Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: John Herring, Volume 2 (of 3) - A West of England Romance
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
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 "John Herring, Volume 2 (of 3) - A West of England Romance" ***

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

***



                             *JOHN HERRING*

                      _A WEST OF ENGLAND ROMANCE_


                         BY SABINE BARING-GOULD

                          AUTHOR OF ’MEHALAH’



                            IN THREE VOLUMES



                                VOL. II.



                                 LONDON
                 SMITH, ELDER, & CO, 15 WATERLOO PLACE
                                  1883

                         [All rights reserved]



                               *CONTENTS*

                                   OF

                           THE SECOND VOLUME

CHAPTER

    XXI. The Cub
   XXII. Moonshine and Diamonds
  XXIII. Paste
   XXIV. The Oxenham Arms
    XXV. A Levée
   XXVI. The Shekel
  XXVII. Cobbledick’s Rheumatics
 XXVIII. Caught in the Act
   XXIX. A Race
    XXX. Between Cup and Lip
   XXXI. Joyce’s Patient
  XXXII. Destitute
 XXXIII. Transformation
  XXXIV. Herring’s Stockings
   XXXV. Beggary
  XXXVI. Mirelle’s Guests
 XXXVII. A Second Summons
XXXVIII. A Virgin Martyr
  XXXIX. Welltown
     XL. Noel!  Noel!



                            *JOHN HERRING.*



                             *CHAPTER XXI.*

                               *THE CUB.*


Mirelle was conscious of a change in Trecarrel towards her.  She ceased
to engross his attentions, which were now directed towards Orange.  She
could not recall anything she had said or done that would account for
this change.  When the Captain was alone with her, he was full of
sympathy and tenderness as before, but this was only when they were
alone.  Trecarrel argued with himself that it would be unfair and
ungentlemanly to throw her over abruptly.  He would lower her into the
water little by little, but the souse must come eventually.  Some of the
martyrs were let down inch by inch into boiling pitch, others were cast
in headlong, and the fate of the latter was the preferable, and the
judge who sentenced to it was the most humane.  Mirelle suffered.  For
the first time in her life her heart had been roused, and it threw out
its fibres towards Trecarrel for support.  She was young, an exile,
among those who were no associates, and he was the only person to whom
she could disclose her thoughts and with whom she could converse as an
equal.  He had met her with warmth and with assurances of sympathy.  Of
late he had drawn back, and she had been left entirely to herself,
whilst his attention was engrossed by Orange Tramplara.

But Orange, with no small spice of vindictiveness in her nature, urged
the Captain to show civility to Mirelle.  She knew the impression
Trecarrel had made on her cousin’s heart, and, now that she was sure of
the Captain, she was ready to encourage him to play with and torture her
rival.  Women are only cruel to their own sex, and towards them they are
remorseless.

’Do speak to Mirelle, she is so lonely. She does not get on with us.
She does not understand our ways, she is Frenchified,’ said Orange, with
an amiable smile.  The Captain thought this very kind of his betrothed,
and was not slow to avail himself of the permission.  Nevertheless,
Mirelle perceived the insincerity of his profession.  She was unaware of
the engagement.  This had not been talked about, and was by her
unsuspected. Orange was well aware of the fascination exerted over
Trecarrel by Mirelle: she knew that her own position with him had been
threatened, almost lost.  She was unable to forgive her cousin for her
unconscious rivalry. She did not attempt to forgive her.  She sought the
surest means of punishing her. Mirelle was uneasy and unhappy.  She
considered all that had passed between her and Trecarrel.  He had not
professed more than fraternal affection, but his manner had implied more
than his words had expressed. She became silent and abstracted, not more
than usual towards the Trampleasures, for she had never spoken more than
was necessary to them, nor had opened to them in the least, but silent
before Trecarrel, and abstracted from her work at all times.  The frank
confidence she had accorded him was withdrawn, their interchange of
ideas interrupted.  She found herself now with no one to whom she could
unfold, and she suffered the more acutely for having allowed herself to
open at all.  She began now to wish that John Herring were nearer, and
to suspect that she had not treated him with sufficient consideration.

Mirelle was not jealous of Orange: she was surprised that Captain
Trecarrel should find attractions in her.  Mirelle had formed her own
conception of her cousin’s character; she thought her to be generous,
warm, and impulsive; coarse in mind and feeling, but yet kindly.  How
could a gentleman such as the Captain find charms in such a person?
Mirelle did not see the money, nor did she measure correctly the
character of Orange.

About this time young Sampson Tramplara began to annoy her with his
attentions, offered uncouthly.  The youth was perfectly satisfied with
himself, he believed himself to be irresistible and his manner to be
accomplished.  He was wont to chuck chambermaids under the chin, and to
lounge over the bar flirting with the ’young lady’ at the tap, but was
unaccustomed to the society of ladies, and felt awkward in their
presence.

Mirelle at once allured and repelled him. He could not fail to admire
her beauty, but he was unable to attain ease of manner in her presence.
She seemed to surround herself with an atmosphere of frost that chilled
him when he ventured near.  After a while, when the first unfamiliarity
had worn off, through meeting frequently at meals and in the evenings,
he attempted to force himself on her notice by bragging of his doings
with dogs and horses, addressing himself to his father and mother, but
keeping an eye on Mirelle and observing the effect produced on her mind
by his exploits.

After that he ventured to address her; to admire her embroidery, her
tinsel flowers, her cut-paper lace, and to pass coarse flatteries on
them and her; and when this only froze her into frostier stiffness, to
attempt to take her by storm, by rollicking fun and insolent
familiarities.

He was hurt by the way in which she ignored him.  He never once caught
her eye when telling his best hunting exploits.  His raciest jokes did
not provoke a smile on her lips.  He could extract from her no words
save cold answers to pointed questions.

Her position in the house became daily less endurable, and she could see
no means of escape from it.  She had appealed to her guardian to allow
her to return to the convent of the Sacred Heart, but had met with a
peremptory refusal.  A fluttering hope had sprung up that Trecarrel
might be her saviour, a hope scarce formulated, indistinctly existing,
but now that had died away.

Once she appealed to Mr. Trampleasure against his son.  She begged that
he would insist on young Sampson refraining from causing her annoyance
by his impertinence. But she obtained no redress.  ’My dear missie! the
boy is a good boy, full of spirit. He comes of the right stuff—true
Trampleasure, girl!  We don’t set up to Carrara marble here.  You must
treat him in the right way.  Flip him over the nose with your knitting
pins, or run your needle into his thumb, and he will keep his distance.
You can be sharp enough when you like, and say words that cut like
razors.  Try some of your smartness on Sampy, and he will sneak away
with his ears down.  I know the boy; he is not smart at repartee.  You
should have heard how Polly Skittles set him down t’other day.’

’Pray, who is Polly Skittles?’

’The barmaid at the Pig-and-Whistle.’

’I decline absolutely to take lessons from a Pig-and-Whistle barmaid how
to deal with a booby.’

’Missie!’ exclaimed the old man, flaming red.  ’You forget—he is my
son.’

’No one could possibly doubt it,’ said Mirelle, and walked away.

After that, so far from old Tramplara making his son desist from
annoying Mirelle, he egged him on to it.  The old man’s pride was hurt
at the scorn with which the girl treated both him and his son—a scorn
she took no pains to conceal.

’Look you here, Sampy,’ said Tramplara, ’if the girl is to be had, you
had better say Snap.  There is her six thousand pounds, which must be
kept in the family.  True by you, it is now sunk in Ophir; but I expect
some day to bring it out of Ophir turned into twelve thousand.  If she
marries, her husband will be demanding the money, and that might lead to
unpleasantness.  As Scripture says, "Live peaceably with all men," and I
say the same, when money is involved.  I will tell you something more.
I do not believe, I cannot believe, that six thousand pounds represent
the total of old Strange’s estate. There must be more money
somewhere—perhaps in a Brazilian bank; and all that is wanted is for one
of us to go over and find out.  You won’t convince me that a diamond
merchant doing a roaring trade for a quarter of a century made no more
than six thousand pounds.  I have always heard that the diamond trade is
a very beautiful and delicate business, giving rich returns.  With
caution you manage to get as many diamonds out of the niggers as from
their masters, and you pay five shillings to the former where fifty
pounds won’t satisfy the latter.  I leave you to guess what profits are
made.  If we had not our hands full of Ophir, I would go myself to
Brazil, or send you, to see about James Strange’s leavings.  Six
thousand pounds! Why, that is what he sent over to meet present
contingencies.  He intended drawing the rest when settled.  Mark this,
Sampy. Should a breath of cold air come down off the moors on Ophir, and
somewhat chill that warm concern, so as to make it advisable for either
or both of us to take a turn out of England—Brazil is the word.’

’Have you written to Brazil?’

’Of course I have.  To the English Consul at Bahia, and have offered to
tip him handsomely if he sends me word that old Strange left money
there.  But I have had no answer as yet.’

As the attentions of young Tramplara became more offensive and more
difficult to avoid, Mirelle appealed in despair to Captain Trecarrel.

’My dear Mirelle, what can I do?  He is the son of the house, and I
visit there.  If I were to quarrel with him, I should be forbidden the
house, and then,’ with a tender look out of the Trecarrel blue eyes, ’I
should see no more of you.’

’I thought gentlemen could always take action in such matters.  Voyez!
In France I step up to a gentleman, and say, That person yonder has
looked at me insultingly.  Then the gentleman who is a perfect stranger
goes across the street and knocks down the insolent one.’

’That would involve an action for assault, and the estate would not bear
it,’ said Trecarrel, sadly.  ’If it were worth a couple of hundred more,
I might do it.  I know an excellent fellow who knocked a young farmer
head over heels in the graveyard on leaving church, because he had
looked from his pew admiringly at the young lady this gentleman was
about to marry.  He compromised the matter by getting a commission for
the young farmer, but it cost him a lot of money. These are not the
days, my dear Mirelle, when any man may be heroic; heroism is only
compatible with a balance at the bank. I’ll tell you, however, what I
can do, and that I will do, as it falls within my means to do it.  I
will invite young Sampson to a supper at the King’s Arms, and I will
then talk the thing over reasonably with him.  Put your mind at ease.  I
have great influence with the cub, who looks up to me as a sort of
model, and I do not doubt that I shall induce him to desist from his
attentions.’

But Captain Trecarrel had overrated his influence.  The cub continued
his offensive conduct.

One day when he had intruded on her in the summer-house, where she was
writing at her desk—her father’s desk—she suddenly recalled Herring’s
interference at West Wyke.

’What—-writing a love-letter,’ asked young Sampson, lounging on the
table opposite her, and trying to look into her eyes. ’Oh dear, how I
wish it was to me!’

Mirelle lifted the flap of the writing-case, and took out the small
square ruler, and with her finger pushed it across the table in the
direction of Mr. Sampson, without raising her eyes from the writing.

Young Tramplara looked at the ruler, then at Mirelle.  She took no more
notice of him, except that she wrote on a piece of folded paper the name
and address of John Herring, and when Sampson attempted again to speak
she tossed the paper before him and pointed to the ruler.

He rose scowling.  He perfectly understood what she meant: another
impertinence, and she would write to John Herring to break that ruler
across his skull.  Her coolness, her utter contempt for him, the galling
of his pride, filled him with rage; but he was a coward, and so he rose
from his seat, thrust his hands into his pockets, and sauntered out of
the summer-house whistling ’The girl I left behind me.’



                            *CHAPTER XXII.*

                       *MOONSHINE AND DIAMONDS.*


Mirelle and Orange were dressing for the ball in the same room; that is,
Orange had come into the room of Mirelle for her to do her hair.
Mirelle was perfect in this art; her delicate fingers turned the curls
in the most graceful and becoming arrangement.  This was an art above
the sweep of the powers of the maid-of-all-work.  Orange, in return,
offered to do Mirelle’s hair.

’But Mirelle, my dear Mirelle!  You look like a ghost, all in white.
Not a particle of colour!  It does not suit you; you are so pale.  Good
heavens! let me look at your hands.’  Orange took the long narrow
fingers in hers, and held the delicate hand before the candle.  It was
transparent, and thus only did it show a rosy red.

’Unless I had seen it, I would not have believed that there was blood in
you,’ said Orange; and then she glanced at herself proudly in the cheval
glass.  ’Do look at me, Mirelle.  I am glowing with life.  See my lips,
my cheeks—how warm they are!  My eyes flicker, whereas you are as though
spun out of moonshine.  There is not the faintest rose in your cheek,
and your lips alone show the least tinge of life.  Your eyes have no
sparkle in them; they are dark pools in which nothing lives.  I wish you
would stand between me and the lamp; I believe I should see the light
through you.  Whoever saw flesh like yours?  It is not flesh, it is wax.
You must paint.  You are unendurable like this—like a corpse of a bride
risen from her coffin come to haunt the living.’

’I shall put on my diamonds,’ said Mirelle.

’What diamonds?’

’My mother’s.’

’I did not know you had them.’

’Yes, I kept them with my own things, in my own box.  When my mother
died they were committed to me.’

’You cannot wear diamonds; a girl in England does not put on jewelry.’

’I am going to wear them.’

Then Mirelle opened a little case, and drew from it a coronet and a
necklace of diamonds.

’Fasten the crown about my head,’ she said; ’I can put the necklace on
myself.’

Orange stepped back in astonishment. She had never seen anything so
beautiful.

’Why, Mirelle, they must be very valuable.  How they twinkle, how they
will sparkle downstairs among the many lights.’  Then with a touch of
malice, ’What will Captain Trecarrel think?  Now you look like a queen
of the fairies.  He will fairly lose his heart to you to-night.’

She saw a spot of colour come into each cheek.  It angered her, and she
went on with bitterness in her soul, ’You know that you belong to his
class; and he will think so as well to-night.  I suppose he and you will
despise us humble folk who have to do with trade and business, and you
will have eyes only for each other.  What a couple you will make, side
by side, he with his aristocratic air, and you bejewelled like a
princess!’

She looked at herself in the glass and then at Mirelle, and was
reassured.  No comparison could be drawn between them. She, Orange, was
splendid.  She wore pink with carnation ribands, and a red rose in her
hair, another in her bosom.  Her dark and abundant hair and her large
dark eyes looked well, set in red.  The colour in her cheeks was
heightened.  Her bosom heaved, she had a fine bust and throat, and her
features were handsome.  There was life, love, heat in her. Who could
care for a snowdrift—nay, for a frozen fog, though it sparkled?

’Come down, Mirelle: it is time.  I have already heard one carriage
drive up.  How we shall get every one who is invited into this house I
do not know.’

’I will go down presently.  You go on without me.  I am not wanted as
yet.’

Mirelle did not descend for half an hour.

When she entered the room where the guests were assembled, it was full.
She did not look round her except for a seat, and when she had
discovered one she walked to it. She knew nothing of the persons there:
they were excellent on their appropriate shelf, but their shelf was not
her shelf.

Trecarrel and Herring were both present, and saw her.  They had been
watching for her to come in.  Her appearance surprised them.  In the
well-lighted room, in her white muslin, with white satin bows, and with
her head and delicate throat glittering with diamonds, she seemed a
spirit; a spectral White Lady.  Her face was as colourless as her dress,
save for the fine blue veins that marked her temples.  She seemed too
fragile, too ethereal to belong to the earth.  Her beauty was of an
order rare in England, unknown in the West.

Captain Trecarrel started forward.  ’Countess Mirelle,’ said he, ’you
are unprovided with a flower.  Am I too impertinent if I offer you one?
I thought you might possibly be without, and I have brought you a spray
of white heath.  Will you accept it?’

She raised her eyes, smiled somewhat sadly at him, and took the sprig
with a slight bow.  Then she put it to her bosom.  As she was doing so,
her eye encountered that of Herring, who stood by.  She recalled his
offer of white heath made on the day of her father’s funeral.

’It brings good luck,’ said Trecarrel.  The same words that Herring had
employed. Mirelle’s hand trembled, and she looked timidly, flutteringly,
at Herring.

’Ah!’ said he, ’all the bells have fallen off.’

Then she said, in a half-pleading tone, ’Mr. Herring, I was once very
rude and very wrong when I refused the same from you.  Now I am rightly
punished.’

She removed the sprig.  ’You see, Captain,’ she said, as she handed it
back to Trecarrel, ’the heath has rained off all its white bells.  I am
not destined to receive good luck from either you or Mr. Herring.  I
thank you for the kind attention.  I cannot wear the heath now.’

’Are you engaged for the first dance?’ asked Herring.

Mirelle looked at Trecarrel, who turned his head away.  He must, of
course, open the ball with Orange.  After a pause, in a tone tinged with
disappointment, she said she was not engaged, and Herring secured her.

The appearance of Mirelle in the ball-room caused general surprise.  It
was an apparition rather than an appearance.  The prevailing opinion
admitted her beauty, but decided that it was of too refined and pure a
type to be pleasing; it was a type suitable for a statue but not for a
partner.  Men love after their kind; blood calls for blood, not for ice.

The ladies discussed her diamonds, and concluded unanimously that they
were paste. No one allows to another what he does not possess himself.

’You know, my dear, she comes from Paris, and in Paris they make ’em of
paste for tenpence to look as natural as real stones worth a thousand
pounds.’

’But her father was a diamond merchant.’

’True by you, but these stones were her mother’s I make no doubt, and
that mother was a gambling old Spanish Countess, who would sell her soul
for money.  I’ve heard Mr. Trampleasure say as much.’

’She don’t look as if she had any constitution to speak of,’ observed
one old lady.

’That transparent skin,’ answered another, ’always means that the heart
is bad.  I ought to know, for my uncle was a chemist.  The highest
person in the land—and when I say it, I mean the highest—came into my
uncle’s place one morning and asked for a seidlitz-powder, and he took
it on the premises, and he told my uncle that he never took a better
seidlitz in his life.’

’She is proud as Lucifer,’ said one. ’Look! she’s gone and refused Mr.
Sampson Tramplara.  That is too bad, and she owes her meat and bread,
and the roof that covers her, to the charity of his father.’

’He is getting angry,’ said the lady whose uncle was in the chemical
line.  ’Sampson is not one who can bear to be treated impolitely.’

’She will dance with no one but that strange gentleman whom they call
Herring, and Captain Trecarrel.  Stuck up because of her rank, I
suppose.’

’Ah! as if her rank was anything.  The highest in the land spoke quite
affable to my uncle, and said his seidlitz was the best seidlitz he had
ever drunk.’

’Do you call Mr. Sampson handsome?’

’Handsome!  I should rather say so; and better than that, he will be
rich.’

’Better than all, he will be good,’ said a serious lady, Mrs. Flamank,
impressively.

’The highest in the land put down twopence for his seidlitz like any
other man. But that seidlitz cost my uncle five-and-twenty pounds, for
he paid that sum for a Royal arms, lion and unicorn and little dog all
complete, to put up over his shop door; and an inscription, "Chemist (by
appointment) to His Royal Highness."  But I never heard that it brought
him more custom.  Still, there was the honour, and if that were a
satisfaction to him, I don’t blame him.’

’What do you think of Orange Tramplara hooking the Captain?’

’The hooking was quite as much on his side as on hers.  He is poor as a
rat, and she wants position, so the transaction is one of simple sale
and barter.’

’The highest in the land,’ began again the lady whose uncle had been a
chemist; but at these words the ladies broke up their party round her,
and escaped to other parts of the room.

Sampson Trampleasure would not take his refusal.  He stood by the side
of Mirelle, his cheek flushed, and his eye twinkling with anger.

’I don’t see why you should dance with some gentlemen and refuse
others,’ he said sulkily.

’I have refused no gentleman,’ answered Mirelle, looking across the
room.

He was too stupid to understand the rebuff.  He persisted in worrying
her.  ’Well,’ he said, ’if you won’t stand up with me, you must let me
take you to supper.’

She was silent a moment, raised her eyes timidly and entreatingly to
John Herring, and said, ’I am already engaged.’  Herring coloured with
pleasure and stepped forward to her assistance.

’You must not tease the Countess,’ he said. ’She confesses that she is
not strong and able to dance often.  She has fixed on the number of
dances she will engage in, and more fortunate applicants have
forestalled you, and put their names on her card.  You have only
yourself to blame that you did not press your claim in proper time.’

’I say,’ observed Sampson, with an ugly smile on his lips, ’Mirelle,
don’t you go dancing too often with Trecarrel.  Orange won’t like it.
When a girl is about to be married to a man, she don’t like to have
another girl coquetting with her deary.’

’Mr. Sampson Trampleasure,’ said Herring, stepping forward, ’this is
your father’s house, and I——’ but Mirelle’s hand grasped his arm, and
arrested what he was about to say.  He looked round.  At the same moment
a pair of waltzers caught Sampson, and with the shock he was driven into
the midst of the whirling circle, when he was struck by another couple,
and sent flying at a tangent to the door.

Herring looked at Mirelle.  She was trembling slightly, and her face
was, if possible, whiter than before.  Dark shadows formed under her
eyes, making them look unusually large and bright.

She did not speak, but continued grasping Herring’s arm, unconscious
what she was doing; he could feel by the spasmodic contraction of her
fingers that she was more agitated than she allowed to appear.  He stood
patiently at her side, seeing that she was distressed, and supposing
that the insolence of young Tramplara was the occasion of her distress.

Presently she recovered herself enough to speak.  She put her
handkerchief to her brow, and then, with feminine address, gave her
emotion an excuse that would disguise its real cause.

’He offends me,’ she said; ’I am unaccustomed to this sort of treatment.
Some persons when they go among wolves learn to howl.  With me it will
be a matter of years before I can school myself to endure their bark.  I
have lived hitherto in a walled garden among lilies and violets and
faint sweet roses, and suddenly I am transplanted into a field of
cabbages, where some of the plants are mere stumps, and all harbour
slugs.’  She paused again.  Just then Trecarrel came up.  She let go her
grasp of Herring’s arm.  She had forgotten that she was still holding
it. Trecarrel came smiling his sunniest, with his blue eyes full of
languor.  As he approached she shrank back, and then drew herself up.

’I think, Mirelle,’ said he, ’you are engaged to me for the next
quadrille.’  He was looking at her diamonds and appraising them; and he
wondered whether, after all, he had not made a mistake in taking Orange
instead of Mirelle.

’If I were her husband,’ he considered, ’I could keep a tight hand on
Tramplara, so that he could not very well make away with the six
thousand pounds.  I wish I had known of these diamonds a few weeks ago.’

Mirelle looked at him steadily.  She had by this time completely
recovered her composure.  ’Am I to congratulate you, Captain Trecarrel?’

’What on?’ he asked.

’I have just learned your engagement to Orange.’

’That is an old story,’ he said, getting red; ’I thought you were
admitted into the plot six months ago.’

’I did not know it till this minute.’

’There is the music striking up.  Will you take my arm?’

’I must decline.  I shall not dance this quadrille.  See, Orange is
without a partner.’

She rose, and to avoid saying more walked into the hall, and thence,
through the front door, upon the terrace.  The moon was shining, and the
air without was cool.  In the ball-room the atmosphere had become
oppressive.

’Would you kindly open the window?’ asked Orange, turning to Herring,
and casting him a smile.  She was standing up for the quadrille with her
Captain.  The young man at once went to the window and threw it open.

The night was still without.  A few curd-like clouds hung in the sky;
the leaves of the trees, wet with dew, were glistening in the moonlight
like silver.  Far away in the extensive landscape a few stars twinkled
out of dark wooded background, the lights from distant villages.

There was a vacant settee in the window, and Herring sat on it, leaning
on his arm, and looking out.

Poor Mirelle!  What could be done for her?  Her position was
intolerable.  The only escape that he could devise was for her to return
to West Wyke.  But was it likely that Mr. Trampleasure would consent to
this? And in the next place, would Cicely Battishill care to receive
her?

’Mr. Herring,’ said Orange, ’a gentleman is needed to make up a set.
May I introduce you to Miss Bowdler?’

Of course he must dance, and dance with the fascinating Bowdler—a thin
young lady, with harshly red hair, red eyelashes, a freckled skin, and
eyes that had been boiled in soda. Miss Bowdler was the daughter of a
banker, an heiress, and Trecarrel had thought of her, but could not make
up his mind to the colourless eyes and red lashes.

Herring danced badly.  His thoughts were not in the figures, nor with
his partner.  He mistook the figures.  He spoke of the weather, and had
nothing else to say.  Miss Bowdler considered him a stupid young man,
and that this quadrille was the very dullest in which she had danced.
When it was over, he returned to the window, and as there was an end of
the settee unoccupied, and the rest of it was occupied by the chemist’s
niece and a raw acquaintance to whom she was telling the story of the
highest in the land—’And when I say the highest, I mean the
highest,’—and his seidlitz, Herring was able to take his place at the
window without being obliged to speak to anyone.  He looked again into
the moonlight, and towards the dark woods of Werrington, still revolving
in his mind the question, What was to become ef Mirelle?  He saw that
she would take the matter into her own hands and insist on being allowed
to go elsewhere.  She could not remain in a house where the son was
allowed to treat her with insolence.  She would like to return to
France, to her dear convent of the Sacré Coeur.  The thought was
dreadful to Herring, for it implied that he should never see her again.

He fancied, whilst thus musing, that he heard voices on the terrace, and
next that he caught Sampson Tramplara’s tones.  He did not give much
attention to the sounds, till he heard distinctly the bell-like voice of
Mirelle, ’Let go this instant, sir!’

He sprang to his feet and was outside the window in a moment.  He had
been sitting looking in the opposite direction from that in which he
heard the voices; now he turned in the direction of the garden house.

At the door of this summer-house he saw young Tramplara, and the white
form of Mirelle.  The moon was on her, and her head sparkled with the
diamonds of her coronet, but there was no corresponding sparkle about
her neck.

Herring flew to the spot, and saw that young Sampson had snatched the
necklet from her throat.  The diamond chain hung twinkling from his
hand.

’Restore that instantly,’ said Herring, catching the young man’s hand at
the wrist. ’You scoundrel, what are you about?’

’Keep off, will you!’ said the cub.  ’I should like to know your right
to interfere between me and my cousin, Mirie Strange. I only want to
test the stones of her chain. The chaps in the dancing-room say they be
paste and a cussed sham.  I reckon their mothers have put them up to it.
I’ve got a bet on with young Croker, and I want to try if they’ll
scratch glass, that is all.  So now will you remove your hand and take
yourself off?’

Herring doubled up Tramplara’s hand, and wrenched the necklace from it.

’Take your chain, Countess.  And now for you, you ill-conditioned cur, I
warn you. Touch her again, and I will fling you over the wall.  Offer
her another insult, and you shall suffer for it.  If I spare you this
time it is because this is your father’s house, and I have been his
guest.  But I will not eat at his table again, that I may reserve my
liberty of action, and have my hands free to chastise you should you
again in any way offend the Countess Mirelle Garcia.’  He turned to
Mirelle.  ’I once before offered you what help and protection it was
possible to me to render, and now I renew the offer.’

’Oh, Mr. Herring,’ said she, ’before, I refused your offer very
ungraciously.  I said then that I was able to help myself.  I did not
then know the rude elements with which I should have to contend, and I
was unaware of my own weakness.  Now, with my better knowledge, I accept
your offer.’

’Thank you,’ he replied: ’you make me this night a very proud man.’

’Mr. Herring,’ she pursued, ’I will give you at once the only token I
have that I rely upon you.  This person who snatched the jewels from my
neck, if capable of such an act as that, is capable of another.’  Her
voice came quick, her bosom heaved, the angry blood was hammering at her
temples.  ’I do not believe that these diamonds are secure in this
house.  If he could wrench them from my throat, he would take them from
my trunk. Voyez! je vous donne toutes les preuves possibles que j’ai de
la confiance en vous.’  She disengaged the tiara from her hair.

’There, there!’ she said hastily, ’take both the crown and the necklace.
I intrust them to you to keep for me.  I know that I can rely upon you;
I do not know in whom else I can place trust.  All are false except you:
you are true.’

’Countess!  I cannot do this.’

’Why not?  Do you shrink already from exercising the trust you offered?’

’Not so, but——’

’But I entreat you,’ she interrupted with a trembling voice.  ’Ces
diamants-ci appartenaient à ma mère—à ma chère, chère mère; c’est pour
ça qu’ils ont tant de valeur pour moi.’  She forced a smile and made a
slight curtsey, and turned to go.

Young Sampson Tramplara was standing near, scowling.  Mirelle’s eyes
rested on him.

’Mr. Herring,’ she said, ’should I need your help at any time, may I
write?’

’Certainly, and I place myself entirely at your service.’

Young Tramplara burst into a rude laugh.

’The guardianship of the orphan was committed to Tramplara, then it
passed to Tramplara and Herring, and now, finally, it is vested in
Herring alone.’

To what extent the guardianship of that frail white girl had passed to
Herring, to what an extent also he had become trustee for her fortune,
neither she nor Sampson Tramplara guessed.  He had uttered his sneer,
but the words were full of truth.

Then there floated faintly on the air, whether coming from the house or
from without could not be told—mingling with the dance music, yet
distinct from it—the vibrations of metallic tongues in a musical
instrument like an Æolian harp, and the tune seemed to be that of the
old English madrigal—

    Since first I saw your face, I resolv’d
      To honour and renown you!
    If now I be disdain’d, I wish
      My heart had never known you.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII.*

                                *PASTE.*


Mirelle was subjected to no annoyance after the ball, for both old
Tramplara and his son were at Ophir nearly the whole of their time. They
returned occasionally to Launceston, but never together.  One was always
left in charge of the mine, and this was usually young Sampson.  When he
did come home, he kept out of the way of Mirelle, and old Sampson was
too much engrossed in his gold mine to think of her.

She lived in the house, but hardly belonged to it.  Her life was apart
from all its interests, pursuits, and pleasures.  She spoke little and
showed herself seldom.  Orange was full of her approaching marriage, and
could give attention only to her dresses.  Her friend and confidante,
Miss Bowdler, was constantly there, discussing the bridal garments and
the costume of the bridesmaids.  In her own little pasty mind Miss
Bowdler harboured much rancour and verjuice.  She was envious of
Orange’s happiness; she had herself aspired to Trecarrel, and she felt
no tender delight in the better success of Orange. But she disguised her
spite for the sake of Sampson, whom she hoped to catch, now that
Trecarrel had escaped her net.  Orange knew perfectly the state of the
Bowdlerian mind, but that mattered little to her.  Women naturally hate
each other, and are accustomed to live in an atmosphere of simulated
affection.  She wished greatly to secure the Bowdler for Sampson, so as
to bring money into the family.

Mrs. Trampleasure was a harmless old woman, who sniffed about the house,
being troubled with a perpetual cold in the head and a perpetual
forgetfulness of the handkerchief in her pocket.  Mrs. Trampleasure had
got very few topics of conversation, for her limits of interest were
few—little local tittle-tattle, and the delinquencies of Bella, the
maid-of-all-work.

The horrible evening concerts were discontinued, and Mirelle ventured to
sit at the piano and play for her own delectation, knowing that Orange
was too wrapped up in her new gown, and Mrs. Trampleasure too absorbed
in counting the stitches of her knitting, to give her a thought.
Whenever the Captain appeared, Mirelle retired either to her room or to
the summer-house.  Whether in one or the other, she sat at the window,
looking out but seeing nothing, her chin in her hand, steeped in
thought.

Any one who had watched Mirelle from her arrival in England would have
noticed a change in her face.  It was more transparent and thinner than
before.  But this was not that which constituted the principal change.
The face had gained in expression.  At first it was impassive; now it
was stamped with the seal of passive suffering, a seal that can never be
disguised or effaced.  According to Catholic theology certain sacraments
confer character, and these cannot be iterated.  But the sacrament of
suffering confers character likewise, and it can be repeated again and
again, and ever deepens the character impressed.  This stamp gave to
Mirelle’s face a sweetness and pathos it had not hitherto possessed.
Before this time a cold and haughty soul had looked out of her eyes, now
warmth had come to that frozen soul, and it was flowing with tears.  She
was still proud, but she was no longer self-reliant.  Hitherto she had
repelled sympathy because she had felt no need for it, now her spirit
had become timorous, and though it still resented intrusion it pleaded
for pity.

As she sat, evening after evening in the window, doing nothing, seeing
nothing, her thoughts turned with painful iteration to all that had
passed between herself and Captain Trecarrel since they had first met.
For a few days after the ball she was resentful.  She considered that he
had treated her badly; he had attempted, and attempted successfully, to
win her heart, and he had gained his end without making a return of his
own.  He had been cruel to her.

After a while, however, she saw the whole course of affairs in a
different light.  It struck her that in all probability he had been
engaged to Orange—tacitly, may be, and not formally—for a very long
while.  Something that Orange had said led her to suppose this, and she
remembered that the Captain had admitted as much in his answer at the
ball when she congratulated him on his engagement. ’That is an old
story,’ he had said; ’I thought you had been admitted to the plot six
months ago.’  If he really had been engaged to Orange ever since she had
known him, his conduct was explicable in a manner that cleared him of
blame.  He had looked on Mirelle as one about to become a cousin by
marriage. Mirelle was much with Orange, and therefore it was his duty to
be kind to her, and to act and speak to her as to a relation of her who
was about to become his wife. Perhaps Orange had considered how
unpleasant it would be for Mirelle to remain in Dolbeare after she had
gone, and had proposed to the Captain that she should accompany them to
Trecarrel.  If that were so, and it was very probable, the Captain’s
solicitude to be on a friendly footing was explained, so was also the
interest he took in her money affairs.

’If I had only known!’ sighed Mirelle. ’If I had only guessed that they
were engaged, I would never have been led to think of him in any other
light than as a sort of brother or dear friend and adviser.  Why did
Orange not tell me?’  But when she felt disposed to reproach Orange, she
was conscious that she was unjust.  She and Orange had not been more
than superficially friendly.  She had kept Miss Trampleasure at a
distance, and had declined to open her heart to her.  What right then
had she to expect the confidence of Orange?  Both the Captain and his
betrothed no doubt supposed from the first that Mirelle was aware of the
engagement, or at least suspected it; and he was friendly because he
knew that his friendliness was incapable of misconstruction.  The colour
tinged Mirelle’s brow and cheeks, and the tears of humiliation filled
her eyes.

She endeavoured to undo the past by forcing herself to think of Captain
Trecarrel as the betrothed of Orange, but it is not easy to tear a new
passion out of the heart that is young and has never loved before.  The
heart of Mirelle was not shallow, and feelings once received struck deep
root.

It was a comfort to her that Orange was too much occupied in her own
concerns to notice that she was unhappy; it was at least a satisfaction
to be able to bleed without vulgar eyes marking the blood, and rude
fingers probing the wound.

At first, when she thought that Captain Trecarrel had trifled with her
affections, she had felt some bitterness spring up in her soul towards
him, but when she had changed her view of the situation, and his conduct
was explicable without treachery, the idol that had tottered stood again
upright, and, alas! remained an idol.

In reviewing the events of the ball, she saw now that she had acted very
unwisely.  She had offered an unpardonable insult to the family with
which she was staying, and which was, in its clumsy way, kind to her.
Young Sampson had found his way to the dining-room before supper, and
had helped himself to the wine.  She had seen him in the empty room
engaged on the various decanters; she had seen him, for the room was on
the ground-floor, with large French windows opening on to the terrace.
After he had tried the wines, Sampson had come out to Mirelle, and,
attracted by the sparkle of the diamonds, had demanded whether they were
paste or real stones.  She had refused to answer him, and he had put out
his hand to take the chain, saying that he would soon ascertain by
trying them on a window-pane.  She was not justified in thinking that he
intended to keep them. She was not justified in supposing that they
would not be safe from his cupidity in her trunk.  When she had said as
much in her anger and excitement, she had offered him, and through him
the whole family, a gross and unwarranted insult; and this insult she
had accentuated in the most offensive manner by giving the jewels to a
stranger to keep for her.

Mirelle put her hands over her face.  She was ashamed of what she had
done.  She had acted unworthily of herself.  If Sampson had insulted her
with brutality, she had dealt him in return a mortal blow.  Her only
consolation was, that neither Orange nor Mrs. Trampleasure knew of the
incident, and she hoped that Sampson, for his own sake, would not tell
his father.

She made what amends she was able, but it cost her proud spirit a
struggle before she could bring herself to it.  One Sunday that young
Sampson was at home, when he was alone in the office, she went into the
room and stood by the table at which he was writing.  He looked up, but
had not the grace to rise when he saw who stood before him. Her eyes
seemed preternaturally large, and her lips trembled; she had her
delicate fingers folded on her bosom.

’Mr. Sampson,’ she said, in a voice that shook in spite of her effort to
be firm, ’I apologise to you for what I said.  You had offended me, but
the punishment exceeded your deserts.’

’What did you say?  And when?’

’I am speaking of the evening of the ball. You acted rudely in wrenching
off my necklace, and I spoke hastily respecting your conduct. The
language I used on that occasion was injudicious and wrong.’

He looked at her puzzled.  Then, with an ugly smirk, he said, ’So, as
you have failed to catch the Captain, you want to be sweets with me!’

Is it ever worth while stooping to conciliate the base?  The ignoble
mind is unable to read the promptings of the generous spirit. Mirelle
was learning a lesson, as John Herring was learning his, both in the
same school—the school of life, and the lessons each learned were
contrary to those they had been taught in childhood.  They were finding
out that those lessons were impracticable, at least in the modern world.

Mirelle recognised that she had made a mistake.  The noble mind must
fold its robes about it, and not soil them by contact with the unworthy.
She withdrew with her cheek tingling as though it had been smitten.

Young Tramplara began to fawn on Miss Bowdler, and she to flirt with
him, in the presence of Mirelle.  This was meant on his part as a token
to Mirelle that he was acceptable to other ladies, and that they had
charms for him.  The uncouthness of young Sampson, the squirms and
languishings of the red-eyelashed heiress, his heavy jokes and her vapid
repartees, were grotesque, and would have provoked laughter, had not
Mirelle been too refined to find amusement in what is vulgar.

Mr. Sampson returned to the ’diggings,’ and his absence brought relief
to Mirelle.

Captain Trecarrel had been away for some days, staying in Exeter.  On
his way thither he visited Ophir, and got some of the gold-grains from
the working.  Ophir puzzled him; Ophir hung on his heart.  It oppressed
his mind; it was a constant source of uneasiness to him.  He resolved on
his return from Exeter to revisit it.  But if he had his doubts, others
had not; that was clear from the current of visitors setting that way,
and the influx of applications for shares.  Shares went up. Money came
in, not in dribblets but in streams; it had not to be squeezed out, it
exuded spontaneously.

