow an egg. But Iʼll ask her, as you
wish it, sir; because I know that she wonʼt come.”

Mr. Garnet had not the heart to laugh at his childrenʼs fine sense of
duty towards him; but he saw Bob start with all his tackle, in great
hopes, and high spirits. The father looked sadly after him, wondering
at his enjoyment, yet loving him the more, perhaps, for being so
unlike himself. And as he gazed, he could not help saying to himself,
“Very likely I shall never see him thus again—only look at him when he
will not care to look on me. Yet he must know, in the end, and she,
the poor thing, she must know how all my soul was on them. Now God in
heaven, lead me aright. Half an hour shall settle it.”



CHAPTER XI.


Meanwhile, supposing the warrant to issue, let us see what chance there
is of its ever being served. And it may be a pleasant change awhile to
flit to southern latitudes from the troubles and the drizzle, and the
weeping summer of England.

Poor Cradock, as we saw him last, backed up by the ebony–tree, and
with Wena crouching close to him, knew nothing of his lonely plight
and miserable abandonment; until the sheets of plashing rain, and
long howls of his little dog, awoke him to great wonderment. Then he
arose, and rubbed his eyes, and thought that his sight was gone, and
felt a heavy weight upon him, and a destiny to grope about, and a vain
desire to scream, such as we have in nightmare. Meanwhile, he felt
something pulling at him, always in the same direction, and he did not
like to put his hand down, for he had some idea that it was Beelzebub.
Suddenly a great flash of lightning, triple thrice repeated, lit up
the whole of the wood, like day; and he saw black Wena tugging at
him, to draw him into good shelter. He saw the shelter also, ere the
gush of light was gone, an enormous and hollow mowana–tree, a little
higher up the hill. Then all was blackest night again; and even Wena
was swallowed up in it. But with both hands stretched out, to fend the
blows of hanging branch or creeper, he committed himself to the little
dogʼs care, and she took him to the mowana–tree. Then another great
flash lit up all the hollow; and Wena was frightened and dropped her
tail, but still held on to her master.

Cradock neither knew, nor cared, what the name of the tree was, nor
whether it possessed, as some trees do, especial attractions for
lightning. “Any harbour in a storm,” was all he thought, if he thought
at all; and he lay down very snugly, and felt for Amyʼs present to him,
and then, in spite of the crashing thunder and the roaring wind, snugly
he went off to sleep; and at his feet lay Wena.

In the bright morning, the youth arose, and shook himself, and looked
round, and felt rather jolly than otherwise. Travellers say that the
baobab, or mowana–tree, is the hardest of all things to kill, and will
grow along the ground, when uprooted, and not allowed to grow upright.
Frenchmen have proved, to their own satisfaction, that some baobabs,
now living, grew under the deluge of Noah, and not improbably had the
great ark floating over their heads. Be that as it may, and though
it is a Cadmeian job to cut down the baobab, for every root thereupon
claims, and takes, a distinct existence; we can all of us tell the
travellers of a thing yet harder to kill—the hope in the heart of a
man. And, the better man he is, the more of hopeʼs spores are in him;
and the quicker they grow again, after they have all been stamped upon.
A mushroom in the egg likes well to have the ground beaten overhead
with a paviourʼs rammer, and comes up all the bigger for it, and lifts
a pave–stone of two hundred–weight. Shall then the pluck of an honest
man fail, while his true conscience stirs in him, though the result be
like a fleeting fungus, supposed to be born in an hour by those who
know nothing about it, and who make it the type of an upstart—shall
not his courage work and spread, although it be underground, as he
grows less and less defiant; and rear, perhaps in the autumn of life, a
genuine crop, and a good one?

Cradock Nowell found his island not at all a bad one. There was plenty
to eat at any rate, which is half the battle of life. Plenty to drink
is the other half, in the judgment of many philosophers. But I think
that plenty to look at it ought to be at least a third of it. The pride
of the eyes, if not exercised on that vanishing point, oneself, is a
pride legitimate, and condemned by no apostle. And here there was noble
food for it; and it is a pride which, when duly fed, slumbers off into
humility.

Oh the glory of everything, the promise, and the brightness; the large
leading views of sky and sea, and the crystal avenues onward. The
manner in which a fellow expands, when he looks at such things—if he be
capable of expanding, which surely all of us are—the way in which he
wonders, and never dreams about wondering, and the feeling of grandeur
growing within him, and how it repents him of littleness, and all his
foes are forgiven; and then he sees that he has something himself to do
with all the beauty of it—upon my word, I am a great fool, to attempt
to tell of it.

Cradock saw his lovely island, and was well content with it. It was
not more than four miles long, and perhaps three miles across; but it
was gifted with three grand things—beauty, health, and nourishment.
It might have been ages, for all he saw then, since man had sworn
or forsworn in it; perhaps none since the voyagers of Necho, whose
grand truth was so incredible. There were no high hills, and no very
deep holes; but a pleasant undulating place, ever full of leaves and
breezes. And as for wild beasts, he had no fear; he knew that they
would require more square miles than he owned. As for snakes, he was
not so sure; and indeed there were some nasty ones, as we shall see
by–and–by.

Then he went to the shore, and looked far away, even after the
_Taprobane_. The sea was yet heaving heavily, and tumbling back into
itself with a roar, and some fishing eagles were very busy, stooping
along the foam of it; but no ship was to be seen anywhere, and far away
in the south and south–east the selvage of black clouds, lopping over
the mist of the horizon, showed that still the typhoon was there, and
no one could tell how bad it was.

Cradock found a turtle, at which Wena looked first in mute wonder, with
her eyes taking jumps from their orbits, and then, like all females,
she found tongue, and ran away, and barked furiously. Presently she
came back, sniffing along, and drawing her nose on the sand, yet
determined to stick by her master, even if the turtle should eat him.
But, to her immense satisfaction, the result was quite the converse:
she and her master ate the turtle; beginning, _ab ovo_, that morning.

For, although Crad could not quite eat the eggs raw (by–the–by, they
are not so bad that way), and although he could not quite strike a
light by twirling one stick in the back of another, he had long ago
found reason _for_, and he rapidly found that excellent goddess _in_,
the roasting of eggs. And for that, he had to thank Amy. Only see how
thoughtful women are!—yes, a mark of astonishment.

But the astonishment will subside, perhaps, when we come to know all
about it; for then all the misogynes may declare that the thought was
born of vanity. Let them do so. Facts are facts, I say.

Amy had sent him a photograph of her faithful self, beautifully
done by Mr. Silvy, of Bayswater, and framed in a patent loverʼs
box, I forget the proper name for it—something French, of course—so
ingeniously contrived, that when a spring at the back was pressed,
a little wax match would present itself, from a lining of asbestos,
together with a groove to draw it in. Thus by night, as well as by day,
the smile of the loved one might illumine the lonely heart of the lover.

Now this device stood him in good stead—as doubtless it was intended to
do by the practical mind of the giver—for it served to light the fire
wherewith man roasteth roast, and is satisfied. And a fire once lit
in the hollow heart of that vast mowana–tree (where twenty men might
sit and smoke, when the rainy season came), if you only supplied some
fuel daily, and cleared away the ashes weekly, there need be no fear of
philanthropy making a trespasser of Prometheus. Cradock soon resolved
to keep his head–quarters there, for the tree stood upon a little hill,
overlooking land and sea, for many a league of solitude. And it was not
long before he found that the soft bark of the baobab might easily be
cut so as to make a winding staircase up it; and the work would be an
amusement to him, as well as a great advantage.

Master and dog having made a most admirable breakfast upon turtles’
eggs, “roasted very knowingly”—as Homer well expresses it—with a
large pineapple to follow, started, before the heat of the day,
in search of water, the indispensable. Shaddocks, and limes, and
mangosteens, bananas—with their long leaves quilling—pineapples,
mawas, and mamoshoes, cocoa–nuts, plantains, mangoes, palms, and
palmyras, custard–apples, and gourds without end—besides fifty other
ground–fruits, ay, and tree–fruits for that matter, quite unknown to
Cradock, there was no fear of dying from drought; and yet the first
thing to seek was pure water. If Cradock had thought much about the
thing, very likely it would have struck him that some of the fruits
which he saw are proof not so much of human cultivation, as of human
presence, at some time.

But he never thought about that; and indeed his mind was too full for
thinking. So he cut himself a most tremendous bludgeon of camelthorn,
as heavy and almost as hard as iron, and off he went whistling, with
Wena wondering whether the stick would beat her.

He certainly took things easily; more so than is quite in accord with
human nature and reason. But the state of his mind was to blame for it;
and the freshness of the island air, after the storm of the night.

Even a rejected lover, or a disconsolate husband, gives a jerk to his
knee–joints, and carries his elbows more briskly, when the bright
spring morning shortens his shadow at every step. Cradock, moreover,
felt quite sure that he would not be left too long there; that his
friends on board the _Taprobane_ would come aside from their track to
find him, on their return–voyage from Ceylon; and so no doubt they
would have done, if it had been in their power. But the _Taprobane_,
as we shall see, never made her escape, in spite of weatherly helm and
good seamanship, from the power of that typhoon. She was lost on the
shoals of Benguela Bay, thirty miles south of Quicombo; and not a man
ever reached the shore to tell the name of the ship. But a Portuguese
half–caste, trading there, found the name on a piece of the taffrail,
and a boat which was driven ashore.

After all, we see then that Cradock was wonderfully lucky—at least,
if it be luck to live—in having been left behind, that evening, on an
uninhabited island. “Desolate” nobody could call it, for the gifts
of life lay around in abundance, and he soon had proof that the feet
of men, ay, of white men, trod it sometimes. Following the shore, a
little further than the sailors had gone, he came on a pure narrow
thread of crystal, a current of bright water dimpling and twinkling
down the sand. Wena at once lay down and rolled, and wetted every bit
of herself; and then began to lap the water wherein her own very active
and industrious friends were drowning. That Wena was such a ladylike
dog; she washed herself before drinking, and she never would wash in
salt water. It made her hair so unbecoming.

Cradock followed up that stream, and found quite a tidy little brook,
when he got above the sand–ridge, full of fish, and fringed with trees,
and edged with many a quaint bright bird, scissor–bills and avosets,
demoiselles and flamingoes. Wena plunged in and went hunting blue–rats,
and birds, and fishes, while her master stooped down, and drank, and
thanked God for this discovery.

A little way up the brook he found a rude shanty, a sort of wigwam,
thatched with leaves and waterproof, backed by a low rock, but quite
open in front and at both ends. Under the shelter were blocks of ebony,
billets of bar–wood piled up to the roof, a dozen tusks of ivory, bales
of dried bark, and piles of rough cylinders full of caoutchouc, and
many other things which Cradock could not wait to examine. But he felt
quite certain that this must be some traderʼs depôt for shipping: the
only thing that surprised him was that the goods were left unprotected.
For he knew that the West Africans are the biggest thieves in the
world, while he did not understand the virtue of the hideous great
Fetich, hanging there.

It was made of a long dried codfish, with glass eyes, ground in the
iris, and polished again in the pupil, and a glaring stripe of red
over them, and the neck of a bottle fixed as for a tongue, and the
body skewered open and painted bright blue, ribbed with white, like a
skeleton, and the tail prolonged with two spinal columns, which rattled
as it went round. The effect of the whole was greatly increased by the
tattered cage of crinoline in which it was suspended, and which went
creaking round, now and then, in the opposite direction.

No nigger would dare to steal anything from such a noble idol. At least
so thought the Yankee trader who knew a thing or two about them. He had
left his things here in perfect faith, while he was travelling towards
the Gaboon, to complete his cargo.

Cradock was greatly astounded. He thought that it must be a white
manʼs work; and soon he became quite certain, for he saw near a cask
the clear mark of a boot, of civilized make, unquestionably. Then he
prized out the head of the cask, after a deal of trouble, and found a
store of ship–biscuit, a little the worse for weevil, but in very fair
condition. He gave Wena one, but she would not touch it, for she set
much store by her teeth, and had eaten a noble breakfast.

Having made a rough examination of the deserted shed, and found no
sort of clothing—which did not vex him much, except that he wanted
shoes—he resolved to continue the circuit of his new dominions, and
look out perhaps for another hut. He might meet a man at any time; so
he carried his big stick ready, though none but cannibals could have
any good reason to hurt him. As he went on, and struck inland to cut
off the northern promontory, the lie of the land and the look of the
woods brought to his mind more clearly and brightly his own beloved
New Forest. He saw no quadruped larger than a beautiful little deer,
lighter than a gazelle, and of a species quite unknown to him. They
stood and looked at him prettily, without either fear or defiance,
and Wena wanted to hunt them. But he did not allow her to indulge that
evil inclination. He had made up his mind to destroy nothing, even
for his own subsistence, except the cold–blooded creatures which seem
to feel less of the death–pang. But he saw a foul snake, with a flat
heavy head, which hissed at and frightened the doggie, and he felt sure
that it was venomous: monkeys also of three varieties met him in his
pilgrimage, and seemed disposed to be sociable; while birds of every
tint and plumage fluttered, and flashed, and flitted. Then Wena ran up
to him howling, and limping, and begging for help; and he found her
clutched by the seed–vessels of the terrible uncaria. He could scarcely
manage to get them off, for they seemed to be crawling upon her.

When he had made nearly half his circuit, without any other
discovery—except that the grapes were worthless—the heat of the noonday
sun grew so strong, although it was autumn there—so far as they have
any autumn—that Cradock lay down in the shade of a plantain; and, in a
few seconds afterwards, was fast asleep and dreaming. Wena sat up on
guard and snapped at the nasty poisonous flies, which came to annoy her
master.

How heavenly tropical life would be, in a beautiful country like that,
but for those infernal insects! The mosquito, for instance,—and he is
an angel, compared to some of those Beelzebubs,—must have made Adam
swear at Eve, even before the fall. And then those awful spiders,
whose hair tickles a man to madness, even if he survives the horror of
seeing such devils. And then the tampan—but let us drop the subject,
please, for fear of not sleeping to–night. Cradock awoke in furious
pain, and spasms most unphilosophical. He had dreamed that he was
playing football upon Cowley Green, and had kicked out nobly with his
right foot into a marching line of red ants. Immediately they swarmed
upon him, up him, over him, into him, biting with wild virulence, and
twisting their heads and nippers round in every wound to exasperate
it. Wena was rolling and yelling, for they attacked her too. Cradock
thought they would kill him; although he did not know that even the
python succumbs to them. He was as red all over, inside his clothes
and outside, as if you had winnowed over him a bushel of fine rouge.
Dancing, and stamping, and recalling, with heartfelt satisfaction, some
strong words learned at Oxford, he caught up Wena, and away they went,
two solid lumps of ants, headlong into the sea. Luckily he had not far
to go; he lay down and rolled himself, clothes and all, and rolled poor
Wena too in the waves, until he had the intense delight of knowing that
he had drowned a million of them. Ah! and just now he had made up his
mind to respect every form of life so.

Oh, but I defy any fellow, even the sage Archbishop who reads novels to
stop other people, to have lectured us under the circumstances, or to
have kept his oaths in, with those twenty thousand holes in him. The
salt water went into Cradockʼs holes, and made him feel like a Cayenne
peppercastor; and the little dog sat in the froth of the sea, and
thought that even dogs are allowed a hell.

After that there was nothing to do, except to go home mournfully—if a
tree may be called a home, as no doubt it deserves to be—and then to
dry the clothes, and wish that the wearer knew something of botany.
Cradock had no doubt at all that around him grew whole stacks of leaves
which would salve and soothe his desperate pain; but he had not the
least idea which were balm and which were poison. How he wished that,
instead of reading so hard for the scholarship of Dean Ireland, he
had kept his eyes open in the New Forest, and learned just Natureʼs
rudiments! Of course he would have other leaves to deal with; but
certain main laws and principles hold good all the world over. Bob
Garnet would have been quite at home, though he had never seen one of
those plants before.

We cannot follow him, day by day. It is too late in the tale for that,
even if we wished it. Enough that he found no other trace of man
upon the island, except the traderʼs hut, or store, with the hideous
scarecrow hanging, and signs of human labour, in the growth of some
few trees—about which he knew nothing—and in a rough piece of ground
near the shanty, cleared for a kitchen–garden. Cassavas, and yams, and
kiobos, and pea–nuts, and some other things, grew there; which, as he
made nothing of them, we must treat likewise. There had even been some
cotton sown, but the soil seemed not to suit it. It was meant, perhaps,
by the keen American, who thought himself lord of the island, for a
little random experiment.

When would he come back? That was the question Cradock asked, both
of himself and Wena, twenty times a day. Of course poor Cradock knew
not whether his lord of the manor were a Yankee or a Britisher, a
Portuguese or a Dutchman; “Thebis nutritus an Argis.” Only he supposed
and hoped that a white man came to that island sometimes, and brought
other white men with him.

By this time, he had cut a winding staircase up the walls of his
castle, and added a great many rough devices to his rugged interior.
Twice every day he clomb his tree, to seek all round the horizon; and
at one time he saw a sail in the distance, making perhaps for Loanda.
But that ship was even outside the expansive margin of hope. And now he
divided his time between his grand mowana citadel and the storehouse,
with whose contents he did not like to meddle much, because they were
not his property.

There he placed the shipʼs hydropult, which he had found lying on the
beach; for the mate had brought it to meet the chance of finding
shallow water, where the casks could not be stooped or the water
bailed without fouling it; and the boatʼs crew, in their rush and
flurry, had managed to leave it behind them. Cradock left it in the
storehouse, because it was useless to him where he had no water, and
it amused him sometimes to syringe Wena from the brook which flowed
hard by. Moreover, he thought that if anything happened to prevent
him from explaining things, the owner of the place, whoever he might
be, would find in that implement more than the value of the biscuits
which Cradock was eating, and getting on nicely with them, because they
corrected the richness of turtle.

Truly, his diet was glorious, both in quality and variety; and he
very soon became quite a pomarian Apicius. Of all fruits, perhaps the
mangosteen (_Garcinia mangostana_) is the most delicious, when you get
the right sort of it—which I donʼt think they have in Brazil—neither
is the lee chee a gift to be despised, nor the chirimoya, and several
others of the Annona race; some of the Granadillas, too, and the
sweet lime, and the plantains, and many another fount of beauty and
delight—all of which, by skill and care, might be raised in this
country, where we seem to rest content with our meagre hothouse
catalogue.

I do not say that all these fruits were natives of “Pomona Island,” as
Cradock, appreciating its desserts, took the liberty of naming it; but
most of them were discoverable in one part or another of it; some born
from the breast of nature, others borne by man or tide. And almost all
of them still would be greatly improved by cultivation.

So the head gardener of the island, who left the sun to garden for
him, enjoyed their exquisite coolness, and wondered how they could be
so cool in the torrid sunshine; and though he did not know the name of
one in fifty of them, he found out wonderfully soon which of them were
the nicest. And soon he discovered another means of varying his diet,
for he remembered having read that often, in such lonely waters, the
swarming fish will leap on board of a boat floating down the river.
Thereupon he made himself a broad flat tray of bark, with a shallow
ledge around it, and holding a tow–rope, made also of bark, launched
it upon the brook. Immediately a vast commotion arose among the finny
ones; they hustled, and huddled, and darted about, and then paddled
gravely and stared at it. Then, whether from confusion of mind, or the
reproaches of their comrades, or the desire of novelty, half a dozen
fine fellows made a rush, and carried the ship by boarding. Whereupon
Cradock, laughing heartily, drew his barge ashore, and soon Wena and
himself were deep in a discussion ichthyological.

As may well be supposed, the pure sea breezes and wholesome diet, the
peace and plenty, and motherly influence of nature, the due exercise
of the body, without undue stagnation of mind, the pleasure of finding
knowledge expand every day, stomachically, while body and mind were
girded alike, and the heart impressed with the diamond–studded belt of
hope—all this, we may well suppose, was beginning to try severely the
nasal joints of incessant woe.



CHAPTER XII.


But Pomona Island, now and then, had its own little cares and
anxieties. How much longer was Cradock Nowell to live upon fruit, and
fish, and turtle, with ship–biscuit for dessert? When would the trader
come for his goods, or had he quite forgotten them? What would Amy and
Uncle John think, if the _Taprobane_ went home without him? And the
snakes, the snakes, that cared not a rap for the enmity of man, since
the rainy season set in, but came almost up to be roasted! And worst of
all and most terrible thing, Crad was obliged to go about barefooted,
while the thorns were of natureʼs invention, and went every way all at
once, like a hedgehog upon a frying–pan.

For that last evil he found a cure before he had hopped many hundred
yards. He discovered a pumpkin about a foot long, pointed, and with
a horny rind, and contracted towards the middle. He sliced this
lengthwise, and took out the seeds, and planted his naked foot there.
The coolness was most delicious, and a few strips of baobab bark made a
first–rate shoe of it. He wore out one pair every day, and two when he
went exploring; but what did that matter, unless the supply failed? and
he kept some hung up for emergency.

