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Title: "My Novel" — Volume 01
Author: Lytton, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book ""My Novel" — Volume 01" ***

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



"MY NOVEL."

BOOK FIRST.

INITIAL CHAPTER.

SHOWING HOW MY NOVEL CAME TO BE WRITTEN.

Scene, the hall in UNCLE ROLAND'S tower; time, niyht; season, winter.

MR. CAXTON is seated before a great geographical globe, which he is
turning round leisurely, and "for his own recreation," as, according to
Sir Thomas Browne, a philosopher should turn round the orb of which that
globe professes to be the representation and effigies.  My mother having
just adorned a very small frock with a very smart braid, is holding it
out at arm's length, the more to admire the effect.  Blanche, though
leaning both hands on my mother's shoulder, is not regarding the frock,
but glances towards PISISTRATUS, who, seated near the fire, leaning back
in the chair, and his head bent over his breast, seems in a very bad
humour.  Uncle Roland, who has become a great novel-reader, is deep in
the mysteries of some fascinating Third Volume.  Mr. Squills has brought
the "Times" in his pocket for his own special profit and delectation, and
is now bending his brows over "the state of the money market," in great
doubt whether railway shares can possibly fall lower,--for Mr. Squills,
happy man!  has large savings, and does not know what to do with his
money, or, to use his own phrase, "how to buy in at the cheapest in order
to sell out at the dearest."

MR. CAXTON (musingly).--"It must have been a monstrous long journey.  It
would be somewhere hereabouts, I take it, that they would split off."

MY MOTHER (mechanically, and in order to show Austin that she paid him
the compliment of attending to his remarks).--"Who split off, my dear?"

"Bless me, Kitty," said my father, in great admiration, "you ask just the
question which it is most difficult to answer.  An ingenious speculator
on races contends that the Danes, whose descendants make the chief part
of our northern population (and indeed, if his hypothesis could be
correct, we must suppose all the ancient worshippers of Odin), are of the
same origin as the Etrurians.  And why, Kitty,--I just ask you, why?"

My mother shook her head thoughtfully, and turned the frock to the other
side of the light.

"Because, forsooth," cried my father, exploding,--"because the Etrurians
called their gods the 'AEsar,' and the Scandinavians called theirs the
'AEsir,' or 'Aser'!  And where do you think this adventurous scholar puts
their cradle?"

"Cradle!" said my mother, dreamily, "it must be in the nursery."

MR. CAXTON.--"Exactly,--in the nursery of the human race, just here," and
my father pointed to the globe; "bounded, you see, by the river Halys,
and in that region which, taking its name from Ees, or As (a word
designating light or fire), has been immemorially called Asia.  Now,
Kitty, from Ees, or As, our ethnological speculator would derive not only
Asia, the land, but AEsar, or Aser, its primitive inhabitants.  Hence he
supposes the origin of the Etrurians and the Scandinavians.  But if we
give him so much, we must give him more, and deduce from the same origin
the Es of the Celt and the Ized of the Persian, and--what will be of more
use to him, I dare say, poor man, than all the rest put together--the AEs
of the Romans,--that is, the God of Copper-money--a very powerful
household god he is to this day!"

My mother looked musingly at her frock, as if she were taking my father's
proposition into serious consideration.

"So perhaps," resumed my father, "and not unconformably with sacred
records, from one great parent horde came all those various tribes,
carrying with them the name of their beloved Asia; and whether they
wandered north, south, or west, exalting their own emphatic designation
of 'Children of the Land of Light' into the title of gods.  And to think"
(added Mr. Caxton pathetically, gazing upon that speck on the globe on
which his forefinger rested),--"to think how little they changed for the
better when they got to the Don, or entangled their rafts amidst the
icebergs of the Baltic,--so comfortably off as they were here, if they
could but have stayed quiet."

"And why the deuce could not they?" asked Mr. Squills.  "Pressure of
population, and not enough to live upon, I suppose," said my father.

PISISTRATUS (sulkily).--"More probably they did away with the Corn Laws,
sir."

"/Papae!/" quoth my father, "that throws a new light on the subject."

PISISTRATUS (full of his grievances, and not caring three straws about
the origin of the Scandinavians).--"I know that if we are to lose L500
every year on a farm which we hold rent-free, and which the best judges
allow to be a perfect model for the whole country, we had better make
haste and turn AEsir, or Aser, or whatever you call them, and fix a
settlement on the property of other nations, otherwise, I suspect, our
probable settlement will be on the parish."

MR. SQUILLS (who, it must be remembered, is an enthusiastic Free-trader).
"You have only got to put more capital on the land."

PISISTRATUS.--"Well, Mr. Squills, as you think so well of that
investment, put your capital on it.  I promise that you shall have every
shilling of profit."

MR. SQUILLS (hastily retreating behind the "Times")- "I don't think the
Great Western can fall any lower, though it is hazardous; I can but
venture a few hundreds--"

PISISTRATUS.--"On our land, Squills?---Thank you."

MR. SQUILLS.--"No, no,--anything but that; on the Great Western."

Pisistratus relaxes into gloom.  Blanche steals up coaxingly, and gets
snubbed for her pains.

A pause.

MR. CAXTON.--"There are two golden rules of life; one relates to the
mind, and the other to the pockets.  The first is, If our thoughts get
into a low, nervous, aguish condition, we should make them change the
air; the second is comprised in the proverb, 'It is good to have two
strings to one's bow.'  Therefore, Pisistratus, I tell you what you must
do,--Write a book!"

PISISTRATUS.--"Write a book!  Against the abolition of the Corn Laws?
Faith, sir, the mischief's done!  It takes a much better pen than mine to
write down an act of parliament."

MR. CAXTON.--"I only said, 'Write a book.'  All the rest is the addition
of your own headlong imagination."

PISISTRATUS (with the recollection of The Great Book rising before him).
--"Indeed, sir, I should think that that would just finish us!"

MR. CAXTON (not seeming to heed the interruption).---"A book that will
sell; a book that will prop up the fall of prices; a book that will
distract your mind from its dismal apprehensions, and restore your
affection to your species and your hopes in the ultimate triumph of sound
principles--by the sight of a favourable balance at the end of the yearly
accounts.  It is astonishing what a difference that little circumstance
makes in our views of things in general.  I remember when the bank in
which Squills had incautiously left L1000 broke, one remarkably healthy
year, that he became a great alarmist, and said that the country was on
the verge of ruin; whereas you see now, when, thanks to a long succession
of sickly seasons, he has a surplus capital to risk in the Great Western,
he is firmly persuaded that England was never in so prosperous a
condition."

MR. SQUILLS (rather sullenly).--"Pooh, pooh."

MR. CAXTON.--"Write a book, my son,--write a book.  Need I tell you that
Money or Moneta, according to Hyginus, was the mother of the Muses?
Write a book."

BLANCHE and my MOTHER (in full chorus).--"O yes, Sisty, a book! a book!
you must write a book."

"I am sure," quoth my Uncle Roland, slamming down the volume he had just
concluded, "he could write a devilish deal better book than this; and how
I come to read such trash night after night is more than I could possibly
explain to the satisfaction of any intelligent jury, if I were put into a
witness-box, and examined in the mildest manner by my own counsel."

MR. CAXTON.--"You see that Roland tells us exactly what sort of a book it
shall be."

PISISTRATUS.---"Trash, sir?"

MR. CAXTON.--"No,--that is, not necessarily trash; but a book of that
class which, whether trash or not, people can't help reading.  Novels
have become a necessity of the age.  You must write a novel."

PISISTRATUS (flattered, but dubious).-"A novel!  But every subject on
which novels can be written is preoccupied.  There are novels of low
life, novels of high life, military novels, naval novels, novels
philosophical, novels religious, novels historical, novels descriptive of
India, the Colonies, Ancient Rome, and the Egyptian Pyramids.  From what
bird, wild eagle, or barn-door fowl, can I

          "'Pluck one unwearied plume from Fancy's wing?'"

MR. CAXTON (after a little thought).--"You remember the story which
Trevanion (I beg his pardon, Lord Ulswater) told us the other night?
That gives you something of the romance of real life for your plot, puts
you chiefly among scenes with which you are familiar, and furnishes you
with characters which have been very sparingly dealt with since the time
of Fielding.  You can give us the country Squire, as you remember him in
your youth; it is a specimen of a race worth preserving, the old
idiosyncrasies of which are rapidly dying off, as the railways bring
Norfolk and Yorkshire within easy reach of the manners of London.  You
can give us the old-fashioned Parson, as in all essentials he may yet be
found--but before you had to drag him out of the great Tractarian bog;
and, for the rest, I really think that while, as I am told, many popular
writers are doing their best, especially in France, and perhaps a little
in England, to set class against class, and pick up every stone in the
kennel to shy at a gentleman with a good coat on his back, something
useful might be done by a few good-humoured sketches of those innocent
criminals a little better off than their neighbours, whom, however we
dislike them, I take it for granted we shall have to endure, in one shape
or another, as long as civilization exists; and they seem, on the whole,
as good in their present shape as we are likely to get, shake the dice-
box of society how we will."

PISISTRATUS.--"Very well said, sir; but this rural country gentleman life
is not so new as you think.  There's Washington Irving--"

MR. CAXTON.--"Charming; but rather the manners of the last century than
this.  You may as well cite Addison and Sir Roger de Coverley."

PISISTRATUS.--"'Tremaine' and 'De Vere.'"

MR. CAXTON.--"Nothing can be more graceful, nor more unlike what I mean.
The Pales and Terminus I wish you to put up in the fields are familiar
images, that you may cut out of an oak tree,--not beautiful marble
statues, on porphyry pedestals, twenty feet high."

PISISTRATUS.--"Miss Austen; Mrs. Gore, in her masterpiece of 'Mrs.
Armytage;' Mrs. Marsh, too; and then (for Scottish manners) Miss
Ferrier!"

MR. CAXTON (growing cross).--"Oh, if you cannot treat on bucolics but
what you must hear some Virgil or other cry 'Stop thief,' you deserve to
be tossed by one of your own 'short-horns.'"  (Still more
contemptuously)--"I am sure I don't know why we spend so much money on
sending our sons to school to learn Latin, when that Anachronism of
yours, Mrs. Caxton, can't even construe a line and a half of Phaedrus,--
Phaedrus, Mrs. Caxton, a book which is in Latin what Goody Two-Shoes is
in the vernacular!"

MRS. CAXTON (alarmed and indignant).--"Fie!  Austin I I am sure you can
construe Phaedrus, dear!"

Pisistratus prudently preserves silence.

MR. CAXTON.--"I'll try him--

             "'Sua cuique quum sit animi cogitatio
               Colurque proprius.'

"What does that mean?"

PISISTRATITS (smiling)--"That every man has some colouring matter within
him, to give his own tinge to--"

"His  own  novel," interrupted my father.  "/Contentus peragis!/"

During the latter part of this dialogue, Blanche had sewn together three
quires of the best Bath paper, and she now placed them on a little table
before me, with her own inkstand and steel pen.

My mother put her finger to her lip, and said, "Hush!" my father returned
to the cradle of the AEsas; Captain Roland leaned his cheek on his hand,
and gazed abstractedly on the fire; Mr. Squills fell into a placid doze;
and, after three sighs that would have melted a heart of stone, I rushed
into--MY NOVEL.



CHAPTER II.

"There has never been occasion to use them since I've been in the
parish," said Parson Dale.

"What does that prove?" quoth the squire, sharply, and looking the parson
full in the face.

"Prove!" repeated Mr. Dale, with a smile of benign, yet too conscious
superiority, "what does experience prove?"

"That your forefathers were great blockheads, and that their descendant
is not a whit the wiser."

"Squire," replied the parson, "although that is a melancholy conclusion,
yet if you mean it to apply universally, and not to the family of the
Dales in particular; it is not one which my candour as a reasoner, and my
humility as a mortal, will permit me to challenge."

"I defy you," said Mr. Hazeldean, triumphantly.  "But to stick to the
subject (which it is monstrous hard to do when one talks with a parson),
I only just ask you to look yonder, and tell me on your conscience--I
don't even say as a parson, but as a parishioner--whether you ever saw a
more disreputable spectacle?"

While he spoke, the squire, leaning heavily on the parson's left
shoulder, extended his cane in a line parallel with the right eye of that
disputatious ecclesiastic, so that he might guide the organ of sight to
the object he had thus unflatteringly described.

"I confess," said the parson, "that, regarded by the eye of the senses,
it is a thing that in its best day had small pretensions to beauty, and
is not elevated into the picturesque even by neglect and decay.  But, my
friend, regarded by the eye of the inner man,--of the rural philosopher
and parochial legislator,--I say it is by neglect and decay that it is
rendered a very pleasing feature in what I may call 'the moral topography
of a parish.'"

The squire looked at the parson as if he could have beaten him; and,
indeed, regarding the object in dispute not only with the eye of the
outer man, but the eye of law and order, the eye of a country gentleman
and a justice of the peace, the spectacle was scandalously disreputable.
It was moss-grown; it was worm-eaten; it was broken right in the middle;
through its four socketless eyes, neighboured by the nettle, peered the
thistle,--the thistle! a forest of thistles!--and, to complete the
degradation of the whole, those thistles had attracted the donkey of an
itinerant tinker; and the irreverent animal was in the very act of taking
his luncheon out of the eyes and jaws of--THE PARISH STOCKS.

The squire looked as if he could have beaten the parson; but as he was
not without some slight command of temper, and a substitute was luckily
at hand, he gulped down his resentment, and made a rush--at the donkey!

Now the donkey was hampered by a rope to its fore-feet, to the which was
attached a billet of wood, called technically "a clog," so that it had no
fair chance of escape from the assault its sacrilegious luncheon had
justly provoked.  But the ass turning round with unusual nimbleness at
the first stroke of the cane, the squire caught his foot in the rope, and
went head over heels among the thistles.  The donkey gravely bent down,
and thrice smelt or sniffed its prostrate foe; then, having convinced
itself that it had nothing further to apprehend for the present, and very
willing to make the best of the reprieve, according to the poetical
admonition, "Gather your rosebuds while you may," it cropped a thistle in
full bloom, close to the ear of the squire,--so close, indeed, that the
parson thought the ear was gone; and with the more probability, inasmuch
as the squire, feeling the warm breath of the creature, bellowed out with
all the force of lungs accustomed to give a View-hallo!

"Bless me, is it gone?" said the parson, thrusting his person between the
ass and the squire.

"Zounds and the devil!" cried the squire, rubbing himself, as he rose to
his feet.

"Hush!" said the parson, gently.  "What a horrible oath!"

"Horrible oath!  If you had my nankeens on," said the squire, still
rubbing himself, "and had fallen into a thicket of thistles, with a
donkey's teeth within an inch of your ear--"

"It is not gone, then?" interrupted the parson.

"No,--that is, I think not," said the squire, dubiously; and he clapped
his hand to the organ in question.  "No! it is not gone!"

"Thank Heaven!" said the good clergyman, kindly.  "Hum," growled the
squire, who was now once more engaged in rubbing himself.  "Thank Heaven
indeed, when I am as full of thorns as a porcupine!  I should just like
to know what use thistles are in the world."

"For donkeys to eat, if you will let them, Squire," answered the parson.

"Ugh, you beast!" cried Mr. Hazeldean, all his wrath reawakened, whether
by the reference to the donkey species, or his inability to reply to the
parson, or perhaps by some sudden prick too sharp for humanity--
especially humanity in nankeens--to endure without kicking.  "Ugh, you
beast!" he exclaimed, shaking his cane at the donkey, which, at the
interposition of the parson, had respectfully recoiled a few paces, and
now stood switching its thin tail, and trying vainly to lift one of its
fore-legs--for the flies teased it.

"Poor thing!" said the parson, pityingly.  "See, it has a raw place on
the shoulder, and the flies have found out the sore."

"I am devilish glad to hear it," said the squire, vindictively.

"Fie, fie!"

"It is very well to say 'Fie, fie.'  It was not you who fell among the
thistles.  What 's the man about now, I wonder?"

The parson had walked towards a chestnut-tree that stood on the village
green; he broke off a bough, returned to the donkey, whisked away the
flies, and then tenderly placed the broad leaves over the sore, as a
protection from the swarms.  The donkey turned round its head, and looked
at him with mild wonder.

"I would bet a shilling," said the parson, softly, "that this is the
first act of kindness thou hast met with this many a day.  And slight
enough it is, Heaven knows."

With that the parson put his hand into his pocket, and drew out an apple.
It was a fine large rose-cheeked apple, one of the last winter's store
from the celebrated tree in the parsonage garden, and he was taking it as
a present to a little boy in the village who had notably distinguished
himself in the Sunday-school.  "Nay, in common justice, Lenny Fairfield
should have the preference," muttered the parson.  The ass pricked up one
of its ears, and advanced its head timidly.  "But Lenny Fairfield would
be as much pleased with twopence; and what could twopence do to thee?"
The ass's nose now touched the apple.  "Take it, in the name of Charity,"
quoth the parson; "Justice is accustomed to be served last;" and the ass
took the apple.  "How had you the heart!" said the parson, pointing to
the squire's cane.

The ass stopped munching, and looked askant at the squire.  "Pooh!  eat
on; he'll not beat thee now."

"No," said the squire, apologetically.  "But after all, he is not an ass
of the parish; he is a vagrant, and he ought to be pounded.  But the
pound is in as bad a state as the stocks, thanks to your new-fashioned
doctrines."

"New-fashioned!" cried the parson, almost indignantly, for he had a great
disdain of new fashions.  "They are as old as Christianity; nay, as old
as Paradise, which you will observe is derived from a Greek, or rather a
Persian word, and means something more than 'garden,' corresponding"
(pursued the parson, rather pedantically) "with the Latin--vivarium,--
namely, grove or park full of innocent dumb creatures.  Depend on it,
donkeys were allowed to eat thistles there."

