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Title: Cradock Nowell, Vol. 2 (of 3) - A Tale of the New Forest.
Author: Blackmore, R. D. (Richard Doddridge)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cradock Nowell, Vol. 2 (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. II.

                                LONDON:
                  CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.
                                 1866.

               [_The right of Translation is reserved._]



                                LONDON:
            PRINTED BY C. WHITING, BEAUFORT HOUSE, STRAND.



          CONTENTS OF VOLUME II.

  CHAPTER                         PAGE

       I.                            1

      II.                           35

     III.                           52

      IV.                           72

       V.                           91

      VI.                          111

     VII.                          128

    VIII.                          147

      IX.                          172

       X.                          190

      XI.                          217

     XII.                          236

    XIII.                          245

     XIV.                          253

      XV.                          274

     XVI.                          287

    XVII.                          300



CRADOCK NOWELL



CHAPTER I.


It was a Tuesday evening when Cradock Nowell and Amy Rosedew signed
and sealed, with the moonʼs approval, their bond to one another. On
the following day, Dr. Hutton and wife were to dine at Kettledrum
Hall; and the distance being considerable, and the roads so shockingly
bad—“even dangerous, I am told, to gentlemen who have dined _with
me_, sir,” said Kettledrum, in his proudest manner—they had accepted
his offer, and that of Mrs. Kettledrum, which she herself came over to
make, that they should not think of returning until after breakfast on
Thursday. In consequence of her husbandʼs hints, Rosa felt the keenest
interest in “that Mrs. Kettledrum. Leave her to me, dear Rufus. You
need not be afraid, indeed. Trust me to get to the bottom of it.” And
so she exerted her probing skill upon her to the uttermost, more even
than ladies usually do, when they first meet one another. Of course,
there was no appearance of it, nothing so ill–bred as that; it was
all the sweetest refinement, and the kindest neighbourly interest.
They even became affectionate in the course of half an hour, and
mutual confidence proved how strangely their tastes were in unison.
Nevertheless, each said good–bye with a firm conviction that she had
outwitted the other. “Poor thing, she was so stupid. What a bungler, to
be sure! And to think I could not see through her!”

But the return–match between these ladies, which was to have come off
at Kettledrum Hall—where, by–the–by, there appeared a far greater
performer than either of them—this interesting display of skill was
deferred for the present; inasmuch as Rosa was taken ill during the
mysteries of her toilet. It was nothing more serious, however, than the
“flying spasms,” as she always called them, to which she had long been
subject, and which (as she often told her husband) induced her to marry
a doctor.

Rufus administered essence of peppermint, and then a dose of magnesia;
but he would not hear of her coming with him, and he wanted to stop
at home with her, and see that she sat by the fire. She in turn would
have her way, and insisted that Rue should go, “for he had made himself
such a very smart boy, that she was really quite proud of him, and they
would all be so disappointed, and he was taller than Mr. Kettledrum,
she felt quite sure he was.” The bearing of that last argument I do not
quite perceive, but dare not say that she erred therein, and to Rue it
was quite conclusive. So Ralph Mohorn was sent for, the pony–carriage
countermanded, and Rufus set forth upon Polly, whose oats were now
restricted.

Kettledrum Hall stood forth on a rise, and made the very most of
itself. Expansive, and free, and obtrusively honest, it seemed to
strike itself on the breast (as its master did) with both gables. A
parochial assessment committee, or a surveyor for the property–tax,
would have stuck on something considerable, if they had only seen
the outside of it. Look at the balustrade that went (for it was too
heavy to run) all along the front of it, over the basement windows. No
stucco, either; but stone, genuine stone, that bellied out like a row
of Roman amphoræ, or the calves of a first–rate footman. After that,
to see the portico, “decempedis metata,” which “excipiebat Eurum”—not
Arcton in this climate. No wonder—although it was rotten inside, and
the whole of it mortgaged ten fathom deep—that Bailey Kettledrum hit
his breast, and said, “Our little home, sir!”

“Your great home, you mean,” said Rufus; “what a noble situation! You
can see all over the county.”

They had come to meet him down the hill, in the kindest country
fashion, Mr. and Mrs. Kettledrum, like Jack and Jill going for water.

“Not quite that,” replied Kettledrum; “but we saw you with my
binocular, between two and three miles off, and became so anxious about
Mrs. Hutton, that I said to my wife, ‘Put your bonnet on;’ and she
only said, ‘Bailey, put your hat on;’ nothing more, sir, I assure you;
nothing more, sir, upon my honour.”

Rufus could not see exactly why there should have been anything more,
but he could not help thanking them for their kindness, and saying to
himself, “What nice people! Quite an agricultural life, I see, in spite
of that grand mansion.”

“Now,” said Mr. Kettledrum, when Polly had been committed to one of
the stable–boys—but Rufus still wanted to look at her, for he never
grew tired of admiring anything that belonged to him, and he knew
they wouldnʼt do her legs right—“now, Dr. Hutton, you have come most
kindly, according to your promise, so as to give us an hour or two to
spare before the dinner–time. Shall we take a turn with the guns? I can
put my hand on a covey; or shall we walk round the garden, and have the
benefit of your advice?”

Rufus looked in dismay at his “choice black kerseymeres;” he had taken
his “antigropelos” off, and was proud to find not a flake on them. But
to think of going out shooting! He ought not to have dressed before he
left home, but he hated many skinnings. And he could only guess the
distance from the lodge to this place. So he voted very decidedly for a
walk in the kitchen–garden.

Into this he was solemnly instituted, and the beauties all pointed
out to him. What a scene of weeds and rubbish! How different from Bull
Garnetʼs dainty and trim quarters, or from his own new style of work at
Geopharmacy Lodge! Rotten beansticks crackling about, the scum of last
summerʼs cabbages, toad–stools cropping up like warts or arums rubbed
with caustic, a fine smell of potato–disease, and a general sense of
mildew; the wall–trees curled and frizzled up with aphis, coccus, and
honeydew; and the standards scraggy, and full of stubs, canker, and
American blight, sprawling, slouching, hump–backed, and stag–headed,
like the sick ward of a workhouse fighting with tattered umbrellas.

“Ah,” said Rufus, at his wits’ end for anything to praise, “what a
perfect paradise—for the songsters of the grove.”

“Oh,” replied Mr. Kettledrum, “you should hear the Dook admire it.
‘Kettledrum, my boy,’ he said, when he dined with me last Friday,
‘there is one thing I do envy you—no, sir, neither your most lady–like
wife, nor yet your clever children, although I admit that neither of
them can be paralleled in England—but, Kettledrum, it is—forgive
me—it is your kitchen–garden.’ ‘My kitchen–garden, your grace,’ I
replied, for I hate to brag of anything, ‘it is a poor thing, my lord
Dook, compared to your own at Lionshill.’ ‘May I be d—d,’ his grace
replied, for I never shall break him of swearing, ‘if I ever saw
anything like it, dear Kettledrum, and so I told the Duchess.’ And
after all, you know, Dr. Hutton, a man may think too little of what it
has pleased God to give him.”

“Well,” said Rufus to himself, “Iʼm blessed if _you_ do. But I donʼt
like you any the worse for a bit of brag. I have met great brags in
India, and most of them honest fellows. But I must peg him down a bit.
I must, I fear; it is my duty as an enlightened gardener.”

“But you see, now,” said Bailey Kettledrum, smacking his lips, and
gazing into profundity, “you see, my dear sir, there is nothing ‘ab
omni parte beatum;’ perhaps you remember the passage in the heroic
epistles of—ah, Cicero it was, I believe, who wrote all those epistles
to somebody.”

“No doubt of it,” said Rufus Hutton, who knew more of Hindustani than
of Latin and Greek combined; “and yet St. Paul wrote some.”

“Not in Latin, my dear sir; all St. Paulʼs were Greek. ‘Nihil est,’ I
now remember, ‘ab omni parte beatum.’ I donʼt know how it scans, which
I suppose it ought to do, but that isnʼt my look–out. Perhaps, however,
you can tell me?”

“Iʼm blowed if I can,” said Rufus Hutton, in the honesty of his mind;
“and I am not quite sure that it has any right to scan.”

“Well, I canʼt say; but I _think_ it ought,”—he was in the mists
of memory, where most of the trees have sensitive roots, though the
branches are not distinguishable. “However, that canʼt matter at all;
I see you are a classical scholar. And, Hutton, I like a classical
scholar, because he can understand me. But you see that these trees are
rather—ah, what is the expression for it——?”

“Cankered, and scabby, and scrubs.”

“That is to say—yes, I suppose, they would crop the better, if that be
possible, for a little root–pruning.”

“You have gathered the fruit for this year, I presume?”

“Well, no, not quite that. The children have had some, of course. But
we are very particular not to store too early.”

“I really donʼt think you need be.”

“Why, many people say, ‘let well alone;’ but my gardener talks of
making——”

“A jolly good bonfire of them, if he knows anything of his business.
Then drain the ground, trench, and plant new ones.”

Mr. Kettledrum looked quite thunderstruck; he caught hold of a tree to
help him, and a great cake of rotten bark, bearded with moss, came away
like the mask of a mummer. It was slimy on the under side, and two of
his fingers went through it.

“Nice state of things,” said Rufus, laughing. “I suppose the Dook likes
lepers?”

“Why, my dear sir, you donʼt mean to say——”

“That I would leave only one of them, and I would hang the
head–gardener upon it.”

That worthy was just coming round the corner, to obtain the applause
of a gentleman well known to the _Gardenerʼs Chronicle_; but now he
turned round abruptly, and scratched his head, and thought of his
family.

When Rufus came down and entered the drawing–room, he was perfectly
gorgeous; for although he had been in full dress for the main, he knew
better than to ride with his Alumbaggah waistcoat on. There was nothing
in all the three presidencies to come up to that waistcoat. It would
hold Dr. Hutton and Rosa too, for they had stood back to back and tried
it. And Rufus vainly sighed for the day when his front should come out
and exhaust it. He stole it, they say, from a petty rajah, who came to
a great durbar with it, worn like an Oxford hood. At any rate, there it
was, and the back of Cashmere stuff would fit either baby or giant. But
the front, the front—oh, bangles and jiminy! it is miles beyond me to
describe it.

All simple writers, from Job and Hesiod downwards, convey an impression
of some grand marvel, not by direct description of it, which would
be feeble and achromatic, but by the rebound, recoil, and redouble,
from the judgment of some eye–witness. If that eye–witness be
self–possessed, wide–awake, experienced, and undemonstrative, the
effect upon the readerʼs mind is as of a shell which has struck the
granite, burst there, and scattered back on him. So will I, mistrusting
the value of my own impressions, give a faint idea of Rufus his
waistcoat, by the dount of it on that assembly.

The host was away for the moment somewhere, perhaps blowing up
the butler, for his wife was telling her sister how nervous and
even fidgety her beloved Bailey was growing; but Mr. Corklemore was
there, and came forth to salute the great Rufus, when his heavy eyes
settled upon the waistcoat, and all his emotions exploded in a “haw”
of incredulous wonder. Mrs. Kettledrum rose at the same instant, and
introduced her sister.

“My sister, Dr. Hutton, whom I have so earnestly longed to make
acquainted with dear Mrs. Hutton, Mrs. Nowell Corklemore; Mr.
Corklemore, I know, has had the pleasure of meeting you. Georgie, dear,
you will like her so—oh, goodness gracious me!”

“I donʼt wonder you are surprised at me, Anna,” exclaimed Mrs.
Corklemore, with wonderful presence of mind. “How stupid I am, to be
sure! Oh, Nowell, why didnʼt you tell me? How shameful of you! But you
never look at me now, I think.” And she swept from the room in the
cleverest manner, as if something wrong in her own dress had caused her
sisterʼs ejaculation.

“Excuse me one moment,” said Mrs. Kettledrum, taking her cue very
aptly; and she ran out, as if to aid her sister, but in reality to
laugh herself into hysterics.

After all there was nothing absurd, _per se_, in Rufus Huttonʼs
waistcoat, only it is not the fashion, just at present, to wear
pictorial raiment; but the worthy doctor could not perceive any reason
why it should not be. He was pleased with the prospect of creating
a genuine sensation, and possibly leading the mode; and having lost
all chance of realizing these modest hopes at Nowelhurst, why, he
must content himself with a narrower stage for his triumphs. He had
smuggled it from home, however, without his wifeʼs permission: he had
often threatened her with its appearance, but she always thought he
was joking. And truly it required some strength of mind to present it
to modern society, although it was a work of considerable art, and no
little value.

The material of it was Indian silk of the very richest quality. It
had no buttons, but golden eyelets and tags of golden cowries. The
background of the whole was yellow, the foreground of a brilliant
green, portraying the plants of the jungle. On the left bosom leaped
and roared an enormous royal tiger, with two splendid jewels, called
“catʼs–eyes,” flashing, and a pearl for every fang. Upon the right side
a hulking elephant was turning tail ignominiously; while two officers
in the howdah poked their guns at the eyes of the tiger. The eyes of
the officers in their terror had turned to brilliant emeralds, and the
blood of the tramping elephant was represented by seed rubies. The
mahout was cutting away in the distance, looking back with eyes of
diamonds.

Beyond a doubt, it required uncommonly fine breeding, especially in
a lady, to meet that waistcoat at a dinner–party, and be entirely
unconscious of it. And perhaps there are but few women in England who
would not contrive to lead up to the subject, quite accidentally, of
course, before the evening was over.

The ladies came back as grave as judges; and somehow it was managed (as
if by the merest oversight) that Dr. Hutton should lead to dinner, not
the lady of the house, whom, of course, he ought to have taken, but
Mrs. Nowell Corklemore. He felt, as he crossed the hall with her, that
the beauty of his waistcoat had raised some artistic emotion in a bosom
as beautiful as its own. Oh, Rufus, think of Rosa!

Let none be alarmed at those ominous words. The tale of Cradock
Nowellʼs life shall be pure as that life itself was. The historian
may be rough, and blunt, and sometimes too intense, in the opinion
of those who look at life from a different point of view. But be
that as it will, his other defects (I trust and pray) will chiefly
be deficiencies. We will have no poetical seduction, no fascinating
adultery, condemned and yet reprieved by the writer, and infectious
from his sympathy. Georgiana Corklemore was an uncommonly clever woman,
and was never known to go far enough to involve her reputation. She
loved her child, and liked her husband, and had all the respect for
herself which may abide with vanity. Nevertheless she flirted awfully,
and all married women hated her. “Bold thing,” they called her, “sly
good–for–nothing; and did you see how she ogled? Well, if I only
carried on so! Oh, if I were only her husband! But, poor man, he knows
no better. Such a poor dear stick, you know. Perhaps that is what makes
her do it. And nothing in her at all, when you come to think of it. No
taste, no style, no elegance! When _will_ she put her back hair up? And
her child fit to put into long–clothes! Did you observe her odious way
of putting her lips up, as if to be kissed? My dear, I donʼt know how
_you_ felt; but I could scarcely stay in the room with her.”

Nevertheless the ladies did stay, and took good care to watch her, and
used to say to her afterwards, “Oh, if I were only like you, dear! Then
I need not be afraid of you; but you are—now donʼt tell stories—_so_
clever, and _so_ attractive. As if you did not know it, dear! Well, you
_are_ so simple–minded. I am always telling my Looey and Maggie to take
you for their model, dear!”

On the present occasion, “Georgie Corklemore,” as she called herself,
set about flirting with Rufus Hutton, not from her usual love of power,
nor even for the sake of his waistcoat, but because she had an especial
purpose, and a very important one. The Kettledrum–cum–Corklemore
conspiracy was this—to creep in once more at Nowelhurst Hall through
the interest of Dr. Hutton. They all felt perfectly certain that
Cradock Nowell had murdered his brother, and that the crime had been
hushed up through the influence of the family. They believed that the
head of that family, in his passionate sorrow and anger, might be
brought to their view of the subject, if he could only be handled
properly; and who could manage that more adroitly than his first cousin
once removed, the beautiful Mrs. Corklemore? Only let her get once
invited, once inducted there, and the main difficulty after that would
be to apportion the prey between them. They knew well enough that the
old entail expired with the present baronet; and that he (before his
marriage) held in fee pure and simple all that noble property. His
marriage–settlement, and its effects, they could only inkle of; but
their heart was inditing of a good matter, and Mr. Chope would soon
pump Brockwood. Not quite so fast, my Amphictyonics; a solicitor thirty
years admitted (though his original craft may not be equal) is not to
be sucked dry, on the surprise, even by spongy young Chope. However,
that was a question for later consideration; and blood being thicker
than water, and cleaving more fast to the ground, they felt that it
would be a frightful injustice if they were done out of the property.

Only two things need be added: one that Sir Cradock had always
disliked, and invited them but for appearance’ sake; the other, that
they fairly believed in the righteousness of their cause, and that
Rufus Hutton could prove it for them, as the principal witness tampered
with.

Mrs. Corklemore was now, perhaps, twenty–five years old, possibly
turning thirty; for that lustrum of a ladyʼs life is a hard one to beat
the bounds of; at any rate, she had never looked better than she did
at the present moment. She was just at the age to spread open, with
the memory of shyness upon them (like the dew when the sun is up), the
curving petals of beauty. Who understands the magnetic current? Who
can analyze ozone? Is there one of us able to formularize the polarity
of light? Will there ever be an age when chemists metaphysical will
weigh—no more by troy weight, and carat, as now the mode is, but by
subtle heart–gas—our liking for a woman? Let us hope there never will
be.

That soft Georgiana Corklemore, so lively, lovely, and gushing,
focussed all her fascinations upon Rufus Hutton. She knew that she had
to deal with a man of much inborn acuteness, and who must have seen
a hundred ladies quite as fair as Georgie. But had he seen one with
her—well, she knew not what to call it, though she thoroughly knew
how to use it? So she magnetized him with all her skill; and Rufus,
shrewdly suspecting her object, and confiding in a certain triarian
charge, a certain thrust Jarnacian, which he would deliver at the
proper moment, allowed her to smile, and to show her white teeth and
dimples of volatile velvet (so natural, so inevitable, at his playful,
delightful humour), and to loose whole quiverfuls of light shafts from
the arch flash under her eyelids. What sweet simplicity she was, what
innocent desire to learn, what universal charity. “How dreadful, Dr.
Hutton! Oh, please not to tell me of it! How could any ladies do it? I
should have fainted at once, and died half an hour afterwards.” She
turned up her large mild eyes, deeply beaming with centralized light,
in a way that said, “If I died, is there any one who would think it a
very, very great pity?”

Rufus had been describing historically, not dramatically, the trials
of the ladies, when following their regiment during a sudden movement
in the perils of the mutiny. With a manʼs far stiffer identity, he
did not expect or even imagine that his delicate listener would be
there, and go through every hour of it. But so it was, and without
any sham; although she was misusing her strange sympathetic power.
Mrs. Nowell Corklemore would have made a very great actress; she had
so much self–abandonment, such warm introjection, and hot indignant
sympathy; and yet enough of self–reservation to hoop them all in with
judgment. Meanwhile Mrs. Kettledrum, a lady of ordinary sharpness,
like a good pudding–apple—Georgie being a peach of the very finest
quality—she, I say, at the top of the table was watching them very
intently—delighted, amused, indignant; glad that none of her children
were there to store up Auntieʼs doings. As for Mr. Corklemore, he
was quite accustomed to it; and looking down complacently upon the
little doctor, thought to himself, “How beautifully my Georgie will
cold–shoulder him, when we have got all we want out of the conceited
chattering jackanapes.”

When the ladies were gone, Mr. Bailey Kettledrum, who had no idea of
playing dummy even to Mrs. Corklemore, made a trick or two from his own
hand.

“Corklemore, my dear fellow, you think we are all tee–totallers. On
with the port, if you please, ‘cessantem Bibuli Consulis amphoram,’
never shall forget that line. The bibulous consul, eh! Capital idea.
Corklemore, you can construe that?”

“Haw! Perhaps I canʼt. Really donʼt know; they beat a heap of stuff
into me when I was a very small boy; and it was like whipping—ha, haw,
something like whipping——”

“Eggs,” said Rufus Hutton, “all came to bubbles, eh?”

“Not at all, sir, not at all; you entirely misunderstand me. I mean
that it was similar to—to the result produced by the whipping of a
top.”

“Only made your head go round,” said Mr. Kettledrum, winking at Rufus;
and thenceforth had established a community of interest in the baiting
of “long Corklemore.” “Well, at any rate,” he continued, “Hutton is a
scholar—excuse my freedom, my dear sir; we are such rustics here, that
I seldom come across a man who appreciates my quotations. You are a
great acquisition, sir, the very greatest, to this neighbourhood. How
can we have let you remain so long without unearthing you?”

“Because,” said Rufus to himself, “you did not happen to want me; when
are you going to offer to introduce me to ‘the Dook?’”

“And now, gentlemen,” continued Mr. Kettledrum, rising, swelling his
chest out, and thumping it athletically, “it is possible that I may
be wrong; I have never been deaf to conviction; but if I am wrong,
gentlemen, the fault is in yourselves. Mark me now, I am ready, such
is the force of truth, I am ready here at my own board (humble as
it is) once for all to admit that the fault is in yourselves. But
the utterance I swell with, the great thought that is within me, is
strife—no, I beg your pardon—is—is—rife and strongly inditing of
a certain lady, who is an honour to her sex. I rise to the occasion,
friends; I say an honour to her sex, and a blessing to the other
one. Gentlemen, no peroration of mine is equal in any way to the
greatness of the occasion; could I say, with Cicero, ‘Veni, vidi,
vici,’ where would be my self–approval? I mean—you understand me. It
is the privilege of a man in this blessed country, the first gem of
the ocean—no, I donʼt mean that; it applies, I believe, to Scotland,
and the immortal Burns—but this, sir, I will say, and challenge
contradiction, a Briton, sir, a Briton, never, never, never will be
free! And now, sir, in conclusion, is there one of you, let me ask, who
will not charge his eyes, gentlemen, and let his glass run over——”

“Haw,” cried Mr. Corklemore, “charge his glass, come, Kettledrum, and
let his eyes run over—haw—I think that is the way we read it, Dr.
Hutton.”

“Gentlemen, I sit down; finding it impossible to obtain an adequate
bearing, I close my poor attempt at cleansing my bosom of the perilous
stuff, sir—you know the rest—the health of Mrs. Hutton, that most
remarkable children—excuse me, most remarkable woman, whose children,
I am quite convinced, will be an honour to their age and sex. Port of
‘51, gentlemen; a finer vintage than ‘47.”

He had told them that it was ‘34, but both knew better; and now “in
vino veritas.”

At last Mr. Bailey Kettledrum had hit the weak point of Rufus, and,
what was more, he perceived it. Himself you might butter and soap for
a month, and he would take it at all its value; but magnify his Rosa,
exalt the name of his Rosa, and you had him at discretion.

“Remarkable, sir,” he inquired, with a twinkle of fruity port stealing
out from his keen little eyes, “you really do injustice; so many ladies
are remarkable——”

“Haw, well, I never heard——”

“Confound you, Corklemore,” said Kettledrum to him aside, “can you
never hold your tongue? Sir,”—to Rufus—“I beg your pardon, if I
said ‘remarkable;’ I meant to say, sir, ‘_most_ remarkable!’ The most
remarkable lady”—this to Corklemore, in confidence—“I have ever been
privileged to meet. ‘What children,’ I said to my wife, but yesterday,
‘what children they will be blest with!’ Oh, heʼs a lucky dog. The
luckiest dog in the world, my boy.”

However, they were not so very far from the sloping shores of sobriety
when they rejoined the ladies, and made much of the small Misses
Kettledrum, tidy children, rather pretty, and all of the pink ribbon
pattern. After some melting melodies from soft Georgieʼs lips and
fingers, Mrs. Kettledrum said,

“Oh, Dr. Hutton, do you ever play chess? We are such players here; all
except my poor self; I am a great deal too stupid.”

“I used to play a little when I was in India. We are obliged to play
all sorts of games in India.” Dr. Hutton piqued himself not a little
on his skill in the one true game. At a sign from their mother, the
small Kettledrums rushed for the board most zealously, and knocked
their soft heads together. Mrs. Corklemore was declared by all to be
the only antagonist worthy of an Indian player, and she sat down most
gracefully, protesting against her presumption. “Just to take a lesson,
you know; only to take a lesson, dear. Oh, please, donʼt let any one
look at me.” Rufus, however, soon perceived that he had found his
match, if not his superior, in the sweet impulsive artless creature,
who threw away the game so neatly when she was quite sure of it.

“Oh, poor me! Now, I do declare—Isnʼt it most heartbreaking? I am such
a foolish thing. Oh, can you be so cruel?”

Thrilling eyes of the richest grey trembled with dewy radiance, as
Rufus coolly marched off the queen, and planted his knight instead of
her.

“Mrs. Corklemore, can I relent? You are far too good a player.” The
loveliest eyes, the most snowy surge, in the “mare magnum” of ladies,
would never have made that dry Rue Hutton, well content with his Rosa,
give away so much as the right to capture a pawn in passing.

Now observe the contrariety, the want of pure reason, the confusion of
principle—I am sorry and ashamed, but I canʼt express these things
in English, for the language is rich in emotion, but a pauper in
philosophy—the distress upon the premises of the cleverest womanʼs
mind. She had purposely thrown her queen in his way; but she never
forgave him for taking it.

A glance shot from those soft bright eyes, when Rufus could not see
them, as if the gentle evening star, Venus herself, all tremulous,
rushed, like a meteor, up the heavens, and came hissing down on a poor
manʼs head.

She took good care to win the next game, for policy allowed it; and
then, of course, it was too late to try the decisive contest.

“Early hours. Liberty Hall, Liberty Hall at Kettledrum! Gentlemen stay
up, and smoke if they like. But early hours, sir, for the ladies.
We value their complexions. They donʼt. That I know. Do you now, my
dearest? No, of course you donʼt.” This was Mr. Kettledrum.

“Except for your sake, darling,” said Mrs. Kettledrum, curtseying, for
the children were all gone to bed ever so long ago.

“Well,” said Georgie, coming forward, because she knew her figure
would look well with three lamps upon it; such a figure of eight! “my
opinion is never worth having, I know, because I feel so much; but I
pronounce——” here she stood up like Portia, with a very low–necked
dress on—“gentlemen, and ladies, I pronounce that one is quite as bad
as the other.”

“Haw!” said Nowell Corklemore. And so they went to bed. And Rufus
Hutton wondered whether they ever had family prayers.

When all the rest were at breakfast, in came Mrs. Corklemore, looking
as fresh as daybreak.

“Oh, I am so ashamed of myself. What a sluggard you will think me! What
is it in the divine song of that great divine, Dr. Watts? Nowell, dear,
you must not scold me. I cannot bear being scolded, because I never
have tit for tat. Good morning, dearest Anna; how is your headache,
darling? Oh, Dr. Hutton, I forgot! No wonder I overlooked you. I shall
never think much of you again, because I beat you at chess so.”

“Game and game,” said Rufus, solemnly, “and I ought to have won that
last one, Mrs. Corklemore; you know I ought.”

“To be sure, to be sure. Oh, of course I do. But—a little thing
perwented him—his antagonist was too good, sir. Ah, weʼll play the
conqueror some day; and then the tug of war comes. Oh, Anna, I am so
conceited! To think of my beating Dr. Hutton, the best player in all
India.”

“Well, darling, we know all that. And we must not blame you therefore
for lying in bed till ten oʼclock.”

“Oh,” said Rufus, with a groan, “do look at ladies’ logic! Mrs.
Corklemore gained one game out of two—only because I was—ah–hem, I
mean by her very fine play—and now she claims absolute victory; and
Mrs. Kettledrum accepts it as a premise for a negative conclusion,
which has nothing on earth to do with it.”

But Rufus got the worst of that protest. He tilted too hard at the
quintain. All came down upon him at once, till he longed for a cigar.
Then Mrs. Corklemore sympathized with him, arose, their breakfast
being over, and made him a pretty curtsey. She was very proud of her
curtseys; she contrived to show her figure so.

“Confound that woman,” thought Rufus, “I can never tell when she is
acting. I never met her like in India. And thank God for that same.”

She saw that her most bewitching curtsey was entirely thrown away upon
him; for he was thinking of his Rosa, and looking out for the good
mare, Polly.

“Dr. Hutton, I thank you for your condescension, in giving me that
lesson. You let me win that last game out of pure good nature. I shall
always appreciate it. Meanwhile I shall say to every one—ʼOh, do you
know, Dr. Hutton and I play even?’ taking very good care meanwhile
never to play again with you. Shocking morality! Yes, very shocking.
But then I know no better, do I, Nowell, dear?”

“Haw! Well, Georgie, I am not so sure of that. My wife is absolute
nature, sir, simple, absolute—haw—unartificial nature. But
unartificial nature is, in my opinion—haw—yes, a very wise nature,
sometimes.”

“Haw!” said his wife, exactly like him, while everybody laughed. Then
she stood upon tiptoe to kiss him, she was so unartificial, even
before the company. All the pretty airs and graces of a fair Parisian,
combined with all the domestic snugness of an English wife! What a fine
thing it is to have a yoke–mate with a playful, charming manner!

“Good–bye, Dr. Hutton. We are on the wing, as you are. I fear you will
never forgive me for tarnishing your laurels so.”

Tarnishing laurels! What wonderful fellow so ingeniously mixed
metaphors?

“Now or never,” thought Rufus Hutton; “she has beaten me at chess, she
thinks. Now, Iʼll have the change out of her. Only let her lead up to
it.”

“Mrs. Corklemore, we will fight it out, upon some future occasion. I
never played with a lady so very hard to beat.”

“Ah, you mean at Nowelhurst. But we never go there now. There is—I
ought to say, very likely, there are mistakes on both sides—still
there seems to exist some _prejudice_ against us.—Anna, dear, you put
a lump of sugar too much in my tea. I am already too saccharine.”

“Well, dear, I put exactly what you always tell me. And you sent your
cup for more afterwards.”

“Matter of fact animal—how can she be my sister?” Georgie only
muttered this. Rufus Hutton did not catch it. Mr. Garnet would have
done so.

“Now is the time,” thought Rufus again, as she came up to shake hands
with him, not a bit afraid of the morning sun upon her smooth rich
cheeks, where the colour was not laid on in spots, but seemed to
breathe up from below, like a lamp under water. Outside he saw pet
Polly scraping great holes in the gravel, and the groom throwing all
his weight on the curb to prevent her from bolting homewards. “Hang
it, she wonʼt stand that,” he cried; “her mouth is like a sea–anemone.
Take her by the snaffle–rein. Canʼt you see, you fool, that she hasnʼt
seven coats to her mouth, like you? Excuse my opening the window,” he
apologized to Mrs. Corklemore, “and excuse my speaking harshly, for if
I had not stopped him, he would have thrown my horse down, and I value
my Polly enormously.”

“Especially after her behaviour the other night in the forest. It
is the same with all you gentlemen; the worse you are treated, the
more grateful you are. Oh yes, we heard of it; but we wonʼt tell Mrs.
Hutton.”

“No, indeed, I hope you wonʼt. I should be very sorry for her to get
even a hint of it.”

“To be sure,” laughed Georgie, “to be sure we will keep the secret,
for ever so many reasons; one of them being that Dr. Hutton would be
obliged to part with Miss Polly, if her mistress knew of her conduct.
But I must not be so rude. I see you want to be off quite as much as
fair Polly does. Ah, what a thing it is to have a happy home!”

Here Mrs. Corklemore sighed very deeply. If a woman who always has
her own way, and a woman who is always scheming, can be happy, she,
Georgie, must be so; but she wanted to stir compassion.

“Come,” she said, after turning away, for she had such a jacket on—the
most bewitching thing; it was drawn in tight at her round little waist,
and seemed made like a horseʼs body–clothes, on purpose for her to trot
out in,—“come, Dr. Hutton, say good–bye, and forgive me for beating
you.” Simple creature, of course she knew not the “sacra fames” of
chess–players.

“We must have our return–match. I wonʼt say ‘good–bye’ until you have
promised me that. Shall it be at my house?”

“No. There is only one place in the world where I would dare to attack
you again, and that is Nowelhurst Hall.”

“And why there, more than anywhere else?”

“Because there is a set of men there, with which I can beat anybody.
I believe I could beat Morphy, with those men at Nowelhurst. Ah! you
think me, I see, grossly and stupidly superstitious. Well, perhaps I
am. I do sympathise so with everything.”

“I hope we may meet at Nowelhurst,” replied Rufus, preparing his blow
of Jarnac, “when they have recovered a little from their sad distress.”

“Ah, poor Sir Cradock!” exclaimed the lady, with her expressive eyes
tear–laden, “how I have longed to comfort him! It does seem so hard
that he should renounce the sympathy of his relatives at such a time
as this. And all through some little wretched dissensions in the days
when he misunderstood us! Of course we know that you cannot do it;
that you, a comparative stranger, cannot have sufficient influence
where the dearest friends have failed. My husband, too, in his honest
pride, is very, very obstinate, and my sister quite as bad. They fear,
I suppose,—well, it does seem ridiculous, but you know what vulgar
people say in a case of that sort—they actually fear the imputation
of being fortune–hunters!” Georgie looked so arrogant in her stern
consciousness of right, that Rufus said, and for the moment meant it,
“How absurd, to be sure!”

“Yes,” said Georgie, confidentially, and in the sweetest of all
sweet voices, “between you and me, Dr. Hutton, for I speak to
you quite as to an old friend of the family, whom you have known
so long”—(“Holloa,” thought Rufus, “in the last breath I was a
‘comparative stranger!’”)—“I think it below our dignity to care for
such an absurdity; and that now, as good Christians, we are bound to
sink all petty enmities, and comfort the poor bereaved one. If you can
contribute in any way to this act of Christian charity, may I rely upon
your good word? But for the world, donʼt tell my husband; he would be
so angry at the mere idea.”

“I will do my best, Mrs. Corklemore; you may rely upon that.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you! I felt quite sure that you had a generous
heart. I should have been so disappointed—perhaps, after all, we shall
play our next game of chess at Christmas with the men I am so lucky
with. And then, look to yourself, Dr. Hutton.”

“I trust you will find a player there who can give me a pawn and two
moves. If you beat him, you may boast indeed.”

“What player do you mean?” asked Georgie, feeling rather less
triumphant. “Any Indian friend of yours?”

“Yes, one for whom I have the very greatest regard. For whose sake,
indeed, I first renewed my acquaintance with Sir Cradock, because I
bore a message to him; for the Colonel is a bad correspondent.”

“The Colonel! I donʼt understand you.” As she said these words, how
those eyes of hers, those expressive eyes, were changing! And her
lovely jacket, so smart and well cut, began to “draw” over the chest.

“Did you not know,” asked Rufus, watching her in a way that made her
hate him worse than when he took her queen, “is it possible that you
have not heard, that Colonel Nowell, Clayton Nowell, Sir Cradockʼs only
brother, is coming home this month, and brings his darling child with
him?” Now for your acting, Georgie; now for your self–command. We shall
admire, henceforth, or laugh at you, according to your present conduct.

She was equal to the emergency. She commanded her eyes, and her lips,
and bosom, after that one expansion, even her nerves, to the utmost
fibre—everything but her colour. The greatest actor ever seen, when
called on to act in real life, can never command colour if the skin
has proper spiracles. The springs of our heart will come up and go
down, as God orders the human weather. But she turned away, with
that lily–whiteness, because she knew she had it, and rushed up
enthusiastically to her sister at the end of the room.

“Dear Anna, darling Anna, oh, I am so delighted! We have been so
wretched about poor Sir Cradock. And now his brother is coming to mind
him, with such delightful children! We thought he was dead, oh, so many
years! What a gracious providence!”

“Haw!” said Nowell Corklemore.

“The devil!” said Bailey Kettledrum, and Rufus caught the re–echo, but
hoped it might be a mistake.

Then they all came forward, gushing, rushing, rapturous to embrace him.

“Oh, Dr. Hutton, surely this is too good news to be true!”

“I think not,” said Rufus Hutton, mystical and projecting, “I really
trust it is not. But I thought you must have heard it, from your close
affinity, otherwise I should have told you the moment I came in; but
now I hope this new arrival will heal over all—make good, I mean, all
family misunderstandings.”

“Colonel Clayton Nowell,” said Mr. Nowell Corklemore, conclusively,
and with emphasis, “Colonel Clayton Nowell was shot dead outside the
barracks at Mhow, on the 25th day of June, sir, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and fifty–six. Correct me, sir, if I am
wrong.”

“Then,” said Rufus, “I venture to correct you at once.”

“Shot, sir,” continued Corklemore, “as I am, I may say—haw,—in a
position to prove, by a man called Abdoollah Manjee, believed to be a
Mussulman. Colonel Clayton Nowell, sir, commanding officer in command
of Her Majestyʼs Companyʼs native regiment, Nº· One hundred and
sixty–three, who was called,—excuse me, sir, designated, the ‘father
of his regiment,’ because he had so many illegitimate—haw, I beg your
pardon, ladies—because of his—ha, yes,—patriarchal manners, sir,
and kindly disposition,—he—haw, where was I?”

“I am sure I canʼt say,” said Rufus.

“No, sir, my memory is more tenacious than that of any man I meet
with. He, Colonel Clayton Nowell, sir, upon that fatal morning, was
remonstrated with by the two—ah, yes, the two executors of his
will—upon his rashness in riding forth to face those carnal, I mean to
say, those incarnate devils, sir. ‘Are you fools enough,’ he replied,
‘to think that _my_ fellows would hurt _me_? Give me a riding–whip, and
be ready with plasters, for I shall thrash them before I let them come
back.’ Now isnʼt every word of that true?”

“Yes, almost every word of it,” replied Rufus, now growing excited.

“Well, sir, he took his favourite half–bred—for he understood
cross–breeding thoroughly—and he rode out at the side–gate, where
the heap of sand was; ‘Coming back,’ he cried to the English sentry,
‘coming back in half an hour, with all my scamps along of me. Keep the
coppers ready.’ And with that he spurred his brown and black mare; and
no man saw him alive thereafter, except the fellows who shot him. Haw!”

“Yes,” said Rufus Hutton, “one man saw him alive, after they shot him
in the throat, and one man saved his life; and he is the man before
you.”

“What you, Dr. Hutton! What you! Oh, how grateful we ought to be to
you.”

“Thank you. Well, I donʼt quite see that,” Rufus replied, most dryly.
Then he corrected himself: “You know I only did my duty.”

“And his son?” inquired Georgie, timidly, and with sympathy, but the
greatest presence of mind. She had stood with her hands clasped, and
every emotion (except the impossible one of selfishness) quivering on
her sweet countenance; and now she was so glad, oh, so glad, she could
never tell you. “His poor illegitimate son, Dr. Hutton? Will he bring
the poor child home with him? How glad we shall be to receive him!”

“The child he brings with him is Eoa, dear natural odd Eoa, his
legitimate daughter.”

“Then you know her, Dr. Hutton; you could depose to her identity?”

A very odd question; but some women have almost the gift of prophecy.

“Oh, yes! I should rather think so. I have known her since she was ten
years old.”

“And now they are coming home. How pleasant! How sweet to receive them,
as it were from the dead! By the overland route, I suppose, and with a
lac of rupees?”

“No,” said the badgered Rufus, “you are wrong in both conjectures.
They come round the Cape, by the clipper–ship _Aliwal_; and with very
few rupees. Colonel Nowell has always been extravagant, a wonderfully
fine–hearted man, but a hand that could never hold anything—except,
indeed, a friendʼs.”

By the moisture in Rue Huttonʼs eyes, Georgie saw that her interests
would fare ill with him, if brought into competition with those of
Colonel Nowell. Meanwhile Polly was raving wild, and it took two
grooms to hold her, and the white froth dribbling down her curb was to
Rufus Hutton as the foam of the sea to a sailor. He did love a tearing
gallop, only not through the thick of the forest.

“Good–bye, good–bye! I shall see you soon. Thank you, I will take a
cheroot. But I only smoke my own. Good–bye! I am so much obliged to
you. You have been so very kind. Mrs. Hutton will be miserable until
you come over to us. Good–bye; once more, good–bye!”

Rufus Hutton, you see, was a man of the world, and could be false
“on occasion.” John Rosedew could never have made that speech on the
back of detected falsehood. Away went Polly, like a gale of wind; and
Rufus (who was no rogue by nature, only by the force of circumstances,
and then could never keep to it), he going along twenty miles an
hour, set his teeth to the breeze, which came down the funnel of his
cigar as down a steamerʼs chimney, stuck his calves well into Pollyʼs
sides, and felt himself a happy man, going at a rocketʼs speed, to
a home of happiness. All of us who have a home (and unless we leave
our heart there, whenever we go away, we have no home at all), all
of us who have a hole in this shifting sandy world—the sand as of
an hour–glass—but whence we have spun such a rope as the devil can
neither make nor break—I mean to say, we, all who love, without any
hems, and haws, and rubbish, those who are only our future tense
(formed from the present by adding “so”)—all of us who are lucky
enough, I believe we may say good enough, to want no temporal augment
from the prefix of society, only to cling upon the tree to the second
aorist of our children, wherein the root of the man lurks, the grand
indefinite so anomalous; all these fellows, if they can anyhow
understand this sentence, will be glad to hear that Rufus Hutton had a
jolly ride.

Rosa waited at the gate; why do his mareʼs shoes linger? Rosa ran in,
and ran out again, and was sure that she heard something pelting down
the hill much too fast, for her sake! but who could blame him when he
knew he was coming home at last? Then Rosa snapped poor Jonahʼs head
off, for being too thick to hear it.

Meanwhile, a mighty senate was held at Kettledrum Hall, Mrs. Corklemore
herself taking the curule chair. After a glimpse of natural life, and
the love of man and woman, we want no love of money; so we lift our
laps (like the Roman envoy) and shake out war with the whole of them.

Fools who think that life needs gilding—life, whose flowing blood
contains every metal but gold and silver—because they clog and poison
it! Blessed is he who earns his money, and spends it all on a Saturday.
He looks forward to it throughout the week; and the beacon of life is
hope, even as God is its pole–star.



CHAPTER II.


Mr. Garnetʼs house, well away to the west, was embraced more closely
and lovingly by the gnarled arms of the Forest than the Hall, or even
the Rectory. Just in the scoop of a sunny valley, high enough to
despise the water, and low enough to defy the wind, there was nothing
to concern it much, but the sighing of the branches. Over the brown
thatch hung two oak–trees, whispering leaves of history, offering the
acorn cup upon the parlour hearth, chafing their rheumatic knuckles
against the stone of the chimneys, wondering when the great storm
should come that would give them an inside view of it. For though the
cottage lay so snugly, scarcely lifting its thatched eyebrows at the
draught which stole up the valley, nevertheless those guardian oaks had
wrestled a bout or two with the tempests. In the cyclone on the morning
of November 29th, 1836, and again on the 7th of January, 1842, they
had gripped the ground, and set hard their knees, and groaned at the
thought of salt water. Since then the wind had been less of a lunatic
(although there had been some ruffianly work in 1854), and they hoped
there was a good time coming, and so spread their branches further and
further, and thought less of the price of timber. There was only one
wind that frightened them much, and that was two points north of west,
the very direction whence, if they fell, crash they must come on the
cottage. For they stood above it, the root–head some ten feet above the
back–floor of the basement, and the branches towering high enough for a
wood–pigeon not to be nervous there.

Now we only get heavy pressure of squalls from the west–north–west
after a thorough–going tempest which has begun in the southward, and
means to box half the compass. So the two great oaks were regarded by
their brethren up the hill as jolly fellows, happy dogs, born with a
silver spoon in their mouths, good for another thousand years, although
they might be five hundred old; unless, indeed—and here all the trees
shuddered—there came such another hurricane as in 1703. But which
of us knows his own brotherʼs condition? Those two oaks stood, and
each knew it, upon a steep bank, where no room was for casting out
stay–roots to east–south–east.

Bull Garnet hated those two trees, with terror added to hatred. Even
if they never crushed him, which depended much on the weather, they
_would_ come in at his bedroom window when the moon was high. Wandering
shapes of wavering shadow, with the flickering light between them,
walking slowly as a ghost does, and then very likely a rustle and tap,
a shivering, a shuddering; it made the ground–floor of his heart shake
in the nightmare hours.

Never before had he feared them so much, one quarter so much, as
this October; and, during the full and the waning moon after Clayton
Nowellʼs death, he got very little sleep for them. By day he worked
harder than ever, did more than three men ought to do, was everywhere
on the estates, but never swore at any one—though the men scratched
their ears for the want of it—laboured hard, and early, and late, if
so he might come home at night (only not in the dark), come home at
night thoroughly weary. His energy was amazing. No man anywhere felling
wood—Mr. Garnetʼs especial luxury—no man hedging and ditching,
or frithing, or stubbing up fern and brambles, but had better look
out what he had in his bag, or “the governor would be there, and no
mistake.” A workman could scarcely stand and look round, and wonder how
his sick wife was, or why he had got to work so hard, could scarcely
slap himself on the breast, or wet his hard hands for a better grip,
but there was Bull Garnet before him, with sad, fierce, dogged eyes,
worse than his strongest oaths had been.

Everybody said it was (and everybody believed it; for the gossip had
spread from the household in spite of the maidens’ fear of him) the
cause of it was, beyond all doubt, the illness of his daughter. Pearl
Garnet, that very eccentric girl, as Rufus Hutton concluded, who had
startled poor Polly so dreadfully, was prostrate now with a nervous
fever, and would not see even the doctor. Our Amy, who pleaded hard to
see her, because she was sure she could do her good, received a stern
sharp negative, and would have gone away offended, only she was so
sorry for her. Not that any fervid friendship, such as young ladies
exult in for almost a fortnight incessant, not that any rapturous love
exclusive of all _man_kind had ever arisen between them, for they had
nothing whatever in common, save beauty and tenacity, which girls do
not love in each other: only that she was always sorry for any one deep
in trouble. And believing that Pearl had loved Clayton Nowell, and was
grieving for him bitterly, how could Amy help contrasting that misery
with her own happiness?

