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Title: John Herring, Volume 3 (of 3) - A West of England Romance
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "John Herring, Volume 3 (of 3) - A West of England Romance" ***

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                             *JOHN HERRING*

                      _A WEST OF ENGLAND ROMANCE_


                         BY SABINE BARING-GOULD

                          AUTHOR OF ’MEHALAH’



                            IN THREE VOLUMES



                               VOL. III.



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

                         [All rights reserved]



                               *CONTENTS*

                                   OF

                            THE THIRD VOLUME

CHAPTER

    XLI. White Favours
   XLII. The Snow Bride
  XLIII. Hunting the Devil
   XLIV. Willapark
    XLV. ’Kinkum-kum’
   XLVI. A Bar of Ice
  XLVII. Welcome Home!
 XLVIII. Two Bequests
   XLIX. Cast Up
      L. Two Disobediences
     LI. Two Exits
    LII. The Return of the Wanderer
   LIII. A Private Interview
    LIV. The Porch Room
     LV. Nemesis
    LVI. A Dead Man
   LVII. An Arrest
  LVIII. R.I.P.
    LIX. Dividing the Spoils
     LX. Introductory



                            *JOHN HERRING.*



                             *CHAPTER XLI.*

                            *WHITE FAVOURS.*


The weather had changed abruptly.  The wind had turned north-east, had
become rough and frozen, and whirled snow before it over a white world.

Eight days had elapsed, and the marriage ceremony had been performed in
the chapel of Trecarrel.  The Captain was not present at the ceremony:
he was in bed, indisposed.

The carriage was at the door of Dolbeare to convey the bride and
bridegroom to Welltown.  A hasty breakfast had been taken.  No friends
had been invited.  The journey was long, and the horses must be rested
midway for an hour.  The days were short, and there was no chance of
reaching Welltown before dark.  It was bad travelling over fresh snow,
and along an exposed road swept by the furious gale.  The horses stamped
and pawed the snow, the post-boys were impatient. Herring was anxious to
start.  Mirelle was upstairs in her room alone.  All the boxes were
corded and in place.  Then Orange, who was in the hall, called her
cousin.

Mirelle appeared, slowly and uncertainly descending the stairs.  Orange
uttered an exclamation of surprise.  ’My dear, you are still in white!
You have not put on your travelling dress.’

’I did not know.’

’But what in the world have you been doing?’

She had been weeping and praying.  Her eyes were red and full of tears,
and there was that exalted, luminous look in the white face of one whose
soul has just descended from heaven, as there was in the face of Moses
when he came down from the Mount.  In her white dress, with her white
veil over her dark hair, and a bunch of snowdrops in her bosom, just as
she had stood at the altar, so she was going forth into the stormy
world—as white as one of the snow-flakes, as fragile, altogether as
pure.

Her travelling dress was in the box, and the box was on the carriage.
There was no help for it; the box could not be taken down and unpacked.
She must go as she was, wrapped round with many cloaks.

She was reluctant to depart.  She had not spent happy days in Dolbeare;
but, nevertheless, she did not like to leave it for the unknown.  The
future was strange and feared.  Orange and her mother had not been
congenial friends, but they were of her own sex.  What would become of
the Trampleasures now?  They were without money. She turned to her
husband.

’Mr. Herring,’ she said timidly, ’my mother and my sister, what of
them?’

’Dearest Mirelle, that is as you like.’

’Oh, Orange! and you, Mrs. Trampleasure! Will you come and live with me
where I am going?  I entreat you to do so.  Make my home your own.  I do
not think you will be happy here, where you have met with so many
sorrows.  And I—I shall miss you.’

She looked at Herring, asking with her eyes if she had done right.

This was not what he wished.  Orange was not the sort of companion he
relished for his wife.  There was an indescribable something about her
which he disliked.  Then an idea struck him.  He called Orange and
Mirelle aside into the little drawing-room.

’Mirelle, everything I have is yours.  You may dispose of all at your
pleasure.  I know what has happened here.  Orange is engaged to be
married to Captain Trecarrel; but, through the sad disaster that has
taken place, her little fortune is lost.  Is it your wish, Mirelle, that
this sum should be made up to her?  The loss of this fortune stands in
the way of her happiness and that of Captain Trecarrel.’

Mirelle trembled, looked down for a moment, and then said, ’Yes, dear
Orange, it shall be so.  All that sum which was to have been yours, but
which was lost, shall be given to you.  Be happy with Captain
Trecarrel.’

Then Orange flamed up.  Her eyes sparkled, her cheeks flushed, and she
clenched her hands.

’Never, never!’ she exclaimed.  ’He deserted and insulted me.  Never,
never, will I take him.’

’Well, Orange,’ said Herring, ’you do as you think best.  The same sum
that was lodged by your father in my hands in trust for you, to be paid
over on your marriage, shall be placed in the bank in your name.  If you
can forgive the Captain, well, so be it. None will be better pleased to
hear it than Mirelle and I; but if not, you will find a welcome at
Welltown.  I must not delay longer.  We have a lengthy drive before us,
and cannot reach our destination while there is light in the sky.’

He handed Mirelle into the carriage, and stepped in himself.

The post-boys wiped their lips—they had been given a tumbler each of
spiced wine—they cracked their whips, and away whirled the carriage.

’Orange, Orange! throw rice!’ called Mrs. Trampleasure.

Orange stooped, picked up a handful of snow, and flung it after them, in
at the carriage window, and it fell over Herring and Mirelle, a cold
shower.

But the maid was more vehement and strict in her adhesion to traditional
usage. First one slipper—a red one, then another—black, whirled through
the snowy air, and fell in their track.

’What are you about, Bella!’ exclaimed Mrs. Trampleasure.  ’That’s my
dear ’usband’s slipper—that red one is, and the other is Sampson’s.’

’Look!’ said Orange.  The red slipper and the black had fallen with the
toes pointing in the direction taken by the carriage, and lay between
the wheel-marks.

’Mother, it looks just as though the dead father and the runaway son
were after them.’

Hark! what is that?  A faint, low music, scarce audible, and when heard
at once caught and puffed away by the frozen blast.  Was that the wind,
playing a weird æolian strain through the spines of the Scotch fir?  But
if so, strange that the vibrations should frame themselves into a strain
like that of Ford’s old glee:—

    Since first I saw your face, I resolv’d
    To honour and renown you!


’Come in, mother, the wind is cold.  It freezes to the marrow.’



                            *CHAPTER XLII.*

                           *THE SNOW BRIDE.*


A wild road that which leads from Launceston to Boscastle, up hill
continuously, for miles after miles, across barren moor unrelieved by
rocks, studded at intervals by cairns under which dead primaeval
warriors lie.  In summertime the road is rendered tolerable by the
distant views; the rugged range of Cornish tors, Brown Willy and Row Tor
on the left; far away south the dome of Hengistdun, where the Britons
made their last stand against Athelstan, and which to the present day is
studded with the cairns that cover their dead.  To the south-east the
grand distant range of Dartmoor lost in cobalt blue.

But that road, on such a day as this, was unendurable.  There was no
shelter whatever; not a hedge, not a tree; not a village was passed
through.  Llaneast, Tresmeer, Treneglos, Egloskerry, lie buried in
valleys where trees grow and the sun sleeps on smooth greenswards.  The
road seemed to be slowly mounting into the skies, into the bosoms of the
snowclouds which shed their cold contents over it.  White favours!  The
horses were plastered with them, the post-boys were patched with them,
the carriage encrusted with them, the windows frosted over with them.
Mirelle sat on the east side; she tried to look through the glasses, but
could see nothing but snow crystals.

Herring spoke to her, but conversation was impossible; the wind howled
and beat at the windows, as with icy hands, striving to smash them in.
There was no keeping the wind out; it drove in between the frames and
the glass, it worked its way through below and chilled the feet on the
matting.

The horses went slowly; the snow balled under their hoofs, and the
post-boys had to descend repeatedly to clear their shoes. The road was
no post-road, and no change of horses was to be had half-way.  There was
no choice, therefore, but to rest the jaded beasts at the wretched
little tavern on the heath, called ’Drunkards all.’  There is a legend
to account for the name.  A traveller came one Sunday to the pothouse,
with its little cluster of cottages around, and saw the people reeling
from the tavern to their homes in the morning.  ’What!’ he asked.  ’Does
no one go to church here?’  ’No,’ was the hiccuped reply.  ’Sundays we
drinks and drinks—here we be drunkards all.’  He passed the same way one
weekday, and found the cottagers staggering from the tavern to the
fields.  ’What!’ he asked.  ’Is no work done here weekdays?’  ’No,’ was
the answer.  ’We drinks and we drinks—here we be drunkards all.’  Once
again he passed that way, and it was midnight; but the road was
encumbered with tipsy men and women. ’Does nobody sleep here?’  ’Sleep!’
was the reply.  ’No, we drinks and we drinks—we be drunkards all.’  And
as he went through the churchyard of Davidstow, he saw tombstones
inscribed "D.o.D.—D.A."; and when he asked the meaning, the sexton said,
with his thumb over his shoulder.  ’Them from where you came from; Died
o’ drink—Drunkards all.’  So the hamlet got its name, and has kept it to
the present day.

Herring begged that a great fire might be made up, and some smouldering
turf was put on the hearth in the little guest room. Firewood was an
unattainable luxury in this treeless waste; the only fuel was peat.  The
walls were whitewashed, the floor was slate, on which milk had been
spilled, and was frozen.  The turf had not taken the chill out of the
air in the room when the hour for resting the horses was passed.
Herring had ordered dinner, but nothing was to be had to eat, save fried
ham and eggs, nothing to drink but hard cyder and muddy beer.  Mirelle
had no appetite.  She sat in her white dress by the low fire, deadly
pale, with dark rings about her eyes, shivering.  She held her hands to
the dull ashes, and thought of the sunny garden of the Sacré Coeur.  How
the bees hummed there, and the hyacinths, blue and pink, bloomed early
and filled the air with fragrance, and against the wall gold-green
glistening flies preened their wings, loving the sun, and happy basking
in it.

’It is time for us to move on, dear Mirelle,’ said Herring; ’we have
only made half of our way, but the worst half is done.  The rest is, for
a part at least, down hill.’  She rose mechanically.  He wrapped the
shawls well round her, but there was no warmth in the slender white form
to be wrapped in. There was no colour in her lips, none in the
transparent cheek, only the blue icelike veins in her temples.

He led her to the carriage; again the post-boys wiped their lips, this
time of sour cyder, and cracked their whips.  The wheels went round
noiselessly, and the carriage was lost to sight in the driving snow.
Not only did the wheels revolve noiselessly, but the footfalls of the
horses produced no sound; the postilions were silent, and those within
the carriage did not speak.  Verily that might have been taken for a
bleached phantom coach drawn by phantom horses, conveying phantom bride
and bridegroom from the grave of one at Launceston to the grave of
another at Boscastle.

Herring took Mirelle’s hand.  She made no resistance.  He held it in
his, hoping that his warmth might thaw those frozen fingers. He pressed
them, but met with no answering pressure; the hand was possibly too
numbed to feel.

Now ensued hedges.  They saw a woman, head down against the snow,
stalking along the top of one—the usual footpath in these parts, where
the lanes are often deep in water.  Here and there came walls, and here
and there ragged thorns; then moor again, and then the carriage began to
descend.

Mirelle held her breath.  Darkness had set in already; the post-boys lit
their lamps at a cottage that was passed, and through the windows could
be seen the snowflakes falling as flashes of white fire, in the radius
of light cast by the lamps.  The steam of the horses was blown back and
formed haloes.

Mirelle’s hand trembled in that of Herring. She looked round at him.  He
saw, by the reflection of the lamp-lights, that her eyes were wide with
fear.

’What is the matter, dear Mirelle?’

’That noise—that terrible noise!’

’What! the roar of the ocean?’

The thunder of the Atlantic filled the air. Driven before the gale, the
mighty billows dashed themselves to dust upon the adamantine cliffs and
flung their shivers high into the air.  The roar was continuous, but
with pulsations in it, as the wind rose and fell.  It seemed to Mirelle
as if she and Herring were drifting in the vast void where there was no
earth, no creation, no planets, no light, no life, no God; in chaos
filled with howling winds and thundering unseen forces that clashed
purposeless and self-destructive.  But worse still, to the outer
answered an inner desolation.  There also, chaos was.  She was drifting
in spirit in a void, without a hope, without an interest, without a
purpose, with heart and brain dead.

The carriage whirled down a rapid descent, and the roar waxed louder,
more hungry, more terrible.  No rocks could withstand the weight of
water hurled against them.  The iron walls must yield before those
Titanic blows, and all the world dissolve and sink beneath the angry,
inky ocean.

’Will that not cease?’ asked Mirelle, timidly.

’The waves can always be heard here,’ answered John Herring, ’but, of
course, only as a pleasant mutter in still weather.’

’At night—does it go on all night?’

’To be sure; the sea never sleeps.  In time you will come to love the
sound.  It will be a lullaby, soothing my darling to sleep.’

Mirelle shuddered.

Lights were visible, twinkling below.

’There is a little town, Boscastle, lying in that glen,’ said he; ’we
shall pass above it on our way home.’

Home!  The word conveyed no warmth to the heart of Mirelle.  Home is a
quiet nook in the sun, among roses and mignonette, with a kitten purring
at your feet, and a blackbird singing out of a syringa hard by, and the
white cap of Josephine seen through the kitchen window, and her pleasant
voice singing a _cantique_ of the Mois de Marie whilst she shells peas.
Home!  A cold house in a void world, without a bush or tree, without
stillness, in the midst of blackness and storm, and with salt spray and
the boom of breaking billows filling the air with bitterness and
thunder.

A scream over the carriage.  Mirelle cried out in an agony of fear at
that Banshee note.

’Do not be frightened,’ said Herring. ’That was a gull driven in by the
storm. Poor Mirelle! you will be glad when we reach home.  This has been
a trying day for you.’

She could not answer.  She did not think she would be glad to reach
Welltown; she was indifferent whether she got there or not. It was all
one to her whether she alighted in a cold home or went on for ever and
ever thus in storm and snow.  Would it not be best of all to be allowed
to descend and lie down on the white bank, and wrap the white fleeces
round her, and so go to sleep?  Then, indeed, she would go home—to a
home she knew, to a home peopled with dear friends, saints and angels,
with whom she had spoken from early childhood.

The longest day has its ending.  The carriage drew up at last at the
porch door of Welltown.  Herring sprang out; no lights were in the
windows.  He looked along the front of the house; all was dark.  No
cheering welcome of twinkling candles, of ruddy fireflash through the
panes.  He knocked loudly.  Then Genefer came to the door with a stable
lanthorn.

’What!  Master John!  Well, to be sure. I never thought it.  The day
were so wisht and wild.’

’Jenny,’ said Herring, impatiently, ’open at once.  Let me in; you knew
that we were to arrive this evening.’

’The storm raged so bad, I thought sure you’d put it off.’

’Come in, dear Mirelle,’ said Herring, greatly incensed, and led his
bride into the porch out of the wind.

’Have you no fires lighted?  Nothing ready?’ he asked, angrily, of
Genefer.

’No, Master John.  It be bad luck to wed in snow and storm: snow cools
love and wind blows it away.  I reckoned you knew that well enough, and
would have put it off till the sun shone.’

A cold reception.  The hall dark; only a little turf smouldering on the
hearth, giving out neither light nor heat.

Mirelle came in.  She did not look round; she was stupefied.  It was all
one to her.  She had not expected much, and was not disappointed.

Genefer put the lanthorn on the table and proceeded to light a couple of
wax candles. Herring divested Mirelle of her dark wraps.

Then the old woman looked at her.  In the large gloomy hall Mirelle
stood like a spectral figure, illumined by the candles, the white veil
hanging; over her shoulders and back.

’Lord of mercy bless us!’ exclaimed Genefer, starting back.  ’It be the
same—the same!  O God!—the same I dreamed! The Snow Bride.’

She looked at her with dismay, then raised her hands and said, ’That
ever I should have seen the day!  O Master John!  Master John! But the
Lord sends strong delusions on them whom He will bring to naught.’

’Go at once, Jenny, and get supper ready. Heap up wood on the hearth.
Is there a fire upstairs?’

’I don’t know whether there be—there was, to dry the rooms; but there be
nothing ready. It be a thousand pities you cannot get it all undone,
and, if it must be done, do it another day, when the sun shines and the
air be plum’ (warm).

’This is intolerable,’ said Herring, now thoroughly roused.  ’You are
determined, Jenny, to drive me beyond the limits of forbearance.’

’The Lord ordains,’ answered Genefer: ’what will be will be.  There!
I’ll have the fire up directly.  Now, Hender’—aloud, and with her head
through the kitchen door—’look spry, and bring in a faggot, and clap it
on the turves.  Take the bellows,’ she said to Mirelle; ’blow away at
them turves, and they’ll glow.  I’ll be off and get something warm
directly.’  But, instead of going directly, she stood in the door, and
looked at Herring, and said: ’The sheep always goes before the wind.
You may put them in a loo place, but they won’t bide there: they go with
the wind to where they will freeze and die.  It be all the same wi’ men.
When the Lord blows, they goes before His breath to their destruction,
and not all the wisdom of the wise will avail to keep them loo.’

’Would you like to go upstairs, Mirelle, to your room?’ asked Herring.

She lifted her sad eyes to his face and nodded.  He took a candle and
led the way.  The boards creaked as they went up the uncarpeted stairs,
and the wind wailed through the staircase window, clinking the little
diamond panes; the draught was so great that the candle was nearly blown
out. Against the glass the snow was patched in masses, as though the
window had been pelted with snowballs, and the white patches reflected
back the candle-light.

Upstairs was a bedroom, above the hall, and adjoining it a small boudoir
over the porch.  There was a fire on the hearth, and the bedding was
ranged as a wall round it, to be well aired.  Some billets of wood were
heaped up beside the chimney-piece, and these Herring put on.  He plied
the bellows, and soon a yellow flame danced up.  The room began to look
more cheery.  It was a pretty room; Herring had thought much about
making it pleasant.  The paper was bright, with roses in sprigs over the
walls, and over the window were sprigged curtains lined with
forget-me-not blue.

’There, dear Mirelle,’ he said, ’I will have the boxes brought up; and I
hope, in half an hour, Jenny will have dinner ready for us.  I am sorry
for her neglect.  She is a tiresome, self-opinionated old woman, but you
will come in time to value her.  She is a Cornish crystal—and rough.’

He did not leave the room at once, but stood and looked round it; he had
not seen it before, since it had been done up, with firelight flickering
and candles lighted.  He was pleased, and said, ’It is pretty—is it not,
Mirelle?’

She looked up wonderingly at him.  What was pretty?  What could be
pretty in such a place?

He had lighted candles on the dressing-table and on the mantelpiece.
Over that hung a picture of his mother—a sweet young face, with a
pleasant smile on it.

’That is my mother,’ he said; ’she is looking down on you out of heaven.
This was her room: I was born in it, and she died here.’

In a corner, near the fire, was a little _prie-dieu_, and over it a
crucifix.  Herring had procured that, because he made sure it would
please Mirelle; but she did not observe it. She was cold, and crept near
to the fire.

’I should like to show you the boudoir. I have done it up very nicely
for you.’

’Oh, not now! another time.’

’Very well, Mirelle.  I will go and hasten Genefer.’

He left the room, a little disappointed that no expression of pleasure
had escaped her on seeing how he had thought and prepared for her.  Then
he descended to the hall to stimulate Genefer to activity, and to see to
his wife being given her boxes immediately.

More than half an hour passed before dinner was ready; when it was on
the table, and the room was bright with candles, and a dancing fire was
gambolling through a faggot of dry sticks, Herring went upstairs to call
Mirelle.  He found her sitting, still dressed in white, by the fire,
looking into it, lost in a dream, with her hands folded in her lap, and
tears on her cheeks.  A little colour had returned to her lips, and the
flickering firelight, reflected in her large dark eyes, gave them a
fictitious life.  She did not hear Herring enter, and when he spoke she
started and shivered, as though frightened.  She speedily recovered
herself, and descended with him.  She had removed her veil, but was
otherwise unchanged in dress.  The snowdrops in her bosom were crushed,
and their bruised heads hung despondingly.  Herring removed the bunch
and put it in his button-hole.  Mirelle could not eat much; she did not
speak, except in brief answers to his questions.  She was apparently
thinking, and it was with an effort that she attended to what her
husband said.

Genefer watched her intently.  The old woman’s face was grim and
dissatisfied.  She was respectful, and attended to her, but without the
alacrity and cordiality in her manner that might have been looked for in
an old family servant when welcoming to her home her master’s bride.

When dinner was over, and Genefer had withdrawn, Herring said to
Mirelle, ’Now, dearest, come into the ingle-nook, and sit on the settle.
The great back will cut off every draught, and you will become warm
there.  I will bring my chair beside you.’

She rose, without answering, and took the place he indicated.  The
settle was of oak, dark and well polished, with the four cardinal
virtues carved in panels above the heads of those who sat in it.  It had
stamped and gilt leather at the back, a little way up, and a crimson
cushion on the seat.  Herring thrust a footstool under Mirelle’s feet,
and, taking a chair, drew it near her.

’Dear Mirelle,’ he said, ’welcome to your future home.’

’Thank you, Mr. Herring.’

’You must not call me _Mr._ Herring.’

’No, I know I must not.  I will do my duty.  I will call you by your
Christian name.  But you must not be angry with me it will not come at
once.  I will do my best, if you will have patience.’

’Mirelle!—nothing could make me angry with you.’

’Nothing?’  Then she sighed and looked into the fire.

’Is there something troubling your mind?’ he asked, unable to understand
her manner.

’Yes,’ she said, and looked up timidly at him, then withdrew her glance
before his eyes; ’I will do my duty.  You are my husband, and I must let
you see all my heart. It is proper that you should.  I will do what I
know in my conscience to be right.’

’I will gladly look into that dear heart, and all I ask and hope is that
I may find there a little sparkle of love for me.’

She shivered, and was silent again, still looking into the flames,
broodingly.

’Dear, dear Mirelle,’ he said, ’although you are now my wife, bound to
me for ever, you have not yet given me, or received from me, a kiss.
You have not once told me that you love me.’

Then she looked round full at him, with her large, sad, dark eyes, and
rested them on him for full a minute without a word; but he saw that
something was stirring in her heart. Then she said gravely, ’I respect
you very much, John Herring.’

’Respect will not do for me.  I want love,’ he said with vehemence.

’I esteem you above all men.’

’That is insufficient.  I will be satisfied with nothing short of love.’

’I do not love you.’

Those few words went like a bullet through his heart.  He could not
speak.

She saw that she had pained him unutterably. She went on.  ’I am bound
to speak the truth.  I cannot lie; I cannot dissemble. What I say is
true.  I give you everything that is in my power to give.  I am yours.
I believe you to be the best, the noblest, the truest of men.  But
love——’

She slowly shook her head and sighed, and relapsed into looking into the
burning wood.

His power of speech was gone from him.

’You must not expect too much from me,’ she said; ’I will do my duty.’

’Duty!’ he cried, and sprang to his feet. ’Duty is not what I ask for.
I know you will do your duty—as an angel of God will do his duty.  But I
ask for, and must have—love.’

’I cannot, I cannot,’ she said, in a desolate, despairing tone, and
again shook her head.

’Why not?  Is it so impossible to love a man whose whole heart is yours,
who thinks of and cares only for you?’

’I would love you if I could!  It is not my fault.  I am willing, but I
have not the power.  I _cannot_.’

’Why can you not?’

She raised her large, dark eyes and looked at him, with a dull despair
in them, and her lips quivered as she answered, ’Because I love
another.’

That went like a second bullet through his heart, and rendered him
speechless again.

’You are my husband.  I know my duty. I am bound to conceal nothing from
you.  I am bound to tell you all that is on my heart. My love is for
another.  I cannot help it; you have nothing to fear.  None can suffer
from this as I do.  I will try from day to day to deaden it.  I will be
true to you in thought as in deed.  What I have promised, I will
perform.  But there it is—in my heart, burning, consuming.  You could
not put out that roaring fire on the hearth; it must blaze till it has
eaten itself away.  In time the fire here,’ she touched her bosom, ’that
fire, will have consumed itself and be white ashes, and the hearth cold.
Then you may light another fire on it, but not till then.’

Herring had been standing looking at her, with one hand on his brow.
Now he turned away.

’Are you angry?’ she asked piteously. ’I felt in my conscience that I
ought to conceal nothing from my husband; I knew that I was bound to
tell you all.  Are you angry?’

’I am in pain,’ he said.  His hand was on his heart.  ’I am in deadly
pain.’

’And I—I too,’ she whispered, and her head drooped towards her lap, like
one of her broken snowdrops.

Herring walked through the hall to the main door.  There he turned.

’Mirelle!’  His face was almost as white as hers.

’Yes, John.’

’God be with you.  Good-bye!’

He opened the door.  The wind tore in, and brought snow with it, and the
thunder of the mad sea—mad that it had found a barrier which it could
not demolish nor overleap, and in its madness tearing itself to spray.

Then the door shut, and Mirelle was alone.



                            *CHAPTER XLIII.*

                          *HUNTING THE DEVIL.*


Mirelle sat over the fire, looking into it. Had she done right in
telling John Herring all her mind?  She supposed that she had, and yet
she was not quite sure.  Her nature was so entirely frank, she had such
a horror of concealment, that it had seemed to her a duty, an imperative
duty, to lay bare her heart before her husband.  She spoke out
everything, without disguise, to her confessor, and the husband stood to
her, she supposed, in much the same light.  She would be guilty of a
fraud, an impiety, if she allowed him to live with her without knowing
the true state of her affections.  She had thought this over a great
deal, and she had satisfied her conscience that she was bound to tell
him all. But now that the confession was made, she was frightened at the
results.  She had driven Herring from her.  Whither was he gone? Would
he return?  Was it always right to speak the truth?  Was not perfect
openness the most refined form of cruelty?

Mirelle began dimly to see that she had acted unwisely; that she had
been selfish in her desire to do her duty, and keep her own conscience
clear.  She owed a duty to her husband, a paramount duty, and the duty
she owed him was to make him happy.  In her effort to do her duty to
herself she had run counter to her duty to him.

So she sat over the fire, in her white bridal dress, with her white
face, and cold tears distilled slowly from her eyes.

Without, the wind raged, and splashes of snow were thrown, like mortar
from a trowel, against the window panes.  There was a red carpet on the
hall floor, but the wind got under it, and it rolled like a sea of
blood. She could see the first roller begin by the door and travel the
whole length of the room. The curtains over the window swayed as though
some one were in the embrasure stirring from side to side and pulling at
the curtains to keep himself covered, and yet was seeking a place
through which he might peep unperceived at the Snow Bride by the fire,
melting away in tears.

The hall door creaked, and the latch, to her fancy, was tried; but no
hand was there. It was the wind that thrust against the oaken boards and
rattled the latch.

How the ocean roared!  No doors nor windows could exclude that terrible
all-pervading thunder.  The sound was not in the wind alone, it was in
the solid earth.  It was not heard through the ear alone, it was felt by
every nerve, for the foundations and the walls vibrated.  In one of the
hall windows was a cracked pane, and through it the wind screamed, and
sobbed, and wailed. Were there ships at sea, this awful night? Were they
near the coast?  If so, there was no hope for the vessels, none for the
crew. The stoutest ships must be broken against the iron cliffs, and the
sailors dashed out of human shape.

There were souls drifting in that fierce wind and bitter cold—souls of
drowned men on their way to purgatory and hell.  What was that piping,
and sighing, and crying at the window?  Poor drowned souls peering in,
and pleading to be admitted; poor souls still wet with the brine,
shivering with cold, feeling their desolation, their nakedness, torn
from the bodies they had so long and so happily tenanted; poor souls
wailing and gnashing their teeth, because cast into the outer darkness
and eternal cold.

A dog outside began to bark savagely. Had it seen the wan train of
weeping souls sweep by?  Then he lapsed into an occasional bark of
distress, then was silent, then barked again.

What ailed the dog?  The snow was drifting into his kennel, and he was
cold and could not sleep.

There were rats in the old house.  The cold had driven them in, and they
were racing through the walls in quest of warm corners and of food.  In
one place glass had been put down to block a run; but the rats had
broken their way through.  Every rat that passed over the glass made it
clink.  They were between the ceiling and the floor overhead.
One—two—three, one—two—three. One of the rats was three-legged, he had
lost a foot in a gin.  His footfalls could be distinguished from those
of the other rats.  He went slower than the rest, that old cripple;
one—two—three, one—two—three.

Where was John Herring?  What had become of him?  Was he still walking
in the snow and wind?  Would he press on, thinking only of his misery,
till, numbed with frost and weary of battling with the wind, he fell in
the snow and slept his life away?

Whither would he go?  What would he seek?  Rest, and the lulling of the
terrible pain from the wound she had dealt him. How could rest be got?
Only in one way.

Then Mirelle sprang up, terrified at her own thoughts, and clasped her
hands over her face to hide from her the horrible picture that rose
before her fancy.  She fell on her knees, faint with fear.

The three-legged rat had found a bit of tallow-candle end that had been
thrust by a child through a knot in the flooring, and he skipped about
on three paws, uncouthly, in an ecstasy of delight.  But a rat with four
legs came by and lusted after the candle end, and fell on the cripple,
and bit him.  He screamed with pain and for aid.  Then other rats, sound
in limb, ran to the scene, and, finding the cripple getting the worst of
it, took sides against him, and bit and mangled him, he screaming with
rage and pain all the while; and, after that, they divided the candle
end between themselves, as their perquisite for having come to the aid
of their four-legged brother, and left him the rush-wick, which he could
not digest.

On the stairs was a clock—a very noisy clock, that ticked loud, and made
a great whir before it struck the hours.  This clock had dropped its
weight, which fell with a crash the night John’s mother died.  The
weight came down but once again, when Jago Herring, his father, died.  A
quaint old clock, with a figured face representing a drooping flower and
a winged hourglass, and underneath the inscription—

      The flower fadeth,
      The hour runneth.
    Sic transit gloria mundi.

Twelve o’clock!  Midnight had come, the hour when the dead are abroad.

Against the wall was a mirror.  Mirelle was afraid to look in it.  She
knew that dead men peered over the shoulders of the living when they
looked incautiously into the glass after twelve at night.  What face
might she see there?  She took her handkerchief to put over it; the
handkerchief was too small, and was, moreover, wet with her tears.  She
had a little shawl; she took that up—a black shawl—and went with it to
the mirror, with head averted.

As she was engaged in hitching the ends of the shawl over the glass, she
suddenly heard piercing cries, then howls and loud words shouted
shrilly.

The shawl fell at her feet; she stood frozen to the floor; her heart
stood still. The cries continued, waxing louder, more agonising; she
heard feet racing along the passage upstairs, and then a man’s voice, in
gruff tones, raised in remonstrance.  Then the door of her room was
shaken, and again the man spoke.  She could distinguish now what he
said.

’Genefer! stand off.  You may not go in and scare them wi’ your
screeching and devil visions.’

But the door was beaten open in spite of his protest, and the feet were
audible rushing over the floor of the room.  Then again a cry, a wail,
and loud exclamations in shrill tones; and in another moment down the
stairs came the feet, with sobs and moans, and Genefer Benoke burst into
the hall, with a great cloak cast over her, her hair loose and flowing
wildly about her shoulders, her large grey eyes wide open, and staring
blankly before her, and both her hands extended in front of her, now
scrabbling in the air, then expanded wide, with every finger apart.  Her
feet were bare.

’I see un!  I see un!  Look where he goes!  Ah! thou foul devil! thou
spirit of the bottomless pit!  See, see! where he goes, the accursed
one, with the smoke of the everlasting torment swaling round and round
him!’

She stooped and picked up the black shawl, and lashed with it before
her.

’Where goest thou?  Do’y see un, Hender?  Do’y see un?  He be like a
black shadow with no sartain shape, stealing along, and now I sees a bit
clear and then another bit.  There be one fiery eye peer out, and now it
be gone, and there shoots out another. Look in thicky corner, where he
stands, and gapes and mows and tosses his arms.  The Lord is my light
and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?  See, Hender! he has his
fingers in his mouth and is drawing out the corners, out—wide—wider—like
gum elastic, the whole width o’ the room, and the fire comes out—it be
the mouth of hell! Hender, Hender! see where he be writing on the wall,
and the letters be letters of fire?’

Then she uttered a piercing shriek, and clasped her hands over her eyes,
and buried her face in the black shawl.

Hender Benoke followed his wife.

’Come, come back to bed, Genefer.  What do the devil mean by walking o’
nights like this when it be freezing hard, and folks wants to be warm
between the blankets?  Come back, and if you must run arter ’un, run o’
a summer night, ondeacent though it be—in your smock.’

’My boy! my John!  O master, dear Master John!  O the day, the day!’

’Come back to bed; you’re frightening the young lady.’

’Her! her! the Snow Maiden that’ll freeze the blood in the heart of un!
Where be she?  I cannot stay, it will be too late. I’ve a read the
writing in fire.  Let go, Hender; do not hold me back!  I see the devil;
he be making for the door, and I must after him, and smite him with the
Lord’s word.  Come on, you—you!’  She grasped Mirelle by the arm.  ’It
were you as brought the devil here to tempt us, and you must strive
along of me to drive un, or he will carry the dear maister away.’

She made for the porch door, drawing Mirelle after her.  Hender again
interposed.

’Genny,’ he said, ’you cannot; you must not.’

’Very well then—no!’ exclaimed the woman, letting go her hold of
Mirelle.  ’No, no, it be none o’ you can drive the devil, for you be an
idolater, and idolaters has their portion in the lake that burneth wi’
fire for ever and ever.  I must drive un with the Word of God.  Run,
Hender! bring me the great black Bible; quick, man.  The devil be gone
out at the porch door.’

She dashed to the window, tore aside the curtains, and cried: ’I see un,
I see un on the snow, going like a puff o’ smoke, and at every step he
takes the snow glints white as a flash of moon.  Bring me my black
Bible, that I may pursue un, and catch un up, and smite un atcross the
horns, and fell un like an ox.’  Then she came into the midst of the
room, and stood before Mirelle, and fixed her eyes sternly on her.

’Down on your knees, maiden,’ she said, and pointed to the floor.  ’Down
on your knees if you know how to pray, and pray to the Lord for a soul,
a poor, despairing, human soul as is brought to great temptation, and
heaven or hell stands on the turn o’ a hair. The Lord hath revealed to
me that this night be fought the battle of Armageddon, and Apollyon and
I must wrestle together for a human soul.  Jacob wrestled with an angel
till the break of day, and he would not let him go till he had blessed
him.  And I be called to wrestle, not wi’ an angel but wi’ a devil, and
I will not let un go till I have tooked the soul that he be seeking out
o’ his hands.  Down on your knees and help me if you can.  Give me the
Book.’

Hender had come in with the Bible.  She snatched it out of his hands,
and in another moment had slammed the door behind her, and was flying
through the snow, with bare feet, and her black hair lashed by the wind,
regardless of the cold and storm, holding the great Bible above her head
with both hands, and crying after the black shadow that went like a puff
of smoke before her, in whose treadings the snow glinted like flakes of
moonlight.

Hender stood in the porch looking after her and muttering.  But Mirelle
was kneeling on the red carpet in the midst of the room, and the wind
got in beneath and lifted and rolled this carpet about her, so that she
seemed to be kneeling on a red sea.