In Exeter Captain Trecarrel had the gold tested.  It was gold, not
mundic; not absolutely pure gold, there was copper with it, but still it
was gold.  Trecarrel got rid of the gold-grains to the jeweller in part
payment for a ring to be presented to Miss Orange.  He also purchased a
handsome China mantelshelf ornament as a present for Mrs. Trampleasure.
He got it cheap because the handle was broken off.  He ordered it to be
packed and sent to Launceston to the old lady.  Then, when the box was
opened, the handle would be found broken off, and the blame would be
laid on the carrier.  Unfortunately, however, the tradesman wrapped the
handle as well as the ornamental jar in silver paper—each in a separate
piece.

When the box arrived and was opened, a laugh was raised over the handle.
Then it struck Mirelle that she ought to make a present to Orange on her
marriage.  But what could she give her?  She had no money. Then she
thought of her diamonds, and resolved to ask Mr. Herring to detach the
pendant from her necklet and send it her. This she would give to Orange.
She took out her desk and wrote the letter.  It was a formal letter, but
the ice was broken, she had begun to write to him, and cold though the
communication was, the receipt of the letter filled Herring with
delight.  He at once complied with her request.

Orange was profuse in her thanks.  She kissed Mirelle, and admired the
brooch.  Miss Bowdler was at Dolbeare at the time, and both looked at it
in the window, with many whispers and much raising of eyebrows.

That same afternoon Mirelle was with Orange and the Bowdlers.  ’Thank
you so very much,’ said Orange.  ’I shall value the pendant quite as
much as though the stones were real diamonds.’

’They are real,’ said Mirelle.

’The French make these things so wonderfully like nature, that only
experts can tell the difference,’ said Miss Bowdler.

’I suppose these were some of your mother’s stones,’ said Orange.

’They were,’ answered Mirelle.

’How generous, how kind of you to give them to me,’ said Orange, without
a trace of sarcasm in her voice—(English can make paste imitations as
well as the French)—’And though these are only paste, still, I dare say
no one will know the difference.’

’They are real stones,’ said Mirelle, haughtily.

’My dear,’ answered Orange, ’do you know what a Cornish compliment is?
"Take this, it is of no more use to me."  If these had been genuine
diamonds you would have kept them for yourself; they would have been far
too valuable to be parted with lightly.  No one gives away anything but
what is worthless. Look at Trecarrel’s china jar.  He got it cheap
because it was faulty.  He gave it to mother because he was bound to
make her a present; if she had been worth money, he would not have sent
her a worthless gift, but because she has nothing he sends her a
nothing.  That is the way of the world.’

’The stones form part of a set my father sent from Brazil to my mother
in Paris.’

’Nevertheless they are imitations,’ said Orange.  ’I took them to the
jeweller here, because, you see, my dear, if they had been diamonds, I
could not have accepted such a costly present from you, but he
unhesitatingly pronounced them to be paste.  That, however, does not
matter to me; it justifies my accepting and keeping the charming
present, which will always be valued by me, not for the intrinsic worth,
but as a memorial of your love.’

’Give me the pendant instantly,’ said Mirelle, full of pride and anger.
’It is impossible that my father, a diamond merchant, could have offered
my dear suffering mother such an insult as to send her a set of sham
diamonds.’

She took the ornament, and went at once to the jeweller.  She came away
resentful and humbled.  ’That Mr. Strange should have dared!’

Not for a moment did it occur to her that perhaps her mother had sold
the stones, and replaced them with paste.



                            *CHAPTER XXIV.*

                          *THE OXENHAM ARMS.*


As the time for his marriage approached, Captain Trecarrel’s uneasiness
increased.  On his way back to Launceston from Exeter he got off the
coach at Whiddon Down, determined to have another look at Ophir. He had
heard a good deal about Ophir in Exeter, and not much in its favour.
His lawyer whom he had consulted had a rich fund of reminiscences
concerning Tramplara. Lawyers as a rule are not squeamish, but there was
something about old Tramplara which was not to the taste of the
solicitor Trecarrel employed.  He had been engaged in a Cornish mining
action in which his client had prosecuted Tramplara; a good deal had
transpired on this occasion not encouraging to those about to transact
business with Mr. Tramplara.  Much had come out, but more had not come
out, but was perfectly well known to those engaged in the case.

’My advice to you is, give a wide berth to the man.’

’I am going to marry his daughter,’ answered Trecarrel, ruefully.

’Oh!’—a pause ensued.  ’How about settlements?’

’I am all right there,’ said the Captain; ’till five thousand pounds is
paid down, I do not put my neck into the noose.  They may bring me to
the altar, but I will fold my arms and sit down on the steps.  They
cannot legally marry a man against his will.’

’How about the family——’ began the lawyer.

’Thank God, I don’t marry the family,’ interrupted Trecarrel.  ’When I
have the money and the girl—she is not bad-looking, and will pass muster
when clipped and curry-combed—I kick the rest over.’

’Well, I wish you joy.’

Captain Trecarrel next consulted his banker, and found that the money
world was shy of Ophir, and held Tramplara in much the same esteem as
did the legal world.

’Who are the directors of the company?’ asked the banker.

’There is a provisional list,’ answered Trecarrel.  ’Old Tramplara tried
hard to get me on to it, but vainly is the trap set in the sight of the
bird.  Here is the prospectus. You see the names: Sampson Trampleasure,
of Dolbeare, Launceston, Esq., Arundell Golitho of Trevorgan, Esq., the
Rev. Israel Flamank, and some others of no greater importance.  I have
Tramplara’s own copy, that is to say, one he favoured me with, and, as
you see, he has pencilled in a few more names.  Here is Mr. Battishill
of West Wyke, the owner of the estate, but whether he is already a
director, or only a possible director, I do not know.’

’Who is Arundell Golitho, Esq., and where is Trevorgan?’

’Never heard of the man, nor of the place.’

When Captain Trecarrel got off the coach, he saw Herring waiting for the
coach, to intrust the diamond pendant to the coachman for transmission
to Mirelle.

’Halloo! you here?’ exclaimed the Captain; ’I thought you lived at the
extremity of the known world, at Boscastle.’

’So I do; but I am here starting a mine.’

’Not a director of Ophir, eh?’ asked Trecarrel, eagerly, his blue eyes
lighting up.

’No, I am not so ambitious as to embark in gold, I content myself with
lead; but if my lead mine promises less than Ophir, its performance, I
trust, will be more sure.’

’Ah,’ responded Trecarrel, dismally, ’you are bitten with the prevailing
distrust.  I presume you have not taken shares in Ophir.’

’No; have you?’

’I am going to take a big share in the concern.  I marry the Queen of
Sheba. Herring, I say, is there a public house near where I can get a
chop?  I am hungry and wretched.  Come with me for charity’s sake and
let us have a talk together about this same Ophir.  I want your opinion;
and look here, I have old Tramplara’s list of directors, and on it in
pencil is the name of Squire Battishill of West Wyke.  He is a
respectable man, is he not?  You know him.’

’Yes; I am staying with him.’

’What sort of a man is he?’

’A gentleman every inch,—honourable and true.’

’Oh yes, I don’t mean that.  They be all honourable men, especially the
Hon. Lawless Lascar, who figures on the list.  Is he a man of fortune?
If Ophir goes "scatt," as they say here, is there property on which the
shareholders can come down?’

’Mr. Battishill is certainly not a director.’

’He is pencilled down as one, at all events, and pencilled by Tramplara
himself.  Tell me, is there a decent inn hereabouts?’

’There is a very tolerable inn in Zeal, if you do not mind descending a
steep hill to reach it—the Oxenham Arms.’

’Come with me.’

Zeal is a quaint village of one street, that street being the high road
from Exeter to Launceston.  Since the time of which we treat the high
road has been carried by a new line above the village, which has been
left on one side forgotten, and has gone quietly to sleep.  In the midst
of the street stands a small chapel built of granite, and before it an
old granite cross mounted on several steps. The houses are of ’cob,’
that is, clay, white-washed and thatched, with projecting chambers over
the doorways resting on oak posts or granite pillars.  Below the chapel
stood the stately mansion of the Burgoynes facing the road, with vaulted
porch, mullioned windows, and sculptured doorways.  The Burgoyne family
has gone, and now there swings over the entrance a board adorned with
the arms of the Oxenham family.  The manor-house has descended to become
the village inn.

Into this inn, clean, but humble in its pretensions, Herring introduced
the Captain.

’I say, girl,’ called Trecarrel to the maid, ’throw on some logs; the
turf only smoulders. And bring me some hot water and rum.  I am cold and
damp, and altogether dispirited and drooping.  Let me have a steak as
soon as you can.’  Then to Herring: ’I am put out confoundedly.  Ophir
will not digest.  Tell me candidly your opinion.’

’You are not treating me fairly,’ said Herring.  ’You have no right to
ask me this question when you are about to become closely allied to Mr.
Trampleasure——’

’Oh, confound Tramplara.  I am not going to marry him, nor his sniffing
wife, nor his cub of a son, heaven be praised! nor, better than all,
Ophir.  Nevertheless I want to know something about Ophir, for though I
am going to be allied to the family, I do not want to be linked by so
ever small a link to a concern that may smash, least of all to one that
is not exactly on the square.  What do you make out about the gold
mine?’

’It puzzles me.  I have been over it and seen the gold dust washed out
of the gozzen.’

’So have I.’

’And yet I am not satisfied.’

’Nor am I.’

’In the first place, I mistrust the way in which Ophir has been puffed
and brought into the market.’

’I do not believe a word about the Phoenicians,’ said the Captain.

’Again,’ Herring went on, ’who have taken the mine in hand?’

’That I can tell you.  There is Arundell Golitho, Esq. of Trevorgan.  Do
you know him?  You are a Cornish man, bred in its deepest wilds.  Does
he hail from your parts?’

’Never heard of him.’

’Nor has any one else, that I can learn. Then there is the Reverend
Israel Flamank, but he counts for nothing.  He is a crack-brained
preacher, not worth a thousand pounds, and every penny he has he has
sunk in Ophir.’

’Here is another: the Honourable Lawless Lascar.  Who is he?’

’I have heard about him from my lawyer in Exeter,’ said Trecarrel.
’Lends his name to rickety ventures for a consideration, and when
wanted, not at home.’

’And Colonel Headlong Wiggles?’

’Colonel Headlong is a man who has not been happy in matrimonial
matters—I mean, has been exceptionally unhappy; this would not concern
us were it not that it has cost him a good deal of money.  He has been
endeavouring to recover moral tone lately by taking up vigorously with
Temperance, and he has become rather a prominent orator on Total
Abstinence platforms.  He has lately edited a revised New Testament in
which the miracle of Cana has been accommodated to Temperance views—the
wine in his version is turned into water.’

’That is all.’

’Except those added in pencil.  I do not like the looks of the board of
directors.  Tell me, Herring, have you any suspicion of trickery?’

Herring hesitated.  He had, but he was without grounds to justify the
open expression of his suspicion.

’By George!’ exclaimed Captain Trecarrel, ’if I thought it were not on
the square, I would break off my engagement. I inherit a respectable, I
may say an honourable, name, and I do not choose that the name of
Trecarrel should be trailed in the mire.  The thing cannot last long
without declaring its nature.  If the gozzen that is crushed yields as
much gold daily as I have seen extracted at one washing, then the
dividends will begin to run.  The working of the mine does not entail a
heavy outlay. There are not many men on it.’

’Very few indeed.’

’And the machinery is not enormously expensive, I suppose.’

’No.’

’Then, why the deuce did Tramplara make a company of the concern, and
call for shares?  If he had been sanguine, he might have worked it
himself, and made his fortune in a twelvemonth.’

’Another thing that makes me suspicious,’ said Herring, ’is that the
lease is only for a year.’

’For a year!’ exclaimed the Captain, and whistled.  ’Then be sure
Tramplara will blow Ophir up before the twelvemonth has elapsed.  If he
had been sure of gold, he would have taken a lease for ninety-nine
years.  I will have nothing to do with the family.  I will put off the
marriage.  Listen to this, Herring.  I carried off all the bits of stone
I could from the auriferous vein of quartz, and I crushed them myself.
I borrowed a hammer from a roadmaker, for which I paid him fourpence,
and I pounded them, and then washed the crumbled mass in my basin, and
not a trace of gold could I discover.’

’That proves nothing.  You could hardly expect to find the precious
metal in a few nubbs you conveyed away in your coat pocket.’

’There ought to have been indications of gold.  I should not have minded
had I found as much as a pin’s point.  No!  I believe Ophir to be a
swindle, but how the swindling is done passes my comprehension.’

He sat looking into the fire, and kicking the logs with the toe of his
boot.  Then he threw himself back in his chair.

’I shall go to bed, Herring,’ he said, ’and I shall stick there till
there is a clearing in the air over Ophir.  I am not going to be married
whilst the cloud broods heavily.  I shall go to bed.’

’Go to bed!’ echoed Herring.  ’It is early still.’

’I always go to bed when I want to get out of a difficulty.  Old
Tramplara is not far off, and he can come and see me.  Young Sampson can
come and see me also; but I defy both of them to get me out of my bed
and into my breeches and blue coat against my pleasure.  The marriage
must be postponed.’

’Nonsense.  You cannot do this.’

’I shall.  I have got out of a score of difficulties by this means.
There I stick till things have come round.  My dear Herring, there is no
power in the world equal to _non possumus_.’

’But what of the lady’s feelings?’

’Oh, blow the lady’s feelings!’ said Trecarrel, coarsely.  ’Ladies’
feelings are superficial; that is why they are so sensitive about dress.
Men’s feelings lie deep; they line their pockets.  Orange is a good
girl; but she won’t feel, or, if she does, she will rather like it.
Women like to have their feelings fretted, just as cats like having
their backs scratched. Orange can come and see me in bed, and nurse me,
if she chooses.  Polly!’ he called to the maid of the inn, ’get your
best bedroom ready, and the sheets and blankets and featherbed well
aired.  I am going to retire for a week or ten days between the sheets.’

Herring burst out laughing.

’This is no laughing matter,’ said Trecarrel, testily.  ’I would not go
to bed unless I could help it; but, upon my life, I do not see any other
mode of escape.  You will come and see me sometimes, old fellow, for
time will drag.’

’Certainly I will; but what will you say to the Tramplaras?—to Miss
Orange?’

’Say—say! why, that I am indisposed. That will be strictly within the
bounds of truth, and what is consistent with a gentleman to say.
Indisposed—the word was coined for my case.  I’ll send to Tramplara
himself, and get it over as soon as I am in bed.’

’You are joking.’

’I am perfectly serious.  I have cause to be so.  I am, or was, not so
very far from my marriage day, and I do not relish the prospect.  Bring
old Tramplara here.  When he sees me embedded and indisposed to rise, he
will grow uneasy and the money will be forthcoming.  I have no doubt in
the world that he is meditating a trick upon me.  He is wonderfully
clever; but he met his equal in the matter of the Patagonians—I’ll tell
you all about them some day.  Herring, by some infernal blunder I was
pricked as sheriff of the county one year.  It was supposed that I was
worth about five times my actual income.  I could not endure the cost of
office, and I did not want to pay the fine for refusal, so I went to
bed, and wrote to the Lord Lieutenant from bed.  I said that I was
confined to my couch, and could not rise from it, which was true,
strictly true, under the circumstances, and that I could not say that I
would live through the year, which was also true, strictly true; and I
got off without fine. On another occasion my creditors were unreasonable
and urgent.  I took to my bed again, and after I had laid there a
fortnight, they mellowed; at the end of a month they were ripe for a
composition of eight shillings in the pound.  I find that, in
difficulties, if I take at once to my bed I constitute myself master of
the situation.  It is the Hougoumont of all my Waterloos.’

Herring was still laughing.

’You may laugh,’ pursued Trecarrel, ’but my plan is superlative.  Judge
of it by the faces of Tramplara and his son when they visit me.  You
know the look that comes over a chess-player, when his adversary says
"checkmate."  I suspect you will see some very similar expression steal
over the countenances of Tramplara and young Hopeful. The old man will
coax, and the young one bluster.  They can do nothing.  Here I lie, and
they bite their nails and rack their brains. They are powerless.  They
cannot bring Orange and a parson here and have me married in bed.  I
should bury my head under the clothes.  They would not attempt it.  It
would hardly be decent.  I do not think it would be legal.’

’You will write, I suppose, to Miss Orange?’

’No; I shall send for her father.  I do not put hand to paper if I can
help it.  I never commit myself.  _Litera scripta manet_. You have no
idea, Herring, how successful my system is.  Difficulties solve
themselves; mountains melt into molehills; tangles unravel of their own
accord.  The perfectness of the system consists in its extreme
simplicity.  Polly! run the warming-pan through the sheets before I
retire.  Whilst I am upstairs, Herring, there is a good fellow, keep a
sharp look out on Ophir.’



                             *CHAPTER XXV.*

                               *A LEVÉE.*


In France it was anciently the custom for the Kings to hold _lits de
justice_—that is to say they lay in bed, and whilst reposing on their
pillows, and the vapours of sleep rose and rolled from their exalted
brows, heard appeals and pronounced judgments.  The royal example found
hosts of imitators.  No one ever dreams of following a good example, but
one that is mischievous has eager copyists. It was so in France under
the ancient _régime_. Nobles received their clients, ladies their
suitors, in bed.  Magistrates heard cases in the morning, before rising,
whilst sipping their coffee.  So far down, had this habit descended,
that Scarron, in his ’Roman Comique,’ describes a respectable actress
receiving an abbé, a magistrate, and various ladies and gentlemen in her
bedroom, whilst she lay between the sheets.  In the Parisian world, the
world of salt and culture, the bedroom—the very bed itself—of a
distinguished lady was the centre round which the wit and gossip of the
gay and literary world circled and sparkled.

The getting out of bed of a prince, and of those who imitated the
prince, was as public as his lying in state.  That was not the day of
baths and Turkish towels, and therefore there was not the same reason
against the admission of the public to a levée that would exist at
present, at least in England.

Whilst the King drew on his stockings, he heard petitions; as he encased
himself in his black satin breeches, he determined suits. When his
shirt-frills were being drawn out, he dictated despatches; whilst his
wig was being dusted, he granted concessions; and as he washed his
fingers and face in a saucer, he conferred bishoprics and abbacies.

In like manner, the toilettes of ladies of rank and the queens of beauty
and fashion were times for the reception of their favoured friends.
Hogarth’s picture of the toilette of the lady in the _Mariage à la mode_
shows that this custom had extended to England.  A _levée_ was then, as
the name implies, an assembly held during the process of getting out of
bed.

Captain Trecarrel was not consciously copying the ancient _régime_.  He
lay in bed because it suited his convenience.  He received visitors
there because he did not choose to receive them elsewhere, till he had
carried a point on which his heart was set.

’Why, bless my soul, Trecarrel! what ails you?  Laid up in this wretched
inn—caught cold on your way down?  I hope nothing serious; not rheumatic
fever, eh?’

’Severe indisposition,’ said Trecarrel, looking at Mr. Trampleasure
calmly out of his celestial blue eyes, innocent as those of a child,
little spots of sky, pure and guileless.

’Good gracious!’ blustered Tramplara, ’not anything gastric, is it?  No
congestion of any of the organs?’

’There is tightness in the chest,’ said the Captain; ’that is normal.’

’Bless my soul! couldn’t you push on to Launceston?  Were you so bad
that you broke down here?

    When a man’s a little bit poorly,
      Makes a fuss, wants a nurse,
    Thinks he’s going to die most surely,
      Sends for the doctor who makes him worse.

You know the lines, but whether by the Bard of Avon, or by Chalker in
his "Canterbury Tales," I cannot recall.  Poor Orange!  What a state of
mind she will be in!’

’I dare say,’ said the Captain, composedly.

’The child will be half mad with alarm. What does the doctor say?  What
has he given you?  Something stinging or routing, eh?’

’I have not sent for him.’

’Not sent for the doctor?  By Grogs! and you seriously ill.  How do you
know but that it may interfere with your marriage on the eighth?’

’That is what I have been supposing.’

’You must get well, my dear boy.  You positively must.’

’I hope so, but that does not altogether depend on me.’

’I insist on a doctor being sent for.’

’His coming will be of no use.  I know my own constitution.’

’Have you sent word to Orange?’

’No, I left that for you.  You see I am in bed, and I cannot write.  I
don’t think the people of the inn would permit it, lest I should ink the
sheets.  Salts of lemon are not always satisfactory in removing stains.’

’Orange will be heartbroken.’

’The recuperative power of the female heart cannot be overestimated.’

’Mrs. Trampleasure will be in such distress, she will do nothing but
cry——’

’And sniff.  I say, father-in-law that want to be, how goes Ophir?’

’Oh, my dear boy! magnificently.’

’Like the Laira at Plymouth?—eh, father-in-law elect?’

’What do you mean?’

’The rendezvous of all the gulls in the Western counties.  Only, with
this difference, the gulls go to the Laira for what they can get, and
they come to Ophir for what they can give.’

’I do not like these flippant jokes,’ said Tramplara, puffing and waxing
red.

’The joke is too near the truth.  You see, father-in-law prospective, I
have been in Exeter, and have talked Ophir over with lawyers, bankers,
mining agents, and men of the world.’

’Well?’

’And I find that the general verdict on Ophir is, that it is a ——
swindle.’

Tramplara stamped, turned purple in face, and strode up and down the
room.

’You insult me.  Look at my white hairs. This is an outrage on my
character, on my age.  Do you dare to say that an old man like me, with
one foot in eternity, would—would——’

’Reserve that for the Flamanks,’ said the Captain; ’it is an argument
without weight with me.’

’This is intolerable.  You wish to break off connection with me.’

’Not at all,’ said the Captain, smiling and twisting his fair moustache.
’I am only telling you what is said in Exeter about Ophir.  My own
opinion is inchoate. Sometimes I am inclined to believe in the
genuineness of the article, but generally, I admit, what I admire most
is not its genuineness, but the skill with which a spurious article is
disposed of.’

’You have seen the gold?’

’But I have not found it.’

’You have dug out the quartz yourself and followed the entire process,
to the last washing and sifting.  Will not that content you?’

’I brought home with me some of the auriferous stone, and crushed it
myself, and washed it myself, but not a particle of gold was there.’

’Simply because you took pieces in which there was no gold.  Gold is not
so common as hornblend.’

’Nor, apparently, as discernible in the stone.  Look here, father-in-law
that want to be.’

’I won’t be spoken to in this style.’

’You want me to marry Orange, do you not?’

’I do not care a penny about you.  All I care for is poor Orange, and
her feelings.’

’You are ready to pay me five thousand pounds for taking Orange off your
hands, are you not?’ asked the imperturbable Captain.

’I am ready to pay you five thousand pounds as her jointure, because she
is my daughter, whom I dearly love, and I wish to provide for her
comfort and happiness in the future when I am dead and forgotten.’

’And you were thinking only of her comfort and happiness when you
offered us those Patagonian bonds,’ said Trecarrel. ’Fortunately, I was
equally interested in the dear creature’s comfort and happiness, and in
her interest I declined them.’

’Have done with those Patagonian bonds,’ said Tramplara, impatiently.
’You will bring my white hairs with exasperation to the grave. I shall
go down stairs, and leave you to soak in bed.  Do you intend to lie here
for a twelve-month?  I do not believe you are seriously ill.’

’Seriously indisposed is what I said,’ answered the Captain.

’You have done this sort of thing before,’ said old Tramplara, very hot
and angry; ’I have heard of you.  Ridiculous! not like a man.’

Trecarrel was wholly unmoved.  He turned round in his bed with his face
to the wall.  The old man stamped about the room, swearing and uttering
his opinions freely, without eliciting a word from the Captain.  After a
while he cooled down, finding that his wrath and remonstrances were
ineffectual, and he seated himself on a chair by the bedside.

’Be reasonable, Captain,’ he said.  ’What is the drift of this farce?’

Trecarrel turned round in bed, and faced him with perfect equanimity in
his handsome features.

’I say, Trampleasure, the second Solomon who draws gold out of Ophir, I
give it up. How do you manage it?’

The fiery flush again came into the old man’s face.

’There, there, I do not want to anger you,’ said Trecarrel.  ’I have a
proposal to make to you, father-in-law _in nubibus_!  Let me go with you
into the mine.  You shall indicate to me the auriferous vein, and I will
pick out pieces and submit them to you. Those about which you are
doubtful shall be cast aside; those you approve I will retain. I will
pound them myself, and wash them myself.’

’Where—in our works?’

’By no means.  Anywhere that suits my convenience and pleasure.  At John
Herring’s lead mine, if I choose.  Then, if I find gold, you shall have
my name on your list of directors, and I will go heartily with you in
the concern.’

’I do not care to have you as a director.’

’That is not true.  You have several times urged me to be one.  You want
some respectable names on your list, which is sadly deficient in them.
Will you oblige me with some particulars about Arundell Golitho, Esq. of
Trevorgan?  By some strange omission he has not been made a Justice of
the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county of Cornwall.’

’I will answer no questions.  You want to force a quarrel on me.’

’On the contrary, I want to dispel my doubts.  I am, what I think you
call in your chapel, an earnest inquirer.  I can tell you one thing for
certain, father-in-law that may, might, would, could, and should be, I
am not going to be married to your Orange without the fulfilment of one
of two conditions.’

’What are they?’ asked Tramplara, sulkily.

’One is, that I may make the proposed investigation into the qualities
of Ophir.’

’I refuse it,’ said Trampleasure, hastily.

’You refuse to allow me fairly to test its value as a mine?’

’I do not say that.  I refuse the proposed test, because it is unfair
and insulting.  You may come and extract as much quartz as you like from
the rock, and crush and wash it on my floors, but you shall not carry it
elsewhere.’

’What is your objection?’

’I say the proposal is insulting.  Look at my white hairs.  Do you
suppose——’

’Leave the white hairs out of the matter. What is unfair in my
proposal?’

’I will not consent.  I will die before I permit it.’

The old man sprang from his seat.  ’Good heavens!  I shall have every
visitor and applicant for shares pestering me to carry off specimens.’

’Why should they not?’

’Because it is against regulations.  I have laid down a strict rule, to
be relaxed to none, that every specimen raised is to be tested on the
spot, and not elsewhere.  I will have the trial take place where I can
see that it is fairly conducted.  How do I know but that behind my back
the trial may be incorrectly, imperfectly, or dishonestly carried on?’

’I do not ask to do anything behind your back.  You shall select half a
dozen specimens.  We will bring them here.  I will smash them up in the
backyard with a paviour’s hammer under your eye, and I will wash them in
the water-trough there, with you looking on.  Will that suffice?’

’What is your other alternative?’ asked Trampleasure, sullenly.

’Mv second proposal is this.  You have promised me five thousand pounds
along with Orange.’

’I know I have, and I shall be ready to pay it when you are married.’

’My good father-in-law prospective, that does not quite satisfy me.  Of
course I do not question your honour and your intention to discharge
what you propose.  But speculation, above all, speculation in mines,
superlatively such a speculation as Ophir, is risky.  I do not wish to
risk my chance of getting that five thousand pounds (and connubial
felicity) on the continuance of the Ophirian gold yield.’

’You don’t suppose I will pay you down the money now, before you are
married.’

’No, I do not, and I do not want to run the chance of getting married,
only to discover that the five thousand pounds has been sunk in Ophir,
and is only available in the shape of paper on Ophir, or only to
discover that Ophir has collapsed like a pricked bladder the day
before.’

’What, then, do you want?’ asked Trampleasure, very angrily, rubbing his
knuckles with the palm of his hand in his irritation and impatience.

’What I want is, that you should lodge the money now in the hands of a
third party, say of Mr. John Herring.  If I fail to fulfil my part of
the contract within a given time, say on the day already fixed for the
wedding, or seven days after, I forfeit it and it returns to you.  When
I am married to Orange, then Herring is empowered to hand the money over
to me.’

’Upon my word. Captain Trecarrel, of all audacious and exacting men I
ever came across. you are the most audacious and exacting. And what if I
refuse this condition also?’

’Then I remain in bed.’

’What is the advantage of that?’

’I am engaged to be married on the eighth.  If I am ill, my illness
serves as an excuse for my absence from the hymeneal altar when expected
there.  The world can say nothing against that; and I am bound to
maintain my character as a _chevalier sans reproche_.’

’Pray how long will this farce continue?’

’What farce?’

’Your lying in bed.’

’You will find a looking-glass yonder, father-in-law anticipative.
Examine your countenance in it, and see if the expression is that of a
spectator at a farce.  It looks deuced more like that of a witness at a
melodrama.’

’How long do you soak here?’ exclaimed Trampleasure, sulkily.

’I shall await events from this commanding position.  Ophir will blow up
before long. It cannot continue, and will send you and yours head over
heels into space, and where you will drop, heaven only knows.  Then, of
course, I shall be free.’

Trampleasure paced the room, his face blazing. He was very angry, he was
also greatly perplexed.  He was particularly anxious to get Orange
married to the Captain.  Presently he turned round, and said in a sullen
tone, and with an angry lower on his brows, ’I will give you an answer
shortly.’

’All right, I am in no hurry.  The bed is not uncomfortable.  Herring is
coming here this evening to smoke a pipe with me, and I will ask him to
hold the stakes.’

The next visitor was young Sampson. He came in fuming, and asked the
Captain his intentions.  He was Orange’s brother.  It was his duty to
see that she was treated fairly, and, by God, he would do his duty.  He
was not going to let a militia captain play fast and loose with the poor
girl’s affections, and possibly blight her entire future by his
heartless desertion.  Trecarrel listened to him with the utmost
coolness.  He had expected this visit, and knew what its character would
be.

’Sampson the little and weak,’ he said, ’your father has sent you here
to try what bluster will effect.  May I trouble you to convey to him a
message from me, and say that the effects are nil?’

’Are you going to desert Orange?  If you are, I’ll shoot you.’

’No, you won’t,’ said the Captain.  ’In the first place, I am not going
to desert Orange; and in the second place, if I were, the utmost you
would do would be to try to get money compensation out of me, and that
would be like squeezing a stone for milk.  In one particular I am like
Ophir.  If you want to extract gold out of me, you must first put it
into me.’

Sampson’s face became mottled, and his eyes, with a startled expression
in them, turned to the Captain, but, seeing his eyes fixed inquiringly
on him, his fell.  Trecarrel chuckled, and drew the sheets over his
head.  Presently he looked out again.  Sampson was at the window killing
flies.  He had his back turned to the bed, and was stabbing at the flies
with the pin of his stock.

’I have placed two alternatives before your father,’ said the Captain:
’I will marry Orange to-morrow if he will comply with either.  Either
let him give me a fair chance of testing the ore of Ophir, and satisfy
myself that the mine is genuine, or let him pay five thousand pounds
into the hands of a third party, to be held till the marriage is
concluded.’

’I refuse—I refuse each alternative, in his name and my own,’ said young
Sampson, stabbing at a fly with such fury that he broke a pane in the
window.

’There goes eighteen pence,’ said the Captain, ’beside letting a current
of cold air in on me.  Leave the room.  I need repose.  My indisposition
gains upon me.’

The next to visit Captain Trecarrel was John Herring.  Herring was not
very willing to undertake the obligation the Captain was desirous of
forcing upon him: however, he was good-natured, that is, easily imposed
on, and in the end he consented to act as the third party, and receive
the money into his keeping till the marriage took place.

On the morrow old Tramplara came back; he remained some time, and
attempted to coax Trecarrel into good humour and the surrender of his
ultimatum.  Trecarrel especially urged the former of his alternatives,
as he perceived that it was eminently distasteful to both the old man
and his son.  Tramplara went away, refusing both alternatives.

On the third day Tramplara did not come at all, but Trecarrel heard
through the hostess that young Sampson had been there to inquire whether
he was still confined to his bed.

On the fourth day the old man came, very sulky and rude, and gave
way—not to the first alternative, but to the second. Herring was sent
for, and the transaction was arranged to the satisfaction of the
Captain.

’Now then,’ said Trecarrel, ’my indisposition is better.  Ring for
shaving water. Clear every one out of the room.  I am going to rise.’



                            *CHAPTER XXVI.*

                             *THE SHEKEL.*


’Miss Cicely,’ said John Herring.

’Yes, Mr. John,’ answered Cicely, with a smile.

’Well—Cicely—if you wish it.’

’I do wish it; I dislike formality.  You have stayed with us so long,
and have been so good to us, and helped us so greatly, that I suspect a
cousinship between us, if the respective Battishill and Herring
pedigrees were worked.  The West of England families are all united by
marriage.’

’My family boasts of no dignity or antiquity,’ said Herring.  ’We have
been humble yeomen down to my father, and never dreamed of calling
ourselves gentlemen, certainly not of tacking an esquire after our
names.’

’If your ancestors were humble yeomen, ours were very humble gentlemen.
Do look at West Wyke.  Did you ever see a gentleman’s house elsewhere so
small, and yet so full of self-consciousness?  An embattled gateway in a
wall that a boy could overleap, guarding a garden of hollyhocks.  A
front door with a huge beam to close it, running back into the wall, to
protect the family plate, which consists of one silver caudle cup, and a
whalebone-handled punch-ladle with a Queen Anne’s shilling in the bowl.
I believe our family stood barely above high water mark, the line where
the yeoman ended and the gentleman began; but so barely above it, that
we were always liable to be submerged, and never able to lift ourselves
wholly into a more exalted and secure position.’

’I dare say,’ observed John Herring, ’that the smallness of your house
has been the salvation of your family.  You have not been expected to
keep a large establishment; to entertain much, and to have a stable and
furniture and a cellar.’

’I dare say you are right.  By the way, how is the sick gentleman at the
Oxenham Arms?’

’There is not much change in his condition.  He is still indisposed.’

’Who is he?’

’A Cornish squire, Trecarrel by name, who is engaged to the daughter of
Mr. Trampleasure.’

’No doubt Miss Mirelle will have had some of her airs taken out of her
in the Trampleasure household.’

This was the first time that Cicely had voluntarily, and of her own
prompting, spoken of Mirelle.  Herring had mentioned her occasionally,
but Cicely showed plainly that she retained no pleasant recollection of
the Countess, and was uninterested in what had become of her.  There was
a spice of vindictiveness in her tone as she spoke.  She was rejoicing
that Mirelle should have her airs taken out of her.

’The poor Countess,’ said Herring, ’has suffered much annoyance among
those wretched people——’

’I have no patience with her,’ interrupted Cicely, ’giving herself airs,
and calling herself a Countess.  Why, her father was only a merchant,
and I cannot see how she can inherit her mother’s title.  The wife of an
Earl is a Countess, and the daughters are Ladies, not Countesses.’

’It is different abroad.’

’You ought not to have humoured her. However, as you see no more of her
now, no harm has been done by your falling in with her fancy.  The
Tramplaras are the last persons in the world to feed her vanity, and so
by this time, it is to be hoped, she has learned to stand on the same
level as those she is called to associate with.’

’Do you not think it must be intolerable for one so refined and
sensitive?’

’Oh, there, there!’ interrupted Cicely, again laughing.  ’We have had
enough of Mirelle; let us banish her from our conversation.  The very
thought of her gives me a shiver.’

’Cicely, tell me, has old Tramplara been pretty frequently to West Wyke
of late?’

’He has been to see my father now and then.’

’Do you know that he has put down your father on his list as one of the
directors of Ophir?  His name is not yet printed, but Tramplara is
counting on him.’

’Why should he require my father’s name?’

’To give respectability to the concern.’

’I hope my father will not consent.’

’He _must_ not.  I am persuaded that Ophir is a fraud, and your father
must be saved from being involved in what will cover with disgrace, and
involve in ruin, all who are connected with it.’

’Good heavens!  Do you think my father has already given his consent?
Oh, please go in and see him, and stop him.  I know he is becoming
excited about Ophir.  He laughed at it at first, but he has changed his
tone of late.’

’I will go at once.’

Herring stepped into the hall to Mr. Battishill.

’Well, Herring!’ exclaimed the old man, brightening up; ’back from Zeal!
How goes the sick man—Captain Trecarrel?  Dear me! he represents a fine
old family, de Esse, alias Trecarrel, argent two chevronels sable, with
a mullet for a difference.  A Devonshire family—the Esse of Ashe, and
the elder branch, died out in an heiress who carried Ashe to the Drakes;
but the second son, a long way back, married the heiress of Trecarrel,
and dropped the patronymic for the place name.  How is the last limb of
a splendid tree?’

’There is nothing more serious the matter with him than that he is going
to marry the daughter of old Tramplara.’

’Good Lord! what a mésalliance!  The Trampleasures are mushrooms—I had
almost said toadstools.  I suppose it is a case of money; the needy
gentleman with centuries behind him takes the daughter of the wealthy
founder of Ophir for the sake of the mountain of gold she brings.  How
is it that Trampleasure has not secured Trecarrel as a director?  His
name would carry weight.’

’Exactly,’ answered Herring; ’that is what Tramplara wants—he has not
got a name of importance on his list.  Do you know anything of Arundell
Golitho, Esq. of Trevorgan?’

’Never heard his name before.’

’Nor have I, nor has any one else.’

’He must be some one of importance, or Tramplara would not have put him
on the board?’

’I do not believe in his existence.  You were asking why Captain
Trecarrel has not become a director.  For the best of reasons. He does
not care to cover an honourable name with disgrace.’

Mr. Battishill’s face changed colour.

’That is a strong expression, Herring, and ought to be justified.’

’Dear Mr. Battishill, you know what Polpluggan did for you.’

’Polpluggan was a disastrous venture, certainly.’

’You told me yourself it was a swindle.’

’Well, well, the word was too strong.  I thought so at the time; but
Tramplara has been frank with me about it.  Since he has been here so
much, engaged on Ophir, I have seen his books; he showed them me in the
most open manner possible, he insists on my going over them myself.
Polpluggan was a failure, not a swindle.  I withdraw the expression.’

’And Ophir, I believe, is nothing less than a swindle, and will cover
every one who has to do with it with infamy.  That is why Captain
Trecarrel will not lend his name to the concern.’

’Why then does he marry the daughter of Ophir?’

’That is another affair.  He has been engaged to her for some time, and
cannot with honour break away.’

’What leads him to suppose that Ophir is a—a——’

’A swindle!  Because he has been in Exeter consulting those who are
likely to know; because he knows the antecedents of the man who has
started it.  I trust, sir, you have not given Tramplara grounds to hope
that you will become a director?’

’Well, he has been pressing, very pressing, I may say, and I have not
positively said I will not.  You see, my dear Herring, the mine is sure
to be a success.  The applications for shares increase instead of
falling off; that is a pretty good proof of public confidence.’

’That proves nothing, except that there are many fools in the world
ready to part with their money.’

’They would hardly take shares unless they had convinced themselves that
the speculation was sound.  Nothing, I understand, can be more above
board than the proceedings of Mr. Trampleasure.  The gold ore is crushed
and washed before the eyes of the public.  I cannot see where the fraud
can be.’

’There is roguery somewhere, I am convinced.’