As to the snakes, though he did not find out the snake–wood, or the
snake–stone, or the fungoid substance, like a morel, which pumices up
the venom; he invented something much better, as prevention is better
than cure. He discovered a species of aspalathus, perfectly smooth near
the root, and not very hard to pull up, yet so barbed, and toothed, and
fanged upon all except the seed–leaves, that even a python—whereof he
had none—could scarcely have got through it. Of this he strewed a ring
all round his great mowana–tree, and then a fenced path down the valley
toward his bathing–place, and then he defied the whole of that genus so
closely akin to the devil.

But Wena had saved his life ere this from one of those slimy demons. Of
course we know how hateful it is to hate anything at all, except sin
and crime in the abstract; but I do hope a fellow may be forgiven for
hating snakes and scorpions. At any rate, if he cannot be, he ought to
be able to help it. While Cradock was making his fence aspalathine,
and before he had finished the ring yet, a little snake about two feet
long, semi–transparent, and jellified, of a dirty bottle–green colour,
like the caterpillar known as the pear–leech (_Selandria Æthiops_),
only some hundreds of sizes bigger, that loathsome reptile sneaked in
through and crouched in a corner, while Cradock thought that he smelled
something very nasty, as he smoked a pipe of the traderʼs tobacco,
before turning into his locker.

He had cut himself a good broad coving from the inside of the
mowana–tree, about three feet from the ground, fitted up with a flap
and a pillow–place, and strewn with fresh plantain–leaves. Across the
niche he had fastened a new mosquito net, borrowed from his friend
the trader, whose goods he began to look upon now as placed under his
trusteeship. And in that rude couch he slept as snugly, after a hard
dayʼs work, as the pupa does of the goat moth, or of the giant sirex.
Under his feet was Wenaʼs hole, wherein she crouched like a rabbit,
and pricked her ears every now and then, and barked if ever the wind
moaned. _Fortunatos nimium_; there was nobody to rogue them.

And yet no sooner was Craddy asleep, upon the night I am telling of,
than that dirty bottle–green snake, flat–headed, and with a yearʼs
supply of venom in its tooth–bag, came wriggling on its dappled
belly around the hollow ring, while the dying embers of the fire—for
the night was rather chilly and wet, and Cradock had cooked some
fish—showed the mean sneak, poking its head up, feeling the temper of
the time, ready to wriggle to anything. Then it came to the bedposts of
Cradockʼs couch, which he had cut, in a dry sort of humour, from the
soft baobab wood. It lifted its head, and heard him snoring, and tapped
its tail, and listened again. Very likely it was warm up there, and the
snake was a little chilly, in this depth of the winter. So without any
evil forethought—for I must be just, even to a snake—though ready to
bite, at a move or a turn, of the animal known as “man,” up went that
little serpent, cleverly and elegantly, as on a Bohemian vase. Cradock
would have died in two hours after that snake had bitten him. But
before that lissom coil of death had got all its tail off the ground,
fangs as keen as its own, though not poisonous, had it by the nape of
the neck. Wena knew a snake by this time, and could treat them aright.
She gave the devilish miscreant not a chance to twist upon her, but
tore him from his belly–hold, and walked pleasantly to the fire, and
with a spit of execration threw him into it, and ran back, and then ran
to again, and barked at the noise he made in fizzing. Therewith Cradock
awoke, and got out of bed, and saw the past danger, and coaxed the
little dog, and kissed her, and talked to her about Amy, whose name she
knew quite as well as her own.

After all his works were finished, and when he hardly knew what great
public improvement he should next attempt, Cradock received visitors,
unexpected and unfashionable. In fact, they were all stark naked;
although that proves very little. Climbing his tree, one beautiful
morning, he saw four or five little marks on the sea, as of so many
housemaidsʼ thumbs, when the cheek of the grate has been polished.
Staring thereat with all his eyes—as we loosely express it—he found
that the thumb–marks got bigger and bigger, until they became long
canoes, paddling, like good ones, towards him.

This was not not by any means the sort of thing he had bargained for;
and he became, to state the matter mildly, most decidedly nervous.
He saw that there were invading him five great double canoes, each
containing ten or twelve men; and he had no gun, nor a pinch of powder.
Very likely they were cannibals, and would roast him slowly, to brown
him nicely, and then serve up Wena for garnish. He shook so up there
among the rough branches—for he did not so very much mind, being
killed, but he could not bear to be eaten—that Wena began to howl down
below, and he was obliged to come down to quiet her.

Then he tied up black Wena, and muzzled her, to her immense
indignation, with a capistrum of mowana bark, which quite foreclosed
her own, and then he crept warily through the woods to observe his
black brethrenʼs proceedings. They were very near the shore by this
time, and making straight for the traderʼs hut, of which they had
doubtless received some account. Cradock felt his courage rising,
and therewith some indignation, for he knew that the goods could not
be theirs, and by this time he considered himself in commission as
supercargo. So he resolved to save the store from pillage, if it were
possible, even at the risk of his life.

For this purpose he lay down in a hollow place by the water–side, where
he could just see over the tide–bank without much fear of discovery,
at least, till the robbers had passed the shed, which, of course,
was their principal object. It was evidently a king of men who stood
at the prow of the foremost canoe, with a javelin in his great black
hand, poised and ready for casting. His apparel consisted of two great
ear–drops, two rings upon his right wrist, and one below either knee;
also a chain of teeth was dangling down his brawny bosom. He was
painted red, and polished highly, which had to be done every morning;
and he looked as dignified and more powerful than a don or dean. One
man in each boat was painted and polished—doubtless the sign of high
rank and great birth.

When the bottom of the double canoe grated upon the beach, the negro
king flung back his strong arm, and cast at the shed his javelin. It
passed through the roof and buried itself in the body of the fetich,
which swung horribly to and fro, while the crinoline moved round
it. Hereupon a yell arose from the invading flotilla, and every man
trembled, waiting to see what would come of such an impiety. Finding
that nothing at all ensued, for Cradock had not the presence of mind
to advance at the moment, they gave another yell and landed, washing a
great deal of red from their legs. But the king was brought ashore,
dry and bright, sitting on some officers’ shoulders. Then they came up
the bank, without any order, but each with his javelin ready, and his
eyes intent on the idol. How Cradock longed for a piece of packthread,
to have set the dried codfish dancing!

At last they came quite up to the shed, and held a consultation, in
which it seemed the better counsel to allow the god, who looked ever
so much more awful now they were near him, a certain time to vindicate
himself, if he possessed the power to do so. Cradock was watching them
closely, through a tussock of long sea–grass, and, in spite of their
powerful frames and elastic carriage, he began to despise them in the
wholesale Britannic manner. They should not steal _his_ property, that
he was quite resolved upon, although there were fifty of them. They
were so near to him now that he could see their great white teeth, and
hear them snapping as they talked.

When the time allowed, which their Agamemnon was telling upon his
fingers, had quite expired, and Olympian Jove had sent as yet no
lightnings, the king, who was clearly in front of his age, cast
another javelin through the frame of crinoline, and leaped boldly,
like Patroclus, following his dart. Suddenly he fell back, howling
and yelling, cured for ever of scepticism, and with both his great
eyes quite slewed up, and all his virtue in his heels. Away went every
nigger, drowning the royal screams with their own, pell–mell down the
beach, anyhow, only caring to cut hawser. Words like these came back
to Cradock, as they rolled over one another—

“Mbongo, pongo; warakai, urelwäi;” which mean, as interpreted
afterwards by the Yankee trader,

“He is a God, a great God; he maketh rain, yea, very great rain!”

Headlong they tumbled into their boats, not stopping to carry the king
even, for which he kicked them heartily, as soon as he got on board,
and every son of a woman of them plied his knotted arms at the paddle,
as if grim Death was behind him.

Cradock laughed so heartily, that he rolled over with the hydropult
on him, and threw his heels up in the air, and if they had not yelled
so, they would have been sure to hear him. Very skilfully he had
brought the nose of that noble engine to bear full upon the royal
countenance, and the jet of water from the little stream passed through
the ribs of the fetich. That god had asserted himself to such purpose,
that henceforth you might hang him with beads, and give him a wig of
tobacco, and no black man would dare to look at them.

Cradock Nowell felt almost too proud of his mighty volunteer movement,
and began to think more than ever that the whole of the island was his.
These things show, more than anything else can, his return to human
reason; for of the rational human being—as discovered ordinarily—the
very first instinct and ambition is the ownership of a peculium. What
man cannot sympathize with that feeling who has got three fields and
six children? Therefore when a beautiful schooner, of the true American
rig, which made such lagging neddies of our yachts a few years since,
came into view one afternoon, and fetched up, with the sails all
shaking in the wind, abreast of the shed, ere sun–down, Cradock felt
like the owner of a house who sees a man at his gate. Then he came down
quietly with Wena, and sat upon a barrel, with a pipe of Cavendish in
his mouth, and Wena crouched, like a chrysalis, between his pumpkinʼd
feet.

Even the Yankee, who had not been surprised at any incident of life
since his nurse dropped him down an oil–well, when he was two years
old, even he experienced some sensation, when he saw a white man
sitting and smoking upon his barrel of knowingest notions, with a black
dog at his feet. But Recklesome Young was not the man to be long taken
aback.

“Darn me, but yoo are a cool hand. Britisher, for ten dollars. Never
see none like ‘em, I donʼt.”

“You are right,” answered Cradock, “I am an Englishman. Very much at
your service. What is your business upon my island?”

“Waal,” said the Yankee, turning round to the four men who had rowed
him ashore; “Zebedee, this is just what I likes, and no mistark about
it. One of them old islanders come to dispute possession. And perhaps
a cannon up the hill, and a company of sojers. Ainʼt it good, Zeb,
ainʼt it? Lor, how I do love them!”

“Now, donʼt be too premature,” said Cradock, “it is the fault of your
nation, as the opposite is ours.”

“Darned well said, young Britisher, give us your hand’ upon it; for,
arter all, I likes yoo.”

Cradock shook hands with him heartily, for there was something in
the manʼs face and manner, when you let his chaff drift by, which an
Englishman recognises, as kindly, strong, and sincere, although now and
then contemptuous. The contempt alone is not genuine, but assumed to
meet ours or anybodyʼs. The active, for fear of the passive voice.

“You are welcome to all the island,” said Cradock, “and all my
improvements, if you will only take me home again. The whole of it
belongs to me, no doubt; but I will make it all over to you, for a
passage to Southampton.”

“Canʼt take you that way, young Boss, and donʼt want your legal
writings. How come you here, to begin with?”

Cradock told him all his story, while the men were busy; and the keen
American saw at once that every word was true.

“Strikes me,” he said, with a serious drawl, which the fun in his eyes
contradicted, “that yoo, after the way of the British, have made a
trifle free, young man, with some of my goods and chattels he–ar; and
even yoor encro–aching country canʼt prove tittle to them.”

“Yes,” replied Cradock; “and I will pay you, if I have not done so
already. I will give you the thing which has saved the whole from
plunder, and perhaps fire afterwards.”

Then he fetched the little machine, which the Yankee recognised at once
as an American invention, and he laughed till his yellow cheeks were
reeking at the description of the “darned naygursʼ retreat.”

“Rip me up, young man,” he said, “but yooʼd be a credit to us aʼmost.
Darnʼd if I thought as any Britisher wud ever be up to so cute a dodge.
Shake hands agin, young chap, I likes yoo. And yooʼve airned your
ticket anywhor, and a hunderd dollars to back of it. Weʼll take yoo to
the centre of the univarsal world, and make yoo open your eyes a bit.
Ship aboard of us for Noo Yerk, and if that donʼt make a man of yoo,
call me small pumpkins arterwards.”

“But I want to get to England,” said Cradock, looking very black; “and
I have no money for passage from New York to Southampton.”

“Thur now, yoo be all over a Britisher agin, and reck–wirin
enlightʼment. Yoo allays spies out fifty raisons agin a thin’ smarter
than one in itʼs favior. Harken, now, Iʼll have yoo sot down in the
docks of Suthanton, free, and with fifty dollars to trade upon, sure as
my name is Recklesome Young. Thur, now! Bet, I donʼt, will yoo, and
pay me out o’ my spisshy?”

Not to dwell too long upon these little side–paths, it is enough to
record that Captain Recklesome Young, of New York, and the schooner,
_Donʼt you wish you may catch me_, made sail two days afterwards, with
half of his best cabin allotted to Cradock and to Wena. And, keen as
he was to the shave of a girlʼs lip, in striking a contract or cutting
it, upon a large scale, he came down as nobly as the angels on Jacobʼs
ladder. No English duke or prince of the blood could or would have
behaved to Cradock more grandly than Recklesome Young did, when once he
understood him. In such things the Yankees are far ahead of us. Keen as
they are, and for that same reason, they have far more trust than we
have, in large and good human nature. Of the best of them I have heard
many a true tale, such as I never could hope to hear of our noblest
London merchants. Proofs of grand faith, and Godlike confidence in a
man once approved, which enlarge the heart of him who hears them, and
makes him hate small satire.



CHAPTER XIII.


Bob Garnet, with his trowel, and box, and net, and many other
impediments, was going along very merrily, in a quiet path of the
Forest, thinking sometimes of Amy and her fundamental errors, and
sometimes of Eoa, and the way she could catch a butterfly, but for the
most part busy with the display of life around him, and the prospects
of a great boring family, which he had found in a willow–tree.
Suddenly, near the stag–headed oak, he chanced upon Miss Nowell,
tripping along the footpath lightly, smiling and blushing rosily,
and oh! so surprised to see him! She darted aside, like a trout at a
shadow, then, finding it too late for that game, she tried to pass him
rapidly, with her long eyelashes drooping.

“Oh, please to stop a minute, if you can spare the time,” said Bob;
“what have I done to offend you?”

She stopped in a moment at his voice, and lifted her radiant eyes to
him, and shyly tried to cloud away the sparkling night of hair, through
which her white and slender throat gleamed like the Milky Way. The
sprays of the wood and the winds of May had romped with her glorious
tresses; and now she had been lectured so, that she doubted her right
to exhibit her hair.

“Miss Nowell,” said Bob, as she had not answered, but only been
thinking about him, “only please to stop and tell me what I have done
to offend you; and you do love beetles so—and you never saw such
beauties—what have I done to offend you?”

An English maiden would have said, “Oh, nothing at all, Mr. Garnet;”
and then swept on, with her crinoline embracing a thousand brambles.

But Eoa stood just where she was, with her bright lips pouting
slightly, and her gaze absorbed by a tuft of moss.

“Only because you are not at all good–natured to me, Bob. But it
doesnʼt make much difference.”

Then she turned away from him, and began to sing a little song, and
then called, “Amy, Amy!”

“Donʼt call Amy. I donʼt want her.”

“Oh, I beg your pardon, Iʼm sure I rather thought you did.”

“Eoa,” said Bob; and she looked at him, and the tears were in her eyes.
And then she whispered, “Yes, Bob.”

“You have got on the very prettiest dress I ever saw in all my life.”

Here Bob was alarmed at his own audacity, and durst not watch the
effect of his speech.

“Oh, is that all?” she answered. “But I am very glad indeed that you
like—my frock, Bob.” Here she looked down at it, with much interest.

“And, to tell you the truth,” continued he, “I think, if you will
please not to be offended, that you look very well in it.”

“Oh yes, I am very well. I wish I was ill, sometimes.”

“Now, I donʼt mean that. What I mean is, very nice.”

“Well, I always try to be nice. But how can I, out butterfly–hunting?”

“Now, you wonʼt understand me. You are as bad as a weevil that wonʼt
take chloroform. What I mean is, very pretty.”

“I donʼt know anything about that,” said Eoa, drawing back; “and I
donʼt see that you have any right even to talk about it. Oh, there goes
a lovely butterfly!”

“Where, where? What eyes you have got! I do wish I was married to you.
What a collection we would have! And you would never let my traps off.
I am sure that you are a great deal better and prettier than Amy. And I
like you more than anybody I have ever seen.”

“Do you, Bob? Are you sure of that?”

She fixed her large eyes upon his; and in one moment her beauty went
to the bottom of his heart. It changed him from a boy to a man, from
play to passion, from dreams to thought. And happy for him that it was
so, with the trouble impending over him.

She saw the change; herself too young, too pure (in spite of all the
evil that ever had drifted by her) to know or ask what it meant. She
only felt that Bob liked her now better than he liked Amy. She had no
idea of the deep anticipation of her eyes.

“Eoa, wonʼt you answer me?” He had been talking some nonsense. “Why are
you crying so dreadfully? Do you hate me so much as all that?”

“Oh no, no, Bob. I am sure I donʼt hate you at all. I only wish I did.
No, I donʼt, Bob. I am so glad that I donʼt. I donʼt care a quarter so
much, Bob, for all the rest of the world put together.”

“Then only look up at me, Eoa. I canʼt tell what I am saying. Only look
up. You are so nice. And you have got such eyes.”

“Have I?” said Eoa, throwing all their splendour on him; “oh, I am so
glad you like them.”

“Do you think that you could give me just a sort of a kiss, Eoa? People
always do, you know. And, indeed, I feel that you ought.”

“I scarcely know what is right, Bob, after all the things they have
told me. But now, you know, you must guide me.”

“Then, Iʼll tell you what. Just let me give you one. The leaves are
coming out so.”

“Well, thatʼs a different thing,” said Eoa. “Amy canʼt see us, can she?”

Sir Cradock Nowell was very angry when his niece came home, and told
him, with an air of triumph, all that Bob had said to her.

“That butterfly–hunting boy, Eoa! To think of his presuming so! A mere
boy! A boy like that!”

“Thatʼs the very thing, uncle. Perhaps if he had been a girl, you
know, I should not have liked him half so much. And as for his hunting
butterflies, I like him all the better for that. And weʼll hunt them
all day long.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Uncle Cradock, smiling at the young girlʼs earnestness
in spite of all his wrath; “that is your idea of married life then, is
it? But I never will allow it, Eoa: he is not your equal.”

“Of course not, uncle. He is my superior in every possible way.”

“Scarcely so, in the matter of birth; nor yet, my child, I fear, in a
pecuniary sense.”

“For both of those I donʼt care two pice. You know it is all very nice,
Uncle Cradock, to live in large rooms, where you can put three chairs
together, and jump over them all without knocking your head, and to
have beautiful books, and prawns for breakfast, and flowers all the
year round; and to be able to scold people without their daring to
answer. But I could do without all that very well, but I never could do
without Bob.”

“I fear you must, indeed, my dear. As other people have had to do.”

“Well, I donʼt see why, unless God takes him; and then He should take
me too. And, indeed, I had better tell you once for all, Uncle Cradock,
that I do not mean to try. It would be so shabby of me, after what I
told him just now, and after his saving my life; and you yourself said
yesterday that no Nowell had ever been shabby. You have been very kind
to me and good, and I love you very much, I am sure. But in spite of
all that, I wish you clearly to understand, Uncle Cradock, that if you
try any nonsense with me, I shall get my darling fatherʼs money, and go
and live away from you.”

“My dear,” said the old man, smiling at the manner and tone of
her menace, which she delivered as if her departure must at least
annihilate him, “you are laying your plans too rapidly. You are not
seventeen until next July; and you cannot touch your poor fatherʼs
money until you are twenty–one.”

“I donʼt care,” she replied; “he is sure to have been right about it.
But I will tell you another thing. Everybody says that I could earn ten
thousand a year as an opera–dancer in London. And I should like it very
much,—that is to say, if Bob did. And I would not think of changing
my name, as I have heard that most of them do. I should be ‘Miss Eoa
Nowell, the celebrated dancer.’”

“God forbid!” said Sir Cradock. “My only brotherʼs only child! I will
not trouble you about him, dear. Only I beg you to consider.”

“To be sure I will, Uncle Cradock, I have been considering ever since
how long it must be till I marry him. Now give me a kiss, dear, and I
wonʼt dance, except for your amusement. And I donʼt think I can dance
for a long time, after what I have been told about poor Cousin Cradock.
I am sure he was very nice, uncle, from what everybody says of him, and
I am almost certain that you behaved very badly to him.”

“My dear, you are allowed to say what you like, because nobody can stop
you. But your own good feeling should make you spare me the pain of
that sad subject.”

“Not if you deserve the pain for having been hard–hearted. And much you
cared for my pain, when you spoke of Bob so. Besides, you are quite
sure to hear of it; and it had better come from me, dear uncle, who am
so considerate.”

“Something new? What is it, my child? I can bear almost anything now.”

“It is that some vile wretches are trying to get what they call a
warrant against him, and so to put him in jail.”

“Put him in jail? My unfortunate son! What more has he been doing?”

“Nothing at all. And I donʼt believe that he ever did any harm. But
what the brutes say is that he did that terrible thing on purpose. Oh,
uncle, donʼt look at me like that. How I wish I had never told you!”

Poor Sir Cradockʼs mind was not so clear and strong as it had been,
although the rumours scattered by Georgie were shameful exaggerations.
The habit of brooding over his grief, whenever he was alone—a habit
more and more indulged, as it became a morbid pleasure—the loss
moreover of his accustomed exercise, for he never would go out riding
now, having no son to ride with him; these, and the ever–present dread
of some inevitable inquiry, began to disturb, though not destroy, the
delicate fibres of reason, which had not too much room in his brain.