All at once, Genefer stood still, threw up the Bible, caught it, and
clasped it to her bosom.  Both she and Hender heard a shot. A gun had
been discharged; the report entered the room where Mirelle knelt, and
she heard it.

’Glory be to God!’ cried Genefer; ’he be driven back, but not by me.
Sisera were slain by the hand of a woman, and it were revealed to
Deborah that so it should be.  So she went wi’ Barak to the battle, for
she reckoned that the woman into whose hand the Lord would sell Sisera
were herself.  But it were not so.  Glory be to God!  The devil be
driven back, though not by me!  I saw Satan as a stream o’ smoking pitch
run down Willapark and fall into Blackapit.’

Then she came quickly back, all her excitement over.



                            *CHAPTER XLIV.*

                              *WILLAPARK.*


Forth into the storm John Herring had gone. That day so desired had
ended thus!  He had gained her whom he loved—whom he had long loved, but
only to know that her heart could never be his.  He had taken the Snow
Bride to him, and, as Genefer had warned him, she was about to chill him
to death.  No light would rise in those eyes for him; no smile come on
those cheeks for him.  Those lips would not meet his; that heart not
beat for him.  She respected him, but she feared him.  Now he understood
her conduct towards him through their engagement and that day. She stood
in terror of him; she shrank from his love, because she had no love to
give in return for it.

Herring could think of nothing continuously. The gnawing pain at his
heart was too intense to suffer him to think connectedly.  He was like
one walking in semi-consciousness, staggering after a stunning blow,
seeing nothing clearly, thinking no thought out.  He did not know
whither he was going.

He was without hat, he was without greatcoat. He had gone forth in his
despair, without a thought of himself, what he should do, whither he
should go.  Did it matter whither he went?  Wherever he went he must
carry this pain with him.  What should he do? He could do nothing, he
could not staunch the wound that had been dealt him; the wound had cut
too deep and had severed the main artery of life.  There was no balm in
Gilead for such a wound as that; it must bleed, bleed hope, energy,
desire out of him.  He cared nothing for life now.  Life was a torture
chamber, and the poor sufferer on the rack turns and cries out, ’Put an
end to my agonies.  Use the dagger, _la misericorde_!’  What is life, if
granted, worth?  After the rack, what is life with disjointed limbs and
riven heart-strings?  Who would receive as a boon so worthless a gift?
No; in the torture chamber none ask for life, there but one desire is
harboured, and that for death.

Herring had gone unconsciously towards Willapark, the headland that
starts into the sea, gnawed half through by vast gulfs, in which the
waves boil as in a cauldron. Willapark, white with snow, shelved up
towards the sky; beyond was the void whence came thunderings and
roarings, where nothing could be seen.  So hitherto had he been going
contentedly up his white way that led to heaven, expecting felicity at
the top, and all at once he found himself at the edge of an unfathomed
gulf, and a loved hand touched and thrust him over, and now he was
falling into the awful void; whither he knew not, how it would end he
only guessed.

By Blackapit was his little office, a small wooden erection; he could
see it rising out of the snow.  He had lived so much there of late, had
slept there so frequently, that on leaving Welltown he instinctively
took this direction.

He drew the key from his pocket and unlocked the door.  Inside all was
dark, and the smell was musty; the office had not been opened for some
days.  He shut the door, and went directly to his chair near the
fireplace. There was, of course, no fire there, but that did not matter;
he preferred sitting in the dark.  How the gulls screamed around the
house.  The storm frightened them, even them, accustomed to wind and
waves, and they cried and wailed as they fluttered disconsolately over
the mainland.  Perhaps they thought that in such a raging sea no fish
would live, that all would be beaten to pulp, and their hope of food
destroyed.

Herring seated himself in the chair; it was an arm-chair.  He placed his
elbow on the arm, and rested his throbbing temples in his hand.

This was the end.  She did not love him, she loved another.  Who was
that other? That he did not know; she had not told him, and it did not
concern him.  All that concerned him was the one fact that she was not
his.  He had purchased to himself a precious heart, and when he knocked
to be admitted he was told to abide outside, the key had been given to
another.

He sat on in his wretchedness, not knowing how the time passed.  He was
becoming dead and cold in his chair, as Genefer had foreseen.

He stood up at last and struck a light.  He kept tinder-box and candles
in the Willapark office—tallow-candles they were—and he lighted one and
placed it on his table.

Then he opened his desk and took paper, and a pen.  His hand was so cold
that he could not write.  He tried to warm it with his breath, but in
vain.  He must write to Mirelle.  If she had told him her secret, he
must no longer conceal his—he must let her know that he had taken care
of her fortune, and that it was now her own to do with it what she
liked.  Had she known that she was wealthy, she would never have
accepted him, John Herring, now in purgatory, suffering for the wrong he
had done her—a wrong done unconsciously and in good faith.  She had
taken him only because she believed herself to be destitute and
dependent on his bounty.  He had acted wrongly from the first. Light
came to him, as to others, when too late to walk by it.  Now he saw what
the proper course would have been.  If he mistrusted Tramplara, he
should have confided all to Mirelle, and allowed her to choose her own
trustee.  But no! that would not have done, for, had the secret of the
diamonds come out, old Tramplara would have claimed them as the legal
guardian.  He was bewildered; he did not know in what way he had acted
wrongly, and yet what he had done, conscientiously believing he was
doing right, had led to disaster—had landed him in a position from which
there was but one escape.  He had been to Mirelle a worse enemy than
Tramplara.  The trustee of her father’s appointment had robbed her of
the money intrusted to him; he, John Herring, the trustee of his own
nomination, had robbed her of her life’s happiness.  Could he doubt for
a moment that had she been free she would have refused him and have
given her hand and fortune to the man of her choice?  Now there lay
before him no remedy save one.  He had chained her to him, and whilst
that chain remained she must suffer.  Till it was broken, happiness was
impossible to her.  ’Oh, Mirelle!  Mirelle!’ the cry broke from, his
heart.  Here was bitterness past enduring, to be on the threshold of
happiness, and to be thrust back; to have the cup at his lips, and to
have it snatched from him and spilled on the ground.

He lit the fire in his grate, and warmed his fingers; he did not care
for the comfort of the fire, he sought only to thaw his hand, to enable
it to write.  In his despair it seemed that there was but one course
open to him—to restore to Mirelle the liberty of which he had deprived
her.  When able to write, he took the pen and ink, and slowly, with many
pauses, gave her in full the story of the diamonds stolen by Grizzly
Cobbledick from Mr. Strange’s trunk, then given to him by Joyce.  He
assured Mirelle that he had acted as he supposed best, with no thought
of reaping advantage to himself, certainly with none of gaining her by
means of her own fortune. She would do him this justice.  He confessed
his mistake, and made the only amends in his power by restoring her the
freedom of which he had deprived her.  He did not date the account, but
he signed it, and folded it.  Then he made an abstract of all her money.
He stated where the remainder of the uncut diamonds might be found, and
what the amount of money was which he had received for those he had
sold, and how he had disposed of this money.  The room was his office,
and his books were in it.  He consulted them; and as he went over the
accounts he recovered, to some extent, his composure; but his purpose
never swerved.

When he had finished his task, he put the account with the letter,
inclosed both in one wrapper, and sealed it.  J.H. was his stamp; no
arms, for he had no right to bear any.

Then he rose and went out, closing his door after him.  He walked
through the snow, which was thin on the headland, for the gale carried
it away, and shook it into the sea or heaped it in the valleys.  He
could see, or he thought he could see, the distant lights of Welltown.
Mirelle was not gone to bed yet; the light was red, shining through the
hall curtains.  What was Mirelle doing?

The snow had ceased to fall, and the air was clear of everything save
spray which was driven over the land in scuds.  The headland shook under
the blows of the ocean.  On the left hand was that awful gulf,
Blackapit, an almost circular well with sheer cliffs descending three
hundred feet into the boiling foam and fury.  He approached it; there
was no rail, nothing to prevent any one from falling over.  On a dark
night, when no snow covered the ground, any one stepping astray would,
in a moment, plunge into that horrible abyss never penetrated by the
sun.  At low water there was an inky tarn below, but now, through the
narrow entrance, mountains of water beat their way, and when within tore
themselves to froth in their agony to escape, and rolled back to the
entrance, there to clash against another intruding billow.  Then there
rushed up into the air a white pillar of whirling foam that fell back
again upon the contending surf below, unable to escape upwards.  The
roar of the raging water in this abyss was as the roar from the mouth of
hell. There came upon Herring the thought of himself falling down that
chasm, the hands extended, clutching at the rocks, and the nails torn to
the quick in frantic effort to cling; kittiwakes, gulls, and skuas
shrieking and dashing about him as he went down into that raging,
ravening, thundering void.  Rest there!—there—there! in that frantic
turmoil, the very thought of which made a whirlpool in the brain!
Herring sprang back with convulsive shrinking before such an end.  No,
he could not plunge down Blackapit!

He returned to his wooden house.  It was warm and bright, and the sight
of the fire and of the candle composed his nerves after that horrible
dream of Blackapit. Over the fireplace was his gun—he had shot gulls
with it from his window.  On a summer day he had taken a boat and rowed
about Blackapit and Welltown cove, and with a bullet killed porpoises.
There were seals also in these bays.  How horrible was the head of a
seal, so human, rising straight out of the waves.  He had never been
able to kill one, the human eyes had unnerved him when he took aim.

He resumed his seat; his candle had a thief in it, a fungus, and burned
dull.  He snuffed the candle.  Then he put some fuel on the fire, and
looked musingly into it.  He thought of how he had first known Mirelle,
of her coldness towards him, how she had thrown away, or lost, his sprig
of white heath. He remembered the very tones of her voice when she
laughed at his name, Herring.  He recalled her manner, as she scorned
the idea of his being other than bourgeois.  He recollected how she had
cast reproach on the memory of her dead father, because he, being
bourgeois, had dared to mate with her noble mother.  And he had done the
same thing—had taken advantage of her distress to tie her to him,—her
the ideal of nobility, purity, beauty, to himself a humble yeoman’s son,
of no merit, and with few qualifications to attach any woman to him.
His breathing was short; the pain at his heart was very real and
physical.  His head had been clear whilst he was working at the
accounts, but now his brain began again to cloud over.

Then he stood up, and took down his gun.  It was loaded with swanshot
for the gulls.  He had bullets in his drawer—for porpoises.

He drew the shot and went to his drawer; the bullets were not there.  He
turned over papers, and fishing tackle, and sundry odds and ends.  He
came upon a little book of sketches—how came they there?  They were
drawings he had made as a child of six and seven, very rude, and gaily
painted with gamboge and carmine and Prussian blue. There was Noah’s
Ark, and the most marvellous beasts of all kaleidoscopic colours,
marching up a plank into it.  There was the Burning Fiery Furnace, and
the three men being cast in at the top, comical little figures, with
very little bodies, and very big hands and feet, all the toes and
fingers extended.  Herring remembered painting these pictures, at a
table in a window, whilst Genefer was sewing, and his father was in the
hall below, practising on his violin.  He had painted these daubs in the
little porch room, now done up in white and gold for Mirelle.  No, the
bullets were not in the drawer.  He could not think where he had put
them; his head was confused.  He sat down again, with the gun across his
knees.  When had he last gone out porpoise-shooting?  He could not
remember. Not last summer, for he had been too fully engaged then at
Upaver, and only making flying visits to Welltown, and then busy with
the slate-quarry.  As he sat thinking, the bunch of snowdrops Mirelle
had worn fell at his feet.  He had put them in his buttonhole when he
removed them from her bosom, and now that he stooped they dropped.

He picked up the little bunch.  Poor, bruised, broken flowers, crushed
and withered like his hopes; pure flowers, white as Mirelle. They had
rested all day in her bosom.  He put them to his lips, and a great
trembling like an ague attack came over him.  If he had asked her to
give him the flowers, would she have given them to him?  Yes, but with a
needle in them to pierce his hand.  She had given him herself, but with
herself his death-wound.

Now, all at once, he remembered where the bullets were—on a shelf in a
sort of recess or cupboard at the foot of the bed.  He went to the place
and found them.  He took one, dropped it down the barrel, and rammed it
home.

’God forgive me,’ he said, ’but there is no help for it.  So alone can I
undo the wrong I have done; so alone restore to Mirelle the liberty and
the happiness of which I have defrauded her.’

He leaned his head on the barrel; the steel was cold to his hot and
heavy brow. He rested it there some moments, thinking. Then he raised
it, and the round red ring marked his forehead.

The gnawing pain was not there; there was trouble there, but the pain
was in his heart, Then he lowered the butt end of the musket on the
floor, and, leaning forward, placed the mouth of the barrel against his
heart, and slid his hand down it towards the trigger.  A sense of
alleviation of pain, a foretaste of rest, came to him, from the pressure
of the gun on his heart.

’God pardon me, it cannot be otherwise! May He be with her and bless
her!  Mirelle! Mirelle!’

He touched the trigger.

At that moment the door flew open.

’Maister! dear maister!’

With the start, the gun was discharged, but not through his heart; the
bullet whizzed past his ear, and penetrated the roof.

Then ensued silence for a minute.  Herring was leaning back, hardly
knowing what had happened, and whether he were alive or dead.

The smoke filled the little room.  As it cleared away, his eyes saw
Joyce.

’Maister! sure you have frighted of me dreadful; but—I’ve a brought’y
the stockings.’

He did not speak.  He understood nothing.

’Dear maister! what be thicky gun for? Did’y think I were a robber, and
you fired at me?  No, no!  I be no robber, I be come a long way.  See!
I ha’ done it all myself.  I sed as I would.  I’ve a brought’y a pair o’
stockings all of my own knitting.’

He remained speechless.

’Look!’ she persisted; ’put thicky gashly gun away.  There be no robbers
here; I be your Joyce, your own poor Joyce.  Look! the stockings be
warm, of lambswool, and vitty, and I did knit mun every bit and croom
myself.’



                             *CHAPTER XLV.*

                            *’KINKUM-KUM.’*


’It be warm and comfortable in here,’ said Joyce, looking round her.
’Surely, I used to think it snug under the Table when the winds were
loud; but there us had always a door open for the smoke to go out at.
There were no chimney there, and there couldn’t be none, for because of
the great stone overhead.’

Herring put his hands to his brow.  He was dazed.  He could not
understand Joyce’s presence there and then.

’What a mighty long time you’ve a been away from West Wyke, maister!
But, sure, I have been away a bit too.  I’ve a been with Farmer Facey to
Coombow.  I sed I’d go to ’n, and work out the hire of the waggon as
brought you home after you were nigh upon killed by Cap’n Sampson
Tramplara, and I did it. I went there, and I were there two whole months
by the moon.  Both Farmer Facey and his wife sed I did more work than
two men.  But, sure, this fire be beautiful.  I’ve a been out in the
snow and wind all day, and the most of the night too.’

Herring looked inquiringly at her.

’Where have you come from, Joyce?’

’Where have I come from?  Where else, sure, but from West Wyke.  I be
come to look for you, and to bring’y the stockings I’ve a knitted.  I
sed I would, and I’ve a done it.

’I do not understand, Joyce.  From West Wyke?’

’Sure-ly.’

’Not to-day, and in this storm?’

’I’ve not done this all in a day once for all, but I’ve been a foot all
to-day, I can tell’y. It were hard walking.  But see——’ she held out her
feet; they were stockinged and shod. ’Bain’t that vitty’ (tidy), ’and
bain’t I peart’ (smart)?  ’You should ha’ seen mun, though, when they
was new and beautiful; but I’ve a been so stogged in snow that they be
now wetted through and through, and all their beauty washed out of ’em.’

’You have walked here?’  Herring was coming out of his dazed condition
into one of wonder at Joyce.

’Sure I have.  I’ll tell’y all about it, but I must sit me down by the
fire; I be that stiff and tired I can scarce stand.’

’Joyce, what is the meaning of your coming?’

’I’ll tell’y all right on end from beginning till now.  I sed I’d a been
working for Farmer Facey to Coombow.’

’What for?’

’Did you not hear me say it?  He lent his waggon to dray you home to
West Wyke, after you was nigh upon killed.’

’Well, what then?’

’Sure he wanted to be paid for it.  There were a waggon and two horses
for a day, and there were that boy, Jim White, along of them.’

’Why did you not tell me?  I would have paid.’

’No,’ answered Joyce, ’it were I as had the care of you.  I sed I would
do that, and I did it.  I went and worked out the hire of the waggon and
of Jim White myself.’

Herring looked at her with amazement.

’I cannot allow this,’ he said.

’It be done,’ she said, with an air of triumph.  ’It be paid and all; I
paid with my arms, by work; and the farmer sed I worked better than two
able-bodied men, he did. And Farmer Facey’s wife, her were a good un;
her larned me to knit.  It came about so. When as first I went there, I
were that shy of going under the hellens, I thought I’d smother; so I
sed I’d lie in the linney, and I did lie there a night or two.  It were
comfortable in the straw.  But at last I seed the woman knitting
stockings, and I sed I wished her’d larn me that; and her said her would
if I’d come inside of the evenings—it were late in the fall, and the
nights were long. Well, I were that set on larning that I did; I went
in.  I sed to you as I’d knit your stockings, and I’ve a done so.  See,
there they be. That Jim White were a worrit.  If he’d a let me alone I’d
have larned a deal faster; but I larned at last, I did.  It wern’t so
bad and spifflicating after all in the house by the great fire.  The
smoke didn’t fill the room; her went right on end up the chimney.
Maister! when I were larning to knit stockings.  I were that set up I
thought I wern’t like a savage no more as I used to be, but were dacent
like other folk, and I found like that I could abide and breathe under
hellens.  Miss Cicely would hev taught me to knit, but I couldn’t wait.
I had to go to Coombow and work out the waggon and Jim White.  I worked
mun all out, and the farmer sed I were better to he than two labouring
men.  When I comed away at last, Mistress Facey her gived me thicky
stockings, her’d a knit mun herself, and thicky shoes, they be brave and
beautiful. Her gived them to me, and would take nothing for ’em.  I
didn’t reckon much of ’em at fust, but I sees now I couldn’t have walked
here with bare feet in the snow.  So they be good for more than to look
to.’

’Why have you come here?’

’I’ve brought you the stockings I’ve knitted. I sed I would, and I’ve
done it.  You never came nigh to West Wyke for a long time, and Miss
Cicely were lost to know what had become of you, and the old Squire be
took worse; and I’d done the stockings, and I thought as you’d never
come to see ’em.  One day when the Squire were very bad, Miss Cicely
comed to I, and said as how her wondered why you never came, and as how
her wished you could know how the Squire were, and that he were axing
every day after you.  Then I sed, the stockings were done, and as you
didn’t come for mun, I’d carry mun to you.  Her told me where you lived.
I were to go right forward to Launceston, and there to ax my way to
Boscastle.  So I sed I’d go, and I’d take your stockings.  The wind were
up and there were going to be ice and snow, and you’d be wanting them to
keep your feet warm.  So I came.’

’But, Joyce, how did you find your way here, to this house?’

’I came about dark to Boscastle, and I went about and inquired after
you, and some sed they didn’t think you was here, and some sed, if I
wanted to find you, I must go to the office, you were there mostly, and
always of nights; and they gave me directions, and so I came.’

’But, Joyce, it is now past midnight.’

’I dare say it be.  I couldn’t get in at the door when first I found the
little house, and tried, and there was no light in the windows, and I
thought you might not be come yet, and I’d wait about a bit.  So I
waited on the lew side, but the wind were so wild, and the snow drifted,
and I were forced to go away.  But I came again after a while, and still
the door were fast.  So then I thought I’d go and find a haystack or a
linney, where I might sleep, and I’d come again in the morning.  But I
rambled about for miles, and never found nothing of a place where I
might lie.  I got to one house, where there were lights in the windows,
but a dog began to bark, and I were feared he might bite me as Farmer
Freeze’s dog had bitten and tore me—you mind that time as I hearkened to
the hooddoo,—so I didn’t venture into the shippon but comed away, and
then I don’t know exactly where and for how long I wandered about, but
at last I saw a light here, and I found my way back to the office, but I
had rare tumbles and climbings over walls and into ditches. However, I
have found you here to last, dear maister, and I be glad, I be glad.’

’Good heavens, Joyce! is all this true?’

’Sure-ly.  Did I ever tell you a lie?’

’Since when have you been afoot?’

’I started afore light, I reckon about five o’clock.’

’My poor, poor Joyce!’

’I be none so poor now.  See my stockings and shoes!  And do’y look here
what a sight o’ brave clothes I have, as Miss Cicely gave me.’

’Have you had anything to eat?’

’Sure.  A woman at a cottage gave me some bread and a bowl of skimmed
milk.’

’When?’

’I reckon at noon.’

’Twelve hours ago.  Have you had nothing since?’

’No; I couldn’t wait when I comed to Boscastle, I were that longing to
get on and find you.’

’Joyce, you must be starving.’  He sprang up and went to the cupboard,
the same whence he had taken the bullet.  A week ago he had a loaf and
some cheese there.  The bread was stale, but still it was edible.  He
brought it out, with the cheese and a knife.

’Joyce, off with these soaking shoes and stockings.  Sit down at the
table and eat what you can.  I will get you something warmed over the
fire to drink as quickly as I can.’

The thought of what Joyce had gone through distracted his attention from
his own misery.  There were others in the world beside Mirelle, others
demanding his consideration and sympathy.

’The Squire be took cruel bad,’ said Joyce, ’and Miss Cicely be very
desirous to see you, and that you should come to the Squire.  There be
Upaver mine.  Squire have a looked after things so long as he could, but
there be nobody to do that now.’

’What is the matter with Mr. Battishill?’

’I dun know, but he be cruel bad; and the mistress were looking along
the Okehampton road every day, and hoping as you would come.  You’ve
been such a long, long time away, and us can’t get on without you no
ways, that you knows very well.’

He was a help to some.  His presence was desired by some.  Only to
Mirelle he was unwelcome.

’Be this house yours?’ asked Joyce, looking round.  ’I won’t say but
her’s comfortable wi’ fire and can’l and all sorts; but her’s none so
big as West Wyke, and not such a wonderful sight bigger than the Giant’s
Table. I know when I gets back, Miss Cicely will be asking of me about
it; what sort of a place her be, and whether her be big or small, and
built of stone.  Her’s all of board, just like some of them places they
runned up to Ophir, where the gold was.  But that be all tore abroad
now.’

Poor girl, she was hungry.  The bread was hard as biscuit, but she ate
it eagerly. Herring gave her some hot wine and water.

’The old Squire be axing after you the first thing in the morning.  And
he do fret wonderful for you.  Miss Cicely do say it be like a child
wanting his nurse.  He be gone a ’bit tottle’ (foolish), ’I reckon.’

’I shall go back to West Wyke to-morrow, Joyce.’

’O glory rallaluley!  I be glad.  I’ll have a wink of sleep, and then
I’ll be fresh as a buttercup to go wi’ you.  I may go along of you,
mayn’t I now, maister dear?’

’Yes, Joyce.  You shall not walk, you shall ride.’

’I rided once afore wi’ you,’ she answered, ’but you know nort about
that.  It were when you were nigh upon dead, and I held your head in my
arms all the way, and you never waked but once, and that were on Sourton
Down, and then you held out your hands, entreating like, and cried
something, and that were all, and never spoke no more.’

’What did I cry out?’

She looked steadily into his eyes, and said in a low tone, ’Mirelle.’

He covered his face, as a spasm contracted his heart.  Joyce had touched
too recent a wound for him to endure the touch without shrinking.  Joyce
saw that he was in pain. She went to him, and, kneeling at his feet,
drew his hands away from his face, and looked into it; then shook her
head.

’Her don’t belong to you yet then?’

’No, and never will.’  He spoke with bitterness.

’You be changed, maister dear.  I never seed you afore like as you be
now.  You look just about a score of years older than what you was once.
Is it the Whiteface has done it, or what be it, maister darling?  Tell
your own Joyce, and see if her won’t go through ice and snow to serve
you any day, if her can.’

’You can do nothing for me.’

Still she looked at him, holding his hands, trying to read his secret in
his face, with eyes full of earnestness.  Then, suddenly, there came a
revulsion in his thoughts.

’God forgive me for what I have said! You do nothing for me!—Joyce, dear
Joyce, you have done for me this night more than you are aware of.  You
saved my life once before, you have saved my life again to-night, and
something more than my life.’

She did not understand him.  How could she?

’Maister,’ she said, ’put thicky gashly old gun away; it frightens me.’

He rose at once and obeyed, putting the gun back in its old place on the
crooks.

’You be coming back to West Wyke?’ she asked.

’Yes, to-morrow.’

’You’ll be better there.  There the old Squire be fond of you, and you
be so kind to me; and there be Miss Cicely, too, her’s a pining
likewise, acause you be so long away; and there be I,’ she looked down
at his feet, ’knitting stockings as fast as I can knit for you.  If I
can do nothing more, I can do that.’

’Oh, Joyce!  Joyce!’  He could say no more, his heart was full.  Here at
Welltown—wretchedness, coldness, repulsion; there at West Wyke—not
happiness indeed, but rest, warmth, and love.

’And, maister dear, you’ll larn me the kinkum-kum.  I wouldn’t let Miss
Cicely larn me.  Her began to laugh when I said kinkum-kum.  But when I
were bad wi’ my broken arms, and I asked you to say it, you didn’t
laugh, but you tooked off your hat and said it as good as a Methody.
And now, I’ll tell’y, that night when I drayed you out of the road into
the wood, and thought you was going to die, and I didn’t know what ever
to do, I got such a pain here,’ she put her hand to her heart, ’as I
could scarce abear it.  And then I went down on my knees, just the same
as I be now, and I put up my hands over where you lay, and I cried that
same kinkum-kum, and him as I knows nort about, he heard me, and he did
what he could, I reckon. He made you better, and he set my pain and
trouble at rest.  There, maister darling, I can see you be in pain and
trouble now.  Just you do the same; go down on your knees, and say the
same right on end, and the rest from pain and trouble will come
sure-ly.’

’Joyce!’

She was still looking in his face, desiring something, with a great
distress in her eyes. Now, a smile broke in her eyes.

’O rallaluley!’ she exclaimed.  ’Your face were at first like Cosdon
when hard frozen, but now the springs be breaking.’

The lines in his face had softened, his lips quivered, and his eyes
filled.  Then, all at once, he fell on his knees beside Joyce, and held
up his hands as she had taught him, and said in broken tones and slowly,
’Our Father.’  Joyce repeated the words.

’Which art in heaven—hallowed be thy name.’

Joyce still followed.  ’Thy kingdom come.’

The storm had passed away, almost suddenly. The clouds had broken; in
the west the moon hung unveiled, and cast a ray of purest silver into
the little room, and bathed in her stainless light the poor savage and
the young soldier, kneeling and praying together.



                            *CHAPTER XLVI.*

                            *A BAR OF ICE.*


Next morning John Herring returned to Welltown.  He was a changed man.
His lightheartedness, his simplicity of character, were gone for ever.
Hitherto he had been a big boy, with buoyant spirits and with a belief
that the world was a paradise.  He was a man now, seeing life before him
as a sad desert that must be tramped over, where he must meet with
suffering, and count himself happy if, at long intervals, he reached and
could rest by a brackish pool.  The world is no paradise, it is a vale
of Sodom, where the pits are bitterness and the rivers brine.  It is no
playground, it is a convict establishment. It is a theatre in which all
act tragedies, and the lookers-on mistake them for farces.

Herring had spent the remainder of the night by his fire, revolving in
his mind what must be done.  Joyce slept soundly on his bed in the
corner, tired out with her trudge through the snow.  Herring had made
her take off her gown, and had thrown an old fishing coat of his over
her.  Though he sat over the fire thinking of his own future and
Mirelle’s, he cared also for Joyce’s boots and gown and stockings, that
were drying by the stove, and turned them, and took thought that they
were not burnt.

In the morning he sent Joyce into the village of Boscastle to detain the
chaise in which he had come to Welltown the previous evening.  Then he
went to see Mirelle once more.

He was, as Joyce had observed, greatly oldened and altered.  One night
had worked the change in the outer as well as in the inner man.  There
comes a time to all when the rose-coloured spectacles must be laid aside
for those of blue glass.  The time comes sooner to some than to others.
It had come now to John Herring, and the aspect of everything was
changed to him.

Mirelle was unaltered.  She was pale, indeed, but that was her usual
complexion, and her eyes were red, but they had been red the day of her
marriage.  She was more collected than on the previous evening, and
Herring was more composed.

He entered the house without Genefer perceiving him, and went upstairs
to the little porch-room.  Whilst he was in the hall he heard Mirelle’s
steps above, and knew she was there.

She did not seem surprised to see him. She received him with ease and
gentle kindness, not as a husband, but as a friend.  There was in her
heart a sense of relief; she could speak with him on an understood
footing, and she would not be subjected to demonstrative affection.
Herring was prepared for this. She saw that he was looking worn and ill,
but she made no remark.  She was the cause of the change in his
appearance, and she knew it.  She regretted it, but it was inevitable.

Mirelle was dressed in a sober dark gown. Every trace of bridal white
had been put away.  When he entered, she was engaged on her trunks.

’Your jewels are here,’ he said, showing her a secret drawer in a large
old cabinet. ’I give you the key.  Do not leave it about; though nothing
is to be feared from Genefer or Hender, yet it is wise to keep articles
of value under lock and key, and not to trust the key to any one.’

’They are of no value.  They are paste.’

’I beg your pardon, they are not.  I took them to a jeweller, who
examined them. Some of the stones had been abstracted at some time, and
replaced by artificial diamonds, by whom and when, I cannot, of course,
say.  I have had all these taken out, and true stones of good quality
put in their places.  The necklet and diadem are now perfect as at
first.’

Mirelle was surprised.

’You think the set of diamonds was originally complete.’

’I am convinced it was so.’

’And that the stones had been removed and paste substitutes put instead
into the sockets.’

’I believe so.’

’Then you do not think my father gave what was worthless to my mother?’

’I cannot suppose so.  It is not likely. The pendant was tampered with
more thoroughly than the rest of the set, because it was removable.
Probably after that had been altered, one by one the stones of the
necklace were removed.  Some person in need of money disposed of the
stones as the need came.’

Mirelle thought.

’Yes,’ she said, ’I have no doubt it was done by Antoinette.’

’Who was Antoinette?’

’My mother’s maid, who did everything for her.  I am glad to think that
my father was not guilty of a mean act.  I thank you for clearing his
memory from such a stain. Henceforth I shall believe that Antoinette was
guilty.’

’So be it; and from henceforth I hope you will realise the necessity of
keeping precious stones under lock and key.  Show them to nobody
unnecessarily, and, above all, show nobody where they are kept.’

They spoke to each other with perfect coolness and self-possession.
Pyramus and Thisbe met and conversed with a wall between; John Herring
and Mirelle were separated by an invisible wall, but it was one of ice.

’I have brought you, as well, the key of my office on Willapark.  I keep
there my accounts of the slate-quarry.  Should anything from the office
be required, the foreman will come to you.  If not asking too much, I
would wish him not to be given free run over it, and that you should be
present when he wants anything.  There are things there which I do not
care for him to turn over, papers and accounts among which I do not wish
him to rummage.  You will do me this favour?’

’Certainly.  Are you going away?’

’I am going away for a while.  You know that I am working a valuable
silver lead mine on the borders of Dartmoor, and it must be looked
after.’

Why did he not say where it was—’near West Wyke? where you and I first
met, where your father died?’  He did not say this, because it would be
painful for him to say it, and for her to hear it.  The name would call
up recollections they must endeavour to crush out of their minds.

’You will return again?’

’I will come back to see how the slate-quarry progresses.  I had
purposed building a breakwater, but I shall not now carry out this
purpose.’

’Why not?’

’The lead mine is sure to engross nay time and attention.  I shall be
here but little. My interests will be centred in the silver lead.’

’Very well.’

’I shall provide for your comfort.  You will have, as before, your own
account in the bank, under the same name, Mirelle Garcia de Cantalejo.
You will draw from the bank what you require.’

’I thank you, Mr. Herring.  You are very kind.’

’You will do with the money what you like; you are entire mistress of
it.  You will pay for the expenses of the house from it, and keep what
company you like.  There are not many neighbours, but such as there are
will call, and they will be hospitable to you, and glad to receive
hospitality from you.  I dare say you will require additional servants.
Genefer——’

’I beg your pardon, I do not wish to have that woman in the house.  She
frightens me.’

’She is a worthy, devoted soul.  You are sure to like her when once you
have learned her value.’

’She frightens me; I thought I should have died of fear last night.’

’I cannot consent to her dismissal.  She was my nurse, she has been with
me from my birth, and loves me as if I were her own child.  When I look
back I see how her life has been devoted to me.  Besides, the home farm
is let to Hender, and he and she must live here: there is no other house
for them, and the outbuildings are included in the lease.  It is
unavoidable.  If I could have gratified you in this particular I would
have done so, but I cannot.’

Mirelle became, if possible, colder.  She bowed her head stiffly.

’Very well,’ she said, after a pause, awkward to both: ’if it cannot be,
I must endure this cross also.  But I entreat you, do not say me nay to
my next petition.’

’I will not.  I would refuse you nothing, you may be very confident, but
the impossible.’

’It will not be impossible for Orange and her mother to come here and
reside with me.’

Herring took a hasty turn up and down the room.  The request vexed him
greatly. There was something in Orange he did not like, something in her
manner towards Mirelle which made him mistrust her professions of
affection, something—a coarseness of mind which he suspected rather than
perceived, which he shrank from voluntarily bringing into contact with
the unsullied purity and delicacy of Mirelle’s soul.

’Is this also refused me?’ asked Mirelle. Then her coldness giving way,
the assumed stiffness yielding to her natural emotion, ’Oh, John
Herring, do not be unkind to me!  You have been so good, so much better
to me than I deserve.’

’I—I unkind to you, Mirelle!’  In a moment also his assumed coldness
cracked, and the warm suffering heart showed its blood through the rent,
as the black crust of lava that descends Vesuvius breaks, and the fire
of the core is seen glowing between the rough edges.

’I tell you the truth, my friend,’ she said. ’I will call you my friend;
that you have been ever since we have known each other—that you are
still.’

’Yes,’ said Herring, regaining his composure, ’what I have been, that I
am and shall be, your friend—nothing more.’

’I tell you the truth, that woman Genefer nearly killed me last night.
I was sitting over the fire till late, after——’ she hesitated.

’After I left you; yes, go on.’

’After you left me, after I had driven you away, my friend, my poor
friend!’  She looked up into his eyes piteously.  He turned his away; he
could not bear to look into the soul that was not his, that never could
be his.  She went on: ’After you were gone, I sat on till very late,
thinking.  I was unhappy, and I cried.  I sat by the fire; you can
understand, I was in trouble about myself and about you.  After midnight
I was roused by hearing the most dreadful shrieks and the rushing of
feet along the passage overhead.’

’That was nothing,’ said Herring, forcing a smile.  ’My good Genefer has
strange fancies that take her perversely at unsuitable seasons.  She was
only driving the devil.’

’But I cannot bear hearing the devil driven in the depth of the night,
in a lonely house, in the midst of a raging storm.  It will kill me.  I
have been very ill, you must remember, with a nervous fever, and it has
left me weak and liable to be shaken by strange events.  I fear that I
cannot bear such an event again.  I cannot stand much.’  She looked now
full of entreaty and helplessness—a frightened, feeble girl, in dread of
strange things, she knew not what.