"Very possibly," said the squire, dryly.  "But Hazeldeau, though a very
pretty village, is not Paradise.  The stocks shall be mended
to-morrow,--ay, and the pound too, and the next donkey found trespassing
shall go into it, as sure as my name's Hazeldean."

"Then," said the parson, gravely, "I can only hope that the next parish
may not follow your example; or that you and I may never be caught
straying."



CHAPTER III.

Parson Dale and Squire Hazeldean parted company; the latter to inspect
his sheep, the former to visit some of his parishioners, including Lenny
Fairfield, whom the donkey had defrauded of his apple.

Lenny Fairfield was sure to be in the way, for his mother rented a few
acres of grass-land from the squire, and it was now hay-time.  And
Leonard, commonly called Lenny, was an only son, and his mother a widow.
The cottage stood apart, and somewhat remote, in one of the many nooks of
the long, green village lane.  And a thoroughly English cottage it was,
three centuries old at least; with walls of rubble let into oak frames,
and duly whitewashed every summer, a thatched roof, small panes of glass,
an old doorway raised from the ground by two steps.  There was about this
little dwelling all the homely rustic elegance which peasant life admits
of; a honeysuckle was trained over the door; a few flower-pots were
placed on the window-sills; the small plot of ground in front of the
house was kept with great neatness, and even taste; some large rough
stones on either side the little path having been formed into a sort of
rockwork, with creepers that were now in flower; and the potato-ground
was screened from the eye by sweet peas and lupine.  Simple elegance, all
this, it is true; but how well it speaks for peasant and landlord, when
you see that the peasant is fond of his home, and has some spare time and
heart to bestow upon mere embellishment!  Such a peasant is sure to be a
bad customer to the alehouse, and a safe neighbour to the squire's
preserves.  All honour and praise to him, except a small tax upon both,
which is due to the landlord!

Such sights were as pleasant to the parson as the most beautiful
landscapes of Italy can be to the dilettante.  He paused a moment at the
wicket to look around him, and distended his nostrils voluptuously to
inhale the smell of the sweet peas, mixed with that of the new-mown hay
in the fields behind, which a slight breeze bore to him.  He then moved
on, carefully scraped his shoes, clean and well-polished as they were,--
for Mr. Dale was rather a beau in his own clerical way,--on the scraper
without the door, and lifted the latch.

Your virtuoso looks with artistical delight on the figure of some nymph
painted on an Etruscan vase, engaged in pouring out the juice of the
grape from her classic urn.  And the parson felt as harmless, if not as
elegant a pleasure, in contemplating Widow Fairfield brimming high a
glittering can, which she designed for the refreshment of the thirsty
haymakers.

Mrs. Fairfield was a middle-aged, tidy woman, with that alert precision
of movement which seems to come from an active, orderly mind; and as she
now turned her head briskly at the sound of the parson's footstep, she
showed a countenance prepossessing though not handsome,--a countenance
from which a pleasant, hearty smile, breaking forth at that moment,
effaced some lines that, in repose, spoke "of sorrows, but of sorrows
past;" and her cheek, paler than is common to the complexions even of the
fair sex, when born and bred amidst a rural population, might have
favoured the guess that the earlier part of her life had been spent in
the languid air and "within-doors" occupations of a town.

"Never mind me," said the parson, as Mrs. Fairfield dropped her quick
courtesy, and smoothed her apron; "if you are going into the hayfield, I
will go with you; I have something to say to Lenny,--an excellent boy."

WIDOW.--"Well, sir, and you are kind to say it,--but so he is."

PARSON.--"He reads uncommonly well, he writes tolerably; he is the best
lad in the whole school at his Catechism and in the Bible lessons; and I
assure you, when I see his face at church, looking up so attentively, I
fancy that I shall read my sermon all the better for such a listener!"

WIDOW (wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron).--"'Deed, sir, when
my poor Mark died, I never thought I could have lived on as I have done.
But that boy is so kind and good, that when I look at him sitting there
in dear Mark's chair, and remember how Mark loved him, and all he used to
say to me about him, I feel somehow or other as if my good man smiled on
me, and would rather I was not with him yet, till the lad had grown up,
and did not want me any more."

PARSON (looking away, and after a pause).--"You never hear anything of
the old folks at Lansmere?"

"'Deed, sir, sin' poor Mark died, they han't noticed me nor the boy;
but," added the widow, with all a peasant's pride, "it isn't that I wants
their money; only it's hard to feel strange like to one's own father and
mother!"

PARSON.--"You must excuse them.  Your father, Mr. Avenel, was never quite
the same man after that sad event which--but you are weeping, my friend,
pardon me; your mother is a little proud; but so are you, though in
another way."

WIDOW.--"I proud!  Lord love ye, sir, I have not a bit o' pride in me!
and that's the reason they always looked down on me."

PARSON.--"Your parents must be well off; and I shall apply to them in a
year or two on behalf of Lenny, for they promised me to provide for him
when he grew up, as they ought."

WIDOW (with flashing eyes).--"I am sure, sir, I hope you will do no such
thing; for I would not have Lenny beholden to them as has never given him
a kind word sin' he was born!"

The parson smiled gravely, and shook his head at poor Mrs. Fairfield's
hasty confutation of her own self-acquittal from the charge of pride; but
he saw that it was not the time or moment for effectual peace-making in
the most irritable of all rancours,--namely, that nourished against one's
nearest relations.  He therefore dropped the subject, and said, "Well,
time enough to think of Lenny's future prospects; meanwhile we are
forgetting the haymakers.  Come."

The widow opened the back door, which led across a little apple orchard
into the fields.

PARSON.--"You have a pleasant place here; and I see that my friend Lenny
should be in no want of apples.  I had brought him one, but I have given
it away on the road."

WIDOW.--"Oh, sir, it is not the deed,--it is the will; as I felt when the
squire, God bless him! took two pounds off the rent the year he--that is,
Mark--died."

PARSON.--"If Lenny continues to be such a help to you, it will not be
long before the squire may put the two pounds on again."

"Yes, sir," said the widow, simply; "I hope he will."

"Silly woman!" muttered the parson.  "That's not exactly what the
schoolmistress would have said.  You don't read nor write, Mrs.
Fairfield; yet you express yourself with great propriety."

"You know Mark was a schollard, sir, like my poor, poor sister; and
though I was a sad stupid girl afore I married, I tried to take after him
when we came together."



CHAPTER IV.

They were now in the hayfield, and a boy of about sixteen, but, like most
country lads, to appearance much younger than he was, looked up from his
rake, with lively blue eyes beaming forth under a profusion of brown
curly hair.

Leonard Fairfield was indeed a very handsome boy,--not so stout nor so
ruddy as one would choose for the ideal of rustic beauty, nor yet so
delicate in limb and keen in expression as are those children of cities,
in whom the mind is cultivated at the expense of the body; but still he
had the health of the country in his cheeks, and was not without the
grace of the city in his compact figure and easy movements.  There was in
his physiognomy something interesting from its peculiar character of
innocence and simplicity.  You could see that he had been brought up by a
woman, and much apart from familiar contact with other children; and such
intelligence as was yet developed in him was not ripened by the jokes and
cuffs of his coevals, but fostered by decorous lecturings from his
elders, and good-little-boy maxims in good-little-boy books.

PARSON.--"Come hither, Lenny.  You know the benefit of school, I see: it
can teach you nothing better than to be a support to your mother."

LENNY (looking down sheepishly, and with a heightened glow over his
face).--"Please, sir, that may come one of these days."

PARSON.--"That's right, Lenny.  Let me see!  why, you must be nearly a
man.  How old are you?"

Lenny looks up inquiringly at his mother.

PARSON.--"You ought to know, Lenny: speak for yourself.  Hold your
tongue, Mrs. Fairfield."

LENNY (twirling his hat, and in great perplexity).--"Well, and there is
Flop, neighbour Dutton's old sheep-dog.  He be very old now."

PARSON.--"I am not asking Flop's age, but your own."

LENNY.--"'Deed, sir, I have heard say as how Flop and I were pups
together.  That is, I--I--"

For the parson is laughing, and so is Mrs. Fairfield; and the haymakers,
who have stood still to listen, are laughing too.  And poor Lenny has
quite lost his head, and looks as if he would like to cry.

PARSON (patting the curly locks, encouragingly).--"Never mind; it is not
so badly answered, after all.  And how old is Flop?"

LENNY.--"Why, he must be fifteen year and more.."

PARSON.--"How old, then, are you?"

LENNY (looking up, with a beam of intelligence).--"Fifteen year and
more."

Widow sighs and nods her head.

"That's what we call putting two and two together," said the parson.
"Or, in other words," and here be raised his eyes majestically towards
the haymakers--"in other words, thanks to his love for his book, simple
as he stands here, Lenny Fairfield has shown himself capable of INDUCTIVE
RATIOCINATION."

At those words, delivered /ore rotundo/, the haymakers ceased laughing;
for even in lay matters they held the parson to be an oracle, and words
so long must have a great deal in them.  Lenny drew up his head proudly.

"You are very fond of Flop, I suppose?"

"'Deed he is," said the widow, "and of all poor dumb creatures."

"Very good.  Suppose, my lad, that you had a fine apple, and that you met
a friend who wanted it more than you, what would you do with it?"

"Please you, sir, I would give him half of it."

The parson's face fell.  "Not the whole, Lenny?"

Lenny considered.  "If he was a friend, sir, he would not like me to give
him all."

"Upon my word, Master Leonard, you speak so well that I must e'en tell
the truth.  I brought you an apple, as a prize for good conduct in
school.  But I met by the way a poor donkey, and some one beat him for
eating a thistle, so I thought I would make it up by giving him the
apple.  Ought I only to have given him the half?"

Lenny's innocent face became all smile; his interest was aroused.  "And
did the donkey like the apple?"

"Very much," said the parson, fumbling in his pocket; but thinking of
Leonard Fairfield's years and understanding, and moreover observing, in
the pride of his heart, that there were many spectators to his deed, he
thought the meditated twopence not sufficient, and he generously produced
a silver sixpence.

"There, my man, that will pay for the half apple which you would have
kept for yourself."  The parson again patted the curly locks, and after a
hearty word or two with the other haymakers, and a friendly "Good-day" to
Mrs. Fairfield, struck into a path that led towards his own glebe.

He had just crossed the stile, when he heard hasty but timorous feet
behind him.  He turned, and saw his friend Lenny.

LENNY (half-crying, and holding out the sixpence).--"Indeed, sir, I would
rather not.  I would have given all to the Neddy."

PARSON.--"Why, then, my man, you have a still greater right to the
sixpence."

LENNY.--"No, sir; 'cause you only gave it to make up for the half apple.
And if I had given the whole, as I ought to have done, why, I should have
had no right to the sixpence.  Please, sir, don't be offended; do take it
back, will you?"

The parson hesitated.  And the boy thrust the sixpence into his hand, as
the ass had poked its nose there before in quest of the apple.

"I see," said Parson Dale, soliloquizing, "that if one don't give Justice
the first place at the table, all the other Virtues eat up her share."

Indeed, the case was perplexing.  Charity, like a forward, impudent
baggage as she is, always thrusting herself in the way, and taking other
people's apples to make her own little pie, had defrauded Lenny of his
due; and now Susceptibility, who looks like a shy, blush-faced, awkward
Virtue in her teens--but who, nevertheless, is always engaged in picking
the pockets of her sisters--tried to filch from him his lawful
recompense.  The case was perplexing; for the parson held Susceptibility
in great honour, despite her hypocritical tricks, and did not like to
give her a slap in the face, which might frighten her away forever.  So
Mr. Dale stood irresolute, glancing from the sixpence to Lenny, and from
Lenny to the sixpence.

"Buon giorno, Good-day to you," said a voice behind, in an accent
slightly but unmistakably foreign, and a strange-looking figure presented
itself at the stile.

Imagine a tall and exceedingly meagre man, dressed in a rusty suit of
black,--the pantaloons tight at the calf and ankle, and there forming a
loose gaiter over thick shoes, buckled high at the instep; an old cloak,
lined with red, was thrown over one shoulder, though the day was sultry;
a quaint, red, outlandish umbrella, with a carved brass handle, was
thrust under one arm, though the sky was cloudless: a profusion of raven
hair, in waving curls that seemed as fine as silk, escaped from the sides
of a straw hat of prodigious brim; a complexion sallow and swarthy, and
features which, though not without considerable beauty to the eye of the
artist, were not only unlike what we fair, well-fed, neat-faced
Englishmen are wont to consider comely, but exceedingly like what we are
disposed to regard as awful and Satanic,--to wit, a long hooked nose,
sunken cheeks, black eyes, whose piercing brilliancy took something
wizard-like and mystical from the large spectacles through which they
shone; a mouth round which played an ironical smile, and in which a
physiognomist would have remarked singular shrewdness, and some
closeness, complete the picture.  Imagine this figure, grotesque,
peregrinate, and to the eye of a peasant certainly diabolical; then perch
it on the stile in the midst of those green English fields, and in sight
of that primitive English village; there let it sit straddling, its long
legs dangling down, a short German pipe emitting clouds from one corner
of those sardonic lips, its dark eyes glaring through the spectacles full
upon the parson, yet askant upon Lenny Fairfield.  Lenny Fairfield looked
exceedingly frightened.

"Upon my word, Dr. Riccabocca," said Mr. Dale, smiling, "you come in good
time to solve a very nice question in casuistry;" and herewith the parson
explained the case, and put the question, "Ought Lenny Fairfield to have
the sixpence, or ought he not?"

"Cospetto!" said the doctor, "if the hen would but hold her tongue,
nobody would know that she had laid an egg."



CHAPTER V.

"Granted," said the parson; "but what follows?  The saying is good, but I
don't see the application."

"A thousand pardons!" replied Dr. Riccabocca, with all the urbanity of an
Italian; "but it seems to me that if you had given the sixpence to the
/fanciullo/, that is, to this good little boy, without telling him the
story about the donkey, you would never have put him and yourself into
this awkward dilemma."

"But, my dear sir," whispered the parson, mildly, as he inclined his lips
to the doctor's ear, "I should then have lost the opportunity of
inculcating a moral lesson--you understand?"

Dr. Riccabocca shrugged his shoulders, restored his pipe to his mouth,
and took a long whiff.  It was a whiff eloquent, though cynical,--a whiff
peculiar to your philosophical smoker, a whiff that implied the most
absolute but the most placid incredulity as to the effect of the parson's
moral lesson.

"Still you have not given us your decision," said the parson, after a
pause.

The doctor withdrew the pipe.  "Cospetto!" said he,--"he who scrubs the
head of an ass wastes his soap."

"If you scrubbed mine fifty times over with those enigmatical proverbs of
yours," said the parson, testily, "you would not make it any the wiser."

"My good sir," said the doctor, bowing low from his perch on the stile,
"I never presumed to say that there were more asses than one in the
story; but I thought that I could not better explain my meaning, which is
simply this,--you scrubbed the ass's head, and therefore you must lose
the soap.  Let the /fanciullo/ have the sixpence; and a great sum it is,
too, for a little boy, who may spend it all as pocketmoney!"

"There, Lenny, you hear?" said the parson, stretching out the sixpence.
But Lenny retreated, and cast on the umpire a look of great aversion and
disgust.

"Please, Master Dale," said he, obstinately, "I'd rather not.

"It is a matter of feeling, you see," said the parson, turning to the
umpire; "and I believe the boy is right."

"If it be a matter of feeling," replied Dr. Riccabocca, "there is no more
to be said on it.  When Feeling comes in at the door, Reason has nothing
to do but to jump out of the window."

"Go, my good boy," said the parson, pocketing the coin; "but, stop!  give
me your hand first.  There--I understand you;--good-by!"

Lenny's eyes glistened as the parson shook him by the hand, and, not
trusting himself to speak, he walked off sturdily.  The parson wiped his
forehead, and sat himself down on the stile beside the Italian.  The view
before them was lovely, and both enjoyed it (though not equally) enough
to be silent for some moments.  On the other side the lane, seen between
gaps in the old oaks and chestnuts that hung over the mossgrown pales of
Hazeldean Park, rose gentle, verdant slopes, dotted with sheep and herds
of deer.  A stately avenue stretched far away to the left, and ended at
the right hand within a few yards of a ha-ha that divided the park from a
level sward of tableland, gay with shrubs and flower-pots, relieved by
the shade of two mighty cedars.  And on this platform, only seen in part,
stood the squire's old-fashioned house, red-brick, with stone mullions,
gable-ends, and quaint chimney-pots.  On this side the road, immediately
facing the two gentlemen, cottage after cottage whitely emerged from the
curves in the lane, while, beyond, the ground declining gave an extensive
prospect of woods and cornfields, spires and farms.  Behind, from a belt
of lilacs and evergreens, you caught a peep of the parsonage-house,
backed by woodlands, and a little noisy rill running in front.  The birds
were still in the hedgerows,--only (as if from the very heart of the most
distant woods), there came now and then the mellow note of the cuckoo.

"Verily," said Mr. Dale, softly, "my lot has fallen on a goodly
heritage."

The Italian twitched his cloak over him, and sighed almost inaudibly.
Perhaps he thought of his own Summer Land, and felt that, amidst all that
fresh verdure of the North, there was no heritage for the stranger.

However, before the parson could notice the sigh or conjecture the cause,
Dr. Riccabocca's thin lips took an expression almost malignant.