He fell into the depths of an easy–chair, and wondered what it was he
had heard. The lids of his mindʼs eye had taken a blink, as will happen
sometimes to old people, and to young ones too for that matter; neither
was it the first time this thing had befallen him.

Then Eoa told him again what it was, because he made her tell it; and
again it shocked him dreadfully; but that time he remembered it.

“And I have no doubt,” continued his niece, with bright tears on her
cheeks, “that Mrs. Corklemore herself is at the bottom of it.”

“Georgie! What, my niece Georgie!”

“She is not your niece, Uncle Cradock. I am your niece, and nobody
else; and you had better not think of wronging me. If you call her your
niece any more, I know I will never call you my uncle. Nasty limy slimy
thing! If you would only give me leave to choke her!”

“My darling child,” cried her uncle, who loved her the more (though
he knew it not) for siding with his son so, “you are so very hot and
hasty. I am sure Mrs. Corklemore speaks of you with the warmest pity
and affection.”

“Shall I tell you why she does, Uncle Crad? Shall I tell you in plain
English? Most likely you will be shocked, you know.”

“My dear, I am so used to you, that I am never shocked now at anything.”

“Then it is because she is _such a jolly liar_.”

“Eoa, I really must send you to a ‘nice institution for young ladies.’
You get worse and worse.”

“If you do, Iʼll jump over the wall the first night, and Bob shall come
to catch me. But now without any nonsense, uncle, for you do talk a
good deal of nonsense, will you promise me one thing?”

“A dozen, if you like, my darling. Anything in reason. You did look so
like your poor father then.”

“Oh, I am so glad of that. But it is not a thing of reason, uncle; it
is simply a thing of justice. Now will you promise solemnly to send
away Mrs. Corklemore, and never speak to her again, if she vows that
she knows nothing of this, and if I prove from her own handwriting that
it is her plot altogether, and also another plot against us, every bit
as bad, if not worse?”

“Of course, Eoa, I will promise you that, as solemnly as you please.
What a deluded child you are!”

“Am I? Now let her come in, and deny it. Thatʼs the first part of the
business.”

Without waiting for an answer, she ran to fetch Mrs. Corklemore, whom
she well knew where to find, that time of the afternoon. Dear Georgie
had just had her cup of tea with the darling Flore, in her private
audience–chamber—”oratory” she called it, though all her few prayers
were public; and now she was meditating what dress she should wear at
dinner. Those dinners were so dreadfully dull, unless she could put Eoa
into a vehement passion—which was not very hard to do—and so exhibit
her in a pleasant light before the serving–men. Yet, strange to say,
although the young lady observed little moderation, when she was baited
thus, and sunk irony in invective, the sympathies of the audience were
far more often on her side than on that of the soft tormentor.

“Come, now, Sugar–plums,” said Eoa, who often addressed her so, “we
want you down–stairs, if you please, for a minute.”

“Tum, pease, Oh Ah,” cried little Flore, running up; “pease tum, and
tell Fore a tory.”

“Canʼt now, you good little child. And your mamma tells stories so
cleverly, oh, so very cleverly, it quite takes away oneʼs breath.”

“Iʼll have my change out of you at dinner–time,” said Georgie to
herself most viciously, as she followed down the passage.

Eoa led her along at a pace which made her breath quite short, for she
was not wont to hurry so, and she dropped right gladly into the chair
which Sir Cradock politely set for her. Then, as he himself sat down,
facing her with a heavy sigh, Georgie felt rather uncomfortable. She
was not quite ready for the crisis, but feared that it was coming. And
she saw at a glimpse that her hated foe, “Never–spot–the–dust,” was
quite ready, burning indeed to begin, only wanting to make the most of
it. Thereupon Mrs. Corklemore, knowing the value of the weather–gage,
and being unable to bear a slow silence, was the first to speak.

“Something has occurred, I see, to one of you two dear ones. Oh, Uncle
Cradock, what can I do to prove the depth of my regard for you? Or——”

“To be sure, _the depth_ of your regard,” Eoa interrupted.

“Or is it for you, you poor wild thing? We all make such allowance for
you, because of your great disadvantages. If you have done anything
very wrong indeed, poor darling, anything which hard people would call
not only thoughtless but unprincipled, I can feel for you so truly,
because of your hot temperament and most unhappy circumstances.”

“You had better not go too far!” cried Eoa, grinding her little teeth.

“Thank Heaven! I see, dear, it is nothing so very disgraceful after
all, because it has nothing to do with you, or you would not smile so
prettily. You take it so lightly, it must be something about dear Uncle
Cradock. Oh, Uncle Cradock, tell me all about it; my whole heart will
be with you.”

“Black–spangled hen has broken her eggs. Nothing more,” said Eoa.
“De–ar, oh we do love you so!” She made two syllables of that word, as
Mrs. Corklemore used to do, in her many gushing moments. Georgie looked
at Eoa with wonder. She had stupidly thought her a stupid.

Then Sir Cradock Nowell rose, in a stately manner, to put an end to all
this little nonsense.

“My niece, Eoa, declares, Mrs. Corklemore, that you, in some underhand
manner, have promoted a horrible charge against my poor son Cradock, a
charge which no person in any way connected with our family should ever
dare to utter, even if he or she believed its justice, far less dare to
promulgate, and even force into the courts of law. Is this so, or is it
not?”

“Oh, Uncle Cradock, how can you speak so? What charge should I ever
dream of?”

“See how her hands are trembling, and how white her lips are; not with
telling black lies, Uncle Cradock, but with being found out.”

“Eoa, have the kindness not to interrupt again.”

“Very well, Uncle Cradock; I wonʼt, unless you make me.”

“Then, as I understand, madam, you deny entirely the truth of this
accusation?”

“Of course I do, most emphatically. What can you all be dreaming about?”

“Now, Eoa, it is your turn to establish what you have said.”

“I canʼt establish anything, though I know it, Uncle Cradock.”

“_Know_ it indeed, you poor wild nautch–girl! _Dreamed_ it you mean, I
suppose.”

“I mean,” continued Eoa, not even looking at her, but bending her
fingers in a manner which Georgie quite understood, “that I cannot
prove anything, Uncle Cradock, without your permission. But here I have
a letter, with the seal unbroken, and which I promised some one not to
open without her leave, and now she has given me leave to open it with
your consent and in the presence of the writer. Why, how pale you are,
Mrs. Corklemore!”

“My Heavens! And this is England! Stealing letters, and forging them——”

“Which of the two do you mean, madam?” asked Sir Cradock, looking
at her in his old magisterial manner, after examining the envelope;
“either involves a heavy charge against a member of my family. Is this
letter yours, or not?”

“Yes, it is,” replied Georgie, after a momentʼs debate, for if she
called it a forgery, it must of course be opened; “have the kindness
to give me my property. I thought there was among well–bred people
a delicacy as to scrutinizing even the directions of one anotherʼs
letters.”

“So there is, madam; you are quite right—except, indeed, under
circumstances altogether exceptional, and of which this is one. Now
for your own exculpation, and to prove that my niece deserves heavy
punishment (which I will take care to inflict), allow me to open this
letter. I see it is merely a business letter, or I would not ask even
that; although you have so often assured me that you have no secret in
the world from me. You can have nothing confidential to say to ‘Simon
Chope, Esq.;’ and if you had, it should remain sacred and secure with
me, unless it involved the life and honour of my son. Shall I open this
letter?”

“Certainly not, Sir Cradock Nowell. How dare you to think of such a
thing, so mean, so low, so prying?”

“After those words, madam, you cannot continue to be a guest of mine;
or be ever received in this house again, unless you prove that I have
wronged you, by allowing me to send for your husband, and to place this
letter in his hands, before you have in any way communicated with him.”

“Give me my letter, Sir Cradock Nowell, unless your niece inherits the
thieving art from you. As for you, wretched little Dacoit,” here she
bent upon Eoa flashing eyes quite pale from wrath, for sweet Georgie
had her temper, “bitterly you shall rue the day when you presumed to
match yourself with me. You would like to do a little murder, I see.
No doubt it runs in the family; and the Thugs and Dacoits are first
cousins, of course.”

Never had Eoa fought so desperate a battle with herself, as now to keep
her hands off Georgie. Without looking at her again, she very wisely
ran away, for it was the only chance of abstaining. Mrs. Corklemore
laughed aloud; then she took the letter, which the old man had placed
upon the table, and said to him, with a kind look of pity:

“What a fuss you have made about nothing! It is only a question upon
the meaning of a clause in my marriage–settlement; but I do not choose
to have my business affairs exposed, even to my husband. Now do you
believe me, Uncle Cradock?”

“No, I cannot say that I do, madam. And it does not matter whether I
do or not. You have used language about my family which I can never
forget. A carriage will be at your service at any moment you please.”

“Thanks for your hospitable hint. You will soon find your mistake, I
think, in having made me your enemy; though your rudeness is partly
excused, no doubt, by your growing hallucinations. Farewell for the
present, poor dear Uncle Cradock.”

With these words, Mrs. Corklemore made him an elegant curtsey, and
swept away from the room, without even the glisten of a tear to mar her
gallant bearing, although she had been so outraged. But when she got
little Floreʼs head on her lap, she cried over it very vehemently, and
felt the depth of her injury.

When she had closed the door behind her (not with any vulgar bang, but
firmly and significantly), the master of the house walked over to a
panelled mirror, and inspected himself uncomfortably. It was a piece of
ancient glass, purchased from an Italian chapel by some former Cradock
Nowell, and bearing a mystic name and fame among the maids who dusted
it. By them it was supposed to have a weird prophetic power, partly, no
doubt, from its deep dark lustre, and partly because it was circular,
and ever so slightly, and quite imperceptibly, concave. As upon so
broad a surface no concavity could be, in the early ages of mechanism,
made absolutely true—and for that matter it cannot be done _ad unguem_,
even now—there were, of course, many founts of error in this Italian
mirror. Nevertheless, all young ladies who ever beheld it were charmed
with it, so sweetly deeply beautiful, like Galatea watching herself and
finding Polypheme over her shoulder, in the glass of the blue Sicilian
sea.

To this glass Sir Cradock Nowell went to examine his faded eyes,
time–worn, trouble–worn, stranded by the ebbing of the brain. He knew
too well what Mrs. Corklemore meant by her last thrust; and the word
“hallucination” happened, through a great lawsuit then in progress, to
be invested with an especial prominence and significance. While he was
sadly gazing into the convergence of grey light, and feebly reassuring
himself, yet like his image wavering, a heavy step was heard behind
him, and beside his flowing silvery locks appeared the close–cropped
massive brow and the gloomy eyes of Bull Garnet.



CHAPTER XIV.


As the brothers confronted one another, the legitimate and the
base–born, the man of tact and the man of force, the luxurious and the
labourer, strangely unlike in many respects, more strangely alike in
others; each felt kindly and tenderly, yet timidly, for the other.

The old man thought of the lying wrong inflicted upon the stronger one
by their common father; the other felt the worse wrong—if possible—done
by himself to his brother. The measure of such things is not for us.
God knows, and visits, and forgives them.

Even by the failing light—for the sun was westering, and a cloud flowed
over him—each could see that the otherʼs face was not as it should be,
that the flight of weeks was drawing age on, more than the lapse of
years should.

“Garnet, you do a great deal too much. I shall recall my urgent
request, if you look so harassed and haggard. Take a holiday now for
a month, before the midsummer rents fall due. I will try to do without
you; though I may want you any day.”

“I will do nothing of the sort; work is needful for me—without it I
should die. But you also look very unwell. You must not attempt to
prescribe for me.”

“I have not been happy lately. By–and–by things will be better. What is
your impression of Mrs. Nowell Corklemore?”

“That she is an arrant hypocrite, unscrupulous, foul, and deadly.”

“Well, that is plain speaking; by no means complimentary. Poor Georgie,
I hope you misjudge her, as she says bad people do. But for the present
she is gone. There has been a great fight, all along, between her and
Eoa; they could not bear one another. And now my niece has discovered
a thing which brings me to her side in the matter, for she at least is
genuine.”

“That she is indeed, and genuinely passionate; you may trust her with
anything. She has been very rude indeed to me; and yet I like her
wonderfully. What has she discovered?”

“That Mrs. Corklemore is at the bottom of this horrible application for
a warrant against my son.”

“I can well believe it. It struck me in a moment; though I cannot see
her object. I never understand plotting.”

“Neither do I, Garnet; I only know she has made me insult the dearest
friend I had on earth.”

“Yes, Mr. Rosedew; I heard of it, and wondered at your weakness. But it
did not become me to interfere.”

“Certainly not: most certainly not. You could not expect me to bear it.
And the Rosedews never liked you.”

“That has nothing to do with it. Very probably they are right; for I do
not like myself. And you will not dislike, but hate me, when you know
what I have to say.”

Bull Garnetʼs mind was now made up. For months he had been thinking,
forecasting, doubting, wavering—a condition of mind so strange to him,
so adrift from all his landmarks, that this alone, without sense of
guilt, must have kept him in wretchedness.

Sir Cradock Nowell only said, “Keep it for another time. I cannot bear
any more excitement; I have had so much to–day.”

Bull Garnet looked at him sorrowfully. He could not bear to see his
brother beaten so by trouble, and to feel his own hard hand in it.

“Donʼt you know what they say of me? Oh, you know what they say of me;
and nothing of the kind in the family!” The old man seemed to prove
that there was, by the vague flashing of his eyes: “Garnet, you are my
brother; after all, you are my brother. And they say I am going mad;
and I know they will try to shut me up, without a horse, or a book,
or a boy to brush my trousers. Oh, Garnet, you have been bitterly
wronged, shamefully wronged, detestably; but you will not let your own
brother—brother, who has no sons now to protect him,—be shut up, and
made nothing of? Bull Garnet, promise me this, although we have so
wronged you.”

Garnet knew not what to do. Even he was taken aback, shocked by
this sudden outburst, which partly proved what it denied. And this
altogether changed the form of the confession he was come to make—and
changed it for the better.

“My brother”—it was the first time he had ever so addressed him; not
from diffidence, but from pride—”my brother, let us look at things,
if possible, as God made them. I have been injured no doubt, and so
my mother was; blasted, both of us, for life, according to the little
ideas of this creeping world. In many cases, the thief is the rogue;
in even more, the robbed one is the only villain. Now can you take the
large view of things which is forced upon us outsiders when we dare to
think at all?”

“I cannot think now of such abstract things. My mind is astray with
trouble. Did I ever tell you your motherʼs words, when she came here
ten or twelve years ago, and demanded a share of the property? Not for
her own sake, but for yours, to get you into some business.”

“No, I never heard of it. How it must have hurt her!” Bull Garnet was
astonished; because it had long been understood that his mother should
not be spoken of.

“And me as well. I gave her a cheque for a liberal sum, as I thought.
She tore it, and threw it at me. What more could I do? Did I deserve
her curse, Garnet? Is all this trouble come upon me because I did not
obey her?”

“I believe that you meant to do exactly what was right.”

“I hope—I believe, I did. And see how wrong she was in one part of
her prediction. She said that I and my father also should be punished
through you, through you, her only son. What a mistake that has proved!
You, who are my right arm and brain; my only hope and comfort!”

The old man came up, and looked with the deepest trust and admiration
at his unacknowledged brother. A few months ago, Bull Garnet would have
taken such a look as his truest and best revenge for the cruel wrong to
his mother. But now he fell away from it, and muttered something, in a
manner quite unlike his own. His mind was made up, he was come to tell
all; but how could he do it now, and wrench the old manʼs latest hope
away?

Then suddenly he remembered, or knew from his own feelings, that an
old manʼs last hope in earthly matters should rest upon no friend
or brother, not even upon a wife, but upon his own begotten, his
successors in the world. And what he had to say, while tearing all
reliance from himself, would replace it where it should be.

Meanwhile Sir Cradock Nowell, thinking that Garnet was too grateful for
a few kind words, followed him, and placed his slender tremulous and
pure–bred hand in the useful cross–bred palm which had sent Mr. Jupp
down the coal–shaft.

“Bull, you are my very best friend. After all, we are brothers. Promise
to defend me.”

But Garnet only withdrew his hand, and sighed, and could not look at
him.

“Oh, then, even you believe it; I see you do! It must be true. God have
mercy upon me!”

“Cradock, it is a cursed lie; you must not dwell upon it. Such thoughts
are spawn of madness; turn to another subject. Just tell me what is the
greatest thing one man can do to another?”

“To love him, I suppose, Garnet. But I donʼt care much for that sort of
thing, since I lost my children.”

“Yes, it is a grand thing to love; but far grander to forgive.”

“Is it? I am glad to hear it. I always could forgive.”

“Little things, you mean, no doubt. Slights and slurs—and so forth?”

“Yes, and great things also. But I am not what I was, Bull. You know
what I have been through.”

“Can you forgive as deep a wrong as one man ever did to another?”

“Yes, I dare say. I am sure I donʼt know. What makes you look at me
like that?”

“Because I shot your son Clayton; and because I did it on purpose.”

“Viley! my boy Viley! Oh, I had forgotten. What a stupid thing of me! I
thought he was dead somehow. Now, I will open the door for him, because
his hands are full. And let him put his game on the table—never mind
the papers—he always likes me to see it. Oh, Viley, how long you have
been away! What a bag you must have made! Come in, my boy; come in.”

Bull Garnetʼs heart cleaved to his side, as the old man opened the
door, and looked, with the leaping joy of a fatherʼs love, for his pet,
his beloved, his treasured one. But nothing except cold air came in.

“The passage is empty. Perhaps he is waiting, because his boots are
dirty. Tell him not to think twice about that. I am fidgety sometimes,
I know; and I scolded him last Friday. But now he may come anyhow, if
he will only come to me. I am so dull without him.”

“You will never see him more”—Bull Garnet whispered through a flood of
tears, like grass waving out of water—”until it pleases God to take you
home, where son and father go alike; sometimes one first, sometimes
other, as His holy will is. He came to an unholy end. I tell you
again—I shot him.”

“Excuse me; I donʼt quite understand. There was a grey hare, with a
nick in her ear, who came to the breakfast–room window all through the
hard weather last winter, and he promised me not to shoot her; and I am
sure that he cannot have done it, because he is so soft–hearted, and
that is why I love him so. Talk of Cradock—talk of Cradock! Perhaps he
is cleverer than Viley—though I never will believe it—but is he half so
soft and sweet? Will the pigeons sit on his shoulder so, and the dogs
nuzzle under his coat–lap? Tell me that—tell me that—Bull Garnet.”

He leaned on the strong arm of his steward, and looked eagerly for his
answer; then trembled with an exceeding great fear, to see that he was
weeping. That such a man should weep! But Garnet forced himself to
speak.

“You cannot listen to me now; I will come again, and talk to you. God
knows the agony to me; and worst of all that it is for nothing. Yet all
of it not a thousandth part of the anguish I have caused. Perhaps it is
wisest so. Perhaps it is for my childrenʼs sake that I, who have killed
your pet child, cannot make you know it. Yet it adds to my despair,
that I have killed the father too.”

Scarcely knowing voice from silence, dazed himself, and blurred, and
giddy—so strong is contagion of the mind—Bull Garnet went to the
stables, saddled a horse without calling groom, and rode off at full
gallop to Dr. Buller. By the time he got there his business habits and
wonted fashion of thought had returned, and he put what he came for in
lucid form, tersely, crisply, dryly, as if in the world there were no
such thing as ill–regulated emotion—except on the part of other people.

“Not a bit of it,” said Dr. Buller; “his mind is as sound as yours or
mine, and his constitution excellent. He has been troubled a good deal;
but bless me—I know a man who lost his three children in a month, and
could scarcely pay for their coffins, sir. And his wife only six weeks
afterwards. That is what I call trouble, sir!”

Bull Garnet knew, from his glistening eyes, and the quivering of his
grey locks, that the man he spoke of was himself. Reassured about Sir
Cradock, yet fearing to try him further at present, Mr. Garnet went
heavily homewards, after begging Dr. Buller to call, as if by chance,
at the Hall, observe, and attend to the master.

Heavily and wearily Bull Garnet went to the home which once had been
so sweet to him, and was now beloved so painfully. The storms of earth
were closing round him, only the stars of heaven were bright. Myriad as
the forest leaves, and darkly moving in like manner, fears, and doubts,
and miseries sprang and trembled through him.

No young maid at his door to meet him lovingly and gaily. None to say,
“Oh, darling father, how hungry you must be, dear!” Only Pearl, so wan
and cold, and scared of soft affection. And as she timidly approached,
then dropped her eyes before his gaze, and took his hat submissively,
as if she had no lips to kiss, no hand to lay on his shoulder, he saw
with one quick glance that still some new grief had befallen her, that
still another trouble was come to make its home with her.

“What is it, Pearl?” he asked her, sadly; “come in here and tell me.”
He never called her his Pearly now, his little native, or pretty
pet, as he used to do in the old days. They had dropped those little
endearments.

“You will be sorry to hear it—sorry, I mean, that it happened; but I
could not have done otherwise.”

“I never hear anything, now, Pearl, but what I am sorry to hear. This
will make little difference.”