’That is true.  I will see and speak to Genefer before I leave.  I must
give some explanation of, and excuse for, my hurried departure, and at
the same time I will be peremptory with her on this point.  She must not
do such a thing again.  If she wants to drive the devil, she must drive
him in her own chapel.’

’This house is so lonely and cold.  I must have some one always with me,
some one whose presence will be a protection against fears, some one
whom I can consult about matters that concern the house.  I am wholly
ignorant about these; I am only a girl just come from school, and come
into a strange land. When I was at Dolbeare I slept with Orange, and I
should like to have her here to sleep with me again.  Then, if I heard
noises in the night, I would cling to her, and she is so strong and so
brave that she would protect me and revive my courage.’

’I do not like Orange.’

’May I not have her here?  I must have some one, and I had rather have
her than any one else.’

Herring again paced the room.  A great repugnance to this proposal rose
up in his heart: he had no real and reasonable grounds for it, but he
had an instinctive dread of the plan.

’You will not refuse me this,’ pleaded Mirelle.  ’See!  I did not ask
you for all those generous and kind things you have devised for me.  But
a man does not understand the feelings of a woman.  You are strong and
unable to comprehend my terrors. To you they are childish and absurd,
but they are very real and serious to me.  I only ask you this one
thing—if Genefer must remain, let Orange come.’

He could not resolve to give his consent.

’Would it not be better if I were to find you a suitable companion, some
lady, young, and, if you desired it, of your own faith?’

’How can I tell that she would suit me? There were many girls, my
schoolfellows, at the Sacré Coeur.  They were of my own age, and all
were good Catholics, but with several of them I could not live, and with
some I should not care to live.  How can I tell that you would find me
just the very girl that I should like?  No, I know Orange.  We do not
think alike.  She has not faith.  She is older than I am, and though
companions we are not intimates; but I know her, and she loves me; she
has good sense and she can advise.  That is all I want.’

’Was there no girl at your old school whom you would like to ask to come
to you?  You must have had some dear friend there.’

’Yes, there was la Princesse Marie de la Meillerie; we were close
friends.  But conceive!  I could not invite her to this place of
banishment, where there is not a tree nor a flower.  This world here is
not nature in flesh and clothing, it is the skeleton of nature, and it
demands the enthusiasm of a geologist to admire such a country.  My
companions, again, were of the _haute noblesse_, and were not of the
sort to become _gouvernantes_ to young unprotected ladies.’

’No, I see that.’

’Moreover, who would come here, where you have a church picked bare to
the bones of all that surrounds and sweetens religion? My friends are
Catholics, and love a living church, not one which is only bones, though
the smallest of bones be preserved and _in situ_, and the entire
skeleton be well set up.’

’I dare say it is so.’

’Then you will allow Orange Trampleasure and her mother to come to me.
See you! they are at Launceston, and are left without money.’

’I promised in your name to place five thousand pounds to the account of
Miss Orange.’

’Yes, I do wish that.  But that is not sufficient.  They are not
comfortable at Launceston.  It was there that they met with their great
reverse.  It was in that house that Mr. Trampleasure died.  The people
of Launceston suffered by the failure of the gold mine, and they will
not forgive Mrs. Trampleasure and Orange, though only the old man and
Mr. Sampson were guilty of wrong towards them. I know that Orange and
her mother would like to leave the town, and go elsewhere, where they
are not known.  That also is a reason why I wish them to come to me.’

’Very well,’ said Herring: ’if it must be so, let it be so.  It is a
compromise, and a compromise is never satisfactory.  I retain Genefer
and you Orange.  Ask them to come here to you on a visit of a couple or
three months—temporarily—not as a permanence, and only till they have
made up their minds where they will finally settle.’

’I must accept this,’ said Mirelle, with a sigh: ’you were so very, very
kind to me _before_—now that we are married, you are only half as kind.’

’Do not speak like this,’ said Herring, hastily.  ’I am what I was
before, a friend, nothing further—I can be nothing further.’

’You will be always my friend?’

’Always.’

He drew a long breath.  His heart was swelling and likely again to rend
the crust and show its fires.  He conquered himself and held out his
hand.

’You will find that one drawer of my desk in the office is locked; I
keep the key to that.  Everything else is open to you. Good-bye!’

’What, so soon?’

’I am going away in the carriage that brought us to this place
yesterday.’

’Ah, well!—to the silver lead mine.’

’Yes.’

’What will be your address?’

’You will not need it.’

’Shall you soon return?’

’I do not know.  Good-bye.’

They shook hands.  Mirelle’s lips trembled and her eyes filled.  She
bore Herring a sincere regard; she felt her deep indebtedness to him.
She had treated him with great cruelty, and had caused him unspeakable
suffering.  This was a chilly separation.  She felt inclined to say
something better than ’good-bye’—that is, to say ’Stay.’  But she could
not do this.

They touched hands through the walls of ice that intervened, and that
froze the word on her tongue.



                            *CHAPTER XLVII.*

                            *WELCOME HOME!*


The weather changed with the capriciousness proverbial in the West of
England.  There a week of continuous frost and east winds is almost
unknown.  No sooner has the snow been shaken over the hills than the sky
repents of its cruelty, and brings a warm breath over the face of the
land, before which the white mantle vanishes as if by magic, and the
grass comes forth greener than before.

It was so now.  The wind had changed after midnight, and a rapid thaw
had set in. Herring returned to Launceston in the carriage in which he
had left the day before. The post-boys had removed their favours, and
the earth was putting off hers as well. Herring took poor Joyce back
with him.  When she came to Launceston, she desired to push on.  She
wished, she said, to go to Coombow and see Mistress Facey.  Herring was
obliged to remain the night in Launceston; he had to make the
arrangements with the bank that he had undertaken.

He did not go to Dolbeare.  He saw no one but the banker; and then he
went on his way by coach.  He did not pick up Joyce. Perhaps he overtook
and passed her on the road without noticing her; his mind was full of
his own troubles, and he had no attention to bestow on the road and
those who were on it.

When he passed Okehampton his thoughts took a turn.  The grand bulk of
Cosdon rose before him.  The soft glory of the evening sun was on it,
the snow had not thawed off the mighty head, though it had gone from the
valleys, except where drifted and screened from the wind and sun.  The
rooks were wheeling and cawing, they anticipated fine weather, and were
thinking of overhauling their last year’s nests.  Valentine’s Day, for
birds as well as for maids and men, was only a month off.  The rooks
blackened a field, the worms had come out after the frost to enjoy the
sun and soft breeze, and the rooks were enjoying the worms.  ’Caw, caw!’

Then the guard blew his horn, and away they went, a rush of black wings,
but to no great distance.  They settled in a couple of oak trees, and
waited till the coach had gone by.  The coachman cracked his whip.  That
alarmed them more than the horn, it resembled the report of a gun, and
they sprang into the air with loud remonstrances against a repetition of
the St. Bartholomew’s Day of last rook-shooting.  ’Caw, caw!’  They
danced a minuet against the blue sky overhead, a minuet of incomparable
intricacy.  There be three things, said the wise king, too wonderful for
me—the way of a bird in the air, the way of a ship in the sea, and the
way of men and maids.  The ship darts from side to side, tacking against
adverse winds, aiming at a port which she seems to avoid; and the way of
maids with men sweethearting, in the Valentine days, in sweet spring, is
much the same, full of tricks and evasions, disguises and cross
purposes, wonderful as the way of a ship, wonderful as the mystic dances
of the rooks overhead.

The air was warm, the sounds were spring-like, the beautiful moor was
glorified by the sun, setting in a web of golden vapour.  The scene was
familiar to Herring, associated with pleasant days.  He got off the
coach at the bridge over the Taw, that he might walk quietly up the hill
and over the downs to West Wyke.  Windows were glittering in the sun
like gold leaf.  There was one that was open and swinging in the light
air.  It flashed across the valley shafts of fire, welcoming flashes to
the broken-hearted man toiling up the hill.  In a thorn-bush the
sparrows were chattering—hundreds holding parliament, all their little
voices going together, and none attending to what the other sang or
said. Lo! in the hedge, already, a celandine, the glossy petals as
glorious as those flickering windows.  A sense of rest after long
trouble came upon Herring.  He stooped and picked the celandine—January,
and these bright heralds of sunshine out already, come forth to welcome
him home to West Wyke.

How soothing in his ear sounded the murmur of the Taw, rushing over the
old grey granite boulders, breaking from the moor to run a quiet course
through rich meadows and among pleasant groves.  The gentle rush had a
lullaby effect on the troubled heart of the walker.  A very different
sound this from the boom of the Atlantic against Willapark and the
churning of the imprisoned billows in Blackapit.

A track led off the road to Upaver.  How was the mine getting on?  The
track was well trampled and the wheel marks many; that was a cheering
sign.  Hard by stood a post which Tramplara had set up, painted white,
with a board on it and a hand pointing moorwards, ’To the Gold Mines of
Ophir.’  Some one had scrambled up the post, scratched out the ’To,’ and
written in its place ’Damn,’ giving thereby coarse but emphatic
expression to the general sentiment.  Herring smiled bitterly as he
noticed this.  Next he came to the cottages.

’Good evening, sir!  Glad to see you home again.’

The speaker was a labourer returning to his fireside, his day’s work
over.  Herring did not remember him, but the man knew him, and his tone
showed pleasure.

Home!—was this home?

’How is all going on with you?’ asked Herring.

’Well, sir, my missus hev given me another little maiden.  That makes
fourteen childer. Eight maidens and six boys, but we’ve a buried three.’

’You have your quiver full.’

’They bring their love wi’ them, sir; and that, I reckon, you’ll find
when you’ve a home of your own, and a wife, and the little uns coming
every year.’

Herring sighed.

’Good evening, sir.  Here be my nest.’

’Good-night.’  Then Herring went on—home? Before him was West Wyke, and
the last glimpse of the sun was on it.  The window of West Wyke it was
that had flashed the welcome to him.

The old ash trees, the old gateway with the grey owls, the old chimneys,
the old ivy-mantled porch, the old firelight flickering through the hall
window.  A moment more, and the old welcome.

With an exclamation of delight, Cicely sprang from a stool by the fire
to meet him, as he entered without knocking; entered as he would to his
home.  He was no stranger, to knock and ask for admission.  He went
straight in, and in a moment felt that he ought to have more hands than
two to give to those who grasped them.

The old Squire and Cicely held him.

’Oh, John, dear cousin John, you have come at last!’

’John, John, I am so glad to see you again.’

But who was that, also, on her knees, insisting on having his hand to
cover it with kisses, sobbing and laughing, with tears and joy in eyes
and voice?  ’Oh, rallaluley.  The maister be come back from that whist
place!’  Yes—Joyce.  The true, devoted Joyce, who had only stayed an
hour at Coombow with Mrs. Facey, and then had walked on, all night, and
had come in—nay, burst in, on the Battishills in the morning, with the
tidings that the master was on his way back to West Wyke.  Over the
chimney-piece, about the pictures, wherever it could be stuck, was
bright holly with red berries.  And see! hanging from the black beam, a
bunch of mistletoe.

Herring’s heart was full.  He could not speak, but he took Cicely’s head
between his hands and kissed her; he stooped and lifted Joyce and
pressed his lips to her cheek; and the old Squire’s arm encircled him,
and drew the young head down beside the old grey one.

The tongues of all failed.  Herring raised his eyes, over which a mist
was forming, and saw above the doorway an inscription in red holly
berries—

                             Welcome Home.

By degrees only did the flush and fever of joy in these good simple
souls subside, and Herring was able to recover his composure.

Then the young man stood by the Squire’s chair and looked at him.  His
heart reproached him for having deserted him for so long a time.

’We hoped you would have dropped in and eaten your Christmas dinner with
us, John,’ said Mr. Battishill.  ’We set your chair at the table, and a
sprig of holly by your plate, in hopes you would arrive.’

’I am very sorry, sir, that I was not here.  I should have been far
happier here among such dear, kind friends.’

’It is you, John, who have been a kind friend to us,’ said the old man.
’Just consider.  If you had not rescued the mortgages out of Tramplara’s
hands when you did, they would have fallen to the creditors, the
directors of Ophir, and we should have been turned into the cold.’

’You repay what little I have done for you a thousand fold,’ answered
Herring.

There was a flush on the old man’s cheek, caused by excitement.

’Now we have you here again,’ he said, ’you must remain with us, at all
events, for some time.  Consider this as your home.’

’Yes,’ answered Herring, ’I have no home elsewhere.’  He spoke sadly.
Cicely looked hard at him.  He went on, ’I will stay on with you till I
tire you out with my society.’

’That can never be.  There is Upaver crying out for you; I am past
attending to that.  I am not what I was a few months ago.  The wheels
are becoming rusty and the gear breaks.’

Cicely looked from her father to Herring questioningly.  Did John note
the change in the old man?  A change there was; he was failing in many
ways.  Just now the delight of seeing Herring again had revived him,
nevertheless the change was observable enough. The eager look had gone
out of the eyes, and the lips had become more tremulous than ever.

As Cicely turned her eyes from one to the other, there dawned on her the
truth that a change had come over John Herring—a change greater than
that which had passed upon her father.  She had not been apprised of
this by Joyce, and was unprepared for it.  She noticed it first with
incredulity, then with perplexity, and she resolved to speak with him on
the subject.  The man was not the same.  The same in outward feature, in
colour of hair and eyes, but he was not the same in expression.  He was
aged.  A wave had passed over his head, and he had come forth half
drowned. The elasticity was gone from his tread, the sparkle from his
eye, the dimple from his cheek, the laugh from his lips.  The eye had
become more steady, lines had formed on his brow and in his cheeks; the
lips had lost their flexibility, they were closed and firm.  He no
longer held his head erect with strong self-consciousness; he seemed to
have acquired a slight stoop, the head was somewhat bowed.

It was clear to Cicely that Herring had undergone some grievous trial,
of what sort she could not guess, and that he had emerged from it with a
strengthened character, though with a saddened heart.  Cicely did not
indeed take this in all at once.  Her curiosity was roused and her
attention fixed, and by degrees the greatness and significance of the
change forced themselves upon her.

The old man observed nothing.  But now Joyce, who had been thrust into
the background, insisted on asserting herself.

’See, dear maister, what be come to your Joyce.  Do’y look here!’

She stood forward in the light—the light of several candles, lit to
welcome Herring home.  She wore a dark-blue serge gown, and a white
kerchief round her neck, and crossed over her bosom.  Her luxuriant dark
hair was combed and pruned, and fastened up under a white cap.  The gown
was short, and showed white stockings and black shoes.  Her wild face
was subdued and softened, the rudeness had gone out of it, and a strange
tinge of sweetness and modesty had come in place of the savagery.  She
was really a handsome girl, of splendid physique, easy in every motion.

’Did’y ever see wonder like this?’ asked Joyce, holding out her skirts
and apron, and showing her white stockings.  ’And see how grand my hair
be.  What do’y say to this, maister dear?’

’Why, Joyce, I congratulate you with all my heart.  This is what I have
been wishing for, but never hoped to see.’

’You have wished for it—you!  O glory and blazes!  I be glad.’

’I told you as much, Joyce,’ said Cicely Battishill.

’I know you did, miss, but I couldn’t believe it.  I thought you sed it
just to persuade me on.’

’Cousin John, we have enlarged our household to-day.  We have taken
Joyce in.  Her dread of going under the "hellens" has given way.  She
will learn to make herself useful. Now, Joyce, you may go back to the
kitchen, and help Charity to get supper ready.’

’What has become of the old man—Grizzly?’

’We allow him to sleep in one of the linneys, and he is given broken
meat once a day. He has fallen into bad ways of late.  Ophir injured him
as much as it injured his superiors, only in a different way.  He
learned from the workmen to drink, and now he loafs about the country
trying to get something given him by inconsiderate persons to keep his
throat wet.  He is at Upaver a good deal; there the miners make game of
him, and treat him.  He has taken to smoking.  I have threatened that if
he carries his pipe into the shippon, I shall refuse him the linney as a
bedroom, and he will have to return to the Giant’s Table.’

’I am glad that he and his daughter are parted.’

’There was no chance for her as long as she remained under his thraldom.
Fortunately she had set her head on going for two months to a place
called Coombow, and that opened the way to her leaving Grizzly
altogether. He is a hopeless savage.  We did believe at one time that he
was capable of improvement. He worked hard on his patch of land.  But
Ophir diverted him from the upward path, and since then he has been
going down hill nearly as fast as his barrel when it broke from its
tether.’

’Well, John,’ said Mr. Battishill, ’I must not let Cicely engross you.
Come and talk to me.  I will tell you what we have been doing at Upaver.
We have got the leat cut, and the wheel and crushers in place, and a
smelting house run up.  I have not been able to go there myself, but the
foreman, a very worthy, sensible fellow, comes up every other day and
reports progress.  I have seen to the accounts as you desired; but I am
not what I was.  My head has become confused, and I have had to ask
Cicely to help me out with the accounts.  I hope you will not find them
in a great muddle, but I was never very precise, and ladies do not
understand the difference between debit and credit sides of a balance
sheet.  The table of work is left with me, and I pretend to look it
over, but have not the means of verifying it.  I do not think much has
come out of the mine yet.  I cannot say the profits are large.  Indeed,
the credit side of the book is blank.’

’I do not expect anything yet.  I am content that the machinery should
be in place and in working order.  Now I am here, we will attack the
lode.’

’There is the rub, John; the machinery is up, but not in working order,
the leat is cut, but the water won’t run along it.’

’That will soon be rectified, and then the profits will come in freely.’

’I hope so, John.’

’I am sure of it, sir.  Do not you lose heart.’

’I have made such a failure of life, John, that I have ceased to be
sanguine.  I can see nothing in the retrospect but blunders and losses.’

’No, sir, you have made mistakes, but all must do that before reaching
success.  Upaver was your own discovery.’

’That is true, very true.  I think we will christen this mine Wheal
Battishill.’

’Do you not think Wheal Cicely would sound better?’ asked John Herring.

’My suggestion is the best,’ said Cicely, colouring.  ’Let it be Wheal
Friendship.’

A bright and cosy supper.  The great fireplace full of crackling flame.
A white cloth on the black oak table near the fire, and silver and glass
upon it sparkling in the candlelight, and the flicker of the flames
embracing a huge faggot.

’Good luck never comes alone,’ said the Squire.  ’What do you think!  My
dear old friend, John Northmore, has sent me a couple of pheasants.  I
have not seen him for many years, and I do not know how he comes to
remember me now; however that may be, he has, and most opportunely.
Here comes one of his pheasants to table.  I thought I was forgotten of
all the world, but—I hope it is an omen of coming success to Wheal
Friendship—old friends are beginning to remember that there is such a
man as Richard Battishill, J.P.’

’Shall we sit down?’ asked Cicely.  ’Everything is ready.’

    ’Although my cates be poor, take it in good part,
    Better cheer may you have, but not with better heart,’

quoted the Squire.  ’You are godfather to the wine, John.  It is some of
the case you ordered down from Exeter.  We will drink in it success to
Wheal Friendship.’

The old man was garrulous and cheerful during supper.  The family plate
was brought out in honour of John Herring, and the Spode china, red with
burnished gold in leaf and scroll.  How bright and comfortable the table
was, how warm and cheery the room!  What kindly happy faces were round
the table! This was something like home.

The pain did not leave John Herring’s heart, the cloud did not remove
from his brain, but, under the influences now brought to bear upon him,
the pain lost its first poignancy, and the cloud hung less deep.  At the
conclusion of supper, Cicely persuaded her father to go to bed.  The old
man was obstinate at first.  ’He liked to be with John, and to chat with
him over the fire.  He had just begun to enjoy his wine.  The room had
only now become warm—why should he be banished to his cold chamber
upstairs?  He had not seen John for months, he had business to discuss
with him.  There was a good story he remembered, which he wished to tell
him;’ and so on, a string of reasons why he should not go to bed.  But
he was weak, and, though he was obstinate for a few minutes, yielded to
his daughter’s perseverance, and she helped him upstairs.  John Herring
remained by the fire.  He was glad to be alone; he stood with his back
to the fire, thinking.  Two nights ago—forty-eight hours only—had passed
since he had gone home to Welltown with his bride.  Home!—was that home?
The house half buried in snow was cold within, the reception was
cheerless, no fire, no table spread, and, worst of all, no love from her
whom he had taken to be his wife.  He had been driven from that home
with despair in his heart. He returned to West Wyke: the sun was
shining, the birds singing, the flowers opening, the house was decked to
receive him, and the kind hearts therein bounded to meet him.

Which was his real home?  He raised his eyes to the door as it opened to
readmit Cicely Battishill, and read over it, in scarlet letters,
’Welcome home!’

Cicely seated herself opposite him in the ingle nook, and the soft
firelight played over her pleasant face and glowing auburn hair. She was
a thrifty body, and she had put out all the candles save two on the
great table. These were not really needed—the firelight filled the room.

’How do you think my father is looking?’ she asked.

’He is greatly altered.  I fear that his anxiety about both Ophir and
Upaver has been too much for him.’

’Ophir did upset him greatly, but Upaver—Wheal Friendship, I mean—has
done him good; it has occupied him, and taken his thoughts from his own
infirmities.  He thinks he is deep in business, and that amuses him.  He
schemes all sorts of things and suggests them to the foreman, who is too
civil to say that they are impracticable.  No, Upaver has been to him
not a care but a distraction.  That which ails him is general failure of
power.  The doctor has visited him and is very kind, and he can do
nothing. The new parson at Tawton, Mr. Harmless Simpleton, has also
called, and seen my father.  He is a very admirable and agreeable
gentleman.’

’Your father seemed cheerful this evening.’

’Yes, he was excited by your return.  It has given him the greatest
pleasure to see you here again.  You do not know how he clings to you.
Cousin John, I cannot express myself as I ought, but I feel very deeply
thankful to you for having relieved and brightened the closing days of
my father’s life.  We were threatened with disaster, and it seemed at
one time as if he would sink, and utter ruin would cover and blot us
both out.  You have saved us, and now the dear old man’s evening is like
one which succeeds a day of cloud, when suddenly all the vapours roll
away, and a blaze of golden sun glorifies the landscape.  I believe that
my father is as happy as he possibly can be now that he has you here.’

Herring made some commonplace remark in reply.

’Yes, we owe a great deal to you—more than we can ever repay,’ said
Cicely.

’You are going to make my fortune at Upaver,’ said he, half jestingly.

’Oh, John! that is nothing to you.  You do not care about that.’  She
paused for a couple of minutes, with her eyes on the fire, rocking her
foot, her hands clasped over her knee.  Presently she turned towards
him, with sympathy in her honest eyes and in her trembling mouth.  ’Do
not be offended if I tell you what I have observed.  There is a great
change in you.  I am sure you have gone through a time of great trouble.
We were selfish, and vexed, and impatient, because you did not come to
us.  We thought you were amusing yourself elsewhere, and had forgotten
us, and how much we depended on you.  We had no suspicion that you were
unhappy.  I can see that you have had your cup of bitterness.  Neither
my father nor I have asked you any questions about yourself at any time,
and we really know nothing about yourself and your belongings.  I do not
want to know anything now that you do not wish to tell me.  Indeed,
indeed, I would do or say my best to comfort you, if I thought that I
were capable of making you happier by my interference.  There was
something you said just now to my father—it was only one sentence, but I
saw that it contained in it the kernel of much trouble. My father bade
you look on this house as your home.  Then you answered that this was
the only home you had.  Did you really mean what you said?’

’Yes, Cicely.  I have no home anywhere, except this that you offer me.’

’You have lost Welltown?’

He hesitated.  Then he said in a low tone, ’I have lost it in one sense.
It has ceased to be a home to me; the acres remain—that is all.’

’Oh, John, I am so sorry for you.  I know you loved the place.  I know
what an ache it would give me to lose West Wyke.’  She did not in the
least understand what his loss really was.  He did not enlighten
her—indeed, it was not possible for him to do so.

Presently she returned to the charge.

’Have you any brothers or sisters?’

’None.’

’And your father and mother are dead?’

’Yes.  My mother died when I was born, and I was reared by a nurse.  I
know her only by her picture.’

’John, tell me,’ she looked at him very earnestly, and with her
expressive and sweet face full of compassion; ’tell me—have you no one
then to love you?’

He shook his head.  ’No one.’

’At Welltown—no one?’

’My nurse.  No one else.’

’How lonely in the world you must be!’

’Utterly,’ he answered.

Then she brightened up, and, dashing some tears from her eyes, held out
her hands to him laughingly across the glowing hearth. ’There, there,
poor boy!  We have been talking of Cornwall.  There you may be alone and
unloved, but here, in old Devon, under the shadow of Cosdon, you have a
home, and hearts that care a great deal for you; there is my father,
here am I, then there is Joyce, and lastly my white cat! See! he is up
on your knee this moment.  There! never again say that you are solitary
and unloved.  It is not true, it is utterly false. Good-night, Cousin
John! sweet sleep, happy dreams, and a glad awaking to you!’



                           *CHAPTER XLVIII.*

                            *TWO BEQUESTS.*


Next morning John Herring went early to Upaver.  The wheel was up, and
the leat had been cut.  But the wall supporting the axle of the wheel
was improperly built, and the leat was improperly levelled.  Much that
the contractor had undertaken to do had been left undone, and most that
he had done was done so badly that it had to be done over again.

Herring called for the day-books, and soon saw that the men working for
day wage had taken three days to do what might have been done in one,
and that was work which need not have been done at all.

Ophir had demoralised the entire neighbourhood. The object aimed at
there had been to make a great display of activity, but to produce
nothing.  What had been begun at Ophir, the workmen supposed was to
continue at Upaver.

Herring rang the bell of the mine, and called the men together.  He
dismissed the foreman on the spot—that civil and intelligent foreman
whom Mr. Battishill esteemed so highly.  He told the men that henceforth
he would be their captain; he would be at Upaver every day, and would
set every man his work, and what he set each man he expected him to
execute.  A fair day’s work for a fair wage, and no payment for idle
hours. Those who disliked his terms might go elsewhere in quest of new
Ophirs.  There was one subsidiary matter he wished to speak of.  Old
Grizzly Cobbledick was much at the mine, and was treated by the men.  He
disapproved of this.  He would not have the old man given drink and made
sport of there.  If he would work, he should be given work; if he were
determined to get drunk, he must get his drink elsewhere.

Then Herring examined the adit.

Much the same story there as outside. The work had been gone on with
anyhow, the ore thrown out with the cable.

He did not return to West Wyke to dinner in the middle of the day; he
was too busy.  He remained in the mine, and made the men dig whilst he
was present.  The vein ’bunched,’ and the bunch of nearly pure metal was
before him.  A rich profit was a certainty.

When the men knocked off work, he turned to go to West Wyke.  He was
covered with dirt, but he was in good spirits.  He had not been
mistaken.  Upaver mine would clear the property of its incumbrances, and
repay every penny that had been sunk in it. Mirelle’s money had been
invested in the mortgages, Mirelle’s money had been spent on the mine.
Her money was not only safe, it was where it would yield excellent
interest.

As Herring came away, he found Grizzly awaiting the men leaving work, to
beg of them tobacco, a draught of cyder or spirits, or some coppers.

’I want to speak to you,’ said Herring. ’Come along with me.’

Grizzly trudged at his side.  There had been a rude savagery in the man
when Herring had first known him which was not without its dignity.  Old
Cobbledick had then worked on his own land, grown his own potatoes,
lived in his own house, and thrashed his own child.  The consciousness
of independence had given him an upright carriage and an open and
haughty look.  All this was gone.  Ophir had robbed him of the one
redeeming element in his nature.  He had found it easier to beg than to
work.  He had abandoned all attempt at labour for a livelihood, and with
that had lost independence.  Formerly he had been defiant in his sense
of freedom, he was now cringing in his submission. He had been a
temperate man, drinking only water; now he drank whenever he could find
any one to treat him, and whatever was given to him.  Association with
men higher than himself in civilisation had lowered, not lifted, him.
It is so with all savages when brought in contact with civilisation;
some seize the moment, and mount, others are cast into deeper
degradation than they knew before. It is so with ourselves when set
within the orbit of higher and nobler forces than we knew before.  They
exercise on us a centripetal or a centrifugal energy.  Cobbledick was
debased.  His rags of old had become him, they now made him repulsive;
he had ceased to be a man, and had become a scarecrow.

’I want to speak to you, Cobbledick,’ said Herring, walking on his way,
the old man at his side.

’Your honour!  I be all ears.  It be the backie sure-ly has a come into
your head.’

’It is the drink, Grizzly; the drink.’

’Oh!’ exclaimed Cobbledick, ’to think I lived these scores and scores of
years without a knowing what it were.  But now—glory rallaluley!
Praises be!  I can get drunk when I meets a real gemman.’

’Grizzly, I have forbidden the men at the mine to give you anything.  If
you choose to come there and work, I will find you work that you can do,
but if I discover that the men give you drink, and encourage you in your
idle, vagabond ways, I shall dismiss them, and find others who will obey
me. Mark this, Grizzly, not another drop of anything, in treat or
otherwise, do you get at Upaver.  Go back to the Giant’s Table, and dig
your fields there like a man, instead of slouching about, picking up
halfpence and sips of gin, a wretched beggar.’

’I ain’t to get nothing to Upaver?’ asked Cobbledick, incredulously.

’Do you not understand plain words? Not a drop.  I will not have Upaver
a curse to you and others, such as Ophir was.  If you will work, I will
give you tasks equal to your powers.’

’Ekal to my powers!’ roared Grizzly; ’look at my hands.  See, they be
two, three times as big as yours.  I could break every bone in your body
with mun.  I be strong; I reckon, stronger than most of they fellows
down to Upaver.’

’Very well, then, work.’

’I won’t work.  I ain’t forced.’

’No, I am sorry for it.  It is a mistake that you are given broken
scraps from West Wyke.  That keeps you from famishing, and emancipates
you from the necessity of working.’

’You’d cut me off that next, I reckon.’

’Yes, I would.’

’You would!’ repeated the old man malevolently.  ’You takes away my
liquor, and my meat, and my daughter as ought to work and keep me in my
old age, and’—he turned and looked up in Herring’s face—’you took the
box from under the hearthstone.’

Herring started.  The old man observed his advantage and chuckled.

’Grizzly, it is quite true that I took the box.  You had no right to it;
you had stolen it from the carriage that was upset.  I took it that I
might return it——’

’Oh, in coorse, in coorse, you returned the box at once, and all that
was in it, to the young lady with the white face.’

Herring could not answer.  The old man, with his natural shrewdness, saw
that he had gained an advantage.  Of the value of the contents of the
box he had no idea.  He determined to improve his advantage.

’You took thicky box, as you take to plundering me of everything I has.
I reckon you’d like to take from me the chance of sleeping in the
linney.’

’Yes, I would, Grizzly.  Whatever I deprive you of is for your own
advantage.  It is not safe for you to lie in the straw of the linney.  I
know that you have gone in there more than once, tipsy, and smoking your
pipe.’

’Well, what then?’

’Why, you may be setting fire to the linney, and burn that and the
house, and yourself as well.  However, to return to the box.  If that
box had been found in your possession by any one but myself, you would
have been sent to prison.  The box was not yours.  It was stolen.  If I
desire now to deprive you of drink, it is because drink is degrading
you.  I want to force you to work.’

’I won’t work no more,’ said Cobbledick, angrily.  ’There be the backie,
also.  You’ve never paid me that.’

’What tobacco?’

’Ah! when you was sick, and my Joyce nussed you under the Table, you got
in debt to me a score pounds and one more, that be as many as you’ve a
got fingers and toes, and your head throwed in to make another.  That be
what you’ve owed me a long while, and never paid yet.  There were that
old Tramplara, he owed me scores and scores of backie, but he never paid
me none at all.  He went scatt.  I did think you were a gemman, and
would serve a poor man better.’

’I do not understand about the tobacco.’

’Loramussy! it be easy enough to understand, sure-ly.  You was brought
here in a waggon; well, that waggon had to be paid for, and my Joyce
paid with her work, and then she was a neglecting of me.  You were
brought to my house, and I had to clear out and go elsewhere, and after
that Joyce did nothing more for me.  You expect me and my Joyce to work
for’y, and you never pay a brass farthing?  No gemman be like that.  I
call that a proper blaggard trick, I do.’

’Good heavens, Grizzly!  If you want to be paid for the use of your
house because it served as my hospital, by all means name the price.  I
will pay you in tobacco if you desire it.  How much do you require?’

’As many pounds as you’ve fingers and toes, and your head chucked in.’

’You shall have them.’

’And then,’ pursued Grizzly, ’there be Joyce.  What hev you gone and
tooked ’er away from me for?  Oh! ah! you’ve not? That be fine.  Her
worked peaceable enough for her poor old vaither till you come by and
turn ’er head with your talking and sweethearting——’

’Grizzly!’ exclaimed Herring, angrily, ’hold that villanous tongue of
yours at once.’

’Ah, you don’t want to be told of all the wrongs you’ve a done to me.
Oh dear! the deal of pains and expense as her hev a put me to, what with
her rearing, and her feeding, and her clothing, and—that is to be all
for nort.  When her be good full growed and able-bodied, and might work
for her old vaither, then you draws ’er away for reasons of your own,
and leaves me without a child. Now her can’t think of me, nor work for
me, nor light a fire for me, nor cook a biling of turnips, nor wire a
rabbit—all becos you’ve a turned her head so as her can think, and talk,
and work only for the young maister, and I’m to bide content with a
score and one of backie.  That ain’t in reason.  That ain’t how a gemman
would act.  Why, there were a man t’other day to Okehampton market
brought his wife there with a halter round her neck and sold ’er there
for half a crown—not for backie, but for a real half-crown in silver.[1]
Her were oldish, and not like my Joyce.  If I be to part wi’ Joyce, I’ll
take nort but silver for her, and I won’t be content wi’ less nor four
half-crowns.  I’ve got to make my own fire now, and do everything
myself.  Not you, nor Miss Cicely, nor the old Squire shall stay me.  I
won’t sell ’er not a penny under four half-crowns and some’ut over to
wet the bargain with.  If you don’t accept my terms I’ll have her back,
and if her sez her won’t come back I’ll do by her as I did afore—I’ll
just scatt all the bones she has to her body.  Her got her bones o’  me,
and I’ve a right to do what I will wi’ my own.  I can scatt mun or I can
sell mun.  And I won’t sell mun a penny under five half-crowns, that be
my figure, and blast me blue if I takes a shilling off.  I’d rather
break her bones first and dung my pertaty ground wi’ ’em. Feel my hands,
how strong they be.’


[1] The author knew the woman thus purchased, and the man who bought
her, and with whom she lived till her death. The transaction took place
about forty years ago, as described.


He suddenly laid hold of Herring’s wrists, and his grasp was as an iron
vice.  Herring was a strong man, but he was unprepared to meet and
resist such strength as the old savage exhibited.

’Did her give you the shining stones in the box?  I reckon it were so,
and her knows what to expeck for doing that, and I’ll do it. Did I go
and take the box from the carriage? And can the constable come and carry
me off to gaol for that?  Then surely, if I say to un, there be the
young Squire to West Wyke have a been to the Giant’s Table and have a
took away my daughter, then if there be justice for one there be justice
for another, and the constable will come and carry you to gaol also.’