"Per Bacco!" said he; "in every country I observe that the rooks settle
where the trees are the finest.  I am sure that, when Noah first landed
on Ararat, he must have found some gentleman in black already settled in
the pleasantest part of the mountain, and waiting for his tenth of the
cattle as they came out of the Ark."

The parson fixed his meek eyes on the philosopher, and there
was in them something so deprecating rather than reproachful that
Dr. Riccabocca turned away his face, and refilled his pipe.  Dr.
Riccabocca abhorred priests; but though Parson Dale was emphatically
a parson, he seemed at that moment so little of what Dr. Riccabocca
understood by a priest that the Italian's heart smote him for his
irreverent jest on the cloth.  Luckily at this moment there was a
diversion to that untoward commencement of conversation in the appearance
of no less a personage than the donkey himself--I mean the donkey who ate
the apple.



CHAPTER VI.

The tinker was a stout, swarthy fellow, jovial and musical withal, for he
was singing a stave as he flourished his staff, and at the end of each
refrain down came the staff on the quarters of the donkey.  The tinker
went behind and sang, the donkey went before and was thwacked.

"Yours is a droll country," quoth Dr. Riccabocca; "in mine, it is not the
ass that walks first in the procession that gets the blows."

The parson jumped from the stile, and looking over the hedge that divided
the field from the road--"Gently, gently," said he; "the sound of the
stick spoils the singing!  Oh, Mr. Sprott, Mr. Sprott!  a good man is
merciful to his beast."

The donkey seemed to recognize the voice of its friend, for it stopped
short, pricked one ear wistfully, and looked up.  The tinker touched his
hat, and looked up too.  "Lord bless your reverence! he does not mind
it,--he likes it.  I vould not hurt thee; would I, Neddy?"

The donkey shook his head and shivered; perhaps a fly had settled on the
sore, which the chestnut leaves no longer protected.

"I am sure you did not mean to hurt him, Sprott," said the parson, more
politely I fear than honestly,--for he had seen enough of that cross-
grained thing called the human heart, even in the little world of a
country parish, to know that it requires management and coaxing and
flattering, to interfere successfully between a man and his own donkey,--
"I am sure you did not mean to hurt him; but he has already got a sore on
his shoulder as big as my hand, poor thing!"

"Lord love 'un! yes; that was done a playing with the manger the day I
gave 'un oats!" said the tinker.

Dr. Riccabocca adjusted his spectacles, and surveyed the ass.  The ass
pricked up his other ear, and surveyed Dr. Riccabocca.  In that mutual
survey of physical qualifications, each being regarded according to the
average symmetry of its species, it may be doubted whether the advantage
was on the side of the philosopher.

The parson had a great notion of the wisdom of his friend in all matters
not purely ecclesiastical.

"Say a good word for the donkey!" whispered he.

"Sir," said the doctor, addressing Mr. Sprott, with a respectful
salutation, "there's a great kettle at my house--the Casino--which wants
soldering: can you recommend me a tinker?"

"Why, that's all in my line," said Sprott; "and there ben't a tinker in
the county that I vould recommend like myself, thof I say it."

"You jest, good sir," said the doctor, smiling pleasantly.  "A man who
can't mend a hole in his own donkey can never demean himself by patching
up my great kettle."

"Lord, sir!" said the tinker, archly, "if I had known that poor Neddy had
had two sitch friends in court, I'd have seen he vas a gintleman, and
treated him as sitch."

"/Corpo di Bacco!/" quoth the doctor, "though that jest's not new, I
think the tinker comes very well out of it."

"True; but the donkey!" said the parson; "I've a great mind to buy it."

"Permit me to tell you an anecdote in point," said Dr. Riccabocca.

"Well?" said the parson, interrogatively.

"Once on a time," pursued Riccabocca, "the Emperor Adrian, going to the
public baths, saw an old soldier, who had served under him, rubbing his
back against the marble wall.  The emperor, who was a wise, and therefore
a curious, inquisitive man, sent for the soldier, and asked him why he
resorted to that sort of friction.  'Because,' answered the veteran, 'I
am too poor to have slaves to rub me down.'  The emperor was touched, and
gave him slaves and money.  The next day, when Adrian went to the baths,
all the old men in the city were to be seen rubbing themselves against
the marble as hard as they could.  The emperor sent for them, and asked
them the same question which he had put to the soldier; the cunning old
rogues, of course, made the same answer.  'Friends,' said Adrian, 'since
there are so many of you, you will just rub one another!'  Mr. Dale, if
you don't want to have all the donkeys in the county with holes in their
shoulders, you had better not buy the tinker's!"

"It is the hardest thing in the world to do the least bit of good,"
groaned the parson, as he broke a twig off the hedge nervously, snapped
it in two, and flung away the fragments: one of them hit the donkey on
the nose.  If the ass could have spoken Latin he would have said, "/Et
tu, Brute!/"  As it was, he hung down his ears, and walked on.

"Gee hup," said the tinker, and he followed the ass.  Then stopping, he
looked over his shoulder, and seeing that the parson's eyes were gazing
mournfully on his /protege/, "Never fear, your reverence," cried the
tinker, kindly, "I'll not spite 'un."



CHAPTER VII.

"Four, o'clock," cried the parson, looking at his watch; "half an hour
after dinner-time, and Mrs. Dale particularly begged me to be punctual,
because of the fine trout the squire sent us.  Will you venture on what
our homely language calls 'pot-luck,' Doctor?"

Now Riccabocca was a professed philosopher, and valued himself on his
penetration into the motives of human conduct.  And when the parson thus
invited him to pot-luck, he smiled with a kind of lofty complacency; for
Mrs. Dale enjoyed the reputation of having what her friends styled "her
little tempers."  And, as well-bred ladies rarely indulge "little
tempers" in the presence of a third person not of the family, so Dr.
Riccabocca instantly concluded that he was invited to stand between the
pot and the luck!  Nevertheless--as he was fond of trout, and a much more
good-natured man than he ought to have been according to his principles--
he accepted the hospitality; but he did so with a sly look from over his
spectacles, which brought a blush into the guilty cheeks of the parson.
Certainly Riccabocca had for once guessed right in his estimate of human
motives.

The two walked on, crossed a little bridge that spanned the rill, and
entered the parsonage lawn.  Two dogs, that seemed to have sat on watch
for their master, sprang towards him, barking; and the sound drew the
notice of Mrs. Dale, who, with parasol in hand, sallied out from the sash
window which opened on the lawn.  Now, O reader!  I know that, in thy
secret heart, thou art chuckling over the want of knowledge in the sacred
arcana of the domestic hearth betrayed by the author; thou art saying to
thyself, "A pretty way to conciliate 'little tempers' indeed, to add to
the offence of spoiling the fish the crime of bringing an unexpected
friend to eat it.  Pot-luck, quotha, when the pot 's boiled over this
half hour!"

But, to thy utter shame and confusion, O reader!  learn that both the
author and Parson Dale knew very well what they were about.

Dr. Riccabocca was the special favourite of Mrs. Dale, and the only
person in the whole county who never put her out, by dropping in.  In
fact, strange though it may seem at first glance, Dr. Riccabocca had that
mysterious something about him, which we of his own sex can so little
comprehend, but which always propitiates the other.  He owed this, in
part, to his own profound but hypocritical policy; for he looked upon
woman as the natural enemy to man, against whom it was necessary to be
always on the guard; whom it was prudent to disarm by every species of
fawning servility and abject complaisance.  He owed it also, in part, to
the compassionate and heavenly nature of the angels whom his thoughts
thus villanously traduced--for women like one whom they can pity without
despising; and there was something in Signor Riccabocca's poverty, in his
loneliness, in his exile, whether voluntary or compelled, that excited
pity; while, despite his threadbare coat, the red umbrella, and the wild
hair, he had, especially when addressing ladies, that air of gentleman
and cavalier, which is or was more innate in an educated Italian, of
whatever rank, than perhaps in the highest aristocracy of any other
country in Europe.  For, though I grant that nothing is more exquisite
than the politeness of your French marquis of the old regime, nothing
more frankly gracious than the cordial address of a high-bred English
gentleman, nothing more kindly prepossessing than the genial good-nature
of some patriarchal German, who will condescend to forget his sixteen
quarterings in the pleasure of doing you a favour,--yet these specimens
of the suavity of their several nations are rare; whereas blandness and
polish are common attributes with your Italian.  They seem to have been
immemorially handed down to him, from ancestors emulating the urbanity of
Caesar, and refined by the grace of Horace.

"Dr. Riccabocca consents to dine with us," cried the parson, hastily.

"If Madame permit?" said the Italian, bowing over the hand extended to
him, which, however, he forbore to take, seeing it was already full of
the watch.

"I am only sorry that the trout must be quite spoiled," began Mrs. Dale,
plaintively.

"It is not the trout one thinks of when one dines with Mrs. Dale," said
the infamous dissimulator.

"But I see James coming to say that dinner is ready," observed the
parson.

"He said that three-quarters of an hour ago, Charles dear," retorted Mrs.
Dale, taking the arm of Dr. Riccabocca.



CHAPTER VIII.

While the parson and his wife are entertaining their guest, I propose to
regale the reader with a small treatise /a propos/ of that "Charles
dear," murmured by Mrs. Dale,--a treatise expressly written for the
benefit of The Domestic Circle.

It is an old jest that there is not a word in the language that conveys
so little endearment as the word "dear."  But though the saying itself,
like most truths, be trite and hackneyed, no little novelty remains to
the search of the inquirer into the varieties of inimical import
comprehended in that malign monosyllable.  For instance, I submit to the
experienced that the degree of hostility it betrays is in much
proportioned to its collocation in the sentence.  When, gliding
indirectly through the rest of the period, it takes its stand at the
close, as in that "Charles dear" of Mrs. Dale, it has spilled so much of
its natural bitterness by the way that it assumes even a smile, "amara
lento temperet risu."  Sometimes the smile is plaintive, sometimes arch.
For example:--

(Plaintive.) "I know very well that whatever I do is wrong, Charles
dear."

"Nay, I am very glad you amused yourself so much without me, Charles
dear."

"Not quite so loud!  If you had but my poor head, Charles dear," etc.

(Arch.)  "If you could spill the ink anywhere but on the best tablecloth,
Charles dear!"

"But though you must always have your own way, you are not quite
faultless, own, Charles dear," etc.

When the enemy stops in the middle of the sentence, its venom is
naturally less exhausted.  For example:--

"Really, I must say, Charles dear, that you are the most fidgety person,"
etc.

"And if the house bills were so high last week, Charles dear, I should
just like to know whose fault it was--that's all."

"But you know, Charles dear, that you care no more for me and the
children than--" etc.

But if the fatal word spring up, in its primitive freshness, at the head
of the sentence, bow your head to the storm.  It then assumes the majesty
of "my" before it; it is generally more than simple objurgation,--it
prefaces a sermon.  My candour obliges me to confess that this is the
mode in which the hateful monosyllable is more usually employed by the
marital part of the one flesh; and has something about it of the odious
assumption of the Petruchian paterfamilias--the head of the family--
boding, not perhaps "peace and love, and quiet life," but certainly
"awful rule and right supremacy."  For example:--

"My dear Jane, I wish you would just put by that everlasting crochet, and
listen to me for a few moments," etc.  "My dear Jane, I wish you would
understand me for once; don't think I am angry,--no, but I am hurt!  You
must consider," etc.

"My dear Jane, I don't know if it is your intention to ruin me; but I
only wish you would do as all other women do who care three straws for
their husband's property," etc.

"My dear Jane, I wish you to understand that I am the last person in the
world to be jealous; but I'll be d---d if that puppy, Captain Prettyman,"
etc.

Now, few so carefully cultivate the connubial garden, as to feel much
surprise at the occasional sting of a homely nettle or two; but who ever
expected, before entering that garden, to find himself pricked and
lacerated by an insidious exotical "dear," which he had been taught to
believe only lived in a hothouse, along with myrtles and other tender and
sensitive shrubs which poets appropriate to Venus?  Nevertheless Parson
Dale, being a patient man, and a pattern to all husbands, would have
found no fault with his garden, though there had not been a single
specimen of "dear,"--whether the dear /humilis/ or the dear /superba/;
the dear /pallida, rubra/, or /nigra/; the dear /suavis/ or the dear
/horrida/,--no, not a single "dear" in the whole horticulture of
matrimony, which Mrs. Dale had not brought to perfection.  But this was
far from being the case; Mrs. Dale, living much in retirement, was
unaware of the modern improvements, in variety of colour and sharpness of
prickle, which have rewarded the persevering skill of our female
florists.



CHAPTER IX.

In the cool of the evening Dr. Riccabocca walked home across the fields.
Mr. and Mrs. Dale had accompanied him half-way, and as they now turned
back to the parsonage, they looked behind to catch a glimpse of the tall,
outlandish figure, winding slowly through the path amidst the waves of
the green corn.

"Poor man!" said Mrs. Dale, feelingly; "and the button was off his
wristband!  What a pity he has nobody to take care of him!  He seems very
domestic.  Don't you think, Charles, it would be a great blessing if we
could get him a good wife?"

"Um," said the parson; "I doubt if he values the married state as he
ought."

"What do you mean, Charles?  I never saw a man more polite to ladies in
my life."

"Yes, but--"

"But what?  "You are always so mysterious, Charles dear."

"Mysterious!  No, Carry; but if you could hear what the doctor says of
the ladies sometimes."

"Ay, when you men get together, my dear.  I know what that means--pretty
things you say of us!  But you are all alike; you know you are, love!"

"I am sure," said the parson, simply, "that I have good cause to speak
well of the sex--when I think of you and my poor mother."

Mrs. Dale, who, with all her "tempers," was an excellent woman, and loved
her husband with the whole of her quick little heart, was touched.  She
pressed his hand, and did not call him dear all the way home.

Meanwhile the Italian passed the fields, and came upon the high road
about two miles from Hazeldean.  On one side stood an old-fashioned
solitary inn, such as English inns used to be before they became railway
hotels,--square, solid, old-fashioned, looking so hospitable and
comfortable, with their great signs swinging from some elm-tree in front,
and the long row of stables standing a little back, with a chaise or two
in the yard, and the jolly landlord talking of the crops to some stout
farmer, whose rough pony halts of itself at the well-known door.
Opposite this inn, on the other side of the road, stood the habitation of
Dr. Riecabocca.

A few years before the date of these annals, the stage-coach on its way
to London from a seaport town stopped at the inn, as was its wont, for a
good hour, that its passengers might dine like Christian Englishmen--not
gulp down a basin of scalding soup, like everlasting heathen Yankees,
with that cursed railway-whistle shrieking like a fiend in their ears!
It was the best dining-place on the whole road, for the trout in the
neighbouring rill were famous, and so was the mutton which came from
Hazeldean Park.

From the outside of the coach had descended two passengers, who, alone
insensible to the attractions of mutton and trout, refused to dine,--two
melancholy-looking foreigners, of whom one was Signor Riccabocca, much
the same as we see him now, only that the black suit was less threadbare,
the tall form less meagre, and he did not then wear spectacles; and the
other was his servant.  "They would walk about while the coach stopped."
Now the Italian's eye had been caught by a mouldering, dismantled house
on the other side the road, which nevertheless was well situated; half-
way up a green hill, with its aspect due south, a little cascade falling
down artificial rockwork, a terrace with a balustrade, and a few broken
urns and statues before its Ionic portico, while on the roadside stood a
board, with characters already half effaced, implying that the house was
"To be let unfurnished, with or without land."

The abode that looked so cheerless, and which had so evidently hung long
on hand, was the property of Squire Hazeldean.  It had been built by his
grandfather on the female side,--a country gentleman who had actually
been in Italy (a journey rare enough to boast of in those days), and who,
on his return home, had attempted a miniature imitation of an Italian
villa.  He left an only daughter and sole heiress, who married Squire
Hazeldean's father; and since that time, the house, abandoned by its
proprietors for the larger residence of the Hazeldeans, had been
uninhabited and neglected.  Several tenants, indeed, had offered
themselves; but your true country squire is slow in admitting upon his
own property a rival neighbour.  Some wanted shooting.  "That," said the
Hazeldeans, who were great sportsmen and strict preservers, "was quite
out of the question."  Others were fine folks from London.  "London
servants," said the Hazeldeans, who were moral and prudent people, "would
corrupt their own, and bring London prices."  Others, again, were retired
manufacturers, at whom the Hazeldeans turned up their agricultural noses.
In short, some were too grand, and others too vulgar.  Some were refused
because they were known so well: "Friends were best at a distance," said
the Hazeldeans; others because they were not known at all:  "No good
comes of strangers," said the Hazeldeans.  And finally, as the house fell
more and more into decay, no one would take it unless it was put into
thorough repair: "As if one was made of money!" said the Hazeldeans.  In
short, there stood the house unoccupied and ruinous; and there, on its
terrace, stood the two forlorn Italians, surveying it with a smile at
each other, as for the first time since they set foot in England, they
recognized, in dilapidated pilasters and broken statues, in a weed-grown
terrace and the remains of an orangery, something that reminded them of
the land they had left behind.