“So I suppose,” she answered. “Mr. Pell has been here to–day,
and—and—oh, father, you know what.”

“Indeed I have not been informed of anything. What do I know of Mr.
Pell?”

“More than he does of you, sir. He asked me to be his wife.”

“He is a good man. But of course you said ‘No.’”

“Of course I did. Of course, of course. What else can I ever say?”

She leaned her white cheek on the high oak mantel, and a little deep
sob came from her heart.

“Would you have liked to say ‘Yes,’ Pearl?” her father asked very
softly, going to put his arm round her waist, and then afraid to do it.

“Oh no! oh no! At least, not yet, though I respect him very highly. But
I told him that I never could, and never could tell him the reason. And
oh, I was so sorry for him—he looked so hurt and disappointed.”

“You shall tell him the reason very soon, or rather the newspapers
shall.”

“Father, donʼt say that; dear father, you are bound for our sake. I
donʼt care for him one atom, father, compared with—compared with you, I
mean. Only I thought I must tell you, because—oh, you know what I mean.
And even if I did like him, what would it matter about me? Oh, father,
I often think that I have been too hard upon you, and all of it through
me, and my vile concealment!”

“My daughter, I am not worthy of you. Would God that you could forgive
me!”

“I have done it long ago, father. Do you think a child of yours could
help it, after all your sorrow?”

“My child, look kindly at me; try to look as if you loved me.”

She turned to him with such a look as a man only gets once in his life,
and then she fell upon his neck, and forgot the world and all it
held, except her own dear father. Wrong he might have done, wrong (no
doubt) he had done; but who was she, his little child, to remember it
against him? She lay for a moment in his arms, overcome with passion,
leaning back, as she had done there, when a weanling infant. For him
it was the grandest moment of his passionate life—a fatherʼs powerful
love, ennobled by the presence of his God. Such a moment teaches us
the grandeur of our race, the traces of a higher world stamped on us
indelibly. Then we feel, and try to own, that in spite of satire,
cynicism, and the exquisite refinements of the purest selfishness,
there is, in even the sharpest and the shallowest of us, something kind
and solid, some abiding element of the all–pervading goodness.

“Now I will go through with it”—Bull Garnet was recovering—”my own
child; go and fetch your brother, if it will not be too much for you.
If you think it will, only send him.”

“Father, I will fetch him. I may be able to help you both. And now I am
so much better.”

Presently she returned with Bob, who looked rather plagued and
uncomfortable, with a great slice of cork in one hand and a bottle of
gum in the other, and a regular housewife of needles in the lappet of
his coat. He was going to mount a specimen of a variety of “devilʼs
coach–horse,” which he had never seen before, and whose tail was forked
like a trident.

“Never can let me alone,” said Bob; “just ready to begin I was; and I
am sure to spoil his thorax. He is getting stiff every moment.”

Bull Garnet looked at him brightly and gladly, even at such a time.
Little as he knew or cared about the things that crawl and hop—as he
ignorantly put it—skilled no more in natural history than our early
painters were, yet from his own strong sense he perceived that his son
had a special gift; and a special gift is genius, and may (with good
luck) climb eminence. Then he thought of what he had to tell him, and
the power of his heart was gone.

It was the terror of this moment which had dwelt with him night and
day, more than the fear of public shame, of the gallows, or of hell.
To be loathed and scorned by his only son! Oh that Pearl had not been
so true; oh that Bob suspected something, or had even found it out for
himself! Then the father felt that now came part of his expiation.

Bob looked at him quite innocently with wonder and some fear. To him
“the governor” long had been the strangest of all puzzles, sometimes so
soft and loving, sometimes so hard and terrible. Perhaps poor Bob would
catch it now for his doings with Eoa.

“Sit down there, my son. Not there, but further from me. Donʼt be at
all afraid, my boy. I have no fault to find with you. I am far luckier
in my son, than you are in your father. You must try to bear terrible
news, Bob. Your sister long has borne it.”

Pearl, who was ghastly pale and trembling, stole a glance at each of
them from the dark end of the room, then came up bravely into the
lamplight, took Bobʼs hand and kissed him, and sat close by to comfort
him.

Bull Garnet sighed from the depths of his heart. His children seemed to
be driven from him, and to crouch together in fear of him.

“It serves me right. I know that, of course. That only makes it the
worse to bear.”

“Father, what is it?” cried Bob, leaping up, and dropping his
cork–slice and gum–bottle; “whatever the matter is, father, tell me,
that I may stand by you.”

“You cannot stand by me in this. When you know what it is, you will fly
from me.”

“Will I, indeed! A likely thing. Oh, father, you think I am such a
soft, because I am fond of little things.”

“Would you stand by your father, Bob, if you knew that he was a
murderer?”

“Oh come,” said Bob, “you are drawing it a little too strong, dad. You
never could be that, you know.”

“I not only can be, but am, my son.”

Father and son looked at one another. The governor standing square and
broad, with his shoulders thrown well back, and no trace of emotion in
form or face, except that his quick wide nostrils quivered, and his
lips were white. The stripling gazing up at him, seeking for some sign
of jest, seeking for a ray of laughter in his fatherʼs eyes; too young
to comprehend the power and fury of large passion.

Ere either spoke another word—for the father was hurt at the sonʼs
delay, and the son felt all abroad in his head—between them glided
Pearl, the daughter, the sister, the gentle woman—the one most wronged
of all, and yet the quickest to forgive it.

“Darling, he did it for my sake,” she whispered to her brother, though
it cut through her heart to say it. “Father, oh father, Bob is so slow;
donʼt be angry with him. Come to me a moment, father. Oh, how I love
and honour you!”

Those last few words to the passionate man were like heaven poured into
hell. That a child of his should still honour him! He kissed her with
tenfold the love young man has for maiden; then he turned away and
wept, as if the earth was water.

Very little more was said. Pearl went away to Bob, and whispered how
the fatal grief befell; and Bob wept great tears for the sake of all,
and most of all for his fatherʼs sake. Then, as the father lay cramped
up upon the little sofa, wrestling with the power of life and the
promise of death, Bob came up, and kissed him dearly on his rugged
forehead.

“Is that you, my own dear son? God is far too good to me.”



CHAPTER XV.


That night the man of violence enjoyed the first sweet dreamless sleep
that had spread its velvet shield between him and his guilt and sorrow.
Pearl, who had sat up late with Bob, comforting and crying with him,
listened at her fatherʼs door, and heard his quiet breathing. Through
many months of trouble, now, she had watched him kindly, tenderly,
fearing ever some wild outbreak upon others or himself, hiding in her
empty heart all its desolation.

The very next day, Bull Garnet resolved to have it out with his son;
not to surprise him by emotion to a hasty issue, but now to learn what
he thought and felt, after taking his time about it. All this we need
not try to tell, only so much as bears upon the staple of the story.

“Father, I know that you had—you had good reason for doing it.”

“There could be no good reason. There might be, and were, many bad
ones. Of this I will not speak to you. I did it in violence and fury,
and under a false impression. When I saw him, with his arm cast round
my pure and darling Pearl, Satanʼs rage is but a smile compared to
the fury of my heart. He had his gun, and I had mine; I had taken it
to shoot a squirrel which meddled with our firework nonsense. I tore
her from him before I could speak, thrust her aside, stepped back two
paces, gave him ‘one, two, three,’ and fired. He had time to fire in
self–defence, and his muzzle was at my head, and his finger on the
trigger; but there it crooked, and he could not pull. Want of nerve,
I suppose. I saw his finger shaking, and then I saw him fall. Now, my
son, you know everything.”

“Why, father, after all then, it was nothing worse than a duel. He had
just the same chance of killing you, and would have done it, only you
were too quick for him.”

“Even to retain your love, I will have no lie in the matter, Bob,
although a duel, in my opinion, is only murder made game of. But this
was no duel, no manslaughter even, but an act of downright murder. No
English jury could help convicting me, and I will never plead insanity.
It was the inevitable result of inborn violence and self–will, growing
and growing from year to year, and strengthened by wrongs of which
you know nothing. God knows that I have fought against it; but my
weapon was pride, not humility. Now let this miserable subject never
be recurred to by us, at least in words, till the end comes. As soon
as I hear that poor innocent Cradock is apprehended, and brought to
England, I shall surrender myself and confess. But for your sake and
poor Pearlyʼs, I should have done so at the very outset. Now it is
very likely that I may not have the option. Two persons know that I
did it, although they have no evidence, so far as I am aware; a third
person more than suspects it, and is seeking about for the evidence.
Moreover, Sir Cradock Nowell, to whom, as I told you, I owned my deed,
although he could not then understand me, may have done so since, or
may hereafter do so, at any lucid interval.”

“Oh, father, father, he never would be so mean——”

“He is bound by his duty to do it—and for his living sonʼs sake he
must. I only tell you these things, my son, to spare you a part of
the shock. One month now is all I crave, to do my best for you two
darlings. I will not ruin the chance by going again to Sir Cradock. God
saved me from my own rash words, doubtless for your pure sake. Now,
knowing all, and reflecting upon it, can you call me still your father,
Bob?”

This was one of the times that tell whether a father has through life
thought more of himself or of his children. If of himself, they fall
away, like Southern ivies in a storm, parasites which cannot cling,
but glide on the marble surface. But if he has made his future of
them, closer they cling, and clasp more firmly, like our British ivy
engrailed into the house wall.

So the Garnet family clung together, although no longer blossoming, but
flagging sorely with blight and canker, and daily fear of the woodman.
Bob, of course, avoided Eoa, to her great indignation, though he could
not quite make up his mind to tell her that all was over, without
showing reason for it. In the forcing temperature of trouble, he was
suddenly become a man, growing daily more like his father, in all
except the violence. He roamed no more through the wilds of the forest,
but let the birds nest comfortably, the butterflies hover in happiness,
and the wireworm cast his shard unchallenged. He would care for all
those things again, if he ever recovered his comfort.

Now Eoa, as everybody knew, did not by any means embody the spirit of
toleration. She would hardly allow any will but her own in anything
that concerned her. In a word, she was a child, a very warm–hearted and
lovely one, but therefore all the more requiring a strong will founded
on common sense to lead her into the life–brunt. And so, if she must
have Bob some day, she had better have him consolidated, though reduced
to three per cent.

Not discerning her own interests, she would have been wild as a hare
ought to be at the vernal equinox, but for one little fact. There was
nobody to be jealous of. Darling Amy, whom she loved as all young
ladies love one another—until they see cause to the contrary—sweet
thing, she was gone to Oxford with her dear, good father. They had
slipped off without any fuss at all (except from Biddy OʼGaghan, who
came and threw an old shoe at them), because Mr. Rosedew, in the first
place, felt that he could not bear it, and thought, in the second
place, that it would be an uncourteous act towards Sir Cradock Nowell
to allow any demonstration. And yet it was notorious that even Job
Hogstaff had arranged to totter down on Mark Stoteʼs arm, followed by
a dozen tenants (all of whom had leases), and the rank and file of
Nowelhurst, who had paid their house–rent; and then there would be a
marshalling outside the parsonage–gate; and upon the appearance of the
fly, Job with his crutch would testify, whereupon a shout would arise
pronouncing everlasting divorce between Church and State in Nowelhurst,
undying gratitude to the former, and defiance to the latter power.

Yet all this programme was nullified by the departure of John and his
household gods at five oʼclock one May morning. Already he had received
assurance from some of his ancient co–mates at Oriel (most cohesive
of colleges) that they would gladly welcome him, and find him plenty
of work to do. In less than six weeks’ time, of course, the long
vacation would begin. What of that? Let him come at once, and with his
widespread reputation he must have the pick of all the men who would
stay up to read for honours. For now the fruit of a lifetime lore was
ripening over his honoured head, not (like that of Tantalus) wafted
into the cloud–land, not even waiting to be plucked at, but falling
unawares into his broad and simple bosom, where it might lie uncared
for, except for the sake of Amy. So large a mind had long outlived
the little itch for fame, quite untruly called “the last infirmity
of noble minds.” Their first it is, beyond all doubt; and wisely
nature orders it. Their last is far more apt to be—at least in this
generation—contempt of fame, and man, and God, except for practical
purposes.

Mr. Rosedewʼs careful treatises upon the Sabellian and Sabello–Oscan
elements had stirred up pleasant controversy in the narrow world of
scholars; and now at the trito–megistic blow of the Roseo–rorine
hammer, ringing upon no less a theme than the tables of Iguvium, the
wise men who sit round the board of classical education, even Jupiter
Grabovius (the original of John Bull), had clapped their hands and
cried, “Hear, hear! He knows what he is talking of; and he is one of
us.”

That, after all, is the essence of it—to know what one is talking of.
And the grand advantage of the ancient universities is, not the tone
of manners, not the knowledge of life—rather a hat–box thing with
them—not even the high ideal, the manliness, and the chivalry, which
the better class of men win; but the curt knowledge, whether or not
they are talking of what they know. _Scire quod nescias_ is taught, if
they teach us nothing else. And though we are all still apt to talk,
especially among ladies, of things beyond our acquaintance—else haply
we talk but little—we do so with a qualm, and quasi, and fluttering
sense that effrontery is not—but leads to—”pluck.”

Nevertheless, who am I to talk, proving myself, by every word, false to
Alma Mater, having ventured all along to talk of things beyond me?

As they rose the hill towards Carfax, Amy (tired as she was) trembled
with excitement. Her father had won a cure in St. Oles—derived no
doubt from _oleo_—and all were to lodge in Pembroke Lane, pending
mature arrangements. Though they might have turned off near the jail,
and saved a little cab fare, John would go by the broader way, as his
fashion always was; except in a little posthumous matter, wherein
perhaps we have over–defined with brimstone the direction–posts.

Be that as it may,—not to press the _scire quod nescias_ (potential
in such a case, I hope, rather than conjunctive)—there they must be
left, all three, with Jenny and Jemima outside, and Jem Pottles on the
pavement, amazed at the cheek of everything. Only let one thing be
said. Though prettier girl than Amy Rosedew had never stepped on the
stones of Oxford since the time of Amy Robsart, if even then,—never
once, was she insulted.

Lowest of all low calumnies. There are blackguards among university
men, as everybody knows, and as there must be among all men. But even
those blackguards can see the difference between a lady, or rather
between a pure girl and—another. And even those blackguards have an
intensified reverence for the one;—but let the matter pass; for now we
hide in gold these subjects, and sham not to see their flaunting.

Be it, however, confessed that Amy (whose father soon had rooms in
college, not to live, but to lecture in), being a very shy young
maiden, never could be brought to come and call him to his tea,—oh
no. So many young men in gorgeous trappings, charms, and dangles, and
hooks of gold, and eye–glasses very knowing—not to mention volunteer
stuff, and knickerbockers demonstrant of calf—oddly enough they _would_
happen to feel so interested in the architecture of the porterʼs lodge
whenever Amy came by, never gazing too warmly at her, but contriving
to convey their regret at the suppression of their sentiments, and
their yearning to be the stones she trod on, and their despair at the
possibility of her not caring if they were so—really all this was so
trying, that Amy would never go into college without Aunt Doxy before
her, gazing four–gunned cupolas even at scouts and manciples. And this
was very provoking of her, not only to the hearts that beat under
waistcoats ordered for her sake, but also to the domestic kettle a–boil
in Pembroke Lane. For, over and over again, Uncle John, great as he
was in chronology and every kind of “marmora,” and able to detect a
flaw upon Potamogeitonʼs tombstone, lost all sense of time and place,
_me_ and _te_, and _hocce_ and Doxy, and calmly went home some two
hours late, and complacently received Doxology.

But alas, we must abandon Amy to the insidious designs of Hebdomadal
Board, the velvet approaches of Proctor and Pro, and the brass of the
gentlemen Bedels, while we regard more rugged scenes, from which she
was happily absent.

Rufus Hutton had found the missing link, and at the same time the
strongest staple, of the desired evidence. The battered gun–barrels
had been identified, and even the number deciphered, by the foreman
of Messrs. L—— and Co. And the entry in their books of the sale of
that very gun (number, gauge, and other particulars beyond all doubt
corresponding) was—”to Bull Garnet, &c., Nowelhurst Dell Cottage,” whom
also they could identify from his “strongly–marked physiognomy,” and
his quick, decisive manner. And the cartridge–case, which had lain so
long in Dr. Huttonʼs pocket, of course they could not depose to its
sale, together with the gun; but this they could show, that it fitted
the gauge, was not at all of a common gauge, but two sizes larger—No.
10, in fact—and must have been sold during the month in which they sold
the gun, because it was one of a sample which they had taken upon
approval, and soon discarded for a case of better manufacture.

Then as to motive, Rufus Hutton himself could depose to that, or the
probability of it, from what he had seen, but not understood, at the
fixing of the fireworks; neither had he forgotten the furious mood of
Bull Garnet, both then and in his garden.

While he was doubting how to act—for, clearly as he knew his power to
hang the man who had outraged him, the very fact of his injury made him
loth to use that power; for he was not at all a vindictive man, now
the heat of the thing was past, and he saw that the sudden attack had
been made in self–defence—while he was hesitating between his sense of
duty and pity for Cradock on one hand, and his ideas of magnanimity and
horror of hanging a man on the other, he was thrown, without any choice
or chance, across the track of Simon Chope.

Perhaps there is no more vulgar error, no stronger proof of ignorance
and slavery to catchwords, than to abuse or think ill of any particular
class of men, solely on account of their profession—although,
perhaps, we might justly throw the _onus probandi_ their merit upon
hangmen, body–snatchers, informers, and a few others—yet may I think
(deprecating most humbly the omen of this conjunction) that solicitors,
tailors, and Methodist parsons fight at some disadvantage both in fact
and in fiction? Yet can they hold their own; and sympathy, if owing,
is sure to have to pay them—notwithstanding, goose, and amen.

Away with all feeble flippancy! Heavy tidings came to Nowelhurst Hall,
Dell Cottage, and Geopharmacy Lodge, simultaneously, as might be, on
the 20th of June. The _Taprobane_ had been lost, with every soul on
board; and this is the record of it, enshrined in many journals:—

“By recent advices from Capetown, per the screw–steamer _Sutler_, we
sincerely regret to learn that the magnificent clipper–built ship
_Taprobane_, of 2200 tons (new system), A 1 at Lloydʼs for 15 years,
and bound from the Thames to Colombo, with a cargo valued by competent
judges at 120,000_l._, took the shore in Benguela Bay during a typhoon
of unprecedented destructiveness. It is our melancholy duty to add that
the entirety of the valuable cargo was entirely lost, although very
amply assured in unexceptionable quarters, and that every soul on board
was consigned to a watery grave. A Portuguese gentleman of good family
and large fortune, who happened to be in the neighbourhood, was an
eye–witness to the catastrophe, and made superhuman exertions to rescue
the unfortunate mariners, but, alas! in vain. Senhor José de Calcavello
has arrived at the conclusion that some of her copper may be saved. The
ill–fated bark broke up so rapidly, from the powerful action of the
billows, that her identity could only be established from a portion of
her sternpost, which was discovered half buried in sand three nautical
miles to the southward. We have been informed, upon good authority,
although we are not at liberty to mention our source of information,
that Her Britannic Majestyʼs steamcorvette _Mumbo Jumbo_, pierced for
twenty–eight guns, and carrying two, is under orders to depart, as soon
as ever she can be coaled, for the scene of the recent catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the tug _Growler_ has arrived with all the memorials of
the calamity, after affording the rites of sepulture to the poor
shipwrecked mariners cast up by the treacherous billows. The set of the
current being so adverse, we have reason to fear that the rest of the
bodies must have fallen a prey to the monsters of the deep. There are
said to be some hopes of recovering a portion of the specie.”

Mrs. Corklemore happened to be calling at Geopharmacy Lodge, when the
London papers arrived in the early afternoon. Rufus begged pardon, and
broke the cover, to see something in which he was interested. Presently
he cried, “Good God!” and let the paper fall; and, seasoned as he was,
and shallowed by the shifting of his life, it was not in his power to
keep two little tears from twinkling.

“Too late all my work,” he said; “Heaven has settled it without me.”

“How very sad!” cried Mrs. Corklemore, dashing aside an unbidden tear,
when she came to the end of the story; “to think of all those brave
men lost! And perhaps you knew some of them, Dr. Hutton? Oh, I am so
sorry!”

“Why, surely you know that the _Taprobane_ was the ship in which poor
Cradock Nowell sailed, under Mr. Rosedewʼs auspices.”

“Oh, I hope not. Please not to say so. It would be so very horrible!
That he should go without repenting——”

“You must have forgotten, Mrs. Corklemore; for I heard Rosa tell you
the name of the ship, and her destination.”

“Oh, very likely. Ah, now I remember. For the moment it quite escaped
me. How truly, truly grieved—it has quite overcome me. Oh, please not
to notice me—please not. I am so stupidly soft–hearted. Oh—ea, isha,
ea!”