Herring walked on quicker.  He was alarmed for Joyce.  It would be wrong
to send her back to her father.  She had risen to a higher level than
he; she could not associate with him longer.  Moreover, he was uneasy at
his threats, for the wretched old man, as he knew, would execute them
without compunction.

’Six half-crowns I sed, and if you won’t buy her of me for yourself, and
give me the money in silver, I’ll fetch her home to the Table, and I’ll
scatt every bone in her body, I will, glory rallaluley!  You ain’t a
going to take everything from me, and give nothing in return.’

’There!’ exclaimed Herring, angrily; ’take that.’  He drew his purse
from his pocket, and dashed it at the old man.  It struck him on the
chest, and Grizzly had his hand on it in a moment.

’I can catch,’ said he.  ’The men chucks me bits of their pasties, and I
can snap like a dog.  I never lets mun drop.’

’Take that and torment Joyce no more. You will find ample in that purse
to supply you with tobacco, and drink too, if you will have it.  Take
it, you despicable scoundrel, and leave the poor girl alone.’

’A sale be a sale,’ said Grizzly.  ’If you’ve a bought her, you have her
and I’ve nort more to say to her.  I sed seven half-crowns.  Dash my
brains out if I sed a penny less.’  Cobbledick opened the purse and
peeped in.  ’Oh, rallaluley! them be guineas! golden guineas! they be
worth more than eight half-crowns, the price I axed for Joyce, I reckon.
Shan’t I only smoke backie and get drunk.  Glory! glory!’

’Do as you will.  Some men cannot be helped.  One must let them go to
the devil their own way.  You are one, and the sooner you go the
better.’

’I be going.  I be going as fast as I can,’ exclaimed the old man,
misunderstanding him.

’Then go, and do not trouble Joyce any more.’

’Oh no.  I’ve a sold her to you.  Don’t’y come and try to cry off the
bargain, and want your guineas back.  This be scores better deal than
that of the man with his wife in Okehampton market.  Now, what about the
linney?’

’You may not sleep there, not on any account, if you are bent on getting
drunk and smoking.  I’ll send you down some straw with which to litter
the Giant’s Table.’

’Oh, rallaluley! this be fine games.’  And the old savage dashed off
over the moor.

Thus ended Herring’s attempt at reformation of Grizzly Cobbledick.  He
had gone forth that morning resolved to check the old man in his
downward career by cutting off the occasion of drinking, and he had
supplied the man with the means of drinking himself to death.

However, he went his way, relieved in mind, to West Wyke.  He had saved
Joyce from further unpleasantness from her father.

Cicely met him in the porch.

’You have been a long time out,’ she said.  ’My father has been calling
for you all day.  He is very feeble; you will notice how different he is
from what you saw him last night.  The excitement of your return
stimulated him, and now has come the relapse. Hark!  I hear him
calling.’

Herring went in, with her.

’Papa has only come down this afternoon. I persuaded him to lie in bed
during the morning, but when he thought you would be returning from
Upaver he insisted on being dressed and descending to meet you.’

’John, is that you?’ called the old Squire from his chair by the fire.

’Yes, sir.  I have been all day at Upaver. I have got news to tell you.
We have come on a bunch of metal which I hope will clear you of all
care.’

Mr. Battishill nodded.  ’Yes, yes!’

The news did not seem to interest him greatly.  Herring saw with concern
that he was looking feeble and old.  He had fallen back sadly after the
flicker of last night.

’I am not strong,’ said the Squire; ’I cannot speak loud or long to-day.
Come here.’  He took John Herring by the hand.  ’Come, Sissy.’  He
beckoned Cicely to draw near. ’John, I fear my time is coming to an end.
I have been trying to-day to become interested in Upaver, but I cannot.
I can only fix my mind on one thing.  Perhaps when that is settled, then
I may be able to hear about Upaver, but not till then.’

’Do not lose heart, Mr. Battishill, now that you are on the threshold of
success.’

’It is this, John.  Should I have another stroke, or be unable to attend
to matters, what is to become of Cicely?  What is to become of West
Wyke?  I want your promise that you will stand by her and the old
place.’

’I will do all I can for her, and for West Wyke.  You may rely on me,
sir.’

’I felt convinced in my own mind that I might do so, and yet I desired
your promise. I became troubled, and clouds came over my spirits.  As
Sebastian says, "My determinate voyage is mere extravagancy."  It always
has been so with me.  I have set my mind on the wrong things, and gone
the wrong ways to work when I took anything in hand.  But it is not so
now.  Owls can see in the dark, and so can I.  If I have made blunders
hitherto, I will hit straight this time.  I have your promise, have I
not, John?’

’Yes, Mr. Battishill.’

’You will not desert poor Sissy.  She has no relations, and I have
positively no one in the world to look to except yourself, whom, upon my
word, I have come to love and regard as a son.’  The old man patted
Herring affectionately on the shoulder.

’I give you my promise, sir.’

’There! that makes me content,’ said the old man.  He had taken Cicely’s
hand in his left, he held John by the right.  All at once he put their
hands together.  ’There!’ he said, and chuckled, ’as Hamlet says, "There
is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not
craft enough to colour."  I know you love each other.  I give Cicely to
you, John, and my blessing. You will take care of her—and, you will
quarter the owls.’

He leaned back and his eyes closed.  He was satisfied that at last he
had done the right thing at the right time.  The fatal faculty of making
muddle and mischief followed him to the end.

Herring turned to Cicely and released his hand.  She was trembling.

’You, Cicely, insisted that we were cousins. You have heard your father:
he has made the relationship closer.  We are henceforth brother and
sister.’

She looked up, then her eyes fell, and the colour rose and sank in her
face.

’Yes,’ she said faintly; ’I understand perfectly, _brother John_.’



                            *CHAPTER XLIX.*

                               *CAST UP.*


’It be good for the soul to see men die,’ said Genefer, entering
Mirelle’s room.  ’Come along of me, mistress.’

’What is it, Genefer?  Do not frighten me.’

’In the midst of life we are in death.  It teaches us how frail and
uncertain our life be. Come and see ’em die afore your naked eyes.’

’Genefer, I will not!’  Mirelle held back in alarm.

’You must come.  The wreck is drifted right into Welltown cove, and it
will be your own rocks as will break the ribs of the vessel and cut the
flesh off the bones of the drownded.  If there be a chance to save any
of the poor creatures on board of her, then you must be there to direct
what is to be done. You be mistress here now.  I know my duty; so do
Hender.  When the master weren’t here, and afore you comed, it were
different. But now, it be not Hender nor me as be answerable.  It be you
as is put in authority, and have to say to this man, Come, and he
cometh, and to another, Go, and he goeth. If you bide at home and do
nothing, then let ’em be drownded, and them as has done good shall enter
into life, and them as has done evil shall go into everlasting death,
and the blood of the souls that be lost shall rest on your head.’

’But what is it?’

’I tell you there be a vessel drove by the storm right in, and her be
drifting into Welltown cove.  It be no good her trying to get into
Boscastle Harbour, with the white horses galloping.  Her comes side on
upon the reef, and will go scatt afore your eyes.’

’Can nothing be done?’

’You must be there and see,’ answered Genefer Benoke: ’if there be lives
to be saved, they will be saved, but you must be there to see to it.’

Mirelle put on her cloak and hat, and went forth.  This was a duty, and
Mirelle had a strong sense of obligation to do her duty, whenever it was
presented before her.

The storm of last night had subsided, and the wind had shifted.  A thaw
had set in, and the sun was streaming over the melting snow. The blue
sea was strewn with foam streaks. Though the wind had abated, the sea
was still churning.  The passion of the night could not abate at once;
the pulses of the Atlantic were throbbing.  The sight was magnificent.
The billows that rolled upon the headland were at once shattered, and
sent up columns of foam white as the snow upon the ground.  Earlier, the
morning sun had painted rainbows in the salt drift, but now the sun hung
over the sea, and, if he painted them still, did so unseen by those on
land. The whole coast was fringed with a deep border of fluttering white
lace.  The air was salt, and the lips of all who faced it became briny.
Out at sea stood the Meachard, an islet of inaccessible black rock,
capped with turf.  On this no snow rested.  The waves besieged the
Meachard on all sides, like the rabble of Paris attacking the Bastille;
they appeared to explode on touching the rock into volumes of white
steam, that rushed up, whirling, and swept the crown.  The reflection of
the sun in the sea was shivered into countless, ever-changing flakes of
fire.  Over the surface of the water the gulls were fluttering in vast
numbers—they seemed like sea foam vivified.

This was the sea after the storm, already exhausted, and with relaxed
power.  What must it have been in the height of its rage, during the
night?

’Where is the ship?’ asked Mirelle, looking in vain for a vessel on the
uneasy surface.

’Look!’ old Genefer pointed.

’What, that?  It is so small.’

’There be men aboard, living and calling on God now, and in ten minutes
they’ll be standing afore their Judge.  They can look out of their eyes
now, and see you up here on the cliff in your black gown, and in ten
minutes their eyes will be full of salt water, and able to see nothing.
They can cry aloud for mercy now, and in ten minutes the time of mercy
will be over for each, and the time of retribution will be begun!’

Mirelle could hardly believe that the little cockleshell drifting on the
rocks before her could contain men in jeopardy of their lives. It was
but a cockleshell, a child’s ship made of a walnut.  But there were men
and women on the headland watching intently and with interest the fate
of that petty boat, and an excise officer stood there with his telescope
to his eye.

’She is the "Susanna" of Bristol,’ said he.

’Her’s never been in our harbour,’ observed a Boscastle man.  ’I reckon
there be about four aboard.  Her be about the size to carry four.’

’What be the lading, Pentecost?’

’That don’t matter to you or I, Gerans,’ answered Pentecost.  ’Times be
altered when an honest man might profit by what the Lord sent us.’

’It do seem a deadly shame that a man may not accept the good gifts
Providence showers upon him, but the Government must interfere.’

’Ah!’ put in Genefer, ’that be the way of things.  The sower sows his
seed, and the fowls come and carry it away.  The Lord sows His word, and
the Church passons come and take it away that it can bring forth no
fruit, and leave nort in its place.  It is the same when He sends a
storm and casts a ship ashore.  A Christian man may not stoop and take
up a keg of brandy the Lord has rolled to his feet, but the ’xisemen
must come and take it away, so to speak, out of his mouth.’

’There be five shillings for every corpse as be picked up and brought to
burial,’ said another.  ’But I’d rather have a keg of spirits than a
corpse any day.  Besides, who’s to earn a crown like that?  They may do
it on the shores of Essex that be mud and sand. But here! old Uncle
Zacky goes about after a storm with a sack, and picks up what gobbets of
human flesh he can find on the shore, but the parish won’t give un more
than half a crown for as much as he can carry up the cliffs, and that
takes a sight more picking up than would a whole corpse.  These bain’t
times in which honest men may live.’

’I say, maister!’ called Pentecost to the preventive man; ’spose her be
laiden with sea coal, and the coal come ashore.  Do’y put your foot down
on that and say nobody ain’t to shovel that up, it belongs to his
Majesty, God bless him?  And next tide the coal be all licked down into
the belly of the ocean, and is no good to none.’

’What be the good of us keeping donkeys?’ asked Gerans; ’I reckon they
cost us something for hay in winter.  Us don’t keep donkeys for nort; us
keep ’em to bring up the cliffs whatever comes ashore.  And us is to
have the expense of keeping donkeys and not to put ’em to no use!  We
are to keep the donkeys for the delight of our eyes, as beautiful
objecks of nature.’

’I reckon her be laden with cloam’ (earthenware) ’ovens,’ said
Pentecost.  ’I wish his Majesty joy of them when they comes ashore.  If
Job were here and wanted a shard to scratch himself withal, and ventured
to pick up a bit of scatted cloam off the beach, you’d be down on him in
a jiffy, wouldn’t you now, maister?’

The preventive officer took no notice of the gibes cast at him; he kept
his telescope on the vessel.

’Her be on the breakers now,’ said one of the men.

’What be the good of staying here?’ asked another.  ’There be no chance
of getting nothing unless us was to chuck this chap over the cliffs
first.’

’Don’t say that, Pascho; there’ll be five shillings for every corpse we
can bring up the cliffs.  And if we manage to save one alive, surely the
young lady here will give us a trifle and a drop of cyder to drink her
health and the corpse’s.  I seez it in her eye.’

’I will give you ten guineas for every man you save,’ said Mirelle,
vehemently, ’and as much as you can eat and drink.’

’Didn’t I tell you so?’ exclaimed Pentecost. ’Look alive, boys!  There
be the ship gone scatt!  Down the cliffs with you all, and see if we
cannot earn a few gold guineas and drink long life to the lady and the
corpse as we brings up alive.’

The ship had struck.  The waves and foam swept over her, and in a few
moments she went to pieces.  Some figures were discernible battling with
the water.  It seemed to Mirelle impossible that these tiny ants were
sufferers, that they were of human flesh and feelings like herself—they
seemed so small.  There was nothing horrible in the sight: it was not so
shocking as the drowning of mice turned out of a trap into a bucket.
When Gulliver cried with pain in Brobdingnag, the giants laughed.  In a
microscopic creature the agony of death must be microscopically small.

Mirelle looked on the drowning pigmies, quite unable to realise the
awfulness of the event, her sympathy stirred by her reason, not by her
heart, for the appeal was not such as could move the sympathy save
through the brain.

The first to sink was the mate.  We will fly over the water with the
gulls, instead of straining our eyes from the cliffs.  Are the gulls
about us screaming or laughing?  The first to sink was the mate.  He was
an old seaman, a godfearing man, honest of heart, who had left the sea
because he had earned enough to maintain himself on land in his old age.
But he had lent his money to a younger brother, to enable him to set up
a small shop in Bristol.  The brother failed and ran away, leaving a
wife and four little children wholly unprovided for.  So the old man
went to sea again to earn enough to support his brother’s deserted wife
and children.  He sank.  The gulls are cynics—they laughed.

The second that sank was the captain; a fine man, upright, rough in
exterior, but soft-hearted.  He had been an unlucky man. Engaged to a
girl he had long loved, after many years of waiting, in which both
turned the corner of life, he was now making his last voyage before he
married her.  She was at Bristol, preparing the little house they had
taken.  She had put flower-pots in the window, and was this morning
setting a geranium there, to make the place look bright for the return
of William and her own marriage.  Then he sank.  She would not see him
again.  The gulls laughed.

The third who sank was a boy, the only son of a widow.  The boy had
wanted much to go to sea, but he was the darling of his mother, and she
would not suffer him to go with any but our captain, whom she knew and
could trust with the only being on earth she loved.  Now he was gone,
and the widow must weep.  The gulls laughed.

The fourth who went down was a sailor, a careless fellow, drinking and
heeding neither angel nor devil; but there was a vein of gold in his
heart waiting to be brought to the surface.  It is said that on
midsummer night all buried treasures rise and shine. Midsummer night had
not come to him yet. Another year, and he would be a better man, but
this other year was denied him.  He sank, and the gulls laughed.

These were all who sank, but there was one who came ashore.  He and the
boy were clinging to the same piece of timber.  Then this man kicked the
boy on the chest and so he fell off and went down, and this man had the
balk to himself.  The waves went over him, and he lost consciousness,
but not his hold.  He was saved, and the gulls, wheeling above, laughed
and scoffed more loudly than before.

Up the narrow track cut in the face of the cliff this man was carried.

’By goll!’ said Pascho, ’I hope the chap ain’t dead, but he looks cruel
bad.  It makes all the difference to us between five shillings and ten
guineas.’

’Now look here, you niggers!’ exclaimed Pentecost, angrily.  ’What be
all you a coming up and making believe you are helping? You’ve had nort
to do with the saving of this chap, and so don’t you come putting in
your claims for a share.  Go back and see if you can’t pick up a corpse
or two as will find you in liquor or backie for a week or a fortnight.
The ten guineas is to share between five of us? and that will be four
too many.  I lugged un out of the water.’

’Ah, but I squeedged the water out of his chest,’ said Pascho.

’And if I hadn’t held the rope,’ said Gerans, ’you’d have all been swept
into the water and become crowners’ sittings.’

’There!’ said Pentecost, ’chuck him across a barrel, and let the water
run out of him.’

’There be no barrel here; lay him flat.’

’Yes, in the snow indeed.  Do you think I want to risk my honest
earnings that way? He must be took to bed and hot bricks be put to his
feet.’

’Where is he to go to?’ asked Pascho.

’To Welltown, of course; where else? There ain’t no other house nigh.’

’Let the young lady see un,’ said Genefer. ’It be a rare fine sight for
the soul to see a man hanging atween life and death.  Let her see un.’

The men laid their unconscious burden at the feet of Mirelle.

She looked into the face with mingled sympathy and terror.  The figure
seen battling with the waves had grown big—human size now, it was no
longer an ant. She could feel pity.

As she looked, she started and shrank away, holding up her hands to shut
out what she saw.

’There!’ said Genefer, ’it be a brave and improving sight.  I reckon it
do as much good to the soul as a lump of sugar with a drop of peppermint
on it does to the stomick when out of sorts.  It warms and strengthens
and gives tone.  He be a young man.  Well, the Lord, I reckon, has got a
work in store for he, as He has called him out of the deep, and has
given him the life back as were trembling at the door of his heart to
leave. As for the rest, they be cut off in their sins. Take him to
Welltown.’

’Stay, stay!’ exclaimed Mirelle, interposing with vehemence.  ’He shall
not—he shall never go thither.  Never, so long as I am mistress there.’

’Is he to lie here on the snow?’ asked Genefer.  ’You will have to give
an account of it if he do, and die in consequence.’

’He shall not be taken to Welltown.’

The men looked at each other.

’Where be we to carry un to, then?’ asked Pentecost.

’If he die, I’m danged if it be fair if you deny us the ten guineas.  He
has life in him now, and if he lose it, it will be your fault, young
lady.  We’ve done our parts and earned our money.’

’Take him where you will, but not to Welltown.’

’There is no other house near.’

’Here,’ said Mirelle, her hand trembling: ’here is the key; take him
into the slate-quarry office.  There is a bed there.’

’Ay, let him go there,’ said Genefer; ’he can be cared for there just as
well as at Welltown.’

The men stooped and raised the unconscious man again.  Mirelle covered
her eyes—the man saved was Sampson Tramplara.

She had promised ten guineas—and that ten guineas had saved his
worthless life.  Well for her had she at this juncture offered fifty to
have him tossed back into the sea.  The men would not have done it for
twenty—there were too many present; they would have hesitated for
thirty.  But for fifty, he would have troubled her no more.



                              *CHAPTER L.*

                          *TWO DISOBEDIENCES.*


Next day Orange arrived.  Mirelle had sent for her; she could not remain
longer alone at Welltown, especially now that young Sampson was so near.
She did not go to the office on Willapark to see him; she did not
inquire after him.  But she told Genefer that he was to be supplied with
whatever he needed, and was to remain where he was till he was well
enough to leave, and then he was to go his way.

As soon as Orange arrived Mirelle told her that Sampson had been saved
from drowning after shipwreck, and was at the office; and Orange went
immediately to see him.

Sampson was now quite recovered from his submersion.  The fire was
lighted in the stove, and the room was warm.

’Oh! you have come, have you?’ he asked, when Orange entered.  ’Not
wise, I reckon, unless you are bent on bringing observation on me.  What
is this I hear?  I am on Herring’s land and in his office!  This is a
queer state of affairs; but the wheel of fate in its revolutions lands
one in strange places, and places where one would least like to be.  How
came you here?’

Orange explained to him what had taken place since his disappearance;
how Mirelle had been married to John Herring, and she had been brought
to Welltown.

’That’s queer.  I haven’t seen either him or her.’

’I am told that he has been called away on business—military, I
suppose—and you cannot be surprised if she has not chosen to see you.
She knows well enough who you are.  But now, Sampson, about yourself.
How came you here?  And—are you safe, quite safe, here?’

’No, I arn’t, that’s the cussedness of it all. I can’t stay here,
especially now the Countess Candlesticks knows of my presence and has
got a tongue in her head.  If I stay here I shall be taken, and I can’t
go, because I have no money to go with.’

’How came you here?’

’Cast up by the sea, I reckon,’ answered Sampson.

’But how came you to be wrecked?’ asked Orange.

’Why, because I was aboard ship.’

’You may as well answer me civilly,’ said his sister.  ’If you get away
from this place, it will be by my help, and I must know all about you,
and whither you want to go.’

’Curse it,’ said Sampson, ’if you want to know whence I have come I will
tell you—from Bristol, and if you want to know why I left, it is because
Polly Skittles has blown on me.  If you want to know where I am going,
you must be content to remain in ignorance, for I don’t know myself.’

’But, Sampson, how came you to be in Bristol?’

’Because it was not my intention to run to France, or any place where I
could not speak a word of their damned parleyvous.  I don’t see why a
fellow should not lie snug in England instead of going into exile
abroad. So, when I had to leave Launceston, I cut off first to Plymouth;
but there I became funky, that was too near home, and so I made for
Bristol, and there I’ve been enjoying myself ever since, and might have
been living at ease like a fighting cock but for Polly Skittles.’

’You behaved abominably, Sampy.  You carried off all the money that was
in the house, and left mother and me absolutely destitute.’

’Oh, ah!  I was not such a fool as to leave anything.  Every one for
himself is my maxim. But be reasonable; if I had left money you would
not have had it, the creditors would have been down on you and have
carried off everything.  By George!  I have had many a laugh over that
Ophir since I have washed my hands of it.  That was a rare plant, better
than Polpluggan.  And father did come out splendid in it.  The way in
which he beat old Flamank’s covers and bagged his game was superlative.
Well, he died like Wolfe at Quebec.  "They run!  Who run?"  "The
Ophirites."  And didn’t they run!’

Sampson clapped his knees and roared.

’It strikes me that it was you who ran,’ said Orange, sullenly.  ’Now,
tell me, what are you going to do?’

’I’ll tell you one thing I have learned, and I had to go to Bristol to
learn it.  Orange, never trust a woman.  I might have been all right now
but for Polly Skittles.  I was an ass, I allow that.  I sent word to her
at the Pig and Whistle where I was, and asked her to come to me and
share my fortune with me. Well, she couldn’t keep her tongue in her
head, but was bragging about the rich man she was going to marry, and so
from hint to circumstance, and all was blown.  The beaks were on the
scent and after me, and I had to make a run for it.  I got on board the
"Susanna" for Port Isaac.  I thought if I managed to get there, I might
give them the slip again.  And now, damn it all, here am I stranded at
Boscastle, and when the news reaches Bristol that the "Susanna" has been
lost, it will be known also that I am saved, and the beaks will be after
me again.’

’What has become of the money, Sampson?’

’Oh, blast it! there is the mischief.  I brought away all I had with me,
and it has gone down in the "Susanna."  I did have some trifle about me
when I came ashore, but those who saved my life relieved me of my purse.
That was natural, and I cannot complain; I’d have done the same.  But I
am mad to think that all the gold of Ophir lies at the bottom of the
Atlantic.’

’What is to be done now?’

’You must provide me with money.’

’Nonsense, Sampy.  I—I have nothing. You know that well enough.’

’I don’t know anything about it.  You’re clever enough to get what you
want.  You hooked Captain Trecarrel fast enough when you had set your
mind on having him.’

Orange became scarlet.  ’You are cruel, Sampson; you are worse, you are
brutal.  I will have nothing more to say to you.’

’Yes, you will,’ said he, insolently.  ’If you don’t I’ll go myself to
Welltown, and force that pale-faced fool to give me money.’

’You know that she was plundered as well as others.  Her money was sunk
in Ophir.’

’I know that she can take her husband’s money now.  I suppose she has
wit enough to keep the keys of his cash-box.  Women are not such fools
as to omit that.’

’I cannot ask her for money; indeed I cannot, Sampy.’

’Look here, Orange.  How the devil am I to get away from this place
without blunt? And how am I to live when I get away without ditto?  You
don’t suppose I can dig and plough, do you?’

’I tell you I have nothing.’

’Then you must get me something.  I’ve been overhauling this office and
I can find nothing in it.  There is a drawer locked in the desk that I
have not opened and examined, but I shall know its contents before long,
even if I have to break the lock.  I don’t, however, expect to get much
out of it.  A man does not leave money in such an uninhabited place as
this.’

’If I get you a little you must be content with that.’

’If you get me a little I will be content with it only as long as it
lasts, and when spent, then I shall want more.’

’What folly this is!  You carried off every penny you could lay hands
on, and now you ask for money from those you have plundered.’

’I do not ask you for your own money, I know you have none to give.  I
want some of Mirelle’s money, or her husband’s—it is all the same.  Get
me her diamonds if you can.  Do you not understand?  I dare not remain
here above a day longer; I must be off before the beaks are on my track.
How is a man to get away without a penny in his pocket?  He must halt
and beg on his road, and where he begs there he is observed.  I must
double on the hounds on their way hither.  If I make for Bath I shall
do.  They are sure to run to Port Isaac, whither the "Susanna" was
bound.’

’I wish you were safe away.  I do not relish your being here.  It would
be exceedingly unpleasant for me were you taken whilst I am at Welltown.
I do not want ugly stories to get about this neighbourhood, for here my
mother and I will have to live.’

’I don’t suppose you do,’ answered Sampson; ’more the reason why I
should be given facilities for clearing off.’

’I really do not know what to do.  I might represent to Mirelle that you
had lost everything, and ask her for a little money, a few pounds; but I
cannot, I will not, entreat for a large sum.’

’Why not?’

’Because it is against my own interest. I am not yet settled into the
house.  I have but arrived to-day, and if my mother and I are to take up
our quarters here, I must not begin by making myself disagreeable to the
hostess.  You know what Mirelle is.  She is simple in some things, but
when you think you are going to turn her round your fingers, you
discover that she is the most impracticable person you ever had to deal
with.’

’I say, Orange, what about those diamonds of hers?’

’They are paste.’

’I don’t believe it.’

’She gave me part of the set, the pendant, and the stones in that were
all artificial.’

’You fool,’ said Sampson, ’that was why she gave you the brooch.  If
they had been real, do you suppose that she would have made you such a
handsome present?’

’I do not know,’ answered Orange, sullenly.  She was angry with Sampson,
and she wanted to get rid of him.  It would suit her very well to live
with Mirelle.  She hated Launceston, and wished to leave it. She trusted
that something was going to be done for her by Mirelle in fulfilment of
the promise made by John Herring on the wedding day, but she was not
certain.  At all events it was most convenient for her to live with
Mirelle, and, if she were given money, to lay it by.  She had
indignantly rejected the suggestion of taking Captain Trecarrel, but she
loved him still, and she entertained a lingering hope of future
reconciliation.  If he wanted her, he would come after her.  She had
sufficient sound sense to know that he could not marry her if she was
without private means, because he was poor himself.  She was jealous of
Mirelle.  The Captain had hovered about her; Mirelle had drawn him off
from her.  She was not at all sure that the Captain would desist from
his attentions now that Mirelle was married.  She wished, therefore, to
be with her rival so as to watch her.

’Orange!’

’Well, Sampson.’

’I say.  We were always allies.’

’To what does this introduction lead?’

’Where does Mirelle keep her diamonds?’

’I do not know.  I have come here to-day for the first time.’

’I wish you would find out.’

’I can find out fast enough.’

’I say, Orange.  If I could finger them, you wouldn’t see much of me for
many a day, and that is what your sisterly heart desires.’

’I wish I could be sure of that.’

’You are not over fond of the Countess Candlesticks, I reckon.’

’I hate her,’ answered Orange, vehemently.

’You would not mind getting those diamonds for me, would you?  She don’t
want them.  What use can she make of them in a desert like this?  She
would not miss them.’

’I tell you, Sampy, I do not know where they are, and what is more, if I
did know, I would not give them to you.  I am not going to risk my place
in the house for you.’

’Who is to see you take them?  Lay the blame on me.  Find out where they
are and tell me, and if accessible I will work my way into the house and
get them.’

’It won’t do; it won’t do indeed.  If I knew where the stones were, I
would not mind telling you; and if you could get them without risk of
detection, and without in any way involving me, I would not care.  But I
will not help you to them.’

’If I had them, I’d be off to America at once.’

’There—I must go now,’ said Orange, rising.  ’I will try to get you
something, but you must not expect much.’  She turned to go out.  She
was flushed and annoyed.  The presence of Sampson was vexatious to her,
and might prove inconvenient.

’Stay a moment, Orange.  Have you any keys about you?’

’I must go—yes, I have.  I brought away the bunch from Dolbeare, in my
haste. What will mother do without them?’

’She can send for the blacksmith, I cannot.  Leave them with me.  I want
to look inside that drawer.  There is a file in the cupboard, and I can
make a key fit the lock I intend to open.  Thank you, Orange.  You are a
good sister—worthy of me.  You do credit to your father also.  Now you
may go.’

In the night a tap sounded at the door of Willapark office.  Sampson had
been working hard and was tired.  He was snoozing in the chair over the
fire.  He started instantly to full consciousness and in alarm.  His
fears subsided when the door opened, and he saw Orange enter, very white
and trembling.

’Well,’ he said, ’what have you brought me?’

’A little money,’ she answered, ’not much. I could not get much for you.
I have had a quarrel with Mirelle—about you.’

’Have you brought me the diamonds?’

’No, and did not intend to do so; but I know where they are, and they
are where you cannot get them.’

’Where is that?’

’In a very strong oak bureau in the room over the porch, and in a secret
drawer in the well of that.  That room cannot be entered except through
the hall, main stairs, and Mirelle’s bedroom.  So put the thought of the
diamonds out of your head.  The bureau is always locked, and Mirelle
keeps the key. Even if you got into the room, which is not possible,
unobserved, you would not be able to open the cabinet.  There—that is
the end of that foolish dream, and I am glad of it. Had you taken them,
I might have been suspected.  I have had a quarrel with Mirelle—about
you.  But I must sit down moment, Sampson, and then run back.’  She was
out of breath; she spoke in short sentences, breathing hard between
each.  ’When we were together, she began to speak about the pendant she
had given me, and to ask for it back.  She said she would have the paste
diamonds removed, and real stones put in their places.  She told me that
her necklace had been examined, and that it had been found that some
only of the stones in it were false.  A lady’s maid of her mother had
tampered with the jewels.  Then she desired to compare my brooch, with
its paste diamonds, with the real stones in her necklace; she got up and
went to the bureau; she took the key out of her purse.  There was a
secret drawer opening out of a sort of well in the middle, and she
brought the set of stones out of that.  After that we had compared the
false with the real diamonds she returned the necklace to its place,
relocked the cabinet, and replaced the key in her purse.  Then we began
to speak about you.  I told her that you were without any money, that
you had lost everything in the ship, and had been further robbed by the
men who saved your life.  She asked what of?—of the stolen money?  I
then begged her to let you have something to help you to get away.  She
set her lips, and put on that stubborn look I know so well.  She would
give nothing. You had robbed Mr. Flamank and many others, and it was
your duty to surrender yourself and suffer for your misdeeds.  If you
had any conscience and honour, that was what you would do, and she would
not help you to evade the consequences of your own acts.  My blood rose,
and I spoke sharply. She was cold, hard, and obstinate.  At last I got
her to give me something, not for you, but for myself.  She and her
husband had made me a promise on their wedding day to give me some
trifle, and I asked her if she purposed fulfilling that engagement, or
whether it was only an empty promise. Then she replied that Herring had
made the promise and would fulfil it, and that, if I was in immediate
want of money, she would give me a small sum, all she could spare, for
she had not more coin in the house.  I was forced to be content.  Here
are twelve guineas; take them and be off.  I can get you no more.  There
is no more to be got.’

’Well, Orange, I must take what I can get.  The diamonds can wait.  I
have found something better than them in the locked drawer.’

’What is it, Sampson?  Money?’

’No, not money.  Do you like John Herring, Orange?’

’No.’

’I hate him,’ said Sampson.  ’You do not love Mirelle, I believe?’

’I hate her!’ answered Orange, passionately.

’What I have found may serve to wipe off mutual grudges.’

’I am glad of it; use your knowledge.’

’I intend to do so on the proper occasion.’

’Well, good-bye, Sampson; I must return. Mirelle must not know that I
have been here. I hope I have seen the last of you for some time.’

’I do not know.  I must have a word with John Herring before I disappear
entirely.’

O foolish Mirelle!  Herring, before leaving, had laid on her two
injunctions, to intrust no one with the secret of where she kept her
jewels, and to allow no one to enter his office unattended by herself.
She had disregarded and disobeyed both injunctions.



                             *CHAPTER LI.*

                              *TWO EXITS.*


John Herring said nothing to Cicely in allusion to what had passed.  He
could not do so.  He was naturally reserved about himself, and he could
not tell her of his marriage without telling her also of his separation
from his wife.  The questions would spring to her lips: ’When were you
married?  Why have you left her?  Why are you now staying at West Wyke
instead of at Welltown?’  These were questions she would naturally ask,
and which it would be impossible for him to explain to her.  His trouble
was his own.  The heart knoweth its own bitterness, and a stranger
intermeddleth not therewith.  A woman delights in pouring forth her
griefs into a sympathetic ear.  A man hides his sufferings, and resents
sympathy as an insult.  Herring had said enough to let Cicely understand
the position in which he stood towards her—that of a brother, a position
he would never abandon; she had recognised this, and had accepted it.

Herring thought night and day of Mirelle. He could not shake the burden
off his heart, and, whatever his distractions, it remained oppressing
him, an ever-gnawing pain.  He wondered what Mirelle was doing; whether
she liked Welltown—that place he loved so well.  When the sun shone out
of a clear sky he thought, it is fine to-day at Welltown, and Mirelle
will go upon the cliffs and hear the gulls scream and look at the
twinkling sea; she will inhale that wondrous air which to him who
breathes it is the inspiration of life in long draughts.  Would she dare
to go in a boat to Blackapit, when the sea was still, and look up those
walls of inky rock striped with ledges on which the sea birds nested, up
into the blue sky above, in which even by day stars can be discerned?
Had she wandered to Minster Church, down in a valley embowered in trees,
with the ruins of the old monastery crumbling about it?  O how happy he
would have been to be able to accompany her to the loved spots, wild and
picturesque, that had been his delight in boyhood!  Would she venture on
an excursion to S. Kneighton’s Kieve, and pick there the maiden-hair
fern, dancing in the draught of the falling water? Would she visit
Pentargon, that glorious cove with precipitous walls of rock black as
night, over which a stream bounds in a long fall to meet the sea?

He thought of her sitting by the fire, in her white bridal dress, so
lovely, so sad, so like a phantom, from another world.  Mirelle haunted
him.  She filled his whole heart. Later, he would return to Welltown,
when he and she had had time to realise the relation in which they stood
to each other, and the first poignancy of the disenchantment was past.

Mirelle was to him the ideal of purity and perfection.  He knew his own
unworthiness. He was not the man who ought to own her as wife; he was
rude and simple.  She should be placed on a pedestal in a temple, to be
approached by worshippers on bended knees. The snowdrops were out in the
West Wyke garden.  Herring plucked one every morning and wore it all
day.  Mirelle had worn snowdrops in her bosom when she married him. The
snowdrop was her appropriate flower, white and fragile.