’My dear Herring, that is your opinion. Others equally capable of
forming opinions think differently.  The mine is on my property, it is
only reasonable that I should be a director and benefit by it.  As Mr.
Trampleasure put it to me—the world asks, Why is not the lord of the
manor on the board of directors?  The absence of his name from it
damages the prospects of the mine.  Other men of position and property
hold back because I do not sanction the venture.  It is necessary that I
should lend my name.’

’You must on no account lend your name, sir,’ said Herring, earnestly.

’You are very peremptory, Mr. Herring,’ said the old man, nettled.  ’The
lead mine halts; nothing is being done there, no lead turned out, no
machinery set up, no company got together to work it.  And hard by is
the auriferous quartz vein of Ophir——’

’Excuse my interrupting you,’ said Herring, ’but may I know whether you
believe in Upaver having ever been Ophir?’

’That is a matter into which I do not enter.  I put all these
antiquarian theories aside.  I look at the plain facts.  Is gold found
there, or is it not?’

’Gold is certainly washed there.  How it comes there I do not pretend to
say.’

’You mean to insinuate that it is not dug out of the mine.’

’I doubt it, because I mistrust old Tramplara, and I think the way in
which the affair has been got up is suspicious.  Did you ever hear the
old people call Upaver Ophir?’

’No, but there is a similarity in the names.  However, as I told you, I
put all these antiquarian conceits on one side.’

’Mr. Battishill, we must consider them as an integral part of the
swindle, if swindle it be.  You do not, I presume, believe in the Jews
and Phoenicians having worked this mine in remote ages?’

’I tell you I do not think of this at all; I am not qualified to enter
into and examine this question.  But when it comes to gravel containing
gold dust, why, bless my soul! my eyes are the best judges.  As for the
Jews and Phoenicians, there is, at all events, this to be said for the
theory of their having been here, that they dropped a shekel—a silver
shekel—I saw it with my own eyes.  I have an impression of it in my
desk.  Thus where a Jewish coin has been found, there in all probability
a Jew has been to drop it.’

’Who found the coin?’

’The Reverend Israel Flamank bought it of Grizzly Cobbledick, who had
picked it up in his garden, or somewhere near the Giant’s Table.’

’I beg you, sir, I entreat you, as you love your home and respect the
name you bear, not to have anything to do with Ophir till I have
followed this shekel up to its origin. It may serve as a clue by which
the mystery will be unravelled.  I will go and see Grizzly himself, and
ascertain from his own lips where he found it, or rather, whether he
found it at all.’

’You are a sceptic,’ said Mr. Battishill, ’steeped in the spirit of the
age.’

’Well,’ asked Cicely, when Herring came out, ’what is the result?’  She
noticed that he was looking excited.

’Your father is bitten with Ophir,’ he answered.  ’He and I have nearly
come to hard words.  It is the first time we have had any difference,
and we have been warm on both sides.  I must find out about Ophir, if
only to save him; for Tramplara has woven his web round him, and has so
dusted his eyes with gold that he can neither free himself nor see
clearly where he is.  He will infallibly be brought to ruin again by
that wretched old man, unless I get to the bottom of the mystery of this
accursed Ophir.’

’Oh, Mr. Herring!’ pleaded Cicely, putting her hands together; ’do—do
help us.’

’Yes, _Miss_ Cicely.’

’I beg your pardon,’ she said, and the clouds cleared from her pleasant
face.  ’Cousin John, what should we—what should I do without you?’

’I have done nothing as yet.  But I am determined to expose Ophir, and
by so doing to save your father.’

’How will you set about it?’

’I have a clue—a shekel.’

John Herring went in search of Grizzly. The old savage was now generally
to be found near Ophir.  The mine exercised a strange attraction on the
wild old man.  The visitors spoke to him, and asked him questions about
the Giant’s Table, and the Jews, and the gold, and then made him
presents.  Some of the more intemperate among the Temperates had serious
thought of setting him up as a representative of Jonadab the son of
Rechab, and put leading questions to him, to elicit from him traditions
of such descent.  But further inquiries into the habits and
peculiarities of his parent stock at Nymet damped their enthusiasm.  The
Nymet savages, even if temperate, which was doubtful, were not shining
moral lights to hold up as examples in other particulars.  Grizzly had
become somewhat civilised by association with human beings.  When he was
tired of being questioned, he rambled off upon the moors, and
disappeared up the stream in the direction of Rayborough Pool, but not
for long.  The stir of Ophir drew him back.  He liked watching the
stampers, and to stand on the bank above the washing floors, chuckling
and sniggering at the people examining the sediment and picking out the
glittering grains.

There Herring found him.  He at once attacked him on the subject of the
shekel.

’I found ’n in the airth just below the great stone to the head o’ the
Giant’s Table. I found ’n about six foot vour inches below the surfass
o’ the ground.  There was dree or vour more, all alike, but Loramussy!
I didn’t give mun (them) no heed.  I thought they warn’t worth nothing,
and I gived mun to my little maid to play wi’.  But her, I reckon, ha’
lost the lot, all but thicky as I sold to the Reverend Israelite
Flamank, and he sed it were an Israelitish shekel.  I’ve a-heard the old
volks used to call the Giant’s Table a Gilgal, but they don’t do that no
more; and I can mind how this were always called Hophir, but the folks
as is skollards took to naming ’n Upaver, and that be all I’ve a got to
say.  I can’t say nothing about Jonadab the son o’ Rechab, as were my
great-granfer, cos a died when I was a baby.  I’ll thankee to remember a
poor man as is nigh vour-score years old, and ’ud die afore he’d let a
drop o’ other liker down his throat but pure water, glory rallaluley,
harmen.’  And he held out his hand.  ’Oh!  I beg pardon; didn’t think
’twere the young Squire.  No offence.’

’Cobbledick,’ said Herring, ’have you ever found any more silver shekels
about the Table?’

’No, never; only once for all.’

’How deep down did you say they were?’

’What did I say?  I found ’n in the airth just below the big stone to
the head o’ the Giant’s Table.  I found ’n about six foot vour inches
below the surfass o’ the ground.’

’I have heard that already, word for word. Can you give me any idea of
the depth, not in words, but by showing me about the depth that you call
six foot four inches?’

Cobbledick looked blankly at him.

’What do you take your own height to be?’

Grizzly was posed.

’I suppose it took a deal of sinking to reach the depth where—you found
the shekels?’

’Loramussy, maister!’ exclaimed the old wretch, ’weeks and weeks; that
shaft yonder were nothing to it.’

’That will do, Grizzly.’

Herring was convinced that the old man was repeating by rote a lesson
that had been taught him.  However much he was questioned and
cross-questioned he returned to the same story, in the same words.
Herring gave up the hope of getting anything more in this quarter.
Cobbledick had degenerated into a beggar—a wretched, canting beggar,
accommodating his whine to the craze of the persons who visited Ophir.

But Herring was not going to abandon the clue of the shekel because he
could find out nothing from Grizzly.  He went to the Giant’s Table to
catechise Joyce, but she was not there.

Joyce was now nearly well.  The splints had been taken off her arms, and
she could use her hands, and do light work; but the hands were stiff,
and long inaction had weakened her arms.

Herring could not spare the time to wait for her return; he did not know
where she was, and he was due at the Oxenham Arms for the final
settlement of the arrangement between Trecarrel and Trampleasure, in
which he was a party.

On the morrow, Captain Trecarrel left. In the evening Herring went in
quest of Joyce and found her hoeing in the little field. He called, and
she ran to him as a dog to its master, and with as marked demonstrations
of delight at seeing him.

’Joyce.  I came here yesterday to find you, and you were away.’

’Oh dear, oh dear, though!’ she exclaimed; ’I were wiring a rabbit.’

’Joyce, I want a word with you.’

’You can have scores; as many as you wants.’

’I know.  A woman is free of her words. You must tell me the truth now,
my little maid, for a good deal depends on it.’

’Did I ever tell’y a lie, now?’ asked Joyce, offended.  ’You may cut me
in pieces afore I’ll say other than what be true to you.’

’What I want to know, Joyce, is, where did your father get that shekel?’

’I don’t know what that be.’

’A silver coin.  He says he found three or four here under one of the
stones of the Table.  There is a branch on one side, and on the other a
cup with a flame rising out of it.’

’I never seed nothing of the sort, nowhere.’

’Your father says that he gave them to you, and that you lost all,
except one which he retained and sold to Mr. Flamank.’

Joyce shook her head.

’You have never seen anything of the kind?’

’It be just one o’ vaither’s pack o’ lies,’ answered the candid Joyce;
’vaither hev been lying finely since Ophir began.  He never showed me
nothing like that; he never gived me no silver money.  He never had none
to give till Ophir began.’

’You are very positive.’

’If you doubt, I’ll say, Blast me blue——’

’That will do,’ interrupted Herring; ’your word will suffice without the
blue blazes to colour it.’

The old man had lied about the shekel. He had not given it to the girl,
he had therefore probably not found it at all, but it had been given him
by those who had put the story into his mouth.

’I’ll ax vaither if you likes,’ said Joyce; ’he’ll tell me, all right.’

’I do not think he will.  That is all I wanted to know, my dear girl.’

’I say,’ said Joyce, ’doant’y go off now right on end.  Sit you down a
mite here in the sun and have a chat.  I never see nothing of you now,
not as it used to be when I were ill and scatt to bits.  I a’most wish
my airms was broke again, that you could come and see me ivery day.
That were beautiful.’

’Very well, Joyce, by all means.  I have nothing particular to do, so I
am quite at your service.’  He sat down by the girl under the lee of the
great stones.  It was warm there and pleasant, leaning against the grey
blocks of hoar antiquity and unknown use, stained orange and silvery
white with lichen, and with white frosty moss like antlers of elfin deer
filling the nooks in the stones. The ants were crawling over the moss in
the sun; they were migrating and wore their wings for that one day.
Turf was heaped up at the side of the cromlech, forming a rude bench.
On this the two sat.  As he took his place the thought came into
Herring’s head that far away in the dim prehistoric age, some such a
savage as that which sat beside him had assisted when it was reared.

’It be lew (sheltered) here,’ said Joyce; ’vaither hev took to sitting
here mostly on a Sunday when he ain’t wanted to the mine.’

’He leaves you very much alone now.’

’That he does.  Vaither be much changed o’ late.  The vokes there ha’
taught ’n to smoke, and they give ’n a bit o’ backie now and then, and
when he haven’t got no backie, then he flips off this here moss, this
black sort o’ trade on the moorstones, and he smokes that.’

’A new sort of life for him,’ said Herring.

’It amuses he,’ answered the girl.  ’He says he didn’t know as Gorolmity
had so many vules in the world.  He says they be as plenty as stones on
Dartmoor.’

’I dare say they are, and certainly those are fools who congregate about
Ophir.’

’Vaither likes to hear mun talk, and go sifting and cradling and washing
for the gold. It makes ’n laugh, it do.’

’Why, Joyce?’

’Why, because there bain’t none of ’em knows where the gold comes from,
and there bain’t one of ’em as don’t think himself as wise as Cosdon is
big.’

’Where does the gold come from?’ asked Herring, eagerly, so eagerly that
Joyce turned sharply round and looked him hard in the face.

’Don’t’y know neither?’

’Indeed I do not.’

’Vaither said as you didn’t and nobody didn’t.  And larned and skolards
as the volk be, vaither be too much for mun.’

’Joyce, if you can tell me where the gold comes from I shall indeed be
thankful.’

’Do you wish very much to know?’

Joyce was silent.  She looked straight before her.  Something was
working in her mind.

’Well, Joyce?’ asked Herring; he laid his hand on hers.  ’If you will
tell me this, you will repay me for all the little trouble I took to
make your poor hands sound and strong again.

’Then I’ll tell you, come what may.  It is just this that made me doubt
to say. Vaither ’d kill me sure as vuzz blooms all the year, if he
knowed as I had told you.  Look here,’ said Joyce; ’do’y see thicky ant
there. Well, he took up a great moorstone, and sez he, "You, Joyce, be
that ant, and I’ll treat you the same," and down with the stone.’

’Yes,’ said Herring, his blood curdling, ’I understand you.’

’And after that he sed, Glory rallaluley.’

’Joyce, your father shall never know that you told me.’

’Whether he knows or not I’ll tell, because you wish it.  If he does
kill me, it don’t matter much.’  Then she looked him steadily in the
eyes, and said: ’This be the way in which it be done.  Vaither puts the
gold dust in.  When the bell rings, that’s the signal for he to be ready
up at the head o’ the launder’ (wooden channel) ’where the water runs
along to go to the washing pans, and he just slips in some of the gold
into the water.  So the stream carries it down into the washing places
where the pounded stone is ready to be washed.’

Herring almost laughed.  The solution of the puzzle was simplicity
itself—so simple that it had escaped every one.  Every eye had watched
the stone, no one had thought that the water might be salted.

’I’ll show you some of it,’ said Joyce. ’There is a little bag hid away
under the table.  You understand vaither don’t put none in when there be
no vules to find it. Old Tramplara pulls a cord, and that lets the water
on; and when the water is let on, vaither sprinkles the gold in it.  He
don’t do it when there be no vules there, for Tramplara sez he ha’n’t
got much of the gold to waste.  Then, after it has been washed and
sorted out, he gives it back to vaither, and in it goes again for more
vules to find.  I’ve done it once or twice myself for vaither, when he
couldn’t go hisself.  That be how I came to know about it.’

’I am lastingly indebted to you, Joyce, for telling me this.’

’You won’t bring vaither to no harm because of this, will’y now?  That
’ud be too cruel onkind o’ you.  But no—you’ll never do no hurt to me
nor vaither, I be sure.’

’Indeed I will not, dear Joyce.  I shall never forget what I owe to you
for having told me this; and I promise you your father shall not suffer
for it.’



                            *CHAPTER XXVII.*

                       *COBBLEDICK’S RHEUMATICS.*


John Herring did not go at once to Mr. Battishill with the account of
what he had heard.  He waited till he had himself witnessed the
transaction.  Some time before the public were admitted to the mine, he
went in that direction, making however a wide circuit, and secreted
himself behind some of the rocks that commanded the head of the
’launder.’  There he remained till Old Grizzly arrived, and, after
having looked about him, lay down beside the stream close to the sluice
that let the water into the wooden conduit for the washing floors.

Herring saw him strew the dust in the stream as it was admitted; he
remained at his post of observation till some time after Cobbledick had
departed, and then he went direct to West Wyke.

He told Mr. Battishill what he had learned from Joyce, and how he had
verified the account with his own eyes.  It was true he had not arrested
Grizzly’s hand and taken the gold dust out of it; but he had seen some
of the gold supplied to the old man by Tramplara, and which he kept
secreted under the Giant’s Table, and there was no moral doubt that what
the old man had strewn in the water was that gold powder which Tramplara
intended should be found in the pans.

The revelation of the fraud made Mr. Battishill excited and angry.

’What,’ he exclaimed, helpless in his agitation—’what is to be done?
Good heavens! what can be done?’

’That is what I have been considering. You are a justice of the peace,
and you must sign a warrant for the arrest of Mr. Tramplara and his son.
There can be no question that young Sampson is involved in the swindle
equally with his father, who is the originator and mainspring of the
whole concern.’

’I have not acted for many years.  I had rather not.’

’But, sir, I think it most important that you should take this matter
up.  Remember, this fraud has been carried out on your property, under a
lease granted by you, and that you come out of it without the loss of a
penny.  I think it possible—I only say possible—that some inconsiderate
persons may cast reflections on you.  Fortunately, your name is not on
the list of directors, so that you will not be involved in the ruin this
discovery will bring on many; but your abstention from becoming one may
be commented on unfavourably, unless you cut the occasion away.  If you
issue a warrant for the apprehension of the wretched swindlers, and
become the main instrument of the break-up of the company and the
exposure of the dishonest trick that has been played, no one can wag his
tongue against you.’

’You are right,’ said the old man.  He held out his hand to Herring, and
the tears came into his eyes.  ’John, I cannot thank you sufficiently
for having protected me against myself.  I confess to you that old
Tramplara had talked my suspicions down, and had raised in my breast the
demon of cupidity.  No, I will not say cupidity, but speculation.  I do
not care for money in itself, but I do delight in making it, or, what is
the same thing, in scheming how to make it.  I suspect I have been too
overweening in my esteem of my own powers, and now you have given that
conceit a fatal fall.  Do you remember the wrestle in "As You Like it?"
"Sir," I say with Rosalind, "you have wrestled well, and overthrown more
than" Tramplara.  I trust my self-esteem is dead as Charles.  I shall
never again venture to have an opinion contrary to yours.’

’But, Mr. Battishill, is not this a little wandering from the point?  I
want a warrant for the apprehension of father and son.’

’It is no wandering at all.  I am explaining to you the reason of my
submission.  I tell you that you have but to propose a measure, and I
carry it out as best I may. Go to Okehampton, and get a clerk to make
out a warrant, and I will sign it.’

’One thing more.  I do not wish old Cobbledick to be arrested.  He is
too stupid and too ignorant to know what he has been doing, and it must
be managed that he is allowed to escape.  I have passed my word to Joyce
that he shall not be brought into trouble.  Poor Joyce is in terror of
her life of him, and if he were to suspect that she had betrayed the
secret it would go hard with her.’

’Oh no,’ said Mr. Battishill, hastily; ’Cobbledick is my tenant, that
is, a squatter on my land, and I must protect him if I can.’

’It can be managed,’ said Herring.  ’I will go to him, and tell him
plainly what I saw to-day, and threaten that I will have him
apprehended, unless he absents himself to-morrow, and gets the
Tramplaras to appoint a substitute.  After that I will communicate with
the constable, and we shall succeed in arresting gold-handed the fellow
who salts the water.’

’Poor Cobbledick!  I should be very sorry for trouble to come on him.
He is a beast, not a man, and these Tramplaras have put him in shafts
and driven him where they chose to go.’

’One thing more,’ pursued Herring. ’Directly we have caught the man in
the act, I must ride to Launceston at full speed.  Old Tramplara is not
here.  He has gone home because his daughter is about to be married; by
the way, the marriage is to take place this week, I believe.  If the
news were to reach him before he is arrested, he would draw every penny
of the shareholders’ money from the bank, and make a bolt with it.
Before we knew whether he were gone to Plymouth or Falmouth, he would be
on the high seas, and those who have invested in Ophir would lose
everything.’

’You are right, John, right again.  You take every one’s interests under
your protection.  I suspect there will be wailing and wringing of hands
when this scandal breaks on the religio-speculative world.’

Herring did not see Cobbledick till next morning.  After the interview
with Mr. Battishill, he rode into Okehampton and obtained the warrant.
He did not wish to speak to Grizzly long before he dealt the stroke,
lest he should give the alarm.  When he did speak, he was
straightforward with him.

’Cobbledick,’ he said, ’I have long entertained suspicions of Ophir.  I
knew it was a swindle, but how the swindling was managed I did not know
till yesterday.  I had gone through every process of the mine
attentively, except one, and I was satisfied that the trickery was not
committed under my eyes in the mine itself.  There was only one process
I had not studied, and that was one which took place above the workings.
I allude to the letting on of the water that washes the gozzen.
Yesterday I watched that, hiding under a rock, and I saw you steal to
the head of the launder, and I observed you salting the water with
gold-dust.  Now I know exactly how the fraud is carried out.  Are you
aware of the consequences?  I have only to apply to a magistrate for a
warrant, and you are arrested and committed to gaol, and there you will
probably lie for many months.’

Cobbledick’s face became livid.

’I do not want to throw you into prison, partly because I believe you
have acted in ignorance of what you were doing, but chiefly because I
wish to fix the noose round the right throats.’

’Cap’n[1] Tramplara set me on it,’ said Cobbledick; ’he sed, if I didn’t
do ’zackly as he wanted, he’d tear down the Giant’s Table, and be
altogether the ruin o’ me. He’d got that hold on Squire Battishill that
he couldn’t help me.  And I did it to save myself.’


[1] The head of a mine bears the title of captain.


’I am quite aware that Mr. Tramplara made you his tool, and I do not
want you to suffer, if it can be avoided, because you have been an
ignorant and unwilling tool.’

’Unwilling,’ echoed Grizzly, ’I’ll swear; glory rallaluley.’

’I repeat that I wish to spare you because you were an ignorant tool,
and also, and that especially, because of poor Joyce, who would be
heart-broken were anything to happen to you, unnatural father though you
be.’

’Ah! sure-ly it ’ud kill Joyce.  Her be that tooked up wi’ me, her can’t
abide as no harm should come to I.  What ’ud her do without me, I’d like
to know?  Where’d her get meat, and clothes, and fire?  If I were tooked
and put in the lock-up, her’d die right on end wi’ fright and hunger.’

The mean old man enforced this view of the case, thinking to deepen
Herring’s reluctance to compromise him.

’There may be two opinions about that,’ said Herring: ’suffice it,
however, that for the sake of Joyce I would spare you.  Now the only way
this can be done is for you to decline salting the water to-morrow, when
I and other witnesses will be there to see the thing done, and I shall
be prepared to arrest the doer.’

’If I don’t do it, then it be Joyce who does.’

’But Joyce must not do it.  Who is in charge of the mine this week?’

’Young Sampson Tramplara.’

’Very well; tell him that you can’t be there.’

’Ow!’ yelped the old man, ’I be took already cruel wi’ the rheumatics.
I reckon in another half a wink I shan’t be able to stir neither voot
nor hand.’

’So let it be.  Your rheumatism incapacitates you from attending to your
work, and Joyce is sent far off, on an errand. Then Mr. Sampson will
employ another man.’

’He’ll do it hisself.  He don’t let no one else into the dodge except me
and Joyce.’

’So much the better.  Then we shall catch the prime culprit in the act.
Now, Cobbledick, you understand.  Not one word of this must be repeated.
If you let out what I have told you, then your chance of escape is gone.
I shall have you arrested this evening, and you will spend the night in
the lock-up. You comprehend this?’

The old man put his dirty finger to his eye and winked.  ’My grandfer
wasn’t Jonadab the son o’ Rechab.  I arn’t a vule, it be them as goes to
Ophir as be the vules.’

Herring left him.  Then Cobbledick’s face changed.  He was fairly
frightened.  He sought Joyce at once; no suspicion crossed him that she
had betrayed the secret.

’Joyce,’ he said in a hoarse whisper, ’the thing’s a’ busted blazes
high.’

’What be, vaither?’

’Hophir, as they calls it.  The young maister hev a found out all about
’n.’

Joyce was alarmed; she looked uneasily at her father, but there was no
anger in his face.

’Joyce,’ he went on, ’that old Cap’n Tramplara hev never gived me what
he’ve a promised.’

’What hev he a promised’y?’

’He sed he’d a give me as many pounds o’ backie as I worked days for he,
a salting o’ the water.  He arn’t paid me not these three weeks.  See
here, I ha’ notched it on thicky stone.  Now he don’t know nothing o’
this here bust-up.  And when he do hear, then he’ll not give me no
backie more.  And, I reckon, he won’t pay me that he already owes me.
So you cut along to Lanson so vast as your legs can carry you.’

’Vaither, I know nothing o’ the road.’

’You cut right on end after the tip o’ your nose,’ he said, ’and you cut
so vast as you can.  You cannot miss ’n.  And mind, you must get there
afore the news of the bust-up do come to the Cap’n, and you tell ’n
this: "Give me the backie in pounds"—that’s just so many pounds as
you’ve fingers and toes on your body, and one over for your head.  Now
don’t you be a jackass and forget that one over.  A head is every mite
as much consekance to a human cretur as his little toe. And you say to
’n: "Give me as much backie in pounds as I’ve fingers and toes, and a
head;" and you hold ’n out all straight afor ’n that he may count mun
hisself.  And you mind you don’t forget to reckon your head in. Then you
go on and say, "I’ll tell’y something mighty partickler about Ophir."
Say as vaither sent me lopping all the way, so hard as I could lop.  And
if he gives you the backie, then you can tell ’n all—how the young
maister hev found out all about ’n, and be agoing to lock up him and the
young Cap’n Sampson in gaol.  But if he don’t give’y the backie, then
you can just please yourself and tell ’n nothing.  There now, don’t’y
bide about, but cut away.’

’But you, vaither!  Will you get into trouble?’

’I—I’m about to be took cruel bad wi’ rheumatics, and what they calls
the loinbagey. Now, afore you goes to Lanson, just you cut down to
Ophir, and tell Cap’n Sampson I wants to see ’n mighty partickler here
to the Table.’

An hour later, young Sampson Tramplara was at the cromlech.  As he
approached, he heard moaning and cries issuing from the interior.

’What the devil is the matter here?’ he asked, looking in.  ’Who is that
howling and groaning?’

’Oh, Cap’n, it be me; I be took cruel bad wi’ rheumatics and the
loinbagey.’

’Well, I’m not your doctor.’

’I sent to tell’y that I couldn’t fulfil my duty to-day there to Ophir.’

’Then your daughter can do it.’

’Her’s off to Lanson.’

’What the devil is she gone there for?’

’Sure, after my backie.  Your vaither he promised me a pound a day for
the work I did, and he arn’t paid me for a long while. Look’y there, I
ha’ notched it all on the stone.  There be as many days as you have
fingers and toes, and your head chucked in as well.’

’You fool!’ exclaimed young Tramplara, ’why did you not apply to me,
instead of sending all the way to Launceston for it?’

’Cos, if I’d ha’ axed you, you’d ha’ throwed a curse at me instead o’ a
pound o’ backie.’

’You damned blockhead,’ swore the young man, angrily.

’There—I sed as much.  I’d rather hev the backie, though ’tother don’t
hurt, it only tickles.’

’Curse it,’ exclaimed Sampson, in a violent rage; ’there is a particular
reason to-day why I want the water well salted.  Damn your rheumatism;
you _must_ be at your post.’

’I can’t and I won’t,’ said Grizzly, sulkily.

’It is.  You won’t, not you can’t,’ blustered Sampson; then he gathered
his stick short in his hand, and catching the old man by the ragged
collar of his coat, he beat him well, pouring forth at the same time a
volley of curses.

’This is all sham; I don’t believe in your rheumatism.  This is
idleness.  You are a good-for-nothing scoundrel.  I’ll give you occasion
to moan and cry out.’

’You leave me alone, Cap’n,’ yelled Cobbledick.  ’You forget, I reckon,
that I hev got the hanging of’y in my hands.’

’It may be so, but you forget that if I swing you swing also; one rope
will do for both of us,’ said Sampson.  ’And for that reason I do not
fear you in the least.  Now then, will you do your work again to-day?’

’I can’t.’

’I’ll give you five pounds of backie.’

’I say what I sez; I can’t do it.’

’Then,’ said young Sampson, ’there is no help for it; I must manage the
job myself.’

’You’d better,’ assented Grizzly; ’if I was you, I wouldn’t trust nobody
else.’

’I don’t mean to,’ answered Sampson. He was panting after the thrashing
he had administered, and as he cooled he began to question his
discretion in giving way to his brutality.  ’I say, Cobbledick, you mind
this; you and I and my father are all in the same box, and you in the
worst compartment of it, for it is you who have put the dust in. My
father and I can always put on the look of innocence and throw the blame
on you. You, if the rope has to be tasted, you will have the first
bite.’

’I understand,’ said the old man, putting his finger to his eye.
’Jonadab the son of Rechab weren’t my father.  I ain’t a vule; it be
they as goes to Ophir be the vules.’

’You won’t take it ill that I thrashed you.  You put me out, and I am
naturally of a quick temper.’

’I say, Cap’n; I wouldn’t let none else do the job to-day.  I’d do it
myself if I was you.’

’I intend to.  I told you I did.’

’That be right.  Do it yourself.’

Then young Sampson left the den.  As he was turning away, he thought he
heard loud laughter from within.  He was of a suspicious nature, and he
turned back.

’What are you laughing at, Cobbledick?’

’I bain’t laughing; I be screeching wi’ pain.  What wi’ the rheumatics,
and the loinbagey, and the licking I ha’ had, I hev cause to, I reckon;
and I sez glory rallaluley between the twinges by way of easement.’



                           *CHAPTER XXVIII.*

                          *CAUGHT IN THE ACT.*


Whilst young Sampson was with Old Grizzly in his den, Herring was on his
way down the Okehampton road to meet the constable at a spot already
agreed upon.  When he came to the point near the stream where the track
to Ophir diverged from the high road, he found two post carriages drawn
up in the way, from which were descending a party of grave-looking
persons of a hard appearance of face, as if they were all in a spiritual
and mental ironmongery trade.  They were under the lead of the Rev.
Israel Flamank, who was about to conduct them over the mine.

The way to it across the moor was rough, and not good travelling for a
carriage.  The chaises were ordered to go to Zeal, and the party, well
supplied with comestibles, prepared to walk to Ophir, examine the
washing of the gold, and then picnic in a serio-speculative mood on the
moor.

Mr. Flamank was a veritable decoy-duck to the Tramplaras.  Full of
enthusiasm, earnest in belief, transparently sincere, he impressed even
those who had cool judgments.  He looked on Ophir as his own discovery,
and was proud of it.  To hear him talk, the Bible was written as a huge
puff of Ophir, and the Christian ministry called into existence to tout
for shares.

Herring was slightly acquainted with him. He had seen him several times
at Ophir, and he knew that the man was sincere and honest. He pitied him
because he saw him running headforemost to moral and pecuniary ruin. As
he passed, he raised his hat to Mr. Flamank, who responded with a few
words on the weather.

Herring observed him for a moment or two.  Flamank was an excitable
little man, and was specially excited on this occasion.  On this
occasion he had brought with him several men of means as well as piety,
whom he particularly desired to secure for Ophir.  Their faith was weak.
They were ready enough to believe, with a thin kettle-broth faith, in
any folly that would not cost them money, but when it came to embarking
capital they asked to be established in their faith.

Herring was so kind at heart that, moved by a sudden impulse of pity, he
resolved to give Flamank a chance of extricating himself from the wreck,
unhurt in character if not in pocket.  He called the pastor aside, and
asked him to spare him a few moments.

’I am very busy,’ said the minister, looking over his shoulder; ’I have
a large party here, I cannot well be spared.’

’Sir, what I have to say to you is of the utmost importance.  Send the
party on with the promise of rejoining it.  There is no possibility of
their mistaking the way, which is well trampled like that which led to
the den of the sick lion.’

’Very well, as you wish,’ answered Israel, resignedly.

When all had departed, and Herring was quite alone with Mr. Flamank, he
told him everything with complete frankness, and assured him of the
total and irretrievable collapse of Ophir within a couple of hours. To
say that the pastor was aghast is to understate the case; and yet he was
unable at once to realise the completeness of the ruin with which he and
Ophir were menaced.

’Nothing will shake my faith in the Phoenicians having been here,’ he
said.  ’We are expressly told that Ophir lies between Meshaw and
Sheepstor, and this place is exactly halfway between them as the crow
flies.’

’But it is a long flight for the crow, and there are many other places
where Ophir may be found beside this.  Here we have distinct evidence of
dishonesty.’

’There is evil always mixed with good, and falsehood is associated with
truth,’ sighed Mr. Flamank.  ’It may be—of course, as you state you have
seen it, it must be—that there is trickery here, but still Ophir is
somewhere hereabouts.’

’That of course is possible.  But we have not now to consider the
whereabouts of Ophir, but the whereabouts of your reputation and your
capital, both sunk in this swindle.’  Then the full truth of Herring’s
words came home to the Reverend Israel.  He sobbed and clasped his hands
convulsively.  ’Good Lord!’ he moaned, ’avert this blow from me.  I am
prostrate!  I do not so much mind the loss of all my little savings
intrusted to Trampleasure for the purposes of the mine, as the loss of
my character, the ruin of my influence, the destruction of my position.
I have spoken and written about Ophir, and induced so many to embark
their little means in it!  Believing widows and Christian old maids have
ventured their all in Ophir.  I have urged them to it, assuring them it
was a sound venture; I have shown them the sure word of prophecy
speaking of Ophir; and now, what will become of them and of me?’

’My purpose is to ride to Launceston and have old Mr. Trampleasure
arrested before he hears the news and can decamp with the money.’

’Oh, Mr. Herring, what is to be done? What can I do to put myself
right?’

’I see one course open to you.  You come with me and the constable and
watch the process of salting, and help us to secure young Sampson
Tramplara, or whoever does it. You will give evidence against those who
are acting fraudulently.  You will assist me in exposing the rascality.
It will not then be possible for your good name to suffer, though your
pocket may and probably will be lighter.’

’Thank you, thank you so much, Mr. Herring,’ said the unfortunate man;
’I shall never be able to repay what you are doing for me save by my
prayers.  I accept your proposal.  How is it to be carried out?’

’You must go after your friends, and make some excuse for deserting
them.  Then return to me, and I will take you with me. I must start the
constable, who is going to the same spot by another route.  Stay! you
have a brown speckled shawl over your arm.’

’It belongs to a lady of my party.’

’Take it with you.  Your black suit might be visible, but enveloped in
the shawl you will be unobserved amidst the heather.’

The moor was clear.  No one was visible on the flank of Cosdon or on the
hill-side opposite, as Herring and his companion stole cautiously under
cover to a place which commanded the sluice.  Herring placed the pastor
at some distance from himself; he wished the constable to be with him,
so that they might make a rush together on the man they desired to take.

The constable had made a considerable detour; he had, in fact, worked
round the hill from an opposite direction.  Herring was on the look-out
for him, and signed to him with a handkerchief fluttered behind a rock
where to rejoin him.

The day was bright, but a cool wind blew from the north-west, rolling
scattered masses of white cloud, like giant icebergs floating in a polar
sea.  Autumn was closing in.  The days were shortening, the fern
becoming russet, the heath had lost its bells; only a few sprigs of
heather retained their harsh, dry blossoms.  The gorse no longer bloomed
throughout, though here and there one little gold flower still showed.
’When the furze is out of bloom, then sweet love is out of tune,’ says a
Devonshire proverb, which acquires its force from the fact that the
gorse is in flower throughout the year.  The whortleberry leaves were
turned orange and crimson.  Out of the peat the coral moss showed its
scarlet incrustations.

’To my thinking,’ said the constable, who found silence irksome, ’the
worts’ (whortleberries) ’of the wood ain’t to compare with the worts of
the moor.  The wood worts is the bigger, but the moor worts is the
sweeter. Do you like wort-pie with clotted cream on it as thick as the
pastry?’

Herring nodded.

’He who don’t like that don’t know what good living is,’ said the
constable.

This functionary was a stout man, with a florid face and very pale blue
eyes.  He was silent for a while, and then he began again.

’I suppose I mightn’t stand up and stretch my legs,’ he asked; ’I’m in
such a constrained and awkerd position sitting here on my ’aunches so
long.’

’Certainly not,’ said Herring, hastily.  ’I entreat you to remain as you
are.’

’There was a little fellow I knowed when I was a boy in Tawton—he’s dead
now.  He had been to sea, but he warn’t good for much, he were so small
in size.  He’ve a told me oft and oft the tale how he were tooked by
pirates in the Mediterranean, and sold as a slave at Morocco, in one of
them American States, I reckon.  He said that the Moors couldn’t make
much of ’n, he were so small. He were no good to work in the mines, and
he were no good to wheel weights.  So, as they was determined to have
their money’s worth out of he, they made ’n sit day and night in one
constrained and unnatteral position—hatching turkey eggs.’

Then he relapsed into silence, but not for long.

Presently he spoke again.  ’I s’pose I mayn’t light a pipe?’ his faint
mild eyes looked pleadingly at Herring.

’Certainly not.’

’I didn’t s’pose I might.  I axed because it be tedious waiting.  No
offence meant.’

After a further weary pause, he said in an undertone—’You don’t think
now, master, that he we be going to take will prove dangerous?’

’I dare say he will show fight.  If he be young Mr. Sampson Tramplara,
he probably will.’

’Oh!’ the rosy apple cheeks looked less cheery.  ’Look here, sir; my
body be as big as a rhinoceros, but my soul be no bigger than a nit.
There seems a deal o’ me, looking at me cursorily, sir; but it ain’t
heart, sir, it be bacon.’

’Hush!’ whispered Herring, ’look out. Here comes some one from the
mine.’

’That be young Mr. Sampson Tramplara,’ said the constable.  ’From
battle, murder, and sudden death, good Lord deliver us.’  He spoke in an
undertone.  The wind blew up the valley, and there was not the remotest
chance of his being heard.  Then he added in a whisper, ’You’ll mind
what I said, in confidence, sir, about my courage.  I’ll back any one
up, sir, but don’t’y thrust me forrard. There be divarsity of gifts, and
I be famous at backing.’

Herring held up his finger.  He looked in the direction of Flamank, but
could not distinguish him.  He was among the tufts of brown heather, and
the speckled cloak was over him, completely merging him in the bushes.

’Keep a sharp look-out,’ whispered Herring, ’and when I touch you,
spring up, and run with me down on Sampson Trampleasure. We must not let
him slip away.’

They saw the young man come stealthily up the valley, looking right and
left, evidently somewhat uneasy.  The ’leat’ or channel of water came to
a grip in the moor-side, and was carried over it in a long wooden
launder on daddy long-legs’ supports.  The stream was conveyed thence,
still in wood, and covered, round an elbow of hill, and reached the
washing-floors by a rapid incline.  A wire conducted on poles from the
mine to the sluice let the water on without the necessity of ascending
to the launder head, which was invisible from the mine itself.

The stamping-mills were working, and the drum was revolving and
grinding.  A second leat carried the water to put these in motion.
Herring and the constable could hear the thud, thud of the hammers and
the monotonous crunching of the crusher.

Young Tramplara knelt down by the sluice, and took a packet from his
breast pocket.  Presently the poles supporting the wire creaked and
swung in the direction of Ophir, and the sluice door was lifted.  At
once the water rushed down the wooden trough, and Sampson was seen,
after a furtive glance round, to sprinkle the advancing stream with the
contents of his packet.

Herring touched the constable, and both rose and advanced from behind
the rock. Tramplara’s back was towards them, and he was unaware of their
approach.  The wind was from him, and he did not hear their steps. At
the same time the Reverend Israel Flamank rose and shook off his brown
shawl.  Herring and the constable were within a few paces of the young
man, when he stood up, dusted his hands, and turned.  Instantly he saw
them, and uttered a cry of mingled rage and alarm. He turned sharply to
run; then, thinking better of it, turned back again, and faced them,
and, quick as thought, drew a pistol from his pocket and presented it at
the head of John Herring.  As he fixed him with his eye, Sampson
recognised with whom he had to do, and Herring saw the flash of
recognition in his evil eye.  ’By God!’ said Sampson between his teeth,
’I am not sorry for this.  I’ll settle old accounts with you this
minute.’

Herring saw the finger twitch at the trigger, and instinctively bent his
head.  He heard the report at the same moment, followed by a cry and a
heavy fall behind him. He was himself unhurt, and his first impulse was
to close with Sampson, but, turning his head, he saw the constable lying
motionless, and, with a call to Mr. Flamank to run after Sampson, he
stooped over the prostrate man.