For Amy was nice and happy now, in spite of Cradockʼs departure, and
the trouble he had departed in. He loved her almost half as much, she
believed, as she loved him; and was not that enough for anybody? His
troubles would flow by in time; who on earth could doubt it, unless
they doubted God? He was gone to make his way in the world, and her
only fear was lest he should make it too grand for Amy to share in.
She liked the school–children so, and the pony, and to run out now
and then to the kitchen, and dip a bit of crust in the dripping–pan;
and she liked to fill her dear fatherʼs pipe, and spread a thin
handkerchief over his head. Would all these pleasures be out of her
sphere, when Cradock came back, with all London crowning him the
greatest and best man of the age? Innocent Amy, never fear. “Nemo, nisi
ob homicidium, repente fuit clarissimus.”

Mr. Garnet would have felled those oaks, in spite of Sir Cradockʼs
most positive orders, if there had not been another who could not
command, but could plead for them. Every morning as the steward came
out, frowned and shook his fist at them, the being whom he loved most
on earth—far beyond himself, his daughter, and the memory of their
mother, all multiplied into each other,—that boy Bob came up to him,
and said, “Father, donʼt, _for my sake_.”

We have not heard much of Bob Garnet yet; we have scarcely shaped him
feebly; by no means was he a negative character, yet described most
briefly by negatives. In every main point, except two, he was his
fatherʼs cardinal opposite. Those two were generosity (which combines
the love of truth with a certain warmth of impulse) and persevering
energy. Even those two were displayed in ways entirely different, but
the staple was very similar.

Bob Garnet was a naturalist. Gentle almost as any girl, and more so
than his sister, he took small pleasure in the ways of men, intense
delight in those of every other creature. Bob loved all things God
had made, even as fair Amy did. All his day, and all his life, he
would have spent, if he had the chance, among the ferns and mosses,
the desmidiæ of the forest pools, the sun–dew and the fungi, the
buff–tips and red underwings, privet–hawks, and emperors. He knew all
the children of the spring and handmaids of the summer, all of autumnʼs
laden train and the comforters of winter. The happiest of mankind is he
whose stores of life are endless, whose pure delights can never cloy,
who sees and feels in every birth, in every growth or motion, his own
Almighty Father; and loving Him is loved again, as a child who spreads
his arms out.

Mr. Garnetʼs affection for this boy surpassed the love of women. He
petted, and patted, and coaxed him, and talked nonsense to him by the
hour; he was jealous even of Bobʼs attachment to his sister Pearl; in
short, all the energy of his goodness, which, like the rest of his
energies, transcended the force of other menʼs, centred and spent
itself mainly there. But of late Bob had passed all his time with his
mother—I mean, of course, with Nature; for his mother in the flesh was
dead many a year ago. He had now concluded, with perfect contentment,
that his education was finished; and to have the run of the forest at
this unwonted season more than consoled him for the disgrace of his
recent expulsion from school.

Scarcely any one would believe that Bob Garnet, the best and gentlest
boy that ever cried over Euripides—not from the pathos of the poet
certainly, but from his own—Bob Garnet, who sang to snails to come
out, and they felt that he could not beat them, should have been
expelled disgracefully from a private school, whose master must
needs expel his own guineas with every banished pupil. However, so
it was, and the crime was characteristic. He _would_ sit at night in
the lime–trees. Those lime–trees overhung the grey stone wall of the
playground near Southampton; and some wanton boys had been caught
up there, holding amoibæans with little nursemaids and girls of all
work, come out to get lung–and–tongue food. Thereupon a stern ukase
was issued that the next boy caught up there would be expelled without
trial, as the corrupter of that pure flock. The other boys laughed, I
am sorry to say, when “Bob, the natural,” as they called him, meaning
thereby the naturalist, was the first to be discovered there, crawling
upon a branch as cleverly as a looper caterpillar. Even then the
capital sentence was commuted that time, for every master knew, as well
as every boy, that Bob could never “say bo” to anything of the feminine
gender capable of articulating. So Bob had to learn the fourth Georgic
by heart, and did most of it (with extreme enjoyment) up in that very
same tree. For he kept all his caterpillars there, his beetle–traps,
his moth–nets, even some glorious pupæ, which were due at the end
of August; and he nursed a snug little fernery, and had sown some
mistletoe seeds, and a dozen other delicious things, and the lime–hawks
wanted to burrow soon; in a word, it was Bobʼs hearth and heart–place,
for no other boy could scale it. But just when Bob had got to the
beginning of Aristæus, and the late bees were buzzing around him,
although the linden had berried, an officious usher spied him out—a
dirty little fellow, known and despised by all the more respectable
_σιωπητέαι_ of Southampton. With hottest indignation, that mean low
beggar cried out—

“Boy in the tree there! I see you! Your name this moment, you rascal!”

“Garnet, sir, Bob Garnet. And if you please, sir, I am not a rascal.”

“Come down, sir, this very instant; or else Iʼll come up after you.”

“I donʼt think you can, sir,” replied Bob, looking down complacently;
for, as we shall see by–and–by, he was no coward in an emergency. “If
you please, sir, no boy in the school can climb this tree except me,
sir, since Brown senior left.”

“I can tell you one thing, Garnet: itʼs the last time youʼll ever climb
it.”

“Oh, then I must collect my things; I am sorry to keep you waiting,
sir. But they are such beauties, and I canʼt see well to pack them.”

Bob packed up his treasures deliberately in his red
pocket–handkerchief, and descended very cleverly, holding it with his
teeth. The next morning he had to pack his box, and became in the
school a mere legend.

His father flew into a violent passion, not with the son, but the
schoolmaster: however, he was so transported with joy at getting his
own Bob home again, that he soon forgave the cause of it. So the boy
got the run of the potato–fields, pollard–trees, and rushy pools, and
hunted and grubbed and dabbled, and came home sometimes with three
handkerchiefs, not to mention his hat, full. One lovely day this
October, before the frost set in—a frost of a length and severity most
rare at that time of year—Bob Garnet took his basket and trowel, nets,
lens, &c., and set out for a sandy patch, not far from the stream by
the Rectory, where in his July holidays he had found some Gladiolus
Illyricus, a bloom of which he had carried home, and now he wanted some
roots of it. He could not think why his father left him so very much to
himself now, and had ceased from those little caresses and fondlings,
which used to make Bob look quite ashamed sometimes in the presence of
strangers. He felt that his father loved him quite as much as ever,
and he had found those strong eyes set upon him with an expression,
as it appeared to him, of sorrow and compassion. He had a great mind
to ask what the matter was; but his love for his father was a strange
feeling, mixed with some dread and uncertainty. He would make Pearl
tell him all about it, that would be the best way; for she as well had
been carrying on very oddly of late. She sat in her own room all day
long, and would never come down to dinner, and would never come out for
a stroll with him, but slipped out by herself sometimes in the evening;
that, at least, he was sure of. And to tell him indeed, him going on
now for seventeen years of age, that he was too young to ask questions!
He would let her know, he was quite resolved, that because she happened
to be two years older—a pretty reason that was for treating him like a
baby! She who didnʼt know a wire–worm from a ring–worm, nor an elater
from a tipula, and thought that the tippet–moth was a moth that fed
upon tippets! Recalling fifty other instances of poor Pearlʼs deep
ignorance, Bob grew more and more indignant, as he thought of the way
she treated him. He would stand it no longer. If she was in trouble,
that was only the greater reason—— Holloa!

Helter–skelter, off dashed Bob after a Queen of Spain fritillary,
the first he had ever seen on the wing, and a grand prize for any
collector, even of ten times his standing. It was one of the second
brood, invited by the sun to sport awhile. And rare sport it afforded
Bob, who knew it at once from the other fritillaries, for the shape of
the wings is quite different, and he had seen it in grand collections.
An active little chap it was, greatly preferring life to death, and
thoroughly aware that man is the latterʼs chief agent. Once Bob made
quite sure of it, for it had settled on a blackberry–spray, and smack
the net came down upon it, but a smack too hard, for the thorns came
grinning out at the bottom, and away went the butterfly laughing. Bob
made good the net in a moment with some very fine pins that he carried,
and off again in still hotter pursuit, having kept his eyes on dear
Lathonia. But the prey was now grown wondrous skeary since that narrow
shave, and the huntsman saw that his only chance was a clever swoop in
mid air. So he raised his net high, and zig–zagged recklessly round the
trees, through the bushes, up the banks and down them. At last he got
quite close to her, but she flipped round a great beech–trunk; Bob made
a cast at hazard, and caught not the Queen, but Amy.

Amy was not frightened much, neither was she hurt, though her pretty
round head came out through the net—for she had taken her hat off—and
the ring lay upon her shoulders, which the rich hair had shielded from
bruises. She would have been frightened terribly, only she knew what
was going on, and had stepped behind the tree to avoid the appearance
of interfering. For she did not wish—she knew not why—but, by some
instinct, she did not wish to have much to do with the Garnets. She
regarded poor Bob as a schoolboy, who was very fond of insects, and
showed his love by killing them.

But if Amy was not frightened much, Bob, the captor, was. He dropped
the handle of his net, and fell back against the beech–tree. Then Amy
laughed, and took off the net, or the relics of the gauze at least, and
kindly held out her hand to him, and said,

“Oh, how you are grown!”

“And so are you. Oh dear me, have you seen her? Have you seen her?”

“Seen whom?” asked Amy, “my Aunt Eudoxia? She is on there, by the
ash–tree.”

“The Queen of Spain, Miss Rosedew, the Queen of Spain fritillary! Oh,
tell me which way she went! If I lose her, I am done for!”

“Then, I fear, Master Garnet”—[“Confound it,” thought Bob, “how all
the girls do patronize me!”]—“I am very much afraid you must make up
your mind to annihilation, if by the ‘Queen of Spain’ you mean that
common brown little butterfly you wanted just now to kill so much.”

“Is she gone across the river, then? That is nothing, I assure you. I
would go through fire after her. Oh, tell me, only tell me.”

Amy could not help laughing; poor Bob looked so ridiculous, fitting a
new net all the time upon the ring of the old one, the crown of his hat
come to look for his head, his trousers kicked well up over his boots,
and his coat an undoubted ventilator.

“I really donʼt know,” said Amy; “how could you expect me to see
through your shrimp–net, Master Garnet?”

“Oh, I beg your pardon—how stupid I am, to be sure—I beg your pardon
a thousand times; really I might have hurt you. I would not do that
for——”

“Even the Queen of Spain. To tell you the truth, Master Garnet, if I
knew where she was gone I would not tell you, because I canʼt bear to
have things killed. In my opinion, it is so cruel.”

“Oh!” cried Bob, a very long “oh,” drawn out into half an ell; and he
looked at Amy all the time he was saying it, which was a wonderful
thing for him to do. Then it occurred to his mind, for the first time
possibly, what a beautiful creature she was, more softly shaded than a
Chalk–hill blue, and richer than a cream–spotted tiger–moth! The moment
he felt this Bob was done for; Amy had caught her captor.

Flushed as he was with the long hot chase, his cheeks grew hotter and
redder, as he got a dim consciousness of a few of the things which he
was feeling. He was like a chrysalis, touched in the winter, when it
goes on one side from the crust of the thorax, and sometimes can never
get right again. After having said “oh,” with emphasis and so much
diæresis, Bob did not feel called upon for any further utterance till
Amy was gone to her Aunt Eudoxia; and then he contrived to say, “Ah!”
He was more put out than he had been even when his pet poplar–hawk
caterpillar was devoured alive by ichneumon grubs. He went round the
tree ever so many times, and wondered what was the matter with him, how
he came there, and what he was doing.

Alas, poor Bob! Nature, who overlooks nothing, was well aware of the
difficulties when she cried, “Jump up on my lap, Bob, and never be
weaned from me.” She knew that things of all sorts would come between
herself and her child, some of them drawn from her own mother–milk,
but most of them from manʼs muzzling. Of the latter she had not much
fear with Bob; but the former, she knew, were beyond her, and she had
none but herself to thank for them. She knew that the lad, so strongly
imbued with her own pleasant affluences, was almost sure to be touched
with that one which comes from her breast the warmest. And then what
would become of zoology, phytology, entomology, and all the other
yard–long names which her children spin out of her apron–strings?

While Bob was still fiddling with his fingers, and forgetting all about
butterflies, Miss Eudoxia, fetched by Amy, came to hold discourse with
him.

“Why, Master Robert, I do declare, Robert, my butterfly boy! I have not
seen you for such a time, Robert.” And she held out her hand, which Bob
took with very little sense of gratitude. To be called a “butterfly
boy” before Amy, and Amy to acquiesce in it!

“Ah, you think I have nothing for you, Robert. You school–boys live
upon suction. But just wait a moment, my dear.”

She drew forth an old horn comfit–box, which had belonged to her
grandmother, and was polished up like amber from the chafing of
many a lining. This she opened with much ado, poured three crinkled
sugar–plums on her gloved palm, and a smooth one as large as a
hazel–nut, and offered them all to Robert, with a smile of the finest
patronage.

“No, thank you, Miss Rosedew; no, thank you. I am very much obliged to
you.”

Miss Eudoxia had been wondering at her own generosity, and thought that
he was overcome with it. So her smile became one of encouragement and
assurance against self–sacrifice.

“Oh, you need not be afraid, Robert. And you can put some under your
pillow, and wake up in the night and suck them. How nice that will be,
to be sure! You see I know what boys are. And I have plenty left for
the infant–school. And they donʼt deserve them as you do, Robin.”

“Miss Rosedew,” said Bob, in his loftiest manner, though he was
longing for them, only that Amy was there; “you will believe me when I
assure you that I never touch sweets of any sort; not even at a late
dinner–party.”

Miss Eudoxia turned her eyes up, and almost dropped the sugar–plums.
But Amy, instead of being impressed, merrily laughed, and said,

“Give them to me, then, auntie, please. Some of the men at the
night–school eat sweets after early suppers.”

Bob said “good–bye” disconsolately, for he knew that he had affronted
Miss Doxy, without rising in Amyʼs opinion. He forgot all about the
gladiolus, and let many great prizes escape him; for the day was the
last of the soft and sunny, which tempt forth the forest denizens ere
the frosty seal is set on them. In the glimpses of every brown arcade,
in the jumbled gleam of the underwood, in the alleys between the
upstanding trees, even in the strong light where the golden patches
shone, and the wood fell back to look at them, in all of these he
seemed to see and then to lose his angel. Her face he could not see
clearly yet, hard as he strove to do it; affection is, but love is not,
a photographic power. Still he could see her shadowly; her attitude,
the fall of her hair, the manner of her gestures; even the ring of her
voice would seem to dwell about the image. But he never got them all
together; one each time was the leading thing; vague; and yet it went
through him.

He made one attempt—for he feared from the first, although he never
could feel it so, that his love was a thorough wild–goose chase—the
poor boy made one last attempt to catch at some other pursuit.

“Father,” he said that very same night, after sitting for hours of
wandering, “will you give me a gun and let me take to shooting?”

“A gun!” cried Bull Garnet, starting; “a gun, Bob! What do you mean by
it?”

“I meant nothing at all, father. Only I know the way to stuff birds,
and there are some rare ones here sometimes, and I want to make a
collection.”

“Bob Garnet, as long as I am alive, you never shall have a gun.”

“Then, will you lend me yours, father? I know very well how to use it.
I mean your patent——”

“Never, Bob. My son, if you love me, never speak of it again.”



CHAPTER III.


When Miss Rosedew and her niece came in to get ready for dinner, Amy
cried out suddenly, “Oh, only look at the roses, aunt; how they have
opened to–day! What delicious Louise Odier, and just look at General
Jacqueminot! and I do declare Jules Margottin is finer than he was at
Midsummer. I must cut a few, for I know quite well there will come a
great frost if I donʼt, and then where will all my loves be?”

Amyʼs prediction about the weather was as random a guess as we may find
in great authorities, who are never right, although they give the winds
sixteen points of the thirty–two to shuffle in. But it so turned out
that the girl was right—a point of the compass never hit till a day
too late by our weather–clerks.

That very same night such a frost set in as had not been known in
October for very nearly a century. It lasted nine nights and eight
days; twice the mercury fell more than half way from the freezing
point to zero, and the grass was crisp in the shade all day, though
the high sun wiped off the whiteness at noon wherever he found the
way to it. Boys rejoiced, and went mitching, to slide on the pools of
the open furzery: no boys since the time of their great–grandfathers
had done the heel–tap in October. But the birds did not appreciate
it. What in the world did it mean? Why, there were the hips not ripe
yet, and the hollyberries come to no colour, and half the blackberries
still too acid, and, lo! it was freezing hard enough to make a worm
cold for the stomach, even if you could get him! Surely there was some
stupid mistake of two months in the piperʼs almanac. All they could
say was that, if it were so, those impudent free–and–easy birds who
came sponging on them in the winter—and too stuck up, forsooth! to
live with them after sucking all the fat of the land, and winning their
daughters’ affections—those outlandish beggars—be hanged to them—had
got the wrong almanac too.

Why, they had not even heard the chatter, the everlasting high–fashion
clack, of those jerk–tail fieldfares yet; nor had a missel–thrush
come swaggering to bully a decent throstle that had sung hard all
the summer, just because his breast and his coarse–shaped spots were
bigger. Why, they had not even seen a clumsy short–eared owl flopping
out of the dry fern yet—much good might it do him, the fern that
belonged to themselves!—nor a single wedge of grey–lag geese, nor a
woodcock that knew his business. And those nasty dissolute quacking
mallards that floated in bed all day, the sluggards, and then wouldnʼt
let a respectable bird have a chance of a good nightʼs roost—there
they were still on the barley–stubble; please God they might only get
frozen!

And yet, confound it all, what was the weather coming to? You might
dig, and tap, and jump with both feet, and put your head on one side
in the most knowing manner possible, and get behind a tuft of grass,
and wait there ever so long, and devil a worm would come up! And,
as for the slugs, oh, donʼt let me hear of them! Though the thieves
had not all got home yet, they were ten degrees too cold for even an
oyster–catcherʼs stomach: feathers and pip, my dear fellow! it gives me
the colic to think of one. Put your head under my wing, Jenny Wren; oh,
my darling, how cold your beak is!

Such, so far as I could gather them, were the sentiments of the birds,
and their confabulation, when they went to roost, half an hour earlier
than usual—for bed is the warmest place after all; besides, what was
there to do?—on the 24th of October, 1859. And they felt the cold
rime settling down on grey twig, and good brown leaf. Yet some of the
older birds, cocks of long experience, buffers beyond all chaff, perked
one eye at the eastern heavens, before tucking it under the scapular
down—the eastern heavens all barred with murky red. Then they gave a
little self–satisfied tweedle, which meant to the ear of Melampus,

“Ah ha! an old bird like me knows something about the weather! Bless
my drumsticks and merrythought, I shanʼt be so cold and hungry, please
God, this time to–morrow night.”

Oh you little wiseacres, much you know what impendeth! A worse row than
all the mallards you grumble at could make in a thousand years will
spoil your roost to–morrow night. Think it a mercy if you do not get
your very feathers blown off of you—ay, and the tree of your ancestors
snapped beneath your feet—before this time to morrow night.

John Rosedew met the prettiest bird that ever had nest in the
New Forest, his own little duck of an Amy, in the passage by the
parlour–door, at eight oʼclock in the morning of that 25th of October.
He kissed her white forehead lovingly, according to early usage; then
he glanced at the weather–glass, and went nearer, supposing that his
short sight had cheated him.

“Why, Amy dear, you must have forgotten to set the glass last night.”

“No, indeed, papa. I set it very carefully. You know I can do it as
well as you can, since you showed me the way. It was just a little
hollow last night, and I moved the Verrier scale just a hundredth part
of an inch downwards, and then it was ten oʼclock.”

“Then may the Lord have mercy on all seafaring men, especially our poor
boatmen, and the dredging people off Rushford!”

Mr. Rosedew, as has been said before, was parson of Rushford as well as
of Nowelhurst. At the former place he kept a curate, but looked after
the poor people none the less, for the distance was only six miles; and
now, as his legs were getting stiff, he had bought Coræbus to help him.
Rushford lies towards the eastern end of the great Hurst shingle bank,
the most dangerous part of Christchurch Bay, being fully exposed to the
south–west gales, and just in the run of the double tide; in the eddy
of the Needles.

“Why, what is the matter, papa? Even if it rains, it wonʼt hurt them
much. And itʼs as lovely a morning as ever was seen, and the white
frost sparkling beautifully. What a magnificent sunrise! Or, at least,
a very strange one.”

“ʼSibi temperat unda carinis.’ All is smooth for the present. But I
heard the lash of the ground–sea last night, when I lay awake. Fetch
my telescope, darling, and come with me to the green room. We can see
thence to St. Albanʼs Head; but the danger is for those beyond it. All
the ships on this side of it will have time to work up the Solent.
Never before have I known the mercury fall as it has done now. An inch
and a tenth in only ten hours!”

When they went to bed on the previous night, the quicksilver stood at
30° 10´. Now it was at 29°, and cupped like the bottom of a champagne
bottle, which showed that it still fell rapidly. But as yet the silver
of the frost was sparkling on the lawn, and the morning sun looked up
the heavens, as if he felt all right. Nevertheless, it was but show:
he is bound to make the best of it, and, like all other warm–hearted
beings, sometimes has sorry work there.

When they saw that no large craft had rounded St. Albanʼs Head, only
that the poor cement–dredgers were working away at septaria, John and
his daughter went to breakfast, hoping that no harm would be, while
Miss Eudoxia lay in bed, and reflected on her own good qualities.

Amy came out after breakfast, without any bonnet or hat on, to make her
own observations. That girl so loved the open air, the ever glorious
concave, the frank palm of the hand of God—for in cities we get His
knuckles—that she felt as if she had not bowed before her Friend and
Maker, the all–giving, the all–loving One, until she had paid her
orisons and sung her morning hymn with His own ceiling over her. So now
she walked beneath the branches laden with His jewellery, and over the
ground hard–trodden by ministers doing His will, and beside the spear
and the flat–grass, chilled with the awe of His breath, and among the
wailing flowers, wailing and black and shrivelled up, because His face
was cold to them.

For these poor Amy grieved sadly, for she was just beginning to care
again for the things whose roots were outside of her. Lo the bright
chrysanthemums, plumed, reflex, and fimbriate; lo the gorgeous dahlias,
bosses quilled and plaited tight, and wrought with depth of colour;
and then the elegant asters, cushioned, cochleate, praying only to
have their eyes looked into; most of all, her own sweet roses, chosen
flowers of the chosen land—they hung their heads, and stuck together,
as brown as a quartered apple. Who could look at them, who could think
of them, and not feel as if some of herself were dead?

Now, walking there, this youthful maiden, fairest of all His works
and purest, began to observe, as He has taught us, the delicacies,
the pores, and glints of the grand universal footprint. Not that the
girl perceived one–tenth of the things being done around her, any more
than I can tell them; for observation grows from as well as begets
experience; and the girlish mind (and the boyish too, at any rate for
the most part) has very lax and indefinite communion with nature. How
seldom do we meet a lady who knows what way the wind is! They all
believe that it must freeze harder when the sky is cloudy; not one in
fifty but trembles more at the thunder than at the lightning.

Yet Amy, with true womanʼs instinct, being alarmed for the lives of
others, after her fatherʼs prediction, looked around her narrowly. And
first her eyes went upwards, and they were right in doing so. Of the
sky she knew less than nothing—although herself well known there; but
the trees—come now, she was perfectly sure she knew something about
the trees. So you do, you darling; and yet a very wee little; though
more than half the ladies do. You know an elm from a wych–elm, and a
hornbeam from a beech; and what more can we expect of you?

The rime upon the dark tree–boles and the forward push of the branches,
the rime of white fur, newly breathen but an hour ago, when a flaw
from the east came cat–like, and went through without moving anything;
this delicate down from the lips of morning, silk work upon the
night–fleece, was, as all most beautiful is, the first to fleet and
vanish. Changing into a doubtful glister, which you must touch to be
sure of it, then trickling away into beaded drops, like a tear which
will have no denial, it came down the older and harder rime, and
perhaps would bring that into its humour, and perhaps would get colder
and freeze again into little lumps, like a tap leaking. Then the white
face of the rough pillared trunks, pearled with glistening purity, was
bighted into with scoops and dark bays, like the sweep of a scythe in
the morning. On the bars of the gate, the silver harvest, spiked and
cropping infinitely, began to sheave itself away, and then the sheaves
were full ripe tears, and the tears ran down if you thought of them.

But the notable sight of all, at least to a loitering mind the most
striking, was to see how the hoar–frost gradually was lifting its light
wing from the grass. In little tufts and random patches—random to us
who know not why—the spangles, the spears, and the crusted flakes,
the fairy tinsel, the ermine of dew, the very down of moonlight, the
kiss of the sky too pure for snow, and the glittering glance of stars
reflected—all this loveliness, caught and fastened, by the nightʼs
halourgic, in one broad sheet of virgin white, was hovering off in
tufts and patches, as if a blind angel had breathed on it, with his
flight only guided by pity.

But through, and in, and between it all, the boles of the trees, and
the bars of the gate, the ridge of the ruts, and dapples of lawn, one
thing Amy observed which puzzled her, for even she knew that it was
a thing against all usage. The thaw was not on the south side or the
south–east side of anything, though the sickly sun was gazing there;
but the melting came from the north, and took the frost aback. She
wondered vainly about it, but the matter was simple enough, like most
of the things which we wonder at, instead of at our own ignorance. A
flaw of warm air from the north had set in; a lower warp which shot
through and threaded the cold south–eastern woof. This is not a common
occurrence. Since my vague, unguided, and weak observations began, I
have only seen it thrice. And on each of those three times it has been
followed by a fearful tempest. Usually, a frost breaks up with a shift
of the wind to the south–east, a gradual relaxing, a fusion of warmer
air, and a great effusion of damp, a blanket of clouds for the earth,
and a doubt in the sky how to use them. Then the doubt ends—as many
other doubts end—in precipitation. The wind chops round to the west of
south; the moisture condenses outside our windows, instead of starring
the inside; and then come a few spits of rain. But the rain is not
often heavy at first, although it is stinging and biting,—a rain which
is half ashamed of itself, as if it ought to be hail.

But, after all, these things depend on things we cannot depend
upon,—moods of the air to be multiplied into humours of the earth and
sea, and the product traversed, indorsed, divided, touched, and sliced
at every angle by solar, lunar, and astral influences.

  “Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas.”

Lucky the man who knows when to take out his umbrella.

That morning, the north wind crept along, sponging the rime from the
grass, and hustling it rudely from the tree–sprays, on many of which
the black leaves draggled, frozen while yet in verdure. Then the sky
began to be slurred across with white clouds breathing out from it,
as a child breathes on the blade of a knife, or on a carriage window.
These blots of cloud threw feelers out, and strung themselves together,
until a broad serried and serrate bar went boldly across the heavens,
from south–east to north–west. It marked the point whence the gale
would begin, and the quarter where it would end. From this great
bar, on either side, dappled and mottled, like the wash of sepia on a
drawing, little offsets straggled away, and began to wisp with a spiral
motion, slow and yet perceptible.

This went on for an hour or two, darkening and deepening continually,
amassing more and more of the sky, gathering vapours to it, and
embodying as it got hold of them; but still there was some white wan
sunshine through the mustering cloud–blots and the spattering mud of
the heavens; and still the good folks who had suffered from chilblains,
and found it so much milder, exclaimed, “What a beautiful day!”

Then about noon a mock sun appeared, feeble, wild, and haggard, whose
mates on the crown and the east of the arc could scarcely keep him in
countenance. Over all this, and over the true sun and the cirrhous
outrunners, heavily drove at one oʼclock the laden and leaden cumulus,
blurred on the outskirts with cumulostrate, and daubed with lumps of
vapour which mariners call “Noahʼs arks.”

Then came the first sough of the wind, a long, prolonged, deep–drawn,
dry sob, a hollow and mysterious sound, that shivered through the brown
leaves, and moaned among the tree–boles. Away went every beast and bird
that knew the fearful signal: the deer lanced away to the holm–frith;
the cattle in huffs came belloking to the lew of the boughy trees; the
hogs ran together, and tossed their snouts, and skittered home from the
ovest; the squirrel hied to his hollow dray, the weasel slunk to his
tuffet lair, and every rabbit skipped home from grass. The crows and
the magpies were all in a churm; the heavy–winged heron flapped off
from the brook–side; the jar–bird flicked out from the ivy–drum; the
yaffingale darted across the ride with his strange discordant laugh;
even the creepers that ply the trees crept into lichened fastnesses,
lay flat to the bark, and listened.

Nor less the solid, heavy powers that have to stay and break the storm,
no less did they, the beechen clump, the funnelled glens, the heathery
breastwork, even the depths of forest night—whence common winds shrink
back affrighted—even the bastions of Norman oak, scarred by many a
tempest–siege, and buckled by the mighty gale of 1703,—one and all
they whispered of the stress of heaven impending.

First came fitful scuds of rain, “flisky” rain they call it, loose
outriders of the storm, spurning the soft ice, as they dashed by, and
lashing the woodmanʼs windows. Then a short dark pause ensued, in which
the sky swirled up with clouds, and the earth lay mute with terror.
Only now and then a murmur went along the uplands.

Suddenly, ere a man might say, “Good God!” or “Where are my children?”
every tree was taken aback, every peat–stack reeled and staggered,
every cot was stripped of its thatch, on the opposite side to that on
which the blow was expected.

The first squall of that great tempest broke from the dark south–east.
It burst through the sleet, and dashed it upwards like an army of
archers shooting; ere a man could stay himself one way, it had caught
him up from another. The leaves from the ground flew up again through
the branches which had dropped them; and then a cloud of all manner of
foliage, whirling, flustering, capering, flitting, soared high over the
highest tree–tops, and drove through the sky like dead shooting–stars.

All that afternoon, the squalls flew faster, screaming onward to one
another, furious maniacs dashing headlong, smiting themselves and
everything. Then there came a lull. So sudden that the silence was more
stunning than the turmoil. A pause for sunset; for brave men countless
to see their last of sunlight. That evening, the sundown gun from
Calshot was heard over all the forest. I remember to have expected
fully that the next flaw of air would come, like a heavy sigh, from the
south–west. The expectation showed how much I underrated the magnitude
of that broad stormʼs area. If the wind had chopped then, it would have
been only a hard gale, not a hurricane.

Like a wave of the sea, it came on solidly, and from the old direction;
no squall, no blast, any more; but one bodily rush of phalanxed air
through a chasm in the firmament. Black, and tossing stone and metal as
a girl jerks up her hat–plume, it swept the breadth of land and sea, as
bisons horded sweep the snow–drifts, as Niagara sweeps the weeds away.

Where the full force of that storm broke, any man must have been mad
drunk who attempted to go to bed. Houses unroofed, great trees snapped
off and flung into another tree, men caught like chaff from the
winnowing and dropped somewhere in pond or gravel–pit, the carrierʼs
van overthrown on the road, and three oaks come down to lie upon
it,—some blown–away people brought news of these things, and fetched
their breath up to tell them.

Our own staunch hearths rocked under us, and we looked for the walls to
fall in upon us, as every mad rush came plunging.

Miss Eudoxia sat with Amy, near the kitchen fire; at least where
the fire should have been, but the wind had quenched it long ago.
Near them cowered Jemima and Jenny, begging not to be sent to bed.
They had crawled up–stairs to see about it, and the floor came up to
them—so they said—like the shifting plate of the oven. The parlour
chimney–stack had fallen; but, in Godʼs mercy, clear and harmless from
the roof of the house. No fear of the thatch taking fire: that wind
would have blown out the fire of London.

Now as they sat, or crouched and sidled, watching the cracks of the
ceiling above, jumping every now and then, as big lumps of mortar
fell down the chimney, and shrinking into themselves, every time the
great stack groaned and laboured so, Miss Eudoxia, full of pluck, was
reading aloud—to little purpose, for she scarcely could hear her own
voice—the prayers which are meant to be used at sea, and the 107th
Psalm. And who shall say that she was wrong, especially as the devil is
supposed to be so busy in a gale of wind?

Jemima and Amy were doing their best to catch her voice at intervals.
As for Jenny, she did not care much what became of her now. She knew
at the last full moon that her sweetheart was thoroughly up for
jilting her; and now when she had ventured out—purely of her own
self–will—the wind had taken her up anyhow, and whisked her like a
snow–flake against the wash–house door. She was sure to have a black
eye in the morning, and then it would be all up with her; and Jemima
might go sweethearting, and she could not keep her company.

The roar through the wood, the yells at the corners, the bellowing
round the chimneys, the thunder of the implacable hurricane; any mortal
voice was less than a whisper into a steam–whistle. Who could tell what
trees were falling? A monster might be hurled on the roof, and not one
of them would know it until it came sheer through the ceiling. Amy
was pale as the cinders before her, but firm as the bars of iron, and
even trying to smile sometimes at the shrieks and queer turns of the
tempest. No candle could be kept alight, and the flame of the parlour
lamp quivered like a shirt badly pinned on a washing–line. But Amy was
thinking dearly of the father of the household, the father of the
parish, out in the blinding wind and rain, and where the wild waves
were lashing. And now and then Amy wondered whether it blew so hard in
London, and hoped they had no big chimneys there.

John Rosedew had taken his little bundle, in a waterproof case, and
set out on foot for Rushford, when the storm became unmistakeable. He
would not ride Coræbus; first because he would have found it impossible
to wipe him dry, secondly because the wind has such purchase upon a
man when he is up there on the pommel. So the rector strode off in his
stoutest manner, an hour or so before nightfall, and the rain went into
him, neck and shoes, before he got to the peat–rick. To a resolute man,
who feels sometimes that the human hide wants tanning, there are few
greater pleasures than getting basted and cracklined by the wet wind;
only it must not come too often, neither last too long.

So John was in excellent spirits, quelching along and going pop like
a ball of India–rubber, when he came on a weaker fellow–mortal, stuck
fast in a chair of beech–roots.

“Why, Robert!” said Mr. Rosedew, and nine–tenths of his voice went to
leeward; “Robert, my boy;—oh dear!”

That last exclamation followed in vain Johnʼs favourite old hat, which
every one in the parish loved, especially the children. The hat went
over the crest of the hill, and leaped into an oak–tree, and was seen
no more but of turtle–doves, who built therein next summer, and for
three or four generations; and all the doves were blessed, for the sake
of the man who sought peace and ensued it.

“Let me go after it,” cried Bob, with his knees and teeth knocking
together.

“To be sure I will,” replied John Rosedew—the nearest approach to
irony that the worst wind ever took him—“now, Robert, come with me.”

He hooked the light stripling, hard and firm, to his own staunch
powerful frame, and, like a steamer lashed alongside, forced him
across the wind–brunt. And so, by keeping the covered ways, by running
the grooves of the hurricane, they both got safe to Rushford; to
which achievement Bobʼs loving knowledge of every inch of the forest
contributed at least as much as the stern strength of the parson.

Pretty Bob had no right, of course, to be out there at that time; but
he had heard of a glorious company of the deathʼs–head caterpillar,
in a snug potato–field, scooped from out the woodlands. He knew that
they must have burrowed now, and so he set out to dig for them with
his little handfork, directly the thaw allowed him. Anything to divert
his mind, or rather revert it into the natural channel. He had dreamed
about sugar–plums, and Amy, and butterfly–nets, and Queens of Spain,
and his father scowling over all, until his brain, at that sensitive
time, was like a sirex, trying to get out but stuck fast by the
antennæ. Now, Bob, though awake to the little tricks and pleasant ways
of Nature, as observed in cricks and crannies, knew nothing as yet of
her broader moods, her purging sweeps, her clearances,—in a word,
he was a stranger to the law of storms. Therefore he got a bitter
lesson, and one which set him a thinking. John Rosedew, with his grand
bare head bent forward to the wind–blow, and the grey locks sweeping
backward—how Amy would have cried!—towed Bob Garnet down the combe
which spreads out to the sea at Rushford. The fall of the waves was
short and hard—no long ocean rollers yet, only an angry beating surf,
sputtering under the gravel–cliff.

They found some shelter in the hollow, which opens to the
south–south–west; for, though it was blowing as hard as ever, the wind
had not canted round yet; and the little village of Rushford, upon
which the sea is gaining so, was happy enough in its “bunney,” and
could keep its candles burning.

“Iʼll go home with the boy at sundown, when the gale breaks, as I hope
it will. His father will be in a dreadful way, and I know what that man
is. But I could not leave the boy there, neither could I go back again.”

So said John Rosedew, lulled by the shelter, feeling as if he had
frightened himself and all his household for nothing; almost ashamed
to show himself at Octavius Pellʼs sea–cottage, the very last dwelling
of the village. But Octave Pell knew better. He had not lived upon
that coast, fagging out as a cricketer of the Church of England, with
his feet and his hands ready always, and his spiked shoes holding
the ground,—he had not been on the outside of all things, hoping
for innings some day, without looking up at the skies sometimes, and
guessing about promotion. So he knew that his rector, whom he revered
beyond all the fathers of men or women—for he too was soft upon
Amy—he saw that his rector was right in coming, except for his own
dear sake.

John came in, with his shapely legs stuck all tight in the shrunk
kerseymere (shrunk, and varnished, and puckered like plaiting, from the
pelt of the rain), and by one hand still he drew the quenched and welyy
Bob. The wind was sucking round the cliff, and the door flew open hard
enough for a weak manʼs legs to go with it. But “Octave” Pell—as he
was called, because he would sing, though he could not—the Reverend
Octavius was of a sturdy order, well–balanced and steady–going. He drew
in his reeking visitors, and dried, and fed, and warmed them; Bob being
lodged in a suit of clothes which he could only inhabit sparsely. Then
Pell laid aside his rose–root pipe out of deference to his rector, and
made Bob drink hot brandy–and–water till he chattered more than his
teeth had done.

That curate was a fine young fellow, a B.A. of John Rosedewʼs college,
to whom John had given a title for orders—not sold it, as some rectors
do, for a twelvemonthʼs stipend. A tall, strong, gentlemanly parson,
stuck up in no wise, nor stuck down; neither of the High nor Low Church
rut, although an improvement on the old type which cared for none of
these things. He did his duty by his parish; and, as follows almost of
necessity, his parish loved and admired him. He never lifted a poor
manʼs pot–lid to know what he had for dinner; he never made much of
sectarian squabbles, nor tried to exorcise dissent. In a word, he kept
his place, because he felt and loved it.

Only two rooms had Pell to boast of, but he was wonderfully happy in
them. He could find all his property in the dark, and had only one
silver spoon. And the man who can be happy with one, was born with it
in his mouth. Those two rooms he rented from old Jacob Thwarthawse, or
rather from Mrs. Jacob, for the old man was a pilot on the Southampton
Water, and scarcely home twice in a twelvemonth. The little cot looked
like a boat–house at the bottom of the bunney; so close it was to the
high–water mark, that the froth of the waves and the drifting skates’
eggs came almost up to the threshold when the tide ran big, and the
wind blew fresh.

And in the gentle summer night—pray what is it in Theocritus? John
Rosedew could tell, but not I—at least, I mean without looking—

  “Along the pinched caboose, on every side,
  With mincing murmur swam the ocean tide.”

  _Id._ xxi. 17.



CHAPTER IV.


By the time Octavius Pell had clothed, and fed, and warmed his drenched
and buffeted guests, the sun was slipping out of sight, and glad to be
quit of the mischief. For a minute or two, the cloud–curtain lifted
over St. Albanʼs Head, and a narrow bar of lively green striped the
lurid heavens. This was the critical period, and John Rosedew was
aware of it, as well as Octave Pell. Either the wind would shift to
south–west quicker than vanes could keep time with it, and then there
would be a lively storm, with no very wide area; or else it would come
on again with one impetuous leap and roar, and no change of direction,
and work to the south–west gradually, blowing harder until it got
there. The sea was not very heavy yet, when they went out to look at
it; the rain had ceased altogether; there was not air enough to move
the fur of a ladyʼs boa; but, out beyond the Atlantic offing, ridges
like edges of knives were jumping, as if to look over the sky–line.

“Nulla in prospectu navis,” said John Rosedew, who always talked Latin,
as a matter of course, when he met an Oxford man; “at least, so far as
I can see with the aid of my long–rangers.”

“No,” replied Pell, “and Iʼm heartily glad that there is no ship in
sight; for, unless Iʼm much mistaken—run, sir, run like lightning.
_Iʼve got no more dry clothes._”

They ran for it, and were just in time before the fury came down again.
Bob Garnet was ready to slip away, for he knew that his father would be
wild about him; he had taken his drenched hat from the firetongs, and
was tugging at the latch of the door. But now there was no help for it.

“We are in for it now,” cried Mr. Rosedew; “I have not come down for
nothing. It is, what I feared this morning, the heaviest storm that
has broken upon us for at least a generation. And we are not yet in
the worst of it. God grant there be no unfortunate ship making for the
Needles. All our boats, you say, Pell, are in the Solent long ago. Bob,
my boy, you must not expect to see your father to–night. I hope he will
guess what has happened.”

The beach, or pebble bank of Hurst, is a long and narrow spit of land,
growing narrower every year, which forms a natural breakwater to the
frith of the Solent. It curves away to the south of east from the
straighter and more lofty coast of Barton, Hordle, and Rushford. Hurst
Castle, in which it terminates, is the eastern horn of Christchurch
Bay, as Hengistbury Head is the western. The Isle of Wight and the
Needle Rocks protect this bay from the east windʼs power, but a due
south wind brings in the sea, and a south–west the Atlantic. Off this
coast we see at times those strange floating or rising islands known
by the name of the “Shingles;” which sometimes stay above water so
long, that their surface is clad with the tender green of bladderwort
and samphire; but more often they disappear after taking the air for a
few short hours. For several years now they have taken no air; and a
boatman told me the other day, that, from the rapid strides of the sea,
he thought it impossible for the “Shingles” ever to top the waves again.

Up and down the Solent channel the tide pours at a furious speed;
and the rush of the strong ebb down the narrows, flushed with the
cross–tide from St. Helenʼs, combs and pants out into Christchurch Bay,
above the floodmark of two hours since. This great eddy, or reflux,
is called the “double–tide;” and an awkward power it has for any poor
vessel to fall into.

All that night it blew and blew, harder and harder yet; the fishermenʼs
boats on the beach were caught up, and flung against the gravel–cliff;
the stout men, if they ventured out, were snatched up as a mother
snatches a child from the wheels of a carriage; the oaks of the wood,
after wailing and howling, as they had done to a thousand tempests,
found that outcry go for nothing, and with it went themselves. Seven
hundred towers of Natureʼs building showed their roots to the morning.
The old moon expired at O·32; and many a gap the new moon found,
where its mother threw playful shadows. The sons of Ytene are not
swift–witted, nor deeply read in the calendar; yet they are apt to mark
and heed the great convulsions of nature. The old men used to date
their weddings from the terrible winter of 1787; the landmark of the
young menʼs annals is the storm of 1859.

All that night, young Robert Garnet was strung by some strange tension.
Of course he could not sleep, amid that fearful uproar, although he
was plunged and lost from sight in Octavius Pellʼs great chair. The
only luxury Pell possessed—and that somehow by accident—was a deep,
and soft, and mighty chair, big enough for three people. After one of
the windows came in, which it did, with a crash, about ten oʼclock,
scattering Pellʼs tobacco–jars, and after they had made it good with
books and boxes and a rug, so that the wind was filtered through it,
John Rosedew and his curate sat on a couple of hard old Windsors,
watching the castle of Hurst. Thence would come the signal flash, if
any hapless bark should be seen driving over the waters. There they
sat, John Rosedew talking, as he could talk to a younger man, when
his great heart was moved to its depth, and the multitude of his mind
in march, and his soul anticipating it: talking so that Octave Pell,
following his silver tones, even through that turmoil, utterly forgot
the tempest, and the lapse of hours, and let fall on his lap the pipe,
which John had made him smoke.

The thunder of the billows waxing, for the wind was now south–west,
began to drown the roar of the gale, and a storm of foam was flying,
when the faint gleam of a gun at sea was answered by artilleryʼs flash
from the walls of old Henry the Eighth. Both men saw the landward light
leap up and stream to leeward; but only the younger one descried the
weak appeal from the offing.

“Where is she, Pell? Have you any idea?”

“She is away, sir, here to the right: dead in the eye of the wind.”

“Then may our God and Father pity our brothers and our sisters!”

Out ran both those strong good men, leaving poor Bob (as they thought)
asleep in the depth of the easy–chair. The little cottage was partly
sheltered by an elbow of the cliff; otherwise it would have been flying
up the bunney long ago. The moment the men came out of the shelter,
they were driven one against the other, and both against the cliff.

“My castle will go at high–water,” said Pell, though none could hear
him; “but I shall be back in time enough to get the old woman out.”

Then, as far as Pell could make out in the fierce noise and the
darkness, John Rosedew begged him to go back, while himself went
on alone. For it was Johnʼs especial business; he had procured the
lifeboat, chosen the crew, and kept the accounts; and he thought
himself responsible for any wreck that happened. But what good on earth
could Pell do, and all his chattels in danger?

“No good, very likely,” Pell shouted, “and a good deal perhaps
in–doors! Keep the sea out with a besom.”

Octave had a dry way with him, not only when he sang, but when he
thought he saw the right, and did not mean to argue it. So rector and
curate, old man and young man, trudged along together, each bending
low, and throwing his weight, like a quoit, against the wind; each
stopping and crouching at every tenth yard, as the blast irresistible
broke on them. Crusted with hunks of froth pell–mell, like a storm of
eggs on the hustings, drenched by pelting sheets of spray, deafened by
the thundering surf, and often obliged to fly with the wind from a wave
that rushed up scolloping, they battled for that scoop of the bay where
the ship must be flung by the indraught.

Up to the present, Christchurch Point, and St. Albanʼs Head beyond it,
broke (as the wind was westering) some little of the wildest sea–brunt.
But now they stood, or rather crouched, where the mountain rollers
gathering, sweeping, towering onward, avalanche upon avalanche, burst
on their destined barrier. A thousand leagues of water, swelled by
the whole weight of heaven flung on it, there leaped up on the solid
earth, and to the heaven that vexed it. As a strong man in his wrath
accepts his wifeʼs endorsement, so the surges took the minor passion of
a fierce spring–tide, rolled it in their own, and scorned the flat land
they looked down upon. Tush, the combing of their crests was bigger
than any town there. On they came, too grand to be hurried even by
the storm that roused them; each had a quarter of a mile to himself,
and who should take it from him? The white foam fell back in the wide
water valleys, and hissed and curdled away in flat loops, and the storm
took the mountain ridges again and swept the leaping snow off. Anon,
as it struck the shelving shore, each rolling monster tossed its crest
unspeakably indignant; hung with impending volume, curling like the
scroll of God; then thundered, as in judgment, down, and lashed the
trembling earth.