On returning to the inn, Dr. Riccabocca took the occasion to learn from
the innkeeper (who was indeed a tenant of the squire) such particulars as
he could collect; and a few days afterwards Mr. Hazeldean received a
letter from a solicitor of repute in London, stating that a very
respectable foreign gentleman had commissioned him to treat for Clump
Lodge, otherwise called the "Casino;" that the said gentleman did not
shoot, lived in great seclusion, and, having no family, did not care
about the repairs of the place, provided only it were made weather-
proof,--if the omission of more expensive reparations could render the
rent suitable to his finances, which were very limited.  The offer came
at a fortunate moment, when the steward had just been representing to the
squire the necessity of doing something to keep the Casino from falling
into positive ruin, and the squire was cursing the fates which had put
the Casino into an entail--so that he could not pull it down for the
building materials.  Mr. Hazeldean therefore caught at the proposal even
as a fair lady, who has refused the best offers in the kingdom, catches,
at last, at some battered old captain on half-pay, and replied that, as
for rent, if the solicitor's client was a quiet, respectable man, he did
not care for that, but that the gentleman might have it for the first
year rent-free, on condition of paying the taxes, and putting the place
a little in order.  If they suited each other, they could then come
to terms.  Ten days subsequently to this gracious reply, Signor
Riccabocca and his servant arrived; and, before the year's end, the
squire was so contented with his tenant that he gave him a running lease
of seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years, at a rent merely nominal, on
condition that Signor Riccabocca would put and maintain the place in
repair, barring the roof and fences, which the squire generously renewed
at his own expense.  It was astonishing, by little and little, what a
pretty place the Italian had made of it, and, what is more astonishing,
how little it had cost him.  He had, indeed, painted the walls of the
hall, staircase, and the rooms appropriated to himself, with his own
hands.  His servant had done the greater part of the upholstery.  The two
between them had got the garden into order.

The Italians seemed to have taken a joint love to the place, and to deck
it as they would have done some favourite chapel to their Madonna.

It was long before the natives reconciled themselves to the odd ways of
the foreign settlers.  The first thing that offended them was the
exceeding smallness of the household bills.  Three days out of the seven,
indeed, both man and master dined on nothing else but the vegetables in
the garden, and the fishes in the neighbouring rill; when no trout could
be caught they fried the minnows (and certainly, even in the best
streams, minnows are more frequently caught than trout).  The next thing
which angered the natives quite as much, especially the female part of
the neighbourhood, was the very sparing employment the two he creatures
gave to the sex usually deemed so indispensable in household matters.  At
first, indeed, they had no woman-servant at all.  But this created such
horror that Parson Dale ventured a hint upon the matter, which Riccabocca
took in very good part; and an old woman was forthwith engaged after some
bargaining--at three shillings a week--to wash and scrub as much as she
liked during the daytime.  She always returned to her own cottage to
sleep.  The man-servant, who was styled in the neighbourhood "Jackeymo,"
did all else for his master,--smoothed his room, dusted his papers,
prepared his coffee, cooked his dinner, brushed his clothes, and cleaned
his pipes, of which Riccabocca had a large collection.  But however close
a man's character, it generally creeps out in driblets; and on many
little occasions the Italian had shown acts of kindness, and, on some
more rare occasions, even of generosity, which had served to silence his
calumniators, and by degrees he had established a very fair reputation,--
suspected, it is true, of being a little inclined to the Black Art, and
of a strange inclination to starve Jackeymo and himself, in other
respects harmless enough.

Signor Riccabocca had become very intimate, as we have seen, at the
Parsonage.  But not so at the Hall.  For though the squire was inclined
to be very friendly to all his neighbours, he was, like most country
gentlemen, rather easily /huffed/.  Riccabocca had, with great
politeness, still with great obstinacy, refused Mr. Hazeldean's earlier
invitations to dinner; and when the squire found that the Italian rarely
declined to dine at the Parsonage, he was offended in one of his weak
points,--namely, his pride in the hospitality of Hazeldean Hall,--and he
ceased altogether invitations so churlishly rejected.  Nevertheless, as
it was impossible for the squire, however huffed, to bear malice, he now
and then reminded Riccabocca of his existence by presents of game, and
would have called on him more often than he did, but that Riccabocca
received him with such excessive politeness that the blunt country
gentleman felt shy and put out, and used to say that "to call on
Rickeybockey was as bad as going to Court."

But we have left Dr. Riccabocca on the high road.  By this time he has
ascended a narrow path that winds by the side of the cascade, he has
passed a trellis-work covered with vines, from which Jackeymo has
positively succeeded in making what he calls wine,--a liquid, indeed,
that if the cholera had been popularly known in those days, would have
soured the mildest member of the Board of Health; for Squire Hazeldean,
though a robust man who daily carried off his bottle of port with
impunity, having once rashly tasted it, did not recover the effect till
he had had a bill from the apothecary as long as his own arm.  Passing
this trellis, Dr. Riccabocca entered upon the terrace, with its stone
pavement as smoothed and trimmed as hands could make it.  Here, on neat
stands, all his favourite flowers were arranged; here four orange trees
were in full blossom; here a kind of summer-house, or belvidere, built by
Jackeymo and himself, made his chosen morning room from May till October;
and from this belvidere there was as beautiful an expanse of prospect as
if our English Nature had hospitably spread on her green board all that
she had to offer as a banquet to the exile.

A man without his coat, which was thrown over the balustrade, was
employed in watering the flowers,--a man with movements so mechanical,
with a face so rigidly grave in its tawny hues, that he seemed like an
automaton made out of mahogany.

"Giacomo," said Dr. Riccabocca, softly.

The automaton stopped its hand, and turned its head.

"Put by the watering-pot, and come hither," continued Riccabocca, in
Italian; and, moving towards the balustrade, he leaned over it.  Mr.
Mitford, the historian, calls Jean Jacques "John James."  Following that
illustrious example, Giacomo shall be Anglified into Jackeymo.  Jackeymo
came to the balustrade also, and stood a little behind his master.
"Friend," said Riccabocca, "enterprises have not always succeeded with
us.  Don't you think, after all, it is tempting our evil star to rent
those fields from the landlord?"  Jackeymo crossed himself, and made some
strange movement with a little coral charm which he wore set in a ring on
his finger.

"If the Madonna send us luck, and we could hire a lad cheap?" said
Jackeymo, doubtfully.

"Piu vale un presente che dui futuri,"--["A bird in the hand is worth two
in the bush."]--said Riccabocca.

"Chi non fa quando pub, non pub, fare quando vuole,"--["He who will not
when he may, when he wills it shall have nay."]--answered Jackeymo, as
sententiously as his master.  "And the Padrone should think in time that
he must lay by for the dower of the poor signorina."

Riccabocca sighed, and made no reply.

"She must be that high now!" said Jackeymo, putting his hand on some
imaginary line a little above the balustrade.  Riccabocca's eyes, raised
over the spectacles, followed the hand.

"If the Padrone could but see her here--"

"I thought I did," muttered the Italian.

"He would never let her go from his side till she went to a husband's,"
continued Jackeymo.

"But this climate,--she could never stand it," said Riccabocca, drawing
his cloak round him, as a north wind took him in the rear.

"The orange trees blossom even here with care," said Jackeymo, turning
back to draw down an awning where the orange trees faced the north.
"See!" he added, as he returned with a sprig in full bud.

Dr. Riccabocca bent over the blossom, and then placed it in his bosom.

"The other one should be there too," said Jackeymo.

"To die--as this does already!"  answered Riccabocca.  "Say no more."

Jackeymo shrugged his shoulders; and then, glancing at his master, drew
his hand over his eyes.

There was a pause.  Jackeymo was the first to break it.  "But, whether
here or there, beauty without money is the orange tree without shelter.
If a lad could be got cheap, I would hire the land, and trust for the
crop to the Madonna."

"I think I know of such a lad," said Riccabocca, recovering himself, and
with his sardonic smile once more lurking about the corners of his
mouth,--"a lad made for us."

"/Diavolo!/"

"No, not the Diavolo!  Friend, I have this day seen a boy who--refused
sixpence!"

"/Cosa stupenda!/" exclaimed Jackeymo, opening his eyes, and letting fall
the watering-pot.

"It is true, my friend."

"Take him, Padrone, in Heaven's name, and the fields will grow gold."

"I will think of it, for it must require management to catch such a boy,"
said Riccabocca.  "Meanwhile, light a candle in the parlour, and bring
from my bedroom that great folio of Machiavelli."



CHAPTER X.

In my next chapter I shall present Squire Hazeldean in patriarchal
state,--not exactly under the fig-tree he has planted, but before the
stocks he has reconstructed,--Squire Hazeldean and his family on the
village green!  The canvas is all ready for the colours.

But in this chapter I must so far afford a glimpse into antecedents as to
let the reader know that there is one member of the family whom he is not
likely to meet at present, if ever, on the village green at Hazeldean.

Our squire lost his father two years after his birth; his mother was very
handsome--and so was her jointure; she married again at the expiration of
her year of mourning; the object of her second choice was Colonel
Egerton.

In every generation of Englishmen (at least since the lively reign of
Charles II.) there are a few whom some elegant Genius skims off from the
milk of human nature, and reserves for the cream of society.  Colonel
Egerton was one of these /terque quaterque beati/, and dwelt apart on a
top shelf in that delicate porcelain dish--not bestowed upon vulgar
buttermilk--which persons of fashion call The Great World.  Mighty was
the marvel of Pall Mall, and profound was the pity of Park Lane, when
this supereminent personage condescended to lower himself into a husband.
But Colonel Egerton was not a mere gaudy butterfly; he had the provident
instincts ascribed to the bee.  Youth had passed from him, and carried
off much solid property in its flight; he saw that a time was fast coming
when a home, with a partner who could help to maintain it, would be
conducive to his comforts, and an occasional hum-drum evening by the
fireside beneficial to his health.  In the midst of one season at
Brighton, to which gay place he had accompanied the Prince of Wales, he
saw a widow, who, though in the weeds of mourning, did not appear
inconsolable.  Her person pleased his taste; the accounts of her jointure
satisfied his understanding; he contrived an introduction, and brought a
brief wooing to a happy close.  The late Mr. Hazeldean had so far
anticipated the chance of the young widow's second espousals, that, in
case of that event, he transferred, by his testamentary dispositions, the
guardianship of his infant heir from the mother to two squires whom he
had named his executors.  This circumstance combined with her new ties
somewhat to alienate Mrs. Hazeldean from the pledge of her former loves;
and when she had borne a son to Colonel Egerton, it was upon that child
that her maternal affections gradually concentrated.

William Hazeldean was sent by his guardians to a large provincial
academy, at which his forefathers had received their education time out
of mind.  At first he spent his holidays with Mrs. Egerton; but as she
now resided either in London, or followed her lord to Brighton, to
partake of the gayeties at the Pavilion, so as he grew older, William,
who had a hearty affection for country life, and of whose bluff manners
and rural breeding Mrs. Egerton (having grown exceedingly refined) was
openly ashamed, asked and obtained permission to spend his vacations
either with his guardians or at the old Hall.  He went late to a small
college at Cambridge, endowed in the fifteenth century by some ancestral
Hazeldean; and left it, on coming of age, without taking a degree.  A few
years afterwards he married a young lady, country born and bred like
himself.

Meanwhile his half-brother, Audley Egerton, may be said to have begun his
initiation into the /beau monde/ before he had well cast aside his coral
and bells; he had been fondled in the lap of duchesses, and had galloped
across the room astride on the canes of ambassadors and princes.  For
Colonel Egerton was not only very highly connected, not only one of the
/Dii majores/ of fashion, but he had the still rarer good fortune to be
an exceedingly popular man with all who knew him,--so popular, that even
the fine ladies whom he had adored and abandoned forgave him for marrying
out of "the set," and continued to be as friendly as if he had not
married at all.  People who were commonly called heartless were never
weary of doing kind things to the Egertons.  When the time came for
Audley to leave the preparatory school at which his infancy budded forth
amongst the stateliest of the little lilies of the field, and go to Eton,
half the fifth and sixth forms had been canvassed to be exceedingly civil
to young Egerton.  The boy soon showed that he inherited his father's
talent for acquiring popularity, and that to this talent he added those
which put popularity to use.  Without achieving any scholastic
distinction, he yet contrived to establish at Eton the most desirable
reputation which a boy can obtain,--namely, that among his own
contemporaries, the reputation of a boy who was sure to do something when
he grew to be a man.  As a gentleman-commoner at Christ Church, Oxford,
he continued to sustain this high expectation, though he won no prizes,
and took but an ordinary degree; and at Oxford the future "something"
became more defined,--it was "something in public life" that this young
man was to do.

While he was yet at the University, both his parents died, within a few
months of each other.  And when Audley Egerton came of age, he succeeded
to a paternal property which was supposed to be large, and indeed had
once been so; but Colonel Egerton had been too lavish a man to enrich his
heir, and about L1500 a year was all that sales and mortgages left of an
estate that had formerly approached a rental of L10,000.

Still, Audley was considered to be opulent; and he did not dispel that
favourable notion by any imprudent exhibition of parsimony.  On entering
the world of London, the Clubs flew open to receive him, and he woke one
morning to find himself, not indeed famous--but the fashion.  To this
fashion he at once gave a certain gravity and value, he associated as
much as possible with public men and political ladies, he succeeded in
confirming the notion that he was "born to ruin or to rule the State."

The dearest and most intimate friend of Audley Egerton was Lord
L'Estrange, from whom he had been inseparable at Eton, and who now, if
Audley Egerton was the fashion, was absolutely the rage in London.

Harley, Lord L'Estrange, was the only son of the Earl of Lansmere, a
nobleman of considerable wealth, and allied, by intermarriages, to the
loftiest and most powerful families in England.  Lord Lansmere,
nevertheless, was but little known in the circles of London.  He lived
chiefly on his estates, occupying himself with the various duties of a
great proprietor, and when he came to the metropolis, it was rather to
save than to spend; so that he could afford to give his son a very ample
allowance, when Harley, at the age of sixteen (having already attained to
the sixth form at Eton), left school for one of the regiments of the
Guards.

Few knew what to make of Harley L'Estrange,--and that was, perhaps, the
reason why he was so much thought of.  He had been by far the most
brilliant boy of his time at Eton,--not only the boast of the cricket-
ground, but the marvel of the schoolroom; yet so full of whims and
oddities, and seeming to achieve his triumphs with so little aid from
steadfast application, that he had not left behind him the same
expectations of solid eminence which his friend and senior, Audley
Egerton, had excited.  His eccentricities, his quaint sayings, and out-
of-the-way actions, became as notable in the great world as they had been
in the small one of a public school.  That he was very clever there was
no doubt, and that the cleverness was of a high order might be surmised,
not only from the originality but the independence of his character.  He
dazzled the world, without seeming to care for its praise or its
censure,--dazzled it, as it were, because he could not help shining.  He
had some strange notions, whether political or social, which rather
frightened his father.  According to Southey, "A man should be no more
ashamed of having been a republican than of having been young."  Youth
and extravagant opinions naturally go together.  I don't know whether
Harley L'Estrange was a republican at the age of eighteen; but there was
no young man in London who seemed to care less for being heir to an
illustrious name and some forty or fifty thousand pounds a year.  It was
a vulgar fashion in that day to play the exclusive, and cut persons who
wore bad neckcloths, and called themselves Smith or Johnson.  Lord
L'Estrange never cut any one, and it was quite enough to slight some
worthy man because of his neckcloth or his birth to insure to the
offender the pointed civilities of this eccentric successor to the
Belforts and the Wildairs.

It was the wish of his father that Harley, as soon as he came of age,
should represent the borough of Lansmere (which said borough was the
single plague of the earl's life).  But this wish was never realized.
Suddenly, when the young idol of London still wanted some two or three
years of his majority, a new whim appeared to seize him.  He withdrew
entirely from society; he left unanswered the most pressing three-
cornered notes of inquiry and invitation that ever strewed the table of a
young Guardsman; he was rarely seen anywhere in his former haunts,--when
seen, was either alone or with Egerton; and his gay spirits seemed wholly
to have left him.  A profound melancholy was written in his countenance,
and breathed in the listless tones of his voice.  About this time a
vacancy happening to occur for the representation of Lansmere, Harley
made it his special request to his father that the family interest might
be given to Audley Egerton,--a request which was backed by all the
influence of his lady mother, who shared in the esteem which her son felt
for his friend.  The earl yielded; and Egerton, accompanied by Harley,
went down to Lansmere Park, which adjoined the borough, in order to be
introduced to the electors.  This visit made a notable epoch in the
history of many personages who figure in my narrative; but at present I
content myself with saying that circumstances arose which, just as the
canvass for the new election commenced, caused both L'Estrange and Audley
to absent themselves from the scene of action, and that the last even
wrote to Lord Lansmere expressing his intention of declining to contest
the borough.

Fortunately for the parliamentary career of Audley Egerton, the election
had become to Lord Lansmere not only a matter of public importance, but
of personal feeling.  He resolved that the battle should be fought out,
even in the absence of the candidate, and at his own expense.  Hitherto
the contest for this distinguished borough had been, to use the language
of Lord Lansmere, "conducted in the spirit of gentlemen,"--that is to
say, the only opponents to the Lansmere interest had been found in one or
the other of the two rival families in the same county; and as the earl
was a hospitable, courteous man, much respected and liked by the
neighbouring gentry, so the hostile candidate had always interlarded his
speeches with profuse compliments to his Lordship's high character, and
civil expressions as to his Lordship's candidate.  But, thanks to
successive elections, one of these two families had come to an end, and
its actual representative was now residing within the Rules of the Bench;
the head of the other family was the sitting member, and, by an amicable
agreement with the Lansinere interest, he remained as neutral as it is in
the power of any sitting member to be amidst the passions of an
intractable committee.  Accordingly it had been hoped that Egerton would
come in without opposition, when, the very day on which he had abruptly
left the place, a handbill, signed "Haverill Dashmore, Captain R. N.,
Baker Street, Portman Square," announced, in very spirited language, the
intention of that gentleman "to emancipate the borough from the
unconstitutional domination of an oligarchical faction, not with a view
to his own political aggrandizement,--indeed at great personal
inconvenience,--but actuated solely by abhorrence to tyranny, and
patriotic passion for the purity of election."