No woman in the world could cry more beautifully than poor Georgie.
And now she cried her very best. It would have gone to the heart of
the driest and bitterest sceptic that ever doubted all men and women
because they would doubt him. But Rufus, whose form of self–assertion
was not universal negation, in what manner then do you suppose
that Rufus Hutton was liquefied? A simple sort of fellow he was
(notwithstanding all his shrewdness), although, or perhaps I should say
because, he thought himself so knowing; and his observation was more
the result of experience than the cause of it. So away he ran to fetch
Rosa, and Rosa wiped dear, sensitive Georgieʼs eyes, and coaxed her
very pleasantly, and admired her more than ever.

Bull Garnet rode home at twelve oʼclock from a long morningʼs work. He
never could eat any breakfast now, and his manner was to leave home
at six (except when he went to Winchester), gallop fiercely from work
to work, or sometimes walk his horse and think, often with glistening
eyes (when any little thing touched him), and return to his cottage and
rest there during the workmenʼs dinner–time. Then he had some sort of a
meal himself, which Pearl began to call “dinner,” and away with a fresh
horse in half an hour, spending his body if only so he might earn rest
of mind. All this was telling upon him fearfully; even his muscular
force was going, and his quickness of eye and hand failing him. He knew
it, and was glad.

Only none should ever say, though every crime was heaped upon him, that
he had neglected his masterʼs interests.

He tore the paper open in his sudden turbulent fashion, as if all paper
was rags, and no more; and with one glance at each column knew all that
was in the ‘tween–ways. Suddenly he came to a place at the corner of a
page which made him cease from eating. He glanced at Pearl, but she was
busy, peeling new potatoes for him. Bob was not come in yet.

“Darling, I must go to London. If possible I shall return to–night, if
I catch the one oʼclock up express.”

Then he opened the window, and ordered a horse, his loud voice ringing
and echoing round every corner of the cottage, and in five minutes he
was off at full gallop, for the express would not stop at Brockenhurst.

At 3.15 he was in London, and at 3.40 in the counting–house of
Messrs. Brown and Smithson, owners, or at any rate charterers, of the
_Taprobane_, Striped–ball Chambers, Fenchurch Street. There he would
learn, if he could, what their private advices were.

The clerks received him very politely, and told him that they had
little doubt of the truth of the evil tidings. Of course the fatality
might have been considerably exaggerated, &c. &c., but as to the loss
of the ship, they had taken measures to replace her. Would he mind
waiting only ten minutes, though they saw that he was in a hurry? The
Cape mail–ship had been telegraphed from Falmouth; they had sent to
the office already, and expected to get the reply within a quarter of
an hour. Every information in their power, &c.—we all know the form,
though we donʼt always get the civility.

Bull Garnet waited heavily with his great back against a stout brass
rail, having declined the chair they offered him; and in less than five
minutes he received authentic detail of everything. He listened to
nothing except one statement, “every soul on board was lost, sir.”

Then he went out, in a lumpish manner, from the noble room, and was
glad to get hold of the iron rail in the bend of the dark stone
staircase.

So now he was a double murderer. Finding it not enough to have killed
one brother in his fury, he had slain the other twin through his
cowardly concealment. Floating about in tropical slime, without a shark
to eat him, leaving behind him the fair repute of a money–grabbing
fratricide. And he, the man who had done it all, who had loved the boy
and ruined him, miserably plotting for his own far inferior children.
No, no! Not that at any rate,—good and noble children: and how they had
borne his villainy! God in mercy only make him, try to make him, over
again, and how different his life would be. All his better part brought
out; all his lower kicked away to the devil, the responsible father of
it. “Good God, how my heart goes! Death is upon me, well I know, but
let me die with my children by—unless I turn hymn–writer——”

Quick as he was in his turns of thought—all of them subjective—he
was scarcely a match for the situation, when Mr. Chope and Bailey
Kettledrum brushed by the sleeves of his light overcoat, and entered
the doors with “push—pull” on them, but, being both of the pushing
order rather than the pulling, employed indiscriminate propulsion,
and were out of sight in a moment. Still, retaining some little of
his circumspective powers, Bull Garnet knew them both from a corner
flash of his sad tear–laden eyes. There was no mistaking that great
legal head, like the breech–end of a cannon. Mr. Kettledrum might have
been overlooked, for little men of a fussy nature are common enough
in London, or for that matter everywhere else. But Garnetʼs attention
being drawn, he knew them both of course, and the errand they were
come upon, and how soon they were likely to return, and what they
would think of his being there, if they should happen to see him.
Nevertheless, he would not budge. Nothing could matter much now. He
must think out his thoughts.

When this puff of air was past which many breathe almost long enough to
learn that it was “life,” some so long as to weary of it, none so long
as to understand all its littleness and greatness—when that should be
gone from him, and absorbed into a boundless region even more unknown,
would not the wrong go with it, if unexpiated here, and abide there
evermore? And not to think of himself alone—what an example now to
leave to his innocent injured children! The fury hidden by treachery,
the cowardice sheathed in penitence! D——n it all, he would have no
more of it. His cursed mind was made up. A man can die in the flesh
but once. His spirit had been dying daily, going to the devil daily,
every day for months; and he found no place for repentance. As for
his children, they must abide it. No man of any mind would blame them
for their fatherʼs crime. If it was more than they could bear, let
them bolt to America. Anywhither, anywhere, so long as they came home
in heaven—if he could only get there—to the father who had injured,
ruined, bullied, cursed, and loved them so.

After burning out this hell of thought in his miserable brain, he
betook himself to natureʼs remedy,—instant, headlong action. He rushed
down the stairs, forgetting all about Chope and Bailey Kettledrum,
shouted to the driver of a hansom cab so that he sawed his horseʼs
mouth raw, leaped in, and gave him half a sovereign through the
pigeon–hole, to get to D——ʼs bank before the closing time. But at
Temple Bar, of course, there was a regular Chubbʼs lock, after a minor
Bramah one at the bottom of Ludgate Hill. Cabby was forced to cut it,
and slash up Chancery Lane, and across by Kingʼs College Hospital,
and back into the Strand by Wych Street. It is easy to imagine Bull
Garnetʼs state of mind; yet the imagination would be that, and nothing
more. He sat quite calmly, without a word, knowing that man and horse
were doing their utmost of skill and speed, and having dealt enough
with both to know that to worry them then is waste.

The Bank had been closed, the day–porter said, as he girded himself for
his walk to Brixton, exactly—let him see—yes, exactly one minute and
thirty–five seconds ago. Most of the gentlemen were still inside, of
course, and if the gentlemanʼs business was of a confidential——Here he
intimated, not by words, that there were considerations——

“Bow Street police–office,” Mr. Garnet cried to the driver, not even
glancing again at the disappointed doorkeeper. In five minutes he was
there. Man and horse seemed strung and nerved with his own excitement.

A stolid policeman stood at the door, as Bull Garnet leaped out
anyhow, with his high colour gone away as in death, and his wiry legs
cramped with vehemence. Then Bobby saw that he had met his master,
the perception being a mental feat far beyond the average leap of
police agility. Accordingly he touched his hat, and crinkled his eyes
in a manner discovered by policemen, in consequence of the suggestion
afforded by the pegging of their hats.

“Mr. Bennings gone?” asked Bull Garnet, pushing towards the entrance.

“His wusship is gone arf an hour, sir; or may be at most fifty minutes.
Can we do anything for you, sir? His wusship always go according to the
business as is on.”

“Thank you,” replied Mr. Garnet; “that is quite enough. What time do
they leave at Marlborough Street?”

“According to the business, sir, but gone afore us aʼmost always. We
sits as long as anybody, and gets through twice the business. But any
message you like to leave, or anything to be entered, I can take the
responsibility.”

“No. It does not matter. I will only leave my card. Mr. Bennings knows
me. Be kind enough to give him this, when he comes to–morrow morning.
Perhaps I may call to–morrow. At present I cannot say.”

The policeman lifted his hat again, like a cup taken up from a
saucer, and Bull Garnet sat heavily down in the cab, and banged the
door–shutters before him. “Strand,” he called out to the driver; “D——
and C——ʼs, the watchmakers.” There he bought a beautiful watch and
gold chain for his daughter Pearl, giving a cheque for nearly all
his balance at the bankerʼs. The cheque was so large that in common
prudence the foreman declined to cash it without some confirmation; but
Mr. Garnet gave him a reference, which in ten minutes was established,
and in ten more he was off again with his very handsome trinkets, and a
large sum in bank–notes and gold, the balance of his draft.

“Where now, sir?” shouted the driver, delighted with his fare, and
foreseeing another half–sovereign.

“I will tell you in thirty seconds.”

“Well, if he ainʼt a rum ‘un,” Cabby muttered to himself, while
amid volleys of strong language he kept his horse gyrating, like a
twin–screw ship trying circles; “but rum customers is our windfalls.
Should have thought it a reward case, only for the Bobby. Keep a
look–out, anyhow; unless he orders me back to Bedlam.”

“Not Bedlam. Waterloo Station, main line!” said Bull Garnet, standing
up in front, and looking at him over the roof. “Five minutes is all I
give you, mind.”

“What a blessed fool I am,” said the cabman below his breath, but
lashing his horse explosively—”to throw away half a sovereign sooner
than hold my tongue! He must be the devil himself to have heard me—and
as for eyes—good Lord, I shouldnʼt like to drive him much.”

“You are wrong,” replied Mr. Garnet through the pigeon–hole, handing
him twopence for the tollman; “I am not the devil, sir; as you may some
day know. Have no fear of ever driving me again. You shall have your
half–sovereign when I have got my ticket. Follow me in, and you shall
know for what place I take it.”

The cabman was too dumb–foundered to do anything but resolve that he
would go straight home when he got his money, and tell his old woman
about it. Then he applied himself to the whip in earnest, for he could
not too soon be rid of this job; and so Bull Garnet won his train, and
gave the driver the other half–sovereign, with a peculiar nod, having
noticed that he feared to approach while the ticket was applied for.

Bull Garnet took a second–class ticket. His extravagance towards the
cabman was the last he would ever exhibit. He felt a call upon him now
to save for his family every farthing. All was lost to them but money,
and alas, too much of that. Now if he cut his throat in the train,
could he be attainted of felony? And would God be any the harder on
him? No, he did not think He would. It might be some sort of atonement
even. But then the shock to Pearl and Bob, to see him brought home
with his head hanging back, and hopeless red stitches under it. It
would make the poor girl a maniac, after all the shocks and anguish
he had benumbed her with already. What a fool he had been not to buy
strychnine, prussic acid, or laudanum! And yet—and yet—and yet——He
would like to see them just once more—blessed hearts—once more.

He sat in the last compartment of the last carriage in the train, which
had been added, in a hurry, immediately behind the break van, and the
swinging and the jerking very soon became tremendous. He knew not,
neither cared to know, that Simon Chope and Bailey Kettledrum were in
a first–class carriage near the centre of the train. Presently the
violent motion began to tell upon him, and he felt a heavy dullness
creeping over his excited mind; and all the senses, which had been
during several hours of tension as prompt and acute as ever they were
in his prime of power, began to flag, and daze, and wane, and he fell
into a waking dream, a “second person” of sorrow. But first—whether for
suicide, or for self–defence, he had tried both doors and found them
locked; and he was far too large a man to force his way through the
window.

He dreamed, with a loose sense of identity, about the innocent
childhood, the boyhoodʼs aspiration, the young manʼs sense of ability
endorsing the right to aspire. Even his bodily power and vigour revived
in the dream before him, and he knitted his muscles, and clenched his
fists, and was ready to fight fools and liars. Who had fought more
hard and hotly against the hard cold ways of the age, the despite done
to the poor and lowly, the sarcasm bred by self–conscious serfdom
in clever men of the world, the preference of gold to love, and of
position to happiness? All the weak gregarious tricks, shifts of coat,
and pupa–ism, whereby we noble Christians reduce our social history
to a passage in entomology, and quench the faith of thinking men in
Him whose name we take in vain—the great Originator—all these feminine
contradictions, and fond things foully invented, fables Atellan (if
they be not actually Fescennine) had roused the combatism of young
Bull, ere he learned his own disgrace.

And when he learned it, such as it was—a proof by its false incidence
how infantile our civilization is—all his motherʼs bitter wrong, her
lifelong sense of shame and crushing (because she had trusted a liar,
and the hollow elder–stick “institution” was held up against her, and
none would take her part without money, even if she had wished it),
then he had chosen his motherʼs course, inheriting her strong nature,
let the shame lie where it fell by right and not by rule, and carried
all his energies into Neo–Christian largeness.

All that time of angry trial now had passed before him, and the five
years of his married life (which had not been very happy, for his wife
never understood him, but met his quick moodiness with soft sulks); and
then in his dream–review he smiled, as his children began to toddle
about, and sit on his knees, and look at him.

Once he awoke, and gazed about him. The train had stopped at
Winchester. He was all alone in the carriage still, and all his cash
was safe. He had stowed it away very carefully in a hidden pocket. To
his languid surprise, he fell back on the seat. How unlike himself,
to be sure; and with so much yet to do! He strove to arise and rouse
himself. He felt for the little flask of wine, which Pearl had thrust
into his pocket, but he could not pull it out and drink; such a languor
lay upon him. He had felt it before, but never before been so overcome
by it. Once or twice, an hour or so before the sun came back again,
this strange cold deadness (like a mammoth nightmare frozen) had lain
on him, in his lonely bed, and then he knew what death was, and only
came back to life again through cold sweat and long fainting.

He had never consulted any doctor about the meaning of this. With
his bold way of thinking, and judging only by his own experience and
feeling, he had long ago decided that all medical men were quacks.
What one disorder could they cure? All they had learned, and that by a
fluke, was a way to anticipate _one_: and even that way seemed worn out
now.

Now he fell away, and feared, and tried to squeeze his breast, and
tried to pray to God; but no words came, nor any thoughts, only sense
of dying, and horror at having prayed for it. A coldness fell upon his
heart, and on his brain an ignorance; he was falling into a great blank
depth, and nothing belonged to him any more—only utter, utter loss, and
not a dream of God.

Happy and religious folk, who have only died in theory, contemplating
distant death, knowing him only as opportune among kinsfolk owning
Consols, these may hope for a Prayer–book end, sacrament administered,
weeping friends, the heavenward soul glad to fly through the golden
door, _animula_, _vagula_, _blandula_, yet assured of its reception
with a heavenly smile of foretaste—this may be; no doubt it may be,
after the life of a Christian Bayard; though it need not always be,
even then. All we who from our age know death, and have taken little
trips into him, through fits, paralysis, or such–like, are quite aware
that he has at first call as much variety as life has. But the death of
the violent man is not likely to be placid, unless it come unawares, or
has been graduated through years of remorse, and weakness, weariness,
and repentance.

Then he tried to rise, and fought once more, with agony inconceivable,
against the heavy yet hollow numbness in the hold of his deep, wide
chest, against the dark, cold stealth of death, and the black, narrow
depth of the grave.

The train ran lightly and merrily into Brockenhurst Station, while the
midsummer twilight floated like universal gossamer. In the yard stood
the Kettledrum “rattletrap,” and the owner was right glad to see it. In
his eyes it was worth a dozen of the lord mayorʼs coach.

“None of the children come, dear?” asked Bailey, having kissed his
wife, as behoves a man from London.

“No, darling, not one. That——” here she used an adjective which sounded
too much like “odious” for me to trust my senses—”Georgie would not
allow them. Now, darling, did you do exactly what I told you?”

“Yes, darling Anna, I did the best I could. I had a basin of
mulligatawny at Waterloo going up, and one of mock–turtle coming back,
and at Basingstoke ham–sandwiches, a glass of cold cognac and water,
and some lemon–chips. Since that, nothing at all, because there has
been no time.”

“You are a dear,” said Mrs. Kettledrum, “to do exactly as I told you.
Now come round the corner a moment, and take two glasses of sherry; I
can see quite well to pour it out. I am so glad of her new crinoline.
She wonʼt get out. Donʼt be afraid, dear.”

Oh, Georgie, Georgie! To think that her own sister should be so low, so
unfeeling, and treacherous! Mr. Kettledrum smacked his lips, for the
sake of euphony, after the second glass of sherry; but his wife would
not give him any more, for fear of spoiling his supper. Then they came
back, and both got in, and squeezed themselves up together in the front
seat of the old carriage, for Mrs. Corklemore occupied the whole of the
seat of honour.

“You are very polite, to keep me so long. Innocent turtles; sweet
childish anxiety! The last survivor of a wrecked train! So you took
advantage, Anna dear, of my not being dressed quite so vulgarly as you
are, to discuss this little matter with him, keeping me in ignorance.”

The carriage was off by this time, and open as it was, they had no fear
of old coachey hearing, for it took a loud hail to reach him.

“Take the honour of a Kettledrum,” cried Bailey, smiting his bosom,
“that the subject has not even been broached between my wiser part
and myself. Ladies, in this pure aerial—no, I mean ethereal—air, with
the shades of night around us, and the breezes wafting, would an
exceedingly choice and delicately aromatic cigar——”

“Oh, I should so like it, Bailey; and perhaps we shall have the
nightingales.”

“I fear we must not think of it,” interposed Mrs. Corklemore, gently;
“my dress is of a fabric quite newly introduced, very beautiful, but
(like myself) too retentive of impressions. If Mr. Kettledrum smokes, I
shall have to throw it away.”

“There goes the cigar instead,” cried Bailey; “the paramount rights
of ladies ever have been, and ever shall be, sacred with Bailey
Kettledrum.”

But Mrs. Kettledrum was so vexed that she jumped up, as if to watch the
cigar spinning into the darkness, and contrived with sisterly accuracy
to throw all her weight upon a certain portion of a certain lovely
foot, whereupon there ensued the neatest little passes, into which we
need not enter. Enough that Mrs. Corklemore, having higher intellectual
gifts, “won,” in the language of the ring, “both events”—first tear,
and first hysterical symptom.

“Come,” cried Mr. Kettledrum, at the very first opportunity, to wit,
when both were crying; “we all know what sisters are: how they mingle
the—the sweetness of their affection with a certain—ah, yes—a piquancy
of expression, most pleasant, most improving, because so highly
conducive to self–examination!” Here he stood up, having made a hit,
worthy of the House of Commons. “All these little breezes, ladies, may
be called the trade–winds of affection. They blow from pole to pole.”

“The trade–winds never do that,” said Georgie.

“They pass us by as the idle wind, when the clouds are like a whale,
ladies, having overcome us for a moment, like a summer dream. Hark to
that thrush, sitting perhaps on his eggs”—”Oh, Oh!” from the gallery of
nature—”can there be, I pause for a reply, anything but harmony, where
the voices of the night pervade, and the music of the spheres?”

“You—you do speak so splendidly, dear,” sobbed Mrs. Kettledrum from the
corner; “but it is a nasty, wicked, cruel story, about dear papa saying
that of me, and he in his grave, poor dear, quite unable to vindicate
himself. I have always thought it so unchristian to malign the dead!”

“Whatʼs that?” cried Georgie, starting up, in fear and hot earnest;
“you are chattering so, you hear nothing.”

A horse dashed by them at full gallop, with his rider on his neck,
shouting and yelling, and clinging and lashing.

“Missed the wheel by an inch,” cried Kettledrum, drawing his head in
faster than he had thrust it out; “a fire, man, or a French invasion?”
But the man was out of hearing, while the Kettledrum horses, scared,
and jumping as from an equine thunderbolt, tried the strength of
leather and the courage of ladies.

Meanwhile at the station behind them there was a sad ado. A man was
lifted out of the train, being found in the last compartment by the
guard who knew his destination—a big man, and a heavy one; and they
bore him to the wretched shed which served there as a waiting–room.

“Dead, I believe,” said the guard, having sent a boy for brandy, “dead
as a door–nail, whoever he be.”

“Not thee knaw who _he_ be?” cried a forester, coming in. “Whoy, marn,
there be no mistaking _he_. He be our Muster Garnet.”

“Whew!” And the train whistled on, as it must do, whether we live or
die, or when Cyclops has made mince of us.



CHAPTER XVI.


That night there had been great excitement in the village of
Nowelhurst. A rumour had reached it that Cradock Nowell, loved in
every cottage there, partly as their own production, partly as their
future owner, partly for his own sake, and most of all for his
misfortunes, was thrown into prison to stand his trial for the murder
of his brother. Another rumour was that, to prevent any scandal to the
nobility, he had been sent to sea alone in a seventy–four gun ship,
with corks in her bottom tied with wire arranged so as to fly all at
once, same as if it was ginger–beer bottles, on the seventh day, when
the salt–water had turned the wires rusty.

It is hard to say of these two reports which roused the greater
indignation; perhaps on the whole the former did, because the latter
was supposed to be according to institution. Anyhow, all the village
was out in the street that night; and the folding of arms, and the
self–importance, the confidential winks, and the power to say more (but
for hyper–Nestorean prudence) were at their acme in a knot of gaffers
gathered around Rufus Hutton, and affording him good sport.

Nothing now could be done in Nowelhurst without Rufus Hutton. He had
that especial knack (mistaken sometimes in a statesman for really high
qualities) which becomes in a woman true capacity for gossip. By virtue
thereof Rufus Hutton was now prime–minister of Nowelhurst; and Sir
Cradock, the king, being nothing more now than the shadow of a name,
his deputyʼs power was absolute. He knew the history by this time of
every cottage, and pigsty, and tombstone in the churchyard; how much
every man got every week, and how much he gave his wife out of it, what
he had for dinner on Sundays, and how long he made his waistcoat last.
Suddenly the double–barrelled noise which foreruns a horse at full
gallop came from the bridge, and old folk hobbled, and young got ready
to run.