Among them, not a mile from shore, as the breaking daylight showed it,
heaved, and pitched, and wallowed hog–like in the trough of waters, a
large ship, swept and naked. Swept of her masts, of her canvas naked;
but clad, alas! with men and women, clustering, clinging, cowering
from the great white grave beneath them. As she laboured, reeled, and
staggered up to the storm–rent heavens, and then plunged down the
yawning chasm, every attitude, every gesture of terror, love, despair,
and madness could be descried on the object–glass of the too–faithful
telescope. As a ghastly wan gleam from the east lit up all that
quivering horror, all that plight of anguish, John Rosedew turned away
in tears, and fell upon his knees.

But Pell caught up the clear Munich glass, blocked every now and then
with foam; he wiped it with his cuff, and levelled it on a stony ledge.
There he lay behind the pebbles, himself not out of danger, unable to
move, or look away, spellbound by the awe of death in numbered moments
coming. Round him many a sturdy boatman, gazing, listening, rubbing his
eyes, wondering about the wives and children of the brave men there.
The great disaster imminent was known all over the village, and all who
dared to cross the gale had crept, under shelter, hitherwards. None was
fool enough to talk of boat, or tug, or lifeboat; a child who had then
first seen the sea must have known better than that. The best ship in
the British navy could not have come out of the Needles in the teeth of
such a hurricane.

Some of the tars had brought their old Dollonds, preventive glasses
long cashiered, and smugglersʼ night–rakers cheek by jowl, and
every sort of “perspective,” fifty years old and upward, with the
lenses cracked and rattling, and fungoid tufts in the object–glass.
Nevertheless, each man would swear that his own glass was the best of
the lot, and his neighbourʼs “not of much count.” To their minds,
telescopes like spectacles suit the proprietor only.

“By Jove, I believe sheʼll do it!” cried Pell, the chief interpreter,
his glass being the only clear one.

“Do what, sir? what?” asked a dozen voices, hurriedly.

“Get her head round to windward, and swing into smoother water. Theyʼre
in the undertow already. Oh, if they only knew it!”

They knew it, he saw, in a moment. They ran up a spare sail, ere he
could speak, to the stump of the mizen–mast, and a score of brave men
strained on the sheets until they had braced them home. They knew that
it could not stand long; it would fly away to leeward most likely
when once they mounted the wave–crest; but two or three minutes might
save them. With eight hands jamming the helm up, and the tough canvas
tugging and bellying, the ship, with the aid of the undertow, plunged
heavily to windward. All knew that the ship herself was doomed, that
she never could fetch off shore; but, if she could only hold her
course for some half–mile to the westward, she would turn the flank of
those fearful rollers, and a good stout boat might live. For there a
south–western headland broke the long fury of the sea.

Every eye was intent, every bosom drew a deep breath, as the next great
billow rose under the ship, and tossed her up to the tempest. They
had brought her as near to the wind as they dared, so as still to
have steerage way on her, and she took the whole force of the surge on
her port bow, not on her beam, as the people on shore had feared. The
sea broke bodily over her, and she staggered back from the blow, and
shook through every timber, then leaped and lurched down the terrible
valley, but still, with the good sail holding. She was under noble
seamanship, that was clear to every one, and herself a noble fabric. If
she could but surmount two billows more, without falling off from the
wind, within three points of which her head lay, most of the crew might
be rescued. Already a stout galley, manned with ten oars, was coming
out of Christchurch Harbour, dancing like a cork on the waves, though
sheltered by the headland.

Our ship rode over the next billow gallantly; it was a wave that had
some moderation, and the lungs of the gale for the moment were panting,
just as she topped the comb of it. “Hurrah!” shouted the men ashore;
“By God, sheʼll do it yet!”

By God alone could she do it. But the Father saw not fit; the third
billow was the largest of all that had yet rolled up from the ocean.
Beam–end on she clomb the mountain, heeling over heavily, showing to
the shore her deck–seams,—even the companion–finial, and the poor
things clinging there; a wail broke from them as the great sea struck
her, and swept away half a score of them.

“Nowʼs your chance, men. D—n your eyes! She wonʼt hang there two
minutes. Out with the boats you—— lubbers. Look sharp, and be d—d to
you.”

The ancient pilot, Thwarthawse, dancing and stamping, his blue jacket
flapping in the wind, and his face of the deepest plum colour, roared
to windward his whirlwind of oaths up an old split trumpet, down which
the wind came bellowing harder than his voice went up it.

“Stow that, Jacob!” cried an old Scotchman, survivor of many a wreck;
“can ye nae see his reverence, mon? Itʼs an unco thing for an auld
mon like you to swear at your mates in their shrouds, chap. I ken the
skipper of that there ship, and heʼs no lubber, no more than I be.”

Sandy Macbride was known to fear God, and to have fifty pounds in the
savings bank. Therefore no one flouted him.

“Youʼre right, Mac; youʼre right, by George!” cried Pell. “What a
glorious fellow! I can see him there holding on by the stanchion,
giving his orders as coolly as if for the cabin dinner. I could die
with that man.”

The tear in Octavius Pellʼs right eye compelled him to shift the glass
a bit. He was just the man who would have done even as that captain did.

“Hurrah, hurrah! theyʼve got the launch out; only she and the gig are
left. Troops on the deck, drawn up in a line, and the women hoisted in
first. Give them three cheers, men, though they canʼt hear you! Three
cheers, if you are Englishmen! Glorious, glorious! There they go; never
saw such a fine thing in all my life. Oh, I wish I had been a sailor!”

The tears ran down the young parsonʼs cheeks, and were blown into the
eyes of old Macbride; or else he had some of his own.

“Shove off, shove off; nowʼs your time, for the under–current is
failing her. Both of them off, as Iʼm alive; and yet a third boat I
could not see. What magnificent management! That man ought to command a
fleet. Two of them off for Christchurch Harbour; away, away, while the
wind lulls; but what is the third boat doing?” Every one was looking:
no one answered. Old Mac knew what it was, though his eyes were too old
to see much.

“Captain Roberts, Iʼll go bail, at his old tricks again. And thereʼs
none with the sense to mutiny on him, and lash his legs, as we did in
the _Samphire_.”

“At the side of the ship there is some dispute. The boat is laden to
the waterʼs edge, and the ship paying off to leeward, for there is no
man at the wheel; there goes the sail from the bolt–ropes. If they
donʼt push off, ere an oarʼs length, they will all be sucked into the
rollers! Good God! now I see what it is. There is only room for one
more, and not one of those three will take it. Two white–haired men
and a girl. Life against honour with the old men; and what is life
compared with it? Both resolved not to stir a peg; now they join to
make the girl go. Her father has got her in his arms to pitch her into
the boat; she clings around his neck so that both must go, or neither.
He could not throw her; she falls on her knees, and clings to his legs
to die with him. Smack—there, the rope is parted, and it is too late
for further argument. The troops in the boat salute the officer, and he
returns it as on parade.”

“Name of that ship?” said Jacob, curtly, to old Sandy Macbride.

“_Aliwal_, East India trader, Captain Roberts. Calcutta to Southampton.”

“Then itʼs all up now with the _Aliwal_, and every soul on board of
her.”

“Donʼt want a pilot to tell us that,” answered old Mac, testily.
“Youʼve seed a many good craft, pilot, but never one as could last five
minutes on the Shingle Bank, with this sea running.”

“Ropes, ropes!” cried Octave Pell; “in five minutes sheʼll be ashore
here.”

“No, she ‘ont, nor yet in ten,” answered his landlord, gruffly; “sheʼll
fetch away to the eastward first, now she is in the tide again,
specially with this gale on; and sheʼll take the ground over yonner,
and go to pieces with the next breaker.”

She took her course exactly as old Jacob mapped it out for her. He knew
every run and flaw of the tide, and how it gets piled in the narrows by
a very heavy storm, and runs back in the eddy which had saved so many
lives there. This has nothing to do with the “double tide;” that comes
after high–water. As the good ship traced the track of death, doing
as the waves willed (like a little boyʼs boat in the Serpentine), the
people on shore could see those three, who had contested the right of
precedence to another world.

They were all upon the quarter–deck; and three finer figures never
yet came to take the air there, in the weariness of an Indian voyage.
Captain Roberts, a tall, stout man, with ruddy cheeks and a broad white
beard, stood with his hands in his pockets, and his feet asunder,
and a sense of discipline in his face, as of a man who has done his
duty, and now obeys his Maker. No sign of flinching or dismay in his
weather–beaten eyes, as he watched his death roll towards him; though
the gazers fancied that one tear rose, perhaps at the thought of his
family just coming down–stairs at Lymington. The military man beside
him faced his death quite differently; perhaps with even less of
fear, but with more defiance, broken, every now and then, by anguish
for his daughter. He had not learned to fear the Lord, as those men
do who go down into the great deep. He looked as if he ought to be
commanding–officer of the tempest. The ship, running now before wind
and sea, darted along as a serpent darts over the graves in the
churchyard; she did not lurch any more, or labour, but rose and fell,
just showing her fore–foot or stern–post, as the billows passed under
her. And so that young maiden could stand and gaze, with her fatherʼs
arm thrown round her.

She was worthy to be his daughter; tall, and light of form, and calm,
with eyes of wondrous brightness, she was looking at her fatherʼs face
to say the last good–bye. Then she flung both arms around his neck, and
fondly, sadly, kissed him. Meanwhile the ship–captain turned away, and
thought of Susy Roberts. Suddenly he espied a life–belt washed into the
scuppers. He ran for it in a moment, came behind the maid, and, without
asking her consent, threw it over her, and fastened it. There was
little chance of it helping her, but that little chance she should have.

“Sheʼll take the ground next biller,” cried the oracular Jacob; “stand
by there with the ropes, boys.”

On the back of a huge wave rose for the last time the unfortunate
_Aliwal_. Stem on, as if with strong men steering, she rushed
through the foam and the white whirl, like a hearse run away with
in snow–drifts. Then she crashed on the stones, and the raging sea
swept her from taffrail to bowsprit, rolled her over, pitched her
across, and broke her back in two moments. The shock rang through the
roar of billows, as if a nerve of the earth were thrilling. Another
mountain–wave came marching to the roll of the tempest–drum. It curled
disdainfully over the side, like a fog sweeping over a hedgerow;
swoop—it broke the timbers away, as a giant tosses a fir–cone.

“I canʼt look any longer,” cried Pell; “give me something to feel,
men. Quick, there! I see something!”

He seized the bight of a rope, and rushed anyhow into the waters. But
John Rosedew and the life–boatmen held hard upon the coil of it, and
drew him with all their might back again. They hauled Octavius Pell
up in the manner of a cod–fish, and he was so bruised and stupefied,
that he could not tell what he had gone for. They only saw floating
timber and gear, and wreck of every sort drifting, till just for one
sight–flash a hoary head, whiter than driven waters, leaped out of the
comb of the billow. A naval man, or a military—who knows, and to whom
does it matter?

Brave men ashore, all waiting ready, dashed down the steep of death to
save him, if the great wave should toss up its plaything. All Rushford
strained at the cables that held them from the savage recoil. Worse
than useless; the only chance of it was to make more widows. The sea
leaped at those gallant strong men; there were five on either cable;
it leaped at them as the fiery furnace leaped on the plain of Dura. It
struck the two ropes into one with a buffet, as a lionʼs paw shatters
a cobweb; it dashed the menʼs heads together, and flung them all in a
pile on a ballast–heap. Lucky for them that it fought with itself, and
clashed there, and made no recoil. The white–haired corpse was seen no
more; and all Rushford shrunk back in terror.

The storm was now at its height; and of more than a hundred people
gathered on the crown of the shore, and above the reach of the billows,
not one durst stand upright. Nearer the water the wind had less power,
for the wall of waves broke the full brunt of it. But there no man,
unless he were most quick of eye and foot, might stand without great
peril. For scarcely a single billow broke, but what, in the first
rebound and toss, two churning hummocks of surf met, and flashed up
the strand like a mad white horse, far in advance of the rest. Then a
hissing ensued, and a roll of shingle, and the water poured huddling
and lappeting back from the chine itself had crannied.

As brave men fled from a rush of this sort, and cowards on the bank
were laughing at them, something white was seen in the curl of the wave
which was breaking behind it. The ebb of that inrush met the wave and
partly took the crash of it, then the white thing was shot on the shore
like a pellet, and lay one instant motionless. There was no rope there,
and the men hung back; John Rosedew cried “Shame!” and ran for it; but
they joined hands across and stopped him. Before they could look round
again, some one had raised the body. ‘Twas young Bob Garnet, and in his
arms lay the maiden senseless. She had looked at him once, and then
swooned away from the whirl, and the blows, and the terror. No rope
round his body, no cork, no pad; he had rushed full into the raging
waves, as he woke from his sleep of heaviness. He lifted the girl, and
a bending giant hung thirty feet above them.

Then a shriek, like a womanʼs, rang out on the wind, and two great arms
were tossed to heaven. Bull Garnet stood there, and strove to rush on,
strove with every muscle, but every nerve strove against it. He was
balanced and hung on the wind for a moment, as the wave hung over his
heartʼs love. Crash came the wave—what shriek should stop it, after
three hundred miles of rolling?—a crash that rang in the souls of all
whom youth could move or nobleness. Nothing was seen in the depth of
water, the swirling, hurling whiteness, until the billow had spent its
onset, and the curdle of the change was. Then Bob, swept many a fathom
in–shore, but griping still that senseless thing, that should either
live or die with him—Bob, who could swim as well or better than he
could climb a tree, but felt that he and his load were only dolls for
the wave to dandle—down he went, after showing his heels, and fought
the deadly outrush. None but Natureʼs pet would have thought of, none
but the favoured of God could have done, it. He felt the back–wave
tugging at him, he felt that he was going; if another billow broke on
him, it was all up with his work upon wire–worm. Holding his breath,
he flung his right leg over the waist of the maiden, dug his two hands
deep into the gravel, and clapped his feet together. Scarcely knowing
what was up, he held on like grim death for life, and felt a barrowload
of pebbles rolling down the small of his back. Presently he saw light
again, and sputtered out salt water, and heard a hundred people
screaming out “Hurrah!” and felt a strong arm thrown round him—not his
fatherʼs, but John Rosedewʼs. Three senseless bodies were borne to the
village—Bull Garnetʼs, and Bobʼs and the maidenʼs.



CHAPTER V.


Meanwhile that keen engineering firm, wind, wave, and tide, had
established another little business on the coast hard by. This was
the general wreck and crack–up of the stout Pell–castle, a proceeding
unnoticed by any one except good mother Jacob, whose attention was
drawn to it forcibly, as the head of the bed fell in upon her.
Thereupon the stout dame made a rush for it, taking only her cat
and spectacles, and the little teapot of money. As she started at
a furious pace, and presented to the elements a large superficial
area, the wind could not resist the temptation, but wafted her to the
top of the bunney, without her feet so much as once a–touching the
blessed earth—she goes mad if any one doubts it—and planted her in a
white–thorn tree, and brought an “elam” of thatch to shelter her from
her own beloved roof. There, when the wind subsided, she was happily
discovered by some enterprising children; the cat was sitting at her
side; in one blue hand she held her specs, and in the other a teapot.

Poor Pellʼs easy–chair was thrown up, three miles to the westward, in
the course of the next spring–tides, and, being well known all over
the neighbourhood (from his lending it to sick people), was brought to
him, with a round of cheers, by half a dozen fishermen. They refused
the half–crown he offered them, and displayed the greatest anxiety
lest his honour should believe it was them as had taken the shine off.
The workmanship not being modern, the chair was little the worse for
its voyage; only it took six months to dry, and had a fine smell of
brine ever afterwards. Then, having been lent to an old saltʼs widow,
it won such a reputation, all across the New Forest, as a specific for
“rheumatics in the small of the back,” that old women, having _no_
small to their backs, walked all the way from Lyndhurst, “just to sot
themselves down in it, and how much was to pay, please, for a quarter
of an hour?” “A shilling,” said Octave Pell, “a shilling for the new
lifeboat that lives under Christchurch Head.” Then they pulled out
mighty silver watches, and paid the shilling at the fifteen minutes.
The walk, and the thought of the miracle, and the fear of making fools
of themselves, did such a deal of good, that a man got up a ‘bus for
it; but Pell said, “No; none who come by ‘bus shall sit in my chair of
ease.”

The greedy sea returned brave Pell no other part of his property.
His red tobacco–jar, indeed, was found by some of the dredgemen three
or four years afterwards, but they did not know it was his, and sold
it—crusted as it was with testacea, and ribboned with sea–weed—to
the zealous secretary of—I wonʼt say what museum. “Roman, or perhaps
Samian, or possibly Phœnician ware,” cried the secretary, lit
with fine—though, it may be, loose—ideas; and he catalogued it:
“Phœnician in the opinion of an F.A.S. There is every reason to
believe it a vase for Thuricremation.” “Hollo!” cried Pell, when he
went there to lecture upon cricket as played by Ulysses, “why, Iʼm
blessed if you havenʼt got——” “The most undoubted Phœnician relic
contained in any museum!” So he laughed with other peopleʼs cheeks,
like a man of sense.

All the folk of Rushford, and many too of Nowelhurst, contributed to a
secret fund for refurnishing Octavius Pell. So great were the mystery
and speed, and so clever the management of the dissenting parson, that
two great vans were down upon Pell before he had heard a word of it. He
stood at the door of the cobblerʼs shop, and tried to make a speech;
but the hurrahs were too many for him, and he turned away and cried.
Tell me that any man in England need be anything but popular who has a
heart of his own, and is not ashamed of having it!

At the Crown, where the three sick people were, a very fine trade was
doing; but a finer one still upon the beach, as the sea went down
and the choice contents of the _Aliwal_ came up. For that terrible
storm began to abate about noon on the 26th. It had blown as hard
for twenty–four hours as it ever does blow in any land, except in
the gaps of the Andes and during cyclones of the tropics. Now the
core of the storm had no more cells in it; and the puffs that came
from the west and north–west, and so on till it got to the pole–star,
were violent indeed, but desultory, and seemed not to know where they
were going. Finally, about midnight, the wind owned that its turn
was over, and sunk (well satisfied with its work) into the arms of
slumber—“placidâque ibi demum morte quievit.” And its work had been
done right well. No English storm since the vast typhoon of 1703—which
I should like to write about some day if my little life–storm blows
long enough—had wrought such glorious havoc upon that swearing beaver,
man. It had routed his villages at the Landʼs End, and lifted like
footstools his breakwater blocks; it had scared of their lives his
Eddystone watchmen, and put out half his lighthouses; it had broken
upon his royalty, and swept down the oaks of the New Forest; it had
streaked with wrecks the Goodwin Sands, and washed ships out of
harbours of refuge; it had leaped upon London as on a drain–trap, and
jarred it as a man whistles upon his fingers; it had huddled pell–mell
all the coal–trade;—saddest vaunt (though not the last), it had strewn
with gashed and mangled bodies (like its own waves, countless) the
coasts of Anglesea and Caernarvon.

On the morning now of the 27th, with the long sullen swell
gold–beater–skinned by the recovering sun, the shingle–bank was full of
interest to an active trader. They had picked up several bodies with a
good bit of money upon them, and the beach was strewn with oranges none
the worse for a little tossing. For the stout East Indiaman _Aliwal_
had touched at the Western Islands, and taken on board a thousand boxes
of the early orange harvest. And not only oranges were rolling among
the wrack, the starfish, the sharkʼs teeth, and the cuttle–eggs, but
also many a pretty thing, once prized and petted by women. There were
little boxes with gilt and paint, sucked heartily by the salt water,
and porcupine–quills rasping up from panels of polished ebony, cracked
mirrors inside them, and mother–of–pearl, and beading of scented wood;
all the taste and the labour of man yawning like dead cockles, crimped
backward, sodden and shredded, as hopeless a wreck as a drunkard.

Then there were barrels, and heavy chests, planking already like
hemp in the prison–yard, bulkheads, and bulwarks, and cordage, and
reeve–blocks, and ten thousand other things, well appreciated by the
wreckers, who were hauling them up the bunneys; while the Admiralty
droitsmen made an accurate inventory of the bungs and the blacking
bottles. Some of the sailors, and most of the passengers, who had
escaped in the boats to Christchurch, came over to look for anything
that might turn up of their property. Hereupon several fights ensued,
and many poor fellows enjoyed opportunity for a closer inspection
of the Rushford stratum than the most sanguine of their number
anticipated; until the police came down in force, and extinguished at
once all other rights of salvage except their own.

Nevertheless there was yet one field upon which the police could not
interfere; although Jack wished for nothing better than to catch the
lubbers there. This was Jackʼs own domain, the sea, where an animated
search was going on for the body of Colonel Nowell. His servant had
hurried from Christchurch to Nowelhurst to report the almost certain
death of Sir Cradockʼs only brother. He did not go first to ascertain
it; for the road along the cliffs was impassable during the height of
the storm. Sir Cradock received the announcement with very few signs of
emotion. He had loved that Clayton in early youth, but now had almost
forgotten him; and Clayton had never kept his brother at all apprised
of his doings. Sir Cradock had gone into mourning for him, some three
years ago; and Colonel Nowell never took the trouble to vindicate his
vitality until Dr. Huttonʼs return. And, even though they had really
known and loved one another as brothers, the loss would have been but a
tap on the back to a man already stabbed through the heart. Therefore
Sir Cradockʼs sorrow exploded (as we love to make our griefs do, and as
we so often express them) in the moneyed form. “I will give 500_l._ to
the man who finds my poor brotherʼs body.”

That little speech launched fourteen boats. What wrecker could hope
for anything of a tenth part of the value? Men who had sworn that they
never would pull in the same boat again together—might the Great
Being, the Giver of life, strike them dead if they did!—forgot the
solemn perjuration, and cried, “Give us your flipper, Ben; after all,
there are worse fellows going than you, my lad:” and Ben responded,
“Jump into the starn–sheets; you are just the hand as we want, Harry.
Manyʼs the time Iʼve thought on you.” Even the dredging smacks hauled
in–shore from their stations, and began to dredge for the Colonel;
till the small boats resolved on united action, tossed oars, and held
solemn council. Several speeches were made, none of them very long,
but all embodying that fine sentiment, “fiat justitia, ruat cœlum,”
in the form of “fair play, and be d—d to you.” Then Sandy Mac, of the
practical mind, made a suggestion which was received with three wild
rounds of cheers.

“Give ‘em a little ballast, boys, as they be come in–shore to dredge
for it.”

With one consent the fourteen boats made for the shore, like the fleet
of canoes described by the great Defoe. Nor long before each shallopʼs
nose “grated on the golden sands.” The men in the dredging smacks
looked at the sky to see if a squall was coming. And soon they got it,
thick as hail, and as hot as pepper. The fourteen boats in battle array
advanced upon them slowly, only two men rowing in each, all the rest
standing up, and every man charged heavily. When they were at a nice
wicket distance, old Mac gave the signal, and a flight of stones began,
which, in the words of the ancient chroniclers, “well–nigh darkened the
noonday sun.” The bravest dredger durst not show his head above the
gunwale; for the Rushford stones are close of grain, and it is sweeter
to start than to stop them. As for south–westers and dreadnoughts, they
were no more use than vine–leaves in a storm of electric hail.

  “Ah, little then those mellow grapes their vine–leaf shall avail,
  So thickly rattles on _the tiles_ the pelting of the hail.”


  _Georg._ i. 448.

The dredgers gave in, and hoisted a shirt as a signal for a parley.
The Rushford men refused to hear a syllable about “snacks.” What they
demanded was “unconditional surrender;” and the dredgers, having no
cement–stones on board, were compelled to accept it. So they took
up their bags, and walked the smacks off three miles away to their
station, with very faint hopes indeed that the obliging body might
follow them. The boatmen celebrated their victory with three loud
cheers for Sandy Mac, and a glass of grog all round. Then they
returned to the likeliest spot, and dragged hard all the afternoon.

“Tarnation ‘cute body,” cried Ben, “as ever I come across. Whoʼd a
thought as any perfessing Christian would have stuck to Davy Jonesʼs
locker, and refooged the parson and clerk so? Spit on your grapples, my
lads of wax, and better luck the cast after.”

“The Lord kens the best,” replied Sandy Mac, with a long–drawn sigh,
“us poor vessels canna do more than is the will of the Lord, boys.
Howsomever, I brought a bit of bait, a few lug–worms, and a soft crab
or two; and please the Lord Iʼll rig my line out, and see if the bass
be moving. And likely there may be a tumbling cod on the run speering
after the puir bodies. Ah, yes, the will of the Lord; we ates them, and
they ates us.”

The canny old Scotchman, without foregoing his share in the general
venture—for he helped to throw the grapnels, or took a spell at the
rudder—rigged out a hook on his own account, and fastened the line to
the rowlocks.

“Fair play, my son,” cried Ben, winking at his comrades; “us go snacks
in what you catch, mind. And the will of the Lord be done.”

“Dinna ye wish ye may get it?”—the old man glowered at him
indignantly—“Iʼll no fish at all on that onderstanding.”

“Fish away, old boy, and be blessed, then. I see he ainʼt been in
the purwentive sarvice for nothing. But Iʼm blowed if heʼll get much
supper, Harry, if itʼs all to come off that darned old hook.” They all
laughed at old Mac, who said nothing, but regarded his line attentively.

With many a joke and many an oath, they toiled away till the evening
fog came down upon the waters. Then, as they turned to go home, old Mac
felt a run upon his fishing–gear. Hand over hand he began to haul in,
coiling the line in the stern–sheets.

“Itʼs a wapping big fish, as ever I feel, mates; na, na, yeʼll no touch
it, or yeʼll be claiming to come and sup wi’ me. And deil a bit—the
Lord forgive me—will ye haʼ, for grinning at an auld mon the likes of
that, I tell ye. Lord ha’ mercy on me, a wake and sinful crater!”

They all fell back, except Macbride, as before them in the twilight
rose the ashy grey face and the long white hair of Colonel Clayton
Nowell.

Mac stuck to his haul like a Scotchman; to him the main chance was no
ghost. Many a time has he told that story, and turned his quid upon it,
cleverly raining between his teeth with fine art to prolong the crisis.

The line being his, and the hook being his, and the haul of his own
hands only, Sandy Mac could never see why he should not have all the
money. The question came close to litigation; but for that, except as
a word of menace, Mac was a deal too wide awake. He compounded at last
for 300_l._ and let the other four share the residue.

So poor Colonel Nowellʼs countenance, still looking grand and
dignified, was saved from the congers and lobsters; and he sleeps
close by his nephew and namesake in Nowelhurst churchyard. The body
of Captain Roberts was found a long way up the Solent. He had always
carried a weather helm, and shaped a good course for harbour. May they
rest in peace!

I have no doubt that Captain Roberts so rests, and am fain to believe,
in the mercy of God, the same of the brave old Colonel. At least,
we will hope that he is not gone to that eternal punishment, whose
existence our divines contend for in a manner so disinterested. He had
been a harum–scarum man; and now, having drowned and buried him, we may
enter upon his history with the charity due to both quick and dead, but
paid to the latter only.

A soldier is, in many things, by virtue of his calling, a generous,
careless man. We have always credited the sailor with these popular
qualities; hornpipes, national drama, and naval novels imbuing us. I
doubt if the sailor be, on the whole, so careless a man as the soldier.
Jack is obliged, by force of circumstance, to bottle up his money, his
rollicksomeness and sentimentality, and therefore has more to get rid
of, when he comes ashore once in a twelvemonth. But spread the outburst
over the year, strike the average of it, and the rainfall at Aldershot
will equal that at Portsmouth.

Only by watching the Army List—which at length he was tired of
doing—could the English brother tell if the Indian brother were
living. Even the most careful of us begin to feel that care is too much
for the nine lives of a cat, when Fahrenheit scores 110° in the very
coolest corner, and the punkah is too hot to move. So, after one or
two Griffin letters, full of marvels which the writer pretended not to
marvel at, a silence, as of the jungle, ensued, and Sir Cradock thought
of tigers. Then the slides of his own life began to move upon him; and
less and less every year he thought of the boy who had laughed and
cried with him.

Lieutenant Nowell was ordered suddenly to the borders of the Punjaub,
and for twenty years his brother Cradock drank his health at Christmas,
and wondered how about the Article against praying for the dead. The
next thing he heard, though it proved his own orthodoxy, disproved
it by making him swear hard. Clayton Nowell had married; married an
Affghan woman, to the great disgust of his brother officers, and the
furious disdain of her kinsmen. A very fine family of Affghan chiefs
immediately loaded their fusils, and swore to shoot both that English
dog and their own Bright Eyes of the Morning.

“To think,” cried Sir Cradock Nowell, “that a brother of mine should
disgrace himself, and (what matters far more) his family, by marrying a
wretched low Affghan woman!”

“To think,” cried Mohammed Khans, “that a sister of ours should
disgrace herself, and (what matters far more) her family, by marrying
a cursed low English dog!”

Which party was in the right, judge ye who understand the matter. The
officers’ wives got over their prejudice against Bright Eyes of the
Morning, and matronised, and petted, and tried to make a Christian of
her. Captain Nowell adored her; she was so elegant in every motion, so
loving, and so simple. She quite reformed him for the time from his too
benevolent anthropology, from the love of dice, and the vinous doings
which the Prophet does not encourage.

But the poor thing died in her first confinement, while following her
husbandʼs regiment at the foot of the Himalayah, leaving her new–born
babe to the care of a faithful Affghan nurse, who had kept at her dear
ladyʼs side, even among the infidels. This good nurse, being great of
soul, and therefore strong of faith, could not bear that the child of
her mistress, the highest blood of the Affghans, should become a low
Frank idolater. So she set off with it, in the dark night, crouching
past the sentinels, thieves, and other camp followers, and trusted
herself to the boundless jungle, with only the stars to guide her. She
put the wailing child to her breast, for her own dear babe was dead,
and hushed it from the vigilant ears of the man–eating tiger. Then off
again for Affghanistan, six hundred miles in the distance.

How this wonderful woman, soothing and coaxing the little stranger
(obtrusively remarkable for the power of her squalls), how she got on
through the thorns, the fire, the famine, the jaws of the tiger, and,
worse than all, the pestilent fever, bred from the rich stagnation of
that alluvial soil, is more than I, or any other unversed in womanʼs
unity, may pretend to show. Enough that with her eyes upon the grand
religious heights—heathen high places, we should call them—she
struggled along through nearly three–quarters of her pilgrimage, and
then she fell among robbers. A villanous hill–tribe, of mixed origin,
always shifting, never working, never even fighting when they could
run away, hated and despised by the nobler mountain races, the pariahs
of the Himalayah, ignorant of any good, debased as any Africans—in
a single word, Rakshas, or worshippers of the devil. A nice school
of education for a young lady of tender years—or rather months—to
commence in.

The nurse was allotted to one of their chiefs, and the babe was about
to be knocked on the head, when it struck an enlightened priest that in
two years’ time she would make a savoury oblation to the devil; so the
Affghan woman was allowed to keep her, until she began to crawl about
among the dogs and babes of the station. Here she so distinguished
herself by precocious skill in thieving, that her delighted owner
conferred upon her the title of “Never–spot–the–dust,” and even
instructed her how to steal the high priestʼs knife of sacrifice. That
last exploit saved her life. Such a genius had never appeared in any
tribe of the Rakshas until this great manifestation.

So “Never–spot–the–dust” was well treated, and made much of by her
owner, to whom she was quite a fortune; and soon all the band looked up
to her as the future priestess of the devil. For ten years she wandered
about with them, becoming every year more important, proud that none
could approach her skill in stealing, lying, and perjury, utterly void
of all religion, except the few snatches of Moslemism which her nurse
had contrived to impart, and the vague terror of the evil spirit to
whom the wild men paid their vows. But, when she was ten years old, a
tall and wonderfully active child, and just about to be consecrated
by the blood of inferior children, a British force drew suddenly all
around the nest of robbers. Of late the scoundrels had done things
that made John Bullʼs hair stand on end; and, when his hair is in that
condition, sparks are apt to come out of it.

Seeing no chance of escape, and having very faint hopes of quarter,
the robbers fought with a bravery which quite astonished themselves;
but the evil spirit was against them—a rare inconsistence on his
part. Their rascally camp was burnt, which they who had burned some
hundreds of villages looked upon as the grossest cruelty, and more
than half of their number were sent home to their patron and guardian.
Then the Affghan nurse, so faithful and so unfortunate, fled from the
burning camp with her charge, fell before the British colonel, and
poured forth all her troubles. The Englishman knew Major Nowell, and
had heard some parts of his history; so he took “Never–spot–the–dust”
to her father, who was amazed at once and amused with her. She could
run up the punkah, and stand on the top, and twirl around on one
foot; she could cross the compound in three bounds; she could jump
upon her fatherʼs shoulder, and stay there with the spring of her
sole; she could glide along over the floor like a serpent, and hold
on with one hand to anything. And then her most wonderful lightness
of touch; she had fully earned her name, she could brush the dust
without marking it. She could come behind her fatherʼs back, crawling
over the table, and fasten his sword–hilt to his whiskers, without his
knowing a thing of it. She could pick all his pockets, of course; but
that was too rude an operation for her to take any delight in it. What
she delighted to do, and what even she found difficult, was to take
off his shoes and stockings without his being aware of it. It was a
beautiful thing to see her: consummate skill is beautiful, in whatever
way it is exercised. The shoe she could get off easily enough, but
the difficulty was with the stocking; and there the chief difficulty
was through the sensitiveness of the skin, unaccustomed to exposure.
Though she had never heard of temperature, evaporation, or anything
long, her genius told her the very first time where the tug was and how
to meet it. Keeping her little cornelian lips—lips which you could
see through—just at the proper distance, she would breathe so softly
upon the skin that the breath could not be felt, as inch by inch she
lowered down the thin elastic covering. Then she would jump up out of
the ground, and shout into his ears, with a voice of argute silver—

“Faddery, will ‘oo have ‘oor shoe? Fear to go wiyout him?”

She began to talk English, after a bit; and the weather beaten
Colonel—for now he had got that far—who had never looked upon any
child, except as one rupee per month—thinking of his beloved Bright
Eyes of the Morning, who might, with the will of God, have made a
first–rate man of him, only she was too good for him,—thinking of her,
and seeing the gleam of her glorious eyes in her child, he loved that
child beyond all reason, and christened her “Eoa.”

He never took to bad things again. He had something now in pledge with
God; a part of himself that still would live, and love him when he
was skeleton. And that, his better part, should learn how lying and
stealing do not lead to the right half of the other world.

His ideas about that other world were as dormant as Eoaʼs; but now
he began to think about it, because he wanted to see her there. So,
with lots of tears, not only feminine, Eoa Nowell was sent to the best
school in Calcutta, where she taught the other young ladies some very
odd things indeed.

Wherever she went, she must be foremost; “second to none” was her
motto. Therefore she learned with amazing quickness; but it was not so
easy to unlearn.

Then arose that awful mutiny, and the Colonel at Mhow was shot through
the neck, and let lie, by his own soldiers. His daughter heard of it,
and screamed, and no walls ever built would hold her. All the way from
Calcutta, up the dreary Ganges, she forced her passage, sometimes by
boat, sometimes on her weariless feet.

She had never cared much for civilization, and loved every blade of the
jungle. The old life revived within her, as she looked upon the broad
waters, and the boundless yellow tangle, wherein glided no swifter
thing, nothing more elegant, than herself.

She found her darling father in some rude cantonment, prostrate,
helpless, clinging faintly to the verge of death. Dead long ago he
must have been but for Rufus Hutton; and dead even now he would have
been but for his daughterʼs presence. His dreamy eyes went round the
hut to follow her graceful movements; she alone could tend the wounds
as if with the fall of gossamer, she alone could soothe and fan the
intolerable aching. They looked into each otherʼs eyes and cried
without thinking about it.

Then, as he gradually got better, and the surge of trouble passed them,
Eoa showed for his amusement all her strange accomplishments. She had
not forgotten one of them in the grand school at Calcutta. They had
even grown with her growth, and strengthened with her strength.

She would leap over Rufus Huttonʼs head like a flash of light, and
stand facing him, without a muscle moving, and on his back would
be a land–crab; she would put his up–country hat on the floor, and
walk on one foot round the crown of it; she would steal his case of
instruments, and toss them in the air all open, and catch them all at
once.

By her nursing and her loving, her stealing and her mockery, she won
Dr. Huttonʼs heart so entirely that he would have proposed to her, had
she only been of marriageable age, or had come to think about anything.

Then they had all to cut and run, with barely three hours’ notice, for
the ebb of the rebellion swept through that district mightily. Eoa went
to school again, and her father came to see her daily, until he was
appointed to a regiment having something more than name and shadow.

Now Eoa, having learned everything that they can teach in Calcutta, the
Himalayah, or the jungle, was coming to England to receive the down and
crown of accomplishments. Who could tell but what they might even teach
her affectation? Youth is plastic and imitative; and she was sure to
find plenty of models.

Not that the honest Colonel wished to make a sickly humbug of her.
His own views were wide and grand, only too philoprogenitive. Still,
like most men of that class, who, upon sudden reformation, love Truth
so much that they roll upon her, having no firm rules of his own, and
being ashamed to profess anything, with the bad life fresh in memory,
he took the opinion of old fogeys who had been every bit as unblest as
himself, but had sown with a drill their wild oats. The verdict of all
was one—“Miss Nowell must go to England.”

Finding his wound still troublesome, he resolved to retire from
service; he had not saved half a lac of rupees, and his pension would
not be a mighty one; but, between the two, there would be enough for
an old man to live upon decently, and go wherever he was told that his
daughter ought to go.

He had seen enough of life, and found that it only meant repentance;
all that remained of it should be for the pleasure and love of his
daughter. And he knew that there was a sum in England, which must have
been long accumulating—a sum left on trust for him and his children,
under a very old settlement. He would never touch a farthing of it;
every farthing should go to Eoa. Bless her dear eyes; they had the true
light of his own Bright Eyes of the Morning.



CHAPTER VI.


Eoa was now sixteen years old, tall, and lithe, and graceful as the
creepers of tropic woodlands. Her face was of the clearest oval, a
quick concise terse oval, such as we find in the eggs of wild birds
rather than of tame ones. Her eyes were of bewildering brightness,
always flashing, always in motion, rarely allowing the gazer a chance
of guessing what their colour was. Very likely they were of no positive
colour, but a pure dark lustre, such as a clear swift river has, when
overhung by palm–trees. Her complexion, beautifully soft and even, was
toned with a delicate eastern tinge, like that fawn–coloured light
which sometimes flushes a cloudless sky before the midsummer sunrise.
And her warm oriental blood suffused it, at the slightest emotion, as
the leaping sun pervades that sky with a flood of limpid rubies.

She had never been flattened by education: all her qualities and
feelings, like her beauty, were in excess. You could see it in
the quick rise and fall of her breath, in the sudden grace of her
movements, in the infinite variety of her attitudes and aspects.

Whatever she thought, she said at once; yet none ever called her a
bold girl. Her modes of thought were as widely different from those of
an English maiden, as a wild honeysuckle differs in form, habit, and
scent, from a rose. She cared for no oneʼs opinion of her, any more
than the wind cares how a tree swings; unless indeed it were one whom
she loved, and then she would crawl to please him. For she loved with
all her heart and soul, and hated with no less; and she always took
care in either case to apprise the object of it. And yet, with all her
depth of passion, Eoa was pure of heart and mind,—ay, as pure as our
own Amy.

She soon recovered from her bruises, being perfectly healthy, and
elastic as india–rubber. Nevertheless, she would not have been saved
from that terrible sea but for the generosity of poor Captain Roberts,
and the gallantry of Bob Garnet.

Now Bob was hurt rather seriously, and, being (as we are well aware)
an uncommonly shy young fellow, he was greatly astonished, and shocked
a little, when on the Friday morning a beautiful girl, very strangely
dressed, ran to the side of his sofa, threw her arms round him, and
kissed him till he was out of breath, and his face was wet with the
dew of her tears.

“Oh, please donʼt,” said Bob; “I am sure I donʼt deserve it.”

“Yes, you do; and I will marry you when I am old enough. I donʼt know
what you are like, and I donʼt care two straws, directly they told me
what you had done. Only I must have papaʼs leave. Kiss me again, I like
it. Now where is my darling papa?”

“What, donʼt you know? Havenʼt they told you? Oh, poor thing!”

At the tone of his voice she leaped back, like a bird at the gun–flash,
and stood with her little hands clasped on her head, her eyes with
their deep light quivering, and the whole of her form swinging to and
fro, from the wild push of sudden terror. Then she spoke with a hollow
depth, which frightened Bob more than the kissing.

“They told me that he was well, gone to his brother somewhere, and I
thought it wasnʼt like him to leave me so, and—tell me the truth, or
Iʼll shake you to pieces.”

“No, donʼt,” said Bob, as she leaped at him; “I have had shaking
enough.”

“Yes, you poor boy, and for my sake. I am a brute, I know. Tell me the
truth, if you love me.”

“Your dear father is dead. But they have found his body.”

“Do you mean to say that God has been so wicked as to kill my father?”

“God knows best,” said Bob; he could think of nothing else to say.

“No, He doesnʼt. No, He doesnʼt. No, He never knows anything. He
couldnʼt have known who he was, and how terribly I loved him, or He
wouldnʼt have the heart to do it. Oh, you wicked boy; oh, you wicked
boy! I will never forgive you for saving me. Hya, hya, hya!”

Bob never saw such a thing before, and never will again. And he wonʼt
be much the loser; although the sight was magnificent. The screams and
shrieks of the clearest voice that ever puzzled echo brought up the
landlord and landlady, and our good friend Rufus Hutton, who had set
forth full speed from home on hearing about the _Aliwal_. He caught Eoa
in his arms, carried her back to her room, and dosed her. He gave her
some Indian specific, some powder of a narcotic fungus, which he had
brought on purpose.

It stupefied her for nearly three days, and even then she awoke into
the dreamy state of Nirwana, that bliss of semi–consciousness, like
mild annihilation, into which the Buddha is absorbed, and to which all
pious Buddhists look as their eternal happiness. Then she opened her
delicate tapering arms, where you could see the grand muscles moving,
but never once protruding, and she called for her darling father to
come. Finding that he did not come, she was satisfied with some
trifling answer, and then wanted to have Bob instead; but neither was
Bob forthcoming.

On the very day when Dr. Hutton came to look for Eoa, Mr. Garnet found
himself getting better from that wretched low nervous fever into which
his fright had thrown him. Then he asked Dr. Hutton whether there
would be any danger in moving Robert, and, finding that there would
be none whatever, if it were carefully managed, he ordered a carriage
immediately, and with some of his ancient spirit. The Crown, which had
the cross–bar of its N set up the wrong way (as is done, by–the–by,
on the roof of Hampton Court chapel, and in many other places), made
public claim to be regarded as a “commercial hotel and posting–house.”
No Rushford folk having yet been known to post anything, except a
letter at rare intervals, and a bill at rarer, this claim of the
Crown had never been challenged, and strangers entertained a languid
theoretical faith in it. But Mr. Brown looked very blue when Bull
Garnet in reviving accents ordered “a chaise and pair at the door in
half an hourʼs time; a roomy chaise, if you please, because my son must
keep his feet up.”

“Yes, sir; yes, to be sure, sir; I quite understand, sir. It shall be
attended to, sir.”

“Then why donʼt you go and order it?”

“To be sure, sir; I forgot. I will speak to Mrs. Brown, sir.”

Mrs. Brown, being a woman of resource, mounted the boy on her donkey,
the only quadruped she possessed, but a “wonner to go,” as the boy
said, “when you knows the right place to prog him in,” and sent him
post–haste to Lymington, whence the required conveyance arrived in
about an hour and a half.

Rufus Hutton, having promised to be at home that evening, left Eoa to
sleep off her heavy soporific, and followed the carriage on horseback;
neither did he leave its track where the Ringwood Road turns off, for
he had undertaken to tell Sir Cradock how his niece was getting on.
He started nearly half an hour after the Lymington chaise, for Polly
would never demean herself by trotting behind the “posters.” During
that half–hour he drank hot brown brandy–and–water, although he could
not bear it, to ingratiate him with Mrs. Brown for the sake of the poor
Eoa. For Mrs. Brown had no other hot method of crowning the flowing
bowl. And now, while I think of it, let me warn all gentle and simple
people who deign on this tale of the New Forest, never to ask for
pale brandy within the perambulations. How do you think they make it?
By mixing brown brandy with villanous gin. Rufus was up to this, of
course; and, as he must take something for the good of the house, and
to get at the kindly kernel of the heavy–browed hostess, he took that
which he thought would be least for his own evil. Then, leaving Mrs.
Brown (who, of course, had taken her own glass at his sole charge and
largesse, after fifty times “Oh no, sir, never! Oh Lord, how my Brown
would be shocked!”), having imbued that good Mrs. Brown, who really was
not a bad woman—which means that she was a good one, for women have
no medium—with a strong aromatic impression that he was a pleasant
gentleman, and no pride, not a bit of it, in him, no more than you nor
me might,—off he trotted at a furious pace, smoking two cheroots at
once.

I believe that there was and is—for I am happy to say that he still
inhales the breeze of life down his cigar, and looks browner and redder
than ever—I believe that, in spite of all his troubles in connexion
with this story, which took a good deal out of him, there was and is no
happier man in our merry England than the worthy Rufus Hutton. And, as
all happiness is negative, and goes without our knowing it, and only
becomes a positive past for us to look back upon, so his went before it
came, and goes or eʼer it comes. And yet he enjoys it none the less; he
multiplies it by three for the past and by nine for the future, and he
never finds it necessary to deduct for the present moment.

Happy man who never thinks beyond salutary average, who can accept,
in perfect faith, the traditions of his forbears, and yet is shrewd
enough to hope that his grandsons will discard at least a portion of
them,—who looks upon the passing life as a thing he need not move in,
a world which must improve itself, and every day is doing it. And all
the while he sympathises with his fellow–men, enjoys a bit of human
nature, laughs at the cross–purposes of native truth and training,
loves whatever he finds to be true, and does his best to foster it, is
pleased with his after–dinner story, and feels universally charitable;
then smiles at his wife, and kisses his children; and goes to bed with
the firm conviction that they are worth all the rest put together.

Yet this manʼs happiness is not sound, because it is built upon
selfishness.