This announcement was followed, within two hours, by the arrival of
Captain Dashmore himself, in a carriage and four, covered with yellow
favours, and filled, inside and out, with harumscarum-looking friends,
who had come down with him to share the canvass and partake the fun.

Captain Dashmore was a thorough sailor, who had, however, conceived a
disgust to the profession from the date in which a minister's nephew had
been appointed to the command of a ship to which the captain considered
himself unquestionably entitled.  It is just to the minister to add that
Captain Dashmore had shown as little regard for orders from a distance as
had immortalized Nelson himself; but then the disobedience had not
achieved the same redeeming success as that of Nelson, and Captain
Dashmore ought to have thought himself fortunate in escaping a severer
treatment than the loss of promotion.  But no man knows when he is well
off; and retiring on half pay, just as he came into unexpected possession
of some forty or fifty thousand pounds, bequeathed by a distant relation,
Captain Dashmore was seized with a vindictive desire to enter parliament,
and inflict oratorical chastisement on the Administration.

A very few hours sufficed to show the sea-captain to be a most capital
electioneerer for a popular but not enlightened constituency.  It is true
that he talked the saddest nonsense ever heard from an open window; but
then his jokes were so broad, his manner so hearty, his voice so big,
that in those dark days, before the schoolmaster was abroad, he would
have beaten your philosophical Radical and moralizing Democrat hollow.
Moreover, he kissed all the women, old and young, with the zest of a
sailor who has known what it is to be three years at sea without sight of
a beardless lip; he threw open all the public-houses, asked a numerous
committee every day to dinner, and, chucking his purse up in the air,
declared "he would stick to his guns while there was a shot in the
locker."  Till then, there had been but little political difference
between the candidate supported by Lord Lansmere's interest and the
opposing parties; for country gentlemen, in those days, were pretty much
of the same way of thinking, and the question had been really local,--
namely, whether the Lansmere interest should or should not prevail over
that of the two squire-archical families who had alone, hitherto,
ventured to oppose it.  But though Captain Dashmore was really a very
loyal man, and much too old a sailor to think that the State (which,
according to established metaphor, is a vessel par excellence) should
admit Jack upon quarterdeck, yet, what with talking against lords and
aristocracy, jobs and abuses, and searching through no very refined
vocabulary for the strongest epithets to apply to those irritating nouns-
substantive, his bile had got the better of his understanding, and he
became fuddled, as it were, by his own eloquence.  Thus, though as
innocent of Jacobinical designs as he was incapable of setting the Thames
on fire, you would have guessed him, by his speeches, to be one of the
most determined incendiaries that ever applied a match to the combustible
materials of a contested election; while, being by no means accustomed to
respect his adversaries, he could not have treated the Earl of Lansmere
with less ceremony if his Lordship had been a Frenchman.  He usually
designated that respectable nobleman, who was still in the prime of life,
by the title of "Old Pompous;" and the mayor, who was never seen abroad
but in top-boots, and the solicitor, who was of a large build, received
from his irreverent wit the joint sobriquet of "Tops and Bottoms"!  Hence
the election had now become, as I said before, a personal matter with my
Lord, and, indeed, with the great heads of the Lansmere interest.  The
earl seemed to consider his very coronet at stake in the question.  "The
Man from Baker Street," with his preternatural audacity, appeared to him
a being ominous and awful--not so much to be regarded with resentment as
with superstitious terror.  He felt as felt the dignified Montezuma, when
that ruffianly Cortez, with his handful of Spanish rapscallions, bearded
him in his own capital, and in the midst of his Mexican splendour.  The
gods were menaced if man could be so insolent!  wherefore, said my Lord
tremulously, "The Constitution is gone if the Man from Baker Street comes
in for Lansmere!"

But in the absence of Audley Egerton, the election looked extremely ugly,
and Captain Dashmore gained ground hourly, when the Lansmere solicitor
happily bethought him of a notable proxy for the missing candidate.  The
Squire of Hazeldean, with his young wife, had been invited by the earl in
honour of Audley; and in the squire the solicitor beheld the only mortal
who could cope with the sea-captain,--a man with a voice as burly and a
face as bold; a man who, if permitted for the nonce by Mrs. Hazeldean,
would kiss all the women no less heartily than the captain kissed them;
and who was, moreover, a taller and a handsomer and a younger man,--all
three great recommendations in the kissing department of a contested
election.  Yes, to canvass the borough, and to speak from the window,
Squire Hazeldean would be even more popularly presentable than the
London-bred and accomplished Audley Egerton himself.

The squire, applied to and urged on all sides, at first said bluntly that
he would do anything in reason to serve his brother, but that he did not
like, for his own part, appearing, even in proxy, as a lord's nominee;
and moreover, if he was to be sponsor for his brother, why, he must
promise and vow, in his name, to be stanch and true to the land they
lived by!  And how could he tell that Audley, when once he got into the
House, would not forget the land, and then he, William Hazeldean, would
be made a liar, and look like a turncoat!

But these scruples being overruled by the arguments of the gentlemen and
the entreaties of the ladies, who took in the election that intense
interest which those gentle creatures usually do take in all matters of
strife and contest, the squire at length consented to confront the Man
from Baker Street, and went accordingly into the thing with that good
heart and old English spirit with which he went into everything whereon
he had once made up his mind.

The expectations formed of the squire's capacities for popular
electioneering were fully realized.  He talked quite as much nonsense as
Captain Dashmore on every subject except the landed interest; there he
was great, for he knew the subject well,--knew it by the instinct that
comes with practice, and compared to which all your showy theories are
mere cobwebs and moonshine.

The agricultural outvoters--many of whom, not living under Lord Lansmere,
but being small yeomen, had hitherto prided themselves on their
independence, and gone against my Lord--could not in their hearts go
against one who was every inch the farmer's friend.  They began to share
in the earl's personal interest against the Man from Baker Street; and
big fellows, with legs bigger round than Captain Dashmore's tight little
body, and huge whips in their hands, were soon seen entering the shops,
"intimidating the electors," as Captain Dashmore indignantly declared.

These new recruits made a great difference in the musterroll of the
Lansmere books; and when the day for polling arrived, the result was a
fair question for even betting.  At the last hour, after a neck-and-neck
contest, Mr. Audley Egerton beat the captain by two votes; and the names
of these voters were John Avenel, resident freeman, and his son-in-law,
Mark Fairfield, an outvoter, who, though a Lansmere freeman, had settled
in Hazeldean, where he had obtained the situation of head carpenter on
the squire's estate.

These votes were unexpected; for though Mark Fairfield had come to
Lansmere on purpose to support the squire's brother, and though the
Avenels had been always stanch supporters of the Lansmere Blue interest,
yet a severe affliction (as to the nature of which, not desiring to
sadden the opening of my story, I am considerately silent) had befallen
both these persons, and they had left the town on the very day after Lord
L'Estrange and Mr. Egerton had quitted Lansmere Park.

Whatever might have been the gratification of the squire, as a canvasser
and a brother, at Mr. Egerton's triumph, it was much damped when, on
leaving the dinner given in honour of the victory at the Lansmere Arms,
and about, with no steady step, to enter a carriage which was to convey
him to his Lordship's house, a letter was put into his hands by one of
the gentlemen who had accompanied the captain to the scene of action; and
the perusal of that letter, and a few whispered words from the bearer
thereof, sent the squire back to Mrs. Hazeldean a much soberer man than
she had ventured to hope for.  The fact was, that on the day of
nomination, the captain having honoured Mr. Hazeldean with many poetical
and figurative appellations,--such as "Prize Ox," "Tony Lumpkin," "Blood-
sucking Vampire," and "Brotherly Warming-Pan,"--the squire had retorted
by a joke about "Saltwater Jack;" and the captain, who like all satirists
was extremely susceptible and thin-skinned, could not consent to be
called "Salt-water Jack" by a "Prize Ox" and a "Bloodsucking Vampire."

The letter, therefore, now conveyed to Mr. Hazeldean by a gentleman, who,
being from the Sister Country, was deemed the most fitting accomplice in
the honourable destruction of a brother mortal, contained nothing more
nor less than an invitation to single combat; and the bearer thereof,
with the suave politeness enjoined by etiquette on such well-bred
homicidal occasions, suggested the expediency of appointing the place of
meeting in the neighbourhood of London, in order to prevent interference
from the suspicious authorities of Lansmere.

The natives of some countries--the warlike French in particular--think
little of that formal operation which goes by the name of DUELLING.
Indeed, they seem rather to like it than otherwise.  But there is nothing
your thorough-paced Englishman--a Hazeldean of Hazeldean--considers with
more repugnance and aversion than that same cold-blooded ceremonial.  It
is not within the range of an Englishman's ordinary habits of thinking.
He prefers going to law,--a much more destructive proceeding of the two.
Nevertheless, if an Englishman must fight, why, he will fight.  He says
"It is very foolish;" he is sure "it is most unchristianlike;" he agrees
with all that Philosophy, Preacher, and Press have laid down on the
subject; but he makes his will, says his prayers, and goes out--like a
heathen.

It never, therefore, occurred to the squire to show the white feather
upon this unpleasant occasion.  The next day, feigning excuse to attend
the sale of a hunting stud at Tattersall's, he ruefully went up to
London, after taking a peculiarly affectionate leave of his wife.
Indeed, the squire felt convinced that he should never return home except
in a coffin.  "It stands to reason," said he to himself, "that a man who
has been actually paid by the King's Government for shooting people ever
since he was a little boy in a midshipman's jacket, must be a dead hand
at the job.  I should not mind if it was with double-barrelled Mantons
and small shot; but ball and pistol, they are n't human nor
sportsmanlike!"  However, the squire, after settling his worldly affairs,
and hunting up an old college friend who undertook to be his second,
proceeded to a sequestered corner of Wimbledon Common, and planted
himself, not sideways, as one ought to do in such encounters (the which
posture the squire swore was an unmanly way of shirking), but full front
to the mouth of his adversary's pistol, with such sturdy composure that
Captain Dashmore, who, though an excellent shot, was at bottom as good-
natured a fellow as ever lived, testified his admiration by letting off
his gallant opponent with a ball in the fleshy part of the shoulder,
after which he declared himself perfectly satisfied.  The parties then
shook hands, mutual apologies were exchanged, and the squire, much to his
astonishment to find himself still alive, was conveyed to Limmer's Hotel,
where, after a considerable amount of anguish, the ball was extracted and
the wound healed.  Now it was all over, the squire felt very much raised
in his own conceit; and when he was in a humour more than ordinarily
fierce, that perilous event became a favourite allusion with him.

He considered, moreover, that his brother had incurred at his hand the
most lasting obligations; and that, having procured Audley's return to
parliament, and defended his interests at risk of his own life, he had an
absolute right to dictate to that gentleman how to vote,--upon all
matters, at least, connected with the landed interest.  And when, not
very long after Audley took his seat in parliament (which he did not do
for some months), he thought proper both to vote and to speak in a manner
wholly belying the promises the squire had made on his behalf, Mr.
Hazeldean wrote him such a trimmer that it could not but produce an
unconciliatory reply.  Shortly afterwards the squire's exasperation
reached the culminating point; for, having to pass through Lansmere on a
market-day, he was hooted by the very farmers whom he had induced to vote
for his brother; and, justly imputing the disgrace to Audley, he never
heard the name of that traitor to the land mentioned without a heightened
colour and an indignant expletive.  M. de Ruqueville--who was the
greatest wit of his day--had, like the squire, a half-brother, with whom
he was not on the best of terms, and of whom he always spoke as his
"frere de loin!"  Audley Egerton was thus Squire Hazeldean's "distant-
brother"!

Enough of these explanatory antecedents,--let us return to the stocks.



CHAPTER XI.

The squire's carpenters were taken from the park pales and set to work at
the parish stocks.  Then came the painter and coloured them a beautiful
dark blue, with white border--and a white rim round the holes--with an
ornamental flourish in the middle.  It was the gayest public edifice in
the whole village, though the village possessed no less than three other
monuments of the Vitruvian genius of the Hazeldeans,--to wit, the
almshouse, the school, and the parish pump.

A more elegant, enticing, coquettish pair of stocks never gladdened the
eye of a justice of the peace.

And Squire Hazeldean's eye was gladdened.  In the pride of his heart he
brought all the family down to look at the stocks.  The squire's family
(omitting the /frere de loin/) consisted of Mrs. Hazeldean, his wife;
next, of Miss Jemima Hazeldean, his first cousin; thirdly, of Mr. Francis
Hazeldean, his only son; and fourthly, of Captain Barnabas Higginbotham,
a distant relation,--who, indeed, strictly speaking, was not of the
family, but only a visitor ten months in the year.  Mrs. Hazeldean was
every inch the lady,--the lady of the parish.  In her comely, florid, and
somewhat sunburned countenance, there was an equal expression of majesty
and benevolence; she had a blue eye that invited liking, and an aquiline
nose that commanded respect.  Mrs. Hazeldean had no affectation of fine
airs, no wish to be greater and handsomer and cleverer than she was.  She
knew herself, and her station, and thanked Heaven for it.  There was
about her speech and manner something of the shortness and bluntness
which often characterizes royalty; and if the lady of a parish is not a
queen in her own circle, it is never the fault of a parish.  Mrs.
Hazeldean dressed her part to perfection.  She wore silks that seemed
heirlooms,--so thick were they, so substantial and imposing; and over
these, when she was in her own domain, the whitest of aprons; while at
her waist was seen no fiddle-faddle /chatelaine/, with /breloques/ and
trumpery, but a good honest gold watch to mark the time, and a long pair
of scissors to cut off the dead leaves from her flowers,--for she was a
great horticulturalist.  When occasion needed, Mrs. Hazeldean could,
however, lay by her more sumptuous and imperial raiment for a stout
riding-habit, of blue Saxony, and canter by her husband's side to see the
hounds throw off.  Nay, on the days on which Mr. Hazeldean drove his
famous fast-trotting cob to the market town, it was rarely that you did
not see his wife on the left side of the gig.  She cared as little as her
lord did for wind and weather, and in the midst of some pelting shower
her pleasant face peeped over the collar and capes of a stout
dreadnought, expanding into smiles and bloom as some frank rose, that
opens from its petals, and rejoices in the dews.  It was easy to see that
the worthy couple had married for love; they were as little apart as they
could help it.  And still, on the first of September, if the house was
not full of company which demanded her cares, Mrs. Hazeldean "stepped
out" over the stubbles by her husband's side, with as light a tread and
as blithe an eye as when, in the first bridal year, she had enchanted the
squire by her genial sympathy with his sports.

So there now stands Harriet Hazeldean, one hand leaning on the squire's
broad shoulder, the other thrust into her apron, and trying her best to
share her husband's enthusiasm for his own public-spirited patriotism, in
the renovation of the parish stocks.  A little behind, with two fingers
resting on the thin arm of Captain Barnabas, stood Miss Jemima, the
orphan daughter of the squire's uncle, by a runaway imprudent marriage
with a young lady who belonged to a family which had been at war with the
Hazeldeans since the reign of Charles the First respecting a right of way
to a small wood (or rather spring) of about an acre, through a piece of
furze land, which was let to a brickmaker at twelve shillings a year.
The wood belonged to the Hazeldeans, the furze land to the Sticktorights
(an old Saxon family, if ever there was one).  Every twelfth year, when
the fagots and timber were felled, this feud broke out afresh; for the
Sticktorights refused to the Hazeldeans the right to cart off the said
fagots and timber through the only way by which a cart could possibly
pass.  It is just to the Hazeldeans to say that they had offered to buy
the land at ten times its value.  But the Sticktorights, with equal
magnanimity, had declared that they would not "alienate the family
property for the convenience of the best squire that ever stood upon shoe
leather."  Therefore, every twelfth year, there was always a great breach
of the peace on the part of both Hazeldeans and Sticktorights,
magistrates and deputy-lieutenants though they were.  The question was
fairly fought out by their respective dependants, and followed by various
actions for assault and trespass.  As the legal question of right was
extremely obscure, it never had been properly decided; and, indeed,
neither party wished it to be decided, each at heart having some doubt of
the propriety of its own claim.  A marriage between a younger son of the
Hazeldeans and a younger daughter of the Sticktorights was viewed with
equal indignation by both families; and the consequence had been that the
runaway couple, unblessed and unforgiven, had scrambled through life as
they could, upon the scanty pay of the husband, who was in a marching
regiment, and the interest of L1000, which was the wife's fortune
independent of her parents.  They died and left an only daughter (upon
whom the maternal L1000 had been settled), about the time that the squire
came of age and into possession of his estates.  And though he inherited
all the ancestral hostility towards the Sticktorights, it was not in his
nature to be unkind to a poor orphan, who was, after all, the child of a
Hazeldean.  Therefore he had educated and fostered Jemima with as much
tenderness as if she had been his sister; put out her L1000 at nurse, and
devoted, from the ready money which had accrued from the rents during his
minority, as much as made her fortune (with her own accumulated at
compound interest) no less than L4000, the ordinary marriage portion of
the daughters of Hazeldean.  On her coming of age, he transferred this
sum to her absolute disposal, in order that she might feel herself
independent, see a little more of the world than she could at Hazeldean,
have candidates to choose from if she deigned to marry; or enough to live
upon, if she chose to remain single.  Miss Jemima had somewhat availed
herself of this liberty, by occasional visits to Cheltenham and other
watering-places.  But her grateful affection to the squire was such that
she could never bear to be long away from the Hall.  And this was the
more praise to her heart, inasmuch as she was far from taking kindly to
the prospect of being an old maid; and there were so few bachelors in the
neighbourhood of Hazeldean, that she could not but have that prospect
before her eyes whenever she looked out of the Hall windows.  Miss Jemima
was indeed one of the most kindly and affectionate of beings feminine;
and if she disliked the thought of single blessedness, it really was from
those innocent and womanly instincts towards the tender charities of
hearth and home, without which a lady, however otherwise estimable, is
little better than a Minerva in bronze.  But, whether or not, despite her
fortune and her face, which last, though not strictly handsome, was
pleasing, and would have been positively pretty if she had laughed more
often (for when she laughed, there appeared three charming dimples,
invisible when she was grave),--whether or not, I say, it was the fault
of our insensibility or her own fastidiousness, Miss Jemima approached
her thirtieth year, and was still Miss Jemima.  Now, therefore, that
beautifying laugh of hers was very rarely heard, and she had of late
become confirmed in two opinions, not at all conducive to laughter.  One
was a conviction of the general and progressive wickedness of the male
sex, and the other was a decided and lugubrious belief that the world was
coming to an end.  Miss Jemima was now accompanied by a small canine
favourite, true Blenheim, with a snub nose.  It was advanced in life, and
somewhat obese.  It sat on its haunches, with its tongue out of its
mouth, except when it snapped at the flies.  There was a strong platonic
friendship between Miss Jemima and Captain Barnabas Higginbotham; for he,
too, was unmarried, and he had the same ill opinion of your sex, my dear
madam, that Miss Jemima had of, ours.  The captain was a man of a slim
and elegant figure; the less said about the face the better, a truth of
which the captain himself was sensible, for it was a favourite maxim of
his, "that in a man, everything is a slight, gentlemanlike figure."
Captain Barnabas did not absolutely deny that the world was coming to an
end, only he thought it would last his time.