“Hooraw—hooraw!” cried a dozen and a half of boys, “here be Hempror o’
Roosia coming.”

Boys will believe almost anything, when they get excited (having taken
the trick from their fathers), but even the women were disappointed,
when the galloping horse stopped short in the crowd, and from his
withers shot forward, and fell with both hands full of mane, a
personage not more august than the porter at Brockenhurst Station.

“Catch the horse, you fool!” cried Rufus.

“Cuss the horse,” said the porter, trying to draw breath; “better
been under a train I had. Donʼt stand gaping, chawbacons. Is ever a
sawbones, surgeon, doctor, or what the devil you call them in these
outlandish parts, to be got for love or money?”

“I am a sawbones,” said Rufus Hutton, coming forward with his utmost
dignity; “and itʼs a mercy I donʼt saw yours, young man, if thatʼs all
you know of riding.”

The porter touched his hair instead of his hat (which was gone long
ago), while the “chawbacons” rallied, and laughed at him, and one
offered him a “zide–zaddle,” and all the women of the village felt that
Dr. Hutton had quenched the porter, and vindicated Nowelhurst.

“When you have recovered your breath, young man,” continued Rufus,
pushing, as he always did, his advantage; “and thanked God for your
escape from the first horse you ever mounted, perhaps you will tell us
your errand, and we chawbacons will consider it.”

A gruff haw–haw and some treble he–heʼs added to the porterʼs
discomfiture, for he could not come to time yet, being now in the
second tense of exhaustion, which is even worse than the first, being
rather of the heart than lungs.

“Station—Mr. Garnet—dead!” was all the man could utter, and that only
in spasms, and with great chest–heavings.

Rufus Hutton leaped on the horse in a moment, caught up old Channingʼs
stick, and was out of sight in the summer dusk ere any one else in the
crowd had done more than gape, and say, “Oh Lor!” By dint of skill he
sped the old horse nearly as quickly to the station as the fury of Jehu
had brought him thence, and landed him at the door with far less sign
of exhaustion. Then walking into the little room, in the manner of a
man who thoroughly knows his work, he saw a sight which never in this
world will leave him.

Upon a hard sofa, shored up with an ash–log where the mahogany was
sprung, and poked up into a corner as if to get a bearing there, with
blankets piled upon him heavily and tucked round the collar of his
coat, and his great head hanging over the rise where the beading of
the brass ends, lay the ill–fated Bull Garnet,—a man from birth to
death a subject for pity more than terror. Fifty years old—more than
fifty years—and scarce a twelvemonth of happiness since the shakings of
the world began, and childhoodʼs dream was over. Toiling ever for the
future, toiling for his children, ever since he had them, labouring to
make peace with God, if only he might have his own, where passion is
not, but love abides. The room smelled strongly of bad brandy, some of
which was oozing now down his broad square chin, and dripping from the
great blue jaw. Of course he could not swallow it; and now one of the
women (for three had rushed in) was performing that duty for him.

“Turn out that drunken hag!” cried Dr. Hutton, feeling he had no idea
how. “Up with the window. Bring the sofa here; and take all but one of
those blankets off.”

“But, master,” objected another woman, “heʼll take his death of cold.”

“Turn out that woman also!” He was instantly obeyed. “Now roll up one
of those blankets, and put it under his head here—this side, canʼt you
see? Good God, what a set of fellows you are to let a manʼs head hang
down like that! Hot water and a sponge this instant. Nearly boiling,
mind you. Plenty of it, and a foot–tub. Now donʼt stare at me.”

With a quick light hand he released the blue and turgid throat from the
narrow necktie, then laid his forefinger upon the heart and watched the
eyelids intently.

“Appleplexy, no doubt, master,” said the most intelligent of the men;
“I have ‘eared that if you can bleed them——”

“Hold your tongue, or Iʼll phlebotomise you.” That big word inspired
universal confidence, because no one understood it. “Now, support him
in that position, while I pull his boots off. One of you run to the
inn for a bottle of French cognac—not this filthy stuff, mind—and a
corkscrew and a teaspoon. Now the hot water here! In with his feet,
and bathe his legs, while I sponge his face and chest—as hot as you can
bear your hands in it. His heart is all but stopped, and his skin as
cold as ice. Thatʼs it; quicker yet! Donʼt be afraid of scalding him.
There, he begins to feel it.”

The dying manʼs great heavy eyelids slowly and feebly quivered, and
a long deep sigh arose, but there was not strength to fetch it. Dr.
Hutton took advantage of the faint impulse of life to give him a little
brandy, and then a little more again, and by that time he could sigh.

“Bo,” he whispered very softly, and trying to lift his hand for
something, and Rufus Hutton knew somehow (perhaps by means of his own
child) that he was trying to say, “Bob.”

“Bob will be here directly. Cheer up, cheer up, till he comes, my
friend.”

He called him his friend, and the very next day he would have denounced
him as murderer to the magistrates at Lymington. Now his only thought
was of saving the poor manʼs life.

The fatherʼs dull eyes gleamed again when he heard those words, and a
little smile came flickering over the stern lines of his face. They
gave him more brandy on the strength of it, while he kept on looking at
the door.

“Rub, rub, rub, men; very lightly, but very quickly. Keep your thumbs
up, donʼt you see? Mustnʼt get cold again for the world. There now,
heʼll keep his heart up until his dear son arrives. And then his
children shall nurse him, much better than any one else could; and
how glad they will be, John Thomas, to see him looking so well and so
strong again!”

All this time, Rue Hutton himself, with a womanʼs skill and tenderness,
was encouraging, by gentle friction over the stagnant heart, each
feeble impulse yet to live, each little bubble faintly rising from the
well of hope, every clinging of the soul to the things so hard to leave
behind. “While there is life, there is hope.” True and genial saying!
And we hope there is hope beyond it.

Poor Bull Garnet was taken home, even that very night. For Dr. Hutton
saw how much he was longing for his children, who (until he was carried
in) knew nothing of his danger. “Please God,” said Rufus to himself, as
he crouched in the fly by the narrow mattress, even foregoing his loved
cheroot, and keeping his hand on his patientʼs pulse; “please God, the
poor fellow shall breathe his last with a child at either side of him.”

Meanwhile, an urgent message from Sir Cradock Nowell was awaiting the
sick man at his cottage. Eoa herself had brought word to Pearl (of
whom she longed to make a friend) that her uncle was walking about the
house, perpetually walking, calling aloud in every room for Mr. Garnet
and John Rosedew. He had heard of no disaster, any more than she had,
for he seldom read the papers now; but Mr. Brockwood had been with him
a very long time that morning, and Dr. Buller came in accidentally;
and Eoa could almost vow that there was some infamous scheme on foot,
and she knew whose doing it was; and oh that Uncle John would come
back! But now they wanted Mr. Garnet, and he must hurry up to the Hall
the moment he came home.

Mr. Garnet, of course, they could not have: his strength was wrecked,
his heart benumbed, his mind incapable of effort, except to know his
children, if that could ever be one. And in this paralytic state, never
sleeping, never waking, never wholly conscious, he lay for weeks; and
time for him had neither night nor morning.

But Mr. Rosedew could be brought to help his ancient friend, if only it
was in his power to overlook the injury. He did not overlook it. For
that he was too great a man. He utterly forgot it. To his mind it was
thenceforth a thing that had never happened:

  “To–morrow either with black cloud
  Let the Father fill the heaven,
  Or with sun full–blazing:
  Yet shall He not erase the past,
  Nor beat abroad, and make undone,
  What once the fleeting hour hath borne.”

Truly so our Horace saith. And yet that Father gives, sometimes, to
the noblest of his children, power to revoke the evil, or at least
annul it,—grandeur to undo the wrong done by others to them. Not with
any sense of greatness, neither hope of self–reward, simply from the
loving–kindness of the deep humanity.

In truth it was a noble thing, such as not even the driest man,
sapped and carked with care and evil, worn with undeserved rebuff,
and dwelling ever underground, in the undermining of his faith, could
behold and not be glad with a joy unbidden, could turn away from
without wet eyes, and a glimpse of the God who loves us,—and yet the
simplest, mildest scene that a child could describe to its mother. So
will I tell it, if may be, casting all long words away, leaning on an
old manʼs staff, looking over the stile of the world.

It was the height of the summer–time, and the quiet mood of the setting
sun touched with calm and happy sadness all he was forsaking. Men were
going home from work; wives were looking for them; maidens by the
gate or paling longed for some protection; children must be put to
bed, and what a shame, so early! Puce and purple pillows lay, holding
golden locks of sun, piled and lifted by light breezes, the painted
eider–down of sunset. In the air a feeling was—those who breathe it
cannot tell—only this, that it does them good; God knows how, and why,
and whence—but it makes them love their brethren.

The poor old man, more tried and troubled than a lucky labourer,
wretched in his wealth, worse hampered by his rank and placement, sat
upon a high oak chair—for now he feared to lean his head back—and
prayed for some one to help him. Oh, for any one who loved him; oh,
for any sight of God, whom in his pride he had forgotten! Eoa was a
darling, his only comfort now; but what could such a girl do? Who was
she to meet the world? And the son he had used so shamefully. Good God,
his only son! And now he knew, with some strange knowledge, loose, and
wide, and wandering, that his son was innocent after all, and lost to
him for ever, through his own vile cruelty. And now they meant to prove
him mad—what use to disguise it?—him who once had the clearest head,
chairman of the Quarter Sessions——

Here he broke down, and lay back, with his white hair poured against
the carved black oak of the chair, and his wasted hands flung downward,
only praying God to help him, anyhow to help him.

Then John Rosedew came in softly, half ashamed of himself, half nervous
lest he were presuming, overdrawing the chords of youth, the bond of
the days when they went about with arm round the neck of each other. In
his heart was pity, very deep and holy; and yet, of all that filled his
eyes, the very last to show itself.

Over against the ancient friend, the loved one of his boyhood, he
stopped and sadly gazed a moment, and then drew back with a shock
and sorrow, as of death brought nearer. At the sound, Sir Cradock
Nowell lifted his weary eyes and sighed; and then he looked intently;
and then he knew the honest face, the smile, the gentle forehead.
Quietly he arose, with colour flowing over his pallid cheeks, and in
his eyes strong welcome, and ready with his lips to speak, yet in his
heart unable. Thereupon he held the chair, and bowed with the deepest
reverence, such as king or queen receives not till a life has earned
it. Even the hand which he was raising he let fall again, drawn back by
a bitter memory, and a nervous shame.

But his friend of olden time would not have him so disgraced, wanted
no repentance. With years of kindness in his eyes and the history of
friendship, he came, without a bow, and took the hand that now was shy
of him.

“Cradock, oh, I am so glad.”

“John, thank God for this, John!”

Then they turned to other subjects, with a sort of nervousness—the one
for fear of presuming on pardon, the other for fear of offering it.
Only both knew, once for all, that nothing more could come between them
till the hour of death.

The rector accepted once again his well–beloved home and cares, for the
vacancy had not been filled, only Mr. Pell had lived a short time at
the Rectory. The joy of all the parish equalled, if not transcended,
that of parson and of patron.

And, over and above the ease of conscience, and the sense of comfort,
it was a truly happy thing for poor Sir Cradock Nowell, when the loss
of the _Taprobane_ could no longer be concealed from him, that now he
had the proven friend to fall back upon once more. He had spent whole
days in writing letters—humble, loving, imploring letters to the son
in unknown latitudes—directing them as fancy took him to the Cape, to
Port Natal, Mozambique, or even Bombay (in case of stress of weather),
Point de Galle, Colombo, &c. &c., in all cases to be called for, and
invariably marked “urgent.” Then from this labour of love he awoke to a
vague form of conviction that his letters ought to have been addressed
to the bottom of the sea.



CHAPTER XVII.


Autumn in the Forest now, once again the autumn. All things turning
to their rest, bird, and beast, and vegetable. Solemn and most noble
season, speaking to the soul of man, as spring speaks to his body. The
harvest of the ample woods spreading every tint of ripeness, waiting
for the Makerʼs sickle, when His breath is frost. Trees beyond trees,
in depth and height, roundings and massive juttings, some admitting
flaws of light to enhance their mellowness, some very bright of their
own accord, when the sun thought well of them, others scarcely bronzed
with age, and meaning to abide the spring. It was the same in Epping
Forest, Richmond Park, and the woods round London, only on a smaller
scale, and with less variety. And so upon his northern road, every
coppice, near or far, even “Knockholt Beeches” (which reminded him of
the “beechen hats”), every little winding wood of Sussex or of Surrey
brought before Cradock Nowellʼs eyes the prospect of his boyhood. He
had begged to be put ashore at Newhaven, from the American trader,
which had rescued him from Pomona Island, and his lonely but healthful
sojourn, and then borne him to New York. Now, with his little store of
dollars, earned from the noble Yankee skipper by the service he had
rendered him, freely given and freely taken, as behoves two gentlemen,
and with his great store of health recovered, and recovered mind, he
must walk all the way to London, forty miles or more; so great a desire
entered into him of his native land, that stable versatility, those
free and ever–changing skies, which all her sons abuse and love.

Cradock looked, I do assure you, as well, and strong, and stout, and
lusty, as may consist with elegance at the age of two–and–twenty. And
his dress, though smacking of Broadway, “could not conceal,” as our
best writers say, “his symmetrical proportions.” His pantaloons were
of a fine bright tan colour, with pockets fit for a thousand dollars,
and his boots full of eyelets, like big lampreys, and his coat was a
thing to be proud of, and a pleasing surprise for Regent–street. His
hat, moreover, was umbratile, as of the Pilgrim Fathers, with a measure
of liquid capacity (betwixt the cone and the turned–up rim) superior
to that of the ordinary cisterns of the London water–companies.
Nevertheless he had not acquired the delightful hydropultic art,
distinctive of the mighty nation which had been so kind to him. And,
in spite of little external stuff (only worthy of two glances—one to
note, and the other to smile at it), the youth was improved in every
point worth a manʼs observation. Three months in New York had done him
an enormous deal of good; not that the place is by any means heavenly
(perhaps there are few more hellish), only that he fell in with men of
extraordinary energy and of marvellous decision, the very two hinges of
life whereupon he (being rather too “philosophical”) had several screws
loose, and some rust in the joints.

As for Wena, she (the beauty) had cocked her tail with great arrogance
at smelling English ground again. To her straight came several dogs,
who had never travelled far (except when they were tail–piped), and one
and all cried, “Hail, my dear! Have you seen any dogs to compare with
us? Set of mongrel parley–woos, canʼt bark or bite like a Christian.
Just look round the corner, pretty, while we kill that poodle.”

To whom Wena—_leniter atterens caudam_—”Cordially I thank you. So much
now I have seen of the world that my faith is gone in tail–wags. If
you wish to benefit by my society, bring me a bit from the hock of
bacon, or a very young marrowbone. Then will I tell you something.”
They could not comply with her requisitions, because they had eaten all
that themselves. And so she trotted along the beach, like the dog of
Polyphemus, or the terrier of Hercules, who tinged his nose with murex.

‘Tis a very easy thing to talk of walking fifty miles, but quite
another pair of shoes to do it; especially with pack on back, and feet
that have lost habitual sense of Macadamʼs tender mercies. Moreover,
the day had been very warm for the beginning of October—the dying
glance of Summer, in the year 1860, at her hitherto foregone and
forgotten England. The highest temperature of the year had been 72° (in
the month of May); in June and July, 66° and 68° were the maxima, and
in August things were no better. Persistent rain, perpetual chill, and
ever–present sense of icebergs, and longing for logs of dry wood. But
towards the end of September some glorious weather set in; and people
left off fires at the time when they generally begin them. Therefore,
Cradock Nowell was hot, footsore, and slightly jaded, as he came to the
foot of Sydenham Hill, on the second day of his journey. The Crystal
Palace, which long had been his landmark through country crossroads,
shone with blue and airy light, as the sun was sinking. Cradock admired
more and more, as the shadows sloped along it, the fleeting gleams, the
pellucid depth, the brightness of reflection framed by the softness of
refraction.

He had always loved that building, and now, at the top of the hill,
he resolved (weary as he was) to enter and take his food there.
Accordingly Wena was left to sup and rest at the stables; he paid
the shilling that turns the wheel, and went first to the refreshment
court. After doing his duty there, he felt a great deal better; then
buttoned his coat like a Briton, and sauntered into the transept. It
had been a high and mighty day, for the Ancient Order of Mountaineers
(who had never seen a mountain) were come to look for one at Penge,
with sweethearts, wives, contingencies, and continuations. It boots
not now to tell their games; enough that they had been very happy, and
were gathering back in nave and transept for a last parade. To Cradock,
so long accustomed to sadness, solitude, and bad luck, the scene,
instead of being ludicrous (as a youth of fashion would have found
it), was interesting and impressive, and even took a solemn aspect as
the red rays of the sun retired, and the mellow shades were deepening.
He leaned against the iron rail in front of the grand orchestra, and
seeing many pretty faces, thought about his Amy, and wondered what she
now was like, and whether she were true to him. From Pomona Island he
could not write; from New York he had never written; not knowing the
loss of the _Taprobane_, and fearing lest he should seem once more to
be trying the depth of John Rosedewʼs purse. But now he was come to
England, with letters from Captain Recklesome Young, to his London
correspondents, which ensured him a good situation, and the power to
earn his own bread, and perhaps in a little while Amyʼs.

As he leaned and watched the crowd go by, like a dream of faces, the
events of the bygone year passed also in dark parade before him. Sad,
mysterious, undeserved—at least so far as he knew—how had they told
upon him? Had they left him in better, or had they left him in bitter,
case with his God and his fellow–man? That question might be solved at
once, to any but himself, by the glistening of his eyes, the gentleness
of his gaze around, the smile with which he drew back his foot when a
knickerbocked child trod on it. He loved his fellow–creatures still;
and love is law and gospel.

While he thought these heavy things, feeling weary of the road, of
his life half weary, shrinking from the bustling world again to be
encountered, suddenly a grand vibration thrilled his heart, and mind,
and soul. From the great concave above him, melody was spreading
wide, with shadowy resistless power, like the wings of angels. The
noble organ was pealing forth, rolling to every nook of the building,
sweeping over the heads of the people and into their hearts (with one
soft passport), “Home, sweet home!” The men who had come because tired
of home, the wives to give them a change of it, the maidens perhaps to
get homes of their own, the children to cry to go home again;—all with
one accord stood still, all listened very quietly, and said nothing
at all about it. Only they were the better for it, with many a kind
old memory rising, at least among the elder ones, and many a large
unselfish hope making the young people look, with trust, at one another.

And what did Cradock Nowell feel? His home was not a sweet one; bitter
things had been done against him; bitter things he himself had done.
None the less, he turned away and wept beneath a music–stand, as if his
heart would never give remission to his eyes. None could see him in the
dark there, only the God whose will it was, and whose will it often is,
that tears should bring us home to Him.

“I will arise, and go home to my father. I will cry, ‘Father, I have
sinned against heaven, and against thee.’”

And so he had. Not heavily, not wilfully, not wittingly, not a
hundredth part so badly as that father had sinned against him. Yet it
was wrong in him not to allow the old man to recover himself, but,
forgetting a sonʼs love–duty, so to leave him—hotly, hastily, with a
proud defiance. Till now he had never felt, or at least confessed to
himself, that wrong. Now, as generous natures do, he summed up sternly
against himself, leniently against others. And then he asked, with
yearning and bitter self–reproach, “Is the old man yet alive?”

       *       *       *       *       *

The woods were still as rich and sweet, and the grass as soft as
in May month; the windings of the pleasant dells were looped with
shining waters; but she who used to love them so and brighten at their
freshness, to follow the steps of each wandering breeze, and call to
the sun as a flower does—now she came through her favourite places,
and hardly cared to look at them. Only three short months ago she had
returned to her woodland home, and the folk that knew and loved her,
in the highest and brightest spirits of youth, conscious beauty, and
hopefulness. All her old friends were rejoicing in her, and she in
their joy delighted, when her father thought it his sorrowful duty, in
this world of sorrow, to tell her the bad news about her ever unlucky
Cradock. At first she received it with scorn—as the high manner of her
mind was—utter unbelief, because God could not have done it. Being
simple, and very young, she had half as much faith in her heavenly
Father as she had in the earthly and fallible parent; neither was she
quite aware that we do not buy, but accept from God.

But, as week upon back of week, and month after tardy month, went
by, Amyʼs faith began to wane, and herself to languish. She watched
the arrival of every mail from the Cape, from India, from anywhere;
her heart leaped up as each steamer came in, and sank at each empty
letterbag. Meanwhile her father was growing very unhappy about her,
and so was good Aunt Doxy. At first John had said, when she took it so
calmly, “Thank God! How glad I am! But her mother cared for me more
than that.” Like many another loving father, he had studied, but never
learned his child.