In Nowelhurst village Dr. Hutton met Mark Stote, the gamekeeper, who
begged him to stop for a moment, just to hear a word or two. Rufus,
after hearing his news, resolved to take the upper road to the Hall,
past Mr. Garnetʼs house; it was not so very far out of his way, and
perhaps he might be of service there, and—ah, yes, Dr. Hutton, this
last was the real motive, though you may not have thought so—what
a fine opportunity to discover something which plagued him! Perhaps
I ought to say rather, the want of which was plaguing him. Rufus
took so kind an interest in his neighbours’ affairs, that anything
not thoroughly luculent in their dealings, mode of life or speech,
or management of their households, was to him the subject–matter of
continual mental scratchings. Ah, how genteel a periphrase, worthy of
Bailey Kettledrum; how happily we have shown our horror of that English
monosyllable, beginning with the third vowel, which must be (according
to Dr. Aldrich) the correlative of scratch! Score two, and go on after
Dr. Hutton.

He overtook the Garnets twain just at their front gate, whence the
house could not be seen, on account of a bank of evergreens. The maid
came out with her cap flying off, and all her mind perturbed. Rufus
Hutton, checking his mare, for the road was very narrow, heard the
entire dialogue.

“Oh, sir! oh, master! have you heard of it? Such a thing, to be sure!”

“Heard of what, Sarah? Of course I have heard of the great disaster at
Rushford.”

“No, no. Here, sir, here! The two big trees is down on the house. Itʼs
a mussy as Nanny and me wasnʼt killed. And poor Miss Pearl have been
in hysterics ever since, without no dinner. There, you can hear her
screeching now, worse than the mangle, ever so much.”

Mr. Garnet did not say a word, but set off for the house full speed,
even forgetting that Bob wanted help to get from the gate to the
doorway.

Rufus Hutton jumped down from his mare, and called to the driver to
come and hold her, just for a minute or two; no fear of _his_ horses
bolting. Then, helping Bob to limp along, he followed through the
shrubbery. When they came within full view of the house, he was quite
amazed at the mischief. The two oaks interlocked had fallen upon it,
and, crashing as they did from the height above, the breaches they
made were hideous. They had cloven the house into three ragged pieces,
from the roof–ridge down to the first floor, where the solid joists
had stopped them. It had happened in the afternoon of the second day
of the tempest; when the heart of the storm was broken, but tremendous
squalls came now and then from the bright north–west. Mr. Garnetʼs own
bed was occupied by the tree which he detested. Pearl had screamed
“Judgment, judgment!” and danced among the ruins; so the maid was
telling Mr. Garnet, as he feared to enter his own door.

“Judgment for what?” asked Rufus Hutton, and Mr. Garnet seemed not to
hear him.

“I am sure I donʼt know, sir,” answered the maid, “for none of us done
any harm, sir; unless it was the bottle of pickled onions, when master
were away, and there was very few of them left, sir, very few, I do
declare to you, and we thought they was on the turn, sir, and it seemed
such a pity to waste them. And please, sir, weʼve all been working like
horses, though frightened out of our lives ‘most; and we fetched down
all the things from your room, where the cupboards was broken open, for
‘fraid it should come on to rain, sir; and weʼve taken all our meals
standing, sir; and made up a bed in the meat–screen, and another upon
the dresser; and Miss Pearl, what turns she have given us—— Here she
comes, I do declare.”

“Dr. Hutton,” said Bull Garnet, hastily, “good–bye; I am much obliged
to you. I shall see you, I hope, next week. Good–bye, good–bye. Excuse
me.”

But, before he could get him out of the way—for Rufus lingered
strangely—Pearl Garnet came into the little hall, with her eyes
distended fearfully. “There, there it is,” she cried, “there it is, I
tell you! No wonder the tree came down upon it. No wonder the house was
crushed for it.” And she pointed to a shattered box, tilted up endwise,
among a heap of account–books, clothes, and furniture.

“Oh yes, you may look at it. To be sure you may look at it. God would
not have it hidden longer. I have done my best, God knows, and my heart
knows, and my—I mean that man there knows. Is there anything more I
can do for you, anything more, _dear father_? You have done so much for
me, you know. And I will only ask you one little thing—put me in his
coffin.”

“The girl is raving,” cried Mr. Garnet. “Poor thing, it comes from her
mother.”

“No, it comes from her father,” said Pearl, going boldly up to him, and
fixing her large bright eyes upon his. “Do as you like with me; I donʼt
care; but donʼt put it on any one else. Oh, father, father, father!”

Moaning, she turned away from him; and then sprang into his arms with
shrieks. He lifted her tenderly, and forgot all about his own safety.
His great tears fell on her wan, sick face; and his heavy heart
throbbed for his daughter only, as he felt hers bounding perilously. He
carried her off to an inner room, and left them to their own devices.

“I should like uncommonly,” said Rufus Hutton, rubbing his chin,
“to know what is in that box. Indeed, I feel it my duty at once to
ascertain.”

“No, you shanʼt,” cried Bob, limping across in front of it; “I know no
more than you do, sir. But I wonʼt have fatherʼs things pryed into.”

“You are very polite,” replied the Doctor; “a chip of the old block,
I perceive. But, perhaps, you will believe me, my boy, when I tell
you that, if ever there was a gentleman totally devoid of improper
curiosity, it is Dr. Rufus Hutton, sir.”

“Oh, I am so glad,” said Bob; “because you wonʼt be disappointed, then.”

Rufus grinned, in spite of his wrath; but he was not to be baffled
so easily. He could not push poor Bob aside, in his present disabled
state, without being guilty of cowardice. So he called in an auxiliary.

“Betsy, my dear, your young mistress wished me just to examine that
box. Be kind enough to bring it to the light here, unless it is too
heavy for your little hands.”

Oh, if he had only said “Miss Sarah,” what a difference it might have
made!

“Betsy, indeed!” cried Sarah, who had followed her mistress, but,
being locked out, had come back to see the end of it; “my name, sir,
is nothing so low as that. My name is Sarah Mackarness, sir, very
much at your service; and my mother keeps a potato–shop, the largest
business in Lyndhurst, sir. Betsy, indeed! and from a stranger, not
to say a strange gentleman, for fear of making a mistake. And as
for my hands”—she thought he had been ironical, for her hands were
above regulation size—“my hands are such as pleased God to make them,
and honest hands, anyhow, and doesnʼt want to interfere with other
peopleʼs business. Oh, what will poor Nanny say, to think of me, Sarah
Mackarness, be permiscuous called Betsy?”

At this moment, when Sarah Mackarness, having recovered breath, was
starting into another native discourse on prænomina, and Rufus was
calling upon his resources for some constitutional measure, Bull Garnet
came back, treading heavily, defiant of all that the world could do.
His quick eyes, never glimpsing that way, but taking in all the room at
once, espied the box unmeddled with, and Bob upon guard in front of it.
He was his own man now again. What did he care for anybody, so long as
he had his children?

“Dr. Hutton, I thought that you were gone.”

“You see I am not,” said Rufus, squaring his elbows, and looking big,
for he was a plucky little fellow, “and, whatʼs more, I donʼt mean to
go till I know what is in that box.”

“Box, box!” cried Bull Garnet, striking his enormous forehead, as if to
recall something; “have we a box of yours, Dr. Hutton?”

“No, no; that box of _yours_. Your daughter told us to examine it. And,
from her manner, I believe that I am bound to do so.”

“Bound to examine one of my boxes!” Bull Garnet never looked once that
way, and Rufus took note of the strange avoidance; “my boxes are full
of confidential papers; surely, sir, you have caught my daughterʼs—I
mean to say, you are labouring under some hallucination.”

“There are no papers in that box. The contents of it are metal. I
have seen one article already through the broken cover, and shall not
forget its shape. Beware; there have been strange things done in this
neighbourhood. If you refuse to allay my suspicions, you confirm them.”

The only answer he received was a powerful hand at the back of his
neck, a sensation of being lifted with no increase of facilities for
placid respiration; finally, a lateral movement of great rapidity
through the air, and a loud sound as of a bang. Recovering reasonʼs
prerogative, he found himself in a dahlia, whose blossoms, turned into
heel–balls by the recent frost, were flapping round his countenance,
and whose stake had gone through his waistcoat back, and grazed his
coxendix, or something; he knows best what it was, as a medical man
deeply interested.

He had also a very unpleasant reminiscence of some such words as these,
to which he had no responsive power—“You wonʼt take a hint like a
gentleman; so take a hit like a blackguard.”

Dr. Rufus Hutton was not the man to sit down quietly under an insult of
any sort. At the moment he felt that brute force was irresistibly in
the ascendant, and he was wonderfully calm about it. He shook himself,
and smoothed his waistcoat, and tried the stretch of his garters;
then never once looked toward the house, never shook his fist, nor
frowned even. He walked off to his darling Polly as if nothing at all
had happened; gave the man a shilling for holding her, after looking
long for a sixpence; then mounted, and rode towards Nowelhurst Hall,
showing no emotion whatever. Only Polly knew that burning tears of a
brave manʼs sense of ignominy fell upon her glossy shoulder, and were
fiercely wiped way.

At the Hall he said nothing about it; never even mentioned that he had
called at Garnetʼs cottage; but told Sir Cradock, like a true man,
of Eoaʼs troubles, of her poor forlorn condition, and power of heart
to feel it. He even contrived to interest the bereaved man, now so
listless, in the young life thrown upon his care, as if by the breath
of heaven. We are never so eloquent for another as when our own hearts
are moved deeply by the feeling of wrong to ourselves; unless, indeed,
we are very small, and that subject excludes all others.

So it came to pass that the grand new carriage was ordered to the door,
and Sir Cradock would himself have gone—only Rufus Hutton had left
him, and the eloquence was oozing. The old man, therefore, turned back
on the threshold, saying to himself that it would be hardly decent
to appear in public yet; and Mrs. OʼGaghan was sent instead, sitting
inside, and half afraid to breathe for fear of the crystal. As for her
clothes, they were good enough, she knew, for the Lord Mayorʼs coach.
“Five–and–sixpence a yard, maʼam, lave alone trimming and binding.”
But, knowing what she did of herbs, she could not answer for the
peppermint.

Of course, they did not intend to fetch poor Eoa home yet; but Biddy
had orders to stay there until the young lady was moveable. Biddy took
to her at once, in her heavy, long–drawn sleep, with the soft black
lashes now and then lifting from the rich brown cheek.

“An’ if she isnʼt illigant, then,” said Biddy to Mrs. Brown, “ate me
wiʼout a purratie. Arl coom ov’ the blude, missus. Sazins, then, if me
and Pat had oonly got a child this day! Belikes, maʼam, for the matter
o’ that, a drap o’ whisky disagrays with you.”

Biddy, feeling strongly moved, and burning to drink her new childʼs
health, showed a bottle of brown potheen.

“To tell you the truth, mem,” said Mrs. Brown, “I know nothing about
them subjects. Spirituous liquors is a thing as has always been beyond
me.”

“Thin Iʼll clap it away again,” said Biddy, “and the divvil only the
wiser. I never takes it alone, marm.”

“It would ill become me, mem,” replied Mrs. Brown, “to be churlish in
my own house, mem. I have heard of you very often, mem. Yes, I assure
you I have, from the people as comes to bathe here, as a lady of great
experience in diseases of the chest. If you recommend any cordial, mem,
on the strength of your experience, for a female of weak witality, I
should take it as a dooty, mem, strictly as a dooty to my husband and
two darters.”

“Arrah, then, Iʼm your femmale. Me witality goes crossways, like, till
I has a drap o’ the crather.” And so they made a night of it, and Mr.
Brown had some.



CHAPTER VII.


Leave we now, with story pending, Biddy and Eoa, Pearl, and even Amy;
thee, too, rare Bull, and thee, O Rufus, overcast with anger. It is
time to track the steps of him whom Fortune, blithe at her cruel trade,
shall track as far as Gades, Cantaber, and wild Syrtes, where the
Moorish billow is for ever heaving. Will he exclaim with the poet, who
certainly was a jolly mortal,—“I praise her while she is my guest. If
she flap her nimble wings, I renounce her charities; and wrap me in my
manhood robe, and woo the upright poverty, the bride without a dower.”
“A very fine sentiment, Master Horace; but were you not a little too
fond even of Sabine and Lesbian—when the Massic juice was beyond your
credit—to do anything more than _feel_ it?”

As Cradock Nowell trudged that night towards the Brockenhurst Station,
before he got very far from Amy, and while her tears were still on his
cheek, he felt a little timid lick, a weak offering of sympathy.

Hereby black Wena made known to him that she was melted by his
misfortunes, and saw that the right and most feeling course, and
the one most pleasing to her dead master, was the transfer of her
allegiance, and the swearing of fealty to the brother. To which
conclusion the tender mode in which she was being carried conduced,
perhaps, considerably; for she was wrapped in Claytonʼs woolly jacket,
enthroned on Cradockʼs broad right arm, and with only her black nose
exposed to the moon. So she jogged along very comfortably, until she
had made up her mind, and given Cradock the kiss of seisin.

“Dear little thing,” he cried, for he looked on her now as Amyʼs
keepsake, “you shall go with me wherever I go. You are faithful enough
to starve with me; but you shall not starve until after me.”

Then he put her down, for he thought that a little run would do her
good, and, in spite of all her misery, Amy had kept her pretty plump,
plumper than she herself was; and it became no joke to carry her, with
a travelling–bag, &c., after the first half mile.

Then Wena capered about, and barked, and came and licked his shoe, and
offered to carry the coat for him. As he would not let her do this,
she occupied her mind with the rabbits, which were out upon the feed
largely, and were the last she would see for a long while, except the
fat Ostenders.

When he got to London, and took small lodgings at a Mrs.
Ducksacreʼs, “greengrocer and general fruiterer, Mortimer–street,
Cavendish–square,”—I quote from the ladyʼs bags: confound it, there! I
am always saying improper things; _honi soit_—I mean, of course, her
paper bags—it was not long before he made two important discoveries,
valuable rather than gratifying.

The first of these discoveries was, that our university portals are
a mere side–postern, and not the great _janua mundi_. He found his
classical scholarship, his early fame at Oxford, his love of elegant
literature, rather a disadvantage than a recommendation for business.

“Prigs, sir, prigs,” said a member of an eminent City firm; “of course,
I donʼt mean to be personal; but I have always found you Oxford men
prigs, quite unfit for desk–work. You fancy you know so much; you are
always discovering mareʼs–nests, and you wonʼt bear to be spoken to,
even if you stick to your work; which, I assure you, is quite the
exception. Then you hold yourself aloof, with your stupid etiquette,
from the other young men, who are quite as good as you are. I assure
you, the place was too hot to hold us with the last Oxford man we
took in the counting–house; he gave himself such airs, the donkey! I
vowed never to do it again: and I never will, sir. Good morning, sir;
Gregson, show this gentleman the way out.”

Gregson did so with a grin, for Cradockʼs face proved that the
principal had not been altogether wrong.

Is this prejudice, or, rather, perhaps, I should say, this aversion,
disappearing now–a–days, or is it upon the increase? At any rate, one
cause of it is being removed most rapidly; for the buckram etiquette of
Oxford will soon become a tradition. We will only hope she may not run
too far into the free and easy.

Cradockʼs other discovery was that 50_l._ is no large capital to
commence in life with, especially when the owner does not find his
start prepared for him; fails to prepare it for himself; and has
never been used to economy. He would not apply to any of his fatherʼs
friends, or of the people whom he had known in London, to help him in
this emergency. He would rather starve than do that; for he had dropped
all name and claim of Nowell, and cut his life in twain at manhood;
and the parts should never join again. Only one feeling should be
common to the two existences, to the happy and the wretched life; that
one feeling was the love of Amy, and, what now seemed part of it, his
gratitude to her father.

John Rosedew had given him a letter to a clergyman in London, a man of
high standing and extensive influence, whom John had known at college.
But the youth had not undertaken to deliver that credential, and he
never did so. It would have kept him to his identity, which (so far as
the world was concerned) he wished to change entirely, immediately, and
irrevocably. So he called himself “Nowell” no longer—although the name
is common enough in one form or another: the Nowells of Nowelhurst,
however, are proud of the double _l_, and think a good deal of the
_w_—and Cradock Nowell became “Charles Newman,” without license of Her
Majesty.

Even before his vain attempts to enter the stronghold of commerce,
and before he had learned that Oxford men are not thought “_prima
virorum_,” he had lifted the latch of literature, but the door would
not swing back for him. The _mare magnum_—to mix metaphors, although
bars are added to the Lucrine—the _mare magnum_ of letters was more
like his native element; and, if he once could have gotten—bare–footed
as we must be—over the jagged rocks which hedge that sea, I believe he
might have swum there.

In one respect he was fortunate. The publishers upon whom he called
were gentlemen, and told him the truth.

“Oh, poetry!” exclaimed one and all, as their eyes fell upon his
manuscript, “we cannot take it on our own account; and, if we published
it at your expense, we should only be robbing you.”

“Indeed!” replied Cradock, in the first surprise; “is there no chance,
then, of a sale for it?”

“None whatever. Poetry, unless it be some oneʼs whose name is well
known, is a perfect drug in the market. In the course of ten or a dozen
years, by advertising continually, by influence among the reviewers,
by hitting some popular vein, or being taken up by some authority, you
might attain an audience. Are you ready to encounter all this? Even if
you are, we must decline, we are sorry to say, to have anything to do
with it.”

“Verse, eh? Better have cut your throat,” more tersely replied an
elderly gentleman, well known for his rudeness to authors. However,
even that last was a friend, when compared with some whom it might have
been his evil luck to consult. They advertise their patent methods
of putting a work before the public, without any risk to the author,
&c. &c. Disinterested gentlemen! They are to have no profit whatever,
except from the sale of the work, and they know they wonʼt sell five
copies.

However, there are not many of this sort in an honourable and most
important profession; and Cradock Nowell was lucky enough not to
fall in with any of them. So he accepted the verdict so unanimously
returned, and stored away with a heavy heart his laborious little
manuscript. It was only a translation in verse of the Halieutics, and a
few short original pieces—the former at any rate valuable, as having
been revised by John Rosedew.

There are courts and alleys in the neighbourhood of Mortimer–street
which, for misery and poverty, dirt and desperation, may vie with
almost any of the more famous shames of London.

Cradockʼs own great trouble, the sympathy he had met with, and the
comfort he received from it, had begun by this time to soften his
heart, and render it more sensitive to the distress of others. At
first, it had been far otherwise. The feeling of bitter injustice,
resentment at, and defiance of, a blow which seemed to him so
unmerited, and, worse than all, his own fatherʼs base and low mistrust
of him—who could have been surprised if these things, acting upon a
sad lone heart, and a bold mind beginning to think for itself, had made
the owner an infidel? And very likely they would have done so, when he
was removed from John Rosedewʼs influence, but for that scene with Amy.
He loved that girl so warmly, so devotedly, so purely, that, when he
found his love returned in equal quantity and quality, it renewed his
faith in justice. He saw that there is a measure and law, even where
all appears to be anarchy and anomaly; that the hand of God is not
stretched forth upon His children wantonly; that we cannot gauge His
circling survey by the three–inch space between human eyes, neither
does He rest His balance on His earthly footstool. So Cradock escaped
the deadly harm, which almost seems designed to poise that noblest
gift of Heaven—a free and glorious intellect—he escaped it through
the mercy which gave him true affection.

And now once more he looked with love upon his fellow–men, such love
as the frigid atheist school shall never form nor educate—which truth
alone to a great heart might be conclusive against that school—the
love which few religions except our own inculcate, and no other takes
for its essence.

As yet he was too young to know the blind and inhuman selfishness,
the formality and truckling, and the other paltry dishonesties, which
still exist and try to cheat us under the name of “Society.” The cant
is going by already. Every man who dares to think knows that its laws
are obsolete, because they have not for their basis either of these
three—truth, simplicity, charity.

Even that young man was astonished at the manner in which society
ignores its broader and only true meaning—fellowship among men—and
renounces all other duties, save that of shaking from its shoes
its fellow–dust. He could not look upon the scenes so nigh to him,
and to each other, parted often by nothing more than nine inches
of brick or two inches of deal; the wealth and the want, the feast
and the famine, the satiety and the ravening, the euphemy and the
blasphemy—though sometimes that last got inside the door, blew its
nose, and was infidelity; the prudery and the indecency, the whispered
lie and the yelled one, the sale of maidens by their mothers, or
of women by themselves—though here again the difference was never
very perceptible; all this impious contrast, spread as if for Godʼs
approval, for the Universal Fatherʼs blessing, in the land most chiefly
blessed by Him: which of His sons, not cast out for ever, could look on
it without weeping?

Cradock did something more than weep. He went with his little stock of
money, though he knew it could not do much; and he tried to help in
little ways, though as yet he had no experience. He bought meat, and
clothes, and took things out of pawn, and tried to make peace where
fights were.

At first he was grossly insulted, as a meddlesome swell; but, when he
had done two or three good things, and done them as a brother should,
he began to be owned among them. In one thing he was right, although he
had no experience; he confined his exertions to a very narrow compass.
Of course he got imposed upon—of course he helped the unworthy; but
after a while he began to know them, and even the unworthy—some two
hundred per cent.—began to have faint ideas of trying to deserve good
luck.

One man who attempted to pick Cradʼs pocket was knocked down by the
biggest thief there. “I wish I had a heap of money,” said Cradock,
every day; “I must keep some for myself, I suppose. Perhaps, after all,
I was wrong, in throwing up so hastily my chance of doing good.”

Then he remembered that, but for his trouble, he might never have
thought of the good to be done. And the good done to him was threefold
as much as he could do to others. Every day he grew less selfish, less
imperious, less exacting; every day he saw more clearly the good which
is in the worst of us.

There is a flint of peculiar character—I know not the local name
of it—which is found sometimes on the great Chissel Bank, and away
towards Lyme Regis. It is as hard, and sullen, and dull a flint (with
even the outside polish lost from the chafing of the waves)—a stone
as grey and foggy–looking;—as ever Deucalion took the trouble to
cast away over the left into an empty world. Yet it has, through the
heart of it, traversing it from pole to pole (for its shape is always
conical) a thread, a spindle, a siphuncle, of the richest golden hue.
None but those who are used to it can see the head of the golden
column, can even guess its existence. The stone is not hollow; it is
quite distinct from all pudding–stones and conglomerates.

Many such flints poor Crad came across, and sought in vain for the
beauty of them. He never tried to split them with a hammer, as too many
do of our Boanergæ; but he was too young to see or feel the chord of
the golden siphuncle. One, especially, one great fellow, was harder and
rougher than any flint, like the matrix of the concentric jasper.

“Confound that fellow,” said Cradock to himself; “I never shall get
at the heart of him. If my pluck were up a little more. Iʼd fight him;
though I know he would lick me. Heʼd be sorry for me afterwards.”

Issachar Jupp could lick any two men in the court. He was a bargee, of
good intentions—at least, when he took to the cuddy; but his horses
had pulled crosswise ever since; and the devil knew, better than the
angels, what his nature now was.

“None of your d—d Scripture–reading for me!” he cried, when Cradock
came near him; though the young man had never attempted anything of the
sort.

He knew that the Word of God is not bread to a blackguardʼs empty
belly. And another thing he knew—that he was not of the age and aspect
for John Bunyanʼs business. Moreover, Jupp was wonderfully jealous
of his wife, a gentle but grimy woman, forty–five years old, whom he
larruped every day; although he might be an infidel, he would ensure
his wifeʼs fidelity. Nevertheless, he had his pure vein, and Cradock at
last got at it.

Mrs. and Miss Ducksacre were very good–hearted women, but, like many
other women of that fibre, whose education has been neglected, of a hot
and hasty order. Not that we need suppose the pepper to be neutralized
by the refinement, only to be absorbed more equably, and transfused
more generally.

A little thing came feeling the way into the narrow, dingy shop, one
dark November evening, groping along by the sacks of potatoes (all of
them “seconds,” for the firm did not deal much in “Ware Regents”),
feeling its way along the sacks which towered above its head, like
bulky snow–giants embrowned with thaw; and then by the legs of the
“tatie–bin,” with the great scales hanging above it, and then by the
heap of lighting–wood, piled in halfpenny bundles, with the ends
against the wall; and so the little thing emerged between two mighty
hills of coleworts, and under the frugal gas–burner, and congratulated
itself, with a hug of the heart, upon safety.

“Take care, my dear,” cried Mrs. Ducksacre, looking large behind the
counter, “or youʼll tumble down the coal–trap, where the black bogeys
lives. Bless my heart, if it ainʼt little Loo! Why, Loo, I hardly knew
you. You ainʼt looking like yourself a bit, child. And who sent you out
at this time of night? What a shame, to be sure!”

Loo, the pride of Issachar Jupp, was rather a pretty little body,
about three and a half years old, “going on for four,” as she loved
to say, if anybody asked her; and her pale but clean face would have
been _very_ pretty, if her mother would have let her hair alone. But
it was all combed back, and tied tightly behind, like the tail of a
horse at a fair, or as affording a spout to pour the little girl out
by. She looked up at Mrs. Ducksacre, while her fingers played with the
coleworts, for her hands were hot, and this cooled them; and then,
with the instinct of nature, she stuck up for her father and mother.

“Pease, maʼam, Loo not fray much,”—though her trembling frock belied
her, all over the throat and the heart of it—“and father don from
home, maʼam, on the Wasintote” [Basingstoke canal], “and mother dot
nobody, onʼy Loo, to do thins. And she send this, ‘cause Looʼs poor
troat be bad, maʼam.”

The little child, whose throat was tied up with worn flannel from the
char–bucket, with the grey edge still upon it, wriggled in and out of
her shape and self, in the way only children can do; and at length
drew, from some innermost shrine, a halfpenny and a farthing.

“And what am I to give you for it, Loo? Oh, you poor little thing, how
very hoarse you are!”

Loo, with a confidence in human nature purely non–Londinian, had placed
her cash upon the altar, upon the inside of which so many worship,
while on the outside so many are sacrificed; without circumlocution,
the counter. Her eyes were below the rim of it, till she stood upon
tiptoe with one foot, while the other was up in the colewort roots, and
then she could see the money, and she poked out her little lips at it,
as if she would fain suck it back again.

“Pease, maʼam, Looʼs troat so bad, mother are goin to make a ‘tew, tree
haʼporth of tipe and a haʼporth of ‘egents, and a fardy of inons!”

“What a splendid stew, Loo!” said Mrs. Ducksacre, seeming to smell
it; “and so you want a haʼporth of taties, and a farthingʼs worth
of onions. And you shall have them, my dear, and as good a three
farthings’ worth as ever was put up in London. Where are you going to
put them all?”

Loo opened her sore throat, and pointed down it. She had not yet lost
her appetite; and that child did love tripe so.

“No, no, I donʼt mean that, Loo. I know you have a nice room inside;
though some will be for mother, wonʼt it, now? I mean, how are you
going to carry it home?”

“In Looʼs pinney,” replied the child, delighted with her success; for
ever so many people had told her, that the Ducksacres now were getting
so high, they would soon leave off making farthings–worths; and any
tradesman who does that is above the sphere of the street–child.

“My dear, your pinney wonʼt hold them, potatoes are so cheap now”—she
had just sworn they were awfully dear to a person she disliked—“I
am sure you canʼt carry a haʼporth. Oh, Mr. Newman, you are so
good–natured”—Cradock was just coming in, rather glum from another
failure—“I really donʼt believe you would think you were bemeaning
yourself by going home with this poor little atom.”

“I should rather hope I would not,” replied Cradock, looking grand.

“Oh, I did not know. I beg your pardon, Iʼm sure. I would go myself,
only Sally is out, and the boy gone home ever so long ago. I beg your
pardon, Iʼm sure, Mr. Newman; I thought you were so good–natured.”

“Mrs. Ducksacre,” said Cradock, “you utterly misunderstand me. I
replied to the form of your sentence, perhaps, rather than to its
meaning. What I meant was, that I should rather hope I would not think
it below me to go home with this little dear. If I could suppose it any
disgrace to me, I should deserve to be kicked by your errand–boy all
round this shop, Mrs. Ducksacre; and I am surprised you misunderstand
me so. Why, I know this little girl well; and her name is Louisa Jupp.”

“Tiss Loo,” said the little child, standing up on tiptoe, and spreading
out her arms to Cradock. All the children loved him, as the little ones
at Nowelhurst would run after Mr. Rosedew. Children are even better
judges of character than dogs.

“Why, you poor little soul,” said Crad, as he seated her on his strong
right arm with her little cheek to his, and she drew a thousand straws
of light through her lashes from the gas–jet, which she had never yet
been so close to, “how hot and dry your lips are! I hope you are not
taking the—sickness”—he was going to say “fever,” but feared to
frighten Loo.

“Mother fray,” cried the small girl, proud of the importance accruing
to her, “Loo dot wever; Irishers dot bad wever on the foor below
mother. Loo det nice thins, and lay abed, if me dot the wever.”

“Put the poor childʼs things, whatever they are, in a basket, Mrs.
Ducksacre. How odd her little legs feel! And a shillingʼs worth of
grapes, if you please, in a bag by themselves. Hereʼs the money for
them. You know Iʼll bring back the basket. But the bags donʼt come
back, do they?”

“No, sir, of course not. Half–a–crown a gross for the small ones, with
the name and the cross–handle basket, and the cabbage and carrots, sir.
Sixpence more for cornopean–pattern with a pineapple, and grapes and
oranges. But lor, sir, the cornopean” [cornucopiæ] “would frighten half
our customers. The basket–pattern pays better for an advertisement than
to get them back again, even if parties would bring them, which I knows
well they never would, sir.”

Then Cradock set forth with the child on his arm, his coat thrown over
his shoulders, and the best shillingʼs worth of foreign grapes—Mrs.
Ducksacre never bought English ones—and the best three farthingʼs
worth of potatoes and onions that was made that day by any tradesman in
any part of London, not excluding “them low costers,” as the Ducksacre
firm expressed it.

Little Loo Juppʼs sore throat proved to be, as Cradock feared it
would, the first symptom of scarlet fever; and the young man had the
pleasure—one of the highest and purest pleasures which any man can
have—of saving a human life. He watched that trembling flame of
life, and fostered it, and sheltered it, as if “the hopes of a nation
hung”—as the penny–a–liners love to say of some babe not a whit more
valuable—upon its feeble flicker. He hired another room for her, where
the air was purer; he made the doctor attend to the case, which at
first that doctor cared little to do; he brought her many a trifling
comfort; in a word, he waited upon her so that the old women of the
court called him thenceforth “Nurse Newman.”

“What, you here again, you white–livered young sneak!” cried Issachar
Jupp, reeling in at the door, just as Cradock was coming out; “take
that, then——” and he lifted a great oak bludgeon, newly cut from the
towing–path of the Basingstoke Canal. If Cradock had not been as quick
as lightning, and caught the stick over the bargemanʼs shoulder, there
would have been weeping and wailing and a lifelong woe for Amy.

“Hush,” he said; “donʼt make such a noise, man. Your child is at the
point of death, in the room overhead.”

Poor Crad, naturally of a bright complexion, but pale from long
unhappiness, might now have retorted the compliment as to the “pallor
jecoris.” The bargee turned so pale, that he looked like a collierʼs
tablecloth. Then he planted his heavy stick on the ground; else he
would have lain flat on his threshold.

“My Loo, my Loo!” was all he could say; “oh my Loo! _Itʼs a lie, sir!_”

“I wish it was,” replied Cradock; “take my arm, Mr. Jupp. Donʼt be
over–frightened. We hope with all our hearts to save her, and to–night
we shall know. Already I think I perceive some change in her breathing,
though her tongue is like a furnace.”

He spoke with a tone and in a voice which no man ever has described,
nor shall, but which every born man feels to be genuine, long ere he
can think.

“[Condemn] me for a [sanguineous] fool,” cried Jupp, with two enormous
tears guttering down the coal–dust, and his great chest heaving and
wanting to sob, only it didnʼt know the way; “[condemn] my eyes for
swearing so, and making such a [female dog] of myself, but what the
[Hades] am I to do? Oh my Loo, my Loo! If you die, Iʼll go to [Hades]
after you.”

Excuse me for washing out this speech to regulation weakness; perhaps
it was entered in white on high, as the turn of a life of blackness.

Cradock turned away, and trembled. Who can see a rugged man split
to the bottom of his nature, and not himself be splintered? I donʼt
believe that any can: not even the cold iron scoundrels whom modern
plays delight in.

“Now come up with me, Mr. Jupp,” said Crad, taking care not to look at
him, “out at this door, in at the other. Poor little soul! she has
been so good. You canʼt think how good she has been. And she has taken
her medicine so nicely.”

“Pray God Almighty not to [condemn] me, for not [condemning] myself
enough,” said Issachar Jupp, below his breath, as he leaned on
Cradockʼs arm.

It was his form of prayer; and it meant more than most of ours do.
Though I may be discarded by turtle–dove quill–drivers for daring to
record it, will he ever be worse for uttering it? Of course, it was
very shocking; but far more so to men than to angels.



CHAPTER VIII.


Little Looʼs fever “took the turn” that night. Cradock went away, of
course, now her own father was come; and the savage bargee would have
gone on his knees, and crawled in that fashion—wherein all fashion
crawls—down the rough stairs, every one of them, if the young man
would only have let him. We are just beginning to scorn the serfdom of
one mind to another. We begin to desire that no man should, without
fair argument, accept our dicta as equal to his own in wisdom. And I
fully believe that if fate had thrown us across Shakespeare, Bacon, or
Newton, we should now refer to our own reason what they said, before
admiring it. For, after all, what are we? What are our most glorious
minds? Only one spark more of God.

And yet the servience, not of the mind, but of the heart to a larger
one, is a fealty most honourable to the giver and the receiver. In
a bold independent man, such as Issachar Jupp was, this fealty was
not to be won by any of that paltry sentiment about birth, clanship,
precedency, position, appearance, &c., which is our national method of
circumcising the New Testament—it was only to be won by proof that the
other heart was bigger than his. Prove that once, and till death it was
granted.

Now, the small Loo Jupp being out of danger, and her father, grinning
like a gridiron with the firelight behind it, every day at her bedside,
the force of circumstances—which, in good English, means the want of
money—sent Cradock Nowell once more catʼs–cradling throughout London,
to answer advertisements. His heart rose within him every day as he set
out in the morning, and in the same relative position fell, as he came
home every evening.

“Do, sir, do,” cried Issachar Jupp, who never swore now, before
Cradock, except under strongest pressure; “do come aboard our barge.
Iʼve aʼmost a–got the appointment of skipper to the _Industrious
Maiden_, homeside of Nine Elms, as tight a barge as ever was built,
and the name done in gold letters. Fact, I may say, and not tell no
secrets; I be safe to be aboord of her, if my Loo allow me to go, and I
donʼt swear hard at the check–house. And, perhaps, I shall be able to
help it, after Loo so ill, and you such a hangel.”

“Well, I donʼt know,” replied Cradock, who could not bear to simulate
intense determination; “I should like a trip into the country, if I
could earn my wages as agent, or whatever it is. But suppose the canal
is frozen up before our voyage begins, Jupp?”

“Oh, d—n that!” cried Issachar, for the idea was too much for him,
even in Cradockʼs presence; “I never yet knew a long winter, sir, after
a wonderful stormy autumn.”

And in that conclusion he was right, to the best of my experience.
Perhaps because the stormy autumn shows the set of the Gulf Stream.

By this time more than a month had passed since Cradock and Wena
arrived in London; half his money was spent, and he had found no
employment. He had advertised, and answered advertisements, till he was
tired. He had worn out his one pair of boots with walking, for he had
thought it better to walk, as it might be of service to him to know
London thoroughly; and that knowledge can only be acquired by perpetual
walking. No man can be said to know London thoroughly, who does not
know the suburbs also—who, if suddenly put down at the Elephant and
Castle, or at Shoreditch Church, cannot tell exactly whither each
of the six fingers points. Such knowledge very few men possess; it
requires the genius loci—to apply the expression barbarously—as well
as peculiar calls upon it. Cradock, of course, could not attain such
knowledge in a month. Indeed, he was obliged to ask his way to so
well–known a part as Hammersmith, when he had seen an advertisement
for a clerk, to help in some coal–office there.

With the water quelching in his boots (which were worn away to the
welting)—for the sky was like the pulp of an orange, and the pavement
wanted draining—he turned in at a little gate near the temporary
terminus of the West London line. In a wooden box, with a kitchen
behind it, he found Mr. Clinkers; who thought, when he saw Cradʼs face,
that he was come to give a large order; and when he saw his boots, that
he was come to ask to be errand–boy. Clinkers was a familiar, jocular,
red–faced fellow, whom his friends were fond of calling “not at all a
bad sort.”

“Take a glass, mister,” said he, when Cradock had stated his purpose;
“wonʼt do you no harm such a day as this, and I donʼt fancy ‘twould
me either. Jenny! Jenny! Why, bless that gal; ever since my poor wife
died, sheʼs along of them small–coals fellows. Iʼll bet a tanner she
is. What do you say to it, sir? Will you bet?”

“Well,” replied Cradock, smiling, “it wouldnʼt be at all a fair bet. In
the first place, I know nothing of Miss Jennyʼs propensities; and, in
the second, I have no idea what the small–coals fellows are.”

The small–coals men are the truck–drivers and the greengrocers in
the by–streets, who buy the crushings and riddlings by the sack, at
the wharf or terminus, and sell them by the quarter hundred–weight,
weight, at a profit of two hundred per cent. Cradock might have known
this, but the Ducksacre firm was reticent upon some little matters.

Mr. Clinkers could not stop to explain; only he said to himself,
“Pretty fellow to apply for a clerkship in the coal–line, and not know
that!”

Jenny appeared at last, looking perfectly self–possessed.

“Jenny, you baggage, two tumblers and silver teaspoons in no time. And
the _little_ kettle; mind now, I tell you the _little_ kettle. Canʼt
you understand, gal, that I may want to shave with the water, but ainʼt
going to have the foot–tub?”

Jennyʼs broad face, mapped with coal–dust, grinned from ear to ear, as
she looked at her master saucily—a proof almost infallible of a very
genial government. She heard that shaving joke every day, and, the more
she heard it, the more she enjoyed it. So the British public, at a
theatre, or an election, appreciates a joke according to the square of
the number of the times the joke has been poked at it. Hurrah for the
slow perception, and the blunt knife that opens the oyster!

“Queer gal, that,” said Clinkers, producing his raw material; “uncommon
queer gal, sir, as any you may have met with.”

“No doubt of it,” replied Cradock; “and now for the cause of my
visit——”

“Hang me, sir, you donʼt understand that gal. I say she is the queerest
gal that ever lived out of a barge. You should see her when she gets
along of some of them small–coals fellows. Blow me if she canʼt twist
a dozen of them round her finger, sir.”

“And her master too,” thought Cradock; “unless I am much mistaken, she
will be the new Mrs. Clinkers.”

Jenny heard most of her masterʼs commentary as she went to and fro, and
she kept up a constant grin without speech, in the manner of an empty
coal–scuttle.

“Ah, sir, grief is a dry thing, a sad dry thing;” and Clinkers banged
down his tumbler till the spoon reeled round the brandy; “no business,
if you please now, not a word of business till we both be below the
fiddle; and, if it isnʼt to your liking, speak out like a man, sir.”

“Below the fiddle, Mr. Clinkers! What fiddle? I donʼt at all understand
you.”

“Very few people does, young man; very few people indeed. Scarcely any,
I may say, except Jenny and the cookshop woman; and the latter have got
encumbrances as quite outweighs the business. Ainʼt you ever heard of
the fiddle of a teaspoon, sir?”

“Oh, very well,” said Cradock, tossing off his brandy–and–water to
bring things to a point. It was a good thing for him that he got it,
poor fellow, for he was sadly wet and weary.

“Lor, now, to see that!” cried Clinkers, opening his eyes; “Iʼm blowed
if you mustnʼt be a Hoxford gent.”

“To be sure, so I am,” replied Cradock, laughing; “but I should not
have thought that you would have known—I mean, I am surprised that
you, at this distance, should know anything of Oxford men.”

“Tell you about that presently. Come over again the fire, sir. Up with
your heel–tap, and have another.”

“No, thank you, Mr. Clinkers. You are very kind; but I shall not take
one drop more.”

“Then you ainʼt been there very long, thatʼs certain. Now you have come
about this place, I know; though itʼs a queer one for a Hoxford gent.
‘Gent under a cloud,’ thinks I, the moment I claps eyes on you. Ah, I
knows the aristocraxy, sir. Now, what might be your qualifications?”

“None whatever, except such knowledge as springs from a good education.”

“Whew!” whistled Mr. Clinkers, and that sound was worth fifty sentences.

“Then you conclude,” said Cradock, not so greatly downcast, for he
had got this speech by heart now, “that I am not fitted for the post
offered in your advertisement?”

“Knows what they Hoxford gents is,” continued Clinkers, reflectively;
“come across a lot of them once, when I was gay and rattling. They
ran into my tax–cart, coming home from Ascot, about a mile this side
of Brentford. Famous good company over a glass, when they drops their
aristocraxy; they runs up a tick all over town, and leaves a Skye dog
to pay for it; comes home about four in the morning, and donʼt know the
latch from the scraper. Always pays in the end, though; nearly always
pays in the end—so a Hoxford tradesman told me—and interest ten per
cent. Differs in that from the medicals; the fast medicals never do
pay, sir.”

“Most unjust,” said Cradock, rising, “a most unjust thing, Mr.
Clinkers; you not only judge the present by the past, but you reason
from the particular to the universal—the most fruitful and womanlike
of the fallacies.”

“It ainʼt anything about fallacy, sir, that makes me refuse you,” cried
Clinkers, who liked this outburst; “Iʼll tell you just what it is. You
Hoxford scholars may be very honest, _but you ainʼt got the grease for
business_.”

Sorely down at heart and heel, Cradock plodded away from the yard of
the hospitable Clinkers, who came to the door and looked after him,
fearing to indulge his liking for that queer young fellow. But he had
taken Cradʼs address; for who knew but something might turn up?

“That man,” said Cradock to himself, “has a kindly heart, and would
have helped me if he could. He wanted to pay my fare back to town, but
of course I would not let him. It was well worth while to come all this
distance, and get wet through twice over, to come across a kind–hearted
man, when a fellow is down so. I began with applying for grand places;
what a fool I was! Places worth 150_l._ or 200_l._ a–year. No wonder I
did not get them: and what a lot of boot I have wasted! Now I am come
down to 50_l._ per annum, and 75_l._ would be a fortune. If I had only
begun at that mark, I might have got something by this time. ‘Vaulting
ambition doth oʼerleap itself.’ And I might have emigrated—good
Heavens! I might have emigrated upon the bounty of Uncle John, to some
land where a man is worth more than the cattle of the field. Only Amy
stopped me, only the thought of my Amy. Darling love, the sweetest
angel—stop, I am so unlucky; if I begin to bless her, very likely
sheʼll get typhus fever. After all, what does it matter what sort of
life I take to? Or whether, indeed, I take the trouble to take to any
at all? Only for her sake. A man who has done what I have lives no
more, but drags his life. Now Iʼll go in for common labour, work of the
hands and muscles; many a better man has done it; and it will be far
wiser for me while my brain is so loose and wandering. I wonder I never
thought of that. Isnʼt it raining, though! What we used, in the happy
days, to call ‘Wood Fidley rainʼ”.

The future chironax trudged more cheerfully after this decision. But he
was very sorry to get so soaked, for he had his only suit of clothes
on. He had brought but one suit of his own; and all he had bought with
the rectorʼs money was six shirts at 3s. 6d., and four pairs of cotton
hose. So he could not afford to get wet.

There could be no doubt that he was shabbily dressed, no rich game to
an hotel–tout, no tempting fare to a cabman; but neither could there be
any doubt that he was a pure and noble gentleman; that was as clear as
in the heyday of finest Oxford dandyism. Only he carried his head quite
differently, and the tint of his cheeks was gone. He used to walk with
his broad and well–set head thrown back, and slightly inclined to one
side; now he bore it flagging, drooping, as if the spring of the neck
were gone.

But still the brave clear eyes met frankly all who cared to look at
him; the face and gait were of a man unhappy but not unmanly. If, at
the time Sir Cradock condemned his only son so cruelly, he had looked
at him once, and read the sorrow so unmistakeable in his face, the old
man might have repented, and wept, and saved a world of weeping. A tear
in time saves ninety–nine; but who has the sense to yield it?

Soaked and tired out at last, he reached his little lodgings—quite
large enough for him, though—and found Black Wena warming the chair,
the only chair he had to sit on. Unluckily, he did not do what a man
who cared for himself would have done. Having no change of raiment—in
plain English, only one pair of trousers—he should have gone to bed at
once, or at any rate have pulled his wet clothes off. Instead of doing
so, he sat and sat, with the wet things clinging closer to him, and
the shivers crawling deeper, until his last inch of candle was gone,
and the room was cold as an icehouse, for the rain had turned to snow
at nightfall, and the fire had not been lit.

Wena sat waiting and nodding upwards, on the yard and a half of brown
drugget, which now was her chiefest _pulvinar_, and once or twice she
nudged her master, and whined about supper and bedtime. But Cradock
only patted her, and improved the turn of his sentence. He was making
one last effort to save from waste and ridicule his tastes and his
education. A craftsman, if he have self–respect, is worthy, valuable,
admirable, nearer to the perception of simple truth than some men of
high refinement. Nevertheless, it is too certain—as I, who know them
well, and not unkindly, can testify—that there is scarcely one in a
dozen labourers, even around the metropolis, who respects himself and
his calling. Whose fault this is, I pretend not—for pretence it would
be—to say. Probably, the guilt is “much of a muchness,” as in all
mismanaged matters. The material was as good as our own; how has it got
so vitiated? It is as lowering to us as it is to themselves, that the
“enlightened working–men of England” cannot go out for their holiday,
cannot come home from their work, cannot even speak among their own
children, and in the goodwifeʼs presence, without words, not of manly
strength, but of hoggish coarseness. In time this must be otherwise;
but the evil is not cured easily. The boy believes it manly to talk as
he hears his father talk; he rejoices in it the more, perhaps, because
the school forbids it. He does not know what the foul words mean; and
all things strange have the grandest range. Those words tell powerfully
in a story, with smaller boys round him upon the green, or at the
street–corner. And so he grows up engrimed with them, and his own boys
follow suit.