Herring was at Upaver all day.  The mine was turning out better than
even he had anticipated.  There was no question now about the extinction
of the debt on West Wyke. Mr. Battishill’s profits would blot that out
and redeem the mortgages.  Mirelle’s money sunk in the machinery would
yield a dividend before the year was half out.  Herring saw to
everything himself.  He inspired the men with energy.  The contractor’s
bad work at the buildings was made good.  His mind was occupied from
morning to night; but he never forgot his trouble for one moment.  It
was ever there rankling in his heart: it took the gloss off success.

Mr. Battishill had sunk into a condition of mental feebleness and bodily
exhaustion that engaged his daughter’s constant attention. The old man
could not be left alone.  He no longer rose from his bed to take his old
seat in the hall.

When Herring came back from Upaver, he went upstairs to the Squire’s
room, where he found Cicely knitting, and he sat there for an hour
talking to the sick man, trying to interest him in what was going on at
the mine.  After dinner with Cicely in the hall, he went up again, and
read Shakespeare to Mr. Battishill.  The Squire was always ready for
that.  He had his favourite passages, and these he repeated after
Herring, but his power to follow the movement of a scene and to
distinguish characters was gone.  Old familiar sentences caught his ear,
and he murmured them after Herring, as he might follow a prayer, but his
mind did not take in the sense.  Yet he never wearied of this
Shakespeare reading; it was like well-remembered melodies striking his
ear and lulling him to sleep.

When the Squire had had enough, he always laid his thin hand across the
book, and said in the words of Coriolanus, ’I am weary; yea, my memory
is tired.’  Then Cicely, John Herring, and Joyce knelt together by the
old man’s bed, and he folded his hands and said the one familiar prayer;
and then Cicely and the rest bade him good night and left him.

Sometimes the old man would become uneasy, and ask John whether he would
protect Cicely.  ’You will always stand by her, will you not, John?’

Herring was obliged to give him the assurance he required.

’You are my children.’

’Yes, sir; brother and sister.’

’Brother and sister,’ repeated Cicely.

Then the old man murmured, ’And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
of wondrous virtues.’

The Vicar of Tawton, the Reverend Harmless-Simpleton, was frequent in
his calls. He was an amiable and well-intentioned man. The Simpletons
are a large family, that have never thriven at the bar, in medicine, in
the army and the navy, but the Harmless-Simpletons (the two surnames
united by a hyphen) have for several generations made the Church their
happy hunting ground.  They have gone up in the Church like corks in
water. The fattest livings, prebendal stalls, and even bishoprics have
been showered upon them. As Napoleon won all his battles by one rule, so
the Harmless-Simpletons acquired promotion by one simple principle.  In
the field of doctrine they never taught a truth without first treating
it as a taxidermist treats a frog, killing, disembowelling, then blowing
out the fleshless, boneless skin with wind, and varnishing the empty
nothing.  In the field of morals they never attacked a real enemy, but
discharged their parks of ordnance, brought down charges of heavy
dragoons, and displayed the most skilful strategy against imaginary
foes.

When the Reverend Harmless-Simpleton called, he divided his visit into
two parts, one of which was devoted to Mr. Battishill and the other to
Miss Cicely, in the ratio of three to seven.  Mr. Battishill was pleased
to see and hear him, and Miss Cicely became deeply impressed with the
reverend gentleman’s amiability and good intentions.

So, little by little, the old Squire faded away.

There was another old man, who, much about the same time, made his exit
from the stage, but in an altogether different manner.

Grizzly Cobbledick had been denied the linney in which to lie at night,
’like a heckamal in a haystack.’  He was obliged, much as he objected to
it, to return to the Giant’s Table.  As he feared that his old woman
would be disposed to trouble his repose there, he provided himself with
the means of sleeping soundly, in the shape of a stone jar full of
spirits.  Moreover, he paid a libation to her manes every night.  He
threw some drops of gin into the fire, saying, ’There, old cat! take
that, and lie quiet.’

Grizzly was so far civilised by association with men that he knew the
value of money. He had lost his shyness in the presence of men and his
reluctance to appear in the neighbourhood of houses, and he would go
into Zeal and hang about the taverns for drink and tobacco.

Now he had money of his own, and he launched into extravagance.  He
purchased a jar of Hollands, and carried it off with him to the Table,
to comfort him at night—that he might lie in the straw and suck and nod,
then suck and doze, open an eye and suck once more, and then drop off
into a drunken stupor.

That which amused and puzzled him greatly was to see the spirit flame
when he cast some drops on the lire.  Water quenched fire: how came a
liquor to leap into flame? This was more than his dull mind could take
in.  But it seemed to him that the essence of fire must be in the
spirit, that was why it warmed him within, and danced and glowed in his
veins.  John Herring had been as good as his word.  He had sent him
straw, and the straw was heaped up at the back of the chamber.

’Take care, Grizzly,’ said the man who brought him the bundles.  ’Take
care that your fire don’t get to it; keep it well off.’

Grizzly had sense enough to do this. When he was sleepy the old man went
backwards into the straw, disappearing entirely with the exception of
his head and the hand that held the stone jar.  The only firing was
peat, and that did not flame.

When Herring cast him his purse, it was with the words: ’Some men cannot
be helped. One must let them go to the devil their own way.  You are
one, and the sooner you go the better.’

Then Grizzly replied, ’I be going—I be a going as fast as I can.’

He kept his word.  He went even faster than he intended, and the way he
went was this.

He was sitting over the fire one evening. He had his stone jar under his
arm, and he was patting it.

’Her be running dry, her be,’ said he. ’Poor thing! let me hold’y up and
try again.’  He spoke to inanimate objects as though they were endowed
with souls as reasonable as his own.  ’There!’ said he, as he cast a few
drops on the fire, and laughed at the flames that leaped up; ’that be
the blue blazes I’ve a swore by all my live and never knowed ’n, to see
to, I reckon.  Now there bain’t another drop left.  What ever shall I
do?  I have got more money, but no more spirits, and what be I to do all
night long?  Ah!  I be a poor lorn creetur, I be.  My old woman, her
deserted me first, and a mighty shabby trick that were.  Do’y hear me a
speaking of ’y, old cat?  Then my daughter Joyce, her left me—that is, I
sold her when her’d a gone of herself.  ’Twere good for me I got some
money out of the deal: if I hadn’t, her’d have cut and run all the
same.’  He sat and poked the red turves together.  ’I wonder,’ he said,
’what there be in thicky barrel I took from Ophir?  Like enough there be
first-rate drink in her.  Old Tramplara weren’t one to do things by
halves.  Her be hid away under the fern.  I reckon I’ll have her out and
try.’

He groped beneath the straw to a nether layer of bracken, and from under
that rolled a small keg.

’There ain’t much comfort to be got out of she,’ he said, ’her be so
gashly small.  I wonder what there be in her?  Her be hard to open.’

He put the little barrel down by the fire.

’I reckon I could manage a hole wi’ my old stone knife.  Then he got the
flint tool, and worked it between his palms on the end of the keg.  The
fire was getting low; he threw on some more turves.  Then he ventured on
a wisp of straw to make a blaze and assist his eyes.

’Oh, rallaluley!’ he exclaimed, ’I’ve got the hole drilled through at
last.’

He had stolen this little barrel from Ophir during the disorder
occasioned by the discovery of the imposition.  It was the only thing
that he thought might possibly be of service to him.  He took it away,
and hid it under the fern at the back of the dolmen, intending to
examine its contents at his leisure.

’Why, there be no drink here at all,’ said he in disgust, when he had
put his lips to the hole he had made.  ’What be this?  I’ve a got my
mouth full of grit; it be black as coal.  Blast me blue, but I will let
my old woman taste it too.’

He let the contents run out in a little stream; then he gathered a
handful of the grains and cast it in the fire to his ’old woman.’  The
contents of the keg then found their way out in a more expeditious
manner than through the hole he had bored.  The keg contained blasting
powder.

Thus it came about that he fulfilled his promise faster than he had
intended.  Thus also it is that one of the most interesting monuments of
a prehistoric age will not appear on the Ordnance Map of Devonshire now
in process of execution.



                             *CHAPTER LII.*

                     *THE RETURN OF THE WANDERER.*


John Herring bad fulfilled his promise.  He had made over five thousand
pounds to Orange Tramplara.  No sooner was this effected than it was
whispered in the ear and the same day proclaimed on the housetops of
Launceston. The proclamation reached Trecarrel.  When Captain Trecarrel
heard it, and had satisfied himself that this was not an empty report,
he began to reconsider the state of his feelings towards Miss Orange.
Five thousand pounds was a sum for which he might dispose of himself.
It was not much, but more was not to be had in that neighbourhood.  The
Captain was without sisters and cousins scattered over the country,
beating the covers for heiresses for him and blowing the horn when they
had started one.  He was forced to hunt for himself.

Five thousand pounds at five per cent. is two hundred and fifty pounds a
year.  Two hundred and fifty pounds per annum would enable him to keep
his head above water—only his head, not his shoulders, but that would be
better than to be overwashed by every wavelet.  Now that old Mr.
Tramplara was dead, there was no one to look closely after
settlements—that was something. Captain Trecarrel was then in very
particular want of money, and there was no money to be got through any
other channel than the hymeneal ring.  The property was already
mortgaged, and the Captain could not encumber it further without cutting
off his only means of subsistence.

He heard that Orange, followed after a fortnight by her mother, had
moved to Welltown, near Boscastle, and was staying with Mr. and Mrs.
Herring.  The report was not quite accurate, for Mr. Herring, as we
know, was not there.  Report has the knack of interjecting into the best
substantiated information an element of inaccuracy.  He knew Herring,
and thought that through him he might get the quarrel with Orange
patched up—at least, through him he would obtain admission to the house
where she lived.  Herring would know nothing of the flirtation with
Mirelle, and therefore would not scruple to admit him; and, once in, he
would manage Orange.  What girl could resist his handsome profile, his
moustache and blue eyes!

Trecarrel knew that Orange loved him, and he knew also that when a woman
loves, her pride and resentment give way whenever it pleases the lover
to resume the assault. He would not be precipitate; he would be friendly
at first, with a tinge of restraint and a savour of coldness in his
manner towards her.  This would yield by degrees, and they would soon
recover their old intimacy and stand towards each other on the same
footing as of old.

’I know perfectly well,’ said the Captain, ’that there are hundreds, I
may say thousands, of girls with fortunes who would give their ears for
me, but the provoking thing is that they have never heard of me, nor can
I obtain access to them.  There are Birmingham and Manchester
manufacturers’ daughters, there are the girls of Bristol and Liverpool
merchants, without family position, and with vulgar names, who would
jump with all their moneybags into my arms, if I could only offer myself
to them.  But how am I to do so?  I know nobody in Birmingham,
Manchester, or Liverpool moneyed society, and I am unacquainted with any
bridges.  Between me and them there is a great gulf fixed, and though I
would fain go to them, and they as gladly come to me, yet my tongue must
parch in penury, and they must yawn in the bosom of Croesus.  The means
of intercommunication fail.  I am getting on in life, I am thirty-four,
and I ought to be doing something towards paying off my mortgages.  I
had rather have a girl with ten thousand than one with five, for then I
should be twice as comfortable and connubial affection twice as strong;
but if the girl with ten be not obtainable, I must be content with her
who has only five.  I wonder whence that five thousand came?  I suspect
old Tramplara put away money in his wife’s name, and she has it; and
that this five thousand has been placed to her daughter’s account as a
bait to draw me.  If the old woman has money, it will come to Orange in
the end; she is bad every winter with her throat, and this is a trying
climate for throats, the temperature changes with such rapidity.  The
old woman would surely not be such a fool as to act the King Lear, and
make over all she has to her daughter.  She must have a reserve fund of
at least five thousand more.  By George, I’ll risk it!’

So Captain Trecarrel took the Camelford coach as far as ’Drunkards all,’
and walked from that point to Boscastle, making a man carry his valise.
This was the cheapest way of travelling, and the Captain did everything
as cheaply as he could, not because he liked it, but because he could
not help himself. He put up at the Ship, where was a cosy little parlour
and a clean bedroom.  He would be comfortable there.  He had brought his
drawing materials with him, for the purpose of making water-colour
sketches.  When making his drawings he painted his subject in Indian
ink, and then gave a Prussian blue wash to the sea, and a wash of
Prussian blue and gamboge together over the grass and trees, and a wash
of sepia to the rocks.  Then he imagined a woman in a red cloak to be
standing in a suitable position, and the picture would be complete.
Gulls could be added ’to taste’ by two little wet dabs with the brush
and flicks with his handkerchief. When an evening light was wanted, by
way of variety, the picture was submitted to a wash of pink-lake and
gamboge in equal proportions.  That was how water-colours were managed
seventy years ago.

Captain Trecarrel sketched in the harbour, then he sketched in
Willapark, and crept on to Welltown, where he found the old house so
picturesque that he sketched it also.  But the hedge was damp to sit on,
so he ventured to the front door to borrow a chair, and having got one
from Genefer he seated himself opposite the house, and began his
drawing.  He was a long time over it, as he was scrupulous about the
details, and before it was completed Orange Tramplara came towards him.
She was returning from Boscastle, where she had been making a few
purchases.  It was not possible for her to reach the front door without
passing Trecarrel, and she had no hesitation in doing so, as she had no
idea who was there sketching. He had an umbrella open to screen him from
the wind; but there was a little hole in the umbrella, and through that
he had perceived her.  She was abreast of the Captain before she
recognised him.  He uttered an exclamation of surprise, started, and
upset his sketchbook, box of colours, and glass of water into the road.

’I am very sorry, Captain Trecarrel,’ said Orange, much agitated.  ’I
fear I knocked your things over with my cloak.’

’Not at all, Orange.  Bless my soul!  Who would have expected to see you
here?  In the name of all the seven wonders, what has brought you to
this place, which I supposed was inhabited by wreckers only?’

Orange had recovered herself, and made as though she would pass on with
a bow.

’No, Orange, I will not permit you to slip away thus.  I want you to be
in the foreground of my picture, as you have ever been in my thoughts.
A marvellous piece of good fortune has brought us face to face.  On a
desert island those who have been cast up by the sea forget old grudges
and shake hands. I will not be thrust aside in this wild and lonely
spot, because once upon a time we had a lovers’ quarrel.’

’I am surprised to see you here, Captain.’

’The surprise is mutual.  I heard that you and Mrs. Tramplara had
retired to Falmouth.  Are you lodging at this old farmhouse for your
mother’s health?’

’This is Welltown, the house of Mr. Herring.’

’This! bless my soul!  I thought he lived in a stately mansion in a deer
park, not in an old ramshackle box like this.  The world is smaller than
I imagined.  I have been making a sketching tour of the North Coast from
Hartland to Boscastle, and I intend continuing it to the Land’s End.  I
have some thought of publishing my sketches in mezzotint, coloured by
hand.  You know my impecuniosity.  I thought to turn an honest penny
this way without degradation.’

’Have you been long here?’

’Only a few days.’

’Where are you staying?’

’At the Ship.’

’What sort of entertainment do you meet with there?’

’Ham and eggs to-day; to-morrow, by way of variety, eggs and ham.  Those
are the changes.  Nothing else is procurable all down the coast from
Hartland to the Land’s End.  I am told, wherever I go, that next week a
sheep or a cow will be killed, and then mutton-chop or beef-steak will
be had. But the cow or sheep moves before me as I proceed on my journey,
and I never overtake it.’

’We dine early.  Will you join us?’

So peace was concluded.  The difficulty in concluding it was not great,
as Orange was as inclined to meet the Captain as he had been to meet
her.  Indeed, her readiness to strike hands and forget the past alarmed
him. He was of a suspicious character, and her manifest desire to renew
the old acquaintanceship made him dread a trap.

He did not know that Orange was getting deadly tired of Boscastle.  Of
society in the neighbourhood there was little.  The only gentlefolks of
county position were the Phyllacks of the manor.  Old Sir Jonathan was a
stately gentleman of the past generation, somewhat pompous, who moved
surrounded by his seven daughters, as the judge encircled by the javelin
men.  The daughters were extraordinarily alike, and though the utmost
effort had been made to distinguish them at the first by giving each two
or three names, nevertheless Orange felt she might spend a lifetime in
their company without being able to know Miss Grace Pomeroy from Miss
Anna Maria Amy, or Miss Elizabeth Gilbert from either or from Miss
Catherine Penhelligan.  They never called separately, but called, all
seven together, with Sir Jonathan in the midst.  They never walked in
batches, but walked in a system rotating round Sir Jonathan like the
planets round the sun.  When Mirelle and Orange returned their call,
they found Sir Jonathan sitting at the fire in a hollow square composed
by his daughters, and when one rose to shake hands, her place was
occupied by another, whilst Sir Jonathan remained, bowing but
inaccessible, behind their petticoats.  The extraordinary thing about
the Misses Phyllack was that they all seemed of the same age; their
manners were alike, the expression of their faces equally sweet, the
tones of their voices equally soft, like the cooing of wood-pigeons.
They were all equally resolute never to admit a stepmother.

Even if Orange had contemplated it seriously, it was hopeless to break
through this bodyguard of daughters, capture and carry off Sir Jonathan.
After the call the old gentleman ventured to remark, ’A fine girl that!’
whereupon Miss Grace Pomeroy objected that she was coarse, and Miss Anna
Maria Amy that she had bad feet, and Miss Elizabeth Gilbert that she had
a temper, and Miss Catherine Penhelligan that she was inelegant in her
postures, and so on to the seventh, when Miss Grace Pomeroy took up the
subject again, and poor Orange would have been picked to the bone, had
not Sir Jonathan withdrawn his provocative remark with, ’Very true, my
dears, very true; my eyes deceived me.’

Orange would have been glad enough to become Lady Phyllack, but to
become Lady Phyllack the knight must be got at, and to get at him the
circle must be broken.  There was no Arnold of Winkelried at Boscastle
to open a road through which Orange might dash in.  Not a single Miss
Phyllack had been lured from her post, all still were Misses Phyllack
and coheiresses.  It cannot be said that the ladies looked upon marriage
as an evil to be avoided in their own persons, but, unfortunately for
them, there were no marriageable young gentlemen in the neighbourhood.
To find them they must go afield to Exeter or Bath, but to go there was
to expose Sir Jonathan to fascinating widows and designing old maids;
and though the knight occasionally suggested a migration to some
fashionable resort, the daughters unanimously refused their consent, in
their dread of it leading to a stepmother.

The seven young ladies received Mirelle readily into their society, but
were cool towards Orange.  The seven bosoms instinctively and together
felt suspicious of Orange, and, after the remark their father had made,
hostile towards her, as a dangerous person who must be kept out of Sir
Jonathan’s sight.

Orange had found that storm-beaten coast a very dull world.  When
Captain Trecarrel appeared in it, she felt relief and saw a chance of
escape from it.  Poor Mirelle was not prepared to receive the Captain
with composure. The remembrance of what had passed between them on
Christmas morning was too fresh, and she felt too keenly that it was her
confession of love for him that had separated her from her husband, and
would remain as a barrier keeping him away.  She had been living a
peaceful and lonely life at Welltown, and from seeing no more of
Trecarrel her feelings towards him had become less intense.  In time she
hoped that this acuteness would be sufficiently blunted to enable her to
think more of John Herring.  She knew that it was her duty to love him,
and she would try to do so, but to do so she must first forget
Trecarrel. She was struggling with her heart, to hold it down, and bend
it towards her husband.  She allowed no thought to recur to Trecarrel.
She shut her eyes against every flash of recollection that illumined
him, as if to remember him were a sin.  None suspected what was passing
within, under that frozen exterior.  She seemed wholly emotionless, and
yet Orange knew that she was unhappy, was suffering, though she neither
knew the extent nor the occasion of her suffering. Orange, who had never
striven against any inclination or current of thought, had no suspicion
of the systematic, deliberate, and obstinate battle Mirelle was fighting
with her own heart.

And now, when the first resistance was broken, when she had gained some
little successes, preludes of a complete victory, the Captain
reappeared, introduced into the house by Orange to turn the scale of
battle against her conscience.  Mirelle received him with courtesy, but
with coldness.  She listened to his conversation without seeming to take
interest in it, but out of civility she ventured to say a few words and
ask a question, and directly dinner was over she withdrew to her boudoir
with an apology, and without a request that he would renew his visit.
Captain Trecarrel was a little disappointed at his reception.  He had
been profuse in his expressions of delight at accidentally renewing
acquaintanceship, and had been pathetic on his distaste for ham and eggs
alternating with eggs and ham.

When Mirelle left the hall, she hastened to her own room, and threw
herself on her knees.  The trial was more than she could bear.  The
sight of Trecarrel had undone in one moment the work of months.

Orange made amends for Mirelle’s neglect. She begged the Captain to come
there again for early dinner, whenever he was sketching in that
direction; and as Captain Trecarrel found that the beauties of the
portion of the coast south-west of Boscastle were superior to those on
the north-east, he was there a good deal. He was surprised to find that
neither Mirelle nor Orange knew anything of the sights of the
neighbourhood.  He volunteered to escort them.  He insisted on taking
them to S. Kneighton’s Kieve, on driving them to Tintagel, and on their
exploring the ruins of King Arthur’s Castle together.  They must visit
Blackapit in a boat.  There was a seal-cave that ought to be seen—it was
a long way off and must be visited by boat—but the weather was splendid,
and the sea was as calm as the Atlantic can be on this coast. The
weather was indeed delightful, and the saddest heart could not resist
the spring influence which swelled the buds and inspired the birds with
song.

Mirelle allowed herself to be drawn on these excursions only with
extreme reluctance. Orange was bent on going, and it was not proper to
allow Orange to go alone with the Captain.  A third person must
accompany them, and Mrs. Trampleasure could not be induced to leave the
house, her Blair’s Sermons, and Rollin’s ’Ancient History.’  Mirelle
felt that the place was dull for Orange, who, with her fulness of life
and spirits, needed amusement.  She was unable herself to provide her
with distractions, and she therefore yielded to Orange’s solicitations
that they should accept the Captain’s offers, and make these expeditions
with him.  But Mirelle hoped that each would be the last.  The Captain
was always on the eve of leaving to prosecute his tour, nevertheless
there he remained.  This was becoming unendurable to Mirelle; the strain
on her was too great.  Captain Trecarrel was very civil to Orange, but
in her presence never more than very civil.  Orange gave him every
possible encouragement, but he still hesitated.  He would not speak till
he had sounded Mirelle as to the source and extent of Orange’s property
and expectations, and Mirelle never gave him the opportunity of speaking
with her alone.  Till he knew for certain what Orange was worth, and
whether the five thousand pounds were really hers, or merely fluttered
in his face to lure him on, he would not commit himself.  Nor was this
the only cause of his hesitation.  Since he had come to Boscastle, he
had heard of the Misses Phyllack, seven coheiresses, and he had done
himself the honour of calling on Sir Jonathan. There was some remote
connection between the families which justified him in paying a visit
now that he was in the neighbourhood. He was graciously received by the
young ladies, whose hearts were set in a flutter by his languishing blue
eyes, and cordially by Sir Jonathan, who was delighted to have some one
to talk to.  So he dropped into the manor-house of an evening to take a
hand at whist, and to talk about remote cousins, and to be an apple of
discord among the seven sisters.  If the seven Misses Phyllack had but
one hand between them on which he could put the ring, Captain Trecarrel
would not have hesitated to marry them all; but one out of seven
coheiresses meant one seventh of Sir Jonathan’s property when Sir
Jonathan was dead, and the old knight looked remarkably robust; it meant
also very little indeed, should the old gentleman marry again, and beget
a son.  Now, over the walnuts and wine one evening, when the daughters
were out of hearing, Sir Jonathan had ventured on a remark about Orange:
’Fine woman that—deuced good-looking; my daughters won’t let me look at
a handsome face, but I may give them the slip some day.’  This made
Trecarrel uneasy, and next day he redoubled his attentions to Orange,
and made no call at the manor.

Orange watched Mirelle, and saw that she loved Captain Trecarrel.  She
saw it in the struggle made by Mirelle to escape his society, by her
reluctance to join in the excursions he proposed.  Orange was suspicious
of the Captain.  Was he there for her sake, or because he was still
attracted by Mirelle?  She watched him closely.  He was attentive to
Mirelle, and his eye rested on her inquiringly now and then, when he
thought he was unobserved.

Why, unless he still loved Mirelle, did he not ask Orange to be to him
what she had been before?  What stood in his way?  That he was waiting
till he knew all the particulars about her five thousand pounds, and
till he had made up his mind about the Misses Phyllack, never occurred
to her.



                            *CHAPTER LIII.*

                         *A PRIVATE INTERVIEW.*


For some time the stress of work at Upaver, and anxiety about both the
success of the mine and the decline of Mr. Battishill’s health, had kept
under the yearning of John Herring’s heart to see Mirelle again.  Love
was ever paramount, pain ever present, but he resolutely suppressed his
desire to be with her.  Duty kept him at West Wyke, and away from
Welltown.

When, however, Mr. Battishill’s life had ebbed away, and the first grief
of Cicely was overpassed, and when Upaver mine was in full working
order, when the spring was well on, and earth and sky were full of love,
and joy, and hope, then the hunger of his heart became exacting.  He
must return to Welltown, see Mirelle, and may-be renew his pain.

The spring flowers were very lovely, and he brought bunches of them to
Cicely; but that was not the same as offering them to Mirelle.  It was
pleasant to hear Cicely’s gentle voice, with the faintest touch of
Devonshire brogue in it; but that was nothing to the delight of
listening to the tones of Mirelle’s English tinged with French.  He must
see and hear her again.  He could endure his banishment no longer.

The lodestone mountain drew ships to it, and when they came near
extracted from them their bolts and nails, and the vessels went to
pieces at its feet.  Mirelle was his lodestone, and, even at the risk of
a final and fatal wreck to his happiness, he must see her.

He still entertained the hope that in time Mirelle might learn to desire
his presence, might come to think that life at Welltown would be
pleasanter were he there to enliven it, might cease to shrink from him
in that vague terror she had shown when he had told her his love, and
when he had married her. She regarded him.  Might not this regard deepen
into a warmer sentiment?

Herring had told Cicely nothing.  She had not made a second attempt to
force her way into his confidence.  It is difficult to say to what
extent she suspected the state of his heart.  She certainly had no
knowledge of his marriage.  Mirelle was never mentioned by either of
them.  He knew that Cicely instinctively disliked her, and she knew that
he admired her, though she hardly suspected that he did more than
greatly admire her.

Herring’s position at West Wyke was anomalous.  The people—that is, the
workmen at the mine, and the farmers and cotters on the estate—called
him the young Squire, and supposed that he was a near relative, and the
heir to the property.  They sometimes spoke of him as young Squire
Battishill. There were few neighbours of the class of the Battishills,
and those that were had long ceased to call on the old gentleman and his
daughter.  They themselves were mounting in the world, and the
Battishills were falling. He gave no entertainments, and kept no
carriage, not even a gig.  This class therefore did not concern itself
with the affairs at West Wyke, after it had done the civil thing of
attending his funeral.  Nevertheless John Herring felt that the
situation was unsatisfactory. He would have liked to take Cicely to
Welltown to stay with Mirelle, for change of air and scene, and to have
persuaded Mirelle to return with them to West Wyke, when he was recalled
by the concerns of the mine. But, as matters stood between him and his
wife, this was not possible.

At times he fell into a daydream, which brightened his spirits for a few
hours.  He thought that perhaps now Mirelle might bid him stay by her.
Then his future would be changed, the spring would burst forth in his
heart, as in surrounding nature.  Till then the frost must lie within.
He must go home and learn his fate.  He could stay away no longer.
No—no!  West Wyke was not home. He must see if the ice were thawing at
Welltown.

So he bade farewell to Cicely and Joyce, set the men at Upaver their
tasks, and departed.

There was another motive in his heart drawing him back to
Welltown—another beside his desire of again seeing Mirelle.  In the
locked drawer of his office desk he had left his confession to
Mirelle—his confession of the fact that all the money that had been
spent to buy up the West Wyke mortgages, that had been sunk in Upaver,
and that which had been given to Orange, and that also which Mirelle was
now enjoying, was her own, the proceeds of the sale of the uncut
diamonds her father had brought to England from Brazil—the diamonds in
which he had invested his fortune as a convenient and portable form in
which to transfer it from one country to another.  He did not wish
Mirelle to see this. He did not wish it, for his own sake and for hers.
For good or for ill—it seemed wholly for ill—the thing had been done,
and could not be recalled.  By no means could the effects of the mistake
be avoided.  If she knew the circumstances, nothing she could do would
alter them, and the knowledge would only give her additional and renewed
pain, for she might well suppose that had it come to her earlier she
would have been saved from taking the fatal step that could not now be
retraced. Putting his own wishes aside entirely, Herring could see that
the only chance of happiness open to Mirelle was for her to accept the
situation, draw towards him, and learn to love him.  Were the truth now
to break on her, the breach would become irreparable.  He knew that he
had acted towards her unselfishly and conscientiously, and the error
into which he had fallen had been an error of judgment.  But would she
believe this?  Was it not far more probable that she would suppose he
had acted with selfish premeditation from the first, and thus become for
ever embittered against him?

His anxiety about the confession grew as he thought this over and
fevered him as he walked.  He resolved directly on his arrival to
destroy the document.  Why had he not done so before instead of leaving
it?  Because he had been flurried at leaving, and had thought that it
might be useful on some future occasion.  The drawer was locked, and
therefore he had no cause for fear, but nevertheless he was uneasy.
Other keys besides his own might unlock it, and though he did not
believe that Mirelle would wilfully and knowingly pry into what he
wished to keep concealed, yet it was possible that his words relative to
the locked drawer when he left her had been unheeded, and that, finding
a key wherewith to open it, she might look in for some mislaid paper or
account needed by the foreman of the slate-quarry, and when the drawer
was opened she would see the packet lying in it addressed to herself.
Herring went accordingly to Willapark first, and with his private key
unlocked the office, and then locked himself in.  The office was much as
he had left it, and yet not entirely.  Some one had been there.  The
chairs were in unusual places. The position of the desk was changed.
Probably Genefer had done this in dusting or cleaning.  He opened the
drawer immediately, and saw that the packet was gone.

Herring sat down on his bed to think. He was almost certain that the
letter had been put in the locked drawer, and yet, when he came to
revolve in his mind the events of the night and morning when the letter
had been written and put away, he found that he could be certain of
nothing about it save that he had written, made up, and addressed the
packet.  He had purposed putting it in the drawer and locking it up.  He
believed he had done as he purposed, but it was possible that, in the
confusion and distress in which he then was, he might have omitted to do
so.  If the letter had been put elsewhere, it must have been put in his
cupboard.  This cupboard consisted of a set of shelves that had been run
up in a recess, combined with an extemporised wardrobe, where he kept
his suit in which he went out boating and shooting.

The cupboard was not closed with a door, but had a curtain on an iron
bar in front of it, which latter turned on a crook.  He went at once to
this closet and thrust the bar and curtain aside so as to get into the
recess and examine the shelves.  To this place he had gone for the
bullets on that turning night in his life.  He mounted a stool to
explore the upper shelves.  He would not leave one unsearched till he
had found the missing packet. Whilst thus engaged he heard a key put
into the lock, and the door opened.  He was surprised, and remained
where he was, screened from view.

Then he heard Mirelle say: ’Captain Trecarrel, I sent for you to meet me
here in private, as I have something to say to you which I do not wish
Orange to hear, because it concerns Orange.’

’Mirelle,’ replied the Captain, ’I also have been desirous of seeing you
in private, as I also have something to say to you which is not for
Orange’s ears.’

The first impression on Herring’s mind on hearing these words was
surprise at Mirelle’s indiscretion in arranging a private interview with
the Captain.  Not a shadow of suspicion of other motives than what were
honourable crossed him.  It had never occurred to him that Trecarrel was
the man Mirelle loved. Had he known this, nevertheless not a thought of
anything unworthy of her would have entered his mind.  He saw that she
had acted in ignorance of conventional proprieties.  His first impulse
was to step forward and show himself.  On second thoughts he refrained
from doing so.  He refrained for Mirelle’s own sake. If he were suddenly
to emerge from behind the curtain it would bring home to her at once the
impropriety of her conduct, embarrass and distress her, and place both
her and the Captain in a very awkward position.  The interview was about
Orange, and there could be no reason why he should not overhear it, and
indeed take part in it, unless it were, as he supposed, concerning the
Captain’s engagement to Orange.  If that were so it would be kindest to
allow Mirelle to have her few words about it with Trecarrel, and he—John
Herring—would tell her immediately after that he had overheard the
conversation.

’Je vous donne le pas, Monsieur le Capitaine.’

’Je le prends de bon gré, madame,’ replied Trecarrel.  ’But as I think
in English and not in French, perhaps you will allow me to say what I
want in my native tongue.’

’Certainly.’

’In the first place, then, let me speak about my book on the Cornish
Coast scenery.  I think it advisable that you should possess early
copies—proofs before the plates are worn. I think you offered to take
three copies at five guineas.’

’I believe I did.  Have you secured a publisher?’

’No, not yet, but that is a matter of secondary importance.  A publisher
can always be secured for drawings such as mine, of scenery that has
such historic interest—King Arthur, Uther Pendragon, Gwenever, and so
on.’

’No doubt.’

’If not inconvenient to you, would you mind letting me have your
subscription at once?  I want, you understand, to secure you unrubbed
copies.’

’You shall have the money to-morrow.’

’You quite see that I am pressing this entirely in your own interest.
There is a material difference between early copies and late
impressions, and first subscribers who have paid up will, as a matter of
strict justice, be given the best and sharpest copies.’

’Quite so.’

’There was another matter on which I wished to speak to you.  A man was
saved from the wreck of the "Susanna" in the winter.  That man gave out
his name as George Bidgood.  You, I understand, gave him shelter.  You
are aware who he is?’

’I saw him brought ashore.’

’You know then that he is no more George Bidgood than I am.  George
Bidgood was the seaman on board the "Susanna," and was lost in it.  The
man who was rescued from the waves was Sampson Tramplara, but, as he
desired to disguise the fact that he had been saved and was alive, he
took for the occasion the name of the drowned man, and there was no one
in Boscastle who knew otherwise except yourself.  Sampson disappeared
after that, but he has just turned up again, as it happens, at an
awkward moment for himself, for the "Chough" has come into harbour, and
the mate of the "Chough"—a little smack that trades between this place
and Bristol—knew Bidgood intimately, and the same man had learned in
Bristol that a swindler had made off in the "Susanna," and was supposed
to have been lost in her.  Last night Sampson was at the Ship Inn
drinking, when the mate of the "Chough" came in and joined the party.
In the course of conversation Sampson was spoken of as Bidgood; this led
to an explanation, and then the mate charged him with being the man whom
justice was pursuing, disguising himself under Bidgood’s name.  There
was a disturbance, Sampson was drunk, and in the scuffle he stabbed the
mate, and made his escape.’

’Mon Dieu! le pauvre homme! est-il mort?’

’No.  The man is not dead, but he has been mortally wounded.  However,
the condition of the mate concerns us only in a secondary manner—the
fate of Sampson is that with which we have to do.’

’He must suffer for what he has done.’

’Will you speak to Orange, and tell her what has taken place?’

Mirelle hesitated a moment, and then said, ’If necessary I will do so.’

’It is necessary.  Sampson must not be taken here.  The mate is mortally
wounded; Sampson must be helped to escape.  If he wants money and means
of escape he must be provided with them.’