Quite apart from all the rest, with the /nonchalant/ survey of virgin
dandyism, Francis Hazeldean looked over one of the high starched
neckcloths which were then the fashion,--a handsome lad, fresh from Eton
for the summer holidays, but at that ambiguous age when one disdains the
sports of the boy, and has not yet arrived at the resources of the man.

"I should be glad, Frank," said the squire, suddenly turning round to his
son, "to see you take a little more interest in duties which, one day or
other, you may be called upon to discharge.  I can't bear to think that
the property should fall into the hands of a fine gentleman, who will let
things go to rack and ruin, instead of keeping them up as I do."

And the squire pointed to the stocks.

Master Frank's eye followed the direction of the cane, as well as his
cravat would permit; and he said dryly,--

"Yes, sir; but how came the stocks to be so long out of repair?"

"Because one can't see to everything at once," retorted the squire,
tartly.  "When a man has got eight thousand acres to look after, he must
do a bit at a time."

"Yes," said Captain Barnabas.  "I know that by experience."

"The deuce you do!" cried the squire, bluntly.  "Experience in eight
thousand acres!"

"No; in my apartments in the Albany,--No. 3 A.  I have had them ten
years, and it was only last Christmas that I bought my Japan cat."

"Dear me," said Miss Jemima; "a Japan cat!  that must be very curious.
What sort of a creature is it?"

"Don't you know?  Bless me, a thing with three legs, and holds toast!  I
never thought of it, I assure you, till my friend Cosey said to me one
morning when he was breakfasting at my rooms, 'Higginbotham, how is it
that you, who like to have things comfortable about you, don't have a
cat?'  'Upon my life,' said I, 'one can't think of everything at a
time,'--just like you, Squire."

"Pshaw," said Mr. Hazeldean, gruffly, "not at all like me.  And I'll
thank you another time, Cousin Higginbotham, not to put me out when I'm
speaking on matters of importance; poking your cat into my stocks!  They
look something like now, my stocks, don't they, Harry?  I declare that
the whole village seems more respectable.  It is astonishing how much a
little improvement adds to the--to the--"

"Charm of the landscape," put in Miss Jemina, sentimentally.

The squire neither accepted nor rejected the suggested termination; but
leaving his sentence uncompleted, broke suddenly off with--

"And if I had listened to Parson Dale--"

"You would have done a very wise thing," said a voice behind, as the
parson presented himself in the rear.

"Wise thing?  Why, surely, Mr. Dale," said Mrs. Hazeldean, with spirit,
for she always resented the least contradiction to her lord and master--
perhaps as an interference with her own special right and prerogative!--
"why, surely if it is necessary to have stocks, it is necessary to repair
them."

"That's right! go it, Harry!" cried the squire, chuckling, and rubbing
his hands as if he had been setting his terrier at the parson: "St--St--
at him!  Well, Master Dale, what do you say to that?"

"My dear ma'am," said the parson, replying in preference to the lady,
"there are many institutions in the country which are very old, look very
decayed, and don't seem of much use; but I would not pull them down for
all that."

"You would reform them, then," said Mrs. Hazeldean, doubtfully, and with
a look at her husband, as much as to say, "He is on politics now,--that's
your business."

"No, I would not, ma'am," said the parson, stoutly.  "What on earth would
you do, then?" quoth the squire.  "Just let 'em alone," said the parson.
"Master Frank, there's a Latin maxim which was often put in the mouth of
Sir Robert Walpole, and which they ought to put into the Eton grammar,
'Quieta non movere.'  If things are quiet, let them be quiet!  I would
not destroy the stocks, because that might seem to the ill-disposed like
a license to offend; and I would not repair the stocks, because that puts
it into people's heads to get into them."

The squire was a stanch politician of the old school, and be did not like
to think that, in repairing the stocks, he had perhaps been conniving at
revolutionary principles.

"This constant desire of innovation," said Miss Jemima, suddenly mounting
the more funereal of her two favourite hobbies, "is one of the great
symptoms of the approaching crash.  We are altering and mending and
reforming, when in twenty years at the utmost the world itself may be
destroyed!" The fair speaker paused, and Captain Barnabas said
thoughtfully, "Twenty years!--the insurance officers rarely compute the
best life at more than fourteen."  He struck his hand on the stocks as he
spoke, and added, with his usual consolatory conclusion, "The odds are
that it will last our time, Squire."

But whether Captain Barnabas meant the stocks or the world he did not
clearly explain, and no one took the trouble to inquire.

"Sir," said Master Frank to his father, with that furtive spirit of
quizzing, which he had acquired amongst other polite accomplishments at
Eton,--"sir, it is no use now considering whether the stocks should or
should not have been repaired.  The only question is, whom you will get
to put into them."

"True," said the squire, with much gravity.

"Yes, there it is!" said the parson, mournfully.  "If you would but learn
'non quieta movere'!"

"Don't spout your Latin at me, Parson," cried the squire, angrily; "I can
give you as good as you bring, any day.

        "'Propria quae maribus tribuuntur mascula dicas.--
          As in praesenti, perfectum format in avi.'

There," added the squire, turning triumphantly towards his Harry, who
looked with great admiration at this unprecedented burst of learning on
the part of Mr. Hazeldean,--"there, two can play at that game!  And now
that we have all seen the stocks, we may as well go home and drink tea.
Will you come up and play a rubber, Dale?  No! hang it, man, I've not
offended you?--you know my ways."

"That I do, and they are among the things I would not have altered,"
cried the parson, holding out his hand cheerfully.  The squire gave it a
hearty shake, and Mrs. Hazeldean hastened to do the same.

"Do come; I am afraid we've been very rude: we are sad blunt folks.  Do
come; that's a dear good man; and of course poor Mrs. Dale too."  Mrs.
Hazeldean's favourite epithet for Mrs. Dale was poor, and that for
reasons to be explained hereafter.

"I fear my wife has got one of her bad headaches, but I will give her
your kind message, and at all events you may depend upon me."

"That's right," said the squire; "in half an hour, eh?  How d' ye do, my
little man?" as Lenny Fairfield, on his way home from some errand in the
village, drew aside and pulled off his hat with both hands.  "Stop; you
see those stocks, eh?  Tell all the bad boys in the parish to take care
how they get into them--a sad disgrace--you'll never be in such a
quandary?"

"That at least I will answer for," said the parson.

"And I too," added Mrs. Hazeldean, patting the boy's curly head.  "Tell
your mother I shall come and have a good chat with her to-morrow
evening."

And so the party passed on, and Lenny stood still on the road, staring
hard at the stocks, which stared back at him from its four great eyes.

Put Lenny did not remain long alone.  As soon as the great folks had
fairly disappeared, a large number of small folks emerged timorously from
the neighbouring cottages, and approached the site of the stocks with
much marvel, fear, and curiosity.

In fact, the renovated appearance of this monster /a propos de bottes/,
as one may say--had already excited considerable sensation among the
population of Hazeldean.  And even as when an unexpected owl makes his
appearance in broad daylight all the little birds rise from tree and
hedgerow, and cluster round their ominous enemy, so now gathered all the
much-excited villagers round the intrusive and portentous phenomenon.

"D' ye know what the diggins the squire did it for, Gaffer Solomons?"
asked one many-childed matron, with a baby in arms, an urchin of three
years old clinging fast to her petticoat, and her hand maternally holding
back a more adventurous hero of six, who had a great desire to thrust his
head into one of the grisly apertures.  All eyes turned to a sage old
man, the oracle of the village, who, leaning both hands on his crutch,
shook his head bodingly.

"Maw be," said Gaffer Solomons, "some of the boys ha' been robbing the
orchards."

"Orchards!" cried a big lad, who seemed to think himself personally
appealed to; "why, the bud's scarce off the trees yet!"

"No more it ain't," said the dame with many children, and she breathed
more freely.

"Maw be," said Gaffer Solomons, "some o' ye has been sitting snares."

"What for?" said a stout, sullen-looking young fellow, whom conscience
possibly pricked to reply,--"what for, when it bean't the season?  And if
a poor man did find a hear in his pocket i' the haytime, I should like to
know if ever a squire in the world would let 'un off with the stocks,
eh?"

This last question seemed a settler, and the wisdom of Gaffer Solomons
went down fifty per cent in the public opinion of Hazeldean.

"Maw be," said the gaffer--this time with a thrilling effect, which
restored his reputation,--"maw be some o' ye ha' been getting drunk, and
making beestises o' yoursel's!"

There was a dead pause, for this suggestion applied too generally to be
met with a solitary response.  At last one of the women said, with a
meaning glance at her husband,

"God bless the squire; he'll make some on us happy women if that's all!"

There then arose an almost unanimous murmur of approbation among the
female part of the audience; and the men looked at each other, and then
at the phenomenon, with a very hang-dog expression of countenance.

"Or, maw be," resumed Gaffer Solomons, encouraged to a fourth suggestion
by the success of its predecessor,--"maw be some o' the misseses ha' been
making a rumpus, and scolding their good men.  I heard say in my
granfeyther's time, arter old Mother Bang nigh died o' the ducking-stool,
them 'ere stocks were first made for the women, out o' compassion like!
And every one knows the squire is a koind-hearted man, God bless 'un!"

"God bless 'un!" cried the men, heartily; and they gathered lovingly
round the phenomenon, like heathens of old round a tutelary temple.  But
then there rose one shrill clamour among the females as they retreated
with involuntary steps towards the verge of the green, whence they glared
at Solomons and the phenomenon with eyes so sparkling, and pointed at
both with gestures so menacing, that Heaven only knows if a morsel of
either would have remained much longer to offend the eyes of the justly-
enraged matronage of Hazeldean, if fortunately Master Stirn, the squire's
right-hand man, had not come up in the nick of time.

Master Stirn was a formidable personage,--more formidable than the squire
himself,--as, indeed, a squire's right hand is generally more formidable
than the head can pretend to be.  He inspired the greater awe, because,
like the stocks of which he was deputed guardian, his powers were
undefined and obscure, and he had no particular place in the out-of-door
establishment.  He was not the steward, yet he did much of what ought to
be the steward's work; he was not the farm-bailiff, for the squire called
himself his own farm-bailiff; nevertheless, Mr. Hazeldean sowed and
ploughed, cropped and stocked, bought and sold, very much as Mr. Stirn
condescended to advise.  He was not the park-keeper, for he neither shot
the deer nor superintended the preserves; but it was he who always found
out who had broken a park pale or snared a rabbit.  In short, what may be
called all the harsher duties of a large landed proprietor devolved, by
custom and choice, upon Mr. Stirn.  If a labourer was to be discharged or
a rent enforced, and the squire knew that he should be talked over, and
that the steward would be as soft as himself, Mr. Stirn was sure to be
the avenging messenger, to pronounce the words of fate; so that he
appeared to the inhabitants of Hazeldean like the poet's /Saeva
Necessitas/, a vague incarnation of remorseless power, armed with whips,
nails, and wedges.  The very brute creation stood in awe of Mr. Stirn.
The calves knew that it was he who singled out which should be sold to
the butcher, and huddled up into a corner with beating hearts at his grim
footstep; the sow grunted, the duck quacked, the hen bristled her
feathers and called to her chicks when Mr. Stirn drew near.  Nature had
set her stamp upon him.  Indeed, it may be questioned whether the great
M. de Chambray himself, surnamed the brave, had an aspect so awe-
inspiring as that of Mr. Stirn; albeit the face of that hero was so
terrible, that a man who had been his lackey, seeing his portrait after
he had been dead twenty years, fell a trembling all over like a leaf!

"And what the plague are you doing here?" said Mr. Stirn, as he waved and
smacked a great cart-whip which he held in his hand, "making such a
hullabaloo, you women, you! that I suspect the squire will be sending out
to know if the village is on fire.  Go home, will ye?  High time indeed
to have the stocks ready, when you get squalling and conspiring under the
very nose of a justice of the peace, just as the French revolutioners did
afore they cut off their king's head!  My hair stands on end to look at
ye."  But already, before half this address was delivered, the crowd had
dispersed in all directions,--the women still keeping together, and the
men sneaking off towards the ale-house.  Such was the beneficent effect
of the fatal stocks on the first day of their resuscitation.  However, in
the break up of every crowd there must always be one who gets off the
last; and it so happened that our friend Lenny Fairfield, who had
mechanically approached close to the stocks, the better to hear the
oracular opinions of Gaffer Solomons, had no less mechanically, on the
abrupt appearance of Mr. Stirn, crept, as he hoped, out of sight behind
the trunk of the elm-tree which partially shaded the stocks; and there
now, as if fascinated, he still cowered, not daring to emerge in full
view of Mr. Stirn, and in immediate reach of the cartwhip, when the quick
eye of the right-hand man detected his retreat.

"Hallo, sir--what the deuce, laying a mine to blow up the stocks!  just
like Guy Fox and the Gunpowder Plot, I declares!  What ha' you got in
your willanous little fist there?"

"Nothing, sir," said Lenny, opening his palm.  "Nothing--um!" said Mr.
Stirn, much dissatisfied; and then, as he gazed more deliberately,
recognizing the pattern boy of the village, a cloud yet darker gathered
over his brow; for Mr. Stirn, who valued himself much on his learning,
and who, indeed, by dint of more knowledge as well as more wit than his
neighbours, had attained his present eminent station of life, was
extremely anxious that his only son should also be a scholar.
That wish--

               "The gods dispersed in empty air."

Master Stirn was a notable dunce at the parson's school, while Lenny
Fairfield was the pride and boast of it; therefore Mr. Stirn was
naturally, and almost justifiably, ill-disposed towards Lenny Fairfield,
who had appropriated to himself the praises which Mr. Stirn had designed
for his son.

"Um!" said the right-hand man, glowering on Lenny malignantly, "you are
the pattern boy of the village, are you?  Very well, sir!  then I put
these here stocks under your care, and you'll keep off the other boys
from sitting on 'em, and picking off the paint, and playing three-holes
and chuck-farthing, as I declare they've been a doing, just in front of
the elewation.  Now, you knows your 'sponsibilities, little boy,--and a
great honour they are too, for the like o' you.

If any damage be done, it is to you I shall look; d' ye understand?--and
that's what the squire says to me.  So you sees what it is to be a
pattern boy, Master Lenny!"  With that Mr. Stirn gave a loud crack of the
cart-whip, by way of military honours, over the head of the vicegerent he
had thus created, and strode off to pay a visit to two young unsuspecting
pups, whose ears and tails he had graciously promised their proprietors
to crop that evening.  Nor, albeit few charges could be more obnoxious
than that of deputy-governor or /charge-d'affaires extraordinaires/ to
the parish stocks, nor one more likely to render Lenny Fairfield odious
to his contemporaries, ought he to have been insensible to the signal
advantage of his condition over that of the two sufferers, against whose
ears and tails Mr. Stirn had no special motives of resentment.  To every
bad there is a worse; and fortunately for little boys, and even for grown
men, whom the Stirns of the world regard malignly, the majesty and law
protect their ears, and the merciful forethought of nature deprived their
remote ancestors of the privilege of entailing tails upon them.  Had it
been otherwise--considering what handles tails would have given to the
oppressor, how many traps envy would have laid for them, how often they
must have been scratched and mutilated by the briars of life, how many
good excuses would have been found for lopping, docking, and trimming
them--I fear that only the lap-dogs of Fortune would have gone to the
grave tail-whole.



CHAPTER XII.