Cradock was young and chivalrous, and knew not much of these things,
which his position had kept from him; nor in his self–abandonment
cared he much about them. Nevertheless, he shrank unconsciously from
the lowering of his existence. And now he sat up, writing, writing,
till his wet clothes made little pools on the floor, while he answered
twenty advertisements, commercial, literary, promiscuous. Then he
looked at his little roll of postage–stamps, and with shivering fingers
affixed them. There were only fifteen; and it was too late to get any
more that night; and he felt that he could not afford to use them now
so rashly. So he ran out into the slushy streets, gamboged with London
snow, and posted those fifteen of his letters which were the least
ambitious. By this time he knew that the best chance was of something
not over–gorgeous. Wena did not go with him, but howled until he came
back. Then he gave the poor little thing, with some self–reproach at
his tardiness, all the rest of his cottage loaf, and his haʼporth
of milk, which she took with some protestations, looking up at him
wistfully now and then, to see whether he was eating.

“No, Wena, I canʼt eat to–night; bilious from over–feeding, perhaps.
But Iʼve done a good eveningʼs work, and weʼll be very plucky for
breakfast, girl, and have sixpenceworth of cold ham. No fear there of
making a cannibal of you, you innocent little soul.”

He was desperately afraid, as most young fellows from the country are,
of having unclean animals spicily served up by the London allantopolæ.
This terror is the result for the most part of rustic sham knowingness,
and the British love of stale jokes. However, beyond all controversy,
dark are the rites of sepulture of the measly pigs around London.

He crept, at last, beneath his scanty bedding—clean, although so
patched and threadbare—and the iron cross–straps shook and rattled
with the shudders that went through him.

Wena, who slept beneath the bed in a nest which she made of the
drugget–scrap, jumped upon the blanket at midnight, to know pray what
was the matter. Then she licked his face, and tried to warm him, in his
broken slumbers. That day he had taken a virulent cold, which struck
into his system, and harboured there for a fortnight, till it broke out
in a raging fever.

The next day, Cradock received a letter, of doubtful classicality, and
bearing the Hammersmith post–mark.

 “RESPECTED SIR,—Was sorry after you streaked off yesterday that had
 not kept you longer. You was scarce gone out of the gate as one might
 say, when in comes a gent, no end of a nob, beats you as one might
 say in some respects, and a head of hair as good. Known by the name
 of Hearty,—Hearty Wibraham, Esquire, but friends prefers callin’ him
 Hearty, such bein’ his character. And hearty he were with my brandy, I
 do assure you, and no mistake. This gent say as he want to establish
 a hagency for the sale of first–class Hettons to the members of the
 _bone tons_: was I agreeable to supply him? So I say, ‘Certainly, by
 all means, if I see my way to my money.’ And then he breaks out, in a
 manner as would frighten some hands, about the artlessness of the age,
 the suspiciousness of commercial gents, and confidence between man and
 man. ‘Waste of time,’ says I; ‘coals is coals now, and none of them
 leaves this yard for nothing. Better keep that sort of stuff,’ says I,
 ‘for the green young gent from Hoxford as was here just now.’ ‘What,’
 says he, ‘Hoxford man after a situation?’ ‘ Yes,’ I says, ‘nice young
 gent, only under a cloud.’ Says he, ‘I loves a Hoxford man; hope he
 has got some money.’ ‘ For what?’ I says; ‘have you got anything good
 for him to invest in?’ ‘Havenʼt I?’ he says; ‘take a little more
 brandy, old chapʼ—my own brandy, mind you, blow me if he ainʼt a
 hearty one. Well, I canʼt tell you half he said, not being a talkative
 man myself, since the time as I lost Mrs. Clinkers. Only the upshot of
 it is, I think you couldnʼt do no harm by callinʼ, if he write you as
 he said he would.

 “Yours to command, and hope you didnʼt get wet,

 “ROBERT CLINKERS, Jun., for POKER, CLINKERS, and Co., Coal Merchants,
 West London Terminuss, Hammersmith.

 “N.B.—Coke supplied in your own sacks, on the most moderate terms.”

By the next delivery, Cradock got another letter, far more elegantly
written, but not half so honest.

 “Mr. Hearty Wibraham, having heard of Mr. Charles Newman from a mutual
 friend, Mr. Clinkers, of Hammersmith, presents his compliments to the
 former gentleman, and thinks it might be worth Mr. Newmanʼs while
 to call upon him, Mr. H. W., at six oʼclock this evening, supposing
 the post to do its duty, which it rarely does. Hearty Wibraham, No.
 66, Aurea Themis Buildings, Notting Hill district. N.B.—The above
 is _bonâ fide_. References will be required. But perhaps they may be
 dispensed with.

  “H. W.”

“Well,” said Cradock to Wena, shivering as he said it, for the cold was
striking into him, “you see we are in request, my dear. Not that I have
any high opinion of Mr. Hearty Wibraham; as a gentleman, I mean. But
for all that he may be an honest man. And beggars—as you know, Wena,
dear, when you sit up so prettily—beggars must not be choosers. Do you
think you could walk so far, Wena? If you could, it would do you good,
my beauty; and Iʼll see that you are not run over.”

Wena agreed, rather rashly, to go; for the London stones, to a country
dog, are as bad as a mussel–bank to a bather; but she thought she
might find some woodcocks—and so she did, at the game–shops, and some
curlews which they sold for them—but her real object in going, was
that she had made some nice acquaintances in the neighbourhood, whom
she wanted to see again. She wouldnʼt speak to any low dog, for she
meant to keep up the importance and grandeur of the Nowell family, but
there were some dogs, heigho! they had such ways with them, and they
were brushed so nicely, what could a poor little country dog do but
fall in love with them?

Therefore Wena came after her master, and made believe not to notice
them, but she lingered now and then at a scraper, and, when she
snapped, her teeth had gloves on.

When Cradock and his little dog, after many a twist and turn, found
Aurea Themis Buildings, the master rang at the sprightly door, newly
grained and varnished. Being inducted by a young woman, with a most
coquettish cap on, he told black Wena to wait outside, and she lay down
upon the door–step.

Then he was shown into the “first–floor drawing–room,” according to
arrangement, and requested to “take a seat, sir.” The smart maid, who
carried a candle, lit the gas in a twinkling, but Cradock wondered why
the coal–merchant had no coals in his fireplace.

Just when he had concluded, after a fit of shivering, that this defect
was due perhaps to that extreme familiarity which breeds in a grocer
contempt for figs, Mr. Wibraham came in, quite by accident, and was
evidently amazed to see him.

“What! Ah, no, my good sir, not Mr. Charles Newman, a member of the
University of Oxford!”

“Yes, sir, I am that individual,” replied Cradock, very uncomfortable
at the prominent use of his “alias.”

“Then, allow me, sir, to shake hands with you. I am strongly
prepossessed in your favour, young gentleman, from the description I
received of you from our mutual friend, Mr. Clinkers. Ah, I like that
Clinkers. No nonsense about Clinkers, sir.”

“So I believe,” said Cradock; “but, as I have only seen him once, it
would perhaps be premature of me——”

“Not a bit, my dear sir, not a bit. That is one of the mistakes we
make. I always rely upon first impressions, and they never deceive me.
Now I see exactly what you are, an upright honourable man, full of
conscientiousness, but _not overburdened here_.”

He gave a jocular tap to his forehead, which was about half the width
of Cradockʼs.

“Well,” thought Cradock, “you are straightforward, even to the verge of
rudeness. But no doubt you mean well, and perhaps you are nearer the
truth than the people who have told me otherwise. Anyhow, it does not
matter much.” But, in spite of this conclusion, he bowed in his stately
manner, and said:

“If that be the case, sir, I fear it will hardly suit your purpose to
take me into your employment.”

“Ah, I have hurt your feelings, I see. I am so blunt and hasty. Hearty
Wibraham is my name; and hearty enough I am, God knows; and perhaps a
little too hearty. ‘Hasty Wibraham, you ought to be called, by Jove,
you ought,’ said one of my friends last night, and by Gad I think he
was right, sir.”

“I am sure I donʼt know,” said Cradock; “how can I pretend to say,
without myself being hasty?”

“I suppose, Mr. Newman, you can command a little capital? It is not at
all essential, you know, in a _bonâ fide_ case like yours.”

“Thatʼs a good job,” said Cradock; “for my capital, like the new one of
Canada, is below contempt.”

“To a man imbued, Mr. Newman, with the genuine spirit of commerce, no
sum, however small, but may be the key of fortune.”

“My key of fortune, then, is about twenty pounds ten shillings.”

“A very, very small sum, my dear sir; but I dare say some of your
friends would assist you to make it, say fifty guineas. You Oxford men
are so generous; always ready to help each other. That is why I canʼt
help liking you so. Thoroughly fine fellows,” he added, in a loud
aside, “thoroughly noble fellows, when a messmate is in trouble. Canʼt
apply to his family, I see; but it would be mean in him not to let his
friends help him. I do believe the highest privilege of human life is
to assist a friend in difficulties.”

Cradock, of course, could not reply to all this, because he was not
meant to hear it; but he gazed with some admiration at the utterer of
such exalted sentiments. Mr. Hearty Wibraham, now about forty–five
years old, was rather tall and portly, with an aquiline face, a dark
complexion, and a quick, decisive manner. His clothes were well made,
and of good quality, unpretentious, neat, substantial. His only piece
of adornment was a magnificent gold watch–chain, which rather shunned
than courted observation.

“No,” said Cradock, at last, “I have not a single friend in the world
to whom I would think of applying for the loan of a sixpence.”

“Well, we _are_ independent,” Mr. Wibraham still held discourse with
himself; “but Hearty Wibraham likes and respects him the more for
that. Heʼll get over his troubles, whatever they are. My good sir,”
he continued, aloud, “I will not utter any opinion, lest you should
think me inclined to flatter—the last thing in the world I ever would
do. Nevertheless, in all manly candour, I am bound to tell you that my
prepossession in your favour induces me to make you a most advantageous
offer.”

“I am much obliged to you. Pray, what is it?”

“A clerkship in my counting–house, which I am just about to open,
having formed a very snug little connexion to begin with.”

“Oh!” cried Cradock, for, green as he was, he would rather have had to
do with a business already established.

“I see you are surprised. No wonder, sir; no wonder! But you must know
that I shall have at least my _quid pro quo_. My connexion is of a
very peculiar character. In fact, it lies entirely in the very highest
circles. To meet such customers as mine, not only a man of gentlemanly
manners is required, but a man of birth and education. How could I
offer such a man less than 150_l._ per annum?”

“Your terms are very liberal, very liberal, I am sure,” replied
Cradock, reddening warmly at the appraisement of his qualities. “I
should not be comfortable without telling you frankly that I am worth
about half that yearly sum; until, I mean, until I get a little up to
business. I shall be quite content to begin upon 100_l._ a year.

“No! will you, though?” exclaimed Hearty Wibraham, flushed with a good
heartʼs enthusiasm. “You are the finest young fellow I have seen since
I was your age myself. Suppose, now, we split the difference. Say
125_l._; and I shall work you pretty hard, I can tell you. For we do
not confine our attention exclusively to the members of the Ministry,
and the House of Lords; we also deal with the City magnates, and take
a contract for Somerset House. And remember one thing; you will be in
exclusive charge whenever I am away negotiating. A man deserves to be
paid, you know, for high responsibility.”

“And where will the”—he hardly knew what to call it—“the office, the
counting–house, the headquarters be?”

“Not in any common thoroughfare,” replied Mr. Wibraham, proudly; “that
would never do for a business of such a character. What do you think,
sir, of Howard Crescent, Park Lane? Not so bad, sir, is it, for the
sale of the grimy?”

“I really do not know,” said Cradock; “but it sounds very well. When do
we open the books?”

“Monday morning, sir, at ten oʼclock precisely. Let me see: to–day
is Friday. Perhaps it would be an accommodation to you, to have your
salary paid weekly, until you draw by the quarter. Now, remember, I
rely upon you to promote my interest in every way consistent with
honour.”

“That you may do, most fully. I shall never forget your kind
confidence, and your liberality.”

“You will have two young gentlemen, if not three, wholly under your
orders. Also a middle–aged gentleman, a sort of sleeping partner, will
kindly attend _pro tem._, and show you the work expected of you. I
myself shall be engaged, perhaps, during the forenoon, in promoting the
interests of the business in a most important quarter. Now, be true to
me, Newman—I take liberties, you see—keep your subordinates in their
place, and make them stick to work, sir. And remember that one ounce
of example is worth a pound of precept. If you act truly and honestly
by me, as I know you will, you may look forward to a partnership at no
distant date. But donʼt be over–sanguine, my dear boy; there is hard
work before you.”

“And you will not find me shrink from it,” said Cradock, throwing his
shoulders back; “but we have not settled yet as to the amount of the
premium, or deposit, whichever it may be.”

“Thank you. To be sure. I quite forgot that incident. Thirty guineas, I
think you said, was all that would be convenient to you.”

“No, Mr. Wibraham; I said twenty pounds ten shillings.”

“Ah, yes, my mistake. I knew that there was an odd ten shillings. Say
twenty–five guineas. A mere matter of form, you know; but one which
we dare not neglect. It is not a premium; simply a deposit; to be
returned at the expiration of the first twelve months. Will you send it
to me by cheque? That, perhaps, would be the more convenient form. It
will save you from coming again.”

“I am sorry to say I cannot; for now I have no banker. Neither can I by
any means make it twenty–five guineas. I have stated to you the utmost
figure of my present census.”

“Ah, quite immaterial. I am only sorry for your sake. The sum will be
invested. I shall hold it as your trustee. But, for the sake of the
books, merely to look well on the books, we must say twenty guineas.
How could I invest twenty pounds ten shillings?”

This appeared reasonable to Cradock, who knew nothing about investment;
and, after reflecting a minute or two, he replied as follows:

“I believe, Mr. Wibraham, that I might manage to make it twenty
guineas. You said, I think, that my salary would be payable weekly.”

“To be sure, my dear boy, to be sure. At any rate until further
arrangements.”

“Then I will undertake to pay you the twenty guineas. Next Monday, I
suppose, will do for it?”

“Oh yes, Monday will do. But stop, I shall not be there on that
morning; and, for formʼs sake, it must be paid first. Let us say
Saturday evening. I shall be ready with a stamped receipt. Will you
meet me here at six oʼclock, as you did this evening?”

Cradock agreed to this, and Mr. Hearty Wibraham shook hands with him
most cordially, begging that mutual trust and amity might in no way be
lessened by his own unfortunate obligation to observe certain rules and
precedents.

In the highest spirits possible under such troubles as his were, Crad
strode away from Aurea Themis Buildings, and whistled to black Wena,
whom two of the most accomplished dog–stealers in London had been doing
their best to inveigle. Failing of skill—for Wena was a deal too
knowing—they at last attempted violence, putting away their chopped
liver and hoof–meat, and other baits still more savoury, upon which I
dare not enlarge. But, just as Black George, having lifted her boldly
by the nape of the neck, was popping her into the sack tail foremost,
though her short tail was under her stomach, what did she do but twist
round upon him, in a way quite unknown to the faculty, and make her
upper and lower canines meet through the palm of his hand? It wonʼt do
to chronicle what he said—I am too much given to strictest accuracy;
enough that he let her drop, in the manner of a red–hot potato; and
Blue Bill, who made a grab at her, only got a scar on the wrist. Then
she retreated to her step, and fired a royal salute of howls, never
ending, ever beginning, until her master came out.

“Wena, dear,” he said, for he always looked on the little thing as an
inferior piece of Amy, “you are very tired, my darling; the pavement
has been too much for you. Sit upon my arm, pretty. We are both going
to make our fortunes. And then you ‘shall walk in silk attire, and
siller hae to spare.’”

Wena nuzzled her nose into its usual place in Cradockʼs identicity,
and growled if any other dog took the liberty of looking at him. And
so they got home, singing snug little songs to each other upon the
way; and they both made noble suppers on the strength of their rising
fortunes.



CHAPTER IX.


The following day was Saturday, and the young fellow spent great
part of it in learning the rules, the tables, and statistics of the
coal trade, so far as they could be ascertained from a sixpenny work
which he bought. Not satisfied with this, he went to the Geological
Museum, in Jermyn–street, and pored over the specimens, and laid in a
stock of carbonic knowledge that would have astonished Clinkers and
Jenny. When the building was closed at four oʼclock he hurried back to
Mortimer–street, paid Mrs. Ducksacre for his weekʼs lodgings, and ran
off to a pawnbrokerʼs to raise a little money. Without doing this, he
would not be able to deposit the twenty guineas. Mr. Gillʼs shopman
knew Cradock well, from his having been there frequently to redeem
some trifling articles for the poor people of the court, and felt
some good–will towards him for his kindness to the little customers.
It increased the activity of his trade, for most of the pledges were
repledged or ever the week was out. And of course he got the money for
issuing another duplicate.

“Hope thereʼs nothing amiss, Mr. Newman,” said the pawnbrokerʼs
assistant; “sorry to see you come here, sir, on your own account.”

“Oh, you ought to congratulate me,” returned Cradock, with a knowing
smile: “I am going to pay a premium, and enter into a good position
upon advantageous terms; very advantageous, I may say, seeing how
little I know of the coal trade.”

“Take care, sir, take care, I beg of you. People run down our line of
business, and call it coining tears, &c.; but you may take my word for
it, there is a deal more roguery in the coal trade, or rather in the
pretence of it, than ever there is in the broking way.”

“There can be none in the present case, for the simple reason that I am
not in any way committed to a partnership, neither am I to be at all
dependent upon the profits.” And Cradock looked thankful for advice,
but a deal too wise to want it.

“Well, sir, I hope it may be all right; for I am sure you deserve it.
But there is a man, not far from here, I think you took some things out
for him, by the name of Zakey Jupp; a shrewdish sort of fellow, though
a deal too fond of fighting. Heʼll be up to some of the coal tricks, I
expect, heʼs about in the yards so much; and the whippers and heavers
are good uns to talk. Donʼt you think it beneath you, sir, to consult
with Zakey Jupp, if you have the pleasure of his acquaintance.”

“I am proud to say that I have at last,” replied Cradock, smiling
grimly; “but he went on board the _Industrious Maiden_, at Nine Elms,
yesterday morning, and may not be back for a month. He wanted me to
go with him; but I did not see how to be useful, and had not given my
landlady notice. Now, if you please, I have not a moment to spare.”

The shopman saw that he could not, without being really impertinent,
press his advice any further; and, although Cradock was so
communicative, as young men are apt to be, especially about their
successes, he never afforded much temptation to any one for
impertinence.

“And how much upon them little articles?” was the next question put
to Cradock; and he did not ask any very high figure, for fear of not
getting them out again.

As he set off full speed for Aurea Themis Buildings, without inviting
Wena, it struck him that it would be but common prudence just to look
at the place of business; so he dashed aside out of Oxford–street, at
the rate of ten miles an hour—for he was very light of foot—and made
his way to Howard–crescent, whose position he had learned from the map.
Sure enough there it was, when he got to the number indicated. And what
a noble plate! So large, indeed, that it was absolutely necessary
to have it in two parts. What refulgent brass! What fine engraving,
especially on the lower part! You might call it chalco–illumination,
chromography, chromometallurgy; I do not know any word half grand
enough to describe it. And the legend itself so simple, how could
they have made so much of it? The upper plate, though beautifully
bright, was comparatively plain, and only carried the words, “Wibraham,
Fookes, and Co.;” the lower and far more elaborate part enabled the
public to congratulate itself upon having the above as “Coal Merchants
and Colliery Agents to Her Most Gracious Majesty and the Duchy of
Lancaster. Hours of Business, from Ten till Four.”

Cradock just took time to read this, by the light of the gas–lamp
close to it; then glanced at the house (which looked clean and smart,
though smaller than what he expected), and, feeling ashamed of his mean
suspiciousness, darted away towards Notting Hill. When he arrived at
Aurea Themis Buildings, he was kept waiting at the door so long that
it made him quite uneasy, lest Hearty Wibraham should have forgotten
all about his little deposit. At last the smart girl opened the door,
and a short young man, whose dress more than whispered that he was not
given to compromise his æsthetic views, came out with a bounce, and
clapped a shilling in the hand of the smiling damsel. “There, Polly,
get a peach–coloured cap–ribbon, and wear it in a true knot for my
sake. I fancy Iʼve done your governor. Heʼs a trifle green; isnʼt he?”
But, in spite of his conversational powers, the handmaid dismissed him
summarily, when she saw Cradock waiting there.

The gas in the drawing–room was lit this time, and a good fire burning;
and Mr. Wibraham, in spirits absolutely jocular, sprang forward to meet
Cradock, and cried, “Hail, oh future partner!” Then he offered him
a glass of “rare old Madeira;” and, producing a blank receipt form,
exclaimed, “Whatever you do, my young friend, never let it be known in
the counting–house that I accepted you with so ridiculous a deposit as
the sum of thirty guineas.”

“Twenty, sir, twenty was what you agreed to accept.” Poor Cradock
trembled from head to foot, lest even now, at the last moment, he
should be rejected. But, to his delight, his new principal replied,

“Then, sir, twenty be it: if in a weak moment I agreed. Hearty Wibraham
would rather throw up all his connexion than allow any man to say of
him, sir, that he had departed from his word.” His voice trembled
slightly, and there was a twinkle as of tears in his eyes. Crad began
to apologize, though he could not quite see what harm he had done.

“Dash it, my boy, not another word. We understand each other. There is
your receipt.”

In his confidence, Hearty Wibraham passed the receipt form, now filled
up, to the aspiring coal–merchant, without having seen so much as the
colour of his money. Then Cradock pulled out Amyʼs purse, in which he
had put the cash, for good luck, and paid his footing bravely.

“Sir, I will not thank you,” said Mr. Wibraham, as he took the money,
“because the act would not be genuine. And I am proudly able to declare
that I have never yet done anything, even for the sake of the common
courtesies of life, which has not been thoroughly genuine. My boy, this
paltry twenty guineas is the opening of your mercantile life. May that
life be prosperous; as I am sure you deserve.”

Cradock took another glass of Madeira, as genuine as its owner, and,
after a hearty farewell, felt so rapidly on the rise, so touched, for
the first time of many weeks, by the dexter wand of fortune, that
he bought a quarter of an ounce of birdʼs–eye with an infusion of
“Latakia” (grown in the footpath field at Mitcham), and actually warmed
his dear brotherʼs pipe, which had not once been incremated ever since
the sacred fire of the Prytaneum had languished.

Wena was overjoyed to see him, and she loved the smell of tobacco,
and had often come sniffing about on the hearth–rug (or the bit of
baize that did for it) to know whether it was true that a big man—a
mastiff of a man, they told her—had succeeded in abolishing it; now,
seeing the blue curls quivering nicely, she jumped upon his lap; and,
although she was rather heavy, he thought it would be practice towards
the nursing of Amy, and possibly Amyʼs children. Then, when he thought
of that, he grew more happy than fifty emperors.

Fortune may jump on a young fellowʼs heart, with both heels set
together; but, the moment she takes one off, up it comes, like a
bladder too big to go into the football.

On Monday morning at ten oʼclock, our Crad, in a state of large
excitement, appeared before the gorgeous plate, and rang the bell
thereover. It was answered by an office–boy, with a grin so intensely
humorous that it was worth all the guineas that could have been thrust
into the great mouth he exhibited.

“Mr. Newman?” asked the boy, with a patronizing air, which a little
mind would have found offensive.

“To be sure,” replied Cradock; “I suppose I am expected.”

“That you are,” said the cheeky boy, grinning harder than ever; “the
other three gents is waiting, sir. Get you a penny paper for three
half–pence.”

“Thank you,” answered Cradock, hoping to depress that boy, “I am not
come here, young man, I trust, to waste time in reading the papers.”

“Oh no! oh lor no,” cried the boy as he led the way in; “tip–top
business this is, and all of us wears out our marrow–bones. His Ro–oyal
Highness will be here bumbye. ‘Spect theyʼll appoint you to receive
him, ‘cos you would look such a swell with our governorʼs best boots
on. Donʼt you refoose now, mind me, donʼt refoose, mate, if you loves
me.”

“You want a little whipcord,” said Cradock; “and you shall have it too,
my boy, if you come much into my neighbourhood.”

“There now; there now!” sighed the boy—who would have been worth
something on the stage—“I have never been appreciated, and suppose I
never shall. Whatʼs the odds to a jinker? Cockalocks, there go in, and
let me mind your beaver.”

Cradock was shown into a room furnished as philosophically as the
wash–house of Cincinnatus; still, it looked like business. There was
no temptation to sit down, even though one had rowing–trousers on.
There were four tall desks of deal uncovered; each had four legs, and
resembled a naked Punch–and–Judy box. Hales, the Norfolk giant, could
not have written at either of them, while sitting on any of the stools
there.

Three of these desks were appropriated by three very nice young
gentlemen, all burning to begin their labours. Two of the men were
unknown to Cradock; but the third, the very short one, who had taken a
stool to stand upon, and was mending a pen most earnestly—him Cradock
recognised at once as the disburser of the shilling, the sanguine
youth, of broad views in apparel, who had cheated Mr. Wibraham so.

“Mr. Fookes, I presume,” he exclaimed, with a leap from the stool,
and a little run towards Cradock; “you see we are all ready, sir, to
receive the junior partner. Hardly know what to be up to.”

“I am sure I cannot tell you,” answered Crad, with a smile; “I do not
belong to the firm as yet, although I am promised a partnership at a
date not very distant.”

“So am I,” said the little man, staring; “indeed, I came up from
Cambridge principally upon the strength of it.”

“The deevil you did!” cried a tall, strapping fellow, crossing suddenly
from his desk; “if yeʼll hearken me, my time comes first. The agrahment
was signed for Candlemas, when the gloot of business allows it. And a
Durham man knows what coals are.”

“Agrayment, thin, is it?” exclaimed the fourth, a flourishing,
red–haired Irishman; “do you think Iʼd a left me Oonivarsity, Thrinity
College, Dooblin, wiʼout having it down all black and white? By the
same token, itʼs meself as is foremost. Christmas is the time, me boys;
and the farst dividend on St. Pathrickʼs Day, wakely sthipend in the
intherim. Divil take me sowl, but none o’ ye shall git before Manus
OʼToole.”

“Gentlemen,” said Cradock, “donʼt let us be in a hurry. No doubt Mr.
Fookes will be here presently, and then we can settle precedence. I see
there is work set out for us; and I suppose we are not all strangers
here.”

“Canʼt answer for the other gentlemen,” returned the little Cambridge
man, “but I was never here before, except to see the place on Saturday.”

“And thatʼs joost my own predeecament,” cried the tall man from
Hatfield Hall.

“Chop me up smarl,” said the Irishman, when they turned to him as their
senior, “but the gintleman has the advantage o’ me. I niver was here at
all, at all; and I hope I niver shall be.”

The four young men gathered round a desk, and gazed sadly at one
another. At this moment the office–boy, seeing the distance safe, for
he had been watching through the keyhole, pushed his head in at the
door, and shouted, “Hi! there, young coal–merchants, donʼt yer sell too
much now! Telegram from the Exchange, gents; grimy is on the rise. But
excoose me half an hour, gents; Her Majesty have commanded my presence,
to put the ro–oyal harms on me. Ho–hoop! Iʼm after you, Molly. Donʼt be
afraid of my splashing your legs, dear.”

“Well,” said Cradock, as the rising young coal–merchants seemed to look
to him for counsel, and stood in silent bewilderment—“it appears to me
that there is something wrong. Let us hope that it is a mistake only;
at any rate, let us stop, and see the matter out. I trust that none of
you gentlemen have paid a premium, as I have.”

“I am sure I donʼt know,” said the Cantab, “what the others have done;
but I was allowed to enter the firm for the sum of eighty guineas, a
great deal too little, considering all the advantages offered—the
proper sum being a hundred; but an abatement was made in my favour.”

“Ahty guineas!” cried the Durham man; “why I was admeeted for saxty,
because I had no more.”

“Itʼs me blessed self, then, as bates you all,” shouted the son of
Dublin; “shure and Iʼve made a clear sixty by it, for I hadnʼt no more
than forty.”

“And I,” replied Cradock, with a melancholy air, “was received for the
trifling sum of twenty, on account of my being an Oxford man.”

“Why, gentlemen,” said the little Cantab, “let us shake hands all
round. We represent the four chief universities, only Scotland being
omitted.”

“Catch a Scotchman with salt, me frinds!” cried the red Hibernian,
as they went through the ceremony. “By Jasers, but that infarnal old
Jew would have had to pay the porridge–man, for the pleasure of his
company.”

“Now let us fall to our work, gentlemen” (Crad tried to look hopeful
as he said it); “the books before us may throw some light upon this
strange, and, as it seems, very roguish matter. I was told to act for
our principal, during the absence of the sleeping partner; to keep you
all in your places, and make you stick to your work; and especially to
remember that one ounce of practice is worth a pound of precept.”

“I should be most happy, sir, to obey orders,” said the little
Cambridge man, bowing; “only I hold the identical commission, ounce of
practice and all, for your benefit, my good sir, and that of all the
other juniors.”

“Now that shows a want of vareaty,” cried the tall Dunelmian, “for the
sole charge of all of ye is commeeted to _me_.”

“Itʼs me blessed self that got it last, and that manes to kape it. What
time wur you there, gintlemen, at Ory Thamis Buildings?”

It was settled that the Irishman had received his commission last, for,
some whisky having been produced, he and Hearty Wibraham had kept it up
until twelve oʼclock on the Saturday night. So, to his intense delight,
he was now appointed captain.

“An’ if I donʼt drag him from his hole, to pay him the sixty guineas I
owe him, out of your money, gintlemen, say my name isnʼt Manus OʼToole.
Now the fust arder I give, is to have in the bhoy, and wallop him.”

Easier said than done, Mr. Toole. There was no boy to be found
anywhere; and the only result of a strong demonstration in the passage
was a curt note from the landlord.

 “GENTLEMEN,—I understood as I had lett my rooms to a respectable
 party, rent payable weakly, and weak is up this day. Will take it a
 favuor to reseeve two pound ten per bearer.

  “JOHN CODGER.”

The four university men looked wondrously blank at this—“gelidusque
per ima cucurrit ossa tremor.”

“Well, I _am_ blowed!” cried the little Cantab, getting smaller, and
with the sky–blue stripes on his trousers quivering.

“Thereʼs a cousin of mine, a soleecitor,” said the young north
countryman, “would take up this case for us, if we made a joint
deposeet.”

“Have down the landlord and fight him,” proposed the Emerald Islander.

“I donʼt care a fig for the landlord,” said Cradock, who now recalled
some shavings of law from the Quarter Sessions spokeshave; “he can
do nothing at all to us, until twelve oʼclock, and then he can send
us about our business, and no more harm done. We were not parties to
the original contract, and have nothing to do with the rent. Now,
gentlemen, there is only one thing I would ask you, in return for my
lucid legal opinion.”

“What is that?” cried all the rest; “whatever it is, you shall have it.”

“That you make over to me, _vivâ voce_, your three–fourths of the
brass–plate. I have taken a strange fancy to it; the engraving is so
fine.”

“You are perfectly welcome to it,” exclaimed the other three; “but
wonʼt it belong to the landlord?”

“Not if it is merely screwed on, as probably is the case. And I have a
screw–driver in my knife, which very few screws can resist.”

“Then go and take it, by all means, before twelve oʼclock, for
afterwards we shall only be trespassers.”

Crad put his hat on and went out, but returned with the wonderful
screw–driver snapped up into his knife–handle, and the first flush of
real British anger yet seen upon his countenance. What wonderful beings
we are! He had lost nearly all his substance, and he was vexed most
about the brass–plate.

“Done at every point,” he said; “that glorious under–plate is gone, and
only the narrow bar left with the name of the thief upon it, which of
course would not suit him again.”

“Oysters all round!” cried the Cambridge man, “as the landlord cannot
distrain us. An oyster is a legal esculent; I see they teach law
at Oxford; let us at least die jolly. And I claim the privilege of
standing oysters, because I have paid the highest premium, and am the
most promising partner—at any rate, the softest fellow. Gentlemen, if
you refuse me, I claim our captainʼs decision. Captain OʼToole, how is
it?”

“Arrah, thin, and I order eysters at this gintlemanʼs expinse, London
stout for the waker stomiks, and a drop o’ poteen for digestion, to
them as are wakest of all.”

“Done,” said the little Cantab, “if only to rile the landlord, and he
may distrain the shells. Call four university men, by implication,
unrespectable parties! We must have our action against him. Gentlemen.
I am off for the grub, and see that I get in again.”

“Faix, then, my honey,” cried the Irishman, forgetting all university
language, “and, if ye donʼt, ‘twill be a quare job for the bones on the
knuckles of Manus OʼToole.”

While all four were enjoying their oysters—for Cradock, being a
good–natured fellow, did not withhold his assistance—a sharp rap–rap
announced the postman, and Mr. OʼToole returned from the door with
a large square letter, sealed with the coat of arms of the company.
“Ship–letther, and eightpence to pay, begorra. Gintlemen, will we take
it?”

“How is it addressed?” asked two or three.

“Most gintaal. ‘To the sanior clerk or junior partner of the firm of
Wibraham, Fookes, and Co., Coal Merchants,’ and thatʼs meself, if itʼs
nobody.”

“Then itʼs you to pey the eightpence,” cried the Durham man.

“Do yer think, then, itʼs me who canʼt do it?” answered Mr. OʼToole,
angrily. And then he broke open the letter and read:

  “P. & O. steamer _Will o’ the Wisp_, off the Start
  Point.—_Sunday._

 “RESPECTED AND BELOVED PARTNERS,—His Royal Highness the Pasha
 of Egypt, having resolved to light with gas the interior of the
 Pyramids, also to provide hot–water bottles for the comfort of
 his household–brigade, principally female, and to erect extensive
 gas–cooking premises, where hot crocodile may always be had, has
 entrusted me with the whole arrangements, and the entire supply of
 coal, with no restriction except that the Nile shall not be set on
 fire.

 “Interested as you are in the success of our noble firm, you will
 thank, instead of blaming me, for an apparently unceremonious
 departure. By an extraordinary coincidence, Mr. Fookes has also been
 summoned peremptorily to Constantinople, to contract with the Sultan
 for warming the sacks of the ladies who are, from time to time,
 deposited in the Bosporus.

 “Therefore, gentlemen, the entire interest of the London branch is
 left in your experienced hands. Be steady, I entreat you; be diligent,
 be methodical. Above all things, remember that rigid probity, and
 the strictest punctuality in meeting payments, are the _very soul
 of business_, and that an ounce of practice is worth a pound of
 precept. But I have the purest confidence in you. I need not appeal
 to the honour of four university men. From my childhood upward, I
 have admired those admirable institutions, and the knowledge of life
 imparted by them. ‘Quid leges sine moribus?’ Excuse me; it is all the
 Latin I know.

 “There is a raw Irishman among you, rather of the physical order; if
 he is violent, expel him. Every gentleman will be entitled to his own
 deal desk, upon discharge of the bill, which he will find made out in
 his name, in the drawer thereof. And now farewell. I have been prolix
 in the endeavour to be precise.

 “There are no funds in hand for the London branch, but our credit is
 unbounded. Push our united interests, for I trust you to the last
 farthing. I hope to find you with coffers full, and commercial honour
 untainted, on the 31st of February prox.

 “Believe me, Gentlemen, ever your affectionate partner,

  “HEARTY WIBRAHAM, D.C.L.

 “P.S.—If none of my partners know the way to enter an order, the
 office–boy will instruct the manager of the firm.—H. W.”

“Consummate scoundrel!” exclaimed the little Cantab, with the beard of
an oyster in his throat.

“Detasteable heepocrite!” cried the representative of Durham.

“Raw Irishman! Oh then the powers! And the punch of the head I never
giv’ him, a week will be next Saturday.” Mr. OʼToole danced round
the room, caught up the desks like dolls, and dashed all their noses
together. Then he summoned the landlord, and pelted him out of the room
and up the stairs with oyster–shells, the books, and the whisky–bottle,
and two pewter–pots after his legs, as he luckily got round the
landing–place. The terrified man, and his wife worse frightened,
locked themselves in, and then threw up a window and bawled out for the
police.

Cradock, feeling ashamed of the uproar, seized OʼToole by the collar;
and the Durham man, being sedate and steady, grasped him on the other
side. So they lifted him off the ground, and bore him even into Hyde
Park, and there they left him upon a bench, and each went his several
way. The police, according to precedent, were in time to be too late.



CHAPTER X.


Cradock Nowell shivered hard, partly from his cold, and partly at the
thought of the bitter life before him. He had Amyʼs five and sixpence
left, an immutable peculium. In currency his means were limited to
exactly four and ninepence. With the accuracy of an upright man (even
in the smallest matters), he had forced upon Mr. OʼToole his twopence,
the quaternary of that letter. Also he had insisted upon standing
stout, when thirst increased with oysters. Now he took the shillings
four, having lost all faith in his destiny, and put one in each of
his waistcoat pockets; for he had little horse–shoes upwards, as well
as the straight chinks below. This being done, he disposed of his
ninepence with as tight a view to security.

All that day he wandered about, and regretted Issachar Jupp. Towards
nightfall, he passed a railway terminus, miserably lighted, a disgrace
to any style of architecture, teeming with insolence, pretence, dirt,
discomfort, fuss, and confusion. Let us call it the “Grand Junction
Wasting and Screwing Line;” because among railway companies the name is
generally applicable.

In a window, never cleaned since the prorogation of Parliament, the
following “Notice” tried to appear; and, if you rubbed the glass, you
might read it.

“Wanted immediately, a smart active young man, of good education. His
duties will not be onerous. Wages one pound per week. Uniform allowed.
Apply to Mr. Killquick, next door to the booking–office.”

Cradock read this three times over, for his wits were dull now, and
then he turned round, and felt whether all his money was safe. Yes,
every blessed halfpenny, for he had eaten nothing since the oysters.

“Surely I am an active young man, of good education,” said Crad to
himself, “although not very smart, perhaps, especially as to my boots;
but a suit, all uniform, allowed, will cure my only deficiency. I could
live and keep Wena comfortably upon a pound a week. I hope, however,
that they cash up. Railway companies have no honour, I know; but I
suppose they pay when they canʼt help it.”

Having meditated with himself thus much, he went, growing excited on
the way—for now he was no philosopher—to the indicated whereabouts of
that lineʼs factotum, Mr. Killquick. Here he had to wait very nearly
an hour, Mr. Killquick being engaged, as usual, in the companyʼs most
active department, arranging very effectually for a collision down the
line. “Successfully,” I would have said; but, though the accident came
off quite according to the most sanguine, or sanguinary expectation,
the result was a slur on that companyʼs fame; only three people being
killed, and five–and–twenty wounded.

“Now, young man,” asked Mr. Killquick, when all his instructions were
on the wires, “what is your business with me?”

Cradock, having stated his purpose, name, and qualifications, the
traffic–manager looked at him with interest and reflection. Then he
said impressively, “You can jump well, I should think?”

“I have never yet been beaten,” Crad answered, “but of course there are
many who _can_ beat me.”

“And run, no doubt? And your sight is accurate, and your nerves very
good?”

“My nerves are not what they were, sir; but I can run fast and see
well.”

“Why do you shiver so? That will never do. And the muscles of his calf
are too prominent. We lost No. 6 through that.”

“It is only a little cold I have caught. It will go off in a moment
with regular work.”

“You have no relation, I suppose, in any way connected with the law? No
friends, I mean, of litigious tendencies?”

“Oh no. I have no friends whatever; none, I mean, in London, only one
family, far in the country, to care at all about me.”

“No father or mother to make a fuss, eh? No wife to prevent your
attending to business?”

“No, sir, nothing of the sort. I am quite alone in the world; and my
life is of no importance.”

“Wonderful luck,” muttered Mr. Killquick; “exactly the very thing for
us! And I have been so put out about that place, it has got such a
reputation. Poor Morshead cannot get through the work any longer by
himself. And the coroner made such nasty remarks. If we kill another
man there before Easter, the _Times_ will be sure to get hold of it.
Young man,” he continued in a louder tone, “you are in luck this time,
I believe. It is a very snug situation; only you must look sharp after
your legs, and be sure you never touch spirits. Not given to blue ruin,
I hope?”

“Oh no. I never touch it.”

“Thatʼs right. I was afraid you did, you look so down in the mouth. You
can give us a reference, I suppose?”

“Yes, to my landlady, Mrs. Ducksacre, a most respectable person, in
trade in Mortimer–street.”

“Good,” replied Mr. Killquick; “you mustnʼt be alarmed, by the way, by
any foolish rumours you may hear as to dangers purely imaginary. Your
predecessor lost his life through the very grossest carelessness. You
are as safe there as in your bed, unless your nerves happen to fail
you. And, when that is the case, I should like to know,” asked the
traffic–manager indignantly, “which of us is not in danger, even in
coming down–stairs?”

“What will my duties be, then?” asked Cradock, with some surprise.

“Why, you are not afraid, are you?” Mr. Killquick looked at him
contemptuously.

“No, I should rather hope not,” replied Cradock, meeting him eye to
eye, so that the wholesale smasher quailed at him; “there is no duty,
even in a powder–mill, which I would shrink from now.”

“Ah, terrible things, those powder–mills! A perfect disgrace to this
age and country, their wanton waste of human life. How the Legislature
lets them go on so, is more than I can conceive. Why, they think no
more of murdering and maiming a dozen people——”

“Please, sir,” cried one of the clerks, coming down from the telegraph
office, “no end of a collision on the Slayham and Bury Branch. Three
passengers killed, and twenty–five wounded, some of them exceedingly
fatally.”

“Bless my heart if I didnʼt expect it. Told Sykes it would be so. Howʼs
the engine, Jemmy?”

“Sheʼs all right, sir; jumped over three carriages, and went a header
into a sand–hill. Driver cased in glass, from vitrifaction of the sand.
Stoker took the hot water—a thing he ainʼt much accustomed to.”

“No! What a capital joke. Hell–fire–Jack (I can swear it was him),
preserved in a glass case, from the results of his own imprudence! I
shall be up with you in five minutes, James. Be quite ready to begin.”

“Now,” said Mr. Killquick, drawing out his cigar–case, “I have little
more to say to you, young man, except that you can begin at eight
oʼclock to–morrow morning. We will dispense with the references, for
I have the utmost confidence in you, and you will be searched very
carefully every time you come out of the gate—which you never will be
allowed to do, except when your spell is over, and your mate is in. You
will go at once to our outfitters, and, upon presenting this ticket,
they will fit you up, as tightly as possible, with your regimentals.
And see that you donʼt take boots, but the very best shoes for jumping
in. What they call ‘Oxford shoes’ are best, when tied tight over the
instep, and not too thick in the sole. No nails, mind, for fear of
slipping upon the flange. Good–bye, my boy; be very careful. By–the–by,
you say you donʼt value your life?”

“Very little indeed,” said Cradock, “except just for one reason.”

“Then now you must add another reason; you must value it for our sake.
The Company canʼt have another inquest for at least six months. I mean,
of course, _by the same coroner_. Confound that fellow; he will not
take a right view of things. At eight oʼclock to–morrow morning, you
will be at the gate of the Cramjam goods station. The clerk there will
have his orders about you. He will supply you with a book, and map out
for you your duties. Also Morshead, your mate, an invaluable man, will
show you the practical part of it. Now, good–bye, my lad. Remember, you
never wear any except your official dress. We allow you two suits in
the twelvemonth. Your duties will be of a refined character, and the
exercise exhilarating. I trust to receive a good report of you; and I
hope, my boy, that you are at peace, both with God and man.”

Even Mr. Killquick had been touched a little by Cradockʼs air of
uncomplaining sorrow, and the stamp of high mind and good breeding.

“Very foolish of me,” he muttered, as he lit his cigar, and went up to
telegraph to the Slayham station–master—ʼCommit yourself to nothing;
observe the strictest economy; and no bonfires of the splinter–wood, as
they had last weekʼ—“very foolish of me,” he said on the stairs, “but
it goes to my heart to kill that young fellow. How I should like to
know his history! That face does not mean nothing.”

Cradock, caring very little what his duties might be, and feeling the
night–wind go through his heart, hastened to the outfittersʼ, and
there he was received with a grin by an experienced shopman, on the
production of his note.

“Capital customers, sir,” he said; “famous customers of ours, that
Grand Junction Wasting and Screwing Line, and the best of all for the
gentlemen in your way of business, sir. Must have new clothes every
new hand, and they changes pretty often, sir. Pervides all the comforts
of a home for you, and a gentlemanly competence, before youʼve been
half a year with them.”

The man grinned still more at his own grim wit, while Cradock stared at
him in wonderment.

“Donʼt you see, sir, they canʼt pass the clothes on, after the man has
been killed, even if thereʼs a bit of them left; for they must fit you
like your skin, sir. The leastest little wrinkle, sir, or the ruffle
of a hinch, or so much as the fray of a hem, and there you are, sir;
and they have to look for another hactive young man, sir. And hactive
young men are getting shy, sir, uncommon shy of it now, except they
come from the country. Hope you insured your life, sir, before taking
the situation. Thereʼs no company will accept your life now, sir. What
a nice young man the last were,—what a nice young man, to be sure!
outrageous fond of filberts; till they cracked him, and found a shell
for him.”

“Well,” said Cradock, whom the busy tailor had been measuring all this
while, “from all that you tell me, there would be less imprudence in
ordering my coffin than to–morrowʼs dinner. What is there so very
dangerous in it?”

“Well, youʼll see, sir, youʼll see. I would not frighten you for the
world, because itʼs all up in a moment, if you lose your presence of
mind. Thank you, sir; all right now, except the legs of the tights, and
thatʼs the most particular part of it all. May I trouble you to turn
your trousers up? It will never do to measure over them. We shall put
six hands on at once at the job. The whole will be ready at eleven this
evening. You must kindly call and try everything. We are ordered to
insist upon that.”

The next morning, Crad, in a suit of peculiar, tough, and yet most
elastic cord, which fitted him as if he had been dipped in it, walked
in at the open gates of the front yard, leading to the Cramjam general
goods terminus. This was the only way in or out (except along “the
metals”), and, as it was got up with heaps of stucco, all the porters
were very proud of it, and called it a “slap–up harchway.”