Now it was the fifth day of October, the weather bright and beautiful,
the English earth and trees and herbage trying back for the summer of
which they had been so cheated. Poor pale Amy asked leave to go out.
She had long been under Rue Huttonʼs care, not professionally, but
paternally (for Rufus would have his own way when he was truly fond
of any one), and she asked so quietly, so submissively, without a bit
of joke about it, that when she was gone her father set to and shook
his head, till a heavy tear came and blotted out a reference which had
taken all the morning. As for Aunt Doxy, she turned aside, and took off
her spectacles quickly, because the optician had told her to keep them
perfectly dry.

Where the footpath wanders to and fro, preferring pleasure to duty,
and meeting all remonstrance by quoting the course of the brook, Amy
Rosedew slowly walked, or heavily stopped every now and then, caring
for nothing around her. She had made up her mind to cry no more, only
to long for the time and place when and where no crying is. Perhaps
in a year or so, if she lived, she might be able to see things again,
and attend to her work as usual. Till then she would try to please her
father, and keep up her spirits for his sake. Every one had been so
kind to her, especially dear Eoa, who had really cried quite steadily;
and the least thing that girl Amy could do was to try and deserve
it. Thinking thus, and doing her best to feel as well as think it,
yet growing tired already, she sat down in a chair as soft as weary
mortal may rest in. A noble beech, with a head of glory overlooking
the forest, had not neglected to slipper his feet with the richest
of natureʼs velvet. From the dove–coloured columnʼs base, two yards
above the ground–spread, drifts of darker bulk began, gnarled crooks
of grapple, clutching wide at mother earth, deeply fanged into her
breast, sureties against every wind. Ridged and ramped with many a
hummock, rift, and twisted sinew, forth these mighty tendons stretched,
some fathoms from the bole itself. Betwixt them nestled, all in moss,
corniced with the golden, and cushioned with the greenest, nooks of
cool, delicious rest, wherein to forget the world, and dream upon the
breezes. “As You Like It,” in your lap, Theocritus tossed over the
elbow, because he is too foreign,—what sweet depth of enjoyment for a
hard–working man who has earned it!

But, in spite of all this voluptuousness, the “moss more soft than
slumber,” and the rippling leafy murmur, there is little doubt that
Miss Amy Rosedew managed to have another cry ere ever she fell asleep.
To cry among those arms of moss, fleecing, tufting, pillowing, an
absorbent even for Niobe! Can the worn–out human nature find no comfort
in the vegetable, though it does in the mineral, kingdom?

Back, and back, and further back into the old relapse of sleep, the
falling thither whence we came, the interest on the debt of death. Yet
as the old Stagyrite hints, some of dayʼs emotions filter through the
strain of sleep; it is not true that good and bad are, for half of
life, the same. Alike their wits go roving haply after the true Owner,
but some may find Him, others fail—Father, who shall limit thus Thine
infinite amnesty?

It would not be an easy thing to find a fairer sight. Her white arms
on the twisted plumage of the deep green moss, the snowy arch of her
neck revealed as the clustering hair fell from it, and the frank and
playful forehead resting on the soft grey bark. She smiled in her sleep
every now and then, for her pleasant young humour must have its own way
when the schoolmaster, sorrow, was dozing; and then the sad dreaming of
trouble returned, and the hands were put up to pray, and the red lips
opened, whispering, “Come home! Only come to Amy!”

And then, in her dream, he was come—raining tears upon her cheek,
holding her from all the world, fearing to thank God yet. She was
smiling up at him; oh, it was so delicious! Suddenly she opened her
eyes. What made her face so wet? Why, Wena!

Wena, as sure as dogs are dogs; mounted on the mossy arm,
lick–lick–licking, mewing like a cat almost, even offering taste of her
tongue, while every bit of the Wena dog shook with ecstatic rapture.

“Oh, Wena, Wena! what are you come to tell me, Wena? Oh that you could
speak!”

Wena immediately proved that she could. She galloped round Amy, barking
and yelling, until the great wood echoed again; the rabbits, a mile
away, pricked their ears, and the yaffingales stopped from tapping.
Then off set the little dog down the footpath. Oh, could it be to fetch
somebody?

The mere idea of such a thing made Amy shake so, and feel so odd, she
was forced to put one hand against the tree, and the other upon her
heart. She could not look, she was in such a state; she could not look
down the footpath. It seemed, at least, a century, and it may have been
half a minute, before she heard through the bushes a voice—tush, she
means _the_ voice.

“Wena, you bad dog, come in to heel. Is this all you have learned by
travelling?”

But Wena broke fence and everything, set off full gallop again to Amy,
tugged at her dress, and retrieved her.

What happened after that Amy knows not, neither knows Cradock Nowell.
So anything I could tell would be a fond thing vainly invented. All
they remember is—looking back upon it, as both of them may, to the
zenith of their lives—that neither of them could say a word except
“darling, darling, darling!” all pronounced as superlatives, with “my
own,” once or twice between, and an exclusive sense of ownership,
illiberal and unphilosophical. What business have we with such minor
details? Who has sworn us accountants of kisses? All we have any right
to say is, that after a long spell of inarticulate tautology, Amy
looked up when Cradock proposed to add another cipher; very gravely,
indeed, she looked up; except in the deepest depth of her eyes.

“Oh no, Cradock. You must not think of it. Seriously now, you must
_not_, love.”

“Why? I should like to know, indeed! After all the time I have been
away!”

“I have so little presence of mind. I forgot to tell you in time, dear.
Why, because Wena _has licked my face all over_, darling. Darling, yes,
she _has_, I say. You are too bad not to care about it. Now come to my
own best father, dear. Offer your arm like a gentleman.”

So they—as Milton concisely says. Homer would have written “they two.”
How sadly our language wants a dual! We, the domestic race, have we
rejected it because the use would have seemed a truism?

       *       *       *       *       *

That same afternoon Bull Garnet lay dying, calmly and peacefully
going off, taking his accounts to a larger world. He knew that there
were some heavy items underscored against him; but he also knew that
the mercy of God can even outdo the hope He gives us for token and
for keepsake. A greater and a grander end, after a life of mark and
power, might, to his early aspirations and self–conscious strength,
have seemed the bourne intended. If it had befallen him—as but for
himself it would have done—to appear where men are moved by passion,
vigour, and bold decision, his name would have been historical, and
better known to the devil. As it was, he lay there dying, and was well
content. The turbulence of life was past, the torrent and the eddy,
the attempt at fore–reaching upon his age, and sense of impossibility,
the strain of his mental muscles to stir the great dead trunks of
“orthodoxy,” and then the self–doubt, the chill, the depression, which
follow such attempts, as surely as ague tracks the pioneer.

Thank God, all this was over now, and the violence gone, and the dark
despair. Of all the good and evil things which so had branded him
distinct, two yet dwelled in his feeble heart, only two still showed
their presence in his dying eyes. Each of those two was good, if two
indeed they were—faith in the heavenly Father, and love of the earthly
children.

Pearl was sitting on a white chair at the side of the bed away from the
window, with one hand in his failing palm, and the other trying now and
then to enable her eyes to see things. She was thinking, poor little
thing, of what she should do without him, and how he had been a good
father to her, though she never could understand him. That was her own
fault, no doubt. She had always fancied that he loved her as a bit of
his property, as a thing to be managed; now she knew that it was not
so; and he was going away for ever, and who would love or manage her?
And the fault of all this was her own.

Rufus Hutton had been there lately, trying still to keep up some little
show of comfort, and a large one of encouragement; for he was not the
man to say die till a patient came to the preterite. Throughout the
whole, and knowing all, he had behaved in the noblest manner, partly
from his own quick kindness, partly from that protective and fiduciary
feeling which springs self–sown in the hearts of women when showers of
sorrow descend, and crops up in the manly bosom at the fee of golden
sunshine. Not that he took any fees; but that his professional habits
revived, with a generosity added, because he knew that he would take
nothing, though all were in his power.

Suddenly Mr. Pell came in, our old friend Octavius, sent for in an
urgent manner, and looking as a man looks who feels but cannot open on
the hinge of his existence. Like a thorough gentleman, he had been shy
of the cottage, although aware of their distress; eager at once and
reluctant, partly because it stood not in his but his rectorʼs parish,
partly for deeper reasons.

Though Pell came in so quietly, Bull Garnet rose at his entry, or tried
to rise on the pillow, swept his daughter back by a little motion
of his thumb, which she quite understood, and cast his eyes on the
parsonʼs with a languid yet strong intelligence. He had made up his
mind that the man was good, and yet he could not help probing him.

The last characteristic act of poor Bull Garnetʼs life, a life which
had been all character, all difference, from other people.

“Will you take my daughterʼs hand, Pell?”

“Only too gladly,” answered Pell; but she shrank away, and sobbed at
him.

“Pearl, come forward this moment. It is no time for shilly–shallying.”

The poor thing timidly gave her hand, standing a long way back from
Pell, and with her large eyes streaming, yet fixed upon her father, and
no chance at all of wiping them.

“Now, Pell, do you love my daughter? I am dying, and I ask you.”

“That I do, with all my heart,” said Pell, like a downright Englishman.
“I shall never love any other.”

“Now, Pearl, do you love Mr. Pell?” Her fatherʼs eyes were upon her in
a way that commanded truth. She remembered how she had told a lie, at
the age of seven or eight, and that gaze had forced it out of her, and
she had never dared to tell one since, until no lie dared come near her.

“Father, I like him very much. Very soon I should love him, if—if he
loved me.”

“Now, Pell, you hear that!”

“Beyond all doubt I do,” said Octave, whose dryness never deserted him
in the heaviest rain of tears; “and it is the very best thing for me I
have heard in all my life.”

Bull Garnet looked from one to the other, with the rally of his life
come hot, and a depth of joyful sadness. Yet must he go a little
further, because he had always been a tyrant till people understood him.

“Do you want to know how much money, sir, I intend to leave her, when I
die to–night or to–morrow morning?”

Cut–and–dry Pell was taken aback. A thoroughly upright and noble
fellow, but of wholly different and less rugged road of thought.
Meanwhile Pearl had slipped away; it was more than she could bear, and
she was so sorry for Octavius. Then Pell up and spake bravely:

“Sir, I would be loth to think of you, my dear oneʼs father, as
anything but a gentleman; a strange one, perhaps, but a true one. And
so I trust you have only put such a question to me in irony.”

“Pell, there is good stuff in you. I know a man by this time. What
would you think of finding your dear oneʼs father a murderer?”

Octavius Pell was not altogether used to this sort of thing. He turned
away with some doubt whether Pearl would be a desirable mother of
children (for he, after all, was a practical man), and hereditary
insanity—— Then he turned back, remembering that all mankind are mad.
Meanwhile Bull Garnet watched him, with extraordinary wrinkles, and a
savage sort of pleasure. He felt himself outside the world, and looking
at the stitches of it. But he would not say a word. He had always been
a bully, and he meant to keep it up.

“Sir,” said Octave Pell, at last, “you are the very oddest man I ever
saw in all my life.”

“Ah, you think so, do you, Pell? Possibly you are right; possibly you
are right, Pell. I have no time to think about it. It never struck me
in that light. If I am so very odd, perhaps you would rather not have
my daughter?”

“If you intend to refuse her to me, you had better say so at once, sir.
I donʼt understand all this.”

“I wish you to understand nothing at all beyond the simple fact. I shot
Clayton Nowell, and did it on purpose, because I found him insulting
her.”

“Good God! You donʼt mean to say it?”

“I never yet said a thing, Pell, which I did not mean to say.”

“You did it in haste? You have repented? For Godʼs sake, tell me that.”

“Treat this as a question of business. Look at the deed and nothing
else. Do you still wish to marry my daughter?”

Pell turned away from the great wild eyes now solemnly fixed upon him.
His manly heart was full of wonder, anguish, and giddy turbulence. The
promptest of us cannot always “come to time,” like a prizefighter.

Pearl came in, with her chest well forward, and then drew back very
suddenly. She thought her fate must be settled now, and would like to
know how they had settled it. Then, like a genuine English lady, she
gave a short sigh and went away. Pride makes the difference between us
and all other nations.

But the dignified glance she had cast on Pell settled his fate and hers
for life. He saw her noble self–respect, her stately reservation, her
deep sense of her own pure value (which never would assert itself), and
her passing contempt of his hesitation.

“At all risks I will have her,” he said to himself, for his manly
strength gloried in her strong womanhood; “if she can be won I will
have her. Oh, how I am degrading her! What a fool–bound fellow I am!”

Then he spoke to her father, who had fallen back, and was faintly
gazing, wondering what the stoppage was.

“Sir, I am not worthy of her. God knows how I love her. She is too good
for me.”

Bull Garnet gathered his fleeting life, and looked at Pell with a love
so deep that it banished admiration. Then his failing heart supplied,
for the last, last time of all, the woe–worn fountain of his eyes.
Strong and violent as he was, a little thing had often touched him to
the turn of tears. What impulse is there but has this end? Even comic
laughter.

Pell lifted from the counterpane the broad but shrunken hand, which was
on the way to be offered to him, until sad memory stopped it. Then he
looked down at the poor grey face, where the forehead, from the fall
of the rest, appeared almost a monstrosity, and the waning of strong
emotions left a quivering of hollowness. The young parson looked down
with noble pity. Much he knew of his father–in–law! Bull Garnet would
never be pitied. He drew his hand back with a little jerk, and placed
it against his broad, square chin.

“I canʼt bear to die like this, Pell. _I wish to God you could shave
me._”

Pell went suddenly down on his knees, put his strong brown hands up,
and said nothing except the Lordʼs Prayer. Bull Garnet tried to raise
his palms, but the power of his wrists was gone, and so he let them
fall together. Then at every grand petition he nodded at the ceiling,
as if he saw it going upward, and thought of the lath and plaster.

He had said he should die at four oʼclock, for the paroxysms of
heart–complaint returned at measured intervals, and he felt that he
could not outlast another. So with his usual mastery and economy of
labour, he had sent a man to get the keys and begin to toll the great
church bell, as soon as ever the clock struck four. “Not too long
apart,” he said, “steadily, and be done with it.” When the boom of the
sluggish bell came in at the open window, Bull Garnet smiled, because
the man was doing it as he had ordered him.

“Right,” he whispered, “yes, quite right. I have always been before my
time. Just let me see my children.” And then he had no more pain.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amy came in very softly, to know if he was dead. They had told her
she ought to leave it alone, but she could not see it so. Knowing all
and feeling all, she felt beyond her knowledge. If it would—oh, if it
would help him with a spark of hope in his parting, help him in the
judgment–day, to have the glad forgiveness of the brother with the
deeper wrong—there it was, and he was welcome.

A little whispering went on, pale lips into trembling ears, and then
Cradock, with his shoes off, was brought to the side of the bed.

“He wonʼt know you,” Pearl sobbed softly; “but how kind of you to
come!” She was surprised at nothing now.

Her father raised his languid eyes, until they met Cradockʼs eager
ones; there they dwelt with doubt, and wonder, and a slow rejoicing,
and a last attempt at expression.

John Rosedew took the wan stiffening hand, lying on the sheet like a
cast–off glove, and placed it in Cradockʼs sunburnt palm.

“He knows all,” the parson whispered; “he has read the letter you left
for him; and, knowing all, he forgives you.”

“That I do, with all my heart,” Cradock answered firmly. “May God
forgive me as I do you. Wholly, purely, for once and for all!”

“Kind—noble—Godlike——” the dying man said very slowly, but with his old
decision.

Bull Garnet could not speak again. The great expansion of heart had
been too much for its weakness. Only now and then he looked at Cradock
with his Amy, and every look was a prayer for them, and perhaps a
recorded blessing.

Then they slipped away, in tears, and left him, as he ought to be, with
his children only. And the telegraph of death was that God would never
part them.

Now, think you not this man was dying a great deal better than he
deserved? No doubt he was. And, for that matter, so perhaps do most of
us. But does our Father think so?



CHAPTER XVIII.


Softly and quietly fell the mould on the coffin of Bull Garnet. A great
tree overhung his sleep, without fear of the woodman. Clayton Nowellʼs
simple grave, turfed and very tidy, was only a few yards away. That
ancient tree spread forth its arms on this one and the other, as a
grandsire lays his hands peacefully and placidly on children who have
quarrelled.

A lovely spot, as one might see, for violence to rest in, for long
remorse to lose the track, and deep repentance hopefully abide the time
of God. To feel the soft mantle of winter return, and the promising
gladness of spring, the massive depths of the summer–tide, and the
bright disarray of autumn. And to be, no more the while, oppressed, or
grieved, or overworked.

There shall forest–children come, joining hands in pleasant fear, and,
sitting upon grassy mounds, wonder who inhabits them, wonder who and
what it is that cannot wonder any more. And haply they shall tell this
tale—become a legend then—when he who writes, and ye who read, are dust.

Ay, and tell it better far, more simply, and more sweetly, never having
gone astray from the inborn sympathy. For every grown–up man is apt to
mar the uses of his pen with bitter words, and small, and twaddling;
conceiting himself to be keen in the first, just in the second, and
sage in the third. For all of these let him crave forgiveness of God,
his fellow–creatures, and himself, respectively.

Sir Cradock Nowell, still alive to the normal sense of duty, tottered
away on John Rosedewʼs arm, from the grave of his half–brother. He had
never learned whose hand it was that dug the grave near by, and no
one ever forced that unhappy knowledge on him. This last blow, which
seemed to strike his chiefest prop from under him, had left its weal on
his failing mind in great marks of astonishment. That such a strong,
great man should drop, and he, the elder and the weaker, be left to do
without him! He was going to the Rectory now, to have a glass of wine,
after fatigue of the funeral, a vintage very choice and rare, according
to Mr. Rosedew, and newly imported from Oxford. And truly that was its
origin. It might have claimed “founderʼs kin fellowship,” like most of
the Oxford wine–skins.

“Wonderful, wonderful man!” said poor Sir Cradock, doing his best to
keep his back very upright, from a sudden suffusion of memory,—”to
think that he should go first, John! Oh, if I had a son left, he should
take that man for his model.”

“Scarcely that,” John Rosedew thought, knowing all the circumstances;
“but of the dead I will say no harm.”

“So quick, so ready, so up for anything! Ah, I remember he knocked a
man down just at the corner by this gate here, where the dandelion–seed
is. And afterwards he proved how richly he deserved it. That is the way
to do things, John.”

“I am not quite sure of that,” said the conscientious parson; “it might
be wiser to prove that first; and then to abstain from doing it. I
remember an instance in point——”

“Of course you do. You always do, John, and I wish you wouldnʼt. But
that has nothing to do with it. You are always cutting me short, John;
and worse than ever since you came back, and they talked of you so at
Oxford. I hope they have not changed you, John.”

He looked at the white–haired rector, with an old manʼs jealousy. Who
else had any right to him?

“My dear old friend,” replied John Rosedew, with kind sorrow in his
eyes, “I never meant to cut you short. I will try not to do it again.
But I know I am rude sometimes, and I am always sorry afterwards.”

“Nonsense, John; donʼt talk of it. I understand you by this time; and
we allow for one another. But now about my son, my poor unlucky boy.”

“To be sure, yes,” said the other old man, not wishing to hurry
matters. And so they stopped and probed the hedge instead of one
another.

“I donʼt know how it is,” at last Sir Cradock Nowell said, being rather
aggrieved with John Rosedew for not breaking ground upon him—”but how
hard those stubs of ash are! Look at that splinter, almost severed by a
man who does not know how to splash; Jem, his name is, poor Garnet told
me, Jem—something or other—and yet all I can do with my stick wonʼt
fetch it away from the stock.”

“Like a child who will not quit his father, however his father has
treated him.”

“What do you mean by that, John? Are you driving at me again? I thought
you had given it over.”

“I never give over anything,” John answered, in a manner for him quite
melodramatic, and beyond his usual key.

“No. We always knew how stubborn you were. And now you are worse than
ever.”

“No fool like an old fool,” John Rosedew answered, smiling sweetly,
yet with some regret. “Cradock, I am such a fool I shall let out
everything.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sir Cradock Nowell, leaning heavily on his
staff, and setting his white face rigidly, yet with every line of it
ready to melt; “John, I have heard strange rumours, or I have dreamed
strange dreams. In the name of God, what is it, John? My son!—my only
son——”

He could say no more, but turned away, and bowed his head, and trembled.

“Your only son, your innocent son, has been at my house these three
days; and when you like, you can see him.”

“When I like—ah, to be sure! I donʼt like many people. I am getting
very old, John. And no one to come after me. It seems a pity, donʼt you
think, and every one against me so?”

“You can take your own part still, my friend. And you have to take your
sonʼs part.”

“Yes, to be sure, my sonʼs part. Perhaps he will come back some day.
And I know he did not do it, now; and I was very hard to him—donʼt you
think I was, John?—very hard to my poor Craddy, and he was so like his
mother!”

“But you will be very kind to him now; and he will be such a comfort to
you, now he is come back again, and going away no more.”

“I declare you make me shake, John. You do talk such nonsense. One
would think you knew all about him,—more than his own father does. What
have I done, to be kept like this in the dark, all in the dark? And you
seem to think that I was hard to him.”