The card-table was set out in the drawing-room at Hazeldean Hall; though
the little party were still lingering in the deep recess of the large bay
window, which (in itself of dimensions that would have swallowed up a
moderate-sized London parlour) held the great round tea-table, with all
appliances and means to boot,--for the beautiful summer moon shed on the
sward so silvery a lustre, and the trees cast so quiet a shadow, and the
flowers and new-mown hay sent up so grateful a perfume, that to close the
windows, draw the curtains, and call for other lights than those of
heaven would have been an abuse of the prose of life which even Captain
Barnabas, who regarded whist as the business of town and the holiday of
the country, shrank from suggesting.  Without, the scene, beheld by the
clear moonlight, had the beauty peculiar to the garden-ground round those
old-fashioned country residences which, though a little modernized, still
preserve their original character,--the velvet lawn, studded with large
plots of flowers, shaded and scented, here to the left by lilacs,
laburnums, and rich syringas; there, to the right, giving glimpses, over
low clipped yews, of a green bowling-alley, with the white columns of a
summer-house built after the Dutch taste, in the reign of William III.;
and in front stealing away under covert of those still cedars, into the
wilder landscape of the well-wooded undulating park.  Within, viewed by
the placid glimmer of the moon, the scene was no less characteristic of
the abodes of that race which has no parallel in other lands, and which,
alas!  is somewhat losing its native idiosyncrasies in this,--the stout
country gentleman, not the fine gentleman of the country; the country
gentleman somewhat softened and civilized from the mere sportsman or
farmer, but still plain and homely; relinquishing the old hall for the
drawing-room, and with books not three months old on his table, instead
of Fox's "Martyrs" and Baker's "Chronicle," yet still retaining many a
sacred old prejudice, that, like the knots in his native oak, rather adds
to the ornament of the grain than takes from the strength of the tree.
Opposite to the window, the high chimneypiece rose to the heavy cornice
of the ceiling, with dark panels glistening against the moonlight.  The
broad and rather clumsy chintz sofas and settees of the reign of George
III.  contrasted at intervals with the tall-backed chairs of a far more
distant generation, when ladies in fardingales and gentlemen in trunk-
hose seem never to have indulged in horizontal positions.  The walls, of
shining wainscot, were thickly covered, chiefly with family pictures;
though now and then some Dutch fair or battle-piece showed that a former
proprietor had been less exclusive in his taste for the arts.  The
pianoforte stood open near the fireplace; a long dwarf bookcase at the
far end added its sober smile to the room.  That bookcase contained what
was called "The Lady's Library,"--a collection commenced by the squire's
grandmother, of pious memory, and completed by his mother, who had more
taste for the lighter letters, with but little addition from the
bibliomaniac tendencies of the present Mrs. Hazeldean, who, being no
great reader, contented herself with subscribing to the Book Club.  In
this feminine Bodleian, the sermons collected by Mrs. Hazeldean, the
grandmother, stood cheek-by-jowl beside the novels purchased by Mrs.
Hazeldean, the mother,--

               "Mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho!"

But, to be sure, the novels, in spite of very inflammatory titles, such
as "Fatal Sensibility," "Errors of the Heart," etc., were so harmless
that I doubt if the sermons could have had much to say against their
next-door neighbours,--and that is all that can be expected by the best
of us.

A parrot dozing on his perch; some goldfish fast asleep in their
glass bowl; two or three dogs on the rug, and Flimsey, Miss Jemima's
spaniel, curled into a ball on the softest sofa; Mrs. Hazeldean's work-
table rather in disorder, as if it had been lately used; the
"St. James's Chronicle" dangling down from a little tripod near the
squire's armchair; a high screen of gilt and stamped leather fencing off
the card-table,--all these, dispersed about a room large enough to hold
them all and not seem crowded, offered many a pleasant resting-place for
the eye, when it turned from the world of nature to the home of man.

But see, Captain Barnabas, fortified by his fourth cup of tea, has at
length summoned courage to whisper to Mrs. Hazeldean, "Don't you think
the parson will be impatient for his rubber?"  Mrs. Hazeldean glanced at
the parson and smiled; but she gave the signal to the captain, and the
bell was rung, lights were brought in, the curtains let down; in a few
moments more, the group had collected round the cardtable.  The best of
us are but human--that is not a new truth, I confess, but yet people
forget it every day of their lives--and I dare say there are many who are
charitably thinking at this very moment that my parson ought not to be
playing at whist.  All I can say to those rigid disciplinarians is,
"Every man has his favourite sin: whist was Parson Dale's!--ladies and
gentlemen, what is yours?"  In truth, I must not set up my poor parson,
nowadays, as a pattern parson,--it is enough to have one pattern in a
village no bigger than Hazeldean, and we all know that Lenny Fairfield
has bespoken that place, and got the patronage of the stocks for his
emoluments!  Parson Dale was ordained, not indeed so very long ago, but
still at a time when Churchmen took it a great deal more easily than they
do now.  The elderly parson of that day played his rubber as a matter of
course, the middle-aged parson was sometimes seen riding to cover (I knew
a schoolmaster, a doctor of divinity, and an excellent man, whose pupils
were chiefly taken from the highest families in England, who hunted
regularly three times a week during the season), and the young parson
would often sing a capital song--not composed by David--and join in those
rotatory dances, which certainly David never danced before the ark.

Does it need so long an exordium to excuse thee, poor Parson Dale, for
turning up that ace of spades with so triumphant a smile at thy partner?
I must own that nothing which could well add to the parson's offence was
wanting.  In the first place, he did not play charitably, and merely to
oblige other people.  He delighted in the game, he rejoiced in the game,
his whole heart was in the game,--neither was he indifferent to the
mammon of the thing, as a Christian pastor ought to have been.  He looked
very sad when he took his shillings out of his purse, and exceedingly
pleased when he put the shillings that had just before belonged to other
people into it.  Finally, by one of those arrangements common with
married people who play at the same table, 'Mr. and--Mrs. Hazeldean were
invariably partners, and no two people could play worse; while Captain
Barnabas, who had played at Graham's with honour and profit, necessarily
became partner to Parson Dale, who himself played a good steady parsonic
game.  So that, in strict truth, it was hardly fair play; it was almost
swindling,--the combination of these two great dons against that innocent
married couple!  Mr. Dale, it is true, was aware of this disproportion of
force, and had often proposed either to change partners or to give odds,
--propositions always scornfully scouted by the squire and his lady, so
that the parson was obliged to pocket his conscience, together with the
ten points which made his average winnings.

The strangest thing in the world is the different way in which whist
affects the temper.  It is no test of temper, as some pretend,--not at
all!  The best-tempered people in the world grow snappish at whist; and I
have seen the most testy and peevish in the ordinary affairs of life bear
their losses with the stoicism of Epictetus.  This was notably manifested
in the contrast between the present adversaries of the Hall and the
Rectory.  The squire, who was esteemed as choleric a gentleman as most in
the county, was the best-humoured fellow you could imagine when you set
him down to whist opposite the sunny face of his wife.  You never heard
one of those incorrigible blunderers scold each other; on the contrary,
they only laughed when they threw away the game, with four by honours in
their hands.  The utmost that was ever said was a "Well, Harry, that was
the oddest trump of yours.  Ho, ho, ho!" or a "Bless me, Hazeldean--why,
they made three tricks in clubs, and you had the ace in your hand all the
time!  Ha, ha, ha!"

Upon which occasions Captain Barnabas, with great goodhumour, always
echoed both the squire's Ho, ho, ho! and Mrs. Hazeldean's Ha, ha, ha!

Not so the parson.  He had so keen and sportsmanlike an interest in the
game, that even his adversaries' mistakes ruffled him.  And you would
hear him, with elevated voice and agitated gestures, laying down the law,
quoting Hoyle, appealing to all the powers of memory and common-sense
against the very delinquencies by which he was enriched,
---a waste of eloquence that always heightened the hilarity of Mr. and
Mrs. Hazeldean.  While these four were thus engaged, Mrs. Dale, who had
come with her husband despite her headache, sat on the sofa beside Miss
Jemima, or rather beside Miss Jemima's Flimsey, which had already secured
the centre of the sofa, and snarled at the very idea of being disturbed.
And Master Frank--at a table by himself--was employed sometimes in
looking at his pumps and sometimes at Gilray's Caricatures, which his
mother had provided for his intellectual requirements.  Mrs. Dale, in her
heart, liked Miss Jemima better than Mrs. Hazeldean, of whom she was
rather in awe, notwithstanding they had been little girls together, and
occasionally still called each other Harry and Carry.  But those tender
diminutives belonged to the "Dear" genus, and were rarely employed by the
ladies, except at times when, had they been little girls still, and the
governess out of the way, they would have slapped and pinched each other.
Mrs. Dale was still a very pretty woman, as Mrs. Hazeldean was still a
very fine woman.  Mrs. Dale painted in water-colours, and sang, and made
card-racks and penholders, and was called an "elegant, accomplished
woman;" Mrs. Hazeldean cast up the squire's accounts, wrote the best part
of his letters, kept a large establishment in excellent order, and was
called "a clever, sensible woman."  Mrs. Dale had headaches and nerves;
Mrs. Hazeldean had neither nerves nor headaches.  Mrs. Dale said, "Harry
had no real harm in her, but was certainly very masculine;"  Mrs.
Hazeldean  said, "Carry would be a good creature but for her airs and
graces."  Mrs. Dale said Mrs. Hazeldean was "just made to be a country
squire's lady;" Mrs. Hazeldean said, "Mrs. Dale was the last person in
the world who ought to have been a parson's wife."  Carry, when she spoke
of Harry to a third person, said, "Dear Mrs. Hazeldean;" Harry, when she
referred incidentally to Carry, said, "Poor Mrs. Dale."  And now the
reader knows why Mrs. Hazeldean called Mrs. Dale "poor,"--at least as
well as I do.  For, after all, the word belonged to that class in the
female vocabulary which may be called "obscure significants," resembling
the Konx Ompax, which hath so puzzled the inquirers into the Eleusinian
Mysteries: the application is rather to be illustrated than the meaning
to be exactly explained.

"That's really a sweet little dog of yours, Jemima," said Mrs. Dale, who
was embroidering the word CAROLINE on the border of a cambric pocket
handkerchief; but edging a little farther off, as she added, "he'll not
bite, will he?"

"Dear me, no!" said Miss Jemima; "but" (she added in a confidential
whisper) "don't say he,--'t is a lady dog!"

"Oh," said Mrs. Dale, edging off still farther, as if that confession of
the creature's sex did not serve to allay her apprehensions,--"oh, then,
you carry your aversion to the gentlemen even to lap-dogs,--that is being
consistent indeed, Jemima!"

MISS JEMIMA.--"I had a gentleman dog once,--a pug!--pugs are getting very
scarce now.  I thought he was so fond of me--he snapped at every one
else; the battles I fought for him!  Well, will you believe--I had been
staying with my friend Miss Smilecox at Cheltenham.  Knowing that William
is so hasty, and his boots are so thick, I trembled to think what a kick
might do.  So, on coming here I left Bluff--that was his name--with Miss
Smilecox."  (A pause.)

MRS. DALE (looking up languidly).--"Well, my love?"

MISS JEMIMA.--"Will you believe it, I say, when I returned to Cheltenham,
only three months afterwards, Miss Smilecox had seduced his affections
from me, and the ungrateful creature did not even know me again?  A pug,
too--yet people say pugs are faithful!  I am sure they ought to be, nasty
things!  I have never had a gentleman dog since,--they are all alike,
believe me, heartless, selfish creatures."

MRS. DALE.--"Pugs?  I dare say they are!"

MISS JEMIMA (with spirit).-"MEN!--I told you it was a gentleman dog!"

MRS. DALE (apologetically).--"True, my love, but the whole thing was so
mixed up!"

MISS JEMIMA.--"You saw that cold-blooded case of Breach of Promise of
Marriage in the papers,--an old wretch, too, of sixty-four.  No age makes
them a bit better.  And when one thinks that the end of all flesh is
approaching, and that--"

MRS. DALE (quickly, for she prefers Miss Jemima's other hobby to that
black one upon which she is preparing to precede the bier of the
universe).--"Yes, my love, we'll avoid that subject, if you please.  Mr.
Dale has his own opinions, and it becomes me, you know, as a parson's
wife" (said smilingly: Mrs. Dale has as pretty a dimple as any of Miss
Jemima's, and makes more of that one than Miss Jemima of three), "to
agree with him,--that is, in theology."

MISS JEMIMA (earnestly).---"But the thing is so clear, if you will but
look into--"

MRS. DALE (putting her hand on Miss Jemima's lips playfully).---"Not a
word more.  Pray, what do you think of the squire's tenant at the Casino,
Signor Riccabocca?  An interesting creature, is he not?"

MISS JEMIMA.--"Interesting! not to me.  Interesting?  Why is he
interesting?"

Mrs. Dale is silent, and turns her handkerchief in her pretty little
white hands, appearing to contemplate the R in Caroline.

MISS JEMIMA (half pettishly, half coaxingly).--"Why is he interesting?  I
scarcely ever looked at him; they say he smokes, and never eats.  Ugly,
too!"

MRS. DALE.--"Ugly,--no.  A fine bead,--very like Dante's; but what is
beauty?"

MISS JEMIMA.--"Very true: what is it indeed?  Yes, as you say, I think
there is something interesting about him; he looks melancholy, but that
may be because he is poor."

MRS. DALE.--"It is astonishing how little one feels poverty when one
loves.  Charles and I were very poor once,--before the squire--"  Mrs.
Dale paused, looked towards the squire, and murmured a blessing, the
warmth of which brought tears into her eyes.  "Yes," she added, after a
pause, "we were very poor, but we were happy even then,--more thanks to
Charles than to me;" and tears from a new source again dimmed those
quick, lively eyes, as the little woman gazed fondly on her husband,
whose brows were knit into a black frown over a bad hand.

MISS JEMIMA.--"It is only those horrid men who think of money as a source
of happiness.  I should be the last person to esteem a gentleman less
because he was poor."

MRS. DALE.--"I wonder the squire does not ask Signor Riccabocca here more
often.  Such an acquisition we find him!"

The squire's voice from the card-table.--"Whom ought I to ask more often,
Mrs. Dale?"

Parson's voice, impatiently.--"Come, come, come, squire: play to my queen
of diamonds,--do!"

SQUIRE.--"There, I trump it! pick up the trick, Mrs. H."

PARSON.--"Stop!  Stop! trump my diamond?"

THE CAPTAIN (solemnly).--"'Trick turned; play on, Squire."

SQUIRE.--"The king of diamonds."

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--"Lord!  Hazeldean, why, that's the most barefaced
revoke,--ha, ha, ha!  trump the queen of diamonds and play out the king!
well, I never! ha, ha, ha!"

CAPTAIN BARNABAS (in tenor).--"Ha, ha, ha!"

SQUIRE.--"Ho, ho, ho! bless my soul! ho, ho, ho!"

CAPTAIN BARNABAS (in bass).--"Ho, ho, ho!"

Parson's voice raised, but drowned by the laughter of his adversaries and
the firm, clear tone of Captain Barnabas.--"Three to our score!--game!"

SQUIRE (wiping his eyes).--"No help for it; Harry, deal for me.  Whom
ought I to ask, Mrs. Dale?" (Waxing angry.) "First time I ever heard the
hospitality of Hazeldean called in question!"

MRS. DALE.--"My dear sir, I beg a thousand pardons, but listeners--you
know the proverb."

SQUIRE (growling like a bear).--"I hear nothing but proverbs ever since
we had that Mounseer among us.  Please to speak plainly, ma'am."

Mrs. DALE (sliding into a little temper at being thus roughly accosted).
--"It was of Mounseer, as you call him, that I spoke, Mr. Hazeldean."

SQUIRE.--"What! Rickeybockey?"

MRS. DALE (attempting the pure Italian accentuation).--"Signor
Riccabocca."

PARSON (slapping his cards on the table in despair).--"Are we playing at
whist, or are we not?"

The squire, who is fourth player, drops the king to Captain
Higginbotham's lead of the ace of hearts.  Now the captain has left
queen, knave, and two other hearts, four trumps to the queen, and nothing
to win a trick with in the two other suits.  This hand is therefore
precisely one of those in which, especially after the fall of that king
of hearts in the adversary's hand, it becomes a matter of reasonable
doubt whether to lead trumps or not.  The captain hesitates, and not
liking to play out his good hearts with the certainty of their being
trumped by the squire, nor, on the other hand, liking to open the other
suits, in which he has not a card that can assist his partner, resolves,
as becomes a military man in such dilemma, to make a bold push and lead
out trumps in the chance of finding his partner strong and so bringing in
his long suit.

SQUIRE (taking advantage of the much meditating pause made by the
captain).--"Mrs. Dale, it is not my fault.  I have asked Rickeybockey,--
time out of mind.  But I suppose I am not fine enough for those foreign
chaps.  He'll not come,--that's all I know."

PARSON (aghast at seeing the captain play out trumps, of which he, Mr.
Dale, has only two, wherewith he expects to ruff the suit of spades, of
which he has only one, the cards all falling in suits, while he has not a
single other chance of a trick in his hand).--"Really, Squire, we had
better give up playing if you put out my partner in this extraordinary
way,--jabber, jabber, jabber!"

SQUIRE.--"Well, we must be good children, Harry.  What!--trumps, Barney?
Thank ye for that!" And the squire might well be grateful, for the
unfortunate adversary has led up to ace king knave, with two other
trumps.  Squire takes the parson's ten with his knave, and plays out ace
king; then, having cleared all the trumps except the captain's queen and
his own remaining two, leads off tierce major in that very suit of spades
of which the parson has only one,--and the captain, indeed, but two,--
forces out the captain's queen, and wins the game in a canter.

PARSON (with a look at the captain which might have become the awful
brows of Jove, when about to thunder).--"That, I suppose, is the new-
fashioned London play!  In my time the rule was, 'First save the game,
then try to win it.'"

CAPTAIN.--"Could not save it, sir."

PARSON (exploding)--"Not save it!--two ruffs in my own hand,--two tricks
certain till you took them out!  Monstrous!  The rashest trump."--Seizes
the cards, spreads them on the table, lip quivering, hands trembling,
tries to show how five tricks could have been gained,--N.B.  It is
/short/ whist which Captain Barnabas had introduced at the Hall,--can't
make out more than four; Captain smiles triumphantly; Parson in a
passion, and not at all convinced, mixes all the cards together again,
and falling back in his chair, groans, with tears in his voice.--"The
cruellest trump!  the most wanton cruelty!"