The constable’s face was mottled; all colour had deserted it but a dead
purple in blotches in the cheeks.  His eyes were closed, and he was
motionless.  Seeing the pistol produced, the worthy man had sprung
behind John Herring, true to his word that he was good at backing.  When
Herring bent his head, the constable had received the charge which was
designed to blow out Herring’s brains.

John Herring scooped water out of the stream, and threw it over the poor
fellow’s face. Then he tore off his neckcloth, and ripped open his
waistcoat in search of the wound. The freshness of the water brought the
man round.  He opened his pale eyes, looked scaredly at Herring, and
closed them again.

’Are you much hurt?  Where did the shot strike?’ asked John Herring.

Again the constable opened his eyes cautiously, and now he turned his
head stiffly.

’Where is he?’ he asked huskily.

’He has run away.  Are you seriously hurt?’

’Very,’ sighed the poor man.

’But where?’

’I can’t speak yet.  Wait a bit, and I will tell’y.’

In the meantime Sampson Trampleasure was running.  He stopped his flight
after he had gone some little distance, and looked back.  He saw Herring
bowed over the prostrate man, opening his waistcoat and uncovering his
breast.  With a curse, he turned and ran on.

Flamank, with tails flying, waving the brown shawl like a lasso over his
head, ran after him, shouting, ’Heigh! stop, Mr. Sampson! stop! You have
killed the constable! You must be hung!  Stay and let me catch you!’

’Try to stand,’ said Herring to the constable.  He lifted him to his
feet.

’I be the father of fourteen, and another coming,’ said the poor man.
He was dreadfully frightened; he peered about him in all directions.

’And the eldest fifteen,’ he murmured. ’Be you sure the murderous
ruffian be out o’ harm’s way?’

’Certain.  Have you been hit?’

’Ay, I have.’

’Then where?’

’Here,’ said the constable, holding up his hat.

The ball had gone clean through it.

Just then Mr. Flamank returned, panting and very hot.

’I can’t catch him.  I have run and shouted my best, but he would not
wait to be caught.’

’He shall not escape me,’ said Herring.



                            *CHAPTER XXIX.*

                               *A RACE.*


Sampson Trampleasure ran to the mine, burst through the assembled
visitors, who tried to arrest him with inquiries after Mr. Flamank, and
about the washings and cradlings and puddlings, and the whips and whims.
He had an oath and a curse for all who stood in his way.  He thrust to
the stable, where he saddled and bridled his horse, and, in another
moment, was galloping over the rough road.

The shocked visitors shook their heads, and concluded that there had
been a breakage in the machinery.  It did not occur to them that there
had been a break-up of the entire concern.  That fact was revealed to
them later by the Rev. Israel Flamank.

Sampson Trampleasure reached the Okehampton road and sped along it in
the Launceston direction.  When he had crossed the bridge over the Taw
at Sticklepath, and was ascending the hill on the other side, he looked
back and saw some one on a grey in pursuit. He knew the grey mare—she
belonged to Mr. Battishill, and he was certain that John Herring
bestrode her.

’Ah!’ said Sampson; ’a race between us which shall reach Launceston
first.’

Mr. Battishill’s mare had been a good horse once, but was now old.
Sampson had a young and sound cob under him.  The mare would be unable
to endure so long a journey, she must be exchanged at one of the next
stations.  Sampson knew he could keep his distance and get first to
Launceston, but that was not sufficient.  He must delay Herring long
enough to allow him to see his father, and, with or without his father,
to leave Launceston before Herring rode through its gate.  Believing
that he had killed a man, he was in great fear for himself, and he would
not have scrupled to fly without warning his father, but that he was
misapplied with money.  He must make for a seaport that same night; an
hour would suffice, if he could gain that.

The sun was setting as he rode over Sourton Down.  There was a turnpike
there.  He called the man of the bar to him.

’You know me.  I am Sampson Trampleasure, junior.  I am riding a race
with a gentleman for a wager; my horse is getting beat, and I must
secure a fresh mount at Bridestowe.  Here is a guinea; I will give you
four more if you will delay the gentleman a quarter of an hour.’

’All right, sir!  We have to go some ways for our tea-water; I’ll fasten
the bar and go for mine.’

Sampson did not wait to hear how Herring was to be detained; he rode as
hard as he could down the hill to Bridestowe, and drew up at the inn
door.

’Here!’ he shouted, ’give my horse some gruel; he is beat.  Have you a
horse I can hire, hostler?  Mine won’t carry me to Launceston.’

’He’s not done yet,’ said the hostler. ’Most of our osses be gone on wi’
two chaises, but there be one in the stables that be fresh. But how
about getting of her back again?’

’I’ll leave mine if I take her,’ said Sampson.  ’I’m back again
to-morrow, and I’ll ride her here.’

’You can look at her,’ said the hostler; ’her ain’t a beauty to look at,
but her can go brave enough.’

Sampson went into the stable.  Presently he came out.

’No, Daniel, I don’t like her looks.  Be sharp with the gruel and put a
quart of your strongest ale into it; my bay will carry me with that
inside him.’

The hostler went leisurely about his work.

’Daniel, this won’t do.  There has been a breakage at Ophir, and I must
be sharp and tell my father.  We must be back to-morrow before daybreak,
or everything will be spoiled.’

’All right, sir; I’ll look peart.’

Sampson was not satisfied with the man’s undertaking to look alert.  He
went himself to the bar and gave his bay a quart of ale.

As he was galloping out of Bridestowe, he heard the clatter of horse’s
hoofs descending the hard road from Sourton Down, and he knew that
Herring was at his heels.

Herring had reached the toll-gate, and found it barred.  He had been
unable to make the man hear.  He found both the gate-house and bar
locked.  He was greatly annoyed, and, riding back, lashed his grey, and
tried to make her leap the bar.  But the mare was too old and tired to
risk it, and she swerved.  Then he tried to get round by a side lane,
and through fields, but found this also impracticable.  Full a quarter
of an hour passed before he could get through.  The man arrived at last,
put down his water-can, and leisurely unfastened the bar.  Herring was
in too great haste to waste time in remonstrance.

The grey was failing; she tripped, and almost fell several times in
descending the hill to Bridestowe.  He drew rein at the inn, and called,
’Hostler! here, I say!’

’All right, sir.’

’Have you a spare horse?  I must ride on at once.’

’There’ve a been a gent here already inquiring,’ said Daniel.  ’Be you
come from the same quarter?’

’I want a horse at once.  I have no time for answering questions.’

’Because, if you be,’ continued Daniel, composedly, ’there be no ’urry.
The gent, that be young Mr. Tramplara, have a gone ahead already with
the news.  He says he must tell his father at once, and they’ll be back
early to-morrow morning.’

’Have you a horse, or not?’

’He sed, afore daybreak.  Them was his very words.’

Herring was out of his saddle.  ’The grey cannot go on.  You must let me
have a horse.’

’This grey ain’t got the go in her like the bay Maister Tramplara rode.
How old be her?’

’Never mind the age.’  He drew the fellow’s hand away as he was turning
up the lips to examine the teeth.  ’Is there a horse available?’

’There be one, sure,’ answered Daniel; ’I offered her to the young
Maister Tramplara, but he wouldn’t have her.  Her’s not so bad to go,
but the looks of her ain’t nothing to boast of.’

’Off with the saddle and bridle, and bring her round.’

The hostler, a little man, with his toes turned in, very broad in body
but short in stature, scuffled into the stable, and was a long time
before he reappeared.  Herring was impatient.  He took a glass of cyder
at the bar, and then went to the stable and met the little man coming
out.

’There be summat the matter wi’ the oss,’ he said.  ’Her’s lame.  Bide a
wink, and I’ll fetch a lantern.’

After having found a lantern, adjusted a tallow candle in the socket,
and lighted it, Daniel went with Herring into the stable. The horse that
was so good to go could not go a step.  She was dead lame.

’Here,’ said Herring; ’hold the light. Take the candle out of the
lantern, and I’ll turn up her hoofs.  There it is!’

A knife-blade had been driven into the frog of the off front hoof, and
snapped short in it.

’Is the Squire home at Lea Wood?’ asked Herring.  He set his teeth, and
his brow contracted; his blood was up.

’I reckon he be, unless he be away,’ answered Daniel.

Herring ran to his grey, re-saddled her, and rode out of the village to
the house, situated a mile outside.  He rang the bell, and asked to be
allowed to see Mr. Hamlyn for a moment, and the Squire came to him in
the hall.  Herring told his story—that he was in pursuit of a man, with
a warrant for his apprehension in his pocket.  He drew it forth.  He
related how the horse had been wilfully lamed at the post-house to
arrest him, and he begged to be allowed the use of one of the Squire’s
horses.  His request was at once and readily granted.  In a quarter of
an hour he was well-mounted on a fine horse—Squire Hamlyn was noted for
his good horses—a horse perfectly fresh, and was in full and fast
pursuit.  ’If I do not catch you now,’ said Herring, laughing bitterly,
’it will not be my fault.’

But much time had been lost.  It was already dusk.  In another half-hour
it would be dark.  The heavy clouds that had rolled in broken masses
through the sky all day had spread out over the entire surface, and
obscured all light from the stars.  Only to the west the declining day
looked wanly over the ragged fringe of Cornish moorland heights. The
road was no longer over open down, but ran between hedges, with trees on
both sides. It lay in valleys with high hills well wooded folding round;
the hills cut off the light, the dark foliage absorbed it.  Sampson
Tramplara was pushing on as well as he could, but his bay was feeling
the length of the journey and the pace.

’Get out of the road, confound you!’ shouted Sampson, as a dark figure
was overtaken and made his horse swerve.  ’What the devil do you mean by
not standing aside?’  Sampson had a hunting whip, his hand through the
loop.  He lashed at the foot-traveller, as he trotted by, with an oath.
It was too dark for him to discern a face, but he saw that the person
was a woman.  It did not matter, the lash had curled round her. She must
learn a lesson—so hard to teach women and pigs—that when a rider is in
the road she must get on one side.  He could not have hurt her, as she
uttered no cry. Sampson was without spurs, but he dug his heels into the
flanks of his bay and urged him on to a canter.  Then he heard
distinctly the clatter of horse-hoofs coming along the road at a good
pace—at a gallop.  Herring had got a fresh mount, and would be up with
him in ten minutes.  His bay could not get on faster—that was
impossible.  What was to be done?

Sampson looked back along the road.  He could no longer see the
foot-passenger.  She had doubtless gone down a side lane.  There was
light enough for him to see that the road was clear.  He had come to a
place where heavy oak woods closed in on the highway, and the trees
overarched making it doubly obscure.  If Herring was to be stayed, this
was the place, now was the time; in another ten minutes it would be too
late.  Further on the road would be lighter and less solitary.

Quick as thought, Tramplara dismounted and led his horse along the road
to a gate, He unfastened the gate, and took the bay through into the
wood, where he tied him up behind the hedge.  Then he unhinged the
gate—it was a large five-barred gate—and with some little effort carried
it into the road, and threw it down across it.

He looked at his legs; he wore light tight breeches—they would be seen
if he stood aside in the hedge, waiting the result.  So he went through
the gateway and leaned his back against the post, standing inside with
his arms folded.  If there had been sufficient light, and any one had
been there to note his face, an ugly smile would have been seen covering
it.  ’By God,’ he muttered, ’he escaped me once to-day: this time he
shall not escape.’

He heard the tramp of the horse approach nearer; it was descending a
hill, and muffled, then ascending the next.  Herring’s voice was
audible, cheering on his horse.  Not another sound but the rush of the
Lew Water, a petty river, swirling over its stony bed, and breaking
against snags of timber that had fallen from the banks.

Yes! a night-jar in the wood screeched; then was silent, then screeched
again intermittently, as though signalling danger.

Late in the year though it was, in the hedge, close to Sampson, was a
glow-worm. The light annoyed him.  He could distinguish by it the
crane’s-bill leaf on which the insect sat.  He put up his foot and broke
down the earth, and then stamped it and the luminous little creature
together.  Through the interstices of the clouds one star was visible.
He would have torn it out of the sky and stamped it to darkness in the
mire, if he could have reached it.

Louder, more distinctly, came the clatter of hoofs.  The road was level,
and the pace of the horse accelerated.  ’On, old fellow, we shall soon
be up with him!’

Sampson heard Herring’s voice almost in his ear.  His heart gave a
bound, and then—a cry, a crash, and, for a moment, silence.

’The gate has done it,’ said Sampson Tramplara, stepping lightly into
the road.

He was right; the gate had done it.  The horse had been spurred on to a
good speed, and neither he nor his rider had noticed the obstruction
till the poor brute’s legs were between the rails, and he was down and
floundering.  Herring was flung, and lay his length on the road.
Sampson went up to him; he was unconscious.  Then Sampson turned his
attention to the horse.

’Where did Herring get this brute?’ he asked.  ’He’ll do for me, if he
has not hurt himself.  Come up, old fellow, don’t lie and go to sleep
there.’

He took the reins, and brought the horse up on his haunches, but the
poor animal was unable to stand.  He had broken or severely injured one
foot.

’No good to me,’ said Sampson; ’lie as you are.  I must force my bay to
go on.’

He went back to Herring, and stood over him, a foot on each side.  Then
he drew the pistol out of his pocket.

’This time you shall not escape me,’ he said with an oath; ’I’ll take
precious good care of that.’  And he put the muzzle of his weapon to the
ear of the unconscious man. ’Ah! you’re deaf enough now, but I’ll bark
into your ear such a bark as will make you jump into eternity.  I reckon
I have done for one man to-day, and if I have to run at all, I may as
well run for two as for one.’

He drew the trigger, but no report followed.

’Curse it!’ he said, and flung the weapon on the road; ’I forgot I had
already fired it off, and haven’t had time to load again.’  He paused,
still astride over Herring.  ’It is just as well,’ he said; ’I can beat
your brains out as well as blow them out, and then no one will know but
what you smashed your skull in your fall.  Where’s that pistol?’

He turned to look for it where he had thrown it.  It was too dark for
him to see, so he groped in the road till he found it.

Then he came back to Herring, lying unconscious and without motion.

’I wonder is he dead already?’ he said, and felt him, and put his hand
to his heart.

’He’s alive for the moment,’ muttered Sampson, ’but not enjoying life
now, nor like to have another and a sweeter taste of it. So, my boy—one
for Ophir—one for me—and one for Mirelle!  You threatened to break a
ruler across my head, did you?  I’ll break something a deal harder over
yours, or batter yours in.’  He drew a long breath and raised his hand,
holding the pistol by the muzzle. ’Ready,’ he shouted; ’here goes!—one
for——’

A scream of fury and fear combined, the scream of a beast rather than of
a human being, and, in a moment, some one was on him, grasping his arm,
and wrapping him round in rags rank with peat smoke.  He could hardly
make out who or what had grappled with him.  He tried to disengage
himself, but the hands, with long nails like claws, tore at him, and the
rags entangled his arms, and the hoarse, discordant shrieks in his ear
deafened, bewildered him.

Had a scarecrow assumed life, or leaped on him from a field, to arrest
his murderous hand, or had some spectre of the wood, some dead creature,
risen out of the leaf-mould that had covered it to attack him?  For a
moment fear curdled his heart’s blood and paralysed his arm; and the
creature, whatever it was, took advantage of the moment to wrench the
whip out of his hand.

’I’ll kill you!  I’ll rip your heart and liver out wi’ my nails.  I’ll
bite my way through to ’em——’

Then Sampson recovered himself.  He knew with whom he had to do.

’Keep off, Joyce, you fool!’ he shouted, and thrust her from him with a
blow.  But like a tiger she leaped at him again, and bit at his hand and
screamed.  In her mad fury she could scarce form and utter words.
Sampson Tramplara backed to the gate, defending himself with his pistol.
He struck her repeatedly, but she felt nothing.  If he had cut her with
a knife she would not have known it, dominated as she was by her fury.

’You fool, Joyce, let me alone, or I will kill you!’

’You’ve killed the maister, you’ve killed ’n. I’ll tear you to bits, I
will.’

’Stand back! look to your master.  If you want him to live, you must
mind him at once.’

That answered; that alone could have answered.

She drew back.

’I’ll see,’ she said; ’if you’ve killed ’n, you’ll niver escape me.
I’ll hunt you over airth and under water; I’ll go after’y through the
very fire.  You’ll not escape me.  I’ll see if he be alive or dead, but
happen what may,’ she said, and raised his whip over her head, ’you
shall take that for a first taste.’  Then she brought the lash down with
all the weight of her arm, and the force her fury lent her, across his
face.  The lash cut it, and he staggered back and put his hands over his
eyes, and cried out with pain.  Then she stepped back to where Herring
lay in the road.  Young Tramplara stood for a moment, blinded with the
blow and convulsed with rage.  His first impulse was to rush after her
and beat her down and stamp the life out of her.  But prudence
prevailed; he took the opportunity to unhitch his horse, mount, and ride
away.

Joyce flung herself in the road beside Herring.  All the rage and
roughness went out of her instantly.  She felt him, to find if his bones
were broken.  Then she drew him up and laid his head in her bosom, and
listened for his breath.

’My maister! my dear, dear maister!’ she cried, between fear and tears.
’My darling, my darling maister! speak now, speak, do’y?’

She rocked herself from side to side, moaning, swaying his head in her
arms.

’Oh, maister, maister! what can I do?’  She put her mouth to his, and
breathed into his lungs the contents of her own.  ’I’ll give’y all the
life that be in me, and welcome, if only I can make thee open your eyes
again.  You must not die.  Speak, and let me know that you hear me.  It
be Joyce, your own poor Joyce, that has’y, and is a rocking of’y, and
calling of’y to wake up.  Maister, darling maister, do’y hear me?  None
shall touch you but me.  I’ll die afore I lets another near’y.’  Then
her tears broke forth; she felt her utter helplessness.  ’They’ll be
coming for to take’y away, but they shall not do it.’ She laid him back
in the road, then stood up, removed the gate, and put it in its place;
and then lifting Herring, she partly carried, partly drew him away,
through the gate-opening into the wood; there she could hide both him
and herself.

She took him again in her arms, and swayed herself to and fro, moaning
and then breaking into snatches of song.  In the wood she resolved she
would remain; no one should take him from her.  If he were dead, there
he should lie, dead, in her arms, on her lap, and she would sit over him
watching and waiting patiently till she died also, and the leaves came
down—copper-gold off the beech, and russet-brown off the oak—and buried
them together.

But no! no!—he must not die!  What could she do for him?  He had known
exactly what was right to do for her when ’she were all a broked in
pieces.’  He had known how to mend her, so that now she was well and
strong again.  But then he was a ’skollard’ and she—she was but a poor
ignorant savage. What should she do?  Go to a cottage and ask that he
might be taken in there?  Her heart shrank from this.  She could not
breathe in a house.  There, others would surround him, and she would be
thrust out.  No! she would nurse him there, under the sky and the green
trees, where the wind blew, and the grass sprang up, and the birds sang.
All at once a thought struck her.  In her sense of loneliness,
helplessness, misery, an unutterable yearning came over her for some
help that she could not define, not even understand.  It was a vague
effort of the poor dumb soul within to articulate a cry for help to—she
knew not whom.  She threw herself on her knees beside the body, and
stretched her arms from which depended the wretched rags torn to shreds,
upwards towards the sky, and raised her face, quivering with agony, and
cried hoarsely, again and again—’Our Vaither—kinkum-kum—kinkum-kum!
Glory rallaluley!’

The star that Sampson Tramplara had seen and would have stamped out was
shining aloft, and it smote through the leafy vault over her head, and
sparkled in the tears that streamed over her cheeks.

So, throughout the night, she rocked her burden, and moaned, and pressed
it to her bosom, and then knelt and wept, and cried—’Kinkum-kum!
Kinkum-kum!’



                             *CHAPTER XXX.*

                         *BETWEEN CUP AND LIP.*


That same evening which had seen Herring flung senseless in the road was
to decide the fate of Orange Tramplara.  She was to be married that
evening to Captain Trecarrel in the little chapel at his place.  A
dispensation had been obtained from the bishop (_in partibus_) to allow
of the celebration out of canonical hours.  The reason for this was that
a priest was on his way to Plymouth from Camelford, and would arrive
only in the afternoon—indeed, somewhat into the evening—by coach, and he
would have to proceed very early next morning on his way to Plymouth.
Consequently, the only manner in which it was convenient for the pair to
receive the nuptial benediction from a Catholic priest was for the
function to take place in the chapel at Trecarrel that evening somewhat
late.  On the morrow the Protestant ceremony was to be performed in
Launceston parish church, followed by the wedding breakfast.  Thus it
happened that, about the time the accident—if accident it may be
called—happened to John Herring, as related in the last chapter, Orange
was dressing for the marriage ceremony that was to take place in the
Catholic chapel at Trecarrel, and Mirelle was assisting her, at Orange’s
special request.

Mirelle was not to be a bridesmaid.  Orange had asked her to be one; she
could not well have failed to do so; but Mirelle had declined, and the
request had not been urged.  Mirelle was glad to escape thus.  She would
have to be present during the ceremony at Trecarrel, but she would kneel
in some shady corner, where her face could not be seen and her tears
noticed.  Mirelle had passed a trying time. A weight lay on her heart
which she was unable to shake off.  Even Mrs. Trampleasure had observed
the change in her appearance: the sunken eyes, and the transparency of
her cheek; but Mirelle had explained this by the climate, which affected
her.  She had been accustomed to sun.  Cloud and rain depressed her, and
affected both her health and her spirits.  Orange was elated; victory
was all but achieved.  In a few hours she would be Mrs. Trecarrel of
Trecarrel, and be translated to another sphere from that in which
circled her father and mother, Miss Bowdler, and the Reverend Flamank.
Bah! her bridesmaids expected to be made much of after she was lady of
Trecarrel, to be invited to her dances, to meet county people at her
receptions, to be still ’Dear Jane,’ and ’Darling Sophy,’ and ’My sweet
Rose.’  They were very much mistaken.  Once she had risen to her new
perch she would peck at every presumptuous fowl that aspired to sit
beside her.

’Mrs. Trecarrel of Trecarrel!’ repeated Orange, as she surveyed herself
in the glass. She would become her station, with her proud, handsome
face and erect bearing.  She had the figure and the dignity of a
duchess.  At least she supposed she had.  That she was a fine woman
could not be disputed, with a swelling bust, large and luscious eyes, a
bright colour, ripe and sensuous lips, and magnificent dark, glossy, and
abundant hair.  A slight down, not enough to disfigure, showed on her
upper lip—the badge of a warm and passionate nature.

’Father will be too much engaged to worry me,’ she thought, ’and
mother’s cold will keep her from wetting her feet at Trecarrel.  That is
a comfort.  As for Sampson, he shall not cross my threshold, unless I
invite him to shoot rabbits when I am sure no gentleman will be
present.’

Mirelle was engaged on the rich but coarse hair of Orange.  The delicate
white fingers trembled, and were less skilful than usual.

’Really, Mirelle, you are clumsy this evening,’ said Orange; ’you pull
my hair and hurt me.’  She looked before her into the glass.

’Are you crying, child?’

’No, Orange.’

’I thought I saw something glistening in your eye.’

Mirelle had the strength to repress her tears.  She devoted her whole
attention to that on which she was engaged.

’You will come occasionally and see me,’ said Orange.  ’I shall be so
pleased to show you all I am doing; and I am certain the Captain will be
delighted.  Now, don’t run the hair-pins into my head!  I tell you, you
hurt me.  Really, Mirelle, you are very clumsy. What ails you this
evening?’

Mirelle made no reply.

’Try on the orange-wreath and the veil, child,’ said Miss Trampleasure.

Mirelle took up the wreath and adjusted it.

’The Captain has always been partial towards you,’ continued Orange.
She was aware that what she said gave pain, but then, what triumph is
complete without the infliction of wounds and agonies?

’Do you not think Harry is a handsome man?  I do not believe I have ever
seen, even in a woman, such beautiful and expressive eyes.  There,
Mirelle, is a pin with a large Cornish crystal in the head; put it in my
hair and fasten my wreath with it.’

Mirelle did not, could not, speak.  It was as much as she could do to
maintain the mastery over her feelings.

’Do you know, you palefaced witch, I was at one time almost jealous of
you.  I thought the Captain was attentive to you—more attentive than he
ought to be, and that you were trying to draw him away from me. Of
course that was natural.  Every girl begrudges another her lover, and
would rob her of him if she could.  It is a natural instinct. But Harry
never really cared for you; he told me so; he was only playing——  Good
heavens, Mirelle!’  Orange sprang up, and the tears, tears of pain,
started into her eyes. In a moment, in a flash of passion, she struck
Mirelle on the cheek with her open hand.

’Do you know what you have done?  You have run the pin into my head.
Look—look!’  She snatched off her veil.  ’How can I wear this?  There is
a spot of blood on it.’

Then Mirelle burst into tears.  She had an excuse for them—she had been
struck.

’I am sorry,’ said Orange; ’but really you hurt me.  Look at the blood,
and convince yourself.  I did not mean to strike you; but the pain was
sharp, and I forgot myself.  Do control yourself.  Hark!  I hear horses’
feet. The carriage will be here directly, and we shall start for
Trecarrel.  Dry your eyes and control your feelings.  You must not let
people see that you have been crying, or they will say’—her malice
gained the mastery once more—’that you loved the Captain, and were
envious of me.’

Mirelle covered her face.

’Of course,’ said Orange, looking hard at her, with her red lips
twitching, ’there is not a shadow of truth in this; still, tongues are
sharp and venomous, and such things will be said if you give occasion
for them.’

Mirelle stood up, proud, cold, and impassive.  In a moment she had
conquered her feelings.  Her pride was touched, and that recovered her.

’No one shall dare to say such things of me,’ she answered.  ’Sit down,
and I will finish your toilette.’

The hoofs on the gravel that Orange had heard were those of Sampson’s
bay, now utterly tired out, and scarce able to carry his master up the
steep ascent from the valley of the Tamar.

He sprang out of his saddle, and burst into the hall as his mother
descended the stairs in a stiff myrtle green satin dress, with a cap on
her head adorned with rose-coloured bows.

’Where is my father?’ asked Sampson, abruptly.

’He is dressed, Sampy darling, and in the parlour.  I’m going in there
too.  We expect the carriage shortly.  The bridesmaids will be picked up
at their own doors, but our carriage is coming here.’

He did not wait to hear her, but rushed into the drawing-room.

’By Grogs!  Sampy,’ exclaimed Mr. Trampleasure, ’what brings you here?
I thought you were to remain in charge at Ophir, and give us your
visits, as the wisest of men said, like angel visits, few and far
between.  I want you there, and not here, boy.’

’Father, I must speak with you instantly, and alone,’ he added, as he
saw his mother come rustling and sniffing in at the door. ’Let us go
into the office.’

’Nothing wrong with Ophir, lad, eh?’ asked the old man, his colour
changing.

’Everything,’ answered Sampson.  ’For heaven’s sake lead on.  Not a
moment is to be lost.’

Mr. Trampleasure was arrayed in evening dress, with a very white tight
neckcloth, and very stiff projecting frills to his shirt.  He was in a
fine black cloth dress coat.  His hair was as white as his frills.  He
took up a plated branch candlestick, and led the way. His hand shook.

’Take care, Tram, darling,’ said Mrs. Trampleasure, ’you be a joggling
of the wax all over the carpet, and it do take a time getting of it out
with a hiron and blotting paper.’

He opened the door of the office and went in.  He had been working, and
smoking, and drinking there that afternoon; there was a fire burning red
on the hearth.  The room reeked with rum and tobacco.

The old man put the candle down, and then stayed himself with one hand
on the table.  ’By Grogs!’ he said, ’you’ve given me a turn, Sampy.
What do you mean by saying that everything is wrong with Ophir?’

’I mean what I say,’ answered the young man.  ’Ophir is smashed up.
That cursed fool Herring has found all out.  Flamank knows also.  They
saw me salting the stream.’

The old man’s face turned purple.

’That’s not the worst—there’s worse behind,’ continued young Sampson.
He hesitated a moment, and looked at his father. Mr. Trampleasure was
feeling about him with the disengaged hand for his arm-chair.  He
gripped the table with the left.  He tried to speak; he opened his mouth
and shut it again.  It was horrible to see him, like a fish, gasping,
and nothing proceeding from his lips. ’It must come out.  But first;
father—we shall have to run for it.  I especially.  Where is the money?’

The old man pointed with a faltering hand in the direction of a strong
box, let into the wall.  Then he put his hand in his pocket and pulled
out a bunch of keys.  He tried to indicate a single key, but could not
take his other hand from the table.  The bunch fell on the floor.

’All right, governor,’ said Sampson.  ’Now I will tell you the worst,
and a cursed ugly worst it is.  You may as well hear it from me as from
another.  I must be off to-night—at once; you suit your convenience.  Do
as you like.  You have nothing to fear but the stone jug; I the wooden
horse.  I have shot one man dead to-day, the constable, and broken the
neck of another, John Herring, so the two can keep each other company;
and I must make off.’

Then old Trampleasure dropped like a stone on the floor.  There came a
sudden blow within his head, as from a hammer, and he saw nothing more.

Sampson stood over him for a moment. No time was to be lost.  Every
minute was important.  Whatever happened to his father, he—Sampson—must
get clear away.  He saw in a moment what had occurred.  His father had
been struck down with an apoplectic fit, and could not escape.  Time was
too precious to be wasted in attending to him.  He could not afford to
call for assistance.  He stooped and took up the bunch of keys, and went
to the strong box.  Without much difficulty he unlocked it, and fell to
wondering over his father’s wisdom.

Old Trampleasure had feared discovery, and was prepared for a sudden
emergency. All the money that had come into his hands had been reduced
to the most portable form possible, in hundred-pound, fifty-pound, and
ten-pound notes.  There they lay in thick packets.  Sampson took them
all.  He left not one behind, and stowed them away in a travelling
valise of his father’s, which the old man took with him when he went to
Ophir for a few days.

Then Sampson opened the private door of the office, and, without another
look at the old man lying prostrate, darted forth.

’What a time them two are in there together!’ grumbled Mrs.
Trampleasure; ’and, oh dear! there comes the chaise to take us to
Trecarrel.’  She ran to the foot of the stairs, and called, ’Orange
dear!  Orange! the carridge be here!’

’I am ready, mother,’ answered the bride, descending.

The hall was well lighted; and as she came down, followed by Mirelle,
she looked radiant, proud, triumphant.  She waved back Mirelle, lest she
should step on her veil, with an angry, insolent gesture.

’My word, Orange! you are a beauty! I’ll run and call your father.’

But he was beyond call.



                            *CHAPTER XXXI.*

                           *JOYCE’S PATIENT.*


Joyce and her patient could not remain concealed.  Her cries had been
heard when she fell—literally tooth and nail—on Sampson Tramplara, and
those who heard them, being superstitious, thought best to keep away
from the spot whence they had sounded.

Later in the evening the farmer of Coombow, coming home from a cattle
fair, heard the moans and wailing in the wood, and was greatly scared by
the injured horse, which had thrust itself into the hedge.  So sincerely
alarmed was he, and so thoroughly did his account of what he had heard
and seen frighten his household, that not one of his sons—no, not all of
them in phalanx, armed with pitchforks and lighted by lanthorns, would
venture that night into the high road to ascertain the cause of the
alarm.

With morning, however, courage came, and early, when the day began to
break, nearly the entire household, male and female, went out to see
whether there was any natural explanation to be found for those things
that had, in the darkness, so scared Farmer Facey.

The horse was found.

’Why!  I’m blessed if this bain’t Squire Hamlyn’s roan,’ said the
farmer.  ’I ought to know ’n becos I reared ’n.  Now this be reg’lar
curious.’

Joyce had been unable to retire with her burden far into the wood.  The
hillside was steep, and she could not carry the unconscious load far up.
She had attempted to do so, fearing lest she should be seen, but when
she raised him he moaned with pain.  She was like a cat playing with a
dead bird, putting it down, then lifting it and carrying it away, then
putting it down again.

It was not long before she was discovered and surrounded.

’Who is he?  How comes he here?  How did this happen?  Why didn’t you
bring him to the farm?’

Questions were poured upon her.  She looked about her angrily,
suspiciously, as a cat would look when surrounded with those who, she
thinks, will deprive her of her bird, or at least dispute her sole
possession of it.

’He be mine.  I found ’n.  I saved ’n. Capt’n Sampson Tramplara would
ha’ killed ’n, but I pervented ’n.’

’But who is he?’

’He be the maister.  He mended me when I were gone scatt.  Nobody shan’t
so much as touch ’n.  I’ve got ’n fast, and I’ll care for ’n, that I
will.  There—you can go, and leave us alone here.  What be you a
bothering here for?  I didn’t call’y.’

’Nonsense.  He must be taken into a house, and put to bed,’ said Mrs.
Facey. ’Poor soul!  Dear alive!’

’He shan’t go under no house.  If he goes anywhere, he shall go home.’

’Where is his home?’

’Where should it be but West Wyke?’

’What!  West Wyke in South Tawton?’

’Sure-ly.  Where else should it be?  It don’t jump about, now here, now
there, I reckon.’

After much difficulty with Joyce, who was unreasonable in her jealousy
and suspicion, it was decided that the farmer should send a waggon well
bedded with straw, and that Joyce should be conveyed in this, with the
still insensible man in her arms, to West Wyke.

There was no medical man nearer than Okehampton, and West Wyke was not
as distant from Okehampton as Coombow, the place where they were.

’I arn’t got no money,’ said Joyce, ’but I’ll pay you for the waggon,
sure enough.’

’I do not expect payment,’ said Farmer Facey in a mildly deprecatory
tone—a tone that implied he would yield the point if pressed.  ’I dare
say the gentleman, when he gets well, will remember me.  And if he
don’t, well—he’ll be sure to have relations as will do what be proper
and respectable.’

’It be I,’ said Joyce, defiantly, ’it be I as has to pay, and blast me
blue if I don’t.’

’Where will the money come from?’ asked Facey, surveying her rags.

’I’ll pay wi’ thicky arms!’ said Joyce, thrusting forth her hands.
’See! is there a man among you can work as I can?  When the young
maister be well, then, sure.  I’ll come and work for’y two months by the
moon, I will, for the loan of the waggon to-day; and I’ll ax for no meat
nor no housing. I’ll feed myself, and I’ll sleep where I can, in the
open air.’

’Her must be one of the Nymet savages, sure-ly,’ said the farmer, in an
undertone, to his wife.

Joyce’s ears were keen, and she heard him.

’What if I be a savage?’ she asked.  ’I baint, like mun [them] to Nymet.
Them be proper savages.  Vaither be a head above they.  He hev a got
what he may call his own.’

The waggon was brought to the place, and two men lifted Herring into it.
Joyce climbed in, and, after having seated herself in the straw, took
him again in her arms.

’If the cart go over rough stones, it shall joggle me,’ she said; ’I’ll
hold’y, maister dear, that you shan’t feel it.’

’I say, maiden,’ said Farmer Facey, looking over the rail of the waggon
as they were about to start, ’when the young gentleman gets better, just
tell him he was took home in Farmer Facey’s waggon, with his team and
horseman, Farmer Facey, to Coombow.  He might like to know, you see,
and, being a gentleman, as I take it, he won’t forget.’

Just as the cart was off, he called to the driver, ’Stay a bit, Jim!  I
think I’ll take a lift, too, as far as to Bridestowe, and I’ll just up
and see the Squire.  I’ll tell him what has happened to poor Major; and,
as it chances, I’ve another horse out of the same mare, I can sell ’n—a
tidy sort of a dark roan, you minds ’n, Jim.  Mebbe we’ll strike a
bargain. I’ll go wi’ you now on the chance.’

At Bridestowe the waggon came to a long halt.  Farmer Facey descended;
the driver was thirsty.  He had much to tell.  A crowd gathered round
the cart.  Daniel, the hostler, climbed up the wheel to look into the
face of Herring, and would have mounted the waggon had not Joyce beat
him off with Sampson’s whip.

’Sure it be he, poor young man,’ said Daniel.  ’I know by token he
forgot to chuck me a sixpence last night.  ’Tis he as went after the
Squire’s horse.  How came this about?  Do’y say as Major hev a foreleg
broke?  Well, now, Loramussy! how can that have happened?  The young
gent may come round, right enough, but the oss—he must be shot.  ’Tis a
thousand pities.’

’There be nothing happens but what be good for trade,’ observed Farmer
Facey.

’You’re right there, maister!’ answered Daniel.  ’There’s not a sparrer
falls, nor an oss breaks his knees, nor gets spavined, but what it be
good for them as is vetinaries, or has osses to sell.  And it be the
same wi’ ’uman beings; them goes scatt at times, and it be for the good
o’ the doctors.  So the Lord sends to every man his meat.’

’But how did it come about?’  This was a question asked of Joyce
repeatedly.  But Joyce was uncommunicative.  She kept her eyes fixed on
the face of the injured man, and only now and then turned them with a
sharp, defiant glance at any one who approached too near.

The hostess kindly brought her a hunch of bread.  She tore and ate it
much as an animal devours its food.  She returned no thanks for it.  She
could think of nothing but him whom she held to her bosom, watching
every change in his face, or fearing lest he should die in her arms.

The journey was long, but Joyce did not relax her hold nor relinquish
her place for one moment.

’Won’t’y get down and hev a drop o’ cyder?’ asked the driver, at every
public house they passed.  ’It be a faint day for the horses, and they
need refreshing.’

Joyce shook her head in reply.  But if Joyce would not assist in cooling
the horses by drinking herself, the driver was more considerate.

Between each of these refreshment stations, the man endeavoured to open
conversation with her.  He was a young fellow, fresh in colour, and not
bad looking.  He had a sufficiently observant eye to see that Joyce was
a fine girl, though a very rough one.  But she would not answer him; she
did not even look at him, unless he ventured too near her charge.

She was patient at the stoppages, which were many.  They rested Herring.
She saw in his face that he suffered with the motion and was easy when
the motion ceased.  That sufficed her.

In the midst of Sourton Down stands a very humble tavern, backed by a
few stunted trees, twisted and turning from the west; and by the
roadside is to be seen a tall granite cross, once a burial monument of a
British chief, and bearing an inscription that was cut into and rendered
illegible in medieval times, when the upright stone was converted into a
wayside cross.

As the waggon halted before this little tavern, Joyce saw Herring’s eyes
open.  He raised his arms and waved them in an unmeaning manner; then,
looking intently upwards, as though he saw something far above him in
the depths of the blue sky, he drew a deep sigh and murmured ’Mirelle!’

Then his eyes closed again, and his hands dropped.