“Stop, stop,” cried a sharp little fellow, gurgling up, like a
fountain, from among the sham pilasters; “whatʼs your business here,
my man, on the premises of the Grand Junction Wasting and Screwing
Company? Ah, I see by your togs. Just come this way, if you please,
then.”

Here let me call a little halt, for time enough to explain that the
more fashionable of the railway companies have lately agreed that a
station–yard is a sort of royal park, which cannot be kept too private,
which no doors may rashly open upon, a pleasant rural solitude and
weed–nursery for the neighbourhood, and wherein the senior porter
has his private mushroom–bed. They are wise in this seclusion, and
wholesome is their privacy, so long as they discard all principle—so
long as they are allowed to garotte us, while they jabber about
“public interests.” Perhaps, ere very long, we shall have a modern
Dædalus; and then the boards of directors, so ready to do collectively
things which, done individually, no gentleman would own to, may abate a
few jots of their arrogance, and have faint recollections of honour.

Cradock, not very deeply impressed by the “compo” arch (about half the
size of the stone one at Nowelhurst Hallʼs chief entrance), presented
himself to the sharp little fellow, and told him what he was come for.

“Glad to hear it,” said the gateman, “uncommonly glad to hear it.
Morshead is a wonderful fellow; there is not another man in England
could have stuck to that work as he has done. He ought to have five
pounds a week, that he ought, instead of a single sovereign. Screwing
Co.” (this was their common name) “will be sorry when they have lost
him. Now your duty is to enter, in this here book, the number of
every truck, jerry, trod, or blinkem, tarpaulin, or covering of any
sort; also the destination chalked on it, and the nature of the goods
in the truck, so far as you can ascertain them; coals, iron, chalk,
packing–cases, boxes, crates, what not, so fast as they comes into the
higher end, or so fast as they goes out of it. You return this book to
the check office every time you come off duty. You begin work at eight
in the morning, and you leave at eight in the evening. You donʼt pass
here meanwhile, and you canʼt pass up the line. Hope you have brought
some grub. Youʼll have five minutes in the afternoon, long enough
to get a snack in, after the up goods for Millstone is off. Oh, you
ought to have brought some grub; if you faint, you will never come to
again. But perhaps Morshead can spare you a bit. Heʼll be glad to see
you, thatʼs certain, for he ainʼt slept a wink for a week. And such a
considerate chap. I enter you in and out. ‘Number–taker 26.’ Thatʼs
all right from your cap, my lad. No room for it on your sleeve. Might
stick out, you know, and you must pack tighter than any of the goods
is. ‘Undertakers,’ we call you always. Good–bye, sir; Morshead will
tell you the rest, and I hope to see you all right at eight P.M. The
first day is always the worst. Go in at that door by the Pickford, and
ask the first porter you see for Morshead, and take care how you get at
him.”

Morshead was resting for a moment upon a narrow piece of planking, amid
a regular Seven Dials of sidings, points, and turn–tables. Cradock
could scarcely see him, for trucks and vans and boxes on wheels
were gliding past in every direction, thick as the carts on London
Bridge, creaking, groaning, ricketing, lurching; thumping up against
one another, and then recoiling with a heavy kick, straining upon
coupling–chains, butting against bulkheads, staggering and jerking into
grooves and out of them, crushing flints into a shower of sparks, doing
anything and everything except standing still for a moment. And among
them rushed about, like dragons—ramping, and routing, and swearing
fearfully, gargling their throats with a boiling riot, and then goring
the ground with tusks of steam, whisking and flicking their tails,
and themselves, in and out at the countless cross–webs, screaming,
and leaping, and rattling, and booming—the great ponderous giant
goods–engines. Every man was out–swearing his neighbour, every truck
browbeating its fellow, every engine out–yelling its rival. There is
nothing on earth to compare with this scene, unless it be the jostling
and churning of ice–packs in Davisʼs Straits, when the tide runs hard,
and a gale of wind is blowing, and the floes have broken up suddenly.
And even that comparison fails, because, though the monsters grind and
crash, and labour and leap with agony, they do not roar, and vomit
steam, and swear at one another.

At the risk of his life, for as yet he knew nothing of the laws that
governed their movements—a very imperfect code, by–the–by—Cradock
made his way to the narrow staging where Morshead was taking a
breathing–time. His fellow “number–taker” of course descried him
coming; for he had acquired the art of seeing all round, as a spider is
falsely supposed to do. He knew, in a moment, by Cradockʼs dress, what
business he was meant for; and he said to himself, “Thank God!” in one
breath, for the sake of his wife and family; and “Oh, poor fellow!” in
the next, as he saw how green our Cradock was. Then he held up his
hands for Cradock to stop and waved them for him to run; and so piloted
him to the narrow knife–board, “where a manʼs life was his own aʼmost.”

The highest and noblest of physical courage is that which, fully
perceiving the danger, looking into the black pit of death, and seeing
the night of horrors there (undivested of horror by true religion),
encounters them all, treads the narrow cord daily, not for the sake of
honour or fortune; not because of the dash in it, and the excitement
to a brave soul; not even to win the heartʼs maiden, that pearl of
romance and mystery: but simply to supply the home, to keep in flow the
springs of love—whence the geyser heat is gone—to sustain and comfort
(without being comforted by them) the wife, whose beauty is passed
away, and who may have taken to scold, and the children, whose chief
idea of daddy is that he has got a halfpenny.

This glorious inglorious courage, grander than any that ever won medal
or cross for destroying, had a little home—though he knew it not, and
never thought about it—in the broad, well–rounded bosom of simple
Stephen Morshead. None but himself knew his narrow escapes; an inch the
wrong way and he was a dead man, fifty times a day. And worst of all in
the night—oh, in the horrible night, and yet more in the first gleam
of morning, when the body was worn out, and dreams came over the eyes,
but were death if they passed to the brain, and the trucks went by like
nightmares—that very morning he had felt, after taking duty night
and day for more than a week, since they killed his partner, he had
felt that his Sally must be a widow, and his seven children orphans, if
another night went over him without some relief of sleep. That every
word of this is true, many a poor man would avouch (if he only had time
and the money to read it, and were not afraid); but few rich men will
care to swallow facts so indigestible.

Stephen Morshead was astonished at seeing that his mate was come. None
of the men in the goods station would have anything to do with it. It
was very well to be up in the trucks, or upon the engines, or even to
act as switchman, for you had a corner inviolable, and could only do
mischief to others. But to run in and out, and through and through,
in that perpetual motion, to be bound to jot down every truck, the
cover, and contents of it, entering or departing from that crammed
and crowded terminus, to have nobody to help you therein, and nobody
to cry “dead man” if you died, and the certainty that if you stood
a hairʼs–breadth out of the perpendicular, or a single wheel had a
bunion, you with the note–book in your hand must flood the narrow
‘tween–ways, and find your way out underneath to heaven; all this,
and the risk of the fearful jumps from one sliding train to another,
sliding oppositely, and jerking, perhaps, as you jumped; and yet if you
funked the jump you must be crushed, like a frog beneath a turf–beater:
these considerations, after many pipes were smoked over them, had
induced all the porters and stokers to dwell on the virtues of the many
men killed, and to yield to their wives’ entreaties, acquiesce in their
sixteen shillings, nor aspire to the four shillings Charon–fare.

“Now,” said Morshead, “shake hands with me,” as Cradock, breathless
with running wonder, leaped upon the nine–inch gangway. “I see you
belongs to a different horder of society; obliged to keep my eyes open,
mate; but, as long as you and I works together, I ask it as a favour of
you, to shake hands night and morning.”

“With the greatest pleasure,” said Cradock, “if you think thereʼs room
for our funny–bones.”

“Ha, ha!” laughed Morshead, “you are the right sort for it. Not a bit
afeard, I see. Now I mustnʼt stop to talk; just follow me, and do as I
do. I can put you up to it in six hours; and then if you can spare me
for the other six, ‘twill be the saving of the little ones. But tell
the truth if youʼre tired. I should scorn myself if harm came to you.”

“You are the bravest man I ever met,” said Cradock, with his heart
rising; “you cannot expect me to be like you. But you shall not find me
a coward.”

“I can see it by your eyes, lad. No sparkle, but a glowing like. I can
always tell by the eyes of a man how long he will last at this work.
Now come along o’ me, and Iʼll show you the nine worst crushing places.”

Cradock followed him through the threads—threads of Clotho and
Atropos—feeling the way with his legs, like a gnat who “overs the
posts” of a spiderʼs web. In and out, with a jump here and there, when
two side–boards threatened to shear them, they got to the gorge at the
entrance, where the main turmoil of all was. The Symplegades were a
joke to it. And all because the Screwing Company would not buy land
enough to get elbow room. There are several lines of railway which do
a much larger business; there is no other which attempts to do so much
upon less than four times the acreage.

“Iʼve tottled all them as are going out,” Mr. Morshead informed
Cradock; “now youʼll see how we enters them as they enters.”

Laughing at his own very miserable joke, he leaped on the chains of the
passing waggons, and held up his hand for Cradock not to attempt to do
the same.

“Takes a deal of practice that,” he cried, after he had crossed the
train; “it ainʼt like a passenger–train, you know; and you must larn
when they are standing. I need not to have done it now, but sometimes
I be forced. Bide where you are; no danger unless they comes with the
flaps down.”

Then he jotted down, with surprising quickness, all the necessary
particulars of the train that was coming in. It happened to be an easy
one; for there were no tarpaulins at all, and it was not travelling
faster than about four miles an hour.

“Some drivers there is,” said Morshead, as he rejoined Cradock round
the tail of the train, “who really seem to want to kill a fellow, they
come by at such a pace, without having any call for it. I believe they
think, the low fools, that we are put as spies upon them, and they
would rather kill us than not.—Hold your tongue,” to a man in a truck,
who was interrupting his lecture; “donʼt you know better than to offer
_me_ that stuff? Never touch what they offers you, sir. They means no
harm, but you had safer take poison when you be on duty. There is not
much real danger _just here_, if a fellow is careful, because the rails
run parallo; there is nothing round the curve now, I see, and only two
coming out, and both of they be scored; itʼs a rare chance to show you
the figures of eight, and slide–points where the chief danger is. Show
you where poor Charley was killed last week, and how he did it.”

“Poor fellow! Did he leave any family?”

“Twelve in all. No man comes here, unless he be tired of his life, or
be druv to it by the little ones.”

“And what did the Company do for them?”

“Oh, behaved most ‘andsome _for them_. Allowed ‘em two bob a week for a
twelvemonth to come—twopence apiece all round. But they only did it to
encourage me, for fear I should funk off. I have seen out three mates
now. Please God, I shanʼt see you out too, my lad.”

“If you do, it shanʼt be from funk, Morshead. I rather like the
danger.”

“Thatʼs the worst thing of all,” replied Stephen; “I beg of you not to
say that, sir.”

A thoroughly brave man almost always has respect for order. The bold
man—which means a coward with jumps in him—generally has none. It was
strange to see how Stephen Morshead, in all that crush, and crash, and
rattle, that swinging and creaking as of the Hellespontic boat–bridge,
mixed deference with his pity for Cradock. He saw, from his face, and
air, and manner, that he was bred a gentleman. Shall we ever come—or
rather the twentieth generation come—to the time when every man of
England (but for his own fault) shall be bred and trained a gentleman
in the true and glorious sense of it?

Cradock saw the fatal places, where the sleepers still were purple,
where danger ran in converging lines, where a man must stand sideways,
like a duellist, and with his arms in like a drill–sergeantʼs, and not
shrink an inch from the driving–wheels; where his size was measured as
for his coffin, and if he stirred he would want nothing more. Then, if
a single truck–flap were down, if an engine rollicked upon the rail,
if a broad north–country truck, overreaching, happened to be in either
train, when you were caught between the two, your only chance was to
cry, “Good God!” and lie upon your side, and straighten all your toes
out.

And yet these were the very places where, most of all, the
“number–taker” was bound to have his stand—where alone he could
contrive to check two trains at once. “Could they help starting two
trains at once?” poor Crad asked himself—for he had found no time to
ask it before—when, weary to the last fibre with the work of the day,
he fell upon his little bed, and could hardly notice Wena. Perhaps they
could not; it was more than he knew; only he knew that, if they could,
they were but wanton man–slaughterers.

After a deep sleep, all in his clothes, he awoke the next morning quite
up for his work, and Morshead, who had been on duty all night, and
whose eyes seemed cut out of card–board, only stayed for an hour with
him, and then, feeling that Crad was quite up to the day–work, ran home
and snored for ten hours, as loud as Phlegethon or Enceladus.

The most fearful thing, for a new hand, was, of course, the night–work;
and Stephen Morshead, delighted to have such a mate at last, had
begged to leave Cradock the day–spell, at least for the first three
weeks; for to Stephen the moon was as good as the sun, and sweet sleep
fell like wool when plucked at, and hushed the tramping steeds of the
day–god. Only, for the sake of Stephenʼs eyes, on whose accuracy hung
the life–poise, it was absolutely necessary not to dilate the pupils
incessantly.

But Cradock never took night–work there; and the change came about
on this wise. Wena felt that she was wronged by his going away from
her every day so early in the morning, and not coming home to her
again till ever so late at night, and then too tired to say a word, or
perhaps he didnʼt care to do it. Like all females of any value—unless
they are really grand ones, and, if such there be, please to keep them
away—Wena grew jealous desperately. She might as well be anybody
elseʼs dog; and the bakerʼs dog was with his master all day; and the
butcherʼs lady dog, a nasty ill–bred thing—the idea of calling her
a lady!—why, even she was allowed, though the selfish thing didnʼt
care for it, unless there was suet on his apron, to jump up at him and
taste him, all the time he was going for orders. And then look even at
the Ducksacre dog, a despicable creature—his father might have been
a bull–terrier, or he might have been a Pomeranian, or a quarter–bred
Skye, or the Lord knows who, very likely a turnspit, and his mother,
oh! the less we say of her the better;—why, that wretched, lop–eared,
split–tailed thing, without an eye fit to look out of, had airs of his
own; and what did it mean, she would like to know, and she who had
formed some nice acquaintances, dogs that had been presented at Court,
and got Eau–de–Cologne every morning, and not a blessed [run away] upon
them? Why, it meant simply this: that Spot, filthy plague–spot, was
allowed to go out with the baskets, and made a deal of by his owners,
and might cock his tail with the best of them, while she, black Wena,
who had been brought up so differently——

Here her feelings were too much for her, and she put down her soft
flossy ear upon the drugget–scrap, and looked at the door despairingly,
and howled until Mrs. Ducksacre was obliged to come up and comfort her.
Even then she wouldnʼt eat the dripping.

From that day she made her mind up. She would watch her opportunity.
What was the good of being endowed with such a nose as she had, unless
she could smell her master out, even through the streets of London?
What did he wear such outlandish clothes for? Very likely, on purpose
to cheat her. Very likely he was even keeping some other dog. At any
rate, she would know that, if it cost her her life to do it. What good
was her life now to her, or anybody else? Heigho!

On the following Saturday, when Cradock was gone to his fifth dayʼs
work, what does Wena do, when Mrs. Ducksacre came up on purpose to coax
and make much of her, but most ungratefully give her the slip, with a
skill worthy of a better purpose, then scuttle down the stairs, all
four legs at once, in that sort of a bone–slide which domestic dogs
acquire. Miss Ducksacre ran out of the shop at the noise—for this
process is not a silent one; but she could only cry, “Oh, Lord!” as
Wena, with the full impact of her weight multiplied into her velocity;
or, if that is wrong, with the cube of her impetus multiplied into the
forty–two stairs—bang she came anyhow, back–foremost, against the
young ladyʼs—nay, you there, I said, “lower limbs”—and deposited her
in a bushel of carrots, just come from Covent Garden.

“Stop her, Joe, for Godʼs sake, stop her!” Miss Ducksacre cried to the
shop–boy, as well as she could, for the tail of a carrot which had
gotten between her teeth.

“Blowed if I can, miss,” the boy responded, as Wena nipped his fingers
for him; the next moment she was free as the wind, and round the corner
in no time.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” cried Polly Ducksacre, a buxom young lady, with
fine black eyes, “whatever will Mr. Newman think of us? It will seem so
unkind and careless; and he does love that dog so!”

Polly was beginning to entertain a tender regard for Cradock;
especially since he had shown his proportions in “them beautiful buff
pantaloons.” What a greengrocer he would make, to be sure, so hupright
and so lordly like; and sheʼd like to see the man in the “Garden” who
would tell her she had eaten sparrow–pie, with Mr. Newman to hold the
basket for her.

By this time, Mrs. Ducksacre was come down the stairs, screaming
“Wena!” at the top of her voice the whole way; and out they ran, boy
and all, to search for her, while three or four urchins came in,
without medium of exchange, and filled cap, mouth, and pocket. One brat
was caught upon their return, and tied up for the day in an empty
potato–sack, and exposed, behind the counter, to universal execration;
in which position he took such note of manner and custom, time and
place, that it was never safe for the Ducksacre firm to dine together
afterwards.

Meanwhile, that little black Wena, responsive and responsible to none
except her master, pursued the even tenor of her way, nosing the
ground, and asking many a question of the lamp–posts, as far as the
Cramjam Terminus, at least three miles from Mortimer–street. The sharp
little gate–clerk, animated with railway love of privacy, ran out, and
clapped his hands, and shouted “hoo” at Wena; but she only buttoned her
tail down, and cut across the compound. As for the stone he threw at
her, she caught it up in her mouth as it rolled, and carried it on to
her master.

There was Cradock, in the thick of it, standing on a narrow pile of
pig–iron, one of his chief fortalices; his book was in his hand, and
he was entering, as fast as he could, all the needful particulars of a
goods train sliding past him.

Creak, and squeak, and puff, and shriek,—Oh, what a scene, thought
Wena,—and the rattle of the ghostly chains, and the rushing about, and
the roaring. She lost her presence of mind in a moment,—she always
had been such a nervous dog—she tightened her tail convulsively, and
dropped her ears, while her eyes came forth; and, glancing at the
horrors on every side, she fled for dear life from the evil to come.

The faster she fled, the more they closed round her. She had not
espied her master yet; she could not find the way back again; she was
terrified out of all memory; and a host of frightful genii, more sooty
than Cocytus, and riding hideous monsters, were yelling at her on every
side, clapping black hands, and hooting. The dog on the Derby course,
when the race rushes round the corner, was in a position of glory and
safety compared to poor Wenaʼs now. Already the tip of her tail was
crushed, already one pretty paw was broken; for she had bolted in and
out through the trains, truck bottoms, wheels, and driving–wheels. Oh,
you cowards, to yell at her! with black death grating and grinding upon
her soft silky back!

At last, she gave in altogether. They had hunted her to her grave. Who
may contend with destiny? She lay down under a moving coal–train, and
resigned herself to die. But first she must ask for sympathy, although
so unlikely to get it. She looked once more at her wounded foot, and
shivered and sobbed with the agony; and then gave vent to one long low
cry, to ask if no one loved a poor dog there.

Cradock heard it, and started so that it was nearly all up with him
too. Thoroughly he knew the cry, wherein she had wailed for Clayton.
He flung down his book, and dashed to the place, and there he saw
Wena, and she saw him. She began to try to limp to him, but he held
up his hand to stop her; disabled as she was, she was sure to be
caught by the wheel. Could she stay there, and let the train pass her?
No. At its tail was an empty horse–box, almost scraping the ground,
perfectly certain to crush her. Crying, “Down, down, my poor darling!”
he ran down the train, which was travelling seven or eight miles an
hour, seized the side of a truck, and leaped, at the risk of his life,
upon the fender in front of the horse–box. Then he got astride of the
coupling–chain, and kept his right hand low to the ground, to snatch
her up ere the crusher came. Knowing where she was, he caught her by
the neck the instant the truck disclosed her, and, with a strong swing,
heaved her up into it. But he lost his balance in doing it, and fell
sideways, with his head on the other coupling–chain. Stunned by the
blow, he lay there, only clinging by his right calf to the chain he had
sat astride upon. The first jerk of either chain, the first swing of
either carriage, and he must be ground to powder.

Luckily for him and for Amy, Morshead was not gone home yet, seeing
more to do than usual. Missing his mate from the proper place, he had
run up in terror to look for him, when a man in a truck, who had vainly
been shouting to stop the coal–trainʼs engine, pointed and screamed
to him where and what was doing. Morshead jumped on the heap of
pig–iron, and sideways thence on the board of the truck just passing,
as dangerous a leap as well could be, but luckily that truck was empty.
He jumped into the truck, a shallow one, where poor Wena lay quite
paralysed, and, stooping over the back with both arms, he got hold of
Cradockʼs collar. Then, with a mighty effort, he jerked him upon the
tail–board, and lugged him in, and bent over him.

Wounded Wena crawled up, and begged to have her poor foot looked
at, then, obtaining no notice at all, she felt that Cradock must be
killed and dead, just as Clayton had been. Upon this conclusion, she
fetched such a howl, though it shook her sore tail to do it, that the
engine–driver actually looked round, and the train was stopped.

Hereupon, let me offer a suggestion—everybody now is allowed to do
so, though nobody ever takes it. My suggestion is, that no man should
be allowed to drive an engine without having served a twelvemonthʼs
apprenticeship as an omnibus conductor. I donʼt mean to say it would
improve his morals—probably rather otherwise; but it would teach him
the habit of looking round; it would let him know that there really is
more than one quarter of the heavens. At present, all engine–drivers
seem afraid of being turned into pillars of salt. So they fix
themselves, like pillars of stone, and stare, _ἀχηνίαις ὀμμάτων_,
through their square glass spectacles.

When one of the railway bajuli—who are, on the whole, very good sort
of fellows, and deserve their Christmas–boxes—came home in the cab
with Cradock and Wena at the expense of the Company (which was boasted
of next board–day)—when one of them came home with Crad—for Morshead
had double work again—Polly Ducksacre went into strong hysterics, and
it required two married men and a boy to get her out of the potato–bin.

It was all up with our Crad that night. The overwork of brain and
muscle, the presence of mind required all the time when his mind was
especially absent, the impossibility of thinking out any of his trains
of ideas when a train of trucks was upon him, the native indignation of
a man at knowing that his blood is meant to ebb down a railway sewer,
and a new broom will sweep him clean—all these worries and wraths
together, cogging into the mill–wheel of cares already grinding, had
made such a mill–clack in his head near the left temple, where the
thump was, that he could only roll on his narrow bed at imminent risk
of a floor–bump.

Then the cold, long harbouring, struck into his heart and reins; and he
knew not that Dr. Tink came, and was learned and diagnostic upon him;
nor even that Polly Ducksacre took his feet out of bed, and rubbed them
until her wrists gave way; and then, half ashamed of her womanhood,
sneaked away, and cried over Wena.

Wenaʼs foot was put into splinters, Wenaʼs tail was stypticised; but no
skill could save her master from a furious brain–fever.



CHAPTER XI.


Leaving the son on his narrow hard pallet, to toss and toss, and turn
and turn, and probably get bed–sores, let us see how the father was
speeding.

Sir Cradock Nowell sat all alone in his little breakfast–room, soon
after the funeral of his brother, and before Eoa came to him. For the
simple, hot–hearted girl fell so ill after she heard of her loss, and
recovered from the narcotic, that Biddy OʼGaghan, who got on famously
with the people at the Crown, would not hear of her being moved yet,
and drove Dr. Hutton all down the stairs, “with a word of sinse on the
top of him,” when he claimed his right of attending upon the girl he
had known in India.

That little breakfast–room adjoined Sir Cradockʼs favourite study,
and was as pretty a little room as he could have wished to sit in.
He had made pretence of breakfasting, but perhaps he looked forward
to lunch–time, for not more than an ounce of food had he swallowed
altogether.

There he sat nervously, trying vainly to bring his mind to bear on the
newspaper. Fine gush of irony, serried antithesis, placid assumption
of the point at issue, then logic as terse and tight as the turns of
a three–inch screw–jack, withering indignation at those who wonʼt
think exactly as we do, the sunrise glow of metaphor, the moonlight
gleam of simile, the sparkling stars of wit, and the playful Aurora of
humour—alas, all these are like water on a duckʼs back when the heart
wonʼt let the brain go. If we cannot appreciate their beauty, because
our opinions are different, how can we hope to do so when we donʼt care
what any opinions are?

It is all very well, very easy, to talk about objectivity; but a really
objective man the Creator has never shown us, save once; and even He
rebuked the fig–tree, to show sympathy with our impatience.

And I doubt but it is lest we deify the grand incarnations of
intellect—the Platos and the Aristotles, the Bacons and the
Shakespeares—that it has pleased the Maker of great and small to leave
us small tales of the great ones, mean anecdotes, low traditions;
lest at any time we should be dazzled, and forget that they were but
sparkles from the dross which heaven hammers on. Oh vast and soaring
intellects, was it that your minds flew higher because they had shaken
the soul off; or was it that your souls grew sullen at the mindʼs
preponderance?

Fash we not ourselves about it, though we pay the consequences. If we
have not those great minds in the lump, we have a deal more, taking the
average, and we make it go a deal further, having learned the art of
economy and the division of labour. Nevertheless, Sir Cradock Nowell,
being not at all an objective man, lay deep in the pot of despondency;
and, even worse than that, hung, jerked thereout every now and then, by
the flesh–hook of terror and nervousness. How could he go kindly with
his writer when his breakfast would not so with him?

He was expecting Bull Garnet. Let alone all his other wearing troubles,
he never could be comfortable when he expected Bull Garnet. At every
step in the passage, every bang of a door, the proud old gentleman
trembled and flushed, and was wroth with himself for doing so.

Then Hogstaff came in, and fussed about, and Sir Cradock was fain to
find fault with him.

“How careless you are getting about the letters, Hogstaff. Later and
later every morning! What is the reason that you never now bring me the
bag at the proper time?”

It was very strange, no doubt, of Job Hogstaff, but he could not bear
to be found fault with; and now he saw his way to a little triumph, and
resolved to make the most of it.

“Yes, Sir Cradock; to be sure, Sir Cradock; how my old head is failing
me! Very neglectful of me never to have brought the bag to–day.” Then
he turned round suddenly at the door, to which he had been hobbling.
“Perhaps youʼd look at the date, Sir Cradock, of the paper in your
hand, sir.”

“Yesterdayʼs paper, of course, Hogstaff. What has that to do with it?”

“Oh, nothing, sir, nothing, of course. Only I thought it might have
comed in the letter–bag. Perhaps it never does, Sir Cradock; you knows
best, as you takes it out.” Here old Job gave a quiet chuckle, and
added, as if to himself, “No, of course, it couldnʼt have come in the
letter–bag this morning, or master would never have blowed me up for
not bringing him the bag, as nobody else got a key to it!”

“How stupid of me, to be sure, how excessively stupid!” exclaimed Sir
Cradock, with a sigh; “of course I had the bag, a full hour ago; and
there was nothing in it but this paper. Job, I beg your pardon.”

“And I hope itʼs good news youʼve got there, Sir Cradock, and no cases
of starvation; no one found dead in the streets, I hopes, or drownded
in the Serpentine. Anyhow, thereʼs a many births, I see, and a deal too
many. Children be now such a plenty nobody care about them.”

“Job, you quite forget yourself,” said his master, very grandly; but
there came a long sigh after it, and Job was not daunted easily.

“And, if I do, Sir Cradock Nowell, Iʼd sooner forget myself than my
children.”

Sir Cradock was very angry, or was trying to feel that he ought to be
so, when a heavy tread, quite unmistakable, and yet not so firm as it
used to be, shook the Minton tiles of the passage. That step used to
cry to the echoes, “Make way; a man of vigour and force is coming.” Now
all it said was, “Here I go, and am not in a mood to be meddled with.”

“Come in,” said Sir Cradock, fidgeting, and pretending to be up for
an egg, as Mr. Garnet gave two great thumps on the panel of the door.
Small as the room was, Job Hogstaff managed to be too late to let him
in.

Bull Garnet first flung his great eyes on the butler; he had no idea of
fellows skulking their duty. Old Hogstaff, who looked upon Garnet as no
more than an upper servant, gazed back with especial obtuseness, and
waved his napkin cleverly.

“Please to put that mat straight again, Mr. Garnet. You kicked it
askew, as you came in. And our master canʼt abide things set crooked.”

To Jobʼs disappointment and wonder, Bull Garnet stepped back very
quietly, stooped down, and replaced the sheepskin.

“Hogstaff, leave the room this moment,” shouted Sir Cradock,
wrathfully; and Job hobbled away to brag how he had pulled Muster
Garnet down a peg.

“Now, Garnet, take my easy–chair. Will you have a cup of coffee after
your early walk?”

“No, thank you. I have breakfasted three hours and a half ago. In our
position of life, we must be up early, Sir Cradock Nowell.”

There was something in the tone of that last remark, common–place as it
was, without the key to it, which the hearer disliked particularly.

“I have requested the favour of your attendance here, Mr. Garnet, that
I might have the benefit of your opinion upon a subject which causes me
the very deepest anxiety—at least, I mean, which interests me deeply.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Mr. Garnet: he could say “ah!” in such a manner that it
held three volumes uncut.

“Yes. I wish to ask your opinion about my poor son, Cradock.”

Bull Garnet said not a word, but conveyed to the ceiling his
astonishment that the housemaid had left such cobwebs there.

“I fear, Garnet, you cannot sympathize with me. You are so especially
fortunate in your own domestic circumstances.”

“Oh,” said Mr. Garnet, still contemplating the cornice. “_Oh
exclamantis est_,” beautifully observes the Eton grammar.

“Yes, your son is a perfect pattern. So gentle and gentlemanly; so
amiable and poetical. I had no idea he was so brave. Shall I ever see
him to thank him for saving the life of my niece?”

“He is a fine fellow, a noble fellow, Sir Cradock. The dearest and the
best boy in the whole wide world.”

The old man long had known that the flaw in Bull Garnetʼs armour was
the thought of his dear boy, Bob.

“And can you not fancy, Garnet, that my son, whatever he is, may also
be dear to me?”

“I should have said so, I must have thought so, but for the way you
have treated him.”

Bull Garnet knew well enough that he was a hot and hasty man; but he
seldom had felt that truth more sharply than now, when he saw the
result of his words. Nevertheless, he faltered not. He had made up his
mind to deliver its thoughts, and he was not the man to care for faces.

“Sir Cradock Nowell, I am a violent, hot, and passionate man. I have
done many things in my fury which I would give my life to undo; but I
would rather have them all on my soul than such cold–blooded, calm,
unnatural cruelty as you have shown to your only—I mean to your
own—son. I suppose you never cared for him; _suppose!_ I mean of
course you did not.”

He looked at Sir Cradock Nowell, with thunder and hail in his eyes. The
old man could not glance it back; neither did he seem to be greatly
indignant at it.

“Then—then—I suppose you donʼt think—you donʼt believe, I mean,
Garnet—that he did it _on purpose_?”

Mr. Garnet turned pale as a winding–sheet, and could not speak for a
moment. Then he looked away from Sir Cradockʼs eyes, and asked, “Is it
possible that _you_ have ever thought so?”

“I have tried not,” answered Sir Cradock, with his wasted bosom
heaving. “God knows that I have struggled against it. Garnet, have pity
upon me. If you have any of our blood in you, tell me the truth, what
you think.”

“I not only think, but know, that the devil only could have suggested
such an idea to you. Man, for the sake of the God that made you, and
made me as well as your brother, and every one of us brethren, rather
put a pistol to your heart than that damned idea. In cold blood! in
cold blood! And for the sake of gain! A brother to—do away with—a
brother so! Oh, what things have come upon me! Where is my God, and
where is yours?”

“I am sure I donʼt know,” replied the old man, gazing round in
wonderment, as if he expected to see Him—for the scene had quite
unnerved him—“I suppose He is—is somewhere in the usual place, Mr.
Garnet.”

“Then thatʼs not in this neighbourhood,” replied Bull Garnet, heavily;
“He is gone from me, from all of us. And His curse is on my children.
Poor innocents, poor helpless lambs! The curse of God is on them.”

He went away to the window; and, through his tears, and among the
trees, tried to find his cottage–roof.

Sir Cradock Nowell was lost to thought, and heard nothing of those
woeful words, although from the depth of that labouring chest they came
like the distant sea–roar.

Bull Garnet returned with his fierce eyes softened to a womanʼs
fondness, and saw, with pity as well as joy, that his last words had
not been heeded. “Ever hot and ever hasty, until it comes to my own
death,” he muttered, still in recklessness; “perhaps then I shall be
tardy. For my sonʼs sake, for my Bob and Pearl, I must not make such a
child of myself. Nevertheless, I cannot stay here.”

“Garnet,” said Sir Cradock Nowell, slowly recovering from his stupor,
a slight cerebral paralysis, “say nothing of what has passed between
us—nothing, I entreat you; and not another word to me now. I only
understand that you assert emphatically my son Cradockʼs innocence.”

“With every fibre of my heart. With every tissue of my brain.”

“Then I love you very much for it; although you have done it so rudely.”

“Donʼt say that. Never say it again. I canʼt bear it now, Sir Cradock.”

“Very well, then, I wonʼt, Garnet. Though I think you might be proud of
my gratitude; for I never bestow it rashly.”

“I am very thankful to you. Gratitude is an admirable and exceedingly
scarce thing. I am come to give you notice—as well as to answer your
summons—notice of my intention to quit your service shortly.”

“Nonsense!” replied Sir Cradock, gasping; “nonsense, Garnet! You never
mean that—that even you would desert me?”

Bull Garnet was touched by the old manʼs tone—the helplessness, the
misery. “Well,” he answered, “Iʼll try to bear with it for a little
longer, in spite of the daily agony. I owe you everything; all I can
do. Iʼll get things all into first–rate order, and then I hope, most
truly, your son will be back again, sir.”

“It isnʼt only the stewardship, Garnet; it isnʼt only that. You are now
as one of the family, and there are so few of us left. Your daughter
Pearl; I begin to love her as of my own flesh and blood. Who knows
but what, if my Cradock comes back, he may take a liking to her? Amy
Rosedew has not behaved well lately, any more than her father has.”

“Do you mean to say that you, Sir Cradock, with all your prejudices
of birth, legitimacy, and station, would ever sanction—supposing it
possible—any affection of a child of yours for a child of mine?”

“To be sure—if it were a true one. A short time ago I thought very
differently. But oh! what does it matter? I am not what I was, Garnet.”

“Neither am I,” thought Mr. Garnet; “but I might have been, if only I
could ever have dreamed this. God has left me, for ever left me.”

“Why donʼt you answer me, Garnet? Why do you shut your Pearl up so? Let
her come to me soon; she would do me good; and I, as you know, have a
young lady coming, who knows little of English society. Pearl would do
her a great deal of good. Pearl is a thorough specimen of a well–bred
English maiden. I think I like her better than Amy—since Amy has been
so cold to me.”

To Sir Cradockʼs intense astonishment, Bull Garnet, instead of
replying, rushed straight away out of the room, and, not content with
that, he rushed out of the house as well, and strode fiercely away to
the nearest trees, and was lost to sight among them.

“Well,” said the old man, “he always was the oddest fellow I ever did
know; and I suppose he always will be. And yet what a man for business!”

That same forenoon, Mrs. Brownʼs boy and donkey came with a very long
message from a lady who had tucked him on the head because he could not
make out her meaning. He believed her name was Mrs. Jogging, and he was
to say that Miss Oh Ah was fit to come home to–day, please, if theyʼd
please to send the shay for her. And they must please to get ready
Satanʼs room, where the daffodil curtains was, because the young woman
loved to look at the yeast, and to have a good fire burning. And please
they must send the eel–skin cloak, and the foot–tub in the shay,
because the young woman was silly.

“Chilly, you stupid,” replied Mrs. Toaster. “She shall have the
foot–warmer and the seal–skin cloak; but what Satanʼs room with the
daffodil curtains is, only the Lord in heaven knows; and how she is to
see any yeast there! Are you certain that was the message?”

“Sartin, maʼam. I said it to myself ever so many times; more often than
I stuck the Neddy.”

Sir Cradock Nowell, upon appeal, speedily decided that the satin room
was meant—the room with the rose–coloured curtains, and the windows
facing the east; but the boy stuck out for the daffodil; leastways he
was certain it was _some_ flower.

It was nearly dark when the carriage returned; and Sir Cradock came
down to the great entrance–hall to meet his brotherʼs child. He was
trembling with anxiety; for his nerves were rapidly failing him;
and, from Dr. Huttonʼs account, he feared to see in his probable
heiress—for now he had no heir—something very outlandish and savage.
Therefore he was surprised and delighted when a graceful and beautiful
girl, with high birth and elegance in every movement, flung off her
cloak, and skipped up to him with the lightness of a gazelle, and threw
her arms round his neck, and kissed him.

“Oh, uncle, I shall love you so! You are so like my darling—you have
got his nose exactly, and just the same shaped legs. Oh, to think he
should ever have left me!” And she burst into tears then and there
before half a dozen servants. “Oh, Uncle Cradock, you have got a fine
house; but I never shall get over it.”

“Hush, my dear; come with me, my child!” Sir Cradock was always wide
awake upon the subject of proprieties.

“I am not your child; and I wonʼt be your child, if you try to stop me
like that. I must cry when I want to cry, and it is so stupid to stop
me.”

“What a pretty dear you are!” said Sir Cradock, scarcely knowing what
to say, but having trust in feminine vanity.

“Am I indeed? I donʼt think so at all. I was very pretty, I know, until
I began to cry so. But now my cheeks are come out, and my eyes gone in;
but, oh dear! what does it matter, and my father never, never to take
me on his lap again? Hya! Hya! Hya!”

“Faix, thin, me darlinʼ,” cried Mrs. OʼGaghan, stroking her down in
a shampoo manner, “itʼs meself as knows how to dale with you. Lave
her to me; Sir Crayduck; sheʼs pure and parfict, every bit on her. I
knows how to bring her out, and sheʼll come to your room like a lamb,
now jist.—Git out of the way, the lot on you”—to several officious
maidens—“me honey, put your hand in my neck, your blissed leetle dove
of a hand, and fale how me heart goes pat for you. Sir Crayduck, me
duty to you, but you might ‘ave knowed how to git out of the way, and
lave the ladies to the ladies.”

Sir Cradock Nowell marched away, thinking what a blessing it was that
he had not had much to do with women. Then he reproached himself for
the thought, as he remembered his darling Violet, the mother of his
children. But, before he had brooded very long in the only room he
liked to use now, his study just off from the library, a gentle knock
came _to_ the door—as Biddy always expressed it—and Eoa, dressed in
deepest mourning (made at Lymington, from her own frock, while she lay
ill at the Crown), came up to him steadily, and kissed him, and sat on
a stool at his feet.

“Oh, uncle, I am so sorry,” she said, with her glorious hair falling
over his knees, and her deep eyes looking up at him, “I am so sorry,
Uncle Cradock, that I vexed you so, just now.”

“You did not vex me, my pretty. I was only vexed for you. Now, remember
one thing, my darling—for I shall love you as my own daughter—I have
been very harsh and stern where, perhaps, I had no right to be so: if I
am ever unkind to you, my dear, if I ever say anything hard, only say
‘Clayton Nowell’ to me, and I will forgive you directly.”

“You mean I must forgive _you_, uncle. I suppose thatʼs what you mean.
If you are unkind to me, what will you want to forgive me for? But I
couldnʼt do it. I couldnʼt say it, even if I had done any harm. Please
to remember that I either love or I hate people. I know that I shall
love you. But you must not contradict me. I never could endure it, and
I never will.”

“Well,” said Sir Cradock, laughing; “I will try to remember that, my
dear. Though, in that respect, you differ but little from our English
young ladies.”

“If you please, Uncle Cradock, I must go to–night to see where you have
put my father. There, I wonʼt cry any more, because he told me never
to vex you, and I see that my crying vexes you. Did you cry, yourself,
Uncle Cradock, when you heard of it first?”

She looked at him, as she asked this question, with such wild
intensity, as if her entire opinion of him would hang upon his reply,
that the old man felt himself almost compelled to tell “a corker.”

“Well, my dear, I am not ashamed to confess——”

“Ashamed to confess, indeed! I should rather hope not. But you ought to
be ashamed, I know, if you hadnʼt cried, Uncle Crad. But now I shall
love you very much, now I know you did cry. And how much have you got a
year, Uncle Crad?”

“How much what, my dear? What beautiful eyes you have, Eoa; finer than
any of the Nowells!”

“Yes, I know. But that wonʼt do, Uncle Crad; you donʼt want to answer
my question. What I want to know is a very simple thing. How much
money have you got a year? You must have got a good deal. I know,
because everybody says so, and because this is such a great place, as
big as the palaces in Calcutta.”

“Really, Eoa, it is not usual for young people, especially young
ladies, to ask such very point–blank questions.”

“Oh, I did not know that, and I canʼt see any harm in it. I know the
English girls at Calcutta used to think of nothing else. But I am not a
bit like them; it isnʼt that I care for the money a quarter so much as
tamarinds; but I have a particular reason; and Iʼll find out in spite
of you. Just you see if I donʼt, now.”

“A very particular reason, Eoa, for inquiring into my income! Why, what
reason can you have?”

“Is it usual for old people, especially old gentlemen, to ask such very
point–blank questions?”

Sir Cradock would have been very angry with any other person in the
world for such a piece of impertinence; but Eoa gave such a smile of
triumph at having caught him in his own net (as she thought), and
looked so exquisite in her beauty, as she rose, and the firelight
flashed on her; then she tossed her black hair over her shoulders, and
gave him such a kiss (with all the spices of India in it) that the old
man was at her mercy quite, and she could do exactly what she liked
with him.

Oh, Mrs. Nowell Corklemore—so proud of having obtained at last an
invitation to Nowelhurst, so confident that, once let in, you can wedge
out all before you, like Alexanderʼs phalanx—call a halt, and shape
your wiles, and look to belt and buckler, have every lance fresh set
and burnished, every sword like a razor; for verily the fight is hard,
when art does battle with nature.



CHAPTER XII.


Previous to the matters chronicled in the preceding chapter, Mr. Garnet
had received a note, of which the following is a copy:—

 “SIR,—My friend, Major Blazeater, late of the Hon. East India
 Companyʼs 59th Regiment of Native Infantry, has kindly consented to
 see you, on my behalf, to request a reference to any gentleman whom
 you may be pleased to name, for the purpose of concerting measures for
 affording me that satisfaction which, as a man and a gentleman, I am
 entitled to expect for your cowardly and most ruffianly violence on
 the 28th ultimo.

 “I beg you to accept my sincere apologies for the delay which
 has occurred, and my assurance that it has been the result of
 circumstances entirely beyond my own control.

  “I have the honour to be, Sir,
  “Your most obedient Servant,
  “RUFUS HUTTON.

 “Geopharmacy Lodge, Nov. 1st, 1859.”

The circumstances beyond the fiery little doctorʼs control were that he
could not find any one who would undertake to carry his message.

When Bull Garnet read this letter—handed to him, with three great
bows of the Chinese pattern, by the pompous Major Blazeater—his face
flushed to a deep amethyst tinge, which subsided to the colour of cork.
Then he rolled his great eyes, and placed one strong finger across the
deep channels of his forehead, and said, “Let me think, sir!”

“Hurrah,” said the Major to himself, “now we shall have something to
redeem the honour of the age. It is a disgrace for a fellow to live in
a country where he can never get satisfaction, although he gets plenty
of insult.”

“Major Blazeater, you will make allowances for me,” resumed Mr. Garnet;
“but I have never had much opportunity of becoming acquainted with the
laws—the code, perhaps, I should say—which govern the honourable
practice of duelling at the present day.”

“No matter, my dear sir; no matter at all, I assure you. Your second,
when I have the honour of meeting him, will settle all those little
points, which are beside the general issue; we shall settle them
together, sir, with the strictest regard to punctilio, and to your
entire satisfaction.”

“Capital fellow!” pursued the Major, in his own reflection–room;
“knew he couldnʼt be a coward: just look at his forehead. No doubt he
was perfectly justified in kicking out Rue Hutton; Rue is such an
impudent beggar. Ah! referring to his pocket–book to find his military
friendʼs address; now we shall do it in style. Glorious fellow this
Garnet—shall have the very best powder. Wish I was on his side.” And
the Major rubbed his long brown hands upon his lanky knees.

“Will it be according to rule,” asked Mr. Garnet, looking steadily
(“What an eye for a pistol!” said the Major to himself), “quite
according to rule and order, if I write down for you, Major Blazeater,
the name of the friend to whom I refer; also the time and place at
which he will be ready to discuss this little matter with you?”

“To be sure, to be sure, my dear sir; nothing could be better. Your
conduct, Mr. Garnet, does you the very highest honour.”

“Nothing, you think, can be objected to my course in this?—nothing
against the high chivalric code of modern duelling?”

“No, my dear sir, nothing at all. Please to hand me the assignation;
ha, ha, it is so pleasant—I mean the rendezvous.”

Mr. Garnet handed to him a card, whereon was written: “Town Hall,
Lymington, Wednesday, November 2nd. Before Admiral Reale, Col. Fale,
and C. Durant, Esq. Application will be made at 12 oʼclock for a
warrant against Rufus Hutton and Major Blazeater—Christian name
unknown—for conspiring together to procure one Bull Garnet to fight a
duel, against the peace of Her Majesty, and the spirit of the age.”

Major Blazeater fell back in his chair; and all his blood ran to his
head. As he told his daughter afterwards, he had never had such a
turn in his life. The fairest prospect blasted, the sunrise of murder
quenched; what good was it to live in a world where people wonʼt shoot
one another? Bull Garnet bent his large eyes upon him, and the Major
could not answer them.

“Now, Major Blazeater,” said Mr. Garnet, “I shall bind you over to keep
the peace, and your principal as well, and expose you to the ridicule
of every sensible man in England, unless I receive by to morrow
morningʼs post at 10.15 A.M. an apology for this piece of infantile
bravado. What a man does in hot passion, God knows, and God will
forgive him for, if he truly strive to amend it—at least—at least, I
hope so.”

Here Mr. Garnet turned away, and looked out of the window, and perhaps
it was the view of Bob that made his eyes so glistening.

“But, sir,” he resumed—while the Major was wondering where on earth
he should find any sureties for keeping Her Majestyʼs peace, which he
could not keep with his wife—“sir, I look at things of this sort from
a point of view diametrically opposed to yours. Perhaps you have the
breadth to admit that my view _may_ be right, and yours _may_ be wrong.”

“Nothing, nothing at all, sir, will I admit to a man who actually
appoints the magistrates the custodians of his honour.”