’I will not assist him with money or means of escape.  He has done
wrong, and must take the consequences.’

’You are right, no doubt, in principle, but the world cannot go on upon
principle, it must have its workings eased to suit convenience. It will
never do that he should be taken here, and your relationship to the
scoundrel come out.’

’It cannot be helped.’

’But you must consider Orange and her mother.  By the way, there is
another matter I must mention.  I have had a talk with Sampson—of
course, before this last unpleasant affair with the mate of the
"Chough."  He was not shy of me, for he knew I would not betray him.
During our conversation he let drop some insinuations against
your—against Mr. Herring.  He says that Mr. Herring robbed you of the
greater portion of your fortune, without either you or Mr. Tramplara,
your guardian, knowing or suspecting it.’

’Stop,’ said Mirelle, haughtily; ’not another word, Captain Trecarrel.
Mr. John Herring is incapable of acting otherwise than honourably, and I
refuse absolutely to listen to slanders that issue from the mouth of
Sampson Trampleasure.’

’You are right, Countess, quite right.  I was as indignant as you are
now.  I positively refused to believe it.  But he proceeded to enforce
his hints with circumstances.’

’Captain Trecarrel, you must have understood me very imperfectly.  I
refuse to hear another word on this offensive and insulting topic.  If
you have done speaking about the escape of Mr. Sampson Trampleasure, let
me say what I desire to say.  Mr. John Herring is an honourable man, and
in his absence I am the guardian of his honour.’

’I also shut my ears when Sampson said what he did,’ continued Captain
Trecarrel; ’I had no intention of saying anything to you about the
reflections he cast on the character of your husband which might be
disagreeable for you to hear, I mention this only as supplying an
additional reason for getting Sampson Tramplara out of the way, even by
helping him with money.  It would be most unpleasant for you were he to
make disclosures affecting John Herring’s character——’

’He can make no such disclosures.  John Herring’s character cannot be
impeached.’

’Certainly—I used the wrong term: were he to hint——’

’The hints of such as he can do no harm.’

’There you are wrong; they would be eagerly listened to, and believed.
John Herring is not here to defend himself, and as you say you are the
guardian of his honour, I think it is your duty to save him this
annoyance.’

’If that be so, let him escape.  It goes against my conscience, but, to
save my husband unpleasantness, I will do what you ask. I will give him
money.  You may take my purse.’

’Excuse me.  I shall not see the fellow. He is not likely to show again
at the Ship, nor am I likely to come across him anywhere in my walks.
But he will not leave without having seen Orange.  She must have
provided him with money before, and his return to Boscastle now means
that he has spent all she let him have, and wants more.’

’I will speak to Orange, and give her money.  But now that this hateful
subject is settled, you will allow me to speak to you about Orange.’

’I am ready to hear anything you may say.’

Mirelle hesitated.  She began to tremble, and cast her eyes on the
ground.  ’Orange,’ she began—’that is to say, I mean—but, Captain
Trecarrel, it is hard for me to say what I want, and you ought not to
have put the necessity on me of saying it.  You are not acting fairly by
Orange, or—by me.  I am sure that—that Orange regards you very, very
much; you were engaged to marry her, and I think—I do think you are
bound in honour to do so.  She is not happy; I can see that she frets.
You are trifling with her heart.  Why are you here?  Why do you not
prosecute your journey?  Time presses; you must finish your series of
sketches whilst the fine weather lasts.  Why, then, do you remain here,
and come up to Welltown every day, and make excursions with us, and—why
do you not leave us in peace?’

’You, you, Mirelle, urge me to make Orange Trampleasure my wife after——’

She cut him short.  ’You are bound to marry her.  Do you not see that
yourself? You were engaged to her before that miserable affair of Ophir
intervened to destroy her happiness.’

’After what I told you, Mirelle, that Christmas Day?’

’Forbear!’ said Mirelle; ’never recur to, nor allude to that again.  I
have forgotten it—that is, I try, I pray to forget it.  Yes, I entreat
you to take Orange.’

’There are several objections,’ said Trecarrel. ’In the first place, I
cannot afford it.’

’Orange has five thousand pounds.’

’Has she no more?’

’Not that I am aware of.’

’What puzzles me is, how did she come by the money?  I thought
everything had gone when that scamp Sampson bolted.’

’That is easily explained.  John Herring gave her the money.’

’He gave Orange five thousand pounds! This is incredible.  What claim
had she on him?’

’She had been kind to me.  I asked him to do it.’

’An exemplary husband!  But how the deuce did he come by so much money?
I know what Welltown is worth.  He cannot have saved it—men in the army
spend, they do not save; he cannot have made it.  He did not inherit it.
Whence did it come?’

’That concerns neither you nor me to know.’

’Orange then really has, of her own, five thousand pounds.’

’Yes.’

’Has she prospects of more?’

’I believe not.’

’Five thousand pounds!  By the way, would it be possible to organise a
picnic conjointly with the Misses Phyllack to Crackington Cove?  The old
knight to stay at home.’

’Captain Trecarrel, you are evading the point.  You are trying to turn
the subject. I am anxious; I am troubled.  Do not play with me.  It cost
me a severe struggle to make up my mind to speak to you alone, and on
this subject.’

’Why should it cost you a struggle?’

’It has—that is enough.  Do you not see?  I am pleading for a—a sister;
for her happiness.  Can you not understand that I am shy of doing this,
and that I only do it as a duty, and for the sake of a sister?’

’Mirelle!’ said the Captain, slowly.  He looked hard at her.  ’That is
not it.  I can read your heart more clearly than you think. You are
desirous of getting me to marry Orange so as to erect a double wall of
duty between yourself and me—it is because you doubt your own fortitude
unless double-steeled with a sense of twofold duty——’

’Captain Trecarrel!’ exclaimed Mirelle, in deadly terror—for he had
divined and given expression to her real motive.  ’I pray you say
nothing about me.  Put me altogether out of your thoughts.  Speak only
of Orange.’

’You see there is this confounded business about Sampson in the way.
Suppose the fellow be apprehended—and the whole of Boscastle is alive
and out after him—and suppose the mate dies, as is most probable,
Sampson will swing.  Do you not see that I cannot well quarter the
chevronels with a gallows?’

’He shall escape—he must escape. Orange shall have the money!  Captain
Trecarrel, either take Orange, or go your way to the Land’s End.’

’I want time to consider.’

’Take time, but not too much.  Now leave me.’

’Oh, Mirelle, is not this cruel of you—of you who knew the state of my
heart, what I have suffered, and am suffering still—

’Leave me!’ said Mirelle.  She trembled in every limb.  ’Leave me!—leave
me!’

He hesitated a moment, and then went out.

She stood looking at the door.  Then her pent-up feelings burst forth.
She cast herself on her knees, and sobbed and cried, ’My God!  my God!
forgive me!  I love him still! I have striven against it!  Thou knowest
the secrets of the heart.  I love him still!’  Then the door burst open,
and Orange came in, her face livid with rage, and her large eyes
flashing hate.

’What is this?—is this?—you meet Captain Trecarrel in secret and alone
here?’

’I beg your pardon, Miss Trampleasure,’ said Herring, stepping forward;
’not in secret, nor alone.  I have a right, I presume, to see any one or
two in my own room that I choose.’

Mirelle looked up dazed.  Her eyes were blind with tears.  She
understood nothing of what was going on, neither how Orange had come in,
nor whence Herring had risen.

Orange looked first at Herring, then at Mirelle, still kneeling and with
tears in her eyes and on her cheeks, and laughed scornfully.

’I apologise, Mr. Herring.  I have intruded on the confession of a
penitent.’



                             *CHAPTER LIV.*

                           *THE PORCH ROOM.*


Herring gave his arm to Mirelle to conduct her back to Welltown.  He did
not say much to her, as his own heart was full, and she, he knew, needed
time to recover herself.

Now he knew all.  He had never suspected an attachment for the Captain,
but had supposed that she had lost her heart to some one in France.
What he now learned increased his trouble.  Separation from a lover on
the other side of the Channel might, in time, have effaced or obscured
his image, but Trecarrel was too near to be forgotten. Herring saw that
Trecarrel had perceived that Mirelle’s efforts to bring about a
reconciliation and re-engagement with Orange were dictated by alarm for
herself, by her desire to erect a double barrier between herself and the
man she loved, so as to afford her conscience a double reason for
mastering her affection for him.

Herring did not wish to speak with Mirelle on this subject till
later—till he had had time to think over the situation in which he and
she were now placed.  He therefore said a few words on ordinary topics
during the walk to Welltown.  He observed that she seemed even frailer
and more bloodless than before.  The strong air of the coast had not
braced her into vigorous life, but seemed to overpower the feeble life
that pulsated in her veins.

’You do not grow stronger, Mirelle?’

’I am well in body,’ she said.

’I do not think so.  You ought to see a doctor—you look so thin and
white.’

’The only doctor I need is the sun,’ she answered, ’and his visits are
so few that they must be costly.’

’But this wonderful stimulating air——’

’There is too much air.  It is never at rest—always blowing.  I dislike
the wind. And the sea is always tossing and thundering. The leaves on
the plants, the blades of grass, are never still, but always fluttering
and swaying.  The waves are ever battering and gnawing at the rocks.  O
for a Mediterranean—a tideless sea!  I want peace, stillness, a calm;
with the sun shining, and no sea near, and no noise save the hum of
bees.  Here there are no bees; the wind carries them out to sea and they
drown in the brine.  You do not understand me.  Here there are no
butterflies; the wind breaks their wings.  You do not comprehend my
state of mind.’

’Yes, I think so.  You like a hot climate.’

’I love warmth, but I love stillness better. That is what my soul craves
for and cannot obtain.  Here the flowers do not bloom—they blow away.
Here the birds do not sing—they scream.  Here we have weeks of gloomy
skies.  I want no shadow at all save that of a cross flung over a hot
white road.  But one sees no crosses here, only signposts.  We bear our
own crosses hammered red-hot into our lives.’

The evening was beautiful.  The sun was setting over the sea, making a
road of quivering gold upon the waves.  The air was warm. Herring looked
round.  The scene was grandly beautiful.  He wondered that Mirelle could
not love it.

He went into the house, and had tea in the hall with her and Mrs.
Trampleasure.  Orange feigned a headache and did not appear.

Then he ascended the stairs with Mirelle to the little boudoir or porch
room; he must have a conversation with her in private before again
leaving.

The room was small; it was pleasant, prettily furnished with
rose-coloured satin curtains, the walls white and gold.  But the damp
had come through the paper and formed black fungoid stains, disfiguring
all one side. There was no fireplace in the room, so that it could only
be used in summer.  In the corner stood the bureau in which Mirelle kept
the jewels, a bureau of inlaid wood, with ornamental brasswork about the
locks and handles. The chairs were white and gold.  Herring had spent a
good deal of money on this room, hoping that it would please Mirelle,
and that she would be happy in it.

He took a chair.  She seated herself in the window on the low seat.  She
opened the casement, and the summer air was wafted in, bearing on its
wings the murmur of the sea.

’Mirelle,’ he said, ’I overheard all that passed in the office on
Willapark.  I was there when you came in, but I did not show myself,
lest by so doing I should cause you embarrassment.  Excuse my saying it,
but I do not think you acted wisely in inviting Captain Trecarrel to
meet you there.’

’No, I do not think I did, but I could not in any other way get a word
in private with him.’

’And you wished to urge him to marry Orange.  I think with you that in
honour he is bound to take her.’

’Yes, I wish that very much.’

’At the same time I think your interference ill-calculated to advance
the cause you have at heart.  It was indiscreet of you, Mirelle.’

’Perhaps so.  You are always right, and know what ought to be done, and
do it.’  After a pause, she said: ’Yes, it was not wise of me.  I will
never do it again.  But then, consider, I was alone, and had no one to
advise me, for in this matter I could not consult Orange.  When I was at
the Sacré Coeur, I knew my way about the dear home in the dark, but here
I am in a world without orientation.  All the familiar landmarks fail
me, all the ways lead in unknown directions. I am translated, morally,
into a country that I am expected to travel through without a map or a
guide.’

’Mirelle, if you like, you have only to say the word and I will stay
here as your adviser. You are too weak.’

’No, my good friend, I am not weak.’

’Weak in body, Mirelle—not weak in character.’

’No; I will always do my duty, as I see it.’

’You are too inexperienced to be left alone.’

’I have Orange with me.’

’But what is Orange as an adviser?  You confessed as much just now when
you admitted you were without a guide.  Mirelle! I am sure Orange does
not like you.  She is’—he was about to add ’jealous,’ but he checked
himself—’she is not a desirable person to have about you perpetually.  I
do not trust her sincerity.’

’I do.  I have never done anything to make her dislike me.’

He remained silent.  It was difficult for him to speak the truth, and
yet it must be spoken for her sake.

’Orange is strongly attached to Captain Trecarrel; that you know,’ said
Herring. ’Now a loving woman is a suspicious woman. He will not renew
his engagement with her, he shirks doing so; and she seeks an
explanation of his conduct, and finds it where she has no right to look
for it.’

Mirelle turned her face to Herring.

’I told you all, that evening after we had been married.  You know that
something passed between him and me, not much, just enough to——’

’Yes, Mirelle, you told me that your heart was a treasure I might not
possess, but you did not inform me to whom you had surrendered it.’

’I did not!  I failed in my duty.  I intended to do so, my friend.’

’You did not, but now I have found it out.’

’Oh, John Herring, do not say that I surrendered my heart.  That I never
did.  It was drawn from me, and I fought against it, I prayed against
it.  God help me!  I have been very miserable: I am miserable still. You
are not angry with me?  I could not help myself.’

’I—I angry with you?  No, Mirelle, never; you have done me no wrong.  If
wrong has been done, it has been done by me to you.’

’I have suffered, because since I married you I knew it was wrong to
think of another man, and I do believe I should have conquered in the
end had not Captain Trecarrel come here.  I thought he came after
Orange, and I have done my best to promote her interests. I want him to
go away, and then I will begin my battle over again.  He will leave now,
and in time I shall have conquered the thoughts I ought not to harbour.’

’Mirelle—one word.  Shall I stay here? I shall not trouble you with my
presence more than is absolutely necessary.  My old office shall be my
home, but I shall be at hand to advise and to help you.’

She shook her head.

’I have no right to say Go, or Stay.  You must act as you see fit.  You
are master here; you are my husband; this is your house.  But if you
will listen to my prayer, I will ask you to go away again—not for long,
for a little while.  I want rest; I want to be quite alone with God and
my own heart.  I have got a wrestle to go through, and I had rather
undertake it without a spectator.  Do not be afraid for me.  I shall
come out victorious in the end, I do not doubt that. Only, these
wrestles take a great deal of strength out of me.  When I feel better,
and know that the worst is over, I will write to you, and then come and
I shall be able to see you.  You are still my friend—nothing I have said
or done has altered that?’

’No, no—Mirelle.’

’I always respect and honour you.  I know that you are upright and good,
and I would love you if I could.  I may do so some day, but the weed
must be rooted out before the grain is sown.’

’Very well, Mirelle.  You said as we walked back from Willapark that
here we have the cross hammered into our lives.  You have yours, I have
mine.  It must be so. Perhaps a better time may be in store for both of
us.’

’Perhaps.’  She looked sadly out of the window.  The sun had set, and
the golden path on the sea was turned to quicksilver. She rose and moved
towards the door into her own room.

’I am very tired.  Shall we say Good night?’

’And good-bye.  I leave before morning.’

’It is best so.’

She hung about the door, looking timidly at him.  Her hand was on the
latch, and it shook; she removed it, but presently put it on again.

’When am I to return?  In a month, or two months?’ he asked.

She shook her head.  ’I cannot say; I will write to you.  Give me your
address before you leave.’

’There are one or two little matters connected with our affairs here
that ought to be discussed.’

’Here is the key of my bureau.  Will you write your instructions?  They
shall be carried out faithfully.  I am very tired.  You said I was weak;
I am weak in body.  Write at my desk, and leave the note in it, and the
key in the lock.’

’Very well, Mirelle; good-bye!’

Then she raised her great dark eyes to him, and came tremblingly towards
him.

’Kiss me,’ she said; ’you have a right to that.’

He took her pale face between his hands, and reverently kissed her
cheek, and a salt tear off it was received by his lips.  He knew that
she did not love him.  He knew that her cheek was offered him only
because of the strong sense of duty at her heart, and because she felt
that some reparation was due for the bitter pain she had caused him.

When he had let her go she bowed her head, and with lowered eyes and a
hectic spot of colour on the cheek that he had touched, without another
word or look, she disappeared through the door.

Herring sat for a few moments with his hands over his face, and then
went to the bureau, opened it, and, taking some paper, wrote on it his
address, and various memoranda relative to the house and quarry.  When
he had done he closed the desk, turned the key, descended the stairs,
and left the house. As he went through the gate he thought he saw a man
behind the wall near the entrance to the yard, and, supposing this was
Hender, Herring cast him a good-night.  There was no reply, but this
caused him no surprise; Hender was a surly man, not addicted to the
courtesies of life.  Herring did not give him another thought; he had
enough to trouble his mind without care for Hender’s manners.

His conversation with Mirelle had been, in a measure, satisfactory; as
satisfactory as he could expect.  There was some faint hope before him;
she was doing her best to overcome that unfortunate passion which stood
as a dividing wall between them.  Time would assist her efforts, which
Herring knew were sincere, and then perhaps she might come to care for
him.  She valued him now; she had not shrunk from him as before, but had
freely volunteered a kiss.  She had assured him that but a short while
would elapse before she would recall him.  When the weed was eradicated
then the corn would grow.  The hope set before him was not a great one;
still it was something to have a hope at all.  He went back to
Willapark, resolved to examine the quarry accounts, write instructions
to the captain, and depart that night on his return to West Wyke.  He
would walk back, and therefore not go by Launceston, but strike across
country into the Holsworthy and Okehampton road.

Not many minutes after Herring had left Welltown, that man whom he had
observed behind the yard wall crept forth with a ladder that he had
taken from an outhouse.  He looked cautiously about him, and then
planted the ladder noiselessly against the porch.  He threw off his
shoes, and swiftly ascended. The window of the boudoir was open, as
Mirelle had left it, and the man lifted himself in through it.  He stole
across the room over the soft carpet to the bureau.  The sky was full of
twilight, and everything in the room could be distinguished.  The window
faced north, and the northern sky was illumined with silvery light.  A
streak of yellow light beneath the door showed that Mirelle’s candle was
burning in her bedroom.  The man listened.  He heard steps coming along
the passage.  Then a door was opened.  It was that into the adjoining
bedroom, and a voice was heard speaking.  The man smiled; he knew the
voice well, it was that of Orange Trampleasure, and she was speaking to
Mirelle.

Then he turned the key in the bureau, opened it, and searched the well.
He soon found the secret drawer, and removed from it the diamonds.  He
was about to close the desk when he noticed the papers Herring had
written, his address, and memoranda.  The man caught these up hastily,
and then with a low, bitter laugh, and a look full of malignity in the
direction of Mirelle’s door, he put in their place the packet containing
Herring’s confession to his wife, written the night of his marriage, and
stolen from his drawer by Sampson Tramplara.  That man who now placed
the letter where Mirelle must find it was the same who had stolen
it—Sampson Tramplara.

All this was the work of a few minutes. As rapidly as he had ascended
the ladder and entered the room, so did he descend, replace the ladder
where he had found it, and disappear.



                             *CHAPTER LV.*

                               *NEMESIS.*


John Herring was engaged on the accounts in the office for some hours.
Whilst thus engaged he heard the door open behind him, and, when he
turned to look who had come in, saw Sampson Tramplara.

’What brings you hither?’ he asked, springing to his feet, and flushing
with anger.

’What brings me hither?’ repeated Sampson, and laughed.  ’You, Mr. John
Herring. I want a quiet talk with you.’

’Go away at once; I have nothing to say to you.’

’But I have something to say to you, Mister John.  In the first place, I
want a change of clothes.’

’You must go elsewhere for them.’

’No, I am going nowhere else.  I have set my heart on a boating suit
hanging in yonder cupboard, or wardrobe, or whatever you call it.  I
have come for that.  There are reasons that prevent my appearing in
public, and in the costume that I now wear, becoming though you may
think it.  Those reasons are, that if I am seen, I shall be arrested,
first for that confounded Ophir, and secondly, because last night I
stuck a knife into a man with whom I had a brawl in a tavern.  So now I
call you to find me the suit of clothes in which I may escape.  The
reason, because it is not to your advantage that I should be taken here.
Remember, I am the cousin of your wife; you have married into my family.
Mirelle gave me shelter when shipwrecked, and though she knew who I was,
like a sensible girl, she held her tongue.  My mother and sister are
your guests.  If you refuse me clothes, I shall go to your house, and be
taken there, in the society, in the presence, of Mrs. John Herring and
her cousins. That will be nice and creditable to the family, will it
not?  That will be highly entertaining to the ladies, will it not?  I
reckon that fellow whom I stuck will hardly recover, and if he dies I
must swing for it.  Creditable to the family, to be able to boast of
Cousin Sampy who was gallowsed.  I suppose I shall be hung in chains
here.  Pleasant to have a cousin of Mrs. John so exalted within a sniff
whenever she walks abroad.’

’Take the clothes you want,’ said Herring; ’be quick, and be off.’

Tramplara went to the recess, and took the garments he required, and
proceeded to divest himself of his own clothes, and invest himself in
Herring’s boating and shooting suit.

’They fit me as if made for me,’ said Sampson.  ’A good substantial suit
this. And here is J.H. on the buttons; that is in style.  Look at me.
We are the same height, and about the same build; we have about the same
coloured hair.  It is a d—d pity that I have not your luck.  I want
something more now.’

Sampson proceeded to roll up his old suit.

’It will not do to leave these garments about; they would betray my
change of skin.  I must throw them over the cliffs.  It is a fortunate
thing that there are no sands here on which a bundle confided to the
waves can be washed ashore.  Here the waves and rocks worry what is
given them past all recall, within a surprising short time.  Look at me.
This suit becomes me.  We might be brothers. Now, brother John, I want
something wherewith to line the pockets, which I find are empty.’

Whilst talking, Sampson transferred the contents of the pockets of his
old coat to the breast pocket of the waistcoat of his new suit—an inner
pocket.  As he did so he laughed, and looked contemptuously at Herring,
who was not observing him.  That which he transferred was the case
containing Mirelle’s diamonds.  He put that in the inner pocket of his
waistcoat, which he buttoned tightly over it.

’Look here!’ said he; ’this is all the cash I have, a crown and a
halfpenny.  Is a crown and a halfpenny enough to carry me across
Cornwall and out of England?  I want some blunt, and I will trouble you
to find me some.’

’Go along, you scoundrel!  It is enough for me to have allowed you my
old clothes—I will give you no further assistance.’

’That is a pretty name to give me—scoundrel! Pray what reason have you
for thus entitling me?’

’Every reason.  You and yours robbed Mirelle of what her father had
left.’

Sampson laughed.

’Oh, this is beautiful!  Virtuous innocence condemns impenitent vice.
Brother John, we are both in the same box.  It don’t become you to ride
the virtuous horse; it trots beautifully along a smooth road, but I
think I can lay something in its way will trip and tumble it over.  You
have had your pickings, and a d—d richer find yours was than mine.’

Herring looked at him speechless.  Was this a random shot, or did he
know anything?

’You are a proper person to act the moral character.  James Strange left
my father sole trustee of everything, did he not?  How much of all he
left did you allow him to finger, eh?  How much did you keep back for
yourself?’  Sampson paused for a reply.  He stood opposite Herring, with
his hands on his hips.  ’Don’t you think it possible that Cousin
Strange, in leaving Brazil, sent over as much ready money as he thought
he might want, and put the bulk of his property into diamonds, which he
could dispose of in London at any time?  By his will he constituted my
father sole trustee of everything—that is, of money and diamonds.  My
father never caught sight of the diamonds, never laid a finger on one of
them, for a very good reason, they were stolen by virtuous John
Herring.’

’This is false.’

’No, it is true.  You did not rummage the trunk of Cousin Strange, or
take them out, that I’ll allow; but you received the stolen jewels, and
the receiver is as bad as the thief, is he not?’

Herring could not speak.

’My father was constituted trustee.  If you had been honest, when you
received these diamonds you would at once have taken them to him.  You
were not honest.  You kept them.’

’Sampson Trampleasure, I kept them only for Mirelle, in her interest.  I
knew the character of your father, I knew what he was doing with the
rest of the money intrusted to him, and I would not risk the rest of her
property.’

’Who authorised you to keep it?’

’I acted as my conscience directed.’

’Conscience!’ exclaimed Sampson, derisively, ’I like to hear that word
pleaded; it always means, when interpreted, self-interest. Some men
follow their consciences as a gardener follows a wheelbarrow, by pushing
it along before him.  Answer me, would the law have authorised you to
keep back the diamonds?’

’No; the law would not.’

’Then who authorised you?  Did Mirelle? Did you consult her about them?
I am at a loss to know what other authorisation you could find.’

’No, I did not speak of them to her—and that for reasons of my own.’

’No, I know you did not.  You acted on what you call conscience, and I,
self-interest. I will tell you what you did with Mirelle’s money.  You
were soft and sweet on Cicely Battishill——’

’Hold,’ said Herring, angrily; ’I dare you——’

’I will not be stayed.  You pitied the girl; you were constantly with
her, you were tender and foolish.  I do not dispute your good taste.
White and roses, and auburn hair—a young fellow might do worse than pick
up with Cicely.  Well, for her sake you sold some of the stones, and
bought up the mortgages on West Wyke, held by my father.  Was that fair?
My father had refused to invest Mirelle’s money in that, and you took
her money unknown to him and thus employed it—only for the sake of
pretty Cicely.’

’I will not suffer such words to be spoken,’ said Herring; ’I have never
regarded Miss Battishill in any other light than that of a sister.’

’A very affectionate brother you have been!  So very fond of this dear
pink-and-white sister that you desert your wife and spend all your time
with her.  You ran away the day after your marriage, and have not shown
your face to your wife since till this day, and now you are off again,
allured back to West Wyke by the superior attractions of Cicely
Battishill.’

Herring’s blood boiled up, and he struck Sampson in the face between the
eyes, and sent him staggering back against the wall.

’Dare to say another such word again!’

’I will dare,’ answered Sampson, when he had gathered himself together.
He quivered with rage.  ’I will dare, because it is true. Are you not
going back now to Cicely?  You know you are.’  How did he know this,
Herring wondered.  He had no idea that Sampson had possessed himself of
the address left in the bureau.

’Who bought his wife with her own money, eh?’ pursued the enraged
Sampson. ’Cobbledick told me once of a man who bought a wife in
Okehampton market for a crown.  You have bought Mirelle.  That man paid
a crown for her out of his own pocket; but you, you picked Mirelle’s
pocket for the purchase money.  Is not this true? Was ever a more
dastardly act done than that?  You called me a scoundrel.  I may not
have always acted on the square, but, by God, I never did such a crooked
job as this. Did you know that Mirelle was over head and ears in love
with Captain Trecarrel?  Of course you did.  You knew that well enough,
and, lest he should marry her, you kept from her the secret of her
wealth.  You let her and the Captain suppose they were too poor to
marry, and so he was ready to sell himself to Orange for five thousand
pounds, when in heart he was tied to Mirelle.  Was that honourable—was
that gentlemanly—was that honest?  Eh!  Answer me that.  No, no, my
friend, virtuous John.  You were too clever.  You wanted to steal the
fortune and wipe the guilt off your conscience, and so you marry Mirelle
whilst spooning that other one.  But how do you manage this?  Mirelle
don’t care a snap of the fingers for you. When the failure of Ophir
brought ruin on my family you allowed my lady to feel the misery of
beggary, and then you came to the rescue and overwhelmed her with your
generosity—mind you, generous you were with her money.  You relieved her
necessities out of her own purse, and never let her suspect it, in the
hopes of rousing in her the feeling of gratitude to her great-hearted
protector.  What could the poor girl do but accept you as a husband?
She could not live on your alms; that would not be decent, would it?  A
lady cannot receive four hundred a year and a house from a young officer
and preserve her character.  She must marry him, or relinquish what he
has given her, and that latter alternative she cannot take without
involving Orange and my mother in poverty.  Thus it was that you drove
Mirelle to accept you.  A very ingeniously contrived plan, certainly.
Look how all the parts hang together, very perfect, and faulty only in
this, that I was not consulted.  A very ingenious plan, but cursedly
wicked. By God!  Even I would have shrunk from so dirty and scoundrelly
a trick, and I am not squeamish.  Give me some money.’

Herring held out his purse—a steel purse of interwoven links, with steel
clasp, a present from Mirelle.  His head had fallen on his breast; he
was broken with shame and humiliation.  This that Sampson had said was
true, but Herring had never seen his conduct in the light that Sampson
turned on it.  It had never occurred to him that Mirelle could not
accept his bounty without accepting him—that he had, as Sampson had
said, driven her to take him, using her necessities as the whip, and
that he had in fact bought her with her own money.  He saw this now
vividly, and the sight overcame him.  He had been led by his conscience
into conduct unworthy of a man of honour; he was degraded in his own
eyes.  Sampson took the purse, counted the money in his hand, returned
it to the purse, snapped it, and slipped it into his pocket.

’That will do for a time.  Well! you called me a scoundrel.  Which is
the biggest scoundrel of the two, Blackguard Sampson or Virtuous John?
You regard my father as a robber of orphans; which robbed the orphan
most?  My father lost her six thousand pounds, you plundered her of more
than twice that amount, and with it you carried off her happiness.
Faugh!  Virtuous John! even I turn away in disgust from you.  I stand
white and shining as an angel beside you.  Nor is this all.  No sooner
is Mirelle yours and you can conscientiously keep her money, than you
break her heart by deserting her for another girl with more pink in her
cheeks than my Lady White Lily.’

Herring looked up; he was deadly pale, and his lips trembled.  ’This is
false.’

’What! is it false that you left Mirelle directly you had brought her
hither?’  Sampson waited for an answer.  There could be none.  It was
true.

’Is it false that you returned at once to West Wyke?’  He waited again.
It was true, Herring had returned.

’Did you inform your wife whither you were going?’  Silence again.
Herring had not told her; he had declined to do so.

’No, you evaded telling her.  You went back to West Wyke—to Cicely the
rosebud, and you have been with her—your pretty pink-and-white
sister—ever since.  How kind to Mirelle to rescue her rival from ruin
with her money!  You think Mirelle will appreciate this when told.  And
told the whole story of your dealings she shall be this very night.’

’Have done,’ said Herring, in a low tone. ’Leave me alone.’

’No, not yet,’ answered Sampson, triumphantly. ’You have insulted and
injured me, and I shall not leave you till I have made you sting and
writhe.  You robbed Mirelle of that which ought to have been put into
the hands of my father and me, her diamonds; that is offence number one.
You insulted me at West Wyke, and threatened me with a ruler; that was
offence number two.  I took a fancy to Mirelle, and might have contrived
to win her and her money, but you stood in the way by retaining her
diamonds, and with them you kept a hold over her destiny; that was
offence number three.  You exposed Ophir—you brought that pretty and
flourishing affair to an end before it was ripe; that was a bad offence,
number four.  To you I owe the vagabond life I have been living ever
since, number five; and to you a blow just now received, to make up the
number to six. Shall not I repay these when I may?  Do you not know that
now my father is dead I step into his position as trustee of Mirelle’s
fortune, till she is three-and-twenty?  There is no provision in the
will relative to marriage.  If you, curse you, had not brought the dogs
of justice out of kennel and set them after me, I would claim the
diamonds of you, and exact every penny you have spent.  I cannot do it
now, situated as I am.  You have hunted me down for that very reason—you
dreaded me, lest I should find out your fraud as you found out mine; you
forestalled me, and now you drive me out of England to prevent me from
reclaiming from you what you have no right to retain.  You are very
clever; I never gave you credit for half your talent.  But for all your
cleverness, you shall not escape. You think that your wife need know
nothing of what has taken place.  She shall know everything.  Do you
remember a confession you wrote to her?  Well, I took it from the drawer
where you had hidden it, and I have given it into her hands.  That was
the first mouthful, she shall receive next my commentary on it.’

’What!’ exclaimed Herring, white, trembling, the sweat standing in beads
on his brow.

’Ah! you may well be scared at the thought.  That trustful Mirelle, who
believed in you as the most honourable of men, has learned this night
what you are—a despicable thief.  She has discovered what you really
are, and how you circumvented her, and robbed her of her liberty, and
forged out of her own gold the chain that binds her to you.  She knows
now the man she has married—and from this night forward she loathes
him.’

Herring could not speak; his heart stood still.

’She is now, I doubt not, pacing her bedroom, cursing that man whom she
once respected, but whom she now knows to be dishonest, untruthful, and
treacherous, the man who has blighted her entire life.’

Then Sampson laughed at the poor, paralysed, broken wretch before him,
eyed him from head to foot, turned his back, and with his one hand in a
pocket, and the other swinging his bundle of old clothes, he left the
office.

Without was night, black and starless.

’I have given him a worse blow than he gave me, I guess,’ said Sampson;
’now all I have to do is to dispose of this bundle and then make off to
Falmouth as fast as I can. By heavens, I wish the night had not fallen
so dark, I cannot make out whither I am going.  I can hear the sea, and
when I reach the edge I shall see the foam, and then over goes the
bundle.  It makes me laugh to think how John Herring looked.  I might
have been stabbing him all the time with a little knife; but, faith, I
reckon my words went deeper than knives.  I wish it were not so
confoundedly dark.  Curse it!—where am I?’

Where?

Below was Blackapit, with the waves leaping in that cauldron of
darkness.

One minute more and the leaping waters were flinging Sampson Tramplara
from side to side, and the gulls were flapping their wings and screaming
applause over a bruised and lifeless body.



                             *CHAPTER LVI.*

                             *A DEAD MAN.*


Herring was back at West Wyke.  Everything went on there as usual.  The
mine was worked systematically.  The absence of John Herring for a few
days mattered little. West Wyke never altered.  Since it had been built,
no Squire had added a room or an outhouse.  But from year to year it
ripened and mellowed, the lichens spread over the stones in wider
patches of orange and white, and the stones became more wrinkled, and
the ribs of the roof more prominent through the slopes of small slate.