’Right, right, maister!’ said Joyce; ’it be the Whiteface you want and
would seek. But why do’y look up there?  Her be on earth, not in heaven.
I be a nursing of’y, none for Joyce, nor for Miss Cicely, but for her
you cries after and looks for up above.’

At Okehampton they met with no interruption, and were surrounded by no
throng of inquisitive persons, and the reason was this.  The parson of a
neighbouring moorland parish had been summoned that day before the
magistrates, on a charge of maltreating and starving a poor boy in his
house, his wife’s son by a former husband.  The magistrates dismissed
him with a reprimand and a caution; but the people were not disposed to
treat the matter so lightly and the man so leniently.  All the fluid
portion of the populace had flowed out on the moor road after the
retiring parson, with hoots, and clots of earth, and expressions of
aversion.  The rabble manifested an intimate acquaintance with his
domestic arrangements, and taunted him with them.  If the reverend
gentleman could have commanded his temper, he might have speedily tired
out his pursuers; but this he was unable to do, and unwise enough not to
attempt.  He was a remarkably ugly man, ill-made, short in leg and long
in arm, with large hands and feet, and a lace with low brow and
protruding jaws.  He became mad with rage and humiliation, and turned
savagely, whenever the crowd ventured near his heels, to charge them
with his green gingham umbrella, and smite them furiously, uttering
unclerical exclamations of abuse and contempt.  His face was simian in
its ugliness and malignity.  The whalebones of his umbrella were
dislocated, and the wires protruded.  One boy was cut with the iron, and
when this was perceived there rose a howl of indignation, and a
moorstone whizzed through the air and knocked the parson’s hat off his
head.  He was a poor man, and the injury done to his best hat and to his
umbrella was more than he could endure.  He ran as fast as his short
legs could fly over the ground, and took refuge in a cottage, the door
of which he barred; and then, escaping up the rude stair, he spat at his
pursuers from the window.

Parson-baiting is not an every-day treat, and the luxury had emptied the
streets of Okehampton.  Consequently the waggon passed through almost
unnoticed.

As the waggon crossed the bridge over the Taw, it encountered the two
chaises with the party of serious speculators returning from Ophir.
They had slept at Zeal.  Mr. Flamank, as a director of the mine, had
felt it incumbent on him to make a complete investigation into the
method of working, and into the accounts.  The men engaged on the mine
had been examined by him, and he had overhauled the books in the office.
Among these he had discovered a private book of the Tramplaras, which
contained a register of the amount of gold expended in the salting, and
the amount recovered after the washing. Those serious men whom the
Reverend Israel had taken with him, in the hopes of inducing them to
sink capital in Ophir, assisted him zealously in the detection of the
imposture.

The transaction was humiliating to the little man, but he was a
thoroughly conscientious person, and he did not shrink from that which
he felt it was at once his duty and his interest to do, however galling
it might be to his self-esteem.  He carried away the books with him, and
dismissed the workmen, warning them that they would be required to give
evidence in the trial of the Tramplaras, which, as he supposed, would
inevitably follow.

’I have been considering,’ said Israel Flamank to those with him in the
same carriage, ’that I have been very blind.  Last night I was unable to
sleep, and so I turned prophecy over in my head, and I saw clearly, at
last, that the whole affair had been foretold.  The name Trampleasure,
if rightly estimated—that is, with a certain value given to each letter,
and the capital letter _T_ being reckoned as double a small _t_, and the
_ea_ in pleasure being turned into an _i_, Tramplisure instead of
Trampleasure, which is the way in which some persons would pronounce the
name, and the _e_ at the end of the name omitted as a mute—I say, thus
valued, the name makes, when summed up, exactly six hundred and
sixty-six, which is the number of the Beast, and which is also, we are
distinctly told, the number of a man’s name.  Now this, I take it, is a
very significant fact.  The Beast, we are further informed, would
deceive the very elect; and what else are we, I ask, but the very
elect?’

’That is true,’ responded all those in the chaise, and shook their heads
affirmatively.

’And he spake great swelling words,’ went on the Reverend Israel.  ’Now
old Mr. Trampleasure had a certain pomposity of manner about him that
exactly tallies with the description given by the inspired penman.’

’Very true,’ answered the carriage-load, and the heads all shook
together again.

’It is remarkable also,’ continued the minister, ’that in the sacred
text the Beast Trampleasure is associated with the Woman, Babylon—that
is, with Rome.  For Babylon is Rome, as every schoolboy knows,
ethnographically, entomologically, and enterically. Now, I ask you, is
not a young Roman Catholic lady staying in Dolbeare with the family, and
is not Miss Trampleasure about to be, or already, married to a Roman
Catholic gentleman?’

’To be sure,’ responded those in the chaise, and shook their heads
knowingly.

’And, remember, the seer of Patmos saw two Beasts, and the little one
derived his power from the elder, which was wounded, though not to
death.  That wound I take to be the failure of Polpluggan, from which
old Trampleasure recovered.  As to the little Beast, there can be no
question about him—Sampson Trampleasure, junior.’

’That is certain!’ exclaimed the chorus, and all the heads shook to the
left.

’But, good heavens, what have we here!’ cried Mr. Flamank.

The carriage stopped.

’What’s the matter there?’ inquired the driver of the chaise, as he drew
up.

’Why, bless me!’ said the minister, starting to his feet.  ’As sure as I
am alive that is Mr. John Herring.  Stay, young man,’ he called to the
waggoner.  ’How comes the gentleman in such a plight?  Girl,’ to Joyce,
’where did you find him?  Is he alive?  Is he badly hurt?  How came this
about?’

The little man jumped out of the carriage in a fever of excitement, and
pity, and alarm. Joyce gave him no information, but he picked up
something from the boy who drove, and learned that, in some way or
other, Sampson Tramplara was involved.

’Bless my soul!’ exclaimed Mr. Flamank. ’One cannot be too thankful for
mercies. Actually John Herring made me—me run after this cut-throat
murderer—and yet I remain unhurt; whereas John Herring, who takes up the
chase, is killed.  A really startling interposition of Providence.’

’He be not dead,’ said Joyce, fiercely; ’I shan’t let ’n die, I shan’t.’

Then the waggon, moved on.

’Where be West Wyke to?’ asked the driver.

’I’ll tell’y where to stop,’ answered Joyce. ’Go right on till I shout
Wo!’

She allowed him to proceed past the turning over the turf leading to
West Wyke, and then she suddenly gave the signal to halt.

’The road over the moor be too bad to travel wi’ wheels,’ said Joyce.
’You bide here, and I will fetch vaither, and he’ll carry the maister
home, along of I.’

Joyce was not long gone before she returned with old Cobbledick,
carrying a hurdle. With the carter’s help, Herring was lifted on to it;
and then Joyce and her father departed over the moor, without another
word to the man, conveying Herring between them.

’They be rum folk in these parts,’ said Jim White, the waggoner, ’not to
offer a fellow a glass of cyder, and the hosses all of a lather with the
journey.’



                            *CHAPTER XXXII*

                              *DESTITUTE.*


Mr. Trampleasure’s death, through the bursting of a blood-vessel on the
brain, and the escape of Sampson, left the three women at Dolbeare
without a head.  Captain Trecarrel did not appear, except to make a
formal call of condolence, or to offer his services in a manner that
implied that this offer was not to be accepted.

’Lucky dog that I am,’ said he to himself; ’saved at the last moment in
a manner melodramatic.  There is a sweet little cherub that sits up
aloft, and takes care of the fate of Trecarrel.  By George! suppose I
had been noosed and turned off before this terrible scandal came out,
what should I have done? Now there lies before me one clear course of
action.  There is an opera company at this time performing in Exeter,
and I am fond of music.  I must positively go to the faithful city[1] by
the next coach, and not return till the clouds have cleared somewhat.
But before I go, there is one duty I must perform.  I must let the
directors of Ophir know of old Trampleasure’s five thousand pounds
lodged in the hands of John Herring.’


[1] The motto of Exeter is ’Semper fidelis.’


It is needless to say that the marriage had not taken place.  It is
needless also to say that Trecarrel did depart to Exeter to hear the
opera company.  It is also needless to say that he thoroughly enjoyed
himself, liked the music, caught some of the airs, ate, drank, and
smoked, and blessed his stars every day that he was a free man.  He not
only blessed his luck, but he flattered himself that he had extricated
himself by his own shrewdness. ’And now,’ said he, ’here am I in Exeter,
enjoying myself.  Had I remained at Trecarrel, I must have gone to bed,
and one may have too much even of a good thing.’

The affairs of the Ophir Gold Company were wound up.  All the directors
met, except Arundell Golitho, of Trevorgan, Esquire, who did not appear.
But that was hardly wonderful, as no one knew who Arundell Golitho, Esq.
was, and as the letter addressed to him, stating the circumstances of
the company, the death of Mr. Trampleasure, and the disappearance of Mr.
Sampson with the funds of the company, was returned unopened.  The
post-office was unable to discover Trevorgan. When the affairs were
wound up, it was discovered that there were liabilities, but no assets
except the five thousand pounds held by Mr. Herring.  The shareholders
had lost everything they had embarked in the concern, except what little
would come to them out of the five thousand pounds after the liabilities
had been discharged, and the lawyers had sweated the little sum to a
cipher.

Then it was that the Reverend Israel Flamank’s character shone out.  The
man’s vanity had received a crushing blow, he would never entirely
recover from the ridicule that descended on him for his discovery of
Ophir. He had lost his small capital sunk in the mine. He alone,
however, had thought and compassion at this juncture for the orphan and
the widow.  He found that Orange and her mother were left absolutely
destitute.  The five thousand pounds known to be in Herring’s hands
would be absorbed and dissipated, and the furniture of Dolbeare sold.
There was nothing, absolutely nothing, left, on which Mrs. Trampleasure
and her daughter and Mirelle could live; for old Trampleasure had thrown
Mirelle’s money into the same venture, and it was gone past recovery.

Mr. Flamank exerted his powers of persuasion on the directors to induce
them to propose to the shareholders a surrender of a small portion of
the money that they were able to lay their hands on, for the maintenance
of the widow and her daughter.  But none are so remorseless as pious
persons touched in pocket.  He pleaded to deaf ears.  The liabilities of
the mine were considerable, and would eat into the little fund.  The
men’s wages were in arrear.  The builders had received only a trifle on
account for the sheds they had erected.  The company owed for the
water-wheel, for the drum, for the stamping-mill, for the cradles, the
buddles, and the whips and the whims.  Nothing, in short, had been paid
for. As for the receipts, they were nil, for nothing had been got out of
Ophir but what had been put in.  Old Tramplara, it was supposed, had
sunk his own money in the concern, at least it appeared so; for he had
drawn everything out of the bank, had sold all his investments except
the Patagonians which were unsaleable. The gold employed in salting the
mine had undoubtedly consumed a great deal, and what remained had gone,
with the shareholders’ money, into the pocket of Mr. Sampson.  It was
fortunate that only the first call had been made on the shareholders,
and that few of the shares were fully paid up.  Nevertheless the loss
was considerable, so considerable as to sour the sincerest Christian
among them, and make them indifferent to the woes of the arch
scoundrel’s widow and daughter.

When Mr. Flamank found that nothing was to be saved out of the wreck for
the Trampleasures, he went about collecting contributions for them.  But
his credit was suffering eclipse, and exasperation against Tramplara too
great for him to do much.  He was unable to get together more than fifty
pounds, given grudgingly, and not obtained without great personal effort
and the endurance of many humiliations.

The five thousand pounds lodged with John Herring lay in the bank in his
name.  It was the only sum standing to his account.  But when Herring
was written to, no answer was returned.  That was not greatly wondered
at, for it was known that he had been found insensible on the road, and
had been carried in the same condition to West Wyke.

The directors wrote him to the effect that the affairs of Mr.
Trampleasure, deceased, were so involved in those of the Ophir Mining
Company that it was necessary to settle both together.  Mr. Trampleasure
had died insolvent. His chief creditors were the directors of the
company, and the administration of his effects had been granted to them.
They were, therefore, empowered to call in all moneys due to the
deceased, and, as such, they claimed the five thousand pounds which were
to be repaid to Mr. Trampleasure in the event of the marriage of his
daughter with Captain Trecarrel not taking place on a certain day. That
marriage had not been solemnized at the time specified, nor was it
probable that it would be within a reasonable period, therefore the
money was due to them as a debt to the late Mr. Trampleasure.

The cheque did reach them after a time, written with a shaking hand, and
the money was drawn.  Herring could not have refused it. With the cheque
came a letter offering to purchase the entire plant of Ophir, wheel, and
stampers, and crushers, everything in fact, at a moderate valuation.
The offer was too good to be refused.  The directors closed with it by
return of post.  There was, consequently, no sale by auction at Ophir,
but everything in Dolbeare was condemned to go by the hammer, except the
personal effects of Mrs. and Miss Trampleasure, and of Mirelle.  The
house was to be cleared of everything, except the clock on the stairs,
the crayon portraits, and the walking-sticks.  The ladies could not
remain for the auction.  They would have had no home to go to, had not
the Reverend Israel Flamank intervened and opened his doors to them.  He
did this in a gush of benevolence, and, unhappily, without first
consulting Mrs. Flamank, who, when told what he had done, went into
’tantrums,’ and made the house so unpleasant for the Reverend Israel
that he spent the rest of the day in making pastoral calls and eating
pastoral meals with his sheep.

By evening Mrs. Flamank became calmer, and, when her husband returned
late, was so far subdued that she yielded a reluctant consent to giving
the Trampleasures shelter for a month.

’You know, Betsy Delilah, dear saint,’ said Israel, ’if we do not take
them in, the poor creatures will be turned into the street, and that
your tender heart would be unable to bear, sweet angel!’

’I’m sure, Izzy, we have lost enough by the Trampleasures already.
However, I will not say nay, because it will look well, and people will
say we practise what we preach. Only—I warn you, Izzy!’ she held up her
finger; ’mind yourself.’

What Mrs. Betsy Delilah meant by this warning, he understood perfectly.
With his many excellent qualities, Mr. Flamank had a weakness: he was
given to caress his female devotees.

In the Established Church there are two schools differing in their
tendencies.  The tendency of the extreme of the High Church is towards
plunging into pecuniary difficulties; the tendency of the extreme of the
Low Church is towards lapses into amatory difficulties.  If this be the
case in the Established Church—if this be done in the green tree, what
goes on in the dry?—in the nonconformist churches, where the ministers
are not independent of their congregations—where the mercury of their
salary rises and falls with their popularity.  It is natural that in
such circumstances there should be developed a tendency towards fawning
on and fondling of pious ladies with money.  A little coaxing retains a
sheep that inclines to err into another fold. The pressing of the hand
changes a shilling subscription into a guinea, and an arm round the
waist elevates it to five pounds.  When the habit has been acquired of
showing these tendernesses to the well-to-do, old and ugly ladies, it
sometimes extends also to those who are good-looking and young, and
becomes at last wholly indiscriminate.

Now the Reverend Israel Flamank was a sincere and good man, and he drew
the line, with singular moderation, at kisses.  These were
scriptural—the Apostle Paul had a fancy for them, and recommended them
wholesale. But the arm round the waist he did not allow.  He found no
warranty for it in Holy Writ.  But he would take a lady’s hand in one of
his, and stroke it with the other, and read and expound to her the Song
of Solomon. There was no harm in that; and it was really remarkable how
these innocent attentions told on his income and his acceptableness to
his congregation.

Mrs. Flamank did not like these familiarities.  Though she knew they
were as harmless as the love-making of actors and actresses on the
stage, and were inseparable from the position of a minister in an
Unestablished Church, she objected to them. She was very determined, if
she received Mrs. Trampleasure, Orange, and Mirelle into her house, she
would permit none of these Pauline caressings under her eyes.  But it is
easier for a resolution to be taken than to enforce it. Mr. Flamank was
very discreet for a week or ten days, but after that he began to soften
towards the ladies.  Mirelle kept him at a distance from the outset.  He
had been highly pleased at the prospect of getting a daughter of the
Scarlet Woman into his house.  He looked on her as an erring sheep, one
who erred through ignorance; and he hoped to enlighten her, and lead her
into the paths of truth.  He was, however, somewhat puzzled how to set
about it.  Mirelle withdrew from family devotion, and declined to assist
at his scriptural readings.  She would not attend his chapel.  She
allowed him no opportunity of opening a conversation with her on
religious topics.  She was cold, reserved, and silent. Mrs. Flamank
rather liked her: there was no fear of Israel patting her hand.

The pastor attempted to dazzle her with his evangelical talk, much in
the same way that young Sampson had attempted to impress her with his
brag of feats performed with dogs and horses.  On one or two occasions
he had the temerity to attack her, but he came off with falls which
damped his ardour.  Once, when he assailed her on the subject of belief,
she cut him short with the observation, ’We do not speak the same
language.  When I say, I believe, I mean that I hold as certain, but I
notice that you use the word differently, as synonymous with I suppose.
We look at different objects and through different instruments; I
through a telescope at constant verities, you through a kaleidoscope at
vari-coloured and ever-varying opinions.’

With Orange it was not the same.  She was in trouble.  Mortified pride
and wounded love brought frequent tears into her eyes. She looked very
handsome in her mourning suit.  What is the first duty of a pastor, but
to comfort the sorrowful, to soothe the ruffled soul, to apply the balm
of Gilead to open wounds?  So Mr. Israel Flamank was assiduous in his
comforting and soothing, and dabbing on of balm,—more assiduous than
Betsy Delilah liked.  Orange was coarse of grit, and did not object to
the little attentions of the pastor which would have been insufferable
to Mirelle.  She accepted them with indifference; she was without
religious instincts, and the words of the shepherd fell empty on her
ear.  But there was something flattering in his efforts to console her,
and at the present time, when her pride was hurt, any flattery was
pleasing.  Captain Trecarrel was not there to staunch her tears, to
cheer her and give her assurance of a future; any one who could afford
her some alleviation to her humiliation, and encourage her with a hope
of better things, was acceptable, even though he were a dissenting
minister.

Flamank was perfectly sincere.  His heart was full of kindness and
devoid of guile.  He was troubled at her distress, and unhappy at his
inability to help her.  It was unfortunate that his mode of expressing
these justifiable feelings did not meet with the approval of Betsy
Delilah.  They irritated her, and she determined to shake herself free
of her guests at the first opportunity.

Captain Trecarrel had returned to the neighbourhood.  Orange heard of
it, and waited several days in expectation of a visit. But he neither
called nor sent to inquire after her and her mother.  She brooded over
this neglect.  Did he really mean to desert her? He could not behave so
cruelly, so unworthily. Her hot blood raced through her veins.  She
resolved that she would go herself to Trecarrel. She would go alone; no
one should know of the visit.  She would speak to Harry face to face.
When he had her before him, and saw her in her black, her face—her
beautiful face, wet with tears, his love would blaze up, his manly pity
and generosity would force him to assert his right to protect her.

He was staying away only because of the scandal about Ophir.  He was
waiting for that to blow away, and then he would return to her.  She
felt sure of that; she measured his love by her own.  Would she have
forsaken him had ruin overtaken him?  A thousand times no—no—no!  She
must know his intentions for certain.  Her future depended on knowing
this.  She was unable to endure the thought that she should be seen
going to seek him, and therefore she resolved to go by herself after
dark.  She would not tell Mrs. or Mr. Flamank, nor her mother, nor, of
course, Mirelle.  The thing could be done with ease.  The drawing-room
had French windows, through which the little garden could be entered.
The drawing-room was rarely sat in; it was used for company occasions.
The family occupied the dining-room, in which they had their meals, and
in which they worked and talked afterwards, amidst the fumes of meat,
cabbage, and cheese. This was economical; it saved carpets and
furniture, and an extra fire.

Orange waited till all had gone to bed. They were early risers, and
retired early in that house.  Then she softly descended the stairs, her
shoes in her hand, and entered the drawing-room.  She easily unclosed
the shutters, without making any noise, unlocked and unbolted the French
window, opened it, put on her shoes, and stepped forth on the gravel.

The street was deserted; only a low tavern at the end had the door open,
and a light shone forth into the road.  In that gleam, a young woman,
adorned with gay ribands, was laughing and romping with two nearly tipsy
young men.  The language, the gestures, were gross and disgusting.

’Have another nip of gin, Polly.’

’No, you shan’t have none of his, Polly, I’ll give you some, my duck.
You be my sweetheart, and not his.’

’Who goes there?’ screamed the girl, and made a rush at Orange.  ’Here’s
a girl for you, Tom, and then you let me alone with Joe.’

Orange flung her off with scorn, and ran along the road.  A burst of
laughter and jeers followed her.

’She be going after her young man down to the lane end,’ cried the girl.

Orange’s cheek burned.  That was true—hatefully true.  She was going to
seek her lover, but only because he did not come to see her.  After this
incident she was unmolested.  She met no one else on her long walk to
Trecarrel.

Would she find the Captain up?  She hoped so, she supposed so, for she
knew that he sat up late; he had often told her as much.  It was as she
had conjectured and hoped.  When she reached the house, she saw a light
from his smoking-room, a comfortable room, where he kept his whips and
guns; a room ornamented with stuffed foxes’ heads and their tails, and
with the antlers of red deer.  A door from this little room opened on to
the lawn.  Orange went to the window, but the blind was down and she
could not see in; but she heard Trecarrel within whistling an air; it
was an operatic air he had recently heard in Exeter, and which had
caught his fancy.  How splendidly La Fontana had sung!  What schooling
her voice had gone through, and what quality was in it!  How graceful
she was, and what passionate action she showed.  ’You never get that
sort of a thing out of an Englishwoman,’ he mused.  ’Our countrywomen
cannot act; they have no fire, no passion, they are dolls, and move
mechanically.  Their voices, moreover——  Good heavens!  Who is that?’

He started up.  The door opened, and Orange came in.  He had been seated
over his fire, with his cravat off, a bottle of claret and a glass on
the table at his side; he had just finished a pipe.

’No fire, no passion in an English girl!’

There were both before him, flaming in Orange’s eye, and heaving in her
bosom.

’Bless my soul, Orange, what on earth has brought you here?’

’You, Harry, you!’  She was out of breath, and choking with emotion.
’Oh, Harry, dear Harry, why have you not been to see me?’

’Come over to the fire.  You must be cold.’

’I—I, cold!’ she laughed bitterly.  ’I am burning; feel my hand.  I have
run; but it is not that.  The flame is here.’  She touched her heart.
’It is eating its way, it is consuming me.  Oh, Harry, why have you not
been to see me?  You do not know what I have suffered.’

’We have both suffered,’ he answered: but there was not much token of
pain in his blue eyes, nor tone in his voice.  ’Come over here; I am
sure you must be damp with the night air.  This is most indiscreet of
you, Orange; I hope you have come attended.’

’I am alone.’

’You ought not to have come.  It is wrong—it is indelicate.’  He was
fitting on his cravat as he spoke.  ’Good heavens, what would be said
had you been seen?’

’No one has seen me; no one knows where I am.’

’This is madness,’ he said.  He twirled his moustache; he was greatly
discomposed. ’I wish you had been more reasonable, Orange.’  Then to
himself, ’I wish I had remained in Exeter, or gone to bed.’

’I dare say it is madness and unreasonable,’ she said; ’I am mad.  Do
you know, Harry, all that has happened?  Do you know that my mother and
I are beggars? We have nothing left to us.’

’My good Orange, I have been myself on the verge of that same condition
all my life, and so can sympathise with you.’

’You have a house of your own, we have none.  You have land that no man
can take from you, and you can at least dig that and live on its
produce.  But my mother and I have nothing; no house, no land, no money.
We eat the bread of charity, and how long is it to last?  Harry, I ask
you?’

He was silent, engaged on his cravat.  It offended his delicacy to be
seen and to converse with a lady without his cravat.

’You do not answer me, Harry; you are not going to desert me now I am
down.  If you had been poor and an outcast, would not I have taken you,
though I were wealthy?’

’But there is the rub,’ said the Captain, interrupting her.  ’If I were
rich I would share it with you and welcome, but I am not rich; I am
miserably poor, hardly able to keep my head out of a debtor’s prison.’

’Harry, I do not mind that.  You are bound to me; you cannot desert me
in my misery.  No, I know you too well.  You are too good, too noble,
too true a gentleman. I cannot, I will not believe it.  Take me as I am.
We can but be poor together, and I will work as your slave.  With love
labour is light, and poverty is made rich.’

’That is rather a pretty sentiment, Orange, but it is impracticable.’

’It is not impracticable.  Try me.’

’That is absurd.  I cannot try you, and, if the experiment fails,
dissolve the partnership.’

She was silent, and looked him full in the face.  Then her feelings
overcame her.  She stretched out her arms to him.  ’Harry,’ she gasped,
’Harry, I love you!’

He did not put out his arms to encircle her, to take her to his heart;
but he put his hand to his pipe and began to scrape out the ashes with a
bit of stick—a toothpick that was on the mantelpiece.

’Be reasonable, Orange; it is impossible for us to marry now.  There is
this terrible scandal about Ophir barring it for one thing; there is my
poverty for another.  We must wait.’

’I knew it,’ she said, relieved; ’I knew the delay was for a time only.
But, Harry, in the meanwhile I have no home.  Where am I to live?  What
roof is to cover me from the rain and the snow?  Where am I to get food
to put in my mouth, whence the clothes to cover me?  Whilst you are
waiting for Ophir to be forgotten, I am starving.’

’This calls for consideration,’ he said, still cleaning his pipe; and
now he blew through it, to assure himself that the passage was clear.

’Harry, you have an aunt at Penzance, take me to her.  I will live with
her a few years, till this trouble about Ophir is passed, and then you
shall marry me from her house.’

’That is not possible, Orange.  My aunt strongly disapproved of my
engagement. She is a most bigoted Catholic, and could not endure the
thought of my taking a Protestant to wife.’

’I will be a Catholic; I do not care.’

’But,’ said he, coldly, ’that is not all. Our families are so wide apart
in the social scale.  My aunt is very proud of her race, and you know
your stock is not—well, neither ancient nor gentle.  You may change your
creed, but not your blood.  I think nothing of this.  If I had
considered it, I would not have sought to marry you, but my aunt—you see
we are speaking of her, and you propose that I should take you to her—my
aunt is very stiff in these matters.  I cannot force you into her house.
So you see this scheme is impracticable also.’

’Where am I to go?’ asked Orange, desperately; ’I must live somewhere.
You are my proper protector, to whom I fly.  I ask you, find me, give me
a home.  See, Harry, I am poor now, but it may not always be so.  The
directors of Ophir have left us some thousands of pounds in Patagonian
bonds.’

’Oh!  I know them.  They were left because worthless.’

’They are worthless now, but they may become valuable hereafter.  Let us
wait till then; I will be patient, and in time you will marry me.’

’Oh, certainly, when the Patagonians are at par.’

’But in the meantime, Harry, what is to become of me?’

’Really, I am at a loss to know.  I am at my wits’ end what to propose.’

Then her cheek and brow became crimson.

’Harry!  I am sunk so low that I care not what the world says, and what
becomes of me. I will stay here; you shall not send me away.  I have no
pride left.  Let me be a poor serving maid, a kitchen-wench in the
house, and work for you.  If the world talks, let it—I defy it.’

Trecarrel sprang back.  This was indeed madness.  She must be cured.

’Orange!’ he said, ’I am too honourable to listen to such words with
composure.  Go back whence you came.  Here!  I will accompany you.  You
must not be alone.’

’No, I came alone, and I can go alone. But—what is to become of me?’

’You think only of yourself, Orange; you are selfish.  Poor Mirelle! how
she must suffer also.  What is to become of that sweet and fragile
flower?’

Orange looked him full in the eyes.  A light flickered and flashed in
hers, a terrible light.  She stood as a statue before him for a moment.
Fierce thoughts, wild, dark, like smoke from the bottomless pit, rose,
and rolled over and obscured her brain.

’Poor Mirelle!  Sweet and fragile flower!’  At that moment, with her,
Orange, pleading before him, with her in an agony and in abasement
before him, he could think of Mirelle, and throw Mirelle in her teeth.

Then she turned to the door.  All hope was gone.

’Let me attend you home,’ he said.

’I have no home,’ she answered hoarsely.

’Let me go with you to where you are lodging.’

’I came alone, I will return alone,’ she said, and left the room.

She hurried into the road.  When there, however, she stood and waited.
Would he come after her?  She waited on; the light in his smoking-room
disappeared, it reappeared at another window, and travelled upwards,
then shone out of an upstair room.  Captain Trecarrel was going to bed.

Then Orange ran back to Launceston.

As she passed the low public-house, she stumbled over something.  It was
the young woman, drunk, lying in the road.  She reached the house of the
Flamanks, and thrust open the drawing-room window and went in.

’Hah!’ exclaimed Mrs. Flamank, standing there, with Mrs. Trampleasure
trembling and sniffling behind her; ’this is fine goings on in my house.
Out to one o’clock in the morning, cutting about, heaven knows where,
and with whom.  This is a Christian habitation.  Out of my house you go
to-morrow.’

’Betsy Delilah!’ remonstrated Mr. Flamank from the door, ’the poor souls
have no house to go to.’

’She,’ exclaimed Mrs. Flamank, indicating Orange—’she don’t want one.
She likes the street at night, apparently.’

’Madam,’ said Mirelle, stepping forward, and speaking with composure,
’give us but two days’ shelter, and then we will trouble you no more, I
undertake.  I have a friend to whom I will appeal.’

Then she went upstairs, and wrote:—

’Mr. Herring!—Come to us.  Help us!—MIRELLE.’



                           *CHAPTER XXXIII.*

                           *TRANSFORMATION.*


Grizzly Cobbledick and Joyce carried John Herring to the Giant’s Table.
Joyce had not the smallest intention of surrendering her charge to
Cicely.  She had feared lest the farmer should accompany the waggon, and
insist on the injured man being conveyed to West Wyke House.
Fortunately, the chance of making a bargain with the Squire had arrested
him at Bridestowe, and the young lout who acted as driver was easily
managed.

Grizzly consented to receive Herring into his den, not because he felt
gratitude to him for having saved him from imprisonment, and for having
cured Joyce of her injuries, but because he thought that ’backie’ might
be extracted from him.

Gratitude is not a savage virtue; but then, is gratitude to be found
anywhere?  It is a figment of the poet and moralist, like the unicorn
and the mermaid.  A simulation of this ideal virtue is assumed by those
who are cultured, but the genuine plant grows on no human soil and under
no known climate.

Grizzly bore Herring no ill-will, and he thought it possible that the
tobacco which was lost to him through the insolvency of Tramplara might
be made up to him by the indebtedness of Herring.  He would see to that;
he would hold Herring in captivity till as much ’backie’ was produced as
could be counted on the toes and fingers, with the head thrown in.  If
he died, he died. Speculations succeed or fail; there are blanks and
prizes in the lottery, disappointments and luck in life.

’Cut off,’ said Grizzly to his daughter, ’and go and wire a rabbit.  The
young maister, if he comes round, will want some’ut to eat, sure.’

’But what if he wakes up whilst I be gone?’

’Then he wakes—that be all.’

’You’ll be good and kind to ’n, vaither,’ entreated Joyce.

’Why not?  He ain’t done me no hurt,’ answered Grizzly.

It took a little persuading and threatening on Grizzly’s part before
Joyce could be induced to relinquish her place.  She would not have
gone, but have sat on in unreasoning jealousy and fear of losing
Herring, unless her father had insisted on her giving him proper food.

’What’ll the likes o’ he say to turnips, eh? He ain’t one to eat num.
The quality eat nort but meat.  You may give a horse the best
beef-steak, and you may set before a man the choicest hay, and neither
will begin to bite.  You must give mun what them likes, not what you
think best.  So wi’ the maister; he be quality, and, when you offers ’n
your turnip and cabbidge, that be there a biling over the turves, he’ll
turn his head away.  It be all the same to he as giving ’n hay or a
horse beef.  You must give to ivery creeter its proper food.’

When Joyce was gone, old Cobbledick surveyed Herring carefully and
examined his bones.  No bones were broken.  His head was suffering from
concussion, not from fracture. The old fellow had wit enough to
ascertain this.  Then he proceeded to partly undress him.  It was not
the custom of the Cobbledick tribe to unclothe themselves when they
retired to rest; but then they were hardly clothed when about by day.
If Cobbledick now stripped Herring it was not in the interest of the
patient, but in his own.  Having removed a portion of the garments of
the still unconscious man, he proceeded to vest himself in them.
Inexperience made him put on the clothes clumsily, and neither in their
traditional order nor in their proper manner.  Still, the general effect
was one of transformation. He tried on Herring’s boots, but was unable
to compress his great flat feet into them; so he flung them aside; but
he laboriously removed the spurs, and buckled them on his own heels.
The stockings he left on Herring’s legs; he knew he would be unable to
wear them.  His own limbs, from the knees downwards, were swathed in
hay-bands.  He assumed the waistcoat, but not the shirt, and was careful
to set the watch in the pocket—the wrong pocket, of course—and let the
seals dangle from the fob.  The waistcoat was open, and his brown, dirty
skin showed dark against the nankin.  The coat was rather tight,
high-collared, with a roll; Cobbledick was mightily pleased with it.  He
jumped and swung the tails from side to side, and ran after them, round
and round, like a kitten pursuing its own tail.  He sallied forth to a
pond and contemplated himself in it.  The effect was not perfect.  He
went back and deprived Herring of his cravat, which till now he had left
about his neck.  This he wrapped about his own throat, making it very
stiff, and holding his chin high in the air.  Herring’s hat was there;
it had not been left in the road; Farmer Facey had picked it up and
tossed it into the waggon as it departed.  Cobbledick put the beaver on,
somewhat on one side, as he had seen Sampson Tramplara cock his hat when
tipsy; and he took up the hunting-whip Joyce had brought with her, and,
so accoutred, he lounged in the door of his den.  But Grizzly was not
satisfied with himself.  His hay-swathings were not in character.  He
proceeded to divest himself of these.  Then his bare legs looked
incongruous with the remainder of his equipment.  Now Herring had worn
cloth gaiters over his stockings.  Grizzly had unbuttoned these with
much difficulty.  Indeed, it can hardly be said that he had unbuttoned
them; he had rather torn them off, sending the buttons flying.  To
button them on his own calves was a feat beyond his powers.  His fingers
were incapable of performing such work as passing a button through a
hole.  He tried, and abandoned the attempt in despair.

He flung his own rags over Herring, and went forth to examine himself
again in the pool.  The brown shins and calves did not please him.  He
sat down and thought.

Then he remembered that the masons engaged at Ophir had been mixing lime
for whitewashing.  What if he stole down there and whitewashed his legs!
That would complete his transformation.  The old man was as conceited as
a young buck newly accoutred by a fashionable tailor.

So Cobbledick started for the mine, walking with difficulty.  The
constraint of the garments encasing his nether limbs was to him as great
as that caused by Saul’s armour to David.  David, finding he could not
go in this, put it off him.  Grizzly was less wise; he waddled on in
suffering and constraint, and was caught and thrown occasionally by the
spurs that dangled at his bare heels.  The gorse scratched his shins,
usually protected by hay-bands; but he heeded not these inconveniences.
With his head in the air, one arm akimbo, and the hand holding the
riding-whip resting on his hip, he strutted on, wishing, and yet fearing
to be seen—desirous of admiration, and yet shy of the reception he might
meet with from those accustomed to see him half-naked.

He mounted a flat slab of granite, and, taking off his hat, bowed and
waved it, as he had seen old Tramplara salute distinguished and wealthy
visitors to Ophir.  Imitation is strong in the savage and in the idiot.
By the help of this faculty the social world gets on without jars, for
there are savages and idiots in all ranks of life, and the deeper their
savagery and their idiocy the more pronounced is the development of
their imitative powers.  They copy the manners of those around them,
simulate their breeding and virtues, and so disguise their nature and
pass muster.  Social education consists in the training of neophytes
what to copy and what to disregard in the bearing and manners of those
with whom they associate.  But such as are left without instructors pick
up and imitate all that they ought to avoid, and overlook what they
should copy.  Thus it is that servant maids reproduce in themselves the
pretences and follies of their mistresses, and not their thrift and good
sense; and the butler apes his master’s vices and eschews his virtues.

Left alone in the den, lying on the fern, with the smoke of the peat
fire and the reek of stewing vegetables filling it, Herring opened his
eyes and looked about him.

It was some time before he recognised where he was, and then he was
unable to account for his being there.  The evening was stealing on, the
sun was setting; there was a glow of golden light outside the door, and
a streak of yellow glory came from a notch in the stone at the back of
the table, unfilled with moss.  Herring’s head was painful, and all his
limbs ached.  He could scarce move his arms; they were sprained and
bruised. He tried to stand up, but the effort gave him torture, and he
was forced to lie down again. He was, however, satisfied that he was
sound in limb, though sprained and bruised.  He could close his hands
and move his feet. Then he thought of the events that had recently taken
place.  He could follow the thread to one point—after that it was broken
off. He had borrowed a horse at Bridestowe, he had ridden hard in
pursuit of Sampson Tramplara—and then ensued darkness and a blank.

Had Sampson shot him?  He tore open his shirt and felt; there was no
wound.  He felt his head; it was not bandaged.

How came he in the den of the Cobbledicks? As he was puzzling over this
question, the entrance was darkened, and Joyce entered, carrying a fowl
by the legs.  The moment she saw that he was conscious, she uttered a
cry of joy, and was at his side, on her knees, grasping his hands, with
tears and flashes of delight in her eyes.

’Oh, maister! the dear maister! you be alive and not going to sleep away
dead!  You can see who be here—your own poor Joyce. Right glad I be to
see the life in your eyes and the blood in your cheeks again.  Oh, glory
rallaluley!  I be joyful!  I could sing my heart up over my lips, and
away through this great covering stone.’

’Joyce!’ said Herring, ’I do not understand. What is the meaning of
this?  How came I here?’

’Sure, my maister, it were I as brought you here.  The young Cap’n
Sampson Tramplara would ha’ killed’y, but I fought ’n for’y, and I were
too much for ’n.  You mended my arms and made them strong, and they were
strong enough to keep ’n off from killing of you.  He’d ha’ done it.  He
had that in his hand would ha’ scatted your head all to smash, and he
were about to do it, but I were too strong for he, thanks be to you for
mending of me up.  Glory rallaluley!’

’But how came I here, Joyce?’

’Sure enough, because I brought’y in a waggon as grand as a king.
Sure,’ she said, laughing and crying in one breath, ’I never went on
nothing but my own bare feet afore, and but for the grandness, I’d
rather walk any day.  But I could not ha’ carried you thus far. That
were why I were forced to hire a waggon. Not but as though I wouldn’t
ha’ done it.  I’d ha’ carried you the world over in my airms, if I
could, and never let you drop till I died. But—Loramussy! what have
become of your clothes?  By the blue blazes! this be vaither’s doing.’

’Joyce, how did this take place?  I cannot understand.’