“Honour, sir, as we now regard it, is nothing more than foolʼs varnish.
Justice, sir, and truth are things we can feel and decide about. Honour
is the feminine of them, and, therefore, apt to confuse a man. Major
Blazeater, the only honour I have is to wish you good morning.”

“Hang it all,” said the Major to himself, as he was shown out
honourably, “I have put my foot in it this time; and wonʼt Mrs.
Blazeater give it to me! That woman finds out everything. This is now
the third time Iʼve tried to get up a snug little meeting, and the
fates are all against me. Dash it, now, if Iʼve got to pay costs, O
Boadicea Blazeater, you wonʼt mend my gloves for a fortnight.”

Major Blazeater wore very tight doeskin gloves, and was always wearing
them out. Hence, his appeal to the female Penates took this constricted
form. The household god of the Phœnicians, and the one whose image
they affixed to the bows of their galleys, hoping to steer homewards,
was (as we know from many sources) nothing but a lamb; a very rude
figure, certainly,—square, thick–set, inelegant; but I doubt not that
some grand home–truth clung to their Agna Dea. Major Blazeater was
a lamb, whose wits only went to the shearing the moment you got him
upon his own hearth, and Boadicea bleated at him. He would crumple his
neck up, and draw back his head, and look pleadingly at any one, as a
house–lamb does on Good Friday, and feel that his father had done it
before him, and he, too, must suffer for sheepishness.

Meditating sadly thus, he heard a great voice coming after him down
the gravel–walk, and, turning round, was once more under Mr. Garnetʼs
eyes. “One more word with you, if you please, sir. It will be necessary
that you two warlike gentlemen should appoint a legal second. Mine will
be Mr. Brockwood, who will be prepared to show that your principal
was grossly inquisitive and impertinent, before I removed him from my
premises.”

“Oh!” cried the Major, delighted to find any loophole for escape, “that
puts a new aspect upon the matter, if he gave you provocation, sir.”

“He gave me as strong provocation as one man can well give another,
by prying into my—domestic affairs, in the presence of my son and
daughter, and even tampering with my servants. He left me no other
course, except to remove him from my house.”

“Which you did rather summarily. My dear sir, I should have done the
same. Had I been aware of these facts, I would have declined to bear
his cartel. You shall receive my apology by to–morrow morningʼs post.
I trust this unwise proceeding—may—may not proceed any further. Your
behaviour, sir, does you credit, and requires no vindication at law.”

Thus spoke Major Blazeater, bowing and smiling elaborately under a
combination of terrors—the law, public ridicule, expenses; worst of
all, Mrs. Blazeater. The next morning, Mr. Garnet received from him
a letter, not only apologetic, but highly eulogistic, at which Bull
Garnet smiled grimly, as he tossed it into the fire. By the same post
came a letter from Rufus, to the following effect:—

 “SIR,—I regret to find that your courage consists in mere brute
 force and power. I regard you as no longer worthy of the notice of a
 gentleman. The cowardly advantage you took of your superior animal
 strength, and your still more cowardly refusal to redress the brutal
 outrage, as is the manner of gentlemen, stamp you as no more than a
 navvy, of low mechanical brutishness. Do not think that, because I
 cannot meet you physically, and you will not meet me fairly, you are
 beyond my reach. I will have you yet, Bull Garnet; and I know how to
 do it. Your last ferocious outrage has set me thinking, and I see
 things which I must have been blind not to see before. I shall see
 you, some day, in the felonʼs dock, an object of scorn to the lowest
 of the low, so sure as my name is

  “RUFUS HUTTON.

 “P.S.—I shall be at Lymington to–morrow, ready to meet you, if you
 dare initiate the inquiry.”

Mr. Garnet did not burn this letter, but twice read it through very
carefully, and then stowed it away securely. Who could tell but it
might be useful as a proof of animus? During these several operations
his eyes had not much of triumph in them.

Rufus Hutton rode to Lymington, carrying a life–preserver: he appeared
in the Town Hall, at the petty sessions; but there was no charge
made against him. Being a pugnacious little fellow, and no lover of
a peaceful issue, he had a great mind then to apply for a warrant
against Garnet for assaulting him. But he felt that he had given some
provocation, and could not at present justify it; and he had in the
background larger measures, which might be foiled by precipitancy. So
that lively broil, being unfought out and unforgiven—at least on one
side—passed into as rank a feud as ever the sun went down upon. Not
that Mr. Garnet felt much bitterness about it; only he knew that he
must guard against a powerful enemy.

Amy had told her father, long ago, what Cradock had said to her in the
churchyard, and how she had replied to him. In fact, she could not
keep it to herself until she went to bed that night; but mingled her
bright, flowing hair with his grey locks, while her heart was still
pit–a–patting, and leaned on his shoulder for comfort, and didnʼt cry
much before she got it. “My own dearest, life of my life,” cried John,
forgetting both Greek and Latin, but remembering how he loved her
mother, “my own and only child—now you do look so like your mother,
darling—may the God who has made you my blessing bless your dear heart
in this!”

The very next day John Rosedew fell into a pit of meditation. He forgot
all about Pelethronian Lapiths, the trimming of Gruterʼs lamp (which
had long engaged him; for he knew the flame of learning there unsnuffed
by any Smelfungus): even the Sabellian elements were but as _sabellicus
sus_ to him. It was one of his peculiarities, that he never became
so deeply abstracted as when he had to take in hand any practical
question. He could take in hand any glorious thesis, such as the traces
still existing of a middle voice in Latin, or the indications of very
early civilization in Eubœa, and the question whether the Ionians
came not mainly westward—any of these things he could think of, dwell
upon, and eat his dinner without knowing salt from mustard. But he
could not make a treatise of Amy, nor could he get at her etymology. He
began to think that his education had been neglected in some points.
And then he thought about Socrates, and his symposiastic drolleries,
and most philosophic reply when impeached of Xanthippic weakness.

Nevertheless, he could not make up his mind upon one point—whether or
not it was his duty to go and inform Sir Cradock Nowell of his sonʼs
attachment. If the ancient friend had been as of old, or had only
changed towards John Rosedew, continuing true all the while to the
son, the parson would have felt no doubt as to how his duty lay. And
the more straightforward and honest course was ever the first to open
upon him. But, when he remembered how sadly bitter the father already
was to the son, how he had even dared in his wrath to charge him with
wilful fratricide, how he had wandered far and wide from the sanity of
affection, and was, indeed, no longer worthy to be called a father,
John Rosedew felt himself absolved from all parental communion.

Then how was it as to expediency? Why, just at present, this knowledge
would be the very thing to set Sir Cradock yet more against the
outcast. For, in the days of old confidence and friendly interfusion,
he had often expressed to John his hope that Clayton might love Amy;
and now he would at once conclude that Cradock had been throughout the
rival of his darling, and perhaps an unsuccessful one, till the other
was got rid of. Therefore John Rosedew resolved, at last, to hold his
peace in the matter; to which conclusion Aunt Doxyʼs advice and Amyʼs
entreaties contributed. But these two ladies, although unanimous in
their rapid conclusion, based it upon premises as different as could be.

“Inform him, indeed!” cried Miss Eudoxia, swelling grandly, and
twitching her shawl upon the slope of her shoulders, of which,
by–the–by, she was very proud—she had heard it showed high
breeding—“inform him, brother John; as if his son had disgraced him
by meditating an alliance with the great–granddaughter of the Earl
of Driddledrum and Dromore! Upon such occasions, as I have always
understood, though perhaps I know nothing about it, and you understand
it better, John, it is the gentlemanʼs place to secure the acquiescence
of his family. Acquiescence, indeed! What has our family ever thought
of a baronetcy? There is better blood in Amy Rosedew, Brian OʼLynn,
and Cadwallader, than any Cradock Nowell ever had, or ever will have,
unless it is her son. Inform him, indeed! as if our Amy was nobody!”

“Pa, donʼt speak of it,” said Amy, “until dear Cradock wishes it. We
have no right to add to his dreadfully bad luck; and he is the proper
judge. He is sure to do what is right. And, after all that he has been
through, oh, donʼt treat him like a baby, father.”



CHAPTER XIII.


Mrs. Nowell Corklemore by this time was well established at the Hall,
and did not mean in her kind rich heart to quit the place prematurely.
Almost every day, however, she made some feint of departure, which
rendered every one more alive to the value of her presence.

“How could her dear Nowell exist without her? She felt quite sure he
would come that day—yes, that very day—to fetch her, in their little
simple carriage, that did shake her poor back so dreadfully”—back
thrown into prominence here, being an uncommonly pretty one—“but oh,
how thankful she ought to be for having a carriage at all, and so many
poor things—quite as good, quite as refined, and delicate—could
scarcely afford a perambulator! But she hoped for dear Sir Cradockʼs
sake, and that sweet simple–minded Eoa—who really did require some
little cultivation—that, now she understood them both, and could do
her little of ministering, Mr. Corklemore would let her stay, if it
were only two days longer. And then her Flore, her sweet little Flore!
An angel of light among them.”

Georgie had been married twice; and she was just the sort of woman
who would have been married a dozen times, if a dozen, save one, of
husbands were so unfortunate as to leave her. Her first lord, or rather
vassal, had been the Count de Vance—“a beggarly upstart Frenchman,”
in the language of his successor, who, by–the–by, had never seen, but
heard of him too often; but, according to better authority, “a man one
could truly look up to; so warm–hearted, so agreeable; and never for a
moment tired, dear, of his poor little simple wife.”

Perhaps it is needless to state that Mr. Corklemore long had been so
scientifically henpecked that he loved the operation. Only he was half
afraid to say “Haw,” when his wife was there to cry “Pshaw.”

Sir Cradock Nowell, of course, had seen a good deal of what is called
the world; but his knowledge of women was only enough to teach him the
extent of that subject. He never was surprised much at anything they
did; but he could not pretend to tell the reason of their doing it,
even when they had any, of which he did not often suspect them. He
believed that they would have their way, whenever they could, wherever,
and by whatever means; that very few of them meant what they said,
and none of them knew what they meant; that the primal elements, in
the entire body feminine, were jealousy, impulsiveness, vanity, and
contrariety.

Georgie Corklemore soon found out that he had adopted this, the popular
male opinion; and she did not once attempt to remove it, knowing, as
she did, that nothing could be more favourable to her purposes. So she
took up the part—which suited her as well as any, and enabled her to
say many things which else would have given offence—the part of the
soft, impulsive, warm–hearted, foolish woman, who is apt among men to
become a great pet, if she happens to be good–looking.

Eoa would gladly have yielded her prerogatives to Georgie, but Mrs.
Corklemore was too wide awake to accept any one of them. “No, darling,”
she replied, “for your own sake I will not. It is true that Uncle
Cradock wishes it, and so, no doubt, do you; but you are bound to
acquire all this social knowledge of which you have now so little; and
how can you do so except by instruction and practice?”

“Oh,” cried Eoa, firing up, “if Uncle Cradock wishes it, I am sure Iʼll
leave it to you, and not be laughed at any longer. Iʼll go to him at
once, and tell him so. And, as for being bound, I _wonʼt_ be bound to
learn any nonsense I donʼt like. My papa was as wise as any of you, and
a great deal better; and he never made such a fuss about rubbish as you
do here.”

“Stop, sweet child, stop a moment——”

“I am not a sweet child, and I wonʼt stop. And another thing Iʼll tell
you. I had made up my mind to it before this, mind—before you tried to
turn me out of my place—and itʼs this. You may call me what you like,
but I donʼt mean to call you ‘Cousin Georgie’ any longer. In the first
place, I donʼt like you, and never shall as long as I live; for I never
half believe you: and, in the next place, you are no cousin of mine;
and social usage (or whatever it is you are always bothering me about)
may require me to tell some stories, but not that one, I should fancy.
Or, at any rate, I wonʼt do it.”

“Very well,” replied Mrs. Corklemore, looking up from the softest of
fancy–work, with the very sweetest of smiles; “then I shall be obliged,
in self–defence, to address you as ‘Miss Nowell.’”

“To be sure. Why shouldnʼt you?”

“Well, it can be shown, perhaps, that you are entitled to the name.
Only at first it will seem absurd when applied to a baby like you.”

“A baby like me, indeed!” This was Eoaʼs sore point; and Georgie, who
delighted in making her outrageous, was always harping upon it. “Mrs.
Corklemore, how dare you call me, at my age, a baby?”

Eoa looked down at Georgie, with great eyes flashing fire, and her
clear, bright forehead wrinkling, and her light form poised like an
antelopeʼs on the edge of a cliff. Mrs. Corklemore, not thinking it
worth while to look up at her, carelessly threw back a curl, and went
on with her rug–work.

“Because you are a baby, and nothing more, Eoa.”

In a moment she was tossed through the air, and sitting on Eoaʼs head,
low satin chair and all. She had not time to shriek, so rapid was her
elation. Little Flore, running in at the moment, clapped her hands and
shouted, “Oh, ma, have a yide, a nice yide, same as me have yesterday.
Me next, me next. Oh, ah!”

Eoa, with the greatest ease, her figure as straight as a poplar–tree,
bore the curule chair and its occupant to the end of the room, and
there deposited them carefully on a semi–grand piano.

“Thatʼs how we nurse the babies in India,” she cried, with a smile of
sweet temper, “but it takes a big baby to do it, and some practice,
I can tell you. Now, Iʼll not let you down, Mrs. Corklemore,—and if
visitors come in, what will they think of our social usages? Down you
donʼt come, till you have promised solemnly never to call me a baby
again.”

“My dear,” began Georgie, trying hard not to look ridiculous—though
the position was so unfavourable—“my dear child——”

“No, not my dear child, even! _Miss Nowell_, if you please, and nothing
else.”

“Miss Nowell, if you will only lift me down—oh, it is polished so
nastily, I am slipping off already—I will promise solemnly to call you
only what you like, all the rest of my life.”

Eoa lifted her off in an instant. “But mind, I will be even with you,”
cried Georgie, through her terror, when safe on the floor once more.

“I donʼt care _that_ for you,” answered Eoa, snapping her fingers like
a copper–cap; “only I will have proper respect shown to me by people
I particularly dislike. People I love may call me what, or do with me
what, they please. My father was just the same; and I donʼt want to be
any better than he was; and I donʼt believe God wants it.”

“He must be easily contented, then.”

Georgie, with all her deliciousness, could never pass a chance of
sarcasm.

“Now Iʼll go and have it out with Uncle Cradock, about having you for
my ayah.”

Mrs. Corklemore trembled far more at those words than at finding
herself on the piano. This strange girl—whom she had so despised—was
baffling all her tactics, and with no other sword and shield but those
of truth and candour.

“Iʼve been a fool,” said Georgie to herself, for about the first time
in her life; “I have strangely underrated this girl, and shall have
hard work now to get round her. But it must be done. Come, though I
have been so rash, I have two to one in my favour, now I see the way to
handle it. But she must not tell the old noodle; that will never do.”

“I thought, Miss Nowell,” she continued aloud, “that it would not be
considered honourable, even among East Indians, to repeat to a third
person what was said familiarly and in confidence.”

“Of course not. What makes you speak of it? Do you mean to say I would
do such a thing?”

“No, I am sure you would not, knowingly. But if you think for a moment,
you will see that what I said just now, especially as to Sir Cradockʼs
opinions, was told to you in pure confidence, and meant to go no
further.”

“Oh,” answered Eoa, “then please not to tell me anything in pure
confidence again, because I canʼt keep secrets, and you have no right
to load me with them, without ever asking my leave even. But Iʼll try
not to let it out, unless you provoke me before him.”

With this half promise Georgie was obliged to be content. She knew
well enough that, if Eoa brought the question before her uncle, the
truth would come out that Sir Cradock had never dreamed for a moment
of substituting Georgie, the daughter of his cousin, for Eoa, the
only daughter of his only brother Clayton. He knew, of course, that
the Eastern maiden had no artificial polish; but he saw that she had
an inborn truth, a delicacy of feeling, and a native sympathy, which
wanted only experience to be better than any polish.

From that day forth, Mrs. Corklemore (aided perhaps by physical terror)
formed a higher estimate of Eoaʼs powers. So she changed her tactics
altogether, and employed her daughter, that sharp little Flore, to
cover the next advance. Flore was a little beauty; so far as anything
artificial can be really beautiful. Dressed, as she was, in the height
of French fashion, and herself nine–tenths of a Frenchwoman—for there
is no such thing as a French _girl_, as we Englishmen understand
girlhood—she always looked like a butterfly, just born in and just
about to pop out of a bower; for little Flore was “divinely beautiful.”

This angel was now nearly four years old, and would look at you with
the loveliest eyes that ever appealed from the cradle to heaven, and
throw her exaggerated little figure back, and tell you the biggest lie
that an angel ever wiped her mouth over. Oh, you lovely child! I would
rather have Loo Jupp, who knows a number of bad words, which you would
faint to hear of. But Loo wonʼt tell a lie. Her father beat her out of
it the very first time she tried.



CHAPTER XIV.


“Dear Uncle Cradock,” said Georgie next day, for she had obtained
permission long ago to address her fatherʼs cousin so, “what a very
sweet girl our Eoa is!”

“I am very glad that you think so, Georgie; she reminds me very often
of what my brother was at her age.”

“Oh, I do love her so. She has so much variety, and she does seem so
straightforward.”

“Not only seems but is so, Georgie; at times, indeed, a little too much
of it.”

“Well, I doubt if there can be too much of it,” cried Georgie, in the
rapture of her own heartʼs truth and simplicity, “especially among
relations, uncle. Just see now how all the misunderstandings which
arose between ourselves, for instance, might have been saved by a
little straightforward explanation. In my opinion, our Eoa would be
absolutely perfect, if we could only put a little polish, a little
finish, upon her. I suppose that was what her poor father intended, in
bringing her to England.”

“Ah, perhaps it was. I never thought of that. But I have thought, often
enough, my dear Georgie, of my own duty towards her; and I wish to
consult you about it; you are so discreet and sensible.”

“Yes,” replied Mrs. Corklemore, with a facetious curtsey, “to be sure I
am, a perfect Queen of Sheba.”

As this implied, by the manner of it, that Sir Cradock was a perfect
Solomon, he accepted the chaff very graciously, and said to himself,
“What magnificent eyes my niece Georgie has, and what a sweet
complexion, and a most exquisite figure! I wonder what Corklemore is
about, in leaving her here so long! But then he has such confidence in
her. Women of sense and liveliness, who have an answer for everybody,
are so much more trustworthy than the sly things who drop their eyes,
and think all sorts of evil.”

Meanwhile Georgie saw all this passing through his mind—more clearly,
perhaps, than she would have seen it, if it had been passing through
her own.

“To be sure. How thoughtful of you! You mean your duty, Uncle Cradock,
as to making her your heiress, now?”

Mrs. Corklemore knew well enough that he meant nothing of the sort;
but the opportunity for the suggestion was too fine to be lost.

“Oh,” said Sir Cradock, with a grim smile, “you consider that my duty,
do you? No, it was not on that subject I was anxious for your opinion,
but as to sending the child to school, or taking some other means to
finish her education.”

“She wonʼt go,” replied Mrs. Corklemore, seeing some chance of a
quarrel here; “of course it would be the best thing for her; but I am
quite certain the sweet creature never will go.”

“The sweet creature must, if I make her.”

“To be sure, Uncle Cradock; but I donʼt believe you can. Has she not
favoured you with her intentions as to settling in life, rather—well,
perhaps rather prematurely?”

“Yes,” replied the old man, laughing, “she has informed me, with all
due ceremony, of her intention to marry Bob Garnet, the moment she is
out of mourning for her dearest father.”

“Master Garnet has not asked her yet. And I have reason to believe”——
here Georgie softly hesitated.

“What?” asked Sir Cradock, anxiously, for he was very fond of Eoa; she
was such a novelty to him.

“That Master Bob Garnet, just come from school, loves Amy Rosedew above
Eoa, toffee, rock, or peppermint.”

“Amy Rosedew is a minx,” answered the old man, hotly. “I offered to
shake hands with her, when I met her on Wednesday, and was even going
to kiss her, because she is my god–daughter, and—and—an uncommonly
pretty girl, you know, and what do you think she said?”

“Oh donʼt tell me, Uncle Cradock, if it was anything impudent. You know
I could not stand it, thinking what I do of those Rosedews.”

“She threw herself back with her great eyes flashing, and the colour
in her cheeks dark crimson, and she said, ‘No, thank you. No contact
for me with unnatural injustice!’ And she drew her frock around her,
and swept away as if the road was not wide enough for both of us. Nice
behaviour, was not it? And I fear her father endorses it.”

“I know he does,” answered Georgie, whose face during that description
had been a perfect study of horror contending with humour; “I know
that Mr. Rosedew, one of the best men in the world, if, indeed, he is
sincere—which others may doubt, but not I—he, poor man, having little
perception, except of his own interest, has taken a most unfavourable
view of everything we do here. Oh, I am so sorry. It almost makes one
feel as if we must be in the wrong.” Beautiful Georgie sighed heavily,
like a fair woman at a confessional.

“His own interest, Georgie! Ourselves in the wrong! I donʼt quite
understand you.”

“As if we were harsh, you know, Uncle Cradock; when, Heaven be thanked,
we have not concluded, as too, too many—— But, not to talk of that
absurdity, and not to pain you, darling uncle, you must know what I
meant about Mr. Rosedewʼs interest.”

“No, indeed, I donʼt, Georgie. I donʼt see how John—I mean Mr.
Rosedewʼs interest is at all involved in the matter.”

“He had a daughter passing fair,” sang Mrs. Corklemore, without
thinking. “Oh, uncle, I forgot; I am so light–headed and foolish, I
forget everything now. It is Nowellʼs fault for worrying me, as he does
every week, about income.”

She passed her hand across her forehead, and swept the soft dark
hair back, as if worldly matters were too many for her poor childish
brain. Who could look at her without wishing that she really cared for
herself, just a little?

“I insist upon knowing what you mean, Georgie,” said Sir Cradock,
frowning heavily, for he was not at all sentimental; “John Rosedewʼs
daughter is Amy; and Amy, I know, is perfectly honest, though as
obstinate as the devʼ—hem, I beg your pardon; I mean that Amy is very
obstinate, as well as exceedingly bigoted, and I might almost say
insolent.”

“Oh no; I can never believe that, Uncle Cradock, even upon your
authority.” In the heat of truth, Mrs. Corklemore stood up and faced
Sir Cradock.

“But I tell you she is, Georgie. Donʼt try to defend her. No young
woman of eighteen ought to have spoken as she did to me when I met her
last Wednesday. ‘Outrageous’ is the mildest word I can use to describe
her manner.”

“Very likely you thought so, dearest Uncle Cradock; and so very likely
I might have thought, or any of the old–school people. But we must make
allowances—you know we are bound to do so—for young people brought up
to look at things from a different point of view.”

“No—by—George I wonʼt. I have heard that stuff too often. Spirit of
the age, and all that balderdash. Because a set of young jackanapes are
blessed with impudence enough to throw to the dogs all the teachings
of ages, just when it doesnʼt suit them, is it likely that we, who are
old enough to see the beauty of what they despise, are to venerate and
bow down to infantile inspiration, which itself bows down to nothing?
Georgie, you are too soft, too mild. Your forbearance quite provokes
me. Leave me, if you please, to form my own opinions, especially about
people whom I know so much better than you do.”

“I am sure, Uncle Cradock,” answered Georgie, pouting, “I never
presume in any way to interfere with your opinions. Your judgment is
proverbial; whereas I have none whatever. Only it was natural that I
should wish you to think well of one who is likely to be so nearly
related to you. What! why you look surprised, uncle? Ah, you think me
wrong in alluding to it. What a simple silly I am, to be sure! But
please not to be angry, uncle. I never dreamed that you wished it kept
secret, dear, when all the parish is talking of it.”

“Georgie Corklemore, have the goodness to tell me what you mean.”

“Oh, donʼt look at me so, uncle. I never could bear a cross look.
I mean no mystery whatever, only Amy Rosedewʼs engagement to your
unlucky—I mean your unhappy son. Of course it has your sanction.”

“Amy engaged to my—to that crafty Cradock! I cannot believe it. I will
not believe it; and at a time like this!”

“Well, I thought the time ill–chosen. But I am no judge of propriety.
And they say that the poor—poor darling who is gone, was himself
attached—let us hope that it was not so; however, I cannot believe,
Uncle Cradock, that you have not even been told of it.”

“But I tell you, Georgie, that it is so. Perhaps you disbelieve me in
your anxiety to screen them?”

“You know better than that, dear uncle. I believe _you_, before all
the world. And I will screen them no longer, for I think it bad and
ungrateful of them. And after all you have done for them! Why, surely,
you gave them the living! It makes me feel quite ill. Ingratitude
always does.” Georgie pressed her hand to her heart, and was obliged to
get up and walk about. Presently she came back again, with great tears
in her eyes, and her face full of anger and pity.

“Oh, uncle dear, I cannot tell you how grieved I am for your sake. It
does seem so hard–hearted of them. How I feel my own helplessness that
I cannot comfort you! What a passion my Nowell will be in, when I tell
him this! His nature is so warm and generous, so upright and confiding,
and he looks up to you with such devotion, and such deep respect. I
must not tell him at night, poor fellow, or he would not sleep a wink.
And the most contumelious thing of all: that pompous old maid, Miss
Eudoxia Rosedew, to be going about and boasting of it—the title and
the property—before any one had the manners even to inform so kind a
friend, and so affectionate a father! The title and the property! How I
hate such worldliness. I never could understand how people could scheme
and plot for such things. And to make so little of you, uncle, because
they relied upon the entail!”

This was quite a shot in the dark, for she knew not whether any entail
subsisted; and, as it was a most essential point to discover this,
Georgie fixed her swimming eyes—swimming with love and sympathy—full
upon poor Sir Cradockʼs. He started a little, but she scarcely knew
what to augur thence. She must have another shot at it; but not on the
present occasion.

It is scarcely needful, perhaps, to say, knowing Mrs. Corklemore and
Miss Rosedew as we do, that there was not a syllable of truth in what
the former said of the latter. Sir Cradock himself would have doubted
it, if he had been any judge of women; for Miss Eudoxia Rosedew thought
very little of baronets. How could she help it, she of the illustrious
grandmother? Oh her indignation, if she only could have dreamed of
being charged with making vaunt over such a title! Neither was it like
her, even if she had thought great things of any pledged alliance, to
go about and share her sentiments with the “common people.” The truth
of the matter was this: Georgie, with her natural craft—no, no! skill
I mean; how a clumsy pen will stumble—and ten more years of life to
drill it, had elicited Amyʼs sentiments; as one who, having stropped
a razor, carves his ladyʼs pincushion, or one who blowing on bright
gimlet tempts the spigot of bonded wine, or varlet who with a knowing
worm giveth taste of Stilton. Or even,

  “As when a man, a sluice–captain, adown from a backwater headspring,
  All through his plants and garden a waterflow is pioneering,
  Holding a shovel in hand, from the carrier casting the sods out;
  Then as it goes flowing forward, the pebbles below in a bevy
  Swirl about, and it rapidly wimpling down paterooneth,
  In a spot where a jump of the ground is, and overgets even the guideman.”

  _Il._ xxi. 257.

So sweet Amy, being under–drawn of her native crystal by many a sly
innuendo and many an Artesian auger, gushed out, like liquid diamonds,
upon the skilful Georgie, and piled upon her a flood of truth, a
Scamander upon Achilles. Oh water upon a duckʼs back, because Georgie
always swam in truth; please not to say that Castalia, _rore puro_,
wets not the kerchief of a lady thrice dipped in Styx.

And so it came to pass that young Amy let out everything, having
a natural love of candour and a natural hatred of Georgie, and
expecting to overwhelm her with the rolling seventh billow of truth.
Mrs. Corklemore, softly smiling, reared her honest head out of the
waters, sleeked her soft luxuriant locks, and the only thing likely to
overwhelm her was sympathy unfathomable. Amy did not wish for that, and
begged her, very dryly, by no means to exhaust herself; for Amy had
moral scent of a liar, even as her father had.

Now that father—the finest fellow, take him for all in all, whom one
need wish to look upon—was (according to a good manʼs luck) in fearful
tribulation. Fearful, at least, to any man except John Rosedew himself;
but John, though fully alive to the stigmotype of his position, allowed
his epidermis to quill toward the operator, and abstracted all his too
sensitive parts into a Sophistic apory.

John, sitting in his book–room, had got an apron tucked well under his
rosy chin—an apron with two pockets in it, and the strings in a bow at
the back of his neck; and he trembled for his ear–lobes, whenever he
forgot his subject. Around him, with perpetual clatter, snip and snap
and stirabout, hovered, like a Jewish maiden fingering the mill–stone,
who but his Eudoxia?

In her strong right hand was a pair of shears, keen as those of
Atropos, padded at the handles, lest to hurt the thumb, but the
blades, the trenchant edges—oh what should keep their bright love
asunder? No human ear, for a moment; nay, nor the nose of a mortal.
Neither was this risk and tug, and frequent fullersʼ–teaseling, the
whole or even the half of the agony John was undergoing. For though
he sat with a pile of books heaped in fair disorder round him—though
three were pushing about on his lap, dusting themselves on his
well–worn kersey, like sparrows on a genial highway—though one was
even perched on his right hand and another on his left, yet he had no
more fruition of them (save in the cud of memory) than had Prometheus
of his fire–glow in the frost of Strobilus, or than the son of Jove and
Pluto, whom Ulysses saw, had of his dessert.

  “Nay, then I looked at Tantalus having a rough tribulation,
  Standing fast in a lake, and it came quite home to his chin–beard;
  Nevertheless he stood thirsting, and had not to seize and to quaff it;
  For every time when the old man would stoop in his longing to quaff it,
  Then every time the water died, swallowed back, and at his ancles
  Earth shone black in a moment, because a divinity parched it.
  Trees as well, leafing loftily, over his head poured fruitage,
  Pear–trees, and pomegranates, and apple–trees glittering–fruited,
  Fig–trees of the luscious, and olive–trees of the luxuriant;
  Whereat whenever the old man shot out his hands to grasp them,
  Away the wind would toss them into the shadowy cloudland.”

  _Od._ xi. 581.

“Now, John, you are worse than ever, I do declare you are; why, you
wonʼt even hold your neck straight. I try to make you look decent: I
try so _very hard_, John; and you havenʼt even the gratitude to keep
your chin up from the apron. You had much better go to a barber, and
get half your hair pulled out by the roots, and the other half poisoned
with a leaden comb, and then youʼll appreciate _me_, perhaps.”

“We read,” said John Rosedew, complacently gazing at his white locks as
they tumbled and took little jumps on the apron, “that when the Argives
lost Thyrea, they pledged themselves to a law and a solemn imprecation,
that none of the men should encourage his hair, and none of the ladies
wear gold.”

“And pray what gold do _I_ wear? Brother John, you are so personal; you
never can let me alone. I do believe you have never forgiven me my poor
dear grandmotherʼs ring, and watch, and Aunt Dianaʼs brooch and locket;
no, nor even my own dear motherʼs diamond ring with the sapphires round
it. And perhaps you donʼt hate even my bracelet, a mere twist of gold
with catʼs eyes! Oh, John, John, how can you be my brother, and show
such a little mind, John?”

“Whence we may infer,” continued John, quite unruffled; for he knew
that it would be worse than useless to assure Miss Doxy that he was not
even aware of the existence of the things he was impeached with; “or
at least we have some grounds for supposing that the Greeks, a very
sensitive and highly perceptive race, did not like to have their hair
cut. Compare with this another statement——”

“No, indeed I wonʼt, John. I should rather hope I would not. You canʼt
hold your tongue for a moment, however solemn the occasion is. There,
thatʼs the third cut youʼve got, and I wonʼt take another snip at you.
But you have quoted less Greek than usual; thatʼs one comfort, at any
rate, and I will put you on some gold–beaterʼs skin, for being so very
good, John. Only donʼt tell Amy; she does make such a fuss about it.
But there, I need not tell you, for you wonʼt know how you got them in
half an hourʼs time. Now, donʼt make a fuss, John; one would think you
were killed”—poor John had dared to put his hand up—“as if you cared
indeed even if you had three great stripes of red all down your collar,
or even upon your white neckerchief. You wouldnʼt be at all ashamed of
yourself. Have you the face to say that you would, now?”

“Well, dear Doxy, I am not convinced that you are reasonable in
expecting me to be ashamed of bleeding when you have been cutting me.”

“Oh, of course not. I never _am_ reasonable, according to your ideas.
But one thing you may be convinced of, and that is, that I never will
toil and degrade myself by cutting your hair again, John, after this
outrageous conduct.”

John had been visited so often with this tremendous menace, that he
received it with no satisfaction. Well he knew that on that day four
weeks he must don the blue apron again, unless something happened
worse even than Aunt Doxyʼs tonsorial flourishes.

“Now, you are not done yet, John. You are in a great hurry, are you
not, to get the apron off and scatter the hair all about? Whatʼs the
good of my taking the trouble to spread Jemimaʼs shawl down? Can you
imagine you are done, when I havenʼt rubbed you up with the rosemary
even?”

“ʼCoronari marino rore!’ No wonder good Flaccus puts it after ‘multâ
cæde bidentium.’ Oh, Doxy, you are inexorable. O averse Penates! By the
way, that stanza is to my mind the most obscure (with one exception)
in all the Odes. Either Horace had too much of the ‘lene tormentumʼ
applied just then ‘ingenio non sæpe duro,’ or else——”

“Please, miss”—all the girls called her miss—“Dr. Hutton, miss!”

Bang went Miss Doxy, quicker than thought, left an exclamation,
semi–profane, far behind on the light air, slammed the door on the poor
girlʼs chilblains, bolted and locked it, and pulled out the key, and
put the scutcheon over the keyhole.

“Well, why, _διὰ τί_; _πόθεν_; unde terrarum? Women are not allowed to
say ‘mehercle,’ neither men ‘mecastor;’ ‘ædepol’ is common to both, but
only ‘inscitiâ antiquitatis;’ for the most ancient men abstained from
that even, and I dare say were none the worse for it——”

“I have no patience with you, John,” cried Miss Doxy, snatching up
brush, comb, scissors, extract of the sea–dew, the blue apron, Jemimaʼs
shawl of grey hair, and we know not how many other things, and huddling
all into a cupboard, and longing to lock herself in with them.

“Great truths come out,” answered John, quite placidly, “at periods
of mental commotion. But why, oh Doxy, and whence this inopine
hurry–scurry? There is no classic expression—except perhaps in
Aristophanes—of prosody quick enough; and, doubtless, for very good
reason, because the people were too wise to hurry so. ‘Rumpe moras,’
for instance, is rather suggestive of——”

“Oh, John! oh, John! even at such a moment, John! I believe youʼll die
in Latin or Greek—and I donʼt know which Amen is, only I donʼt believe
itʼs English—there, I am as bad as you are to discuss such a question
now. And I am quite sure Jenny canʼt tell a good story soundly. And he
has got such ferret eyes! Thank Heaven, the key was inside, John.”

Poor Miss Doxy was panting so, that her brother was quite frightened
for her; and the more so because he had no idea what there was to be
frightened at.

“Why, Doxy,” he said, “my darling, he need never see that you have cut
me.”

“As if I cared for that! Oh, John, my dearest brother, heʼll see _that
Iʼve cut your hair_!”

The idea struck John Rosedew as so gloriously novel—that man who
knew the world so!—to him it appeared such a mountain of wonder
that a sister should want to sink through the floor, for having saved
her brother from barberism, that he laughed as hard as any man of
real humour ever laughs. Miss Doxy stole on the opportunity, when he
sat down to have his laugh out, to dust all the white hair with her
handkerchief from his coat–collar.

Suddenly John Rosedew got up, and his laugh went away in gravity. He
walked to the door more heavily than was natural to him (lest he should
seem to go falsely), unlocked and unbolted it, and in his most stately
manner marched into the hall. Jenny was telling a “jolly lie”—jollity
down below, I suppose—to Mr. Rufus Hutton; she was doing it very
clumsily, not “oculo irretorto.”

“Please, sir, yes, my master is gone round the parish, sir; and the
rest, they be at the school, sir. How sorry they will be, to be sure,
to hear that you have called, sir, and all of them out of the way so!”

“No, they wonʼt,” said Mr. Rosedew, looking over her head; “the only
thing I am sorry for, Jenny, is that you can tell a falsehood so.
But the fault is not yours only. I will talk to you by–and–by. Dr.
Hutton, come in, if you please. I was having my hair cut by my sister,
Miss Rosedew. You have met her before. Eudoxia, Dr. Hutton is kind
enough to come and see us. I have told him how good and how sisterly
you have been to me, and I am sure that he must wish to have a sister
so capable—that is to say if he has not,” added John, who was very
particular about his modal and temporal prefix.

Miss Rosedew came forward, with a few white hairs still on her dark
“reps” bell–sleeve, and, being put upon her mettle, was worthy of her
brother. Oh dear, that such a grand expression should be needful,
even over the shell of the roasted egg of snobbery! Rufus Hutton, of
course, not being quite a fool, respected, and trusted, and loved them
both, more than he would have done after fifty formal dinners. And
he knew quite well that there was on his own part something akin to
intrusion; for he had called in the forenoon, when visits from none but
an intimate friend are expected; and he had pushed his advance rather
vigorously, not towards the drawing–room, but to Johnʼs favourite
book–room, where the lady Licinus plied her calling. But for this he
had good reason, as he wished to see Mr. Rosedew alone, and the cause
of his visit was urgent.

It was not long before the lady, feeling rather unhappy because she was
not arrayed much better than the lilies of the field are, withdrew in
a very noble manner, earning gratitude of Rufus. Then the doctor drew
his chair close home to the parsonʼs, looked all round the room, and
coughed to try how big the echo was. Finding no response returned by
that prolific goddess, who loves not calf or sheep–skin, and seeing
that no other lady was dangerously acoustic, Rufus inclined his
little red head towards Johnʼs great and black and slightly liparous
waistcoat, and spake these winged words:

“Ever see a thing like that, sir?”

“No, I donʼt think I ever did. Dear me, how odd it smells! Why, how
grave you are, Dr. Hutton!”

“So will you be, when I have told you what I have to tell. My discovery
is for your ears only; I have been to London about it, and there found
out its meaning. Now I will act upon your advice. Nothing in all my
experience—though I have seen a great deal of the world—nothing has
ever surprised me more than what I have told you.”

“But you forget, Dr. Hutton,” cried John, imbibing excitement, “that
as yet you have told me nothing at all, only shown me something which
I cannot in the least make out. A cylinder, hollow, and blocked at one
end; of a substance resembling book–binding, and of a most unsavoury
odour!”

“Ha!” replied Rue Hutton, “ha, my dear sir, you little guess the
importance of that thing no bigger than a good cigar. Ah, indeed! Ah,
yes!”

“Do you mean to tell me, or not, Dr. Hutton? Your behaviour is most
unusual. I am greatly surprised by your manner.”

“Ah, no doubt; no doubt of that. Very odd if you were not. I also am
astonished at your apparent indifference.”

Hereupon Rufus looked so intensely knowing, so loaded with marvel and
mystery, too big to be discharged even, that John Rosedew himself, so
calm and large, and worthy to be called a philosopher, very nearly grew
wroth with longing to know what all the matter was.

Then Dr. Hutton, having bound him by a solemn promise that he would not
for the present even hint of that matter to any one, poured out the
hissing contents of his mind under the white curls which still overhung
the elder manʼs porch of memory. And what he told him was indeed a
thing not to be forgotten.

The spectator is said to see more of the game than any of the players
see, and the reader of a story knows a great deal more than the actors
do, or the writer either, for that matter; marry, therefore, I will not
insult any candid intelligence, neither betray Rue Huttonʼs faith, for
he is an awkward enemy.

The very next day there came a letter, with coal enough on it to make
some gas, and directed in a wandering manner to “Rev. Mr. Rosedew,
Nowelhouse, somewhere in England.” Much as we abuse the Post–office
people, they generally manage to find us out more cleverly than we do
them; and so this letter had not been to more than six wrong places.
As our good journalists love to say, “it was couched in the following
terms:”—

 “HONOURED AND REVEREND SIR,—Takes the liberty of stating price of
 inland coals, as per margin, delivered free within six miles of
 Charing–cross. N.B. Weighed as the Act directs, whether required or
 otherwise, which mostly is not, and the dust come back if required.
 Excuse me the liberty of adding that a nice young gent and uncommon
 respectable, only not a good business address—no blame to him, being
 a Oxford gent—lie here very ill, and not much expect to get over
 to–morrow night. Our junior, Mr. Clinkers, with full commission to
 take all orders and sign receipts for the firm, have been up with
 him all night, and hear him talk quite agreeable about some place
 or business called Amery, supposed in the hardware line by mistake
 for emery. This young gent were called Mr. Newman, by the name of
 Charles Newman, but Mrs. Ducksacre half believe clandastical and
 temporal only, and no doubt good reason for it, because he always
 pay his lodging. Rev. sir, found your direction as per endorsement
 very simple in the inside pocket of the young gentʼs coat, and he
 only have one to look in. But for fear to be misunderstood this firm
 think none the less of him by the same reason, having been both of
 us in trouble when we was married. Also as per left–hand cover a
 foreign–looking play–book, something queer and then ‘Opera,’ which the
 undersigned understand at once, having been to that same theayter when
 our gracious Queen was married, and not yet gone into the coal–trade.
 Requests to excuse the liberty, but if endorsed correctly and
 agreeable to see the young gentʼs funeral performed most reasonably,
 at sole expense of this firm, and no claim made on any survivors
 because Robert Clinkers like him, must come by express day after
 to–morrow at latest.

 “Signed for the firm of Poker and Clinkers, West London Depôt,
 Hammersmith. Weighed as the Act directs. Per ROBERT CLINKERS, jun.

 “At Mrs. and Miss Ducksacreʼs, greengrocer and general fruiterer,
 Mortimer–street, Cavendish–square.”



CHAPTER XV.


Cradock Nowell had written from London to the Parsonage once, and once
only. He told them how he had changed his name, because his father had
cast him off; and (as he bitterly added), according to filial promise,
he felt himself bound to be Nowell no longer. But he did not say what
name he had taken, neither did he give any address; only he would write
again when he had found some good situation. Of course he longed to
hear from Amy—his own loving Amy, who begged that poor letter and bore
it in her own pure bosom long after the Queenʼs head came off—but his
young pride still lay hot upon him, and for Amyʼs sake he nursed it.

A young man is never so proud of his honour, so prompt to deny himself
anything, so strong in anotherʼs lifehold, and careless about his own
living, as when he has won a true loveʼs worth, and sees it abiding
for ever. Few are the good who have such luck—for the success is not
of merit, any more than it is in other things; more often indeed some
fish–tailed coxcomb is a womanʼs Dagon, doubly worshipped for crushing
her—but when that luck does fall to the lot of a simple and honest
young fellow, he piles his triple mountains up to the everlasting
heaven, but makes no Babel of them. A man who chatters about his love
soon exhausts himself or his subject.

John Rosedew, after receiving that letter, shut every book on his
table, chairs, and desk, and chimney–piece. He must think what to do,
and how: and he never could think hard on the flints of daily life,
while the green pastures of the dead were tempting his wayward steps
away. Of course he would go to London at once, by the very next train;
but whether or no should he tell his people the reason of his going? He
felt so strongly inclined to tell, even at risk of domestic hysterics
and parochial convulsions, that he resolved at last not to tell; for he
thought of the great philosopherʼs maxim (not perhaps irrefragable),
that when the right hangs dubious, we may safely conclude that it rides
in the scale swinging opposite to our own wishes. To most of us (not
having a quarter of John Rosedewʼs ability, and therefore likely to be
a hundred times less hesitant) it seems that the maxim holds good with
ourselves, or any other common mortal, but makes Truth actually cut
her own throat when applied to a mind like his—a mind already too
timorously and humorously self–conscious.

Let 99,000 angels get on the top of John Rosedewʼs pen—which generally
had a great hair in it—and dance a _faux pas_ over that question,
if it was laid the wrong way; for we, whose consciences must work
in corduroys and highlows, roughly conclude that right and wrong
are but as button and button–hole when it comes to a question of
hair–splitting. Blest are they whose conscience–edge, like the sword of
Thor, can halve every wisp of wool afloat upon the brook of life.

After breakfast John mounted Coræbus, leaving a short farewell, and set
off hastily with the old–fashioned valise behind the saddle, wherein
he was wont to bear wine and confections upon his parochial tours.
The high–mettled steed was again amazed at the pace that could be
pumped out of him; neither did he long continue ingloriously mute, but
woke the echoes of Ytene with many a noble roar and shriek, so that
consternation shook the heart of deer and pig and cow. But the parson
did not exult as usual in these proofs of velocity, because his soul
within him was sad; nevertheless he preserved cohesion, or at least
coincidence, in an admirable manner, with his feet thrust strenuously
into the stirrups, his bridle–hand thrown in great emergencies upon the
peak of the saddle, and whip–hand reposing on the leathern outwork,
which guarded and burnished his rear. Anchored thus by both strong
arms—for the sake of his mission and family—he felt capable of
jumping a gate, if Coræbus had equal confidence.

That evening he entered the Ducksacre shop, and found no one there but
the mistress.

“Pray excuse me, but I have been told, maʼam,” said John Rosedew,
lifting his hat—as he always did to a matron—and bowing his silvery
head, “that you have a lodger here who is very ill.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Mrs. Ducksacre, fetching her breath very quickly,
“and dead, too, for all I know. Oh Lord, I am so put upon!”

The soft–hearted parson was shocked at this apparent apathy; and
thought her no true woman. Who is not wrong sometimes? It was a very
rare thing for John Rosedew to judge man or woman harshly. But only
half an hour ago that poor woman had been up–stairs, neglecting till,
present and future, estranging some excellent customers, leaving a
wanton shop–boy to play marbles with Spanish chestnuts, while she did
her most misguided best to administer to sick Cradock soup wildly
beyond her own economy, and furiously beyond his powers of deglutition.

John Rosedew, with his stout legs shaking, and his stockings expressing
excitement, went up three pairs (ill–assorted) of stairs into Cradockʼs
sick room. Then he started back from the Aristophanic climax—even the
rags of Telephus; though after all, Polly Ducksacre had done her best
to make the room comely. Why, there were three potato–sacks on the bed,
with the names of Fulham growers done in red letters upon them, and
giving the room quite a bright appearance, as if newly–marked sheep
were in it. Nay, and I could almost swear there were two bast mats
from Covent Garden, gloriously fixed as bed curtains, mats from that
noble market where a rat prays heaven vainly to grant him the coat of a
water–rat.