Cicely was the same—sweet, sunny, simple. Herring thought that nowhere
in the wide world could a more restful spot be found than this, or more
soothing society.  Cicely saw that he looked more broken after this last
visit to Welltown than after the former. What was the mystery that hung
over his life—what the grief that consumed his heart?  His former visit
had transformed him from a youth to a man, but this had aged him almost
to decrepitude.  Cicely observed this, but she said nothing.  She
troubled him with no inquiries, she did not even allow him to perceive
that she noticed a change.  The change was not so much in his exterior
as within.  A cleavage had gone down into his moral nature.  On the
former occasion his hopes had been shattered, now his faith was shaken.
Before he had been broken-hearted, now he was broken-spirited.  His
interview with Sampson had shaken his confidence in himself, he could no
longer rely on conscience as a safe guide, and he knew of no other
prompter to action.  He reviewed his course of conduct again and again,
and always came to the same conclusion, that he was justified in what he
had done.  What was the alternative course—the course from which
conscience had turned him?  That was to have given up the box to
Trampleasure and washed his hands of all responsibility.  But that would
have been selfish conduct; it would have been cruel as it was heartless.
No doubt he had been influenced by his love for Mirelle when he
concealed his discovery from the legal trustee, but he would have done
the same for any other helpless person similarly situated, knowing as he
did that to betray the secret was to ruin the ward.  And to what had he
been led?  To the wrecking of two lives, of his own and that of Mirelle.
If he had acted according to legal instead of moral right, this would
not, perhaps, have taken place.  How is a man to govern his life—what is
to be the mainspring of his actions?  The statute law, or the law of God
written in the heart? Herring had lost faith in the guidance of
conscience, in the directing hand of Providence. He remembered the words
of Mirelle on the walk to Welltown, ’All the familiar landmarks fail me,
all the ways lead in unknown directions, I am translated into a country
that I am expected to travel through without a map or guide.’  Those
words, which were void of meaning to him when spoken, precisely
described his present condition.  The framework of his moral
consciousness was shaken and out of joint.  In time, perhaps, he would
recover, but at present the shock had thrown him out of his
perpendicular.  In Japan, the land of earthquakes, every tower is held
upright and together by a huge pendulum of beamwork hanging free.  The
moral conscience is the pendulum in man.  When that is strapped and
braced to the girders and buttresses without, a little shock throws the
whole system into ruin.  It must hang free if it is to serve as a source
of stability, otherwise it precipitates ruin.  The human heart can
endure any amount of disappointment so long as it maintains its faith in
the eternal Providence, but, when that fails, its powers of endurance
are at an end.  Then the wave of bitterness rises and washes over the
soul and leaves it like the Desert of Nitre, strewn with bones.  The dew
of heaven may drop, the showers may fall on it, but the white, bitter
surface thenceforth can never laugh into verdure.

John Herring did his work mechanically. He took neither pleasure nor
interest in it. The mine might prosper, it probably would, and the
result would be evil.  He would clear the estate of Cicely from its
encumbrances.  What for?—good; nothing led to good—to find that he had
done mischief in his effort to help her.  Everywhere men and women are
striving to amend wrongs, and only succeed in shifting the suffering
from the shoulders of one class on to another.  Everywhere dirty pools
are being scraped out, only to discolour and defile the water that is
disturbed.  Everywhere tortured humanity is being inoculated with matter
that will expel one disease by preparing the soil for another.

’Please, miss,’ said Joyce, one Sunday, to Cicely, who had just returned
from church, ’there be that fool of a Jim White from Coombow have a come
all the way, and what he be come for I don’t know.’

’What Jim White?’

’A buffleheaded sort of a chap,’ said Joyce, in a tone between shyness
and disgust; ’he it were as brought me and the master here that day as
he were nigh upon killed by Sampson Tramplara.’

Herring looked up; he was at the table. He had not been to church; why
should he go to church to be bidden follow conscience when conscience
leads astray?  Why should he seek for light when the only light afforded
is that of Jack o’lanthorns that lead into mires?  He said bitterly,
’Joyce, why did you bring me hither?’

’I couldn’t do nort other—I did it to make you well again.’

She had followed her conscience, and her poor light had led her to save
his life.  What for?—to make Mirelle miserable and himself miserable.
Better a thousand times had he died then.

’But, Joyce, what about Jim White? What does he want?’

’Well, miss, I dunnow exactly what he wants, but he’ve a walked all
these miles, and he’ve a got to go back again, so what I want to know
is, may he have his meat here, as he ain’t a going to get nort else?’

’Certainly.’

’And he may have a drop o’ cyder to his meat?  Jim White be one as can’t
get on without that.  And he smells o’ cyder now like as old vaither’s
cask did when it were fresh.’

’By all means, Joyce,’ said Cicely, ’and you may invite him to come here
once a month.’

Joyce flushed up.  ’I—I don’t want the bufflehead to be coming here.
I’ve a told ’n so scores and scores o’ times, and I’ll tell him if he
comes again he’ll get neither meat nor cyder.  He were here about a
month ago, I reckon, and he sed he’d that partikler to say as could only
be said between four eyes.  So he sat in the kitchen on one chair, and I
on another, a full two hours by the clock, and he never opened his mouth
all that time but once, to ax why the great beam went across the
ceiling.  There! he shall have his meat this Sunday, and, by the blue
blazes, he shan’t have it of me no more.’  Then she stepped up to
Herring.  ’Please, maister,’ she said, ’Jim White have a brought you a
paper from Okehampton, a "Saturday News"; he sez he thought you’d a like
to see ’n.  I didn’t think the chap had it in ’n.’

’Thank you, Joyce, and thank Jim White, and here is a present to him for
his mistaken kindness to me on a former occasion.’

’But,’ said Joyce, ’I may tell ’n that you don’t want the paper again.
He be that stupid he might make the bringing of a paper an excuse to
come here every Sunday.  I know,’ she exclaimed brightly—’I know what
I’ll do.  I’ll tell ’n if he comes again you’ll up with your gun and
bang off wi’ it as you did at me to Welltown that night.’

’Very well; as you like.’

When Joyce had retired, Herring took up the paper indifferently.  It
could not interest him, for nothing interested him now.

’I wish you had been at church to-day, John,’ said Cicely; ’Mr.
Harmless-Simpleton preached us a very good sermon.’

’Indeed—on what text?’ asked John Herring, carelessly.

’After death, the judgment.’

Herring laughed bitterly.  ’Cicely,’ he said, ’the order is inverted.
The judgment comes first, and after that—after a long and weary
interval—death.  At least that is my experience.’

She looked at him with a distressed and puzzled expression.  ’Dear
Cousin John, what has come over you? you are so different from what you
were.’

’What has come over me?’ he echoed; ’the judgment and condemnation.
There! ask no more questions.  Take the paper and look at it; there is
nothing in it to interest me.’  He pushed it across the table to her.

’Do you take no interest in politics, John?’

’No; they are only Ophir over again.’

’John, I cannot understand you.  Why are you so changed in your view of
life?  At one time you were hopeful and believed in good, and now you
despair and believe only in evil.  You make me unhappy.’

’Then I am fulfilling my destiny.  The curse is laid on me to blight all
I come across.’

’That is utterly untrue.’

’We see life in different lights, Cicely. In after years you will
recognise that my view is the true view.  Fortunately, the young who
start in life are nursed in delusions, or they would refuse the race.’

’John,’ said Cicely, ’what is the meaning of this?’  She had been
turning listlessly over the paper, listening to Herring’s words, and
troubled in her mind about him.  ’Here stands your name—and Welltown,
your place in Cornwall.’

’What!’ he asked; ’let me look.’  And he took the paper hastily out of
her hands.

He read of the discovery of Mr. John Herring, late of Welltown, who had
disappeared from home on a certain night, but without any suspicions
having been raised till his body was found in Plackapit at low water a
few days later, terribly mangled and defaced.  It would not have been
possible to identify the body but for the clothes worn by the deceased,
and which had been taken from the place in his office where they usually
hung.  Moreover, the pocket contained a steel purse known to have
belonged to the deceased gentleman, and in the breast-pocket was
discovered a magnificent set of diamonds, the property of his wife,
which she always kept in a concealed drawer, the secret of which was
known only to herself and Mr. Herring. According to what had transpired,
the last time the deceased was seen alive was by his wife, seated at the
bureau in which these diamonds were.  Apparently he had removed the
jewels before leaving; for what purpose it was impossible to conjecture,
especially as it was suspected that the deceased gentleman had committed
suicide.  It was reported that he had written a farewell letter to his
wife at the bureau where she saw him, intimating his intention; but this
letter she absolutely refused to produce at the inquest.  This
melancholy event had cast a deep gloom over the entire neighbourhood,
&c. &c.

Herring read this paragraph over twice before he could understand it,
and even then he understood it only imperfectly.  But the main points
flashed out.  Sampson Tramplara had fallen over the rocks, and his body
had been mistaken for that of himself because of the clothes he wore and
the purse in his pocket.  How Sampson had obtained the diamonds he was
unable to divine, but he suspected that the letter alluded to was that
containing his confession, which Sampson had told him he had given to
Mirelle.  He sat looking mutely at the paper, his mind working.

’What is it, John?’ asked Cicely; but he did not hear.  Then she came to
him and looked over his shoulder.

’John,’ said she, putting her hand on him and shaking him; ’John, what
is the meaning of this?’

’Cicely, it is as I said—after judgment, death.  Do you see?  I am a
dead man.’

There was silence in the room.  She was collecting her thoughts.  What
did this all mean?

’John,’ she exclaimed, ’what is this?—you have a wife!’

’No—a widow.’

Then he stood up, and walked twice up and down the room, his face white
as ashes, his hands behind his back, and his head bowed.  Cicely
followed him with her eyes; she was bewildered.

’It is best as it is,’ said he to himself. ’Mirelle is set free.  John
Herring is dead.’

Then the truth rushed in on Cicely’s mind.

’Oh, John, John!  Was she—Mirelle, your wife?’

He looked at her.  He did not answer; she saw the mute agony in his
face.

’Oh, John, poor John! now I understand all!  Now I know why you have
been so unhappy.  I am sure she never loved you.’

’No, Cicely, she never loved me.’

’She could love no one.’

’You are wrong; she loved another.’

Again there was silence.  Cicely’s eyes filled.

Herring paced the room again.  Cicely could not see him now, her eyes
were too full.

’Oh, John! dear, poor John!’

’Cicely,’ he said, standing still in the midst of his tramp, ’what has
happened is best for every one.  Let it be.  From henceforth John
Herring is dead.  If you will, I am John Battishill, your brother.’



                            *CHAPTER LVII.*

                              *AN ARREST.*


A blustering day; the rain splashing against the windows of an inn at
Plymouth.  Mirelle sat in the window; there was a balcony with
balustrade before it, and the water dripped incessantly from the rail
upon the swimming balcony.

Mirelle was in mourning; her face looked preternaturally white in her
black dress.  Her eyes were sunken, her lips thin and tremulous; but
there were spots of almost colour in her cheeks, speaking of feverish
excitement, not of health.  Genefer Benoke was with her.

’Mistress,’ said the old woman, ’be it still too late to bid you turn
back?  I tell’y I don’t believe as the master be dead.  I don’t believe
it, though I saw him dead with my own eyes.  For the eyes of the
understanding be keener and clearer than they of the flesh. When Saul
the persecutor were cast to the ground on his way to Damascus, he opened
his eyes and saw no man.  That be the state of most.  They’ve their eyes
open, but they sees naught that they ought to see.  They goes through
the world and they don’t see the snares that be set on every side, and
the angels that compass them about, and the Providence as is leading of
them.  The eyes of the flesh be open, but the eyes of the understanding
see nothing.  With the eyes of the soul I see the master still alive.
Afore you came to Welltown I saw you; and I saw what was to be, in a
vision, and whether I were in the body or out of the body at the time I
cannot tell—God knoweth; but this I do say, that what I then saw with
the spiritual eye don’t accord no ways with what the natural eye
declares.  But what do I speak of this to you for as if you knowed
naught about the spiritual eye?  Sure alive, you lead a life of prayer
as do I.  Well, I will tell’y what were revealed to me.  I fell into a
trance, having my eyes open, and I saw the master with his arms round
you—the Bride of Snow—and he looked up to you, seeking in you that he
never saw.’

Mirelle bowed her face in her hands.

’And with the warmth of his heart you melted away, drop by drop.  I’ve a
seen how you’ve a been thawing right away ever since the day he brought
you to Welltown, tear by tear—as see! you be melting now.  And in my
vision I saw that you dissolved clean away and your place knew you no
more; but nevertheless the master remained, with his arms extended and
his eyes uplifted, as though still seeking you, till he grew cold, and
his hair white, and his tears ice, and his heart were frozen dead.  You
was gone first, and, after a space, he; it be against the truth of my
vision that he should die first and you after.’

’Geneviève, there can be no doubt whatever about what has happened.  I
would cheerfully give my life to restore his, but that cannot be.  I
know for certain that he is dead.  I have many and weighty reasons for
so believing.’

’What reasons?  It be true enough that your diamonds and the purse were
found on him, as well as his own old clothes that I’ve a sewed the brass
buttons on—I know them well.  But what about that?  The devil be crafty,
and given power to deceive.’

’I have other reasons.’

’I ask you what?  You may tell me, for we shall never meet in the flesh
again.’

’He wrote to me the night he died.  He had been talking to me in my
boudoir, and was very unhappy.  Then he told me he would write me
something, and I gave him the key of my cabinet, where were my diamonds
and my writing materials.  When I opened the desk next morning the
jewels were gone, and I found his letter.  In that letter he told me
that he bade me farewell for ever.

’He meant to go abroad.’

’No, Geneviève, the letter said more than that.  It intimated that, when
I received it, I should be——’

’What?’

’What I now am—a widow.’

’It be a temptation of the devil,’ said Genefer, ’who is mighty to
deceive, who be come down with great wrath for that he hath a short
time.  You never let no one see the letter?’

’No.  Unfortunately I spoke of it to Orange, and that is how anything
come out about it.  I thought she would have been more discreet.’

’Well, well!’ sighed Genefer; ’the world be full of delusions.  Now you
be going back to France and to wicked idolatry. There be no call of God
in that, to leave the land of light for that of darkness.’

’Geneviève, do not speak on this subject. You and I cannot see alike.  I
am seeking rest, I am weary, utterly weary of the life I have led in
England.  It is useless your attempting to argue with me, and to
dissuade me from it.  I am weary of the wind and the clouds and the rain
and the roar of waves without, and of the troubles that toss and
overcast the soul within.  I must go back. I must find peace.  I count
the hours till I am within those blessed happy doors of the Sacré Coeur
again; and, when once within, I will never, never, never leave that
home. Come, Geneviève, help me on with my cloak and hood.  I mast go
out; the rain has ceased, and I will see if there be a chance of the
storm abating.’

’Mistress, the packet won’t sail with a gale on shore such as this.  It
would be tempting of Providence.’

’You will come with me.  I am impatient of the delay.  I must see what
the sky and sea look like, and you must attend me, as I cannot stand
unassisted against the force of the wind.  Oh, Geneviève! where I am
going I shall feel no storms—I shall be in perfect shelter, and at
rest.’

Mirelle was, as she said, on her way to France.  From the time that she
knew she was free, one absorbing desire had taken hold of her—the desire
to fly from England and return to the convent of the Sacred Heart, there
to bury herself from the world.  The world, against which the sisters
had warned her, she had seen.  It was full of unrest, brutality,
self-seeking, and imposture.  She thought all day of her escape, she
dreamt of her return all night.  So completely had this idea taken hold
of her that it excluded all other thoughts; it possessed her like a
fever. She could not think of John Herring.  Even Captain Trecarrel was
far from her mind. She wanted nothing for the future but perfect quiet
within the sacred walls of the Sacré Coeur.

Those of old who were accused of witchcraft were kept without sleep till
they confessed.  They were denied a moment’s doze, till, in the craving
for rest, they admitted whatever they were charged with, ready to face
the flames if only they might first fold their hands and close their
eyes and sigh away their spirits into oblivion.

Some such a craving had come over Mirelle.  She had been denied the rest
she desired, she had been distracted by responsibilities she did not
understand, buffeted by rude associates, placed in situations full of
bewilderment, deprived of the ministrations of religion, and, now that
the possibility of escape opened to her, she became almost mad to seize
it.

Mirelle had told her intention to Orange, who warmly approved of it, and
Orange and Genefer had accompanied her to Plymouth, where she wras to
take passage to France. They had spent a night on the way at Dolbeare,
and Genefer was to return with Orange the day after Mirelle had
departed.

An arrangement had been proposed by Orange, and readily acquiesced in by
Mirelle, that Mrs. Trampleasure and Orange were to remain at Welltown,
at least for a while, and take charge of the estate; they were to retain
a certain portion of the receipts, and forward the rest to Mirelle.

Mirelle was to have sailed on the day when we have reintroduced her to
the reader, seated in the inn window at Plymouth, but the storm had
prevented the packet from sailing. Her passage was paid, her berth
taken, and her luggage was on board.  If the weather abated, she would
leave England for ever on the morrow.

Attended by Genefer Benoke, Mirelle went out upon the Hoe and looked
forth on the noble bay.  There was then no breakwater across its
entrance, arresting the violence of the swell.  The waves, driven by a
south-westerly gale, rolled in from the sea and foamed about the
headlands that jutted into the harbour.  They tossed and danced about
Drake Island and Mount Batten, and ran hissing upon the white marble
shore beneath the Hoe.  The rain had abated, but fresh showers were
coming on, stalking over the angry sea and staining it to ink beneath
them. There was no sign of a cessation in the gale. It came on in
furious gusts, before which Mirelle cowered and clung to Genefer.  As
she turned on one occasion, a gentleman standing near, also observing
the sea, saw her face, and uttered an exclamation of surprise.  She
raised her eyes and met those of Captain Trecarrel.

’Mirelle!’ he exclaimed, and hastened to interpose his umbrella between
her and the wind.  ’How unexpected!  What brings you to Plymouth?  It is
my fate to light on you where least anticipated.  I have completed my
excursion and filled my portfolio.  I returned by the south coast to see
whether it furnished material for a second issue of pictures, and here I
am at Plymouth meditating a return to Launceston as soon as the weather
clears.  I was so shocked to hear of your loss. I always respected John
Herring as a worthy, well-meaning man.  There was no pretence about him,
no affectation of being other than he was.  I have no doubt that his
death was an awful blow to you—so sudden, and the manner so dreadful.
You have my warmest sympathy.  Poor fellow! poor fellow!  Well, well,
the world is short of a good sterling man it could ill afford to lose.
I hope his circumstances were all right, no money trouble?’

Mirelle shook her head.

’You do not think that distress about over-expenditure can have affected
his brain? Inability to meet calls?’

’He was well off—rich—much richer than I thought,’ said Mirelle, sadly.
’But pray, Captain, spare me now.’

’Allow me your arm,’ said Trecarrel; ’the wind is so high that I am in
momentary fear of your being blown off the cliff and being carried out
to sea.’

’The wind is on shore,’ said Mirelle, drily.

’True, true; I had not observed it.  Bah! here comes the rain, driving
as you say on shore, and irresistible.  Under these circumstances there
is no cowardice in beating a retreat and evacuating the Hoe to the
enemy. Shall we descend?  Where are you staying? At the Royal?  Let me
accompany you home.  What!  Genefer Benoke here?  How do you do,
Genefer?  Sad time you have had at Welltown.  My heart has bled for you
all. I would have flown to the spot to offer my services, but some
sorrows are too sacred to be intruded on.  I never was more shocked in
my life than when I heard of the accident, if accident it may be called,
but I suppose it really was that, if he was unembarrassed in
circumstances.’  So talking, asking questions and getting no answers,
Captain Trecarrel accompanied Mirelle back to the inn.  He did not wait
to be invited to enter, but accompanied Mirelle upstairs.

’Now tell me all about it,’ he said.  ’I would not return to Welltown
after the sad event, through delicacy of sentiment; I thought it might
augment your trouble.  So I continued my sketching tour, and really made
some capital drawings.  The weather, however, proved detestable, and
after a while I gave up the north coast and took a flying survey of the
south.  And now, tell me why you are here.  What can have brought you to
Plymouth?’

’Captain Trecarrel, I am on my way to France, to the convent of the
Sacré Coeur, where I was educated.’

’Nothing of the sort.  You are going to stay in England.’

Mirelle shook her head.  ’No; my mind is made up.  Indeed, from the
moment that I knew my husband was dead, and that I was a free agent, I
had no doubt as to what I must do.’

’You are not dreaming of shutting yourself up in a convent?’

’I am going home.’

’Home! what do you mean by home?’

’I mean whatever you associate with rest and fragrance and holiness,
with love and innocence and happiness.  Some find this ideal in a
family.  I have never had any experience of home in this sense; the only
family I have been with was that of the Trampleasures, and that in no
way comes up to my ideal.  I will not say more about that. No! what I
mean by home is that which I know—the convent of the Sacré Coeur.’

Trecarrel rubbed his chin musingly, and then pulled his moustache.  ’If
you become a nun, what is to become of Welltown?  You are, I presume,
well off.  Herring had no brothers and sisters, and that falls to you I
suppose.  Are you thinking of selling John Herring’s property, of
calling in all your available funds, and bestowing everything on the
convent and the bears of Paris?’

’I have not this thought.  Orange and her mother will reside at Welltown
and manage the estate, and let me have the money I need.’

’And who will check their accounts—who look after your interests?’

’Orange will send me what I want.  I do not require much.’

’What did my poor friend John Herring die worth?  That is—how much has
come to you, Mirelle?’

’I do not know the value of the Welltown estate.’

’But I do,’ said Trecarrel, sharply.  ’Six hundred nett, on the outside.
Is that all?’

’No,’ answered Mirelle, ’there is a great deal more money than that.
Many thousand pounds.  There are the mortgages on West Wyke, and there
is a mine somewhere about there, and money beside.’

’All yours?’ asked Trecarrel, turning his melting blue eye on Mirelle,
and stroking his moustache.

’I suppose so.’

’And this is all to be left to the unchecked management of Orange?’

’Yes, Orange is so kind and sensible, she will know better than I what
ought to be done, and how to do it.’

’Mirelle!’ exclaimed the Captain, standing up, and placing himself
before the fire, occupying the entire rug; ’you are not going to leave
England.  You are not going to shirk your duty.’

’My duty!  I have done that to the best of my powers, which are small.
No, Captain Trecarrel, I must go back whence I came. You cannot conceive
how abhorrent to me has been the life I have led since I came to
England.  It has nearly killed me.  Look at my hands; they were plump
when I left France, compared to what they are now. My strength is gone;
a very short walk now tires me out.  I was strong before.  I have had no
illness whatever except that fever at Dolbeare before I was married, but
my soul has been sick ever since I left France, and now I feel a sort of
instinct in me that if I am to live I must spread my wings and escape
over the water to dear France and nestle into the old convent home
again.’

’No, Mirelle, you would not find rest there, you may take my word for
it.  You would carry thither something in your heart which would forbid
your finding rest there. Look me in the face and say that this is not
so.’  She could not do this; there was truth in his words.  ’No, dear
Mirelle, that old convent life is no more to be returned to than
childhood.  You may, as an adult, go back into the nursery, and buy a
rattle and feed yourself with pap out of a spoon; but you cannot revive
the old childish buoyancy of heart and brightness of hope, you go back
into infantine surroundings with the care-furrowed heart of age.  You
would not be happy in the convent, because you return to it a woman and
you went out a child.  There is something more to be considered; you
have contracted obligations which you have no right to cast off.  You
own an estate and a fortune, and this gives you influence and power for
good; this you have no right to ignore. You have been transplanted by
Providence to a place where religion is as dead or diseased as when
Saint Morwenna came to the same coast twelve hundred years ago.  Do you
suppose she came to it by choice?  Do you think that she never yearned
to be back in the stillness and indolence of her dear convent at Burton?
She came to our Cornish coast from a sunny home in the midlands, among
lime-trees and buttercup pastures, and from a church where there was
sweet music and rich sculpture and all the splendours of Catholic
worship, and inhabited a rude hovel overhanging the sea, into which the
storm drove between the ill-jointed stones; away from trees and flowers,
and music and worship, simply and solely because she was called to live
there, and duty tied her to the spot. Now we venerate Saint Morwenna as
a Virgin Apostle of the Cornish Coast, as one who brought light to those
in darkness, the truth to those in error.  You are a Catholic. Was it
any choice of yours which took you to Welltown?  You were taken there by
Providence, and Providence has set you a task which you have no right to
leave undone, has given you a post which you dare not desert. Those poor
wretched Cornish are like shipwrecked men lost in night and storm, not
knowing whither to steer, and led astray by wreckers’ lanthorns.  You
are sent among them as a second Morwenna, to lead them to the true port,
to show them the only true light.’

’I—I—I!’  Mirelle trembled, and her heart sank within her: she had not
strength and courage to execute such a task.

’Yes, you.  With your means and position you can do a great deal.  Who
is there at Boscastle to oppose you?  Sir Jonathan? He will do nothing.
How do you know but that you may win his daughters, and so save their
souls?  Who is there of influence for miles round except yourself and
the Phyllacks? Build a Catholic Chapel at Boscastle, down in the midst
of the people.  Establish there a priest and a mission, and every soul
brought into the true fold will bless you.’

Mirelle was silent.

’I am pointing out to you a duty.  You have seen no priest since you
were married; you must suffer me to be your director. Has not what I
urge struck you before?’

’No,’ answered Micelle, faintly.  ’But see!  I can do much that you say,
and yet live in France.  I will endow a mission at Boscastle and build
there a church.’

’You cannot set a missioner there without a soul to support him.  He
must have one or two Catholics near, or he can do nothing. Now you
understand what I said.  If you fly abroad you take trouble along with
you, and you will not rest in your convent.  It is the story of Jonah
over again, and see—see this storm sent to arrest you, to send you back
to Nineveh, from which you were flying.’

’How cruel you are—how cruel!  I have been so hoping, longing, sighing
to escape.’

Cruel indeed he was, and mean beneath conception.  He used the words and
arguments which he knew would tell with her, not that he cared for the
souls of the Boscastle people, or for the advance of the Catholic
Church, but because he coveted her money and the estate of Welltown.

’That is not all,’ continued Captain Trecarrel, and his tone changed
from that of exhortation to that of pleading.  His voice melted, and
sounded as though tears were welling up in it; it became soft and
tremulous.  ’You have no right to run away, dear Mirelle, for another
reason.  You know—you know’—his voice became broken; then, with a gulp,
swallowing his agitation—’you know what I mean.’

Mirelle trembled.  She did know what he meant.

’You have no right to sacrifice another as well as yourself.  You know,
Mirelle, how I have loved you—-’

’Stay, stay!’ exclaimed Mirelle, piteously. ’Do not speak to me again
like this.  I must—I must go.  If only to pray for my poor husband’s
soul, I must go.’

’Mirelle, tell me—do you believe that he wilfully destroyed himself?’

’I do.’

’For what reason?  There were no money troubles?’

’None whatever.’

’Why, then, did he commit suicide?’

She was silent.  She could not explain. He considered for a while, and
then said, ’How is it that there had been such an estrangement between
you from the beginning? I understand he left you the day after the
marriage, and did not return till that day which ended in his death.
This is very mysterious, and points to some great cause of trouble
between you.  Did he love you?’

’Indeed he did.  Too well.’

’Did you love him?’

She did not answer, but her head sank on her bosom.

’Tell me, Mirelle—is it true that he wrote to you the night of his
death?  I heard a report to that effect.’

’Yes, it is true.’

’What did he say in that letter?

She hesitated.  ’He said that he bade me farewell for ever.  He said
that when I read the letter I should be free.’

’Why did he write thus?’

She made no answer, but covered her face.

’Tell me, Mirelle—did he know of my—of our——’

’Spare me—spare me!  Oh, Captain Trecarrel, if you must know all, he
knew that I did not love him in the way in which he loved me, and the
knowledge of this made him so miserable that——  You know the rest. And
now, do you not see that I have his death on my conscience, and I must
do what I can to expiate this sin, and do what I can for the poor
despairing soul that I drove to despair?’

’Set your mind at ease.  I do not in the least believe in his
self-destruction.  A man about to commit suicide does not first fill his
pocket with diamonds worth several thousand pounds.  The finding of the
jewels upon him is conclusive evidence that he did not meditate
self-destruction, but, on the contrary, meant to live comfortably on the
proceeds of their sale elsewhere.  John Herring—you may take my word for
it—made up his mind, as he could not be happy with you, that he would go
elsewhere, probably to America. Now, a man cannot start afresh in life
penniless without great inconvenience and discomfort: so he laid his
hand on that which was convertible into money, to start him in the New
World.  You do not suppose John Herring intended to strangle himself
with a diamond necklace, do you?  If he did not, the supposition of his
having meditated self-destruction is untenable beside the fact of his
having taken the jewels.  No; he possessed himself of them because he
had not sufficient cash in hand, and as he made his way over the
cliffs—it was a dark night—he missed his path and fell down Blackapit.
There you have the solution of the entire mystery.  Set your mind at
ease; the guilt of his death does not weigh on you, and there is no need
for you to expiate it in a convent.’

Mirelle breathed more freely.  This explanation did really seem the
correct one, and the relief it gave her was great.

’Now, then,’ said the Captain, ’I have knocked this nonsense of
cloistering yourself on the head.’  He rang the bell, and, when the
servant appeared, he said, ’Send to the packet, and have the Countess
Garcia’s boxes brought back.  She is not going to sail in her.’

Mirelle raised her hand in protest, but in vain.  The strong will and
determination of the Captain was more than she could resist in her
present weak condition.

’Listen now to me, dear Mirelle,’ he said, and, leaving the fire, came
towards her.  ’The barrier that has stood between us has fallen. What is
there now to hinder you from becoming my wife?  I have loved you from
the first moment that I saw you, and—do not deny it—you have loved me.
You married a man for whom you did not care—a worthy man, but not one a
heart like yours could cling to, even if disengaged; and disengaged it
was not.  Duty obliged you—obliged both of us—to smother and conceal our
mutual love.  But the fire was not extinguished, and, now that the
obligation to keep it under exists no longer, it bursts forth in flame
once more. You shall not go to France.  If you do, in spite of me, I
will follow you, and claim you from the sisters of the Sacred Heart.
You have no right to run away; you owe me reparation for the suffering I
have undergone. Shall I own to you something?  I knew that you were
going to sail in the packet; I knew what you purposed doing; and I came
to Plymouth to prevent it.’

Mirelle looked up at him with surprise.

’Yes, dearest, when I knew that you were free I had no rest.  I saw my
hopes of happiness revive.  Hender Benoke was in my pay. He kept me
informed of what was taking place and what was meditated at Welltown. In
love as in war, all things are lawful.’

Mirelle was now standing near the window, leaning against the angle of
the window splay, with the curtain behind her.  Her face was turned
away.  She could not look at the Captain, but she saw nothing through
the window panes.

Captain Trecarrel came towards her.  She felt his approach, she did not
see it, and she trembled violently.  She was powerless. The events of
her short life in the world had broken down her force of character and
power of resistance to a superior and resolute will.

’Mirelle, dearest Mirelle,’ he said, in a voice vibrating with pathos,
’you said, a little while ago, that the only knowledge you had of home
was a cloister; there is another and a fonder home—in the arms, on the
heart, of a good and honourable man.’  He put his arms round her and
clasped her to him.

At the same moment the door opened, and Orange came in, very wet, with
cheeks glowing with exercise; but when she saw the Captain holding
Mirelle in his arms, and stooping to imprint a kiss on her lips, she
turned the colour of parchment.

’Orange!’ exclaimed the Captain, recovering himself at once.  ’Delighted
to see you. Mirelle is not going to France; she is not going to immure
herself in a cloister; she returns to Launceston, and thence to Welltown
to-morrow, and she has very kindly offered me a place in her carriage as
far as Launceston. I do not in the least object to a seat with my back
to the horses.’



                            *CHAPTER LVIII.*

                                *R.I.P.*


The chaise was ready to take Mirelle back again.  She was depressed.  A
strange sinking, a sickening fear had come over her heart, the reaction
after the excitement she had gone through, the eager expectation of a
return to the convent, and then the arrest on the threshold of escape.
She had painfully schooled herself not to think of the Captain, and even
now she shrank from thinking of him, lest she should be committing a
mortal sin.  Even now, with the knowledge before her that he whom she
had loved would claim her and be to her more than friend and support,
she failed to feel anything but disappointment that she was not on her
way back to the Sacré Coeur. She loved Trecarrel, but her love for him
was not now the predominating feeling of her heart; her craving for rest
and shelter prevailed over the other passion.  Even now, if she could,
she would have prosecuted her journey, and it was with a lingering,
longing look that she gazed on the sea.  Only duty, that supreme sense
of submission to duty, drove her back.  Captain Trecarrel knew her
character perfectly when he appealed to this. The prospect of enjoying
his love, of leaning on him, blunted the edge of her disappointment: it
did no more than that.

Mirelle had not slept that night.  Indeed she had not slept for several
nights.  Hitherto she had been kept awake by her fever of excitement at
the prospect of return to the home of her childhood; last night she had
been wakeful from other causes, disappointment, and bewilderment at the
new landscape spread before her eyes.  She looked like a girl
convalescent from a long and dangerous sickness.

’Do you think, miss, her be fit to travel?’ asked the hostess,
compassionately, of Orange. ’Her looks a’most like death herself.’

’She suffers from the heart,’ answered Orange, coldly.

Orange Trampleasure was not herself.  A hard look had come over her
face.  The ripe, sensual lips were set and contracted, and a threatening
light glimmered in her eyes.

’That other young lady do have a temper. I wouldn’t be the one to cross
her,’ said the hostess to the chambermaid when the chaise departed.

Nor was Genefer herself the confident person she had been.  Genefer was
wont to speak as the oracle of the truth, to speak and act as though
whatever she said and did was inspired.  She had no doubt about her own
infallibility, and every contrary opinion to hers she regarded as
instigated by the devil.  But this morning her confidence was gone;
almost for the first time in her life she did not see her way clear
before her.  She had urged Mirelle to return to Welltown, and Mirelle
was returning; but now Genefer doubted whether the advice she had given
was wise and good.  She did not like the Captain, and the Captain had
succeeded in convincing her mistress when she had failed.

’The Lord have hid the thing from me!’ she muttered as she mounted the
box.  She sat looking before her, waiting for the light, that she might
see her way; but it did not come.  At intervals she sighed, and
muttered, ’I misdoubt me sore.  But the Lord have closed my eyes that I
cannot see.’

Strange as it may seem, the old woman had taken a strong liking for
Mirelle, and it was not only because she thought Mirelle’s object in
returning to an idolatrous land was wrong that she opposed it, but also
because in her rugged but warm heart she was attached to her and did not
like to lose her.  There was a singleness of mind and a spirituality of
vision in the Snow Bride which impressed as well as puzzled Genefer.
How one who was not a Dissenter could live an inner life, and pray much,
perplexed her, but she recognised in Mirelle a good deal that was akin
to herself, and she found that Mirelle entered into her spiritual
experiences with interest and sympathy.

Orange sat by Mirelle, and Captain Trecarrel was opposite the latter.
He made himself very agreeable, had a fund of conversation on a variety
of topics, but found his companions in no responsive mood.  He tried to
interest Mirelle in the scenery, which was lovely, but Mirelle was
absorbed in her thoughts and disinclined for conversation. The day was
fine, the views looking back over Plymouth Bay and the woods of Mount
Edgcumbe, the Hamoaze crowded with ships, and the winding estuary of the
Tamar, were charming—hardly less beautiful were those in front, of
Dartmoor.  Mirelle leaned back in the chaise, the hood of which was
thrown back, and the air fanned her face and soothed her.

Captain Trecarrel could hardly withdraw his eyes from her; she seemed to
him the most lovely woman he had ever seen.  He had an artist’s
appreciation of beauty of feature.  The delicate and perfect chiselling
of the nose and nostril, the finely formed, sensitive mouth, the pure
brow, and, when she looked up, the solemn depth of her large eyes,
filled him with admiration.  A little lock of her dark hair had strayed
over her forehead, and the soft warm air trifled with it in a tender,
playful manner.  Mirelle put up her fingers to put it in place, but
unsuccessfully; it stole forth again, again to flutter in the light air.