“Cradock, all you have to do is just to say the word; just to say that
you wish to see him, and your son will come and talk to you.”

“Talk to me! Oh yes, I should like to talk to him—very much—I mean, of
course, if he is at leisure.”

He leaned on his stick, and tried to think, while John Rosedew hurried
off; and of all his thoughts the foremost were, “What will Cradock my
boy be like; and what shall I give him for dinner?”

Cradock came up shyly, gently, looking at his father first, then
waiting to be looked at. The old man fixed his eyes upon him, at first
with some astonishment—for his taste in dress was somewhat outraged
by the Broadway style—then, in spite of all the change, remembrance
of his son returned, and love, and sense of ownership. Last of all,
auctorial pride in the young manʼs width of shoulder, blended with soft
recollections of the time he dandled him.

“Why, Cradock! It is my poor son Cradock! What a size you are grown, my
boy, my boy!”

“Oh, father, I am sure you want me. Only try me once again. I am not at
all a radical.”

“Crad, you never could be. I knew you must come round at last to my way
of thinking. When you had seen the world, Crad; when you had seen the
world a bit, as your father did before you.”

And so they made the matter up, in politics, and dress, and little
touches of religion, and in the depth of kindred love which underlies
the latter; and never after was there word, except of migrant
petulance, between the crotchety old man, and the son who held his
heartʼs key.

All this while we have been loth to turn to Mrs. Corklemore, and
contemplate her discomfiture, although in strict sequence of events
we ought to have done so long ago. But it is so very painful—and
now–a–days all writers agree with Epicurus, in regarding pain as the
worst of evils—so bitter is the task to describe a lovely mother
failing, in spite of all exertion, to do her duty by her child, in
robbing other people, that really—ah well–a–day, physic must be taken.

At the time of her dismissal from the halls of Nowelhurst, Mr.
Corklemore had been so glad to see his pretty wife again, and that
queer little Flore, who amused him so by pinching his stiff leg, and
crying “haw,” and he had found the house so desolate, and the absence
of plague so unwholesome, and the responsibility of having a will of
his own so horrible, that he scarcely cared to ask the reason why they
were come home. And Georgie—who was not thoroughly heartless, else how
could she have got on so?—thought Coo Nest very snug and nice, with
none to contradict her. So she found relief awhile, in banishing her
worse, while she indulged her better half.

Let me do the same by suppressing here that evil tendency to moralise.
In Georgieʼs case, as well as mine, the indulgence possessed at any
rate the attractions of change and variety. But, knowing how strictly
we are bound by the canons of philosophy to suspect and put the curb
on every natural bias, that good young woman soon refrained from
over–active encouragement of her inclination to goodness. Rallying
her sense of right, she vanquished very nobly all the seductions of
honesty, and, by a virtuous effort, marched from the Capua of virtue.

She stood upon the wood–crowned heights which look upon Coo Nest, and
as the smoke came curling up, the house seemed very small to her. What
a thing to call a garden! And the pigeon–house at Nowelhurst was nearly
as large as our stable! And oh that little vinery, where one knew every
single bunch, and came every day to watch its ripening, and the little
fuss of its colouring, like an ogre watching a pet babe roasting.
Surely nature never meant her to live upon so small a scale; or why had
she been gifted with such large activities?

She turned her back upon Coo Nest, and her face to Nowelhurst Hall, and
in her mindʼs eye saw a place ever so much larger.

Then a pleasant sound came up the hollow, a nice ring of revolving
wheels coquetting with the best C springs and all the new improvements.
Well–mettled horses, too, were there, stepping together sonipedally,
and a footman could be seen, whose legs must stand him in 60_l._ a year.

“That odious old Sir Julius Wallop and his wizen–faced wife come
to patronize us again and say, ‘Ha, Corklemore, snug little place,
charming situation; but I think I should pull it down and rebuild;
no room for Chang to stand in it. And how is my old friend, Sir
Cradock, your forty–fifth cousin, I believe? Ah, he _has_ a nice
place.’ I havenʼt the heart to meet them now, and their patronizing
disparagement. Heigho! It is a nice turn–out. And yet they have at
Nowelhurst three more handsome carriages. And it does look so much
better to have two footmen there behind; and I do like watered linings
so. How nice Flo did look by my side in that new barouche! Oh, my
darling child, I must not give way to selfish feelings. I must do my
duty towards you.”

Therefore she proceeded, against her better nature, in the face of
prudence, with her attempt to set aside poor Sir Cradock Nowell, and
obtain fiduciary possession of his property. Cradock was lost in the
_Taprobane_,—of that there could be no doubt; and so she was saved all
further trouble of laying before the civil authorities the stronger
evidence they required before issuing a warrant. But all was going very
nicely towards the commencement of an inquiry as to the old manʼs state
of mind. Then suddenly she was checkmated, and never moved a pawn again.

One afternoon, Mrs. Corklemore was sitting in her drawing–room,
expecting certain visitors, and quite ready to be bored with them,
because they were leading gossips—ladies who gave the first complexion
to any nascent narrative. And Georgie knew how to handle them. In the
county talk which must ensue, only let them take her side, and all the
world would feel for her in her very painful position.

After a rumble of rapid wheels, and a violent pull at the bell, which
made the lady of the house to jump, because they had just had the
bell–hanger, into her sanctuary came with a cooler than curcumine
temperature, not indeed Lady Alberta Smith and her daughter Victorina
Beatrice, but Eoa Nowell and her cousin Cradock.

For once in her life Mrs. Corklemore was deprived of all presence of
mind, ghostly horror being added to bodily fear of Eoa. She fain would
have fled, but her limbs gave way, and she fell back into a soft French
chair, and covered her face with both hands. Then Eoa, looking tall and
delicate in her simple mourning dress, walked up to her very quietly,
leading Cradock as if she were proud of him.

“I have taken the liberty, Mrs. Corklemore, of bringing my cousin
Cradock to see you, because it may save trouble.”

“I trust you will forgive,” said Cradock, “our very sudden invasion. We
are come upon a matter of business, to save unpleasant exposures and
disgrace to our distant relatives.”

“Oh,” gasped poor Mrs. Corklemore, “you are alive, then, after all? It
was proved that you had lost your life upon the coast of Africa.”

“Yes, but it has proved otherwise,” Cradock answered, bowing neatly.

“And it would have been so much better, under the sad, sad
circumstances, for all people of good feeling, and all interested in
the family.”

“For the latter, perhaps it would, madam; but not so clearly for the
former. I am here to protect my father from all machinations.”

“Leave her to me,” cried Eoa, slipping prettily in front of him, “I
understand her best, because—because of my former vocation. And I think
she knows what I am.”

“That I do,” answered Georgie, cleverly interposing first a small
enamelled table; “not only an insolent, but an utterly reckless
creature.”

“You may think so,” Eoa replied, with calm superiority; “but that only
shows your piteous ignorance of the effects of discipline. I am now so
sedate and tranquil a woman, that I do not hate, but scorn you.”

Cradock could not help smiling at this, knowing what Eoa was.

“We want no strong expressions, my dear, on one side or the other,” for
he saw that a word would have overthrown Eoaʼs new–born discipline;
“Mrs. Corklemore is far too clever not to perceive her mistake. She
knows quite well that any inquiry as to my dear fatherʼs state of
mind can now be of no use to her. And if she thinks of any further
proceedings against myself, perhaps she had better first look at just
this—just this document.”

He laid before her a certificate, granted by three magistrates, that
indisputable evidence had been brought before them as to the cause and
manner of Clayton Nowellʼs death, and that Cradock Nowell had no share
in it, wittingly or unwittingly. That was the upshot of it; but of
course it extended to about fifty–fold the length.

Mrs. Corklemore bent over her, in her most bewitching manner, and
perused it very leisurely, as if she were examining Floreʼs attempts at
pothooks. Meanwhile, with a side–glint of her eyes, she was watching
both of them; and it did not escape her notice that Eoa was very pale.

“To be sure,” she said at last, looking full at the Eastern maid, “I
see exactly how it was. I have thought so all along. A female Thug must
be charmed, of course, by the only son of a murderer. My dear, I do so
congratulate you.”

“Thank you,” answered Eoa, and the deep gaze of her lustrous eyes made
the clever woman feel a world unopened to her; “I thank you, Georgie
Corklemore, because you know no better. My only wish for you is, that
you may never know unhappiness, because you could not bear it.”

Saying so, she turned away, and, with her light, quick step, was gone,
before her enemy could see a symptom of the welling tears which then
burst all control. But Cradock, who had dwelt in sorrow, compared
to which hers was a joke, stayed to say a few soft words, and made a
friend for evermore of the woman who had plotted so against his life
and all his love.

Madame la Comtesse since that time has seen much tribulation, and is
all the better for it. Mr. Corklemore died of the gout, and the angel
Flore of the measles; and she herself, having nursed them both, and
lost some selfishness in their graves, is now (as her destiny seemed
to be) the wife of Mr. Chope. Of course she is compelled to merge her
strong will in a stronger one, and, according to natureʼs Salique law,
is the happier for doing so. Whether this union will produce a subject
for biography to some unborn Lord Campbell, time alone can show.

From the above it will be clear that poor Eoa Nowell was now acquainted
with the secret of the Garnet family. Bob himself had told her all,
about a month after his fatherʼs death, renouncing at the same time all
his claims upon her. Of that Eoa would not hear; only at his urgency
she promised to consult her friends, and take a week to think of it.
And this was the way she kept her promise.

First she ran up to Cradock Nowell, with the bright tears still upon
her cheeks, and asked him whether he had truly and purely forgiven his
injurer. He took her hand, and answered her with his eyes, in which
the deepened springs of long affliction glistened, fixed steadily upon
hers.

“As truly and purely as I hope to be forgiven at the judgment–day.”

“Then that settles that matter. Now order the dog–cart, Crady dear, and
drive me to Dr. Huttonʼs.”

Of course he obeyed her immediately, and in an hour they entered the
gate of Geopharmacy Lodge. Rosa was amazed at her beauty, and thought
very little, after that, of Mrs. Corklemoreʼs appearance.

“For my part,” said Rufus Hutton, when Eoa had laid the case before
him in a privy council, “although it is very good of you, and very
flattering to me, that you look upon me still as your guardian, I think
you are bound first of all to consult Sir Cradock Nowell.”

“How very odd! Now that is exactly what I do not mean to do. He never
can understand, poor dear, and I hope he never will, the truth about
poor Claytonʼs death. His present conviction is, like that of all the
neighbourhood, that Black Will the poacher did it, the man who has
since been killed in a fight with Sir Julius Wallopʼs gamekeepers. And
it would shock poor uncle so; I am sure he would never get over it if
the truth were forced upon him. And if it were, I am sure he would
never allow me to have my way, which, of course, I should do in spite
of him. And I am not his heiress now, since Cradock came to life again.
But I have plenty of money of my own; and I have quite settled what to
give him the day that I am married, and you too, my dear guardy, if
you behave well about this. Look here!”

She drew forth a purse quite full of gold, and tossed it in her old
Indian style, so that Rufus could not help laughing.

“Well, my dear,” he answered kindly, “who could resist such bribery?
Besides, I see that your mind is made up, and we all know what the
result of that is. And after all, the chief question is, what effect
will your knowledge of this have on your love for your husband?”

“It will only make me love him more, ever so much more, because of his
misfortune.”

“And will you never allude to it, never let him see that you think of
it, so as to spoil his happiness?”

“Is it likely I should think of it? Why, my father must have killed
fifty men. He was desperate in a battle. And Bob has never brought that
up against me.”

“Well, if you take it in that light—decidedly not an English light——”

“And perhaps you never heard that Bobʼs father, by his quickness and
boldness, saved the lives of fifteen men in a colliery explosion before
he ever came to Nowelhurst, and therefore he had a perfect right
to—to——”

“Take the lives of fifteen others. Fourteen to his credit still. Well,
Eoa, you can argue, if any female in the world can. Only in one thing,
my dear child, be advised by me. If you must marry Robert Garnet,
leave this country for a while, and take his sister Pearl with you.”

“Of course I must marry Bob,” said Eoa; “and of course I should go away
with him. But as to taking Pearl with us, why, thatʼs a thing to be
thought about.”

However, they got over that, as well as all other difficulties; Sir
Cradock Nowell was at the wedding, Mr. Rosedew performed the ceremony,
and Rufus Hutton gave away as lovely a bride as ever was seen. Bob
Garnet spied a purple emperor, who had lost his way, knocking his head
in true imperial fashion against the chancel–window, and he glanced at
Eoa about it, between the two “I wills,” and she lifted her beautiful
eyebrows, and he saw that she meant to catch him. So, after signing the
register, they contrived to haul him down, without letting John Rosedew
know it; then at the chancel–porch they let him go free of the Forest,
with his glorious wings unsoiled. Not even an insect should have cause
to repent their wedding–day.

And now they live in as fair a place as any the world can show, not
far from Pezo da Ragoa, in the Alto Douro district. There Eoaʼs
children toddle by the brilliant riverʼs brink, and form their limbs to
strength and beauty up the vine–clad mountainʼs side. Bob has invested
his share of proceeds in a vineyard of young Bastardo, and Muscat de
Jesu; moreover, he holds a good appointment under the Royal Oporto
Company, agricultural of the vine. Many a time Eoa sits watching with
her deep bright eyes the purple flow of the luscious juice from the
white marble “lagar,” wherein the hardy peasants, with their drawers
tied at the knee, tramp to the time of the violin to and fro, without
turning round, among the pulpy flood. Then Bob, who has discovered a
perfect cure for oidium, and knows how to deal with every grub that
bores into or nips the vine, to his wife and bairns he comes in haste,
having been too long away, bringing a bunch of the “ladiesʼ fingers,”
or the Barrete de Clerigo, or it may be some magnificent insect new to
his entomology; or, still more interesting prize, a letter from Pearl
or Amy, wherein Mrs. Pell, or Nowell, gossips of the increasing cares
which increase her happiness. Yet even among those lovely scenes, and
under that delicious sky, frequent and fond are the glances cast by
hope, as well as memory, at the bowered calm of the Forest brooks, and
the brown glamour of the beechwood.

And when they return to dwell in the Forest, and to end their days
there, even Bob will scarcely know the favourite haunts of his
boyhood—to such an extent has Cradock Nowell planted and improved,
clothing barren slopes with verdure, adding to the wealth of woods many
a new tint and tone, by the aid of foreign trees unknown to his father.
In doing so, his real object is not so much to improve the estate, or
gratify his own good taste, or even that of Amy; but to find labour
for the hands, and food for the mouths, of industrious people. Sir
Cradock grumbles just a little every now and then, because, like all
of us Englishmen, he must have his grievance. But, on the whole, he is
very proud of what his son is doing, and thoroughly enjoys his power of
urging or repressing it.

And if on theoretic matters any question chances to arise between them,
when one says “no” to the otherʼs “yes”—as all true Britons are bound
to do upon politics, port wine, and parsons,—then a gentle spirit comes
and turns it all to laughter, with the soft and pleasant wit of a
well–bred womanʼs ignorance. For Amy still must have her say, and still
asserts her privilege to flavour every dull discussion with lively
words, and livelier glances, and a smile for both the disputants. Then
Cradock looks at his dear young wife with notes of admiration, and bids
her keep such piquant wisdom for the councils of the nursery. Upon
which pleasant reminder, the old man chuckles, as if some very good
thing had been said; then craftily walks with a spotted toy, capable of
barking and exactly representing Caldo or Wena, whichever you please,
to the foot of certain black oak–stairs, where he fully expects to hear
the prattle of small Clayton.

To wit, it has been long resolved, and managed with prospective wisdom
down the path of years, that the county annals shall not be baulked of
a grand Sir Clayton Nowell. And a very grand fellow indeed he is, this
two–year–old Clayton Nowell—grand in the stolid sageness of his broad
and steadfast gaze, grand in the manner of his legs and his Holbein
attitude, grander still in stamping when his meat and ale are late, but
grandest of all, immeasurably grand, in the eyes of his grandfather.

Hogstaff, whose memory is quite gone, and his hearing too of every
sound except the voice of this boy, identifies him beyond all cavil
with the Clayton of our story. Many a time the bowed retainer chides
his little master for not remembering the things he taught him only
yesterday. Then Cradock smiles at his sonʼs oblivion of the arts his
uncle learned, but never reminds old Hoggy that the yesterday was
rather more than five–and–twenty years ago.

Is it true or is it false, according to the rules of art, that the
winding–up of a long, long story, handled with more care than skill,
should have some resemblance to the will of a kindly–natured man? In
whose final dispositions, no dependent, however humble, none who have
helped him in the many pages of his life, far less any intimate friend,
seeks in vain a grateful mention or a token of regard.

Be that as it may, any writer who loves his work (although a fool for
doing so) feels the end and finish of it like the signature of his
will. And doubly saddened must he be, if the scenes which charmed him
most, and cast upon him such a spell that he could not call spectators
in,—if these, for want of skill, have wearied eyes and hearts he might
have pleased.

For surely none would turn away, whose nature is uncancelled, if once
he could be gently led into that world of beauty. To rest in the
majesty of shade, forgetting weary headache; to let the little carking
cares, avarice and jealousy, self–conceit and thirst of fame, fly away
on the wild wood, like the piping of a bird; to hear the rustle of
young leaves, when their edges come together, and dreamily to wonder at
the size of things above us.

Shall ever any man enclasp the good that grows above him, or even offer
to receive the spread of Heavenʼs greatness? Yet every man may lift
himself above the highest tree–tops, even to the throne of God, by
loving and forgiving.

And verily, some friends of ours, who could not once forego a grudge,
are being taught, by tare and trett, how much they owe their Maker, and
how little to themselves. First of these is Rufus Hutton, quite a jolly
mortal, getting fat, and riding Polly for the sake of his liver and
renes. And all he has to say is this: first, that he will match trees
and babies with those of any nurseryman; next, that as I have a knack
of puffing good people and good things, he begs for reciprocity on the
part of superior readers. And if this should chance to meet the eye of
any one who knows where to find a really first–rate Manilla, conducted
on free–trade principles, such knowing person, by addressing,
confidentially under seal, “R. H., Post–office, Ringwood,” may hear of
something very greatly to his own advantage.

Now do we, without appeal to the blue smoke of enthusiasm, know of
anything to the advantage of anybody whatever? Yes, I think we do. We
may highly commend the recent career of the Ducksacre firm, and Mr.
Clinkers, and Issachar Jupp the bargee. Robert Clinkers and Polly his
wife are driving a first–rate business in coal and coke and riddlings,
not highly aristocratic perhaps, but free from all bad debts. You may
see the name on a great brass–plate near the Broadway, Hammersmith,
on the left hand, where the busses stop. But Mr. Jupp flies at higher
game. He has turned his length of wind, that once secured the palm
of victory in physical encounters, to a higher and nobler use. In a
word, Mr. Jupp is a Primitive Christian upon and beside the waters of
Avon. There you may hear him preaching and singing through his nose
alternately—ah, me, that is not what I mean—for either proceeding is
nasal—every Sunday and Wednesday evening, when the leaks in the punt
allow him. He gets five–and–thirty shillings a–week, as Sir Cradockʼs
water–bailiff, and he has not stolen twig or catkin of all the trees he
convoys down Avon. In seven or eight more summers, little Loo Jupp will
probably be the prettiest girl in the Forest. May we be there to see
her!

The best and kindest man of all who have said their say in my story,
and not thrust their merits forward, John Rosedew, still leads his
quiet life, nearer and nearer to wisdomʼs threshold, nearer and nearer
to the door of God. His temper is as soft and sweet, his memory as
bright and ready, and his humour as playful, as when he was only thirty
years old, and walked every day to Kidlington. As for his shyness, that
we must never ask him to discard; because he likes to know us first,
and then he likes to love us.

But of all the people in the world, next to his own child Amy, most he
loves and most he honours his son–in–law, Cradock Nowell—

Cradock Nowell, so enlarged and purified by affliction, so able now
to understand and feel for every poor man. He, when placed in large
possessions and broad English influence, never will forget the time
of darkness, grief, and penury, never will look upon his brethren, as
under another God than his.

It is true that we must have hill and valley, towering oak and ragged
robin, zenith cloud overlooking the sun, and mist crouching down in the
hollows. And true as well that we cannot see all the causes and needs
of the difference. But is it not still more true and sure, that the
whole is of one universal kingdom (bound together by one great love),
the high and low, the rich and poor, the powerful and the helpless? And
in the spreading of that realm, beyond the shores of time and space,
when at last it is understood what the true aim of this life has been,
not greatness, honour, wealth, or science, no, nor even wisdom—as we
unwisely take it—but happiness here and hereafter, a flowing tide
whose fountain is our love of one another, then shall we truly learn
by feeling (whereby alone we can learn) that all the cleaving of
our sorrow, and cuts into the heart of us, were nothing worse than
preparation for the grafts of God.


                               THE END.


                                LONDON:

            PRINTED BY C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND.



                         TRANSCRIBERʼS NOTES:

—Obvious print and punctuation errors were corrected.

—A Table of Contents was not in the original work; one has been
 produced and added by Transcriber





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