’The horse were throwed and you with him.  Cap’n Sampson had put a gate
across the road; and you rode quite innocent like right on to it.  After
you were down, he came out from behind the hedge, and would ha’ killed
you, but your own poor Joyce were there, and her fought ’n, and her tore
at ’n. He might ha’ cut her flesh off her bones, and scat her bones, but
her’d not hev let ’n hurt you no more.’

Then she seized his hands in a paroxysm of joy and covered them with
kisses, and pressed them to her beating heart.  ’It were I, your own
Joyce, as saved’y.’

See what self-respect will do—how it lifts out of the slough!  Once
Joyce had licked his hand like a dog.  Now she had learned her own
worth, she had battled for and saved his dear life; and her pride had
heaved her from the low estate of bestiality to the level of a human
being.  She kissed his hand, she no longer licked it.  That marked a
distinct stride in civilisation.

’But,’ she added, as she knelt over him, still holding his hand to her
bosom, and looked out of her wet and burning eyes into his face, ’it
were none for Joyce, nor for Miss Cicely, I did all this—it were for you
and the Whiteface.’

Joyce loved him; her love for him filled her whole dim soul with light.
She was perfectly humble; she knew she was a poor savage, and as widely
removed from him on one side as she was from the fox or badger on the
other.  There was no self-seeking in her love. It was in this simple,
pure, unselfish devotion that the human soul broke into flame and
transformed Joyce.  She looked up to Herring as she might to a star; she
had no thought of attaining to either.  It was enough for her to look up
and be led by the light each shed on her way.

Her father was also transformed externally, but remained the same low
brute at heart.  There was no outer change in the girl, the same foul
rags, only more ragged than before, the same dishevelled wretchedness of
aspect; but within, all was different.  God spake, and there was light.

Herring looked up at her, wondering, but still much confused; his head
could not endure much thought.  She was swaying herself from side to
side, still holding his hand between hers in her bosom; and the tears
ran down her tanned cheeks and fell over him—a soft and soothing rain, a
rain bearing balm and blessing.  She had raised her eyes, and her lips
moved.

’What are you saying, Joyce?’ he asked, thinking she was speaking to
him, but that he could not hear.

’I were saying nort to you,’ she said; ’I do not know hardly what I were
saying, but my heart were that nigh to bursting wi’ joy, that I felt I
must speak—but not to you—sure I didn’t know to whom I were speaking and
saying that I were so happy as I never was afore and never will be
again.  And I tried to say glory rallaluley turned backsy-foremost but
the words wouldn’t out, and I just cried for gladness, and looked
up—that were all.’

’What is that noise?’ asked Herring.

’What?’ she asked, dropping his hand and listening.

There were shouts and cries approaching. Then the crash of a stone
against the supporters of the table.  Next moment in dashed old Grizzly,
without the hat, wild with alarm, and threw himself on the ground, where
he tore off his coat and neckcloth, waistcoat and breeches, and,
screaming with rage and terror, threw each article, as it came off, in
the faces of the men that peered in at the entrance.

’Take mun! take mun!  I will none of ’em!  I will never have none o’ the
sort again.’

His legs were torn and bleeding.  One was smeared with white to the
knee, the other was of its natural tan.

Some of the miners had seen Cobbledick engaged in adorning his shins
with whitewash, dressed out in his borrowed garb, and had set upon him
with jeers.  He had fled and been pursued.

’I’ll hev none of it never more,’ he cried, and swore horribly.  ’Give
me my rags again.’

That was the end of the transformation of Grizzly.  But the
transformation of Joyce, which was from within, was more enduring.



                            *CHAPTER XXXIV.*

                         *HERRING’S STOCKINGS.*


Joyce was unable to retain Herring.  Those who had pursued her father
saw him lying in the old cromlech, and the secret was out. Moreover, she
herself began to see that it was not possible for her to keep him in the
den.  Her father’s behaviour, when left in charge of the patient, had
shown her how utterly untrustworthy he was, and Joyce could not always
be there.

Ophir had exerted a deteriorating effect on Grizzly.  He had become
idle; he had learned to beg; he had acquired a taste for rum.  He
expected Joyce to do everything for him, that he might lounge away his
time about the mine, repeating his parrot story to the visitors, putting
the dust into the water, and watching them find it.

Old Tramplara and young Sampson had given him money, and the workmen,
supposed all to be sworn abstainers, had indulged him from their bottles
of cold alcoholic tea.  Like a savage brought suddenly into association
with civilised man, he learned their vices, and unlearned none of his
own brutality.

When it was known at West Wyke that John Herring was lying ill under the
Giant’s Table, Mr. Battishill and Cicely sent to have him removed to
their house, and poor Joyce offered only a faint, though sullen,
resistance. She knew she could not keep him, but she was reluctant to
lose him.  She knew that it was good for him to go, and she did violence
to her own heart in suffering him to be carried away.  She followed him
to the doorway of West Wyke, holding his hand, and without taking her
eyes off him.

’Come, Joyce,’ said Cicely, ’you have been so good and devoted hitherto,
that you had best remain as nurse.  Come in and attend to Mr. Herring
till he is well.’

But Joyce shook her head.

’I’ll not go under no hellens [slates], or I should smother,’ she said.
’Where be you a-going to take ’n to?’

’We shall put him in that room,’ answered Cicely, indicating the window.

’There’ll be a light there of nights, I reckon.  I shall see ’n.  And of
day, when vaither don’t want nort a-doing, I’ll just hop over and sit
down outside, in thicky corner o’ the garden wall.’  Then Joyce grasped
Herring’s hand in both hers, and the tears filled her eyes.  ’It were I,
your poor Joyce, as saved you.  You’ll not forget that, will’y now?’

Then she turned away, and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand.
Cicely looked after her.  Joyce did not turn back; she walked on with
her peculiar free stride, her head down, and her arm across her face.

Herring had been jarred and contused by his fall, and he suffered
greatly for a few days. Every movement caused pain.  The doctor visited
him, and insisted on quiet, and that his head should be kept cool and
his mind unoccupied.

The news of Mr. Trampleasure’s death and of Sampson’s evasion were not
communicated to him till it was seen that he troubled his mind about the
result of the exposure of Ophir.  Nothing could be done, at least by
him, in the matter.

Every day Joyce came and sat in a nook of the garden against the wall,
looking up at the window.  Her hands were unoccupied; she could neither
knit nor sew.  She platted her fingers about one knee and remained in
the corner as still as though carved out of stone, almost as rugged as
though cut out of granite.  Herring’s bed was near the window, and he
went to the casement, and leaning on the sill looked forth and spoke to
her.  Then her eyes, in which a strange wistfulness had risen up,
lighted, and she smiled.  She had brought him something, a little bunch
of late wild flowers, some coral lichen daintily folded in green moss, a
cluster of blackberries, old and inedible, but the sole cluster she
could find.  These little gifts she would intrust to no one to convey to
Herring.  No other hand should touch them and divert from him the
something which went out from her with them.  When he came to the window
and looked out, she threw them up at him with so sure an aim that the
bunch of borage and crane’s-bill, the sprig of heather, or the
blackberries, always reached his open hand.

This devotion of Joyce was embarrassing to Herring.  As he lay in his
bed he thought about her, whether something could not be done to bring
her out of her rude life.  He spoke his thoughts to Cicely, and she
promised co-operation.

Next day, Cicely took a chair into the garden, and seated herself beside
Joyce.  The poor girl did not seem pleased with the visit, she had
rather be alone.

’I do not think you will see Mr. Herring to-day, Joyce.  His head is
worse, and he will not be able to rise and speak to you from the
window.’

’Why don’t he get well faster?’ asked Joyce.  ’He’d ha’ been right by
this time wi’ me.’

’Well, certainly, you treated him very well.  He tells me you gave him
capital boiled chicken.  How did you manage to get that?’

’I took her,’ answered Joyce.

’You stole it!’ exclaimed Cicely.  ’From whom?’

’From you.  I know’d the young maister must have ’n, and so I took ’n.
If he’d hev chanced to want milk, I’d ha’ milked anybody’s cow for ’n.
If he’d ha’ wanted your head, I’d ha’ cut ’n off for him—my own
likewise, for that matter.  Would you?’

’I do not think I would, Joyce.’

’Then he ought to hev been with us out to the Giant’s Table, not here.’

’You profess great readiness to do anything for him, Joyce.  He was
speaking to me about you yesterday, and wishing I could teach you
something.’

’I don’t want no teaching of nort,’ said Joyce, sullenly.

’But would you not like to learn to knit?’

’No,’ answered Joyce, ’I don’t want to larn nort.  What do’y knit with
them long sticking pins?’

’Stockings, Joyce.’

’Vaither don’t wear none; I don’t, neither. Them’s no good to us.’

Then the upper casement opened and Herring leaned out.

’What, Joyce!’ he called; ’is Miss Cicely teaching you to knit?  That is
right.  You are going to knit my stockings for me in future.  I promise
you I will wear none but those of your knitting.’

’Give me the pins,’ said Joyce, vehemently. ’I’ll larn.’

’Go back, Mr. John,’ said Cicely; ’you know you are forbidden to rise
to-day.  Go back, or you will be worse to-morrow.’

’Is the maister not getting better?’ asked Joyce, anxiously.

’He is; but his recovery is slow.  His head has been injured, and we
must take care that there be no relapse.  We can pray to God for him,
Joyce.’

The girl looked round full in her face inquiringly.

’Will that make ’n well?’

’I trust so.’

’Better than the doctor’s medicine?’

’It helps the doctor to cure him.’

’I know nothing about it,’ said Joyce. ’Did the maister pray for me when
I were scat?’

Cicely could not take on herself to answer.

’I be sure he did,’ said Joyce, confidently. ’Why did I ax you about it?
If that would hev made me well, he’d a done it.  You don’t know the
maister as I do.’

’Do you know about God?’ asked Cicely.

’See there, now!’ exclaimed Joyce, with animation, ’that be ’zackly what
the maister once axed of I; and I sed, Sure I do, I see ’n every day
when it bain’t raining and there be no clouds.  I reckon I thought he
meant the sun.  But I know better now, and I’ll tell’y how I comed to
know.  Thicky night as the maister were thrown down and hurted by Cap’n
Sampson, I thought he were sure to die in my airms.  And I felt then
that I must say something and ax some one for help—some one as wouldn’t
want to take ’n away from me.  It weren’t the sun as I spoke to, for the
sun had gone down.  I don’t know ’zackly what and where he was I called
to, but I knowed very well he were up where the sun be by daytime, but
he as I mean were there o’ night time ekally well.  Then, after that,
when the young maister were able to open his eyes and speak, I were that
lifted up with gladness that my heart were nigh to starting, and I could
do nort but cry tears, and tell he as I mean—but I don’t know a mite who
he be—how glad I were.  I know very well he weren’t the sun, for, you
sees, the sun were then a-sinking, and I never gave ’n a thought for a
minute to look at ’n.  I looked right up, up, up; and there were over me
the great covering table stone, and I seemed to go right through thicky
and see above the clouds as well, and the stars, and I’m blessed if I
know where to.  I be no skollard I can say nort but glory rallaluley and
kinkum-kum.’

’Kinkum-kum!’ repeated Cicely, with a puzzled look.

’Sure—what else?  I reckon he begins with Our Vaither, and he goes on to
kinkum-kum; but I know nort more nor that.  I ha’ heard the Methody
vellers a say it at their meetings on the moor.’

Cicely laughed; she could not help it—she was tickled.

’You have made a comical muddle of it,’ she said, and turned her head to
conceal her amusement.

’I don’t know, and I don’t care,’ said Joyce, doggedly.  ’He heard it,
up there, when I said it, that I knows, sure-ly; and he didn’t laugh,
that I knows also.’

’Shall I teach you what it really is?’

’No,’ said Joyce, resentfully; ’you laugh. If it be good for me, I’ll ax
the young maister to larn me when he be well.  I sed them same words to
he once—what make you giggle—and he didn’t laugh; he didn’t even smile,
but I saw that in his eyes was more like tears.  However, the words be
good as they be, and I sez them scores and scores of times by day and by
night, thinking of him as is sick, and he up there;’ she pointed with
her finger—not to the window, but far, far above it.  ’He as I knows
nort about, don’t laugh, but listens, just as the maister listened when
I said them to he at first; and he takes off his hat, as did the
maister.’

’I wish I could persuade you to come indoors, Joyce.  It is cold out
here, the wind blows keenly over the garden wall, and I cannot remain
here.’

’I bain’t cold,’ said Joyce; ’you can go in, I don’t want’y here.  I’ll
bide here alone a bit.  But I’ll larn the knitting and make the maister
his stockings.  I will, sure.  He sed he’d never wear none but what I
made, and what he sez he sticks to.’

A few days later Herring came down.  He was now much better, though
still stiff and bruised.  His mind was perfectly clear, and he was
impatient of his confinement.

’Mr. Battishill,’ said he, ’now is our opportunity; Ophir is done, and
Upaver begins.  I will make a bid for the plant of Ophir, and remove it
to the silver lead.  I will rent Upaver of you, and mine there on my own
account.’

’Very well,’ answered Mr. Battishill, ’I can say with the shepherd in
the "Winter’s Tale," "Now, bless thyself, I meet with things dying, thou
with things new-born."  I was set on Ophir; you never doubted in
Upaver.’

’You forget, sir, you were the finder of the silver lead.’

’Ah, yes; but I was drawn aside by the glitter of the gold of Ophir.  I
am sorry for Ophir, too.  It was a dream of splendour. But again, with
Paulina, "To the noble heart, what’s gone and what’s past help, should
be past grief."’

’You have been at your Shakespeare, sir, whilst I have been upstairs.’

’To whom else should I go, John?  "For I do love that man," said rare
Ben Jonson of him; and who that has mind and heart does not say the
same.  Shakespeare is the common and personal friend of humanity. By the
way, John, there are some letters for you.  We would not let you have
them before now, as, no doubt, they are on business—they come from
Launceston.’

Herring looked at them.  Their purport is already known.  They were from
the directors of Ophir.

’If Miss Cicely will write for me a letter about the machinery at Ophir,
I will sign it,’ he said; ’we had better secure it at once.  I knew that
Ophir would fail, and that was the reason why I did not hurry to get
machinery for the silver lead.  Now we shall secure the entire plant
under half-price.’

’Oh, John, how far further ahead you see than do I!  But you are
calculating on working the mine yourself.  How can you combine a
mineralogical captaincy with military duties?’

’I have sold out,’ said Herring, slightly colouring.

’Sold out, my boy! sold out after having been in the army only a few
years!  That is a very rash and inconsiderate proceeding.’

’I could hardly help myself,’ he answered. ’I got into trouble.  When
the accident to Mr. Strange and his daughter took place I was on my way
to Exeter to rejoin my regiment.  I had been summoned back.  I could not
desert the Countess Mirelle, with her father dead and without a
protector; and so I wrote to my Colonel for a short extension of leave.
He refused it; but addressed his reply to Welltown, my little place in
Cornwall, to which he had written before.  At Welltown my presence here
was unknown, and the letter was forwarded to Exeter, and it lay at my
quarters till I went there, which, as you know, was not for some time.
When I got to Exeter at last, I found that my neglect had got me into a
serious scrape.  Not only so, but the regiment was at Portsmouth, under
immediate orders to sail for Honduras. I had difficulty in exchanging.
Moreover, I felt that I must be here, to superintend the working of the
silver lead mine; so I sold out.’

’John,’ exclaimed Mr. Battishill, ’it is all very fine your pretending
that interest in the icy Countess and enthusiasm over a mine detained
you.  Nothing of the sort.  You found us in trouble and unable to help
ourselves, and so you sacrificed your own prospects for the sake of
pulling us through.’  He pressed the young man’s hand.  ’I owe you a
debt I can never repay.’

Mr. Battishill did not know all.  He knew nothing of Mirelle’s diamonds
consigned to Herring’s trust.  He entertained no suspicion of the
interest Herring felt in that cold and haughty girl.  He little dreamed
that Herring had taken on himself the double office of guardian angel to
Mirelle as well as to the house of Battishill.  He did not suppose that
even care for that poor savage, Joyce, had mingled with the other
motives in deciding the young man on abandoning his military career.

When Herring came out of doors for the first time, he found Joyce in the
garden awaiting him.  She was crying and laughing for joy.

’Maister,’ she said, ’you will keep your word about them stockings.’

’Certainly,’ he replied with a smile.  ’I give you three months in which
to learn to knit, and after that I will wear no stockings but those of
your knitting.’

’Good-bye,’ she said abruptly.

’Whither are you going?’

’To larn to knit,’ she answered.



                            *CHAPTER XXXV.*

                               *BEGGARY.*


Hope is hard to kill.  One last desperate effort Orange made to recover
the Captain. That same night, whilst Mirelle was writing to John
Herring, Orange wrote to Trecarrel, but her letter was not as brief as
that of Mirelle.

’Harry,—Now the last shelter is refused us.  We must leave this house
the day after to-morrow.  That is, the day when the sale at Dolbeare
takes place.  We cannot go thither, we cannot stay here.  We have none
to look to for advice but you.  You must give it us; you are bound to
assist us. Remember, had the disclosure and death of my father taken
place one hour later, everything would have been changed, and I should
have been your wife; then I would have opened Trecarrel to my poor
mother.  You cannot take advantage of an accident which intervened to
break off our marriage.  I do not ask you now to renew that contract; I
ask you only to come to the aid of a widow and an orphan, and to help
them to find shelter for their heads.’

She sent this note to Trecarrel by a boy next morning.  He brought
answer that the reply would arrive later.  Then Orange went out.  She
was not sanguine of success with the Captain, for she had failed in a
personal interview, and it is easier to refuse by letter than by word of
mouth.  Still, some sort of hope fluttered in her heart.  She could not
believe that the Captain would be so mean as wholly to desert them, and
deny them his advice.  She had not asked in her letter for more than
that.  Perhaps she had been too exacting when she forced her presence
upon him last night.

She went to visit her friend Miss Bowdler. If the Captain had failed
her, Miss Bowdler would not.  Miss Bowdler was a well-to-do young lady,
who lived with her ’Pa’ in a large, handsome, red-brick house of Queen
Anne’s period, a house rich within with plaster-work of exquisite design
and wood-carving by Grinling Gibbons.  The house was one of many rooms,
and it was solely tenanted by the young lady with the red eyelashes and
her ’Pa.’  They were rich, but were not received into county society; a
source of vexation to Miss Bowdler, though her ’Pa’ was indifferent so
long as his creature comforts were attended to.  Surely Miss Bowdler
would give her friends shelter for a few days. Orange was not aware that
Miss Bowdler had reckoned on using her (Orange) when Mrs. Trecarrel as
her door into society of a superior class; and that now the marriage was
broken off and this door was shut, the disappointment was bitter.

Orange rang the bell, and the summons was answered by the footman,
working himself into his coat, with unbuttoned waistcoat. He looked at
Miss Trampleasure superciliously, and proceeded leisurely to button his
waistcoat.

’Is Miss Bowdler at home?’

’I don’t know.’  Then, with a jerk, he brought a red hand through the
sleeve.

’I asked if your mistress were in,’ said Orange, with indignation.

’I ain’t deaf—I heard,’ replied the footman. ’I don’t think she is what
is called "At Home."’

’She is to be seen?’

’I can’t take on myself to say that.  You can stop in the ’all, and I’ll
go and inquire.’

Slowly, still buttoning himself, the serving man stalked away.

Orange’s cheek flamed, and the tears mounted.  This man had been all
obsequiousness before the crash.

Suddenly a loud voice in her ear startled her.

’You’re a beggar, you’re a beggar!  Oh, shock-ing, shock-ing!  Not a
penny.  Cluck, cluck, cluck!’

Orange recovered herself at once.  Near the door on a perch sat a white
cockatoo with pink feathers on her face, and cold, hard, unsympathetic
eyes, staring at her.

’Polly,’ said Orange, bitterly, ’what you say is too true.’

’Oh, shock-ing!  Does your mother know you are out?  What o’clock, you
beggar? Oh, oh!  Notapen-ny!  Hot cockles!  Cluck, cluck!’

’Polly, Polly, don’t make such a noise! Pa!—oh!’

A door opened, and a red-haired head appeared.  It was that of Miss
Bowdler.  The moment she saw Orange she started back. The footman had
gone to the greenhouse in quest of her.

’Oh, Sophy! dear Sophy!’ exclaimed Orange, springing forward.

Miss Bowdler recoiled from the outstretched hands.

’Good gracious, Miss Trampleasure, what a time of day for a call!  My
dear Pa does not like to be interrupted at this time; I read to him his
newspaper of a morning.  You will not, I know, detain me.  Yes, Pa!
coming, Pa! coming in an instant!  There have been disturbances in the
North among the cotton-spinners.  Pa is in a fever to hear the
particulars.’

’Hot cockles!’ said the parrot, sentimentally, putting her head on one
side and winking.

’Oh, Sophie, do listen to me.  I want so much to see you.  I have a
favour I wish to ask you.’

’Pa, Pa!  I’m coming.’

’Tol-de-rol-de-rol!’ said the parrot.  Then, swinging herself round on
her perch, she went into convulsions of laughter.

’I pray you excuse me,’ said Miss Bowdler; ’I told John Thomas expressly
to say I was not at home in the morning, because Pa is so particular.’

’Do you hear?’ asked the footman, who had appeared on the scene, now in
full condition, every button in its place.  ’Miss Bowdler is NOT AT
’OME.’  Then he opened the door pompously.  The red-haired lady took the
opportunity to dart back into her room.

’You’re a beggar!’ shouted the cockatoo, with a look of devilry in her
eye; ’you’re a beggar!  Not a pen-ny!  Shock-ing, shock-ing! Oh, oh!’
and then screamed and ran round and round her perch, laughing.

The door shut with a slam behind Orange. She set her teeth and stamped
her foot.

’Would that I were Mrs. Trecarrel for one day only,’ she said, ’that I
might insult this wretched girl before county people.’

Her mother had a friend in the town, a very intimate confidante, a stout
old lady, Mrs. Trelake, widow of a mayor of Launceston, a brewer.  Mrs.
Trampleasure had insisted on her daughter going to this old lady, and
asking her to receive them for a week. Orange went thither, with her
heart on fire from the humiliations she had undergone at Miss Bowdler’s
house.  Orange was received at once with cordiality by Mrs. Trelake.
She was a lady of moderate stature, with an immense throat.  The throat
was not a column supporting the head, but the face was sculptured out of
the column.  There was something good-natured in the face.  Possibly she
may have been good-looking when young; but it was now impossible, on
seeing her, to observe anything but the solid trunk of throat.  The old
lady was stout, but neither her stoutness nor her throat incommoded her;
she moved with nimbleness.  She was, moreover, robust in health.  Mrs.
Trelake was a woman destitute of vanity.  She had a neat hand, and was
ignorant of it.  She was aware that her neck was ugly, but she took no
pains to hide it.  She was one of those persons who make no effort to
please, and are themselves easily pleased.  She liked every one with
whom she was brought in contact, but she loved nobody.  She was the same
genial person with every one, rich and poor, with her servants and with
her guests.  All she asked of her acquaintances was that they should
amuse her, and of her servants that they should give her no trouble.
Her sympathy was superficial. If an acquaintance spoke to her of trouble
or good fortune, of embarrassment or great expectations, she entered
into the situation from the outside, and without the smallest internal
appreciation.  If she cried with a companion, it was not because her
friend had occasion for tears, but because her friend was in tears.  If
she laughed, it was not at a joke which she made no effort to
understand, but because the joker laughed.

If you who knew her so well had told her your wife was dead with
inexpressive voice, she would have received the information with
indifference; if you had told her the same news with broken utterance,
she would have sobbed; if you had told her the same fact with a smile on
your lips, she would have sniggered.  And your wife, remember, was her
intimate friend.

People of this description are more common than is generally supposed.
We have occupied some time over the portrait of Mrs. Trelake, not
because she acts a prominent part in this story, but because we desire
to inform our readers what to expect from the Mrs. Trelakes of their
acquaintance when they appeal to them for help in their troubles.

Mrs. Trelake received Orange with warmth and pity.  She saw that the
girl was in trouble.  The heart of Orange was full of her reception at
Miss Bowdler’s, and she recounted it to the old lady.  Mrs. Trelake was
shocked: she held up her hands, she blessed her stars, she vowed she
could never look on Miss Bowdler again with regard; she undertook to cut
her in the streets. (Mrs. Trelake dined with Miss Bowdler the same
evening, and, when Miss Sophy told her version of the story, Mrs.
Trelake was indignant over the dinner table at the audacity of Orange in
presuming to thrust herself upon the Bowdlerian privacy.)

’To-morrow is the sale at Dolbeare,’ said Orange.

’The sale, my dear!  How dreadful!’  Mrs. Trelake looked round the room
at her pretty china and her case of stuffed hummingbirds. ’I could not
bear to part with my things.  Every article sold, I suppose.  Will those
pretty china jars go, with the dragons on them?  I wonder whether I
could get them cheap?’

’Even to the beds and chairs.  The house still belongs to us.  That is,
we have the lease, but we shall have to let it, so as to pay the rent.’

’Not able to let the house nor pay the rent!  Oh, my dear, how
dreadful!’

’I said that we should have to let it.’

’I understood perfectly, my sweet child.’

’We cannot go into the house stripped of everything.  We cannot stay
longer at Mr. Flamank’s.  It was very good of him to take us in, but we
are unable to trespass further on his kindness.’

’Certainly, my poor child, it would not do.’

’Then—to-morrow, whither are we to go?’

’Really, my dear, I don’t know.  I have a bad head at guessing
conundrums.  Is it a conundrum, though?’ asked Mrs. Trelake, doubtfully.
She had not been listening. She was calculating her chance of securing
the dragon vases at the sale.

’You knew and loved my mother.  I am sure you love her now.’

’Ardently, tenderly,’ said Mrs. Trelake, effusively.

’Will you take it ill if I ask a favour of you?’

’Not at all.’

’Would you receive us for a week?  I do not ask for more.  In a week we
shall have had time to settle something as to our future.’

’Oh, Orange! don’t say a week; say a month.  My house is at your
disposal.  I really have a fair cook; and now tell me, what does your
mother like?  For breakfast, now?  Is it grilled kidneys?  You must put
me up to all her little fancies, and I will instruct my cook to meet
them.  She is a good soul and does what I desire.  When will you come?
To-morrow?  Oh, try to come this evening.  Well—if not, at what o’clock?
Tell me the time and I will have a dainty meal ready.  Orange!  I have a
pheasant in the larder.  I hope you like pheasant.’

’We shall be with you at noon.  How good and kind you are, Mrs.
Trelake!’

’Not at all.  I am delighted.’

Then Orange left.  Ten minutes later Mrs. Trelake wrote an elaborate
note of apology, to say that her servants objected to receiving so large
a party at once.  The cook would not stay, and how could she replace so
valuable and obliging a servant?  The housemaid said that three persons
extra would throw too much work upon her, and she would go.  So, she,
Mrs. Trelake, was very sorry, but for peace and quietness sake, she had
to yield, and must withdraw the promise to receive the Trampleasure
party.  She herself had nothing to do with this, but servants were
becoming so masterful that the only way in which she, an elderly lady,
could get on was to yield to them in every point.

’We live in the world, we didn’t make it,’ concluded Mrs. Trelake; ’we
must shape ourselves to the world, not force the world to fit us.’

Whilst Orange was standing at the window, reading this letter to her
mother, she saw a woman whom she knew coming to the back door.  This was
a rough girl who did the scullery work at Trecarrel.  She brought the
answer from the Captain.

Orange at once darted into the garden and intercepted the girl on her
way to the kitchen.

’You bear a letter for me.’

’Yes, miss.’

She handed her a letter.  Orange turned it in her hands.  The address
was badly written by some uneducated person.

’Who gave you this?’

’Mrs. Kneebone, the housekeeper.’

’Is there nothing from Captain Trecarrel?’

The girl hesitated.

Orange tore the note open.  It was written in the same hand as the
address.

’Please, miss, the Captain be very serius indispodged, and heve a took
to his bed.  He carnt rite, according hev axed me to say so. Your’s full
of respex, JOANNA KNEEBONE.’

Orange looked up, angry, her heart beating violently.  The girl was
still there, but moving towards the kitchen.

’What do you want in the house?’ asked Orange.

’There be another letter, miss, I hev to deliver.’

’Well, give it to me.’

’It be for the other young lady,’ answered the girl; ’and I hev to give
it only into her hand.’

’You cannot do that,’ said Orange; ’she is gone out.’

’Please, miss, will she be gone for long?’

’She will not return till late at night. Give it me.’

’But, miss, I were told by the Cap’n partickler not to let nobody hev it
but the young lady herself; it were very partickler.’

’Then you must wait here till night.  This is not my house.  I cannot
ask you into the kitchen to sit down; you must wait about in the road.
It is raining, and you will be wet through.  I cannot help it; it must
be so unless you let me have the letter.’

’You’ll be sure to give it, miss?’

’Of course I will.  Do you mistrust me?’

’There it be, miss; but I doubt if the Captain will be best pleased I
haven’t waited and let the lady have it herself.’

The letter was delivered.  The address was in the Captain’s handwriting.
The seal was large, in red wax, stamped with the Trecarrel arms; Orange
knew them well—two chevronels, a crescent for a difference.  The girl
turned to go away.

’Good afternoon, miss.’

Orange took no notice of the salutation. She was looking at the letter.
As the girl departed, she glanced back.  Orange was turning the letter,
and examining, first the superscription, then the seal.  There was an
expression in her face which made the girl say, ’I doubt if I have done
right now in giving her thicky letter.’

Orange went in.  She ascended the stairs to her own room, or rather, to
the room she shared with Mirelle.  Mirelle was there. That which Orange
had told the girl was not true; Orange had told an untruth deliberately,
knowing it was an untruth. Orange stood in the doorway and looked at
Mirelle, and a flash shot from her dark eyes. Mirelle had not raised her
head to see who entered, and she did not therefore encounter and observe
the glance of hatred and jealousy flung at her.

Orange quickly shut the door and descended the stairs again.

She took her bonnet and went out,—went out into the rain.  What cared
she for rain? She went into a lane where she saw no one, and would be
unobserved.  Then she tore the letter open.  It was written in Captain
Trecarrel’s best hand, and ran as follows:—


’My dear Mirelle,—Indisposition prevents my calling and paying my
respects to you as I should have desired.  I am in profound distress to
learn the predicament in which you have been placed by the
unscrupulousness of a man whom I will not designate as he deserves,
because he is dead.  _De mortuis nil nisi bonum_.  Observe this maxim
strictly, and Mr. Trampleasure will never be heard of again.  I write
now to entreat you to accept the asylum of my aunt’s house.  She lives
at Penzance, and is both a charming old lady and a strict Catholic.  I
have written to her to-day, stating your case, and by the middle of the
week will have her reply.  I make no question but that she will open her
house and her heart to you.  One little bit of advice I know you will
excuse my offering.  I saw, on the night of the ball at Dolbeare, that
you wore a very valuable set of diamonds, worth, I dare say, over a
thousand pounds.  On no account allow the vultures—you know to whom I
allude—to set their claws in them. Mrs. T. and Miss O. are at the
present moment impecunious, and impecuniosity is a temptation to
unscrupulousness,—an infirmity that runs in the blood of a family that I
will not name.  You do not know the value of these stones, and might be
sorely taken in if you disposed of them to a country jeweller. Moreover,
I presume they belonged to your dear mother, and it would be unjust to
her memory to get rid of them to relieve the present pressing
necessities of persons in whom she could feel no possible interest.  If
you doubt being able to keep them safely—I feel convinced that you will
be besieged with entreaties to sell them—trust them to my aunt or to me.
I remain, my dear Mirelle, yours very faithfully,

’HARRY TRECARREL.’


Mirelle never saw that letter.  Orange tore it with her teeth, and then
trampled the fragments into the mire.  She walked up and down that lane
in a fever, regardless of the rain that fell and drenched her.

Her faith in Trecarrel was gone.  She was a girl who had been brought up
to believe in nothing; neither in truth, nor honesty, nor sincerity.
But she had believed in Trecarrel, and now that one faith was in
fragments. She saw him as he really was, in all his despicable meanness.
She scorned him, she hated him, but with that hate was mingled love, or
rather that hate was but wounded, writhing, anguished love.  During the
night she rose from her bed.  Mirelle slept with her.  The rain had
ceased, the clouds had broken, and the moon shone into the room. She
left her bed because she could not endure the silver glare over her
face.  As she stood by the bed she looked down on the face of the
sleeping Mirelle.  It was like the face of a dead woman sculptured in
the purest Carrara marble, and lovely as the noblest chisel could cut.

Orange drew the pillow from the bed. and held it up, that the pillow
might shadow the white face.  The heart of Orange beat furiously.  She
hated Mirelle.  She had but to put that pillow over her mouth, throw
herself upon it, and with her strong arms hold down the tossing
figure,—that figure so frail and feeble, and then she could laugh at the
schemes of Captain Trecarrel.

But no.  Orange put the pillow back with a curl of the lip.  She could
not do that, easy as it was to do.  But as she stood over Mirelle she
vowed never to permit Captain Trecarrel to take that pale girl to the
hearth from which he had cast Orange Tramplara.

’You’re a beggar! you’re a beggar!’ that terrible screech of the parrot
came back in her ear at that moment.  ’True, true!’ said Orange, between
her teeth, ’I am a beggar. I have asked for love!  I have begged for
help!  I have begged for sympathy!  I have implored advice!  I have been
refused everything, and given rebuffs and insults.  I have but one thing
remaining to me, a hold on Mirelle, beggar though I be, and never shall
he who has refused me all I asked, give to her what he has denied to me,
his betrothed.’

The sleeping girl turned her head away. The fierce eyes of Orange
stabbed her and distressed her, even in sleep.

Orange put her hands over her heart.  It was bounding noisily, the
moonlight throbbed in her eyes, the thoughts beat in her brain. That
horrible idea of the pillow, and Mirelle under it, came over her again.
She saw the feet beating in the bed in rhythm with the pulsation of her
heart, and her hands clenched as though gripping the delicate wrists.
As one at the edge of a precipice turns giddy and feels impelled to
throw himself where he fears to fall, so was it now with Orange.  A
dread—a dread was on her lest this horrible thought might in a moment
become a fact. She turned away.  She paced the room; she could not rest
in a bed.  She was like a wild beast in a cage.

’Orange!’

She started.  Mirelle was sitting up.

’What do you want?’ asked Orange hoarsely, and stood between Mirelle and
the moonlight, that her face might not be seen and betray her heart.

’He is coming.’

’Who is coming?’ asked Orange, fiercely.

’I knew he would.’

’Who? who? who?’  Orange clutched the pillow convulsively.

’John Herring.  I wrote to him.  I have been dreaming, and I saw him
open my letter, and he started up and cried, "I am coming to you,
Mirelle.  I am coming to you with help."’



                            *CHAPTER XXXVI.*

                          *MIRELLE’S GUESTS.*


A truce was concluded between the Reverend Israel and his wife.  He
undertook to depart on a missionary circuit during the remainder of the
time that the ladies were in her house. Mrs. Flamank very unreasonably
charged her husband with encouraging Orange in disorderly ways, the
encouragement consisting in privately combating his wife’s attack on
Orange’s character, and finding a charitable explanation for her leaving
the house at night.  Mr. Flamank departed early in the morning as a
deputation for the parent missionary society of the religious community
to which he belonged, to advocate the claims of a very promising mission
to the heathen in the Imaginary Islands.

Hitherto this station had been promising rather than performing, but now
it had real cause for congratulation and for appealing to the
charitable.  A native chieftain, with his entire family, consisting of
several wives and a tail of children like the tail of a comet, had
become a convert.

Ho-hum was the capital of the Imaginary Isles, situated in the largest
of them, with a good port at which vessels from England called with
gowns and novels for the missionaries’ wives and daughters.  At Ho-hum
there were four rival missionary churches. The Imaginary group formed an
archipelago, but as Ho-hum was most considerable of all the islands, not
one of the churches would be content with evangelising a smaller island,
and thereby confess itself inferior in pretensions to those communities
which occupied the major island.  Penelope by night unravelled her
embroidery of the day.  The work of Christian missions is like that of
Penelope, with this difference, that each is engaged in unravelling the
work of all the others.

In the island of Ho-ha, a chieflet of indifferent character,
Hokee-Pokee-Wankee-Fum by name, had proved himself such a nuisance to
the heathen society that he was expelled the island with his family and
took refuge in that of Ho-hum, where, however, he met with a chilling
reception from his native friends.  Finding himself destitute of means,
and cold-shouldered by his own people, he lent a ready ear to the
solicitations of the One-and-Only-Christian missionary to receive
instructions in his catechetical school.  As this instruction was
supplemented with mealies, he listened and ate.  He liked the chapel of
the station, because it was adorned with pictures and gilding and much
frippery. Then the Reverend the Superior of the establishment wrote home
to the ’Annals of the Faith’ a letter in the most remarkable English
ever penned.  It was to this effect, ’that Ho-kee, a chieftain of the
island of Ho-ha, having heard the verities which were at this time now
inculcated at the mission of the Immaculate Joseph in Ho-hum, had left,
like Abraham, his home, and had come, to seek the verity.  This
aborigine, passionated with a vivid desire to apprehend, had commenced
to receive the holy instructions into a heart truly recognisant,’ &c.

But, presently, the rival station of the Pure and Reformed Christians
drew away the ’recognisant aborigine,’ having offered him meat as well
as mealies with its instructions. At this station the missionary
laboured to divest his catechumen of the imprimitive and erroneous
teaching in which his mind had been enveloped by the One-and-Onlies.
And he wrote home, in good English, an account of the enlightened
’native chief Pokee, who had been unable to digest the erroneous
doctrines of the sister Church of the One-and-Onlies, and whose soul was
refreshed by the pure and primitive truths (divested of human
accretions); but as some expense had been incurred,’ &c. &c.

Hokee-Pokee-Wankee-Fum was, however, before long shaken in his
attachment to the Pure and Reformed, by the missionary insisting on his
limiting himself to one wife.  This was more than he could endure, and
he opened his ears to the ministrations of the pastor of the Universal
Christians.  By him also he was told that he must have but one wife, but
a concession was made that the rest might be retained under the
designation of domestics. With the Universals, the name, not the thing,
was essential.  The Universal teacher set vigorously to work to strip
the mind of Wankee of all the unevangelical instructions he had received
from the Pure and Reformed, and he wrote home concerning his convert, to
the ’Universal Missionary Reporter,’ that Wankee in testimony of his
sincerity had retained but one wife out of the three score; but he
added, as wives were valuable commodities, this was much like a farmer
voluntarily abandoning his flock of sheep and limiting himself to one
ewe lamb.  Under these circumstances, it became the duty of Christians
to indemnify this zealous Wankee, therefore he must solicit
subscriptions, &c. &c.