The Hazeldeans in chorus.--"Ho, ho, ho!  Ha, ha, ha!" The captain, who
does not laugh this time, and whose turn it is to deal, shuffles the
cards for the conquering game of the rubber with as much caution and
prolixity as Fabius might have employed in posting his men.  The squire
gets up to stretch his legs, and, the insinuation against his hospitality
recurring to his thoughts, calls out to his wife, "Write to Rickeybockey
to-morrow yourself, Harry, and ask him to come and spend two or three
days here.  There, Mrs. Dale, you hear me?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Dale, putting her hands to her ears in implied rebuke at
the loudness of the squire's tone.  "My dear sir, do remember that I'm a
sad nervous creature."

"Beg pardon," muttered Mr. Hazeldean, turning to his son, who having got
tired of the caricatures, had fished out for himself the great folio
County History, which was the only book in the library that the squire
much valued, and which he usually kept under lock and key, in his study,
together with the field-books and steward's accounts, but which he had
reluctantly taken into the drawing-room that day, in order to oblige
Captain Higginbotham.  For the Higginbothams--an old Saxon family, as the
name evidently denotes--had once possessed lands in that very county; and
the captain, during his visits to Hazeldean Hall, was regularly in the
habit of asking to look into the County History, for the purpose of
refreshing his eyes, and renovating his sense of ancestral dignity, with
the following paragraph therein:

     To the left of the village of Dunder, and pleasantly situated in a
     hollow, lies Botham Hall, the residence of the ancient family of
     Higginbotham, as it is now commonly called.  Yet it appears by the
     county rolls, and sundry old deeds, that the family formerly styled
     itself Higges, till the Manor House lying in Botham, they gradually
     assumed the appellation of Higges-in-Botham, and in process of time,
     yielding to the corruptions of the vulgar, Higginbotham."

"What, Frank! my County History!" cried the squire.  "Mrs. H., he has got
my County History!"

"Well, Hazeldean, it is time he should know something about the county."

"Ay, and history too," said Mrs. Dale, malevolently, for the little
temper was by no means blown over.

FRANK.--"I'll not hurt it, I assure you, sir.  But I'm very much
interested just at present."

THE CAPTAIN (putting down the cards to cut).--"You've got hold of that
passage about Botham Hall, page 706, eh?"

FRANK.--"No; I was trying to make out how far it is to Mr. Leslie's
place, Rood Hall.  Do you know, Mother?"

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--"I can't say I do.  The Leslies don't mix with the
county; and Rood lies very much out of the way."

FRANK.--"Why don't they mix with the county?"

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--"I believe they are poor, and therefore I suppose they
are proud; they are an old family."

PARSON (thrumming on the table with great impatience).--" Old fiddle-
dee!--talking of old families when the cards have been shuffled this
half-hour!"

CAPTAIN BARNABAS.--"Will you cut for your partner, ma'am?"

SQUIRE (who has been listening to Frank's inquiries with a musing air).--
"Why do you want to know the distance to Rood Hall?"

FRANK (rather hesitatingly).--"Because Randal Leslie is there for the
holidays, sir."

PARSON.---"Your wife has cut for you, Mr. Hazeldean.  I don't think it
was quite fair; and my partner has turned up a deuce,--deuce of hearts.
Please to come and play, if you mean to play."

The squire returns to the table, and in a few minutes the game is decided
by a dexterous finesse of the captain against the Hazeldeans.  The clock
strikes ten; the servants enter with a tray; the squire counts up his own
and his wife's losings; and the captain and parson divide sixteen
shillings between them.

SQUIRE.--"There, Parson, I hope you'll be in a better humour.  You win
enough out of us to set up a coach-and-four."

"Tut!" muttered the parson; "at the end of the year, I'm not a penny the
richer for it all."

And, indeed, monstrous as that assertion seemed, it was perfectly true,
for the parson portioned out his gains into three divisions.  One-third
he gave to Mrs. Dale, for her own special pocket-money; what became of
the second third he never owned even to his better half,--but certain it
was, that every time the parson won seven-and-sixpence, half-a-crown,
which nobody could account for, found its way to the poor-box; while the
remaining third, the parson, it is true, openly and avowedly retained;
but I have no manner of doubt that, at the year's end, it got to the poor
quite as safely as if it had been put into the box.

The party had now gathered round the tray, and were helping themselves to
wine and water, or wine without water,--except Frank, who still remained
poring over the map in the County History, with his head leaning on his
hands, and his fingers plunged in his hair.

"Frank," said Mrs. Hazeldean, "I never saw you so studious before."

Frank started up and coloured, as if ashamed of being accused of too much
study in anything.

SQUIRE (with a little embarrassment in his voice).--"Pray, Frank, what do
you know of Randal Leslie?"

"Why, sir, he is at Eton."

"What sort of a boy is he?" asked Mrs. Hazeldean.

Frank hesitated, as if reflecting, and then answered, "They say he is the
cleverest boy in the school.  But then he saps."

"In other words," said Mr. Dale, with proper parsonic gravity, "he
understands that he was sent to school to learn his lessons, and he
learns them.  You call that sapping? call it doing his duty.  But pray,
who and what is this Randal Leslie, that you look so discomposed,
Squire?"

"Who and what is he?" repeated the squire, in a low growl.  "Why, you
know Mr. Audley Egerton married Miss Leslie, the great heiress; and this
boy is a relation of hers.  I may say," added the squire, "that he is a
near relation of mine, for his grandmother was a Hazeldean; but all I
know about the Leslies is, that Mr. Egerton, as I am told, having no
children of his own, took up young Randal (when his wife died, poor
woman), pays for his schooling, and has, I suppose, adopted the boy as
his heir.  Quite welcome.  Frank and I want nothing from Mr. Audley
Egerton, thank Heaven!"

"I can well believe in your brother's generosity to his wife's kindred,"
said the parson, sturdily, "for I am sure Mr. Egerton is a man of strong
feeling."

"What the deuce do you know about Mr. Egerton?  I don't suppose you could
ever have even spoken to him."

"Yes," said the parson, colouring up, and looking confused.  "I had some
conversation with him once;" and observing the squire's surprise, he
added--"when I was curate at Lansmere, and about a painful business
connected with the family of one of my parishioners."

"Oh, one of your parishioners at Lansmere,--one of the constituents Mr.
Audley Egerton threw over, after all the pains I had taken to get him his
seat.  Rather odd you should never have mentioned this before, Mr. Dale!"

"My dear sir," said the parson, sinking his voice, and in a mild tone of
conciliatory expostulation, "you are so irritable whenever Mr. Egerton's
name is mentioned at all."

"Irritable!" exclaimed the squire, whose wrath had been long simmering,
and now fairly boiled over,--"irritable, sir!  I should think so: a man
for whom I stood godfather at the hustings, Mr. Dale!  a man for whose
sake I was called a 'prize ox,' Mr. Dale!  a man for whom I was hissed in
a market-place, Mr. Dale!  a man for whom I was shot at, in cold blood,
by an officer in His Majesty's service, who lodged a ball in my right
shoulder, Mr. Dale! a man who had the ingratitude, after all this, to
turn his back on the landed interest,--to deny that there was any
agricultural distress in a year which broke three of the best farmers I
ever had, Mr. Dale!--a man, sir, who made a speech on the Currency which
was complimented by Ricardo, a Jew!  Good heavens! a pretty parson you
are, to stand up for a fellow complimented by a Jew!  Nice ideas you must
have of Christianity!  Irritable, sir!" now fairly roared the squire,
adding to the thunder of his voice the cloud of a brow, which evinced a
menacing ferocity that might have done honour to Bussy d'Amboise or
Fighting Fitzgerald.  "Sir, if that man had not been my own half-brother,
I'd have called him out.  I have stood my ground before now.  I have had
a ball in my right shoulder.  Sir, I'd have called him out."

"Mr. Hazeldean!  Mr. Hazeldean!  I'm shocked at you," cried the parson;
and, putting his lips close to the squire's ear, he went on in a whisper,
"What an example to your son!  You'll have him fighting duels one of
these days, and nobody to blame but yourself."

This warning cooled Mr. Hazeldean; and muttering, "Why the deuce did you
set me off?" he fell back into his chair, and began to fan himself with
his pocket-handkerchief.

The parson skilfully and remorselessly pursued the advantage he had
gained.  "And now that you may have it in your power to show civility and
kindness to a boy whom Mr. Egerton has taken up, out of respect to his
wife's memory,--a kinsman, you say, of your own, and who has never
offended you,--a boy whose diligence in his studies proves him to be
an excellent companion to your son-Frank" (here the parson raised his
voice), "I suppose you would like to call on young Leslie, as you were
studying the county map so attentively."

"Yes, yes," answered Frank, rather timidly, "if my father does not object
to it.  Leslie has been very kind tome, though he is in the sixth form,
and, indeed, almost the head of the school."

"Ah!" said Mrs. Hazeldean,  "one studious boy has a fellow feeling for
another; and though you enjoy your holidays, Frank, I am sure you read
hard at school."

Mrs. Dale opened her eyes very wide, and stared in astonishment.

Mrs. Hazeldean retorted that look, with great animation.  "Yes, Carry,"
said she, tossing her head, "though you may not think Frank clever, his
masters find him so.  He got a prize last half.  That beautiful book,
Frank--hold up your head, my love--what did you get it for?"

FRANK (reluctantly).--"Verses, ma'am."

MRS. HAZELDEAN (with triumph).--" Verses!--there, Carry, verses!"

FRANK (in a hurried tone).--"Yes, but Leslie wrote them for me."

MRS. HAZELDEAN (recoiling).--"O Frank!  a prize for what another did for
you--that was mean."

FRANK (ingenuously).--"You can't be more ashamed, Mother, than I was when
they gave me the prize."

MRS. DALE (though previously provoked at being snubbed by Harry, now
showing the triumph of generosity over temper).--"I beg your pardon,
Frank.  Your mother must be as proud of that shame as she was of the
prize."

Mrs. Hazeldean puts her arm round Frank's neck, smiles beamingly on Mrs.
Dale, and converses with her son in a low tone about Randal Leslie.  Miss
Jemima now approached Carry, and said in an "aside," "But we are
forgetting poor Mr. Riccabocca.  Mrs. Hazeldean, though the dearest
creature in the world, has such a blunt way of inviting people--don't you
think if you were to say a word to him, Carry?"

MRS. DALE (kindly, as she wraps her shawl round her).--" Suppose you
write the note yourself?  Meanwhile I shall see him, no doubt."

PARSON (putting his hand on the squire's shoulder).--"You forgive my
impertinence, my kind friend.  We parsons, you know, are apt to take
strange liberties, when we honour and love folks as I do."

"Fish," said the squire; but his hearty smile came to his lips in spite
of himself.  "You always get your own way, and I suppose Frank must ride
over and see this pet of my--"

"Brother's," quoth the parson, concluding the sentence in a tone which
gave to the sweet word so sweet a sound that the squire would not correct
the parson, as he had been about to correct himself.

Mr. Dale moved on; but as he passed Captain Barnabas, the benignant
character of his countenance changed sadly.  "The cruellest trump,
Captain Higginbotham!" said he sternly, and stalked by-majestic.

The night was so fine that the parson and his wife, as they walked home,
made a little detour through the shrubbery.

MRS. DALE.--"I think I have done a good piece of work to-night."

PARSON (rousing himself from a revery).--"Have you, Carry?--it will be a
very pretty handkerchief."

MRS. DALE.--"Handkerchief?--nonsense, dear.  Don't you think it would be
a very happy thing for both if Jemima and Signor Riccabocca could be
brought together?"

PARSON.--"Brought together!"

MRS. DALE.--"You do snap up one so, my dear; I mean if I could make a
match of it."

PARSON.--"I think Riccabocca is a match already, not only for Jemima, but
yourself into the bargain."

MRS. DALE (smiling loftily).--"Well, we shall see.  Was not Jemima's
fortune about L4000?"

PARSON (dreamily, for he is relapsing fast into his interrupted revery).
--"Ay--ay--I dare say."

MRS. DALE.--"And she must have saved!  I dare say it is nearly L6000 by
this time; eh!  Charles dear, you really are so--good gracious, what's
that!"

As Mrs. Dale made this exclamation, they had just emerged from the
shrubbery into the village green.

PARSON.--"What's what?"

MRS. DALE (pinching her husband's arm very nippingly). "That thing--
there--there."

PARSON.--"Only the new stocks, Carry; I don't wonder they frighten you,
for you are a very sensible woman.  I only wish they would frighten the
squire."



CHAPTER XIII.

     [Supposed to be a letter from Mrs. Hazeldean to A. Riccabocca, Esq.,
     The Casino; but, edited, and indeed composed, by Miss Jemima
     Hazeldean.]

HAZELDEAN HALL.

DEAR SIR,--To a feeling heart it must always be painful to give pain to
another, and (though I am sure unconsciously) you have given the greatest
pain to poor Mr. Hazeldean and myself, indeed to all our little circle,
in so cruelly refusing our attempts to become better acquainted with a
gentleman we so highly ESTEEM. Do, pray, dear sir, make us the amende
honorable, and give us the pleasure of your company for a few days at the
Hall.  May we expect you Saturday next?---our dinner hour is six o'clock.

With the best compliments of Mr. and Miss Jemima Hazeldean, believe me,
my dear sir,

Yours truly,  H.  H.


Miss Jemima having carefully sealed this note, which Mrs. Hazeldean had
very willingly deputed her to write, took it herself into the stable-
yard, in order to give the groom proper instructions to wait for an
answer.  But while she was speaking to the man, Frank, equipped for
riding, with more than his usual dandyism, came into the yard, calling
for his pony in a loud voice; and singling out the very groom whom Miss
Jemima was addressing--for, indeed, he was the smartest of all in the
squire's stables--told him to saddle the gray pad and accompany the pony.

"No, Frank," said Miss Jemima, you can't have George; your father wants
him to go on a message,--you can take Mat."

"Mat, indeed!" said Frank, grumbling with some reason; for Mat was a
surly old fellow, who tied a most indefensible neckcloth, and always
contrived to have a great patch on his boots,--besides, he called Frank
"Master," and obstinately refused to trot down hill,--"Mat, indeed! let
Mat take the message, and George go with me."

But Miss Jemima had also her reasons for rejecting Mat.  Mat's foible was
not servility, and he always showed true English independence in all
houses where he was not invited to take his ale in the servants' hall.
Mat might offend Signor Riccabocca, and spoil all.  An animated
altercation ensued, in the midst of which the squire and his wife entered
the yard, with the intention of driving in the conjugal gig to the market
town.  The matter was referred to the natural umpire by both the
contending parties.

The squire looked with great contempt on his son.  "And what do you want
a groom at all for?  Are you afraid of tumbling off the pony?"

FRANK.--"No, Sir; but I like to go as a gentleman, when I pay a visit to
a gentleman!"

SQUIRE (in high wrath).---"You precious puppy!  I think I'm as good a
gentleman as you any day, and I should like to know when you ever saw me
ride to call on a neighbour with a fellow jingling at my heels, like that
upstart Ned Spankie, whose father kept a cotton mill.  First time I ever
heard of a Hazeldean thinking a livery coat was necessary to prove his
gentility!"

MRS. HAZELDEAN (observing Frank colouring, and about to reply).--"Hush,
Frank, never answer your father,--and you are going to call on Mr.
Leslie?"

"Yes, ma'am, and I am very much obliged to my father for letting me,"
said Frank, taking the squire's hand.

"Well, but, Frank," continued Mrs. Hazeldean, "I think you heard that the
Leslies were very poor."

FRANK.--"Eh, Mother?"

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--"And would you run the chance of wounding the pride of a
gentleman as well born as yourself by affecting any show of being richer
than he is?"

SQUIRE (with great admiration).--"Harry, I'd give L10 to have said that!"

FRANK (leaving the squire's hand to take his mother's).--"You're quite
right, Mother; nothing could be more snobbish!"

SQUIRE. "Give us your fist, too, sir; you'll be a chip of the old block,
after all."

Frank smiled, and walked off to his pony.

MRS. HAZELDEAN (to Miss Jemima).--"Is that the note you were to write for
me?"

MISS JEMIMA.--"Yes; I supposed you did not care about seeing it, so I
have sealed it, and given it to George."

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--"But Frank will pass close by the Casino on his way to
the Leslies'.  It may be more civil if he leaves the note himself."

MISS JEMIMA (hesitatingly).--"Do you think so?"

MRS. HAZELDEAN.--" Yes, certainly.  Frank, Frank, as you pass by the
Casino, call on Mr. Riccabocca, give this note, and say we shall be
heartily glad if he will come."  Frank nods.

"Stop a bit," cried the squire.  "If Rickeybockey is at home, 't is ten
to one if he don't ask you to take a glass of wine!  If he does, mind,
't is worse than asking you to take a turn on the rack.  Faugh!  you
remember, Harry?--I thought it was all up with me."

"Yes," cried Mrs. Hazeldean; "for Heaven's sake not a drop.  Wine,
indeed!"

"Don't talk of it," cried the squire, making a wry face.

"I'll take care, Sir!" said Frank, laughing as he disappeared within the
stable, followed by Miss Jemima, who now coaxingly makes it up with him,
and does not leave off her admonitions to be extremely polite to the poor
foreign gentleman till Frank gets his foot into the stirrup, and the
pony, who knows whom he has got to deal with, gives a preparatory plunge
or two, and then darts out of the yard.





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