There, by Cradock Nowellʼs bed, sat the faithful untiring nurse, the
woman who had absorbed such a quantity of strap, and had so kindly
assimilated it. Meek–spirited Rachel Jupp waited and watched by the
bed of him through whom she had been enfranchised. Since Issachar Jupp
became a Christian she had not tasted the buckle–end once, and scarcely
twice the tongue–end.

She had been employed some years ago as a nurse in the Middlesex
Hospital; so she knew her duties thoroughly. But here she had exceeding
small chance of practising that knowledge; because scarcely anything
which she wanted, and would have rung for, if there had been any bell,
was ever to be found in the house. Even hot water, which the doctor
had ordered, was cold again ere it came to her, and had taken an hour
before it started; for there was no fireplace in the little room, nor
even on the floor below it.

Uncle John could scarcely keep from crying, as he looked at poor Craddy
propped up in the bed there, with his lips so pale and bloodless,
cheeks sunken in and shining like dry oyster–shells, but with a round
red spot in the centre, large eyes glaringly bright and starting, and
red hot temples and shorn head swathed with dripping bandages; while
now and then he raised his weak hands towards the surging tumult, and
dropped them helpless on the sun–blind, tucked round him as part of his
counterpane.

“Ah, thatʼs the way, sir,” said Rachel, after she had risen and
curtseyed, “thatʼs the way he go on now, all the day and all the night;
and he have left off talking now altogether, only to moan and to
wamble. He used to jump up in the bed at first, and shut his left eye,
and put his arms like this, as if he was shooting at something; and it
pleased him so when I give him the hair–broom. He would put the flat
of it to his shoulder, and smile as if he see some game, and shoot at
the door fifty times a day; and then scream and fall back and cover his
eyes up. But he havenʼt done that these three days now; too weak, Iʼm
afeard, too weak for it.”

John Rosedew sighed heavily for the bright young mind, so tried
above what it was able to bear; then, as he kissed the flaming
forehead—sometimes flaming and sometimes icy—he thought that it might
be the Fatherʼs mercy to obliterate sense of the evil. For the mind of
the insane, or at least its precious part, is with Him, who showers
afar both pain and pleasure, but keeps at home the happiness.

“Can you send for the doctor at once, maʼam, or tell me where to find
him?” The parson still kept to the ancient fashion, and addressed
every woman past thirty as “maʼam,” whatever her rank or condition. As
he spoke, a heavy man entered on tiptoe, and quietly moved them aside.
A raw–boned, hulking fellow he was, with a slouch and a squint, made
more impressive by a black eye in the third and most picturesque stage,
when mauve, and lilac, and orange intone and soften sweetly off from
the purple nucleus outward; as a boyʼs taw is, or used to be, shaded,
with keen artistic feeling, in many a ring concentric, from the equator
to the poles. Mr. Juppʼs face was a villainous one; as even the softest
philanthropist would have been forced to acknowledge. The enormous
jaws, the narrow forehead, the grisly, porkish eyebrows, the high
cheek–bones, and the cunning skance gleam from the black, deep–ambushed
squinters—all these were enough to warn any man who wished to get good
out of Zakey Jupp that he must try to put it there first, and give it
time to go to the devil and back, as we say that parsley–seed does.

Mr. Jupp was a man of remarkable strength,—not active elastic
Achillean vigour, nor even stalwart Ajacian bulk, but the sort of
strength which sometimes vanquishes both of those, by outlasting,—a
slouching, slow–to–come, long–to–go heft, that had scarcely found its
proper wind when better–built men were exhausted.

Men of this stamp are usually long–armed, big in the lungs and
shoulders, small in the loins, knock–kneed, and splay–footed; in a
word, shaped like a John Dory, or a millerʼs thumb, or a banjo. They
are not very “strong on their pins,” nor active; they generally get
thrown in the first bout of wrestling before ever their muscles get
warm; they cannot even run fast, and in jumping they spring from the
heel; nevertheless, unless they are stricken quite senseless at the
outset—and their heads for the most part are a deal too thick for
that—the chances are that they make an example of the antagonist ere
he is done with. And so, in Mr. Juppʼs recent duello with an Irish
bully, who scoffed at Cradock, and said something low of his illness,
the Englishman got the worst of it in the first round, the second, the
third, and the fourth; but, just as Dan Sullivanʼs pals and backers
were wild with delight and screeching, the brave bargee settled down on
his marrow, and the real business began. After twenty–five rounds, the
Tipperary Slasher had three men to carry him home, and looked fit for
an inquest to sit upon, without making him any flatter.

Now, Issachar being a very slow man, there was no chance that he would
hurry over his present inspection of Cradock. For a very long time he
looked at him from various points of view; then, at last, he shook his
head, and poked his long black chin out.

“Now this here wunna do, ye know. Iʼll fetch the doctor to ye, master,
as ye seem to care for the pore young charp.”

And Zakey Jupp, requiring no answer, went slowly down the stairs, with
a great hand on either wall to save noise; then at a long trot, rolling
over all who came in his way, and rounding the corners, like a ship
whose rudder–bands are broken, he followed the doctor from street to
street, keeping up the same pace till he found him. Dr. Tink was coming
out of a court not far from Marylebone–lane, where the small–pox always
lay festering.

“Yeʼll just corm street ‘long wi’ me to the poor charp as saved our
Looey,” said Mr. Jupp, coolly getting into the brougham, and sitting in
the place of honour, while he dragged Dr. Tink in by the collar, and
set him upon the front seat. “Fire awa’ now for Martimer–straat,” he
yelled to the wondering coachman, “and if ye dunna laither the narg,
mind, Iʼll laither ye when we gits there.”

The nag was leathered to Mr. Juppʼs satisfaction, and far beyond his
own, and they arrived at the coal and cabbage shop before John Rosedew
had finished reading a paper which Mrs. Jupp had shown him, thinking
that it was a prescription.

“He wrote it in his sleep, sir, without knowing a thing about it; in
his sleep, or in his brain–wandering; I came in and found him at it, in
the middle of the night; and my, how cold his fingers was, and his head
so hot! We took it to three great chemists’ shops, but they could not
make it up. They hadnʼt got all the drugs, they said, and they couldnʼt
make out the quantities.”

“Neither can I,” said John; “but it rings well, considering that the
poor boy wrote it when his brain was weak with fever. The dialects are
somewhat muddled, moreover; but we must not be hypercritical.”

“No, sir, to be sure not. I am sure I meant no hypocrisy. Only you see
it ainʼt Christian writing; and Mr. Clinkers shake his head at it, and
say it come straight from the devil, and his hoof in every line of it.”

“Mrs. Jupp, the Greek characters are beautiful, though some of the
lines are not up to the mark. But, for my part, I wonder how any man
can write mixed Greek in London. Nevertheless, I shall have great
pleasure in talking it over with him, please God that he ever gets
well. To think that his poor weary brain should still be hankering
after his classics!”

It was the dirge in Cymbeline put into Greek choral metre, and John
Rosedewʼs tears flowed over the words, as Polydoreʼs had done, and
Cadwalʼs.

Unhappy Cradock! His misty brain had vapoured off in that sweet wild
dirge, which hovers above, as if the freed soul lingered, for the
clogged one to shake its wings to it.

The parson was pondering and closing his wet eyes to recover his faith
in God—whom best we see with the eyes shut, except when His stars are
shining—while Issachar Jupp came up the stairs, poking Dr. Tink before
him, because he still thought it likely that the son of medicine would
evaporate. The doctor, who knew his tricks and put up with them, lest
anything worse might come of it, solaced his sense of dignity, when he
got to the top, by a grand bow to Mr. Rosedew. John gave him the change
in a kind one; then offered his hand, as he always did, being a man of
the ancient fashion.

While they were both looking sadly at Cradock, he sat up suddenly
in the bed, and stretching forth his naked arms (wherein was little
nourishment), laughed as an aged man does, and then nodded at them
solemnly. His glazed eyes were so prominent, that their whites
reflected the tint of the rings around them.

“Ladies and gentlemen, stop him if you please, and give him a pen and
ink, and my best hat to write on. Oh, donʼt let him go by.”

“Stop whom, my dear sir?” asked the doctor, putting out his arms as if
to do it. “Now Iʼve stopped him. Whatʼs his name?”

“The golden lad. Oh, donʼt you know? You canʼt have got him, if you
donʼt. The golden lad that came from heaven to tell me I did not do it,
that I didnʼt do it, do it, sir—all a mistake altogether. It makes me
laugh, I declare it does; it makes me laugh for an hour, every time he
comes, because they were all so wise. All but my Amy, my Amy; she was
such a foolish little thing, she never would hear a word of it. And
now I call you all to witness, obtestor, antestor, one, two, three,
four, five; let him put it down on a sheet of foolscap, with room
enough for the names below it; all the ladies and gentlemen put their
names in double column, and get Mr. Clinkers, if you can, and Jenny, to
go at the bottom; only be particular about the double column, ladies
one side, gentlemen the other, like a country dance, you know, or the
‘carmen sæculare,’ and at the bottom, right across, Miss Amy Rosedewʼs
name.”

The contemplation of that last beatitude was too much for the poor
fellow; he fell back, faint on the pillow, and the shop–blind, untucked
by his blissful emotions, rattled its rings on the floor.

“Blow me if I can stand it,” cried Issachar Jupp, going down three
stairs at a step; and when he came back his face looked clearer, and
he said something about a noggin. Mrs. Ducksacre bolted after him, for
business must be attended to.

“Will he ever be right again, poor fellow? Dr. Tink, I implore you to
tell me your opinion sincerely.”

“Then I cannot say that _I think_ he will. Still, I have some hopes
of it. Much will depend upon the original strength of the cerebellum,
and the regularity of his previous habits. If he has led a wild, loose
life, he has no chance whatever of sanity.”

“No, he has led a most healthy life—temperate, gentle, and equable.
His brain has always been clear and vigorous, without being too
creative. He was one of the soundest scholars for his age I have ever
met with.”

“But he had some terrible blow, eh?”

“Oh yes, a most terrible blow.”

John thought what a terrible blow it would be to his own lifeʼs life,
if the issue went against him, and for tears he could ask no more.



CHAPTER XVI.


The good people assembled in Nowelhurst church were agreeably
surprised, on the following Sunday, by the announcement from Mr.
Pell—in that loud sonorous voice of his, which had frightened
spinsters out of their wits, lest he were forbidding, instead of asking
their banns of matrimony—that there would be no sermon that morning,
inasmuch as he, the Rev. Octavius, was forced to hurry away, at full
speed, to assuage the rampant desire of Rushford for the performance of
divine service.

Mrs. Nowell Corklemore, who had the great curtained pew of the Hall
entirely to herself and child—for Eoa never would go to church,
because they defy the devil there—Georgie, who appeased her active
mind by counting the brass–headed nails, and then multiplying them into
each other, and subtracting the ones that were broken, lifted her
indescribable eyes, and said, “Thank God,” almost audibly.

Octavius Pell, hurrying out of the porch, ascended Coræbus, as had
been arranged; but he did it so rapidly, and with such an air of
decision, that Amy, standing at the churchyard gate, full of beautiful
misgivings, could not help exclaiming,

“Oh please, Mr. Pell, whatever you do, leave your stick here till
Monday. We will take such care of it.”

“Indeed, I fear I must not, Miss Rosedew,” Octavius answered, gravely,
looking first at his stick, and then at the flanks of Ræby, who was
full of interesting tricks; “I have so far to go, you know, and I must
try to keep time with them.—Whoa, you little villain!”

“Oh dear, I am so sorry. At any rate please not to strike him, only
_stroke_ him with it. He is so _very_ high–spirited. And he has never
had a weal upon him, at least since he came to papa. And I could not
bear to see it. And I know you wonʼt, Mr. Pell.”

Octavius looked at the soft–hearted girl, blushing so in her new drawn
bonnet—mauve with black, for the sake of poor Clayton. He looked at
her out of his knowing dry eyes in that sort of response–to–the–Litany
style which a curate adopts to his rectorʼs daughter.

“Can you suppose, Miss Rosedew, that I would have the heart to beat him
now?—Ah, you will, will you then?” Ræbus thought better of it.

“No, I hope you would not,” said Amy, in pure good faith, with a
glance, however, at the thick bamboo, “because it would be _so cruel_.
It is hollow, I hope; but it has such knots, and it looks so very hard!”

“Hollow, and thin as a piece of pie–crust; and you know how this wood
splits.”

“Oh, I am so glad, because you canʼt hurt him so very much. Please
not to go, if you can hold him, more than three miles and a half an
hour. Papa says that is the pace that always suits his health best.
And please to take the saddle off, and keep it at your house, that
the Rushford boy may not ride him back. And please to choose a steady
boy from the head–class in your Sunday school, and, if possible, a
communicant. But Iʼm sadly afraid thereʼs no trusting the boys.”

“Indeed, I fear not,” said Octavius, gravely; and adding to himself,
“at any rate when you are concerned, you darling. What a love you are!
But thereʼs no chance for me, I know; and itʼs a good job for me that I
knew it. Oh you little angel, I wonder who the lucky fellow is!” Aunt
Eudoxia had dropped him a hint, quite in a casual way, when she saw
that the stout young bachelor was going in, over head and ears.

Sweet Amy watched Mr. Pell, or rather his steed, with fond interest,
until they turned the corner; and certainly the pace, so far, was
very sedate indeed. Octavius was an upright man—you could see that
by his seat in the saddle—as well as a kind and good–natured one;
and on no account would he have vexed that gentle and beautiful
girl. Nevertheless he grew impatient, as Coræbus pricked his ears
pretentiously, and snorted so as to defy the winds, and was fain to
travel sidewise, as if the distance was not enough for him; and all the
time he was swallowing the earth at the rate of no more than four miles
an hour. Then the young parson pulled out his watch, and saw that it
wanted but half an hour of the time himself had fixed for the morning
service at Rushford. And he could not bear the thought of keeping the
poor folk waiting about the cross, as they always did and would wait,
till the parson appeared among them. As Mr. Wise has well observed,
“the peasant of the New Forest is too full of veneration.”

And here let me acknowledge, as behoveth a man to do, not in a
scambling preface, which nobody ever would read, but in the body of
my work, great and loving obligation to the labours of Mr. John R.
Wise. His book is perfectly beautiful, written in admirable English,
full of observation, taste, and gentle learning; and the descriptions
of scenery are such that they make the heart yearn to verify them.
I know the New Forest pretty well, from my own perambulations and
perequitations—one barbarism is no worse than the other—but I never
should have loved it as I do but for his loving guidance.

The Rev. Mr. Pell, as some people put when they write to a
parson,—hoping still to keep faith with Amy, because her eyes were
so lovely,—pulled the snaffle, and turned Coræbus into a short cut,
through beeches and hazels. Then compromise came soon to an end, and
the big bamboo was compelled to fall upon the fat flank of Coræbus,
because he would not go without it. He showed sense of that first
attention only by a little buck–jump, and a sprightly wag of his
tail; then, hoping that the situation need not be looked in the face,
shambled along at five miles an hour, with a mild responsibility.

“Five miles more,” said Octave Pell, “and only twenty minutes to do
it in! Itʼs an unlucky thing for you, Coræbus, that your mistress is
engaged.” Whack, came the yellow bamboo again, and this time in solid
earnest; Ræbus went off as if he meant to go mad. He had never known
such a blow since the age wherein he belonged to the innkeeper. Oh,
could a horse with four feeds a day be expected to put up with tyranny?

But, to the naggyʼs great amazement, Octave Pell did not tumble off;
more than that, he seemed to stick closer, with a most unpleasant
embrace, and a pressure that told upon the wind—not of heaven but of
horse—till the following symptoms appeared:—First a wheeze, and creak
internal, a slow creak, like leather chafing, or a pair of bellows out
of order; then a louder remonstrance, like the ironwork of a roller,
or the gudgeons of a wheelbarrow; then, faster and faster, a sucking
noise, like the bucket of an old pump, when the gardener works by
the job; finally, puff, and roar, and shriek, with notes of passing
sadness, like the neap–tide wailing up a cavern, or the lament of the
Berkshire Blowing Stone.

In forest glades, where hollow hoofs fell on the sod quite mutely, that
roar was enough to try masculine courage, though never unnerved by a
heart–shock. How then could poor Pearl Garnet, sitting all alone, in a
lonely spot, wherein she had pledged herself to her dead love, sitting
there to indulge her tears, the only luxury left her—how could she
help being frightened to death as the unearthly sound approached her?

The terror was mutual. Coræbus, turning the corner sharply, stopped
short, in a mode that must have sent his true master over his withers,
to explore the nature of the evil. Then he shook all through, and would
have bolted, if the bamboo had not fallen heavily.

In the niche of a hollow oak was crouching, falling backward with
terror, and clutching at the brave old bark, yet trying to hide behind
it—only the snowy arms would come outwards—a beautiful girl, clad in
summer white on that foggy day of December. The brown cloak, which had
protected her from sylvan curiosity, lay on the ground, a few yards
away, on the spot so sad and sacred. Pearl Garnetʼs grief, if we knew
the whole of it, or perhaps because we cannot, was greater than any
girl could bear. A lovely, young, and loving maid, with stores of
imagination, yet a practical power of stowing it; of building castles,
yet keeping them all within compass of the kitchen–range; quite
different from our Amy, yet a better wife for _some_ men—according
to what the trumps are, and Amy must have hearts, or she dies;—that
very nice girl, we have let her go weep, and never once cared to follow
her. There is never any justice in this world; therefore who cares
to apologise? It would take up all our business–time, if we did it
properly.

Now, as she stretched her white arms forth, and her delicate form
shrunk back into the black embrace of the oak–tree; while her rich
hair was streaming all down her breast, and her dark eyes still full
of tear–drops; the rider no less than the horse was amazed, and seemed
to behold a vision. Then as she shrunk away into the tree–bole, with a
shriek of deadly terror—for what love casteth out fear?—and she saw
not through the ivy–screen, and Coræbus groaned sepulchrally, Pell came
down with a dash on one foot, and went, quick jump, to help her.

In a fainting fit,—for the heart so firm and defiant in days of
happiness was fluxed now and frail with misery—she was cowering away
in the dark tree–nook, like the pearls of mistletoe fallen, with her
head thrown back (such an elegant head, a womanʼs greatest beauty), and
the round arms hanging helpless.

Hereupon Mr. Pell was abroad. He had never experienced any sisters,
nor much mother consciously—being the eighth son, as of course we
know, of a jolly Yorkshire baronet; at any rate he had lost his mother
at the birth of Nonus Pell; and I am sorry there are not ninety of
them, if of equal merit.

So Octavius stood like a fish out of water, with both hands in his
pocket, as it is so generally the habit of fishes to stand.

Then, meaning no especial harm, nor perhaps great good, for that
matter, he said to himself—

“Confound it all. What the deuce am I to do?”

His sermon upon the Third Commandment, about to be preached at
Rushford, where the fishermen swore like St. Peter,—that sermon went
crack in his pocket at such a shocking ejaculation. Never heeding that,
he went on to do what a stout fellow and a gentleman must have done
in this emergency. He lifted the drooping figure forth into the open
air, touching it only with his hands, timidly and reverently, as if
every fair curve were sacred. Then he fetched water in his best Sunday
hat—the only chimney–pot he possessed—from the stream trickling
through the spire–bed; and he sprinkled it on the broad, white
forehead, as if he were christening a baby.

The moment he saw that her life was returning, and her deep grey eyes,
quiet havens of sorrow, opened and asked where their owner was, and her
breast rose like a billow in a place where two tides meet, that moment
Octave laid her back against the rugged trunk, in the thick brown cloak
which he had fetched when he went for the water; and wrapped it around
her, delicately, as if she were taking a nap there.

Oh, man of short pipes and hard, bachelor fare, for this thou deservest
as good a wife as ever basted a leg of mutton!

At last the young lady looked up at him with a deep–drawn sigh, and
said—

“I am afraid I have been very silly.”

“No, indeed, you have not. But I am very sorry for you, because I am
dreadfully clumsy.”

She glanced at his snowy choker—which he never wore but on
Sundays—and, being a very quick–witted young woman, she guessed at
once who he was.

“Oh, please to tell me—I hope the service is not over at Nowelhurst
church.”

“The service has been over for a quarter of an hour; because there was
no sermon.”

“Oh, what shall I do, then? What can I do? I had better never go home
again.”

This was said to herself in anguish, and Pell saw that he was not meant
to hear it.

“Can I go, please, to the Rectory? Mr. Rosedew is from home; but Iʼm
sure they will give me shelter until my—until I am sent for. I have
lost my way in the wood here.”

This statement was none of the truest.

“To be sure,” said the hasty parson, forgetting about the Rushford
bells, the rheumatic clerk, and the quid–chewing pilots—let them turn
their quids a bit longer—“to be sure, I will take you there at once.
Allow me to introduce myself. How very stupid of me! Octavius Pell, Mr.
Rosedewʼs curate at Rushford.”

Hereupon “Pello, pepuli, pulsum” (as his friends loved to call him
from his driving powers at cricket, and to show that they knew some
Latin) executed a noble salaam—quite of the modern school, however,
and without the old reduplication (like the load on the back of
Christian)—till the duckweed came out of his hat in a body, and fell
into the flounce tucket of the beautiful Pearlʼs white skirt.

She never looked, though she knew it was there—that girl understood
her business—but curtseyed to him prettily, having recovered strength
by this time; and there was something in his dry, manly tone, curt
modesty, and breeding, without any flourish about it, which led the
young maid to trust him, as if she had known him since tops and bottoms.

“I am Pearl Garnet,” said she, imitating his style unconsciously, “the
daughter—I mean I live at Nowelhurst Dell Cottage.”

Coræbus had cut off for stable long ago, with three long weals from
bamboo upon him, which he vowed he would show to Amy.

“Please to take my arm, Miss Garnet. You are not very strong yet. I
know your brother well; and a braver or more straightforward young
gentleman never thought small things of himself after doing great ones.”

Pearl was delighted to hear Bobʼs praises; and Mr. Pell treated that
subject so cleverly, from every possible point of view, that she was
quite astonished when she saw the Rectory side–gate, and Octavius, in
the most light–hearted manner, made a sudden and warm farewell, and
darted away for Rushford. How good it is for a sad, heavy heart to
exchange with a gay and light one!

“Hang it! after that let me have a burster!” was his clerical
ejaculation, “or else it is all up with me. I hope we havenʼt spilt the
sermon, though, or got any duckweed down it. Duckweed, indeed; what a
duck she is! And oh, what splendid eyes!”

He ran all the way to Rushford, at a pace unknown to Coræbus; and his
governor–coat flew away behind him, with the sermon banging about, and
the text peeping out under the pocket–lap. “Swear not at all,” were the
words, I believe; and a rare good sermon it must have been, if it stuck
to the text under the circumstances.

The jolly old tars, after waiting an hour, orally refreshing their
grandmothers’ epitaphs, and close–hauling on many a tight yarn, were
just setting up stunʼsails to take grog on board at the “Luggerʼs
Locker,” hard by, as the banyan time was over. Let them ship their
grog, and their old women might keep gravy hot, and be blessed to
them. They had come there for sarvice, and shiver their timbers if
theyʼd make sail till the chaplain came. Good faith, and they got
their service at last, but an uncommonly short–winded one, a sermon,
moreover, which each man felt coming admirably home—to his shipmate.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pell had left behind no small excitement at Nowelhurst.
For a rumour took wing after morning service—when the wings of fame
are briskest in all country parishes—that parson John was gone to
London to complain to the Queen that Sir Cradock Nowell never came to
church now, nor even sent his agent thither, to manage matters for
him. For Mr. Garnet still retained his stewardship among them, though
longing to be quit of it, and discharging his duties silently, and not
with his old pronouncement, because his health was weaker. The vivid
power of vital force seemed to be failing the man who had stamped his
character upon all people around him; because he never said a thing
which he did not think, and scarcely ever thought a thing with any fear
of saying it.

Hitherto we have had of Bull Garnet by far the worse side uppermost. I
will offer no excuses now for his too ready indulgence of his far too
savage temper. In sooth, we meet with scarce any case in which excuses
are undiscoverable. God and the angels find them always; our best
earthly friends can see them, when properly pointed out; our enemies,
when they want to make accusation of them.

All I will say for Bull Garnet is (to invert the historianʼs sentence)
“Hæc tanta viri vitia ingentes virtutes exæquabant”—“These blemishes,
however dark, had grand qualities to redress them.” Strong affection,
great scorn of falsehood, tenderness almost too womanly, liberality
both of mind and heart, a real depth of sympathy—would all these
co–exist with, or be lost in, one great vice? It appears to me that we
are so toothed in, spliced and mortised, dovetailed, double–budded, and
inarched, both of good and evil, that the wrong, instead of poisoning
the right, often serves as guano to it. Nevertheless we had better be
perfect—when we have found the way out.



CHAPTER XVII.


It must not be forgotten that Rufus Hutton all this time was very
hard at work, and so was Mrs. Corklemore. Between that lady and Eoa
pleasant little passes gave a zest to daily intercourse, Georgieʼs
boundless sympathies being circumscribed only by terror. Nevertheless,
although Sir Cradock laughed (when his spirits were good, and his mind
was clear) at their fundamental difference, Georgie began to gain upon
him, and Eoa to lose ground. How could it be otherwise, even if their
skill had been equal—and Eoa not only had no skill, but scorned sweet
Georgie for having any—how could Mrs. Corklemore fail of doing her
blessed duty, when she was in the house all day, and Eoa out, jumping
the river, or looking about for Bob Garnet? Whatever the weather was,
out went Eoa, peering around for the tracks of Bob, which, like those
of a mole, were self–evident; and then hiding behind a great tree when
she found him; and hoping, with flutter of heart about it, that Bob
had not happened to see her. Yet, if he happened not to see, she would
go up and be cross with him, and ask whether Amy Rosedew had turned to
the right or left there, or had stopped in a hollow tree. And did Bob
think she looked well that morning? Then he had no right to think so.
And perhaps her own new hat, with black ostrich, was a hideously ugly
thing. Oh, she only wished there were tigers!

Leave the little dear to do exactly as she likes—for nothing else
she will do; and now, in looking through the forest, grey and white
with winter, scorn we not the grand old trunk, in our gay love of the
mistletoe.

There is a very ancient tree, an oak well known and good of fame, even
at the first perambulation of our legislator king. It stands upon the
bend and brow under which two valleys meet, where a horse–shoe of the
wood has chanced, and water takes advantage. In the scoop below the
tree, two covered brooks fetch round high places into one another,
prattle satisfaction, and steal away for their honeymoon, without
a breeze upon them. This “mark–oak,” last of seven stout brothers,
dwells upon a surge of upland, and commands three valleys, two of
which unite below it, and the other leads them off, welcoming their
waters. The grand tree lifts its proven column, channeled, ramped,
and crocketed, flaked with brown on lines of grey, and bulked with
cloudlike ganglions. Then from the maintop, where is room for fifty
archers to draw the bow, limbs of rugged might arise, spread flat, or
straggle downwards. But the two great limbs of all, the power and main
glory, the arms that reared their pride to heaven, are stricken, riven,
and blasted. Gaping with great holes and rotten, heavily twisted in
and out, and ending in four long scraggy horns, ghastly white in the
winter sun; where the squirrel durst not build, nor the honey–buzzard
watch for prey; this shattered hope of a noble life records the wrath
of Heaven.

The legend is that a turf–cutter having murdered a waylost pedlar, for
the sake of his pack, buried the corpse in this hollow tree, and sat
down on the grave to count his booty. Here, while he was bending over
the gewgaws and the trinkets, which he had taken for gold upon the poor
hucksterʼs word, and which gleamed and flashed in the August twilight,
the vengeance of God fell upon him. In bodily form Godʼs lightning
crashed through the dome of oak above him, leaped on the murdererʼs
head, and drove him through the cloven earth, breast to breast on his
victimʼs corpse. You may be sure that the sons of Ytene, a timid and
superstitious race, find small attractions in that tree, when the
shades of night are around it.

John Rosedew did not return on the Monday, nor yet on the Tuesday,
&c. Not even until the last down–train roared through the Forest
on Saturday. Then, as it rushed through the dark night of winter,
throwing its white breath (more strong than our own, and very little
more fleeting) in bracelets on the brown–armed trees, and in chains on
the shoulders of heather, the parson leaned back on the filthy panels
of a second–class carriage, and thought of the scene he had left.

He had written from London to Miss Rosedew, insisting, so far as he
ever cared to insist on a little matter, that none at home should
stay up for him, that no one should come to the station to meet him,
and that Pell should be begged to hold himself ready for the Sundayʼs
duty, because Mr. Rosedew would not go home, if any change should that
day befall unlucky Cradock Nowell. Lucky Cradock, one ought to say,
inasmuch as for a fortnight now he had lost all sense of trouble.

Finding from Dr. Tink that no rapid change was impending, John Rosedew
determined to see his home, and allay his childʼs anxiety. Moreover,
he felt that his “cure of souls” must need their Sunday salting. Now
walking away from the wooded station that cloudy Christmas Eve—for
Christmas that year fell on Sunday—how grand he found the difference
from the dirty coop of London.

The new moon was set, but the clouds began to lift above the tree–tops,
and a faint Aurora flushed and flickered in the far north–west. Then
out came several stars rejoicing, singing in twinkles their Makerʼs
praise; and some of the sounds that breathe through a forest, even in
the hush of a winterʼs night, began to whisper peace and death.

John, who feared not his Masterʼs works, and was happiest often in
solitude, trudged along with the leathern valise, and three paper
parcels strapped comfortably upon his ample back. Presently he began
to think of home and his parish cares, and the breadth of God spread
around him; and then from thinking rose unawares into higher communion,
for surely it is a grander thing to feel than to think of greatness.

And in this humour quietly he plodded his proper course for the first
four miles or so, until he had passed the Dame Slough, near the
Blackwater stream, and was over against Vinney Ridge. But here he must
needs try a short cut, through the Government Woods, to Nowelhurst,
though even in the broad daylight he could scarcely have found his way
there. He thought that, in spite of his orders, Amy would be sure to
stay up for him, and so he must hurry homeward.

At a fine brisk pace, for a man of his years, he plunged into the deep
wood, and in five minutesʼ time he had very little hope of getting out
before daylight. Have you ever been lost in a great wood at night,
alone, and laden, and weary, where the frithings have not been cut for
ten years, when there is no moon or wind to guide a man, and the stars
glimpse so deceitfully? How the stubs, even if you are so quick–footed
as not to be doubled back by them, or thrown down with nostrils
patulous—how they catch you at the knee with three prongs apiece,
and make you think of white swelling! Then the slip, where the wet has
dribbled from some officious branch, or sow, or cow, summer–pasturing,
has kept her volutabre. Down you plump, and your heels alone have
chance of going to heaven, because (unless you are a wonder) you employ
such powerful language.

Rising with some difficulty, after doubting if it be worth the while,
and rubbing spitefully ever so long at “the case of the part affected,”
you have nothing for it but to start again, and fall into worse
disasters. Going very carefully then you jump from the goading repulse
of a holly into the heart of a hazel–bush—one which has numberless
clefts and tongs, and is hospitable to a bramble. Tumbling out of it,
full of thorns, recalling your Farnaby epigram, and wishing they had
pelted the hazel harder, away you go, quite desperate now, knowing well
that the wood is full of swamps, some of which will petrify you, under
sun–dew and blue campanula, when the summer comes again.

Through all these pleasing incidents and animating encounters
John Rosedew went ahead, and, too often, a “header,” until he was
desperately tired, and sat down to think about it. Then he heard two
tawny owls hooting to one another, across at least a mile of trees;
and every forest sound grew clearer in the stillness of the night; the
sharp, sad cry of the marten–cat, the bark of the fox so impatient,
the rustle of the dry leaves as a weasel or rat skirred over them,
the wing–flap of some sliding bird roused from his roost by danger,
the scratching of claws upon trunks now and then, and the rubbing of
horns against underwood: these and other stranger noises, stirring the
“down of darkness,” moving the sense of lonesome mystery and of fear
indefinite, were abroad on the air (in spite of Shakespeare) on that
Christmas Eve.

John Rosedew laid his burden by, and began to think, or wonder, what
was best to do. Long as he had lived amid the woods, he knew much
more of classic sylvulæ and poetical arundines, than of the natural
greenwood, and the tasseling of morasses.

Bob Garnet would have found his way there, or in any other English
forest, with little hesitation. From his knowledge of all the epiphytes
and their different aspects, the bent of the winter grasses, the sense
which even a bramble has of sun and wind and rain, he would soon have
established his compass, with allowance for slope and exposure.

The parson sat upon an ants’ nest, which had done its work, and feeling
discharged, collapsed with him—a big nest of the largest British ant,
which is mostly found near fir–trees. That nest alone would have told
poor Bob something of his whereabouts; for there are not many firs in
that part of the forest, and only one clump, high up on a hill, in the
wood where John Rosedew had lost himself. But the man of great learning
was none the wiser, only he felt that his smallclothes were done for,
and Mr. Channingʼs fashionable cut gone almost as prematurely as the
critic who had condemned it.

“Let me now consider,” said Mr. Rosedew to himself, for about the
fiftieth time; “it strikes me at the first sight—though I declare I
canʼt see anything—would that I could not feel! for I confess that
these legs are grievous; but putting aside that view or purview of the
question, it strikes me that, having no Antigone to lead me from this,
which certainly is the grove of the Eumenides—there is another ant
gone up my leg—ʼingentis formica laboris.’ I wish he wouldnʼt work so
hard, though, and I always have had the impression that they stayed
in–doors in the winter. Mem. To consult Theophrastus, and compare him,
as usual, with Pliny. Also look at the Geoponika, full of valuable
hints—why there he is again, biting very hard or stinging. What says
Aristophanes about the music of the gnats? Indelicate, I fear, as he
too often is. Nay, nay, good ant, if indeed thou art an ant—— Why,
what is that over yonder?”

It was a dim light in the great hollow oak, “the Murdererʼs Tree,” as
they called it, not a hundred yards from John Rosedew.

The parson approached it cautiously, for he knew that desperate men,
and criminals under a ban, still harboured sometimes in the Forest.
As he drew nearer, the feeble light, glimmering through the entrance,
showed him at once what tree it was, because the rays glanced through
two dark holes under the bulging and beetling brow, which peasants
call “the eyes of God.”

John Rosedew was as brave a man as ever wept for anotherʼs grief, or
with the word of God assuaged it. No man could have less superstition,
unless (as some would have us believe) all religion is that. Upon
this point we will not be persuaded, until we have seen them live the
better, and die the more calmly for holding it. Yet John Rosedew, so
firmly set, so full of faith in his Maker, so far above childish fears
(which spring from the absence of our Father),—he, who having injured
none had no dread of any, yet drew back and trembled greatly at the
sight before him.

A small reflector–lamp, with the wick overhung with fungus, stood upon
a knotted niche in the hollow of the tree. By it, and with his face
and eyes set towards the earth, a tall and powerful man, stripped to
the waist, was leaning, with one great arm beneath his forehead, and
bloody stripes across his back. The drooping of his figure, the woe in
every vein of it, the deep and everlasting despair in every bone—it
was an extremity of our human nature, which neither chisel nor pen may
approach, nor even the mind of man conceive, until it has been through
it.

Presently the man upraised his massive head, and scorned himself for
being so effeminate. He had nearly fainted with the pain; what right
had he to feel it? Why should his paltry body quail at a flea–bite
lash or so, when body and soul were damned for ever?

But if his form had told of sorrow, great God, what did his face tell?
He never sighed, nor groaned, nor moaned; his woe was beyond such
trumpery; he simply took the heavy scourge from the murdererʼs grave,
upon which it had dropped when the swoon came over him, and, standing
well forth in the black hollowʼs centre, to gain full swing for his
scorpion thongs, he lashed himself over back and round breast, with the
utmost strength of his mighty arms, with every corded muscle leaping,
but not a sign of pain on his face, nor a nerve of his body flinching.
Then, at last, he fell away, and allowed himself to moan a little.

John Rosedew would have leaped forward at once, in his horror at such
self–cruelty, but that he saw who it was, and knew how his meddling
would be taken. He knew that Bull Garnetʼs religious views were very
strange and peculiar, and never must be meddled with, except at his
own request, and at seasonable moments. Yet he had never dreamed that
self–chastisement was part of them.

“Garnet a wild flagellant!” said the parson to himself; “well, I knew
that he was an enthusiast, but never dreamed that he was a fanatic. And
how shockingly hard he hits himself! Strong as Dr. Mastix at Sherborne;
but the doctor took good care never to hit himself. Upon my word, I
must run away. It is too sad to laugh at. What resolution that man
must have! He scarcely feels the blows in the agony of his mind. I
must reason with him about it, if I ever can find occasion. With such
violation of His image, God cannot be well pleased.”

Meditating deeply upon this strange affair, the parson plodded
homewards, for now he knew his way, with the Murdererʼs Oak for his
landmark. At last he saw his quiet home, and gave a very gentle knock,
because it was so late.

The door was opened by Amy herself, pale, excited, and jumping.

“Oh, daddy, daddy!” Chock—chock—chock—such a lot of kisses, and both
arms round his neck.

“Corculum, voluptas, glycymelon, anima mea——”

“Oh, papa, say ‘Amy dear,’ and then I shall know it is you.”

Then she laughed, and then she cried, and presently fell to at kissing
again. I am afraid she proved herself a fool; but allowance must be
made for her, because she had never learned before how to get on
without her father.

“Oh, you beautiful love of a daddy! I was quite sure you would come,
you know; that you could not leave me any longer; so I would not listen
to a single word any one of them said. And I kept the kitchen fire up,
and a good fire in your pet room, dear; and I have got such a supper
for you! Now, off with your coat in a minute, darling. Oh, how poorly
you look, my own father! But we will soon put you to rights again. Aunt
Doxy is gone to bed, hurrah! and so are Jemima and Jenny. And she wonʼt
have the impudence to come down, with all her hair in the jelly–bags,
so I shall have you all to myself, dada; and if any one can deserve
you, I do.”

“My own pet child, my warm–hearted dear,” said John, with the
tears in his eyes; “I had not the least idea that your mind was so
ill–regulated. We must have a course of choriambics together, or
the heavy trimacrine dimeter, as I have ventured to name it, about
which——”

“About which not another short syllable, till you have had a light
tri–mackerel supper, and not a quasi–cæsura left even.”

“Why, Amy, you are getting quite witty!” And John, with one arm still
in his overcoat, looked at her bright eyes wonderingly.

“Of course I am, dad, when you come home. My learning sparkles at sight
of you. Come, quick now, for fear of my eating you before you begin
your supper. Youʼll have it in the kitchen, you know, dear, because it
will be so much nicer; and then a pipe by the book–room fire, and a
chat with your good little daughter. O father, father, mind you never
go away from me such a long, long time again.”

John thought to himself that, ere many years, he must go away from his
Amy for much more than a fortnight; but of course he would not damp her
young joy with any such troubles now.

“If you please, my meritorious father, you will come to the door, and
just smell them; and then you will have five minutes allowed you to
put on your dear old dressing–gown, and the slippers worked by the
Vestal virgins; five minutes by the kitchen clock, and not a book to
be touched, mind. Now, donʼt they smell lovely? I put them on when I
knew your knock. The first mackerel of the season, only caught this
afternoon. I sent word to Mr. Pell for them. He can do what he likes
with the fishermen. And you know as well as I do, papa, you can never
resist a mackerel.”

When John came down, half the table was covered with some of his
favourite authors—not that she meant to let him read, but only because
he would miss his books a great deal more than the salt–cellar—and
the other half she was bleaching, and smoothing, and stroking with a
snowy cloth, soft and sleek as her own bare arms, setting all things in
lovely order, and looking at her father every moment, with the skirt
of her frock pinned up, and her glossy hair dancing jigs on the velvet
slope of her shoulders. And she made him hungrier every moment by
savoury word and choice innuendo.

“Worcester sauce, pa, darling, and a little of the very best butter,
not mixed up with flour, you know, but melting on them, like their
native element. Just see how they are browning, and not a bit of the
skin come off. What is it about the rhombus, pa, and when am I to read
Juvenal?”

“Never, my child.”

“Very well, pa, dear, you know best, of course; but I thought it
was very nice about weighing Hannibal, in the Excerpta. Father, put
that book down; I canʼt allow any reading. And after supper I shall
expect you to spin me such a yarn, dear, to wind up the thread of your
adventures.”

“_Τολυπεύειν_,” said John, calmly, although he was so hungry; “the very
word poor Cradock used in his rendering of that dirge—

  “‘_Μόχθον οὕνεκα τὸν κατʼ ἦμαρ
  Ἐκτολυπέσας οἴκαδε,
  Μισθὸν φερων, ἤνυσας._’

Oh, I forgot; ah yes, to be sure. A word, I mean, which expresses in a
figurative and yet homely manner——”

“Cradock, papa! Oh, father, have you been with him in London? Oh, how
Aunt Doxy has cheated me! You know very well, my own father, that you
cannot tell me a story. Did you go to London because poor Cradock was
very, very ill?”

“Yes,” said her father, those soft bright eyes beamed into his so
appealingly; “my own child, your Cradock is very ill indeed.”

“Not dead, father? Oh, not dead?”

“No, my child; nor in any great danger, I sincerely believe, just at
present.”

“Then eat your supper, pa, while it is hot. I am so glad you have seen
him. I am quite content with that.”

She believed, or she would not have said it. And yet how far from the
truth it was!

“You shall tell me all after supper, my father. Thank God for His
mercies to me. I am never in a hurry, dear.”

Yet Amy, in dishing up the mackerel, had the greatest difficulty (for
her breath came short, and her breast heaved fast) in holding back the
tide of hysterics, which would have spoiled her fatherʼs supper.

“My amulet, I cannot eat a morsel while I see your hand shake. Darling,
I must tell you all; I cannot bear your anxiety.”

The second mackerel, a fish of no manners, instead of curling his tail
at the frying, had glued it to the pan, until a tear of Amyʼs fried,
and then he let go in a moment. John Rosedew caught his darling child,
and drew her to his knees, with the frying–pan in her hand; and then he
made her look at him, and she tried to have her eyes dry. Do what she
might she could not speak, only to let her neck rise, and her drooping
eyelids tremble.

“My own lifeʼs love, I have told you the worst. God is very good to us.
Cradock has been at the point of death, but now he is better a little.
Only his mind is in danger. And it must come home very slowly, if it
comes at all. Now, darling, you know everything.”

She took his magnificent silvery head between her little white hands,
and kissed him twice on either brow, but not a word she said.

“My own sweet child,” cried her father, slowly passing one arm around
her, and swindling his heart of a smile; “I am apt to make the worst of
things. Let us try to be braver, or at least to have more faith.”

She leaped up at that very word, with the dawn of a glorious smile in
her eyes, and she took the frying–pan once again, and eased out, with a
white–handled knife, mackerel No. 3. But, upon second thoughts, she let
him slide into the frizzle again, to keep him warm and comfortable. Her
heart was down very deep just now, but for all that, her father must
have and must enjoy his supper.

“Father, I am all right now. Only eat your supper, dear. What a selfish
thing I am!”

“Have a bit, my darling heart.”

“Yes, I will have a bit of tail, pa, just to test my cookery. Thatʼs
what I call frying! Look at the blue upon him, and the crisp brown
shooting over it! Come, daddy, no nonsense, if you please. I could have
eaten all three of them if I had only been out on the warren. And you
to come starving from London! Now No. 3, papa, if you please.” But she
kept her face away from him, and bent her neck peculiarly.

“How beautifully fresh this ale is! Oh, the stuff they sell in London!
I am almost inclined to consider the result of taking another half
glass.”

Her quick feet went pat on the cellar–steps, while her father was yet
perpending; and she came back not a whit out of breath, but sweetly
fresh and excited.

“Such a race, pa; because I know of one family of cockroaches, and half
suspect another. They are so very imprudent. Robert Garnet says that
they stay at home, and keep their Christmas domestically, and I need
not run for fear of them, at least till the end of April. And perhaps
he is right, because he knows and studies everything nasty. Only I
canʼt believe what he says about ants, because it contradicts Solomon,
who was so very much older. Now, you paternal darling, let me froth it
up for you.”

“Thank the Lord for as good a meal as ever one of His children was
blessed with.”

The parson stood up as he said these words, and put his thick but not
large hands together, among the crumbs on the tablecloth.

“Now, if you please, the leastest—double superlative, pa, you know,
like _πρώτιστος_, and something else—oh, they will pluck me at
Oxford!—the very leastest little drop of the old French cognac we
bought for parochial rheumatism, with one thin slice of lemon, an
ebullition of water, and half a knob of sugar.”

Before John could remonstrate, there it was, all winking at him, and
begging to be sniffed before sipping.

“My pet, you are so premature. How can I trust your future? You never
give me time to consider a subject, even in the first of its bearings.”

“To be sure not, father. You know quite well you would take at least
eight different views of the matter, and multiply them into eight
others of people I never heard of. Now the pipe, dear. You shall have
it here, because it is so much warmer. You know you canʼt fill it
properly.”

So the parson, happy in having a child who could fill a pipe better
than he could, leaned back in his favourite chair, which Amy had
wheeled in for him, and held his long clay in his left hand, while his
right played with her hair, as she sat at his feet, and coaxed him.

“Sermon all ready, dear?”

“Well, you know best about that, Amy; I always trust you to arrange
them.”

“Never fear, papa; leave it to me. What would you do without me? I have
put you out such a beauty, because it is Christmas Day: one that always
makes me cry, because I have heard it so often. But you must have
confidence in me.”

“Implicit confidence, my pet. Still I like to run my eyes over them,
for I cannot see as I did. My eyes are getting so old.”

“Iʼll kiss them till you canʼt see one bit, if you dare to say that
again, papa. Old, indeed! They are better than mine. And I can see
the pattern of a lady–bird, all across the room. There was a lady–bird
on the window to–day. At this time of year, only think! That was good
luck, wasnʼt it? And a dear little robin flew in, and perched upon the
hat–pegs; and then I _knew_ that you must come home.”

“Oh, you superstitious pet! I must reason with you to–morrow.”


                            END OF VOL. II.


        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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