Unfortunately, this missionary was strict on the subject of temperance,
and forbade the use of spirits.  Now Wankee was fond of grog, and when
he had been reprimanded and put on short commons of food, for yielding
to his passions, he grew sulky and deserted to the Particular
Christians, who allowed grog and had no sharp and defined belief or code
of morals, but a very decided disbelief in everything taught in the
other churches.  Accordingly the missioner proceeded still further to
divest Wankee-Fum of his acquired faith, and he was brought to that
condition in which he protested against every thing and professed
nothing.  To his bewildered mind, Christianity seemed a bird of paradise
on which the sectaries had fallen with the object of restoring it to its
primitive condition as it emerged from the egg.  One pulled out the
gorgeous tail, another stripped off the coronal of plumes, a third reft
off the wing feathers, and the last, after having plucked and singed it,
held up a naked and expiring monster as typical primitive Christianity.

The Particular pastor wrote home to say that he had converted a native
prince of the name of Fum, with his entire family, consisting of one
hundred and six souls; that a great door was open for the advance of
vague and vapid Christianity.  He was resolved (D.V.) to send Prince Fum
to his own island of Ho-ha, as native teacher and founder of a church.
To do this effectually, money was needed, &c. &c.

This was the glad news received by Mr. Flamank, and he hastened to
divulge it in missionary meetings of the Particular Christians in
Cornwall, and to collect money for establishing Hokee-Pokee-Wankee-Fum
in the island of Ho-ha as an evangelist.

On the one condition that the Reverend Israel Flamank should absent
himself from home did his ’sweet soul’ Betsy Delilah consent to allow
Mrs. Trampleasure, her daughter, and Mirelle to remain a couple of days
longer in the house.

Mrs. Flamank was a kind woman in her way, but that way was a hard one.
She felt pity for the widow, and as much tenderness as it was possible
for her to feel for Mirelle; but she detested Orange.  And the reason
why she liked Mirelle was because Mirelle had snubbed her husband, and
if there was one thing in the world that Mrs. Flamank delighted in it
was in seeing Israel suffer rebuff.

Thus it was that Mrs. Trampleasure and Orange were left without even the
minister to advise them what to do and whither to go.

The day had come on which they must depart.  It was the day announced
for the auction at Dolbeare.  Whenever Orange went into the town and
passed under the old gateway she saw plastered against the wall an
announcement of the sale, and details of the desirable lots into which
the Trampleasure furniture had been assorted.

Mrs. Trampleasure was all day in tears. She was thinking of mats and
cushions, worked with her own hands, which would go to the hammer.  The
cruet-stand, also; O woe! woe! There was, moreover, a set of Blair’s
’Sermons’ she had been wont to read on rainy Sundays—sermons devoid of
ideas, and therefore adapted to a mind incapable of receiving ideas.
She lamented, likewise, a Rollin’s ’Ancient History,’ which she had
attempted ineffectually to read for the last thirty years.  Though she
had not read Rollin, the sight of his back on her shelf, in many
volumes, gave her a sensation of solidity and well-grounding.  But the
thought that especially troubled her was that she had left behind in
Dolbeare two pillow pincushions fastened to the back of the best bed.
In her hurry and distress at leaving she had forgotten these treasures,
and they would be sold with the furniture.  The pincushions were of
white satin, ornamented with figures and flowers in coloured beads.
They were heart-shaped—of the size of a bullock’s heart, heavily
stuffed. They depended, by white satin ribands, from mother-of-pearl
buttons.  These pincushions had been given to Mrs. Trampleasure on her
marriage by a great-aunt.  They would hold, on a moderate computation, a
thousand pins apiece.  What any one in bed could want two thousand pins
for did not enter into the consideration of the artist who constructed
them.  For some years these pincushions had adorned the head of the bed
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Trampleasure.  But they exhibited a tendency to
fall down on the sleepers in an unprovoked and startling manner. Mrs.
Trampleasure had sewn them up repeatedly, passing the stitches through
the mother-of-pearl buttons; but whether spiders ate the threads, or the
damask bed back was unable to support the burden, down one or other
would come, till at length Mr. Trampleasure, upon whose nose one had
pounded whilst enjoying a refreshing slumber, woke with an oath, and
flung both the guilty and the innocent pincushion across the room,
vowing not to suffer their re-erection above his head any more.  After
this they were banished to the spare bedroom, and, though not under Mrs.
Trampleasure’s daily observation, they did not cease to be dear to her
soul.  These precious pincushions, through inadvertence, were doomed to
fall into strange, perhaps inappreciative, hands.  The thought made her
weep and sniff.

’Mother,’ said Orange, ’everything is packed.  All is ready for us to
start.  We must decide now whither we will go.’

’There was Charity on one, with a feeding-bottle in her hand—I believe a
Florence flask, and a backie-pipe stem stuck through the cork—as nat’ral
as nat’ral; and on the other was Hope with her anchor, and a serpent
twined round it, as I thought; but your dear father would insist it was
a rope.  "But," said I, "look: it has an eye."  However, your father
maintained that was only a loop in the cord.’  Mrs. Trampleasure was
thinking of the pincushions.

’Whither are we to go, mother?’ asked Orange.

’I am sure I don’t know,’ answered Mrs. Trampleasure, ’without my Blair,
and my Rollin, and my pinkies.’  Mirelle was sitting at the window.  The
day was passing, and no signs were seen of John Herring.

’I wonder how them pinkies have sold,’ mused the old woman; ’I shouldn’t
wonder if they’ve fetched a lot of money.  I should say they were cheap
at five pounds.  If I get a chance I’ll buy them back at that figure.’

’We have no money,’ said Orange, ’except a trifle which will be consumed
in inn expenses; we must go to one, as we have seen nothing about
lodgings.  Mirelle, are you awake?’

’Yes, Orange.’

’You will have to give French lessons, and I will do the housework at
home and take in sewing.  So perhaps we shall be able to keep body and
soul together.’

’I am waiting,’ answered Mirelle.

’What nonsense!’ said Orange, impatiently. ’Do you suppose that Mr.
Herring will trouble himself about us?’

’I am sure he will.’

’He has not come, and he must have received your letter.’

’Please, ma’am’—it was the servant who spoke from the doorway—’the
mistress hev sent to say, shall I go and fetch a coach?’

Orange looked at her mother.  Mrs. Trampleasure wept.

’Yes,’ said Orange; ’we will go at once. Yes, girl: go and fetch one.’

’It is unnecessary,’ said Mirelle, rising. ’A coach has come.  John
Herring is here.’

A rap at the door, and in another moment John Herring was ushered into
the room.

’Thank you! thank you for coming,’ said Mirelle, advancing to meet him,
and holding out both her hands.

Herring was not looking strong.  His fall, and a hard ride during the
night from West Wyke to Launceston, had made him look pale and worn and
unwell.  But Orange, her mother, and Mirelle were too engaged in their
own troubles to notice the change in him.

’You have come to take us away from this house?’ asked Mirelle.

’Yes, I have.  You called me.’

He held her hands, and looked into her eyes, and was lost in wonder at
their depth and beauty, and in a dream of love.  She met his gaze
frankly, but, as it was prolonged, her eyes fell.

’Whither are you going to take us?’ asked Orange.

But Herring had ears for one voice only; he had thoughts at that moment
for one person only, who stood before him.

’Oh, Mr. Herring,’ said Mirelle—and she looked up timidly again, but,
again encountering his eyes, lowered her dark lashes—’take us
away—anywhere.  We cannot remain here any longer.  We are turned out of
the house.  We trust you perfectly; take us where you will.’

’Let me lead you to the coach.’

Then Orange said to Mrs. Trampleasure, ’Mother, you must go and thank
Mrs. Flamank before leaving.’  But at that moment this good lady
appeared, relieved by the sight of the carriage standing at the house
door.  Her visitors were departing.

She received the thanks given her for her hospitality with graciousness.
She even kissed Mirelle on the brow.  ’I hope,’ she said,
condescendingly, ’that you will find a comfortable and happy home, my
child.  Aha!’—she looked at Herring, and then at Mirelle—’I have my
suspicions.  Well, well!  Time will show if they are justified.’

Herring saw the ladies into the coach, and mounted the box beside the
driver.

The carriage drew up at the door of Dolbeare.  Herring descended, opened
the coach door, let down the steps, and presented his arm to Mrs.
Trampleasure.

’Mr. Herring,’ exclaimed Orange, turning white, ’what is the meaning of
this?  Do you not know that this is no longer our home?  You have not
heard.  You have made a mistake.’

’Pray step inside, ladies,’ said he, smiling.

Bewildered, not knowing what to say, all three descended.  No; Mirelle
was not bewildered; she was perfectly collected.  What Mr. Herring did
was right.  Where he led she followed with confidence; she had entire
reliance on him.

They entered the hall.  Everything was as it had been: the clock on the
stairs was ticking; the door of the dining-room was open; a fire burned
in the grate; on the table lay a bundle of old walking-sticks, tied
together.  Herring took up this bundle.

’But, Mr. Herring,’ said Orange, passing her hand across her eyes, ’what
is the meaning of this?  Are we walking in a dream?’

’This is no dream,’ answered Herring. ’Countess, I make over this bundle
of old sticks to you; the house goes with them; the rent has been paid
for the current year, in your name; the lease is made over to you.
Everything the house contains is yours. Everything has been bought as it
stands, in your name.’

Orange and Mirelle stood silent.  Neither could comprehend the
situation.

Herring did not speak to them for some minutes, he could understand
their perplexity. Orange looked round for her mother, but Mrs.
Trampleasure had not entered the room.

Presently Herring went on: ’You will find, Countess, that a sum
sufficient for the maintenance of the house, and for your comfort, is
lodged in the bank, in your name, and that the same sum will be paid
quarterly. You can draw as you require.  This house, with all its
contents, is yours.  Everything has been purchased and paid for in your
name.’

’Mr. Herring,’ put in Orange, speaking with a flushed cheek and a
quivering lip, ’what are we here?’

’You have been kind to her when she needed a home, you have done your
best to make her comfortable, now you are the guests in this house of
the Countess Mirelle Garcia.’

A cry of joy from the upper story, and down the flight and into the room
rushed Mrs. Trampleasure, laughing and crying.  ’They are there, they
are there, my Orange!  Oh, joy!’

’What are there, mother?’

’My own satin pinkies.’

’They are not yours,’ said Orange, with a curl of the lip and a hard
look settling into her eyes.  ’They, like everything else, have been
purchased in the name of the Countess Mirelle Garcia de Cantalejo.’  She
stood and looked at Mirelle from head to foot.  A battle was raging in
her heart.  Should the rage and hate boiling there overflow her lips?
She caught Herring’s eye fixed inquiringly, suspiciously, on her.  Then
she dropped a profound curtsey to Mirelle, and said, ’We are not your
guests, gracious Countess, but your most humble and obliged servants.’

Then Mirelle threw her arms round Orange, and kissed her cheeks and brow
and mouth.

’Dear, dear Orange!’ she said, and her tears flowed, ’do not speak thus.
You are nothing other to me than a sister.’

Then she looked round to thank Herring, but he was gone.



                           *CHAPTER XXXVII.*

                          *A SECOND SUMMONS.*


Herring was gone.  He did not remain to explain how it was that
everything had fallen to Mirelle.  He went because he did not desire to
explain anything.  In his own mind he had debated what was best to be
done. Should he inform her that she had a fortune, part of which he had
invested in the West Wyke mortgages, and part he was about to sink in
the Upaver lead mine, and part still remained in uncut diamonds, not
disposed of? Should he make over everything to her, and free himself of
further responsibility?

He hesitated about doing this, and throwing off a charge he had laid on
himself. Mirelle was unable of herself to manage what was properly hers.
Her ignorance of the world would place her at the mercy of any one who
offered to conduct her affairs for her.  Orange was engaged to Captain
Trecarrel, and would probably marry him when the trouble about Ophir,
and the time of mourning for her father, was over; and, though Trecarrel
was a gentleman and, no doubt, of unimpeachable integrity, still he was
a needy man, and might not be a discreet adviser.  So Herring resolved
to retain his hold over the property, at all events for a while, till
the Captain had married Orange, and he had time to decide whether
Trecarrel was a man to be trusted to act as guardian to Mirelle.

In a small town every one holds his nose over his neighbour’s
chimney-top, and knows exactly what is cooking below.  In Launceston it
was a matter of general conversation that the Countess Mirelle Garcia
had come to the aid of the Trampleasures, that she had arranged with the
creditors and had made such an offer before the sale took place, that
the auction had been abandoned.  Every one knew this; the mayor, the
chimney-sweep, the barber, the milliner, and Polly Skittles behind the
bar of the Pig and Whistle. Every one knew that Mirelle had money in the
bank, and multiplied the sum by four.  Now, every one believed that her
diamonds were real, and that they were the outward sign of a magnificent
fortune behind.  Every one, we say, for after the ball at Dolbeare the
entire town knew of the diamonds, but the mayor, the chimney-sweep, the
barber, the milliner, and Polly Skittles of the Pig and Whistle
concluded they were paste.  The one jeweller had tested them and found
them paste, and the one jeweller had a wife, and the wife had a tongue.
Now, also, every one began to regret that more attention had not been
shown her.  Those mothers who were burdened with cubs were especially
regretful, and resolute to make amends, and bring the Countess to their
little parties, and hitch their cubs on to her.  Now also Miss Bowdler
began to regret having been inhospitable to Orange Trampleasure.
Mirelle was a Countess—a foreign Countess, it is true, but still, where
titles are rare, a foreign title is better than none.  Hitherto, she, as
well as the rest of Launceston, down to Polly Skittles, had delighted to
talk of her as Miss Strange, because they supposed her poor—a sort of
hanger-on to the Tramplaras, but now that the conditions were reversed
Launceston society reconsidered the question of her treatment.  If
foreign titles do descend through the female line—well, this was a
foreign title, and the young lady had a legitimate right to bear it.  So
Launceston, from the mayoress, the chimney-sweeperess, the barber’s
wife, the milliner, to Polly Skittles behind the bar of the Pig and
Whistle, began to speak of her as the Countess, and Polly went so far as
to call the Tramplaras Trampleasures, because of their kinship to
Mirelle.

Miss Bowdler speedily convinced herself that she had made a mistake.
There were no baronets and their ladies near the capital of Cornwall,
and if there had been they would have moved in a sphere unapproachable
by Sophy.  There was not even a retired oil and colourman, who, as
mayor, had been knighted on a royal visit; for royalty never did visit
Launceston, not even the Duke of Cornwall, though the city was the
capital of the county from which he drew his title, and in which he
owned estates.  It would be something for Sophy Bowdler to be able to
talk of her friend the Countess, and to describe her diamonds, when
visiting her relatives in Redruth and Bodmin.

She had made a mistake, and she hastened to repair it.  She was the
first to visit Dolbeare after the return of the Trampleasures. She did
more.  She offered a holocaust to secure a renewal of friendship, and
the holocaust she offered was John Thomas, the footman, who found
himself summarily dismissed for the impertinence of his manner to Miss
Trampleasure.

Sophy Bowdler pushed her way into Dolbeare, past the maid who appeared
at the door.  She herself opened that of the sitting-room, in the old
familiar style, and rushed to Orange, to take her to her heart.

Orange hesitated a moment, and then received her overtures with
simulated pleasure. It was not her interest to quarrel with old friends.

’You must excuse me, darling Orange, if I was abrupt with you the other
day.  My Pa, my dear Pa, is, you know, rather short in temper, and I had
begun to read to him an account of the riots in the north, when I heard
the parrot screaming, and she disturbed him.  He swore he would wring
Polly’s neck. You know I dote on that bird; and I was so frightened.  Pa
is a man of his word.  So I ran out, and then he called me back, and I
was distracted between my desire to see you, and my fears for Poll, and
my duty to Pa.’

’Pray do not mention this.’

’But I must, Orange.  That impudent John Thomas made me so angry with
his want of manner that I had to dismiss him, and now we are on the
look-out for another footman.  Can you—or can the Countess—recommend me
one?’

The next to come was Mrs. Trelake, very pleased to see her dear old
friend, Mrs. Trampleasure, back in Dolbeare again.  She was provoked at
not having been able to receive her; ’But, my dear, put yourself in my
place; what else could I do?  However, all is well that ends well!  Hah!
the China vases with the dragons were not sold after all!  We shall have
our game of cribbage together as of old.’

Then came Mr. Flamank.  His excursion among the Particular Christians on
behalf of the mission to Ho-ha, under the ministry of the native prince,
Hokee-Pokee-Wankee-Fum, had not been crowned with success.  Ophir was
too fresh in the memories of men.  Some of the Christian auditors had
suffered through it; all knew how Flamank had helped to launch the
concern, and, although he had taken an active part in exposing the
fraud, it was surmised that he had pocketed something by the
transaction.  Some rudely asserted that the Ho-ha mission was but
another Ophir, and that Wankee-Fum was as mythical as Arundell Golitho
of Trevorgan, Esq. Mr. Flamank returned from his round much disappointed
and depressed.  He heard from his wife what had occurred.  Then he went
to Dolbeare to offer his congratulations.  He was surprised and puzzled.
If Mirelle were rich and willing to rescue her kinsfolk from their
difficulties, why had she said nothing of her intention before?  Why had
she allowed him to invite the party to his house and embroil himself
with his wife about them?

Perhaps her remittance had not arrived. Perhaps——  But why form
conjectures? He did not understand her.  Her ways were radically
different from the ways of plain Christians.  Where these went straight,
those went crooked.  There are persons mentally shaped like boomerangs.
They go out of the hand in one direction, make a sweep half round the
horizon, and return to the hand whence they started.

It was possible, as the Countess was rich, that she might interest
herself in Ho-ha, and Flamank thought that, by dwelling on the social
and moral aspects of the case, and not pressing the religious, she might
be induced to help Wankee-Fum liberally.

Mirelle received Mr. Flamank civilly.  She felt that he had acted with
kindness and unselfishness towards her and the Trampleasures, and she
respected his goodness, though she did not like its fashions.

After some desultory conversation, Mr. Flamank broached the subject of
the Ho-ha mission.  Mirelle at once became chilly. When he asked her for
a donation she declined to subscribe.

’You forget, I am a Catholic.’

’Not at all, my dear young friend, not at all.  But this is distinctly a
case of enlightenment, where all around is dark; and although
Hokee-Pokee-Wankee-Fum may have embraced the tenets of the Particular
Christians, still you must remember he is a Christian, and we are all
travelling in the same direction.’

’Sir,’ said Mirelle, ’as I was walking along the Bodmin road, I saw
three children going along the same way and in the same direction as
myself—only they were walking backwards.  One tumbled into a furzebush
on the right, another fell over the bank into a ditch on the left, and
the third went under the hoofs of carthorses in the middle of the road.
It would have been better for all those children not to have travelled
along the road at all, than to have attempted it with perverted views.’
Then she rose, bowed, and left the minister with Orange and her mother.

The next caller was Captain Trecarrel. Orange had been expecting him,
and had given instructions to the servant on no account to admit him.
Accordingly, when he called, neither the Countess nor the Trampleasures
were ’at home,’ and the Captain was forced to depart, leaving three
cards.

Orange took possession of the cards, tore them in half, and put them in
an envelope.

’Dear Mirelle,’ she said, ’I have been writing to Harry, poor fellow.
He has been so troubled about our affairs that he has taken to his bed.
He is seriously unwell.  I have been writing full particulars to him of
all that has taken place, but since my letter was finished I have
sprained my hand, and cannot hold a pen.  Would you mind directing the
letter for me, dear?’

So the address was in Mirelle’s handwriting. The letter was posted, and
reached the Captain on the morrow.

’Now,’ said Orange, ’he will be forced to keep his distance for a while,
till I have time to look round.’

Orange was not satisfied.  Mirelle was certain to go to Trecarrel for
mass, when next the priest came that way, and then an explanation would
follow.  Orange did not understand how it was that Herring had bought in
all the furniture in Mirelle’s name, and had placed a sum in the bank to
her account.  She questioned Mirelle thereon.

’My dear, how comes it that you have so much money? that you are able to
do so much, and to live independently?’

’I do not know.’

’What has become of your diamond necklace and tiara?  Have you sold
them?’

’No, Mr. Herring keeps them for me.  I do not want them now.  I mean—for
wear.’

’Mr. Herring has them!’

’Yes; I asked him to take care of them—that was before I knew they were
paste.’

’But, perhaps they are not paste, but real diamonds, Mirelle.’

’What I gave you formed part of the set, and that was certainly paste.’

’Yes, that is true; but it is possible that the rest may have been
genuine stones, in which case the value must be great.’

’I do not know, Orange.’

’But, my dear, whence comes the money lodged in the bank?  Whence the
money that bought all this furniture?’

’I do not know.  I have not asked.’

’You ought to know.  It is imperative on you to ascertain.  Do you think
that Mr. Herring has sold your diamonds for this purpose?’

’I am certain he has not.  He would not dare to dispose of my mother’s
jewels without consulting me.  I gave them to him to keep for me.  I did
not authorise him to sell them.’

’Have you any means of which we know nothing?—money not given to my
father which you trusted to Mr. Herring along with the diamonds?’

’No, Orange.’

’Has nothing been forwarded to you of his property from Brazil?’

’No, Orange.’

’Then, whence comes this money?  I suppose Mr. Herring has spent a
hundred and fifty pounds on the furniture.  He has lodged a hundred
pounds in the bank, and promises you as much quarterly.’

’Yes, it is so.’

’But, Mirelle, do you not see that, in this case, you are living on Mr.
Herring’s alms! He is not a rich man.  I have heard from my father about
him.  I do not believe he is worth more than six to seven hundred pounds
a year, and he is giving you four out of the six or seven—nay, he has
given you more.’

Mirelle looked before her.  She had not thought of this before.  Brought
up without care of money, everything she had being paid for by her
father, it had not struck her that she was now living on the bounty of
one who was no relative.

’It is very good of Mr. Herring,’ she said.

’My dear Mirelle, this must not go on.’

’Why not?’

’What right have you to accept and spend the money of Mr. Herring?  He
is no relative. You have no claim on him.’

Mirelle was uneasy.  ’Why, then, has he done so much for me?’

’That is what I ask.  Realise what this means.  He is impoverishing
himself to support you?  What will the world say?  What must it say?
That which Mr. Herring is doing for you he has no right to do for any
woman except a _wife_.’

Then Mirelle sprang to her feet trembling; she could not colour over
brow and bosom like Orange, but two rosy tinges came into her cheeks.
Her whole delicate frame quivered, and her eyes became dull.  She placed
her hands over her heart, and looked at Orange speechlessly.

’Yes,’ said the latter, ’you cannot; what is more, you must not receive
all this from a young man without having a shadow of claim upon him.
The only claim you can have to justify the receiving of so much is the
legitimate claim of a wife.’

’Have done!’ gasped Mirelle, holding out her hand entreatingly.

’No, Mirelle, I must be plain with you. In this town it will soon be
known that you are being supported in comfort by a young officer, who is
neither a brother nor even a cousin.  What conclusion will be drawn?’

’Orange,’ said the girl, pleadingly, ’I pray you to be silent.’

’I will not be silent,’ answered Orange. ’One of two things must be
done; must, I say.  Do you hear me, MUST.  Either you give Mr. Herring a
legitimate right to maintain you, or my mother and I leave this place
and do not speak to you again.’

’I do not understand you,’ said Mirelle. ’Why should you cast me off?’

Orange looked at her, and a scornful smile played over her lips.  She
was unable to believe in the purity and guilelessness of the soul before
her.  She thought Mirelle a hypocrite, and as a hypocrite she despised
her.

’Oh! you want further explanation, do you?  Learn then that it is not
the custom in England for a woman of character to live on the generosity
of a gentleman who is neither a husband nor a kinsman.’

’I see that I have no right to expect this of Mr. Herring.  But he is so
good, so generous, and so thoughtful, that he has not considered
himself, in his pity and solicitude for me.  However, it shall not
remain so. I will tell him that I cannot accept his liberality.’

’Or—that you can only accept it when he has given you legitimate claims
on him.’

’I will not accept his liberality.’

’What is to become of us—of you—if he hears this from your lips?
Remember, we have nothing.  We must starve.  You—what will you do?’

’I do not know.’

’Listen to me, Mirelle.  There is only one thing that you can do.  Next
time Mr. Herring comes here, if he tells you that he loves you, and asks
you to be his wife—accept him.’

’I cannot.  Oh, I cannot!’

’You must do it.  It is the only salvation for us and for you.  Then, no
one can say anything to his furnishing you with every penny of his
income.’

Mirelle put her hands over her eyes. Orange watched her contemptuously.
The girl was very still, but the tears oozed between her slender fingers
and dripped on her lap.

’Have you been so blind as not to see that his heart is bound up in you?
He has loved you from the beginning, and, you little fool, you have not
known it.  He has done so much for you because he loves you.  He cares
nothing for us—my mother and me. He is a good and worthy man.  Make him
happy.  Repay him for what he has done for you.  You are not likely to
find another who would make as trustworthy a husband.  Do not sigh after
the man in the moon; he will not come down to you.  Mr. Herring is a
gentleman, an officer in His Majesty’s army; has a private fortune, not
large, but enough to support a wife in comfort; and he is honourable,
truthful—and soft.’

Mirelle made no response.

’Now, suppose that you refuse him, and tell him, as you are bound to do,
that because you refuse him you will no longer burden him for your
support.  What then?  Why, you and we are placed in precisely the same
predicament we were in before.  We shall have a sale here after all;
have to leave this house, and be adrift in the world.  Will you hire
yourself to be cook to Mrs. Trelake, or shall I recommend you as
parlour-maid to Miss Bowdler, for her John Thomas to flirt with in the
pantry?  This is not all.  After everything that Mr. Herring has done
for you, you cannot refuse him without being guilty of black
ingratitude.  Now, what do you say? There seems to me no option as to
what your choice should be.  But some persons do not know on which side
their bread is buttered.  Are you prepared to go into service? Shall I
write you a character to Sophy Bowdler? clean, obliging, and steady;
understands glass and china.  There is really no alternative.  Remember,
also, that my mother and I depend on your election likewise.  Reject Mr.
Herring, and when you go to Miss Bowdler as parlour-maid, my mother
becomes cook, and I, barmaid at an inn.’

Mirelle rose; she did not speak, but left the room with tottering feet,
and her eyes so full that, to find her way, she felt about her with
trembling hands.  When she was gone, Orange laughed.

’Now,’ said she, ’the next thing to be done is to bring that other fool
here.’  Then she wrote a note to Herring, requesting him to come to
Launceston, as her mother and she wished to consult him on important
business. She added in a postscript, ’Mirelle will be most happy to see
you.’



                           *CHAPTER XXXVIII.*

                           *A VIRGIN MARTYR.*


In the privacy of her own room, by night, in the little garden house,
her favourite refuge by day, Mirelle considered what Orange had said to
her.  She was hurt and offended by the manner in which Orange had
spoken, without quite understanding why.  Her refined nature winced
before the rough touch of one coarse as Orange, not only because the
touch was rude, but because it sullied.

Mirelle believed that Orange was her friend, a rude friend, but sincere.
What had she done to convert her into an enemy?  She was not a friend to
whom she could open her heart, and she had no desire to receive the
outpourings of that of Orange.  They were friends so far as this went,
that each wished well to the other, and would do her utmost to promote
each other’s happiness.

Orange was the interpreter of the world’s voice to Mirelle, the guide
through its mazes. That voice was odious to her, nevertheless she must
hear it.  Its ways were distasteful, nevertheless she must tread them.
She knew nothing of the world, except what she had been taught in the
convent.  She believed it to be wicked and ungodly.  The virgin martyrs
had been cast to wild beasts, some had been devoured by leopards, others
hugged by bears.  The world was an arena in which she was exposed, and
Orange the rough but kindly executioner who offered her a choice of
martyrdom.  An angel, a captain of the heavenly militia, with eyes blue
as the skies of paradise, had been sent to stand by, and guard many a
virgin; but she, Mirelle, must endure her agony undefended, and see the
angel stand by one who seemed rude and dauntless enough to fight the
battle unaided.

King Alphonso X. of Castile said that, if he had been consulted at the
creation of the universe, he would have made it much better; the sisters
of the Sacred Heart had intimated as much in their instructions.  In the
first place they would have made a world without men, and that world
would have remained a paradise. Men are the cankers that corrode the
roses, the thorns that strangle the lilies in the garden of the Church,
the moths that fret the garments of the saints, the incarnation of the
destructive principle.

Mirelle remembered how her mother had suffered through union with Mr.
Strange. She thought of Mr. Trampleasure, of Sampson—she really knew
very few men, and those she knew were not of the best type.  There was
the Captain, indeed, but he was unattainable, and Herring was at least
inoffensive and well-meaning.  If she must be thrown to beasts, let her
be cast to such a gentle beast as this.  Hereafter, only, will there be
no marrying nor giving in marriage, and women will be at peace; there,
into that blessed country, the men, if admitted at all, will be like
priests, wear petticoats and be shaven; above all, will be in such a
minority that they will be obliged to keep their distance and adopt a
submissive manner.  Mirelle had a good deal of natural shrewdness, but
no experience of life.  Brought up in a convent, the only world she knew
was the little world within four walls, in which the wildest hurricane
that raged was occasioned by a junior appropriating the chair properly
belonging to a senior, and the fiercest jealousies blazed when a father
director addressed four words to Sister Magdalen of S. Paul, and only
three to Sister Rose of the Cross.  When she had gone out, it was on
visits to her mother, and there she had met very artificial old
gentlemen, and still more artificial old ladies, persons who looked like
pictures in illustrated story-books, and talked like the people she read
of in the same books.  She supposed that her board and education were
paid for at the Sacré Coeur.  She supposed so, she took it for granted.
She considered it probable that those pupils who could afford, paid, and
those who could not afford, were received gratuitously.  The sisters
never mentioned such matters, her mother never alluded to them, and
Mirelle had scarce accorded such sordid cares a passing thought.  Bread
and instruction came to her as food and light to the birds; the birds
take what is sent, and do not trouble their feathery heads about the how
and whence.  Now she was driven to consider how she might live, and
whether it was right for her to subsist on alms, and those the alms of a
gentleman who was no relation, and how, if these means were withdrawn or
rejected, she was to live at all.

After much thought, little sleep, and many tears, she decided that she
would accept John Herring.

She had made up her mind.  Now, she must obtain command of herself to go
through the approaching ordeal with dignity.

As Orange had anticipated, her letter brought Herring to Launceston.  He
had gone to Welltown, his house in Cornwall on the coast, to look after
his business there. He had let the farm, but he had a slate-quarry in
the cliffs overhanging the sea, and he liked to keep an eye on it.  This
slate-quarry had been worked in a desultory manner, chiefly to supply
local requirements, but Herring’s ideas had expanded since he had seen
the rise and fall of Ophir, and since he had embarked in silver lead,
and he saw his way to an extension of the business.  He knew that
Bristol was a port where he could dispose of any amount of slate, if he
were able to convey it thither.  Below Welltown the cliffs rose sheer
from the beach; that beach was a thin strip of sand, only to be reached
by a dangerous path cut in the face of the rock.  Welltown cove was to
some extent sheltered from the roll of the Atlantic by a reef from
Willapark, as a headland was called, which started out of the mainland
into the ocean, and was gnawed into on both sides by the waves,
threatening to convert it into an island.

Herring had a scheme in his head; he thought to construct a breakwater
on a continuation of the reef.  Then he would be able to bring boats
under the face of his slate-quarries, and lower the roofing stone upon
their decks.  The idea had not occurred to him before, because he had
been poor and unable to command a few thousand pounds. But now he had
Mirelle’s diamonds to draw upon.  He could invest her capital in his own
slate-quarry as well as in Upaver lead mine, and benefit himself as well
as Mr. Battishill. He would look after both investments himself. He
would hold both the slate and the lead in his own hands.  Mirelle’s
money would not only be safe, but would bring in rich dividends.  Was he
justified in acting thus—in speculating with the fortune of another
without her knowledge and consent?  He asked himself this question, and
answered it in the affirmative.  Without his seeking, Providence had
thrust on him the charge of Mirelle’s fortune, and he must do the best
he could with it.  Her father had done what he thought best, and every
penny that had been intrusted to her guardians had been lost. Then
Providence had overruled matters so as to constitute him her guardian.
He would act justly by her.  He was not self-seeking.  It was true that
the development of the Welltown slate-quarry would improve his own
fortune, but this thought influenced him far less than consideration how
best to dispose of Mirelle’s money.  He would sink her diamonds in his
slate, not because it was his slate, but because he knew the security
and value of the investment.  He was working for her, not for himself,
to increase her fortune, not his own, to insure her a future, not
himself.  Thus it was for Mirelle that he was erecting machinery at
Upaver and planning a breakwater at Welltown.  In the midst of his
schemes he received the letter of Orange, and the postscript made his
heart leap.  He had been too humble-minded to hope.  Mirelle stood aloof
from him, high above his sphere.  She was to him the ideal of pure,
beautiful, and saintly maidenhood, to be dreamed of, not aspired to, to
be venerated, not sought.  She had of late received him with more
kindliness than heretofore, had put away her early disdain, and had
treated him as an equal.  There had transpired through face and manner
something even of appeal to him.  Was it possible that she had begun to
regard him with liking, perhaps even with love?  He was so modest in his
estimation of himself that he blushed at the thought—the audacious
thought—that this was possible.

Herring posted to Launceston, and went at once to Dolbeare.  Mirelle was
in the little garden house as he passed.  She saw him, and knew that the
crisis in her life was come.  He was admitted to Dolbeare, and sat with
Mrs. Trampleasure and Orange for half an hour. The latter had discovered
some important business requiring advice, and this was discussed; yet
Herring saw plainly enough that this was not of sufficient importance to
have made Orange summon him.  Mr. Flamank could have advised her equally
well.  There was something behind.  What that was Orange let him
understand.

’And now,’ said she, ’we must detain you no longer.  Mirelle is in the
summer-house. She likes to be alone, dear girl, and she wants to see
you.  You slipped away, on the occasion of our return hither, without
awaiting her thanks.  She has been troubled at this; she knows she owes
you some return.  Go and see her; she is expecting you, and angry with
us for keeping you from her so long over our own poor affairs.’

Herring coloured.  Orange had not a delicate way of putting things.  He
knew that Mirelle had not asked Orange to act as intermediary between
them, yet this was what the words and manner of Orange implied.

He bowed and withdrew.

Mirelle was awaiting him, She had been given time to school herself for
the trial. Twilight had set in, and but for the fire that glowed on the
hearth it would have been dark in the little room.  The fire was of
peat, without flame, colouring the whole room very red.

Mirelle rose from her seat and stepped forward to meet Herring.  He
looked her in the face.  She was very pale; the colour had deserted even
her lips, but the light of the burning turf disguised her death-like
whiteness.  As he took her hand he felt how cold it was; it trembled,
and was timorously withdrawn the moment it had touched his fingers. His
heart was beating tumultuously.  Hers seemed scarce to pulsate; it was
iced by her great fear and misery, and the strong compulsion she exerted
to keep herself calm.

’I am glad to see you, Mr. Herring,’ she said.  She spoke first, and she
spoke, as on a former occasion, like one repeating a lesson learned by
heart.  ’I was told that you were coming, and I have prepared myself to
speak to you, and say what has to be said.  You have been good to me,
very good.  You have done more for me than I had any right to expect.  I
have no claim on you, save the claim which appeals to every Christian
heart, the claim of the friendless and helpless.  That is a great claim,
I have been taught, the greatest and most sacred of all.  But the world
does not recognise it; it does not allow you permission to pour on me so
many benefits.  You have bought everything the house contains with your
own money—for me. You have taken the lease of the house, and paid the
rent out of your own purse—for me. You have undertaken to find me an
income on which I can live in comfort; you rob yourself—for me.’

She paused a moment.

A conflict woke up in the mind of John Herring.  Should he tell her all?
Should he say that this was not true—he had used her money, not his own?
If at that moment he had done so, that event which was to trouble and
darken both their futures would not have occurred.  Herring was young;
he was without strength of character to decide in a moment what to do.
He let the occasion slip. He would wait; the revelation could be made
later.  He did not understand the supreme importance of the moment.  He
did not realise to what Mirelle’s words led.

’Countess,’ he said——

’No,’ she interrupted hastily, ’do not speak.  You must let me say what
I want.  Il me faut me décharger le coeur.  If I had been a nun at the
head of an orphanage, I would have said, Give all, and God on high will
repay you.  Give; no one will deny you the right, and I will accept with
joy.  I will be your almoner to the little ones of Christ. But, alas! it
is not so.  I can spend what you provide only on myself, and I do not
find that this is right.  In the world is one fashion, in religion is
another fashion.  You see well yourself it cannot be.’

’Countess, will you allow me to explain?’

’No; I need no explanation.  One only question I ask, for there is one
thing I desire greatly to know.  That neck-chain and that coronet of
diamonds, have you sold them?’

’No, I have them yet.  You intrusted them to me.’

’They are false.  Do you know the brooch you sent me for Orange was all
of false stones—of paste?  I doubt not the rest of the set is the same.
Did you know this?’

’Certainly not.  I have not examined and proved the stones.  I had no
suspicion that they were not genuine.’

’My father sent the set as a present to my mother,’ said Mirelle, ’and
they were of paste.’

Herring was surprised.

’This cannot be, Countess; your father was a diamond merchant, and knew
perfectly the false from the true.  He could not have sent your mother
what was worthless.  The stones must have been changed later.’

’They were in my mother’s keeping,’ said Mirelle.

That was answer enough.  Her father might be guilty of a mean act; her
mother, never.

Herring had his own opinion, but he had the prudence not to express it.

’But enough about this,’ Mirelle went on.  ’I only asked for this
reason.  If you had sold my stones, supposing them to be real, and had
used them to relieve me and the Trampleasures in the moment of our need,
when we had not a house to cover our heads, I should have been very,
very thankful.’

She said this with an involuntary sigh, and with such an intense
expression of earnestness that Herring caught the words up, and said
eagerly:—

’Do you mean this?  Do you mean that you would have thanked me if I had
sold your diamonds and used the proceeds to relieve your necessities?’

’Yes, I do mean this.’

’Why did you not ask me to do this?’

’Because I supposed the stones were paste, and worthless.’

’Tell me, dear Countess Mirelle, if you had confided diamonds to me,
knowing them to be diamonds, you would not be angry with me for selling
them for this very purpose—to provide you with the means of living
yourself, and of returning the kindness shown you by Mrs. Trampleasure
and her daughter?’

’I would go down on my knees to thank you.  I would be full of gratitude
to you.’

He breathed freely; he had received his absolution.  He had been
justified in acting as he had done; Mirelle had approved of his conduct
with her own lips.  He had carried out her wishes.  It was unnecessary
for him to tell her all, now that he was certain that he acted as she
would have him act.

But he did not read her heart.  He did not understand the real
significance of her words.  She would indeed have been thankful to know
that she had received her own money, so as to be free from all
obligations to him—so as not to be forced to take the step the thought
of which killed the life out of her heart.  That hope was gone—a poor
hope, but still a hope.  Nothing remained for her but the surrender; she
must become a sacrifice.

’It was not so,’ she went on sadly, ’I knew it was not so, for you would
not have parted with my mother’s set of stones without consulting me.
No, Mr. Herring, I have not the poor pride of knowing I am my own
mistress, and independent of every one.  You have been to me a generous
friend and a guardian when I needed assistance and protection.’

’Dear Countess Mirelle, I am ready still to act as your friend, your
guardian, and your protector.’

’I know it, Mr. Herring, and I frankly accept your offer.  I am willing
that you should continue such for the rest of my life.’

’Countess!’  Herring’s voice shook; ’how happy, how proud you make me!’

’Let me speak,’ she said.  Then her heart failed her.  She went to the
fire, and rested her hands on the mantelpiece, folded as in prayer, and
leaned her brow for a moment on them.  The red glow of the fire smote
upwards and illumined and warmed the face. She was praying.  Her
strength was ebbing away; the dreaded moment had come.  ’I holy and
innocent Agnes, pure lamb!  Thou who didst bow thy neck to the sword,
intercede for me!  O Cicely, thou whose heart was filled with heavenly
music, making thee deaf to the voice of an earthly bridegroom, pray for
me!  O Dorothy, thou who didst pine for the lilies and roses of
Paradise, plead for me!’

She raised her white brow from its momentary resting-place.  The
strength had come.  The moment of agony had arrived, and she was nerved
to pass through.

’Mr. Herring,’ she spoke slowly, leisurely, ’I have no right to accept
your offer, unless you confer on me the right—the only right——’

She could speak no more.  Her white, quivering face, her sunken eyes,
and uplifted hands that shook as with a palsy, showed her powerlessness
to proceed.

Herring took a step forward.  She drew back, shrinking before him as
perhaps the martyr shrinks before the executioner.

’Stand there, I pray—oh, do not come nearer!’ she pleaded, with pain in
her voice.

’Mirelle, dear Mirelle!’ he said; and then the pent-up love of his heart
broke forth. He told her how he had loved her from the moment that he
first saw her, how, hopeless of ever winning her, he had battled with
his love, how vain his efforts had been, and how his highest ambition
was to live for her and make her happy.  He spoke in plain, simple
words, with the rough eloquence of passion and sincerity.

She listened to him, with her hands again on the mantelpiece, looking at
him, with her dark eyes wide open, and the red glow of the fire in them.
She did not follow his words, she heard them without comprehending them.
She was full of her own grief and could think of nothing else.

She woke out of abstraction when he asked her, ’Mirelle, may I think
myself so happy as to be able to count on your being mine?’

’I will be your wife,’ she said.

’Oh, dear, dear Mirelle!  My whole life shall be devoted to you.  This
is the happiest day I have ever known.’

’One thing I must say,’ said she; ’you know I am a Catholic.  I will
never give up my faith.  You will assure me perfect freedom to follow my
own dear religion.  I could live without everything, but not without
that.’

He gave her the requisite assurance.

’You and I,’ she said sadly, ’have not the same faith—that is, as far as
I can see, you disbelieve in more than half of the verities which are
the very life of my soul.  We cannot be united in the holiest and most
beautiful of all bonds, which has eternity before it, to which both
press on together.  That cannot be.  You go one way, I another.  But as
far as can be, I will be all that you will require.’

’You are everything I desire now.  I have but to look at you, and I
think I see a saint or angel from heaven.’

She put up her hand, and brushed his words away.  They offended her.
But they were sincere; there was no flattery in them. Mirelle was an
ideal to Herring.  Again he stepped forward.  He would take her hands,
he would kiss colour and heat into those cold and faded lips.  He had a
right to do this. Was she not about to become his wife?

But again she drew back, and in a tone of mingled terror and entreaty
said, ’Oh, Mr. Herring.  I pray you do not come nearer to me.  I am so
frightened and bewildered. The thoughts that rise up beat my temples and
contract my heart.  I have gone through a great deal to-day, I have said
that I will be your wife.  Do not exact of me more than I can bear.  Do
not press the advantage you have gained over me, I entreat you.  You are
kind and considerate.  I am not very strong, and I think not very well.
Leave me to myself, I pray you; go away now.  If I have made you happy,
I am glad of it; let my promise suffice.  Come here to-morrow, if you
will.  No, no’—again with her fear overmastering her, she grasped at a
respite—’not to-morrow.  I shall not be sufficiently myself to receive
you.  The day after will do.  Then I shall have more strength to speak
to you about the future.  Not now.  I pray you leave me alone now.’

’Will you not even give me your hand?’

She hesitated, then timidly drew near, with her large eyes on him full
of anxiety, and she held out the long shaking white fingers.  He kissed
them.  They were cold as the fingers of the dead.

’I shall return the day after to-morrow,’ he said.

’I shall be ready then to receive you,’ she replied.

He went out.  Then, when she knew that she was alone, at once all her
strength gave way, and she fell on her knees, clasping her hands
together, swaying her body in the agony of her pain, and broke into a
storm of tears.

Mirelle did not keep her word to Herring. She was unable to do so.  That
night she was attacked by a nervous fever, and became delirious.  The
strain had been too great for her delicate system.

Herring called, and heard how ill she was. He did not leave Launceston;
he remained till the crisis was past.

The doctors were uncertain what turn her illness would take, and how to
treat one constituted so differently from their run of patients.  In
this uncertainty they did nothing, and, because they did nothing,
Mirelle recovered.

There was a natural elasticity in her youth which triumphed over the
disease.

Orange sat up with her, night after night. She would allow no one else
to share the burden with her till Mirelle’s delirium was over.

During the height of the fever, Mirelle talked.  Orange stayed with her,
not out of love for her cousin, but out of fear lest others should
discover, from the rambling talk of Mirelle, the secret which she alone
possessed. The name of Trecarrel was often on the lips of Mirelle; she
prayed, and broke off in the midst of a prayer to speak of Trecarrel.
At the same time she seemed oppressed by a great terror, and she cried
out to be saved from what was coming.  Not once did the name of John
Herring pass her lips.

When, at length, Mirelle was well enough to be moved downstairs, then
Herring was admitted to see her.  He had repeatedly sat before, by the
hour, with Mrs. Trampleasure or with Orange, talking of the poor girl
lying ill upstairs.

’She has been delirious,’ said Orange, ’and, if it were not unfair, I
could tell you how often your name——’

’It is unfair,’ interrupted Herring, ’and I decline to listen.’

’As you like,’ said Orange, shrugging her shoulders; and, as she left
the room, she sneered.

When John Herring saw Mirelle at last, he could hardly command his
tears, she looked so thin and transparent; her eyes were very large and
bright, her face like ivory.  She held out her hand to him.  He scarce
ventured to touch it.  She seemed to him like the ghost-moth which, when
grasped by the hand, vanishes, leaving only silvery plumes sprinkled
over the fingers.

He kissed the wasted hand with reverence and love, not with passion, and
Mirelle smiled.

’Mr. Herring,’ she said, ’I have had a long time to myself, whilst I
have been ill, in which to prepare my thoughts.  What must be—must be,
and may be soon.  It is now Advent, a season in which it is forbidden by
the Church to marry; but I will be yours as soon after Christmas as you
like.  Do not doubt.  When I am your wife I will do my duty.’



                            *CHAPTER XXXIX.*

                              *WELLTOWN.*


John Herring returned to Welltown.  There was much to occupy him there.
He must prepare the house to receive its mistress.  He must get what he
could ready for the extension of the slate-quarry.  The breakwater could
not be begun in winter, but the stone could be quarried for it among the
granite of Row-tor, and the head taken off where the slate was to be
worked.

Welltown was a bleak spot.  It stood against a hill, only a little way
in from the head of the cliffs.  The hill had been quarried for the
stone of which the house was built, and then the end of the house had
been thrust into the hole thus scooped.  The hill rose rapidly, and its
drip fell over the eaves of the old quarry about the walls of the house.
If the hill had been to seaward it would have afforded some shelter, but
it was on the inland side, and the house was therefore exposed to the
raging blasts, salt with Atlantic spray, that roared over the bare
surface of the land.  Not a tree could stand against it, not a shrub,
except privet and the so-called teaplant.  Larches shot up a few feet
and lost their leaders; even the ash died away at the head, and bore
leaves only near the ground.  A few beech-trees were like broken-backed
beggars bent double.

Day and night the roar of the ocean filled the air, the roar of an ocean
that rolled in unbroken swell from Labrador, and dashed itself against
the ironbound coast in surprise and fury at being arrested; beneath its
stormy blows the very mainland quivered.

Welltown was an old house, built at the end of the sixteenth century by
a certain Baldwin Tink, who cut his initials on the dripstone
terminations of the main entrance. The Tinks had owned the place for
several generations, yeomen aspiring to become gentlemen, without arms,
but hoping to acquire a grant.  Baldwin had built one wing and a porch,
and proposed in time to erect another wing, but his ability to build was
exhausted, and none of his successors were able to complete the house;
so it remained a queer lopsided erection, the earnest of a handsome
mansion unfulfilled.  Baldwin Tink was an ambitious man; he expected to
be able to form a quadrangle, and pierced his porch with gateways
opposite each other, so that the visitor might pass through into the
courtyard, and there dismount in shelter.  But as he was unable to add a
second wing to the front, so was he also unable to complete his
quadrangle; and the porch served as a gathering place for the winds,
whence they rushed upstairs and through chambers, piping at keyholes,
whizzing under doors, extinguishing candles, fluttering arras.  The
windows were mullioned and cut in granite, the mullions heavy and the
lights narrow.  The porch was handsomely proportioned and deeply
moulded, but as want of funds had prevented Baldwin Tink from completing
his exterior, so had it prevented him from properly furnishing the house
inside.  The staircase was mean, provisional, rudely erected out of
wreck timber, and the impanelled walls were plastered white. As the rain
drove against the house, fierce, pointed as lances, it smote between the
joints of the stones, and, though the walls were thick, penetrated to
the interior and blotched the white inward face with green and black
stains.  There was no keeping it out.  When the house was built, nothing
was known of brick linings, and the only way in which the builders of
those days treated defects was to conceal them behind oak panelling.
Poverty forbade this at Welltown, and so the walls remained with their
infirmities undisguised. Our readers may have seen a grey ass on a moor
in a storm of hail.  The poor brute is unable to face the gale, and
therefore presents his hinder quarters to it, and if there be a rock or
a tree near, the ass sets his nose against it, and stands motionless
with drooping ears, patiently allowing his rear to bear the brunt.
Welltown presented much this appearance—a dead wall was towards the sea,
and the head of the house was against the hill.  The furiousness of the
gales from the south and west prevented Baldwin Tink facing his house so
as to catch the sun in his windows, and the only casement in the entire
house through which a golden streak fell was that of the back kitchen.

What the house would have been when completed can only be conjectured;
as it was, it was picturesque, but dreary to the last degree.

The Tinks had long since passed away from Welltown.  The final
representative of the family, unable to complete the house, sold the
estate.  With the proceeds he started a drapery shop at Camelford, and
died a rich man.  Political economists lament the extinction of the old
race of English yeomen, and advocate the creation of a race of peasant
proprietors.  A natural law has fought against the yeoman, and will
forbid the spread of peasant proprietorships.  The capital that is sunk
in land produces two and a half per cent., that sunk in trade brings in
ten, twenty, twenty-five per cent.  The young yeoman had rather sell his
paternal acres to the squire and invest the purchase-money in business,
than struggle on upon the farm all his life, without the prospect of
becoming, in the end, more wealthy than when he started.

Welltown passed through one or two hands, and then came to the Herrings,
who occupied it for three generations, and, having married women with a
little money, had got on some little way, not far, in the social scale.
The slate-quarry had brought in money, not much, for the demand was
limited. The neighbourhood was thinly populated, and little building was
done.  But the equinoctial gales came to the assistance of the Herrings,
for after every gale carts came for slates to repair the devastation
done to roofs by the wind.  The sale of slates enabled the Herrings to
enlarge their dairy by the purchase of additional cows.  They salted
their butter, and sent it in firkins to Bristol by the little boats that
plied up the Channel from the port of Boscastle.

John Herring had let the farm, on his father’s death, to an old hind,
Hender[1] Benoke, who had married John’s nurse, Genefer; and this couple
lived in the house, and when he was there attended to him.


[1] Hender is the modern Cornish form of Enoder.  There was a Cornish
saint of the name.  Genefer is Gwenever.


Now that Herring was interested in the slate-quarry, he built himself an
office near it, on the cliff above a deep gulf called Blackapit, gnawed
by the waves in the headland of Willapark.  In this office were a
fireplace and a bed.

Welltown had to be done up to receive the bride, and whilst it was in
the hands of plasterers, carpenters, and painters, Herring lived in his
office by the slate-quarry.  He was comfortable and independent there.
Genefer came there every day to attend to his wants; but he dined at
Welltown in the evening, after the quarrymen had left work.

One morning, after Genefer had made his breakfast, she stood beside the
table, with her hands folded, watching him.

Genefer Benoke was a handsome woman still, though over fifty.  She had
very thick brown hair, high cheekbones, a dark complexion, and large,
wild, pale grey eyes.  She was a tall, well-built woman, abrupt in
manner and capricious in temper.  Hender, her husband, was a gloomy,
sour man, always nursing a grievance and grumbling against some one; a
man who considered himself wronged by every one with whom he dealt; by
his master, who treated him liberally; by his wife, whom, however, he
feared; by his workmen, because they were idle.  He was dragged by his
wife to chapel, and he grumbled because he was obliged to pay for his
pew, and he was angry with the minister because he was making a good
thing out of the credulity of his congregation.  He was jealous of the
storekeepers at Boscastle, because they were making unfair profit on
their goods.  He was sulky with his pigs because they ran to bone rather
than to fat, and with his poultry because they laid their eggs where
they were not readily found.  He growled at his Bible because the
printing was too small for his eyes, and was bitter against his clothes
because they wore out.

Genefer was a strange woman.  The Keltic blood in her veins was pure.  A
wild, dreamy woman, who had acted as white witch till she thought the
profession sinful and had given it up, to throw herself with all the
vehemence of her nature into one of those fantastic forms of dissent
that thrive so vigorously on Keltic soil.  She prophesied, she saw
visions, and dreamed.  None hunted the devil with more vehemence and
pertinacity than Genefer Benoke—the devil-hunting with her was no
pretence; she saw him, she smelt him, and she pursued him, now with a
broom, then with her bare hands.[1]  She went into fits, she had the
’jerks,’ she foamed at the mouth, she rolled on the floor and shrieked,
and exhibited all the outward signs of a regenerate and converted
person.


[1] Devil-hunting is a favourite feature among some of the wilder sects
in Cornwall. Very extraordinary scenes may be witnessed at one of these
chases.


There was no hypocrisy in her.  If there had been the least tinge of
unreality, her husband would have fastened on it, and her power over him
would have been at an end. But her trances and fits and visions were
real, and he regarded her as a person of superior spiritual powers,
almost inspired, gifted with supernatural clearness of vision.

’Master John,’ said Genefer, ’you’ve a-told me sure enough why there be
all that havage (disturbance) in the old house, fit to worry a saint of
God out of life, what with the smeech (smell) of paint, and the
hammerings, and the sawings, and the plasterings. You’ve a-told me,
right enough, that there be a new mistress coming, and I be not that
footy to go against it.  The Lord said, "It is not good for man to be
alone," and that settles the matter; but I want to know what she be
like.’

’Oh, dear Jenny, she is everything that she ought to be.  You may take
my word for that.’

’Ah! all fowl be good fowl till you come to pluck ’em.  There be maidens
and maidens, and you must not take ’em by what they purfess, but by what
they be.  When the Lord were by the Sea of Tiberias, He seed a poor man
coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, and He axed, What be thy
name? Then he answered, Legion, which means six thousand.  But the Lord
knowed better than that, and He sed, sed He; "Come out of him thou one
unclean spirit, and go into the swine."  Ah! if you listen to what they
sez of themselves, they be Legion—six thousand. Loramussy! with their
airs and their graces, and their good looks, and their fortune, and
their learning, and their pianny-playing, and their flower-painting, and
this and that—they’d make you believe they was possessed with a legion
of graces, but when you come to get hold and look close, there be naught
there but one mean and selfish spirit, bad enough to make a pig mazed.’

’My dear Jenny, I hope and trust your future mistress will please you,
but you don’t expect that I should put the choosing into your hands.’

’I don’t that ’xactly, Master John.  No, I don’t go so far as that.  But
you might have done worse.  There be none but a woman as can see into a
woman.  It be just the same as with the Freemasons.  They knows one
another wherever they be, and in the midst of a crowd; but you as bain’t
in the secret have no idea how.  It be just the same with women.  Us
knows one another fast enough, and what is hid from you men be clear to
we.  There were a battle against Ephraim, and the men of Gilead took the
passages of Jordan, and when the Ephraimites were a-flying, then said
the Gileadites to ’em, "Say Shibboleth!" and they said Sibboleth, for
they could not frame to pronounce it right. So they took them and slew
them there.  I tell you, Master John, there don’t at no time meet two
women wi’out one putting the Shibboleth to the other and finding out
whether her belongs to Ephraim or Gilead.  I’d like to know of the
missis as be coming what her be like, but I know very well it be no good
my axing of you.  You’ve not took her down to the passages of Jordan and
tried her there.’

’Ask me what I can tell you, and I will satisfy you to the best of my
power.’

’Master John, it be a false beginning papering the porch room with white
and gold. The bare whitewash were good enough for your mother and your
grandmother, and it would be good enough for your wife, I reckon, if her
were of the proper sort.  And if her be not, let her take herself off
from Welltown. Will you tell me this, Master John; be she a Cornish
woman?’

’No, Jenny, I do not think she is.’

’Be she strong and hearty, wi’ brave red rosy cheeks and a pair of
strong arms?’

’She is slender and pale, Jenny.’

’A fine wife that for Welltown!  Pale and weak: that be as I dreamed.
But it were no dream—it were a revelation.  What sort be her as to her
religion?  Be her a Churchwoman, or one of God’s elect?’

’That is an unfair way of putting it,’ laughed Herring.

’I put it the way it be written in the Book of Light,’ answered Genefer,
doggedly.

’She is a Roman Catholic,’ said Herring. ’I hope now you are satisfied.’

’See there!’ exclaimed Genefer.  ’What sez the Scriptur?—"Thou shalt not
plough with the ox and the ass together."  What do that mean but that
two of a sort should run together under the same yoke of matrimony? If
you be Church, take a Church wife; if you be a Cornishman, don’t fetch
an ass out of Devon to plough the lands of Welltown wi’ you.  What sez
the prophet?—"Can two walk together except they be agreed?"  Here be you
two arn’t agreed about what be chiefest of all, and how will you walk
together along the way of life?’

’My dear Jenny, you have had the management so long that you presume.  I
am not any longer a boy to be ordered about, and I must insist on no
more of this sort of interference with my affairs.  You acted as a
mother to me when I was deprived as an infant of my own natural mother,
and I shall ever love you dearly for all you have done for me.  But,
Jenny, there are limits to forbearance, and you transgress.’

’Ah, sure!’ exclaimed Genefer Benoke, ’it were I as made you what you ’m
be.  I didn’t spoil you as some would have done. You ’m a good and
proper squire, because I trained the sapling.  "Spare the rod, spoil the
child," said the wise king, Master John, when the old miners were
seeking a lode they took a hazel-rod in their hands, and they went over
the ground a holding of thicky.  And when they passed above a lode the
rod turned in their hands.  It were all the same wi’ hidden treasure.
I’ve a heard of a Trevalga man, as he went over the mounds of Bosinney
wi’ such a divining-rod, and it turned, and he dug and found King
Arthur’s golden crown and table.  It be all the same with mortal earth.
If you want to bring to light the pure ore, the hidden treasure, you
must go over it wi’ a stick.  There be good metal in you, Master John,
and you may thank your old nurse that her didn’t spare the rod.  Her
explored you pretty freely with the divining-wand.’

’I am thankful, Genefer,’ said Herring, laughing; ’I recall many of
these same explorations, and they have left on me an ineffaceable
respect for you, and some fear is mingled with the love I bear you.’

’It is right it should be so.  What ’ud you have been without me?  Your
mother died when you was a baby.  Your father couldn’t be a nursing of
you by night and day.  It were I as did all that.  I’d had a chance
child,’—in a self-exculpatory tone, ’the lambs o’ the Lord must play;’
then louder: ’and I’d a lost it.  I did everything for you, I were a
proper mother to you, and so it be that I love you as my own child; and
as the Lord has not seen fit to give me none of my own body, saving that
chance child as died—and I reckon the stock of Hender be too crabbed and
sour to be worth perpetuating—what have I to live for, and care for, and
provide for, but you?  And see this, Master John.  King David said as
the Lord rained snares out of heaven: snares be ropes with nooses at the
end; and King David sez the Lord hangs these out of every cloud, whereby
them as walks unawares may hang themselves. What be them hangman’s ropes
dangling about, thick as rain-streaks, but all those things God has
made, and with which he surrounds us, by which we may lift ourselves
above the earth if we be prudent; but if we be fools, then we shall
strangle ourselves therein.  I reckon the new mistress be one of the
Lord’s snares hanging down out of heaven.  If you use a wife properly,
and lay hold of her, and pull yourself up by her, then you will mount to
heaven; but if you let her get round your throat, her’ll sure to
throttle you.  That be what makes me badwaddled’ (troubled) ’about you,
now I see you wi’ such a rope before you.  Keep your feet and hands a
working up her, and don’t you never let her knot herself round you.’

Such was the house and such were the persons destined to receive
Mirelle.  John Herring loved Welltown; he had been born there and bred
there.  Every stone was dear to him.  The dreary scenery was full of
romance and beauty because associated with early memories.  Old Genefer
he loved; she had been his nurse, his guide, his friend.  She was
masterful, and exercised the authority of a mistress; but this had grown
with years, and was at first endured, at last disregarded. It had become
a part of Welltown, and was sacred accordingly.  Herring was too full of
content with his own home, of admiration for the barren coast scenery,
to suppose that the same would not equally delight Mirelle.  He would
explain to Mirelle the good points in Genefer’s character, the greatness
of the debt due to her, and for the sake of these she would overlook her
faults.

Alas! the place and the persons that were to receive Mirelle were the
most uncongenial to her nature that could have been selected.

But to return to the office on Willapark, and Genefer standing at the
table before her foster child.

’I told you,’ said the old woman, ’that I had dreamed; but it weren’t a
dream, but a vision, falling into a trance, but having my eyes open.  I
thought, Master John, that it were a wisht’ (wild) ’night, and the wind
were a tearing and a ramping over the hills and driving of the snow
before it in clouds.  And I saw how that, in the whirl of the wind, the
snow heaped herself up like the pillar of salt between Zoar and Sodom.
And I saw how you, Master John, thought it were wonderful and beautiful,
that you stood before it mazed. And when the night were gone, and the
sun came out, and it glittered like a pillar of diamonds, then you cast
your arms round it, to hold it to your heart; and you looked up to it
for all the world as though expecting something as never came and never
could come.  And you laid your heart against that pillar of snow, and
when I would have drayed you away you sed, "See, Jenny, how fair and
pure she be!"  But I could not take you away; and still you looked up
into the snow, asking wi’ your eyes for something that never came, and
in nature never could come.  But wi’ the warmth of your heart it all
began to melt away; and still you looked; and it ran between your
fingers, and dripped in streams from your heart, and trickled down your
face like tears; and so it thawed slowly away, and still you held to the
snow, and looked, and nothing came.  That be the way the heat went out
of your heart, and the colour died from your cheek, and your lips grew
dead, and your hands stiff, and the tears on your cheeks were frosted to
icicles, and your hair waxed white as wool; and when all had melted
clean away still you was the same, wi’ your arms stretched out and your
eyes uplifted—not now to the snow bride, for that were gone, but to a
star that twinkled aloft over where she had been, and I touched you, for
I were troubled, but could not move you—you were hard ice.’



                             *CHAPTER XL.*

                             *NOEL!  NOEL!*


Christmas had come, not a day of frost or snow, but of warm south
breezes charged with rain; no sun shining, but grey light struggling
through piles of vapour.  Mirelle was so much better that she was able
to go in a coach to Trecarrel to mass.  A priest was staying there for a
few days.

The mass was early, and she left before dawn, but the day broke while
she was at Trecarrel, and there was as much light in the sky, when she
prepared to leave, as there would be throughout the day.

Captain Trecarrel came to her, to insist on her coming into the house
and having some breakfast.  It would not do for her, in her delicate
condition, recovering from illness, to remain so long without food.  She
declined, gently, and the utmost he could bring her to accept was a cup
of coffee and some bread, brought to the carriage in which she had
seated herself, wrapped in shawls, for her return journey.

Captain Trecarrel, standing at the coach-door, thought her lovelier than
he had ever seen her.  There was none of the proud self-reliance in her
face now that had marked her when she first came to Launceston.  She was
thin, tremulous, and frail as a white harebell; with a frightened,
entreating look in her large dark eyes, a look that seemed to confess
weakness, and entreat that she might be left to herself.

Captain Trecarrel knew nothing about her engagement to John Herring.  If
it had been known in Launceston, it would have come to his ears, for the
Captain was a great gossip. The secret had been well kept; it was not
only not known, it was unsuspected.  Orange had not spoken of it, and
her mother had been restrained from cackling by sharing in the general
ignorance.

’In case I do not see you before the new year, I must wish you a happy
one,’ said Mirelle, holding out her hand.  ’Now, please tell the
coachman to drive on.’

’The year can hardly be nappy for me,’ said the Captain, and sighed.
’Dear Countess Mirelle, suffer me to take a place beside you. I want to
go into Launceston on business, and I shall be grateful for a lift.’

’Business to-day!  Do not these English keep the feast?  I have heard
Orange and her mother anticipate Christmas, but almost wholly because of
the plum-pudding.’

’The bells are ringing,’ answered Trecarrel. And on the warm air came a
merry peal of village bells.  Captain Trecarrel saw the supplicating
look in her eyes, a look entreating him not to take advantage of her
weakness; but he was too selfish to regard it, he accepted her silence
as consent, jumped into the chaise, and told the coachman to drive on.

There was no sign in the manner of either that a thought was given to
the return of the visiting cards.  That was Christmas day, a day of joy
and reconciliation, of peace on earth, and general goodwill.  Why rip up
a sore? Let the past be forgotten, at least for a day. Captain Trecarrel
was puzzled about those cards.  Were they Mirelle’s answer to the letter
he had written to her?  His offer of protection under the wing of his
aunt at Penzance had been unnecessary, because Mirelle was not
penniless.  She had means at her disposal of which he knew nothing.
Probably her father’s money in Brazil had been forwarded to her, and
reached her, fortunately, after the death of her trustee.

Trecarrel was not a man to love deeply any one but himself.  His
feelings for Orange had never been strong; if he cared for any one
beside himself, it was for Mirelle.  Had he offended her by his letter?
Was it really she who had sent the cards back to him?  He was determined
to find out.

’You directed a letter to me some weeks ago,’ he said.

’Yes; Orange had sprained her wrist, and she asked me to address the
letter for her.’

’I was disappointed on opening it.  I knew your handwriting at once; it
was so unlike that of an Englishwoman, so French in its neatness.  An
Englishwoman scrawls, a Frenchwoman writes.’

’I have noticed that.’

’I was disappointed on opening the cover. I thought it might contain
your reply to my letter.’

’What letter?’

’That which I wrote to you when you were at Mr. Flamank’s house.’

’I did not receive it.’

’The loss is not great.  It was sent to inform you that I was confined
to my bed, and that I was too gravely indisposed to follow the dictates
of my heart and fly to your succour.’

’Orange, I am sure, felt your absence greatly.’

’You, also, would have been thankful for my assistance, surely.’

’Yes; but I had no right to expect it. Orange had a right to exact it.’

Trecarrel bit his lip.

’You seem, dear Countess, to have been very ill.  You look terribly
fragile and white.’

’I have been unwell——’

’More than unwell—ill; dangerously ill?’

’Yes; my head was bad.  I did not know anything or any person for
several days.’

’I fear these wretched troubles have been the cause.  O that I could
have been near to give advice and protection; but important
business—military, of course—called me to Exeter, and when I returned to
Trecarrel, I was prostrated by a nervous attack for a week. I fear you
have been embarrassed for money, but now, I understand, matters are
settled agreeably.’

’We are not troubled about money matters any more, nor likely to be so.’

’I trust not.’

’Because, if you were, I would say, command me.  I am not a rich man,
but still, bless my soul, I can help a friend at a pinch, and am proud
to do so.’

’There is no occasion, Captain Trecarrel. All fear of pecuniary
embarrassment is at an end.’

’I hear everything at Dolbeare was bought by you.’

’All was bought in my name.’

’And the Trampleasures, _mère et fille_, are your guests.  How long will
this continue?’

’I do not know.’

’It is not pleasant to be sponged on, especially——’

’I beg your pardon.  I feel it a duty and a pleasure to do everything I
can for them. They have been kind to me.’

’Then you saddle yourself with them indefinitely. I hope the load will
not crush you.’

Mirelle made no reply.  She did not like the contemptuous tone in which
he spoke of the Trampleasures, and Orange was to be his wife.  She
looked out of the coach window on her side.

’Old Tramplara’s death was, of course, a great shock to me,’ continued
Trecarrel; ’so sudden, too, arresting me on the threshold of my
marriage.  It was a trial to my nervous system; but I am frank to
confess, it was to some extent a relief.’

Mirelle looked round with surprise.

’I may as well tell you the whole truth,’ said the Captain.  ’You are in
the midst of cross purposes, and do not understand the game.  It is only
fair that I should give you your orientation.  I always admired Orange;
she is a handsome, genial girl, somewhat brusque and wanting in polish,
but good-hearted.  I called a good deal at Dolbeare, not only to see
her, but to keep Mr. Trampleasure in good humour.  I am a man of very
small income and with good position in the county, which I am expected
to live up to. I have been pinched for money, and I wanted Mr.
Trampleasure to advance me a loan.  So I got on intimate terms with the
family, and, somehow, he made my prospects contingent on my taking
Orange as wife.  Then the sum I wanted would be given as her dower.  You
understand.  Well, being a light-hearted, giddy young fellow, I fell
into the arrangement, and all went smoothly enough till you came.’

Mirelle gasped for breath.  She put her hand to the window.

’You want air,’ said the Captain.  ’I will let down the glasses.’

Mirelle thanked him with a bend of the head; she could not speak.  A
great terror had come over her.

’When you came,’ continued Trecarrel, ’then I woke to the fact that I
had never loved Orange.  I had admired her beauty as I might admire a
well-built horse or spaniel, but my heart had not been touched.’

’Oh, Mr. Trecarrel!’ exclaimed Mirelle, putting her white fingers
together, ’let me out of the carriage.  I must walk; I shall faint; I
feel very ill.’

’Dear Mirelle—you will let me call you Mirelle?—you must not walk; you
are not strong enough.’

’I pray you!  I pray you!’

Then he stopped the coach, opened the door, and had the steps lowered.

’The lady is faint.  Go slowly, coachman. She wishes to walk a little
way.’

Then he helped Mirelle to alight, and pressed her fingers as he did so,
and looked at her tenderly out of his beautiful blue eyes.

’No,’ she said, as he offered her his arm, ’I must walk alone.  The road
is rough.  I shall be better presently.  The carriage jolts.’

’You cannot walk,’ answered the Captain; ’I see that you have not the
strength.  I insist on your taking my arm, or stepping back into the
carriage.  I am very thankful that I came with you.  You are not in a
fit state to be alone.’

She turned and looked at him.  ’Oh, Mr. Trecarrel, I should have been
far better alone.’

’Why so, Mirelle?’

’I cannot say.  I need not have talked.’

’Do not talk now; listen, whilst I speak to you.’

’Speak then of something else—not of Orange.’

’I do not wish to speak of Orange.  I will speak only of yourself.’

She held up her hands again, in that same entreating manner.  ’I am too
weak,’ she whispered.

Her ankle turned as she stepped on the loose stones.  A mist drifted
across her eyes, so that she could not see the road.  The air was rich
with the music of church bells, the merry Christmas peal of Launceston
tower and the village churches round, calling and crying, Noel!  Noel!
Noel!  Glad tidings of great joy!  Roast beef and plum pudding and
mince-pies!  Good Christian men rejoice! Pudding sprigged with holly,
and over the pudding brandy sauce, blazing blue!  Noel! Roast beef
garnished with horse-radish! Noel!  Mince-pies piping hot.  Turn again,
Whittington, to your Christmas dinner. Noel!  Noel!  Noel!

Mirelle did not hear the bells.

’No, I cannot walk,’ she said.

Then Captain Trecarrel helped her back into the coach.

’I shall be better alone,’ she said.

’You must not be left alone,’ he replied. ’I cannot in conscience allow
you to go on without me to look after you.  As you are so weak after
your illness, it was madness to come out this Christmas morning.’

She sighed and submitted.  He stepped in beside her and closed the door.

’Mirelle,’ he said, ’I will not be interrupted in what I was saying,
because I have determined to throw my mind and heart open to you.  I
dare say you have wondered how my engagement to Orange hung fire.  I was
bound to her, but my heart was elsewhere. You cannot understand the
distressing situation in which I found myself, bound in honour to hold
to an engagement which I detested, when all my hopes of happiness lay in
another direction.  You do not know what it is to be tied to one person
and to love another.  It is now many months since I first saw you, and
the more I have seen of you the deeper, the more intense has been my
love for you, and my repugnance towards a marriage with Orange.  You and
I are one in sympathies, in rank, and in faith.  We understand each
other; we are, as it were, made to constitute each other’s happiness.’

Mirelle put her hand on the Captain’s arm, and tried to speak—to avert
what he was saying; but the words died on her tongue. She trembled
helplessly.  Then she clasped her hands, and wrung them on her lap,
despairingly.  Speak she could not; but if Trecarrel had looked into her
face, he would have seen the agony of her soul, and how she implored
him, with her terrified eyes and her quivering lips, to forbear.  He did
not look. If he had, and read that appeal, it would not have stayed him.

’I did not venture to declare to you—no, not even to allow you to
suspect—what was passing within me.  I am a gentleman of high and
honourable feelings.  I knew that I had allowed myself, through
inadvertence, to become entangled in an engagement to a person whom I
could regard, but could not love.  All at once I became aware that my
heart was elsewhere.  I proceeded, however, as an honourable man, to
fulfil that which I had undertaken.  What my misery was, you can ill
conceive.  I saw the fatal day approach with feelings of disgust and
despair.  That day would bind me for life to an uncongenial companion,
and separate me for ever from her whom I felt, whom I knew, to be
essential to my happiness.  Is it a marvel that, when circumstances
occurred which arrested the marriage, I felt relief?  Is it to be
wondered at that now I feel a doubt whether I ought to go further in
this matter?  Ask yourself, am I further tied—in duty—in honour?  Can I
conscientiously marry a girl whom I do not love, whom I have even come
to regard with repugnance, with whom I can never be happy, and whose
whole life will be embittered by the knowledge that though she has my
name and my hand, she has not gained my heart?  No, Mirelle; dear,
dearest Mirelle, no!’

’Stay—in heaven’s name, stay!’ gasped Mirelle.  ’You must not speak to
me thus.’

’Why not?’

’I must ask you a question,’ she said, and wiped the cold dew from her
lips and brow. ’I must ask of you a favour.’

’Ask me anything; it is yours.’

’Captain Trecarrel, this is Christmas Day. After eight days I shall
belong to another. I ask you—allow me to be married in Trecarrel
Chapel.’

Her heart beat so fast that it took away her breath.  She was unable to
proceed.

Captain Trecarrel’s blue eyes opened with amazement.  He could not
believe his ears.

’I shall be married to—John Herring.’

Then she sank back in the coach, and threw her handkerchief over her
face.  The wheels rattled over the pavement of the street.

’Stop!’ shouted the Captain.  ’Damnation! stop!’

He got out.  ’Drive on hard to Dolbeare, coachman; the young lady has
fainted.’

So the coach rattled through the marketplace and along the High Street,
whilst the bells rang merrily, merrily, Glad tidings of great joy!
Roast beef and plum pudding and mince-pies to those who can afford it;
to the poor—nothing.



                       END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.



                           LONDON: PRINTED BY
                SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
                         AND PARLIAMENT STREET



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                         *ILLUSTRATED EDITIONS*

                                  *OF*

                            *POPULAR WORKS*

         Handsomely bound in cloth gilt, each volume containing
                Four Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  3s. 6d.


THE SMALL HOUSE AT ALLINGTON.
       By ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

FRAMLEY PARSONAGE.
       By ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

THE CLAVERINGS.
       By ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

TRANSFORMATION: a Romance.
       By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

ROMANTIC TALES.
       By the Author of ’John Halifax, Gentleman.’

DOMESTIC STORIES.
       By the Author of ’John Halifax, Gentleman.’

NO NAME.
       By WILKIE COLLINS.

ARMADALE.
       By WILKIE COLLINS.

AFTER DARK.
       By WILKIE COLLINS.

MAUD TALBOT.
       By HOLME LEE.

THE MOORS AND THE FENS.
       By Mrs. J. H. RIDDELL.

WITHIN THE PRECINCTS.
       By Mrs. OLIPHANT.

CARITA.
       By Mrs. OLIPHANT.

FOR PERCIVAL.
       By MARGARET VELEY.


            London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place.



                     *      *      *      *      *



                           *POPULAR NOVELS.*

        _Each Work complete in One Volume, price Six Shillings._


OLD KENSINGTON.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

THE VILLAGE ON THE CLIFF.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

FIVE OLD FRIENDS AND A YOUNG PRINCE.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

TO ESTHER, and other Sketches.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

BLUE BEARD’S KEYS, and other Stories.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

THE STORY OF ELIZABETH; TWO HOURS; FROM AN ISLAND.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

TOILERS AND SPINSTERS, and other Essays.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

MISS ANGEL; FULHAM LAWN.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

MISS WILLIAMSON’S DIVAGATIONS.
       By Miss THACKERAY.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

LLANALY REEFS.
       By Lady VERNEY, Author of ’Stone Edge’ &c.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

LETTICE LISLE.
       By Lady VERNEY.  With 3 Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  6s.

STONE EDGE.
       By Lady VERNEY.  With 4 Illustrations.  Crown 8vo.  6s.


            London: SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 Waterloo Place.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Herring, Volume 2 (of 3) - A West of England Romance" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home