Orange watched Trecarrel jealously; she saw how his eyes turned to
Mirelle whenever he dare look at her without rudeness, and how his
admiration of her beauty grew.  The Captain spoke to her occasionally,
but only by the way, his remarks were mainly directed to Mirelle, and
when he turned to Orange she felt that he was doing so out of civility
alone. His thoughts were not with her, but with her companion.  Orange
was not herself on this day; her usual colour had deserted her, and the
sensuous fulness of life which throbbed in her seemed to have ebbed, and
left her flaccid and pulseless.

Captain Trecarrel was aware that he had behaved badly to Orange, and had
incurred her resentment; this made him nervous in her presence, and to
hide his discomfort he redoubled his efforts to be agreeable.  Finding
that no conversation was to be got out of Mirelle, he finally turned his
efforts to Orange, and endeavoured to amuse her with his adventures at
the little inns on his sketching tour.

But still, as he talked, his eyes reverted to the face of Mirelle, and
Orange’s life returned in a throb of spleen.  She rose in her seat and
said sharply, ’We will change places, if you please, Captain Trecarrel.’

’Hush!’ said he; ’do not disturb her. She sleeps.’

The fresh air puffing in her face, and the warm sun, after the sleepless
nights, had operated on the weary brain, and Mirelle had dropped off
into unconsciousness.  Orange was aware of this without looking round,
by the confidence with which the Captain allowed his eyes to rest on her
face.  Mirelle was breathing gently, and her face had become wonderfully
peaceful and deathlike under the influence of sleep.  The stray lock
wantoned in the air on the pure white brow, but could not wake her.

’Do you really wish to sit with your back to the horses?’ asked
Trecarrel in an undertone. ’You will then have the sun in your eyes.’

’Yes, let us change places.’  Her voice was metallic.

’Then, for the love of Heaven, do not wake her with moving.  Stay! here
we are at a long hill.  I will get out and walk up it to relieve the
horses, and then you can change without disturbing Mirelle.’

’If you are going to walk, I will walk also.’

They both alighted at the bridge over the Walkham, and fell behind the
carriage. Trecarrel was uneasy; he feared that Orange was going to speak
to him unpleasantly, on an unpleasant subject.

’She is so deficient in breeding,’ said he to himself, ’that she
persists in forcing herself and what she regards as her wrongs upon
one.’

’How lovely she is!’ exclaimed the Captain, with want of tact; ’but
terribly fragile.  She looks as if she were as likely never to wake out
of the sleep into which she has fallen, as she is again to unclose her
beautiful eyes.’

Orange made no answer.  Her heart was beating; the rush of life had
returned to her veins.  She walked at his side in silence for some
little way, then suddenly burst forth with, ’What is the meaning of
this, Captain Trecarrel?’

’The meaning of what, my good Orange? You must be more explicit.’

’Why is Mirelle returning?  How have you succeeded in changing her from
her purpose? What inducement have you held out to her to lure her back
to hated Welltown?’

’The highest, the purest of all,’ answered the Captain, with dignity.
’For what is higher and purer than duty?’

Orange looked round at him.

’What do you mean by that?’ she asked harshly.  ’Duty—duty to whom?’

’To self—to conscience.  I have pointed out to her obligations she must
not cast off.’

’Duty—obligations!’ echoed Orange, roughly.  ’What farce is this?  Have
you turned preacher?’

’I have advised Mirelle as a friend.  She has no one else capable of
giving her counsel.’

’Indeed!  I am nothing!’

’I beg your pardon, Orange.  I do not ignore your high qualifications
for advising her as to her social duties; but when we step out on moral
ground, there I must beg leave to observe that only one of her own faith
is calculated to direct her.’

Orange stood still and stamped her foot. Her hands clenched
convulsively.

’Captain Trecarrel! do you suppose me such a fool as to believe you when
you take up this tone?  I know you too well.  I have suffered too
severely from your selfishness and cruelty not to know that you are
working in your own interest, disregarding everything and every one save
some mean and selfish aim. Captain Trecarrel, you were bound to me by
the most sacred vows, short of those made at the altar; you took a base
advantage of my misfortunes to shake me off, when a man of honour and
chivalry would have blushed to desert me.  I humbled myself before you
into the dust.  I am covered with shame at the thought of such
self-abasement before one so unworthy.  You were without feeling for me,
without love, without compassion, without generosity.  After that you
sought me again, when I had fled from Launceston to conquer my own heart
in seclusion.  You sought me out, you followed me to mv place of
retreat, to trifle with me again, to waken up in me what was going to
sleep, to torture me, and to sting me to madness.  Take care! take care!
What have I done to you, that you should do this great wrong to me?  I
was a good-hearted and gay girl, without gall and bitterness, and you
have turned my heart into a cauldron boiling with furious and hateful
passions.  Take care, I say; take care lest you drive me to
desperation.’

’My dear, dear Orange——’

’Have done with "my dear, dear Orange!"’ she almost shouted.  The anger
was boiling in her heart and puffing out the veins in her throat and
temples.  ’I am "dear" to you no more.  Captain Trecarrel, you have had
no mercy on me, and I appeal no more to you to consider my wrongs; but I
do appeal to you on behalf of Mirelle, whom you so greatly admire, whom
you profess to consider so lovely, whom you are guiding in the way of
moral obligation.  Have you no pity?  Do you know to what you are
driving her back? Can you not let her alone and allow her to escape
whilst she may?  Her heart is set on return to France and to her
convent.  Why should she not follow her heart and go? Why should you
stand in the way, and lay your hand on her and arrest her?  Let her go.
It is not now too late.  Let her follow her own wishes and leave
England.  Do you not see that, tossed as she has been into a turmoil of
troubles, they are killing her?  It is a whirlpool sucking her in and
suffocating her.  Do not you incur the guilt of her destruction, as well
as mine, you moral instructor!  You have ruined my happiness, and with
it my moral sense.  You are thrusting her back out of happiness into
death. She has been like a captive escaping from a dungeon, catching a
glimpse of sun and laughing for joy, and now you, as a savage gaoler,
come and drive her back into the rayless vault again, and cast a stone
over the door.  Cruel! cruel man!’  She panted for breath.  ’See,’ she
continued, ’see how fine the day is!  The packet is now at sea with her
prow turned towards France.  But for your interference Mirelle would be
on board, she would be standing on deck looking eagerly forward to catch
the first sight of the loved land, her heart beating high with hope, her
eye bright with returning happiness, her cheek flushed with renovated
life.  Let her go back to Plymouth and take the next packet.’

Captain Trecarrel said nothing, but, drawing a silk handkerchief from
his pocket, he dusted his boots and faintly hummed a tune.

Orange’s passion increased at his insulting indifference.

’Captain Trecarrel,’ she said, ’have you no regard for any one but
yourself?  You think, do you, that some day Mirelle will be yours, and
with her all she has?’

’Orange,’ said the Captain, coldly, ’as you pretend to know me, I may
return the compliment, and admit that I know you. Now what is the
meaning of this sudden sympathy with Mirelle?  I know you do not love
her; I have eyes in my head which have long ago convinced me that you do
not even like her.  This outbreak of zeal for her welfare and happiness,
I am led to believe, covers—as you were pleased coarsely to remark to
me—some selfish aim.  And that aim I can discern without difficulty.  I
understand,’ he added with a sneer, ’that Mirelle had constituted you
treasurer and agent and plenipotentiary over all her property, landed
and funded and invested, with perfect liberty to deal with it as you
listed, and without any one to control your proceedings and check your
accounts.  And _that_ after her experience of how the Trampleasure
family deals in trust matters!  _O sancta simplicitas!_’

Orange looked at him sullenly.

’Think so if you will, but I tell you you are mistaken.’  She stepped
before him, barring his road, and held out her hands. ’Captain
Trecarrel, I give you one chance more.  Let her go.  Send her to her
convent. Have pity upon both her and me.’  Then her rage swelled into a
paroxysm; she grasped his shoulders with her strong hands, and shook
him.  ’Captain Trecarrel, will you be advised, will you be ruled?  Do
not think in your heart that ever she will be yours, and Welltown joined
to Trecarrel!  That will never, never be.  Let her go.  You alone can
save her.  The carriage has halted for us at the top of the hill.  Now
call to the postilion to turn his horses and drive back to Plymouth.’

Captain Trecarrel released himself, with a feeling of disgust at her
violence and ill-breeding.

’Let us catch up the carriage, Orange,’ he said coldly: ’we have dropped
far behind. You are excited, and hot, and unreasonable. If you wish to
hear what directions I shall give to the driver, you must wait.’

They walked on hastily, side by side, without speaking.  Orange’s breath
was like a flame between her lips.

The post-boy had drawn up the horses at the head of the hill.  As they
prepared to step into the chaise, Captain Trecarrel remarked—

’She is asleep still.  Bless me, she looks as if she might sleep away
into death without those looking on being conscious of the change.’

Orange took her place opposite Mirelle, and Captain Trecarrel sat by the
sleeper’s side.

’You really wish this?’ he asked of Orange.

’Yes; give the word to the post-boy,’ she answered, looking him hard in
the face.

’Drive straight on,’ shouted the Captain; ’we are ready.’

Orange sank back in her seat and said no more.  Trecarrel looked about
him, and admired the richness of the scenery, as the road descended to
the beautiful valley of the Tavy, rich in woods, with glimpses of
granite moor ridges rising picturesquely above it, and below the little
town of Tavistock, with its grey church and abbey nestling by the
foaming moorland river.  The scene was charming, and the Captain wished
he had time to sketch it.

Presently Mirelle woke—woke with a start and shiver.

’Orange!’ she said, ’you frighten me. Why do you look at me in that
strange manner?’

’I did not know that I was looking at you at all,’ answered Orange, and
she turned away her face.

’I am cold,’ said Mirelle; ’we have our backs to the sun.’

’You have been asleep, and have become chilled,’ said the Captain,
sympathetically. ’Let me wrap my warm cloak about your shoulders; you
must not catch cold.  We are now half-way to Launceston.’

Then Genefer murmured, ’The Lord put a lying spirit in the mouth of the
prophets, and they said unto Ahab, Go up unto Ramoth Gilead and take it;
and he went up and fell there.  I cannot see; my eyes are holden.  The
Lord hath not spoken unto me by word or sign or revelation, and I know
not if I counselled right when I said, Return.’

Nothing of interest and worthy of record occurred during the rest of the
journey. Mirelle was brighter, refreshed by her sleep, and she tried to
enter into conversation with the Captain, but Orange remained obdurately
mute.  At the gate of Launceston Trecarrel descended and offered profuse
thanks to Mirelle for the drive which had saved him the expense of
coaching home.  The evening had fallen and it was dusk; the chaise was
driven rapidly into the gate of Dolbeare, and drew up on the terrace.

The house was locked; no one now lived in it.  Orange had taken the key
with her to Plymouth; she handed it to Genefer, whilst the post-boy let
down the steps, and she descended.  Genefer went, with the key in her
hand, towards the door, when suddenly she stopped, uttered a cry of
terror, and fell back.

’What is the matter?’ asked Orange, impatiently.

’Do’y see un?  Do’y see un?  There he stands.’

’Who? what?  No one is there,’ answered Orange in a tone of irritation.
’You foolish woman, go on.

’I see an old man in red; he be there standing with his walking-stick
waving it, and signing to us not to come in.  He has his hand out, as
though to thrust us back.  He stands in the doorway.’

’This is sheer crazy folly,’ exclaimed Orange.  ’Here, give me the key!’
She snatched it from Genefer’s hand, and thrusting her aside went
forward.

Genefer turned her head and uttered another cry.  Mirelle had fainted.

’She saw him too, I reckon—that man in a red coat, with the white hair
and the gold-headed cane,’ said the old woman.  ’O Lord, enlighten me!
What be the meaning of all this, I cannot tell.’

Orange threw the house door open, and the unconscious Mirelle was borne
into the hall by Genefer and the post-boy, and placed in an arm-chair,
where she gradually recovered.

’I’ll be quick, darling,’ said Genefer, ’and get a fire lighted and
something warm, and I’ll bring you your supper up to your own room.’

’You are over tired,’ said Orange.  ’Genefer is right; go to bed.’

When the Trampleasures had removed to Welltown nothing definite was
settled as to where they would permanently take up their abode; the
furniture and all the contents of Dolbeare had therefore been left there
undisturbed, to be removed should they elect to live elsewhere.  It was
convenient to them to have the house in condition to receive them at any
time for a short or lengthy stay as suited them.  On their way to
Plymouth Mirelle and Orange had spent the night there, and Genefer had
attended to their requirements.  Now that they had returned, the old
servant’s hands were full of work.  She lighted the fire in the kitchen
and in the dining-room, filled the kettle and set it on to boil, and
began to prepare for supper.  This occupied some time, during which she
was unable to attend to Mirelle.  When the supper was ready she brought
it into the dining-room, and found Orange there seated musing by the
hearth.

’How be the mistress now?’ asked Grenefer.

’I do not know.  I have not been upstairs.’

Genefer looked up at the pastille portrait above her head, and said,
’Him it was that I saw in the doorway with a warning wave of the hand,
and he sought to bar the door entrance with the stick, that we might not
come in.  I durst not have passed, but when you went forward, Miss
Orange, then he seemed to vanish away like smoke.  I reckon the mistress
saw un too, for her fainted with fright at the same moment.  Did’y ever
hear, now, who he might be?’

’No, I know nothing of him,’ answered Orange, shortly.

’I reckon he don’t come for naught,’ said Genefer.  ’But a veil is on my
face in the reading of events, as there be on the hearts of the Jews in
the study of Scripture, and till that veil be taken away I see naught
plain.’

’Go about your work,’ said Orange, impatiently, ’and do not trouble me
with your foolish fancies.’

Genefer looked at Orange, and shook her head, and muttered, ’There be
some folks like the fleece of Gideon on which the dew never falls though
the grass around be wet.’

Then she prepared a tray, and carried some supper upstairs to Mirelle.
’Ah!’ she continued, ’and there be others on whom the dew drops in
plenty whilst all around is dry.’

She found her mistress seated in a high-backed, old-fashioned chair
covered with red baize.  She had her shawl wrapped about her. ’There, my
pretty,’ said the old woman; ’see, I’ve a brought you something at
last.’

’Oh, Geneviève, I am very cold,’ said Mirelle.

’Shall I light the fire, darling?’

’I should like it.  I do not think I am well.  I am exhausted, and sick
at heart.  Feel my hand how it shakes.’

Genefer took the little white hand between her own, stroked it, raised
it to her lips and kissed it.

’You love me, Geneviève?’  Mirelle lifted her large eyes and looked
earnestly into the old woman’s face.

’Ah, I do, I do, sure-ly.’

’I am so glad, Geneviève, because I do not think there are many who love
me.’

’Do’y think it was the red man in the doorway that frightened you?’
asked Genefer. ’You seed un, did you not?’

’I do not know,’ answered Mirelle.  ’I hardly remember what occurred.  I
had a sense of a great wave of terror coming over me, but what caused it
I no more remember, for my consciousness went from me.’

’He’ve a got a kindly enough face, there be no vice in it,’ said
Genefer, as she knelt at the hearth and was engaged on the fire. ’I
reckon he don’t walk for naught; it ain’t only the bad as wanders.
Samuel appeared to Saul before the battle of Gilboa.  Many of the saints
that slept arose, and appeared in the holy city.  We have Scripture to
show that it be not the bad only as walks.  I’ve a seen my mother scores
of times, and her were a God-fearing woman.  But father were a darning
blaspheming drunkard, and I’ve never seen him once.  I reckon the red
man were a peaceable sort of a chap, and if he walks, ’tain’t along of
his sins, but because he be sent to fulfil the wise purposes of Heaven.’

Genefer put the poker against the bars of the grate.

’There, mistress, I hope you’ll be warmer soon, but the kindling be damp
and the chimney has cold air in it, and the fire won’t draw kindly.  Now
I must go.’

’Oh, Geneviève, must you really go?  I do not like to be alone, I am
frightened.’

’Is it the red man you fear?  Do’y think he’ll walk through the room
while you be lying in bed?  Lord bless’y, I think naught of such
spirits.  It be the black devils is the chaps to scare one; I’ve a seed
them and hunted ’em many a time.’

’No,’ said Mirelle, ’I am not afraid of him.  I do not know exactly what
I fear, but something that I cannot describe has come over me.  Oh,
Geneviève, I wish that you could sleep in this room with me.’

’I don’t see how to manage that, my dear. I couldn’t move my bed myself
up here.  But you’ve no occasion for it, neither.  There be Miss Orange
close at hand, and only a door between.  You ask her, and her’ll leave
the door open between you.’

’No, no,’ said Mirelle, nervously.  ’Could you fasten that door,
Geneviève?’

’Which?  There be but two doors, one is on to the landing, and the other
into Miss Orange’s bedroom.’

’I mean the latter door.’

Genefer went to it.

’I cannot fasten it.  It be locked already, and the key on the other
side.’

’Is there no bolt?’

’No, mistress.’

’Never mind, it cannot be helped,’ with a sigh.

Then the lock was turned, the door opened, and Orange came through
carrying a bolster.

’You like to lie with your head well raised.  I have brought you this;
you will sleep the sounder for it.’

Then she went up to Mirelle’s bed and placed it with the pillows.

’Thank you, Orange.  How very kind and thoughtful you are!’ said
Mirelle.

Orange went up to her.  Orange had lost her colour, and a hard,
restrained look had come over her face.

’How are you now?’

’A little better; not much.  I feel very cold.’

’It is heart,’ said Orange, ’that ails you. That will stop some day—or
night.  Stop in a moment when least expected.’  And without another word
she went back through her door and re-locked it.

’Shall I unpack your box, mistress?’ asked the old woman.  ’It won’t do
for you to stoop.  It might bring the swimming in your head again.  It
is only for me to stay up a bit later to finish the housework.’

’Thank you, dear, kind Geneviève.  I am much obliged, I shall be very
glad of it.’

Genefer uncorded and unlocked the trunk and removed from it what she
thought would be necessary for the night.

’Shall I bring out this Christ on the cross?’ she asked, holding up the
crucifix Herring had bought for his bride.

’Oh, please do so.  I shall be glad to have it.’

’Ah!’ said the old woman, ’if the fear and sickness of heart come over
you again, you can look to that and take comfort.  I be not that set
against images such as this, that I would forbid and destroy them.
Since you’ve been to Welltown I’ve a looked on this here many scores of
times, and it have done me a deal of good, it have.’

Then she planted the crucifix in the middle of a small table at the head
of the bed, between a couple of wax lights that were burning there.

Mirelle shivered.  ’Oh, Geneviève! what have you done?  Do you know that
with us we put a crucifix and candles in that way at the head of a bed
where some one is lying dead?’

’Let be,’ said Genefer.  ’Sleep is a figure of death, and if you cannot
sleep under the cross you are not fit to die under it. Remember what
Miss Orange said.  You suffer from the heart, and it may stop at any
hour; so be always ready.’  She went again to the hearth.  ’Drat the
fire, it won’t burn, leastwise not readily; there be too much cold air
in the flue.  There, mistress, now I must go; I’ve my work to do
downstairs.’

’May I have a rushlight for the night, Geneviève?’

’My dear, there be none in the house; I’d go gladly and fetch you one,
but the shops be all shut in the town.  There, good night, and God be
with you.’

’Where do you sleep, Geneviève?’

’At the far end of the house, up the other flight of stairs.’

’If I should want you?  If I should call in the night?’  Mirelle looked
anxiously, pleadingly at her.

’My darling, it would be no good.  I should never hear.  But what do
that matter? Miss Orange be close at hand, and you’ve but to call if you
feel ill, and her’ll run and wake me up, and I’ll go for the doctor fast
as lightning, so there, don’t’y fear any more.’

Mirelle sighed.  ’Give me a kiss, Geneviève, before you go.’

’With all my heart, precious!’ and the old woman kissed her fondly on
the cheek, and then raised and kissed both her hands in succession.

Then Genefer left.  It was not possible for her to tarry longer with
Mirelle.  There was much that had to be done: the supper things to be
removed and washed up, some kindling to be got ready for the fire next
morning; the kitchen fire to be put out, and a little tidying to be done
in the parlour and the hall.  Genefer would have enough to do next
morning, getting breakfast ready, and she would leave nothing till then
that she could possibly get done that night.

Whilst she was in the dining-room clearing away the supper things, she
looked hard at the pastille portrait.

’Whatever did the old man mean by walking, and standing in the doorway
with that warning gesture?’

She stood in front of the picture for some time, trying to decipher
something in it which escaped her.  At last, hopeless of discovering
what she sought, she resumed her work.

’There, there!’ she said, ’I’ve been wasting the one bit of candle I
have, and her’ll hardly last me out all I have to do. Whatever be hidden
now from me, the day will bring forth.’

After the old woman had finished the washing-up in the kitchen and had
extinguished that fire and raked out the fire in the parlour, she went
into the hall, which was littered with packages, boxes, trunks, cloaks,
and calashes.  Genefer disliked disorder, and she set to work putting
the sundry articles into some sort of order, though the next day all
would again be removed to the carriage for the continuation of the
return journey to Welltown.

’I wonder what time of night it be!’ she said, as she looked up at the
clock.  ’Twelve! But no, sure it cannot be.  Her’s not ticking. Her’s
standing still.  To be sure, her’s not been wounded up for ever so long.
Loramussy! the candle will never last me out. I shall have to go to bed
in the dark, and that ain’t pleasant where there be spirits of dead men
walking.  But’—she shook herself—’is that seemly of thee, Genefer
Benoke, to be afeared of spirits?  The Lord is my light and my
salvation, whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life, of
whom shall I be afraid?’

Genefer’s confidence was somewhat shaken by hearing a door opened, and
by seeing a white figure on the stairs, slowly descending.

’Lord, mistress!’ she said, after she had recovered from the first shock
of alarm, when she recognised Mirelle; ’sure enough you did give me a
turn.’

Mirelle was in her long white nightdress, her dark hair was unbound, and
fell over her shoulders.  The white, delicate feet were bare.

’What be the matter, darling?’

Mirelle took each step on the stair hesitatingly, with foot poised
before her, as though feeling in the air, before she lowered it.  She
descended in this way very leisurely, as one walking in a dream, or one
blind, groping the way in an unknown place.  Her hand was on the
banister, and the bar trembled.

She reached the landing, and stood under the clock.  She made no attempt
to descend farther.

’Oh, Geneviève, the fire is gone out.’

’I reckon the wood were damp,’ said the old woman.  ’It be too late, and
not possible to light it again now.’

’And the candles are flickering in their sockets.’

’There is not another in the house.  Look at mine.’

’It will be so dark.’

’Do not be afraid.  The Lord will give you light.’

’It will be so cold.’

’You will be warm in bed.’

’O no! it is colder there than outside.’

She remained without speaking, waiting for Genefer to say something, but
the old woman offered no remark, not knowing what to say.

Still she stood there, hesitating, and the banister rattled under her
hand laid on it.

’There, there!’ said Genefer, ’lie down and shut your eyes, and you will
soon be asleep.’

’I cannot sleep.’

She still stood there, irresolute.

’Is the fire burning in the parlour?  I should like to go in there, and
sit there.’

’I’ve just put him out.’

’Then—that in the kitchen.’

’He’s out likewise.  There, there, go to bed like a good dear.  There is
no help—it must be.’

’Geneviève, I asked Mr. John Herring to send you away.  You frightened
me.  I am very sorry.  Will you forgive me for doing so?’

’To be sure I will.  I am not one to bear malice.’

’Do you really think, Geneviève, that he is alive?’

’I do.  I cannot doubt it.’

’Oh, promise me, if ever you see him, and I not, tell him’—she
paused—’tell him that now I wish, with all my heart, I had loved him as
he deserved.’

Then she went upstairs again, in the same slow, reluctant manner, step
by step, ascending backward, feeling each step behind her with her bare
foot before planting it, and raising herself to the higher level, and
she kept her eyes fixed on Genefer as though dreading to lose sight of
her.  At last Mirelle’s hand, feeling behind her, touched the latch of
her door, and the chill of the metal sent a shiver through her.

Slowly, very slowly, she pressed the door open behind her, walking
backwards still, with a sad despairing look in her large dark eyes fixed
on Genefer.

And Genefer, standing below, said, ’Sweetheart, go to your bed, and, MAY
YOU REST IN PEACE!’



                             *CHAPTER LIX.*

                         *DIVIDING THE SPOILS.*


’Never was more shocked in my life!’ said Captain Trecarrel; ’I really
have not recovered it yet.  So young, so beautiful, so good! and you, my
sweet Orange, I observe, are greatly overcome.  It does you credit; it
does, upon my life.’

Captain Trecarrel was seated in the parlour at Dolbeare with Orange; the
latter was looking haggard and wretched.  ’And it was heart that did
it,’ said the Captain; ’I always said that heart was her weak point, and
that it must be economised to the utmost, spared all excitement,
everything distressing.  There has always been that transparent look
about her flesh that is a sure sign of the heart being wrong.  Poor
angel!  I have no doubt in the world that she was greatly tried.  She
has not been happy ever since she came to England; one thing or another
has risen up to distress her, circumstances have conspired to keep her
in incessant nervous tension.  She felt the death of poor John Herring
severely; that alone was enough to kill her.  Do not take on so much,
Orange; there is moderation in all things, even in sorrow for the dead.’

’Leave me alone,’ said Orange, hoarsely. ’Do not notice me.’

’I see this painful occurrence has shaken you,’ continued Captain
Trecarrel.  ’I knew you regarded her; I had no idea that you loved her.
Indeed——’

’Leave me alone,’ said Orange, emphatically.

’Well, well!  When will be the funeral?’

’To-morrow.’

’I shall certainly attend, to show the last tribute of respect to one
whom I greatly esteemed.  Indeed I may say that next to you, Orange, I
never admired any woman so much.  She has taught us one lesson, poor
thing, and that is not to trifle with the heart, which is a most
susceptible organ, and must be guarded against strong feeling and
excitement. Do not be so troubled about this matter, Orange; it is bad
for the health, over much sorrow debilitates the constitution.  You are
really not looking yourself.  Think that every cloud has its silver
lining, and this fleeting affliction, I make no scruple to affirm, is
trimmed throughout with gold.  Have you reversed it?  Have you studied
the other side?  Have you looked into matters at all?’

’What matters?’

’Well, to put it broadly, pecuniary matters. One is reluctant to advert
to such things at such a solemn time, but it is necessary.  The sweet
luxury of grief cannot be indulged in till these concerns are settled,
and they considerably accentuate or moderate it.  You and I, Orange, are
practical persons: we feel for what we have lost, but we do not let slip
the present or overlook the future.  You are her nearest of kin, and
therefore of course everything she had will fall to you.  By the
greatest good luck her husband predeceased, and Welltown came to her,
and from her will doubtless pass to you.  Beside Welltown, what was she
worth?’

’I do not know—I do not care,’ answered Orange, in a tone of mingled
impatience and indifference.

’This will not do, Orange,’ said Captain Trecarrel; ’you really must not
succumb. Good taste imposes its limits on sorrow as on joy.  If you come
in for ten thousand pounds you do not dance and shout, and if you lose a
friend you do not sink into the abyss of sulky misery—that is, if you
make any pretence to good breeding.  I know what a sensible, practical
girl you are.  Come, pluck up heart and help me to look into her
concerns.  I have done my best, my very best, for you so far, and I will
not desert you now.  The moment I heard of the event I flew to your
assistance, I offered my aid, and I have been invaluable to you.  You
cannot dispute it.  But for me there might have been an inquest, which
would have been offensive to your delicacy of sentiment. I explained to
the doctor her constitution, and the troubles she has gone through; how
she felt her husband’s sudden death, the languor that has since
oppressed her, her fainting fits, the swoon into which she fell after
her exhausting journey; and he saw at once that heart was at the bottom
of it all.  I settled with the undertaker, saw to everything, made every
arrangement, and you have not been troubled in the least.  I even went
after the milliner about your mourning.  You cannot deny that I have
been of service to you, and I am ready to do more.  All that is nothing:
now comes the most trying and difficult task of all—the settlement of
her affairs; but I am ready to undertake that also, to save my dear
Orange trouble, only I ask, as a preliminary, that all the requisite
information shall be placed at my disposal.’

’Later,’ said Orange, uneasily; ’after the funeral.’

’No,’ answered Captain Trecarrel, ’not after the funeral, but now.  My
time is valuable.  I shall have to go to Exeter in three days, and I
should like to have everything ready to take with me.  If there be a
will, which I do not suppose there is, I will prove it for you.  If
there be not, I will obtain letters of administration for you.  You must
really let me know what her estate was worth.  Have you the means of
ascertaining?’

’I do not know.’

’But you must know, or rather you must put me in the way of
ascertaining.  Have you looked whether there is a will?’

’No, I have not.’

’Have you got her desk?’

’It is upstairs.’

’Bring it down, and we will overhaul it together.’

Orange rose and left the room.  She returned a few minutes later, with
the large desk that had belonged to Mr. Strange, and after his death had
been appropriated by Mirelle.  Mirelle had removed from it all his
Portuguese letters, tied them in bundles and put them away, and had
transferred to it her own treasures from a school writing-desk full to
overflowing.  It was a strange thing that this desk was thus explored in
search of a will at so small an interval of time since we saw John
Herring seated at it, at the opening of this story.

’This is the sort of thing I detest,’ said the Captain.  ’It jars with
one’s feelings and vulgarises bereavement.  However, it does not become
us to give way to our emotions, we must do our duty.  Give me the key.’

He unlocked the desk, and turned over the contents; he removed many
articles and placed them on the table.  What trifles were there!—trifles
that had been collected at school and were preserved as treasures, each
made precious by some innocent association and sunny memory.  A little
book in which her school companions had inscribed verses and signed
their names.  Wrapped up in silver paper and tied with white silk, a
lock of hair from the head of Marie de la Meillerie, cut on the day of
her first Communion.  In a pill-box a raisin out of Mirelle’s birthday
cake, many years old.  Some lace-edged pictures of saints, spangled red,
and blue, and gold with foil stars, a medal of Notre-Dame de Bon
Secours; some feathers off a pet bullfinch that had died and cost many
tears, a twig of blessed palm, John Herring’s notes, and some little
presents he had made her—but not one relic of Captain Trecarrel—all such
had been burned on her marriage, she had kept them till then.  Also a
little deal box in which, softly nested in cotton-wool, was a glass
peacock with spun glass tail—a memorial of one happy day spent at the
house of the Countess La Gaye, who had taken Mirelle and her daughters
to see a glass-blower, and the man had made the peacock under their
eyes, and had presented it to Mirelle.  All this rubbish Captain
Trecarrel tossed aside carelessly.  If it ever had any value, it had it
only to her who could appreciate those trifles no more. Then he pounced,
with trembling hand, on a paper in John Herring’s handwriting statement
of the property of the Countess Mirelle Garcia de Cantalejo; and with it
a much larger paper in many folds.  He opened this latter, glanced at
it, and tossed it aside with an expression of disgust.  It was a
pedigree of the family of Garcia de Cantalejo with heraldic blazonings.
The smaller paper soon engrossed his whole attention; Captain
Trecarrel’s eyes opened very wide.  John Herring’s confession was not
there.  Mirelle had destroyed it, lest it should ever be seen by any one
but herself.  She had, however, preserved the statement.

’My dear Orange!—my dear, dear Orange!’ his voice shook with emotion and
excitement. ’I had no idea that the lining was so warm and so rich.
There are the West Wyke mortgages, there is a silver lead mine, about
which I knew nothing—well, I was aware some time ago that he was
paddling in something of the sort near Ophir, but I did not know that it
was being worked; when I heard of it, it was not begun.  Then there are
uncut diamonds.  Bless my soul! uncut diamonds!  How did they escape the
fingers of your excellent father, I wonder?  Where can they be?  Oh, I
see, at the bank.  We must take out letters of administration to
authorise you to withdraw and realise.  Why, Orange! my dear, dear, dear
Orange,’ he put his hand under the table, took that of Miss
Trampleasure, and pressed it with fervent affection; ’the barrier that
has stood between us has fallen.  Happiness is in view before us.  You
will forgive and forget any little past lovers’ quarrels.  _Amantium iræ
amoris integratio est_, as the syntax says. Let me tott all up as well
as I can.  Welltown is worth six hundred nett, as far as I can judge,
and it is unencumbered.  Then there are your five thousand, which will
bring in, say, two hundred and fifty.  It is impossible for me to
estimate the value of Mirelle’s own property, as the silver lead mine is
only now beginning to give dividends, I suppose—I see by the paper that
money has been sunk, and there is no entry of return, but then Upaver is
quite a new affair.  What it is worth I cannot conjecture.  Then there
are the West Wyke mortgages, and the uncut diamonds, and I suppose money
in the bank. The estate must be worth at least a thousand per annum,
without including Welltown.  My dear, dear, dear Orange, my heart
overflows with affection.  I will tell you, Orange, what will be the
best plan of all for both of us. Let us get a special licence and be
married at the earliest time possible, privately, of course, because of
the affliction under which you are suffering, and then I can manage all
the matter of Mirelle’s estate with the utmost simplicity, as my own.
It will save a world of trouble, and possibly some expense.  By Jove!
this is not all.  We had left out of our calculation the set of
diamonds.  Where is it? Oh, here it is in its _étui_ on the other side
of the desk.  Orange, do look at the stones!  they are magnificent.
They must be worth a great deal of money.  I am no judge of stones, but
these strike my uninitiated eye as being of the purest water—not a tinge
of yellow, not a flaw in them.  I can see this, Orange, that our income
is likely to be some two thousand a year.  I could cry tears of joy at
the thought.  Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous as the
supposition that John Herring had committed suicide with this set of
diamonds in his pocket?  The thing is psychologically impossible.  With
such a source of wealth in one’s pocket one would begin to live; all
previous existence would be tadpolism, now only would one stretch out
legs and arms and begin to jump.  My dear, dear Orange, I do believe
that you and I are only now about to sip the nectar of life.  Here—try
on these jewels.’

’I had rather not,’ said Orange, shrinking back.

’I insist.  I want to see you in them. Lord bless you! they never could
become that pale little thing; colour, warmth, flesh and life are wanted
to carry this.  Here, Orange, let me try it on.’

He rose to put the diamond chain about her neck, when a hand interposed
and grasped it.

Trecarrel and Orange looked round, startled, and saw John Herring
standing before them, with hard, bitter face, very pale, with contracted
brows.  He had entered the room without their hearing him.  The Captain
had been too much engrossed in his discoveries to have ear for his
footfall on the carpet, and Orange too abstracted in her own gloomy
thoughts.

At the sight of Herring, Trecarrel drew back, and his jaw fell.  He
looked at Herring, then at Orange, then at the diamonds, and, lastly, at
the schedule of Mirelle’s property.

’By heavens!’ he gasped.  ’Confound it! you alive!  Then Orange is only
worth five thousand.’

Orange had recoiled into a corner, blank, trembling, speechless.

Herring was perfectly collected.

’Put everything down,’ he said in hard tones.  ’Do not lay finger on
anything again. Leave the house at once.’  He looked at the Captain with
contempt and anger.

’And you, Orange Trampleasure, already engaged in dividing the spoils of
the dead before she is laid in her grave!  You will find a carriage at
the gate.  Rejoin your mother at Welltown, and leave me in the house
alone with Genefer and—my wife.  I cannot suffer another presence here.’

He gathered the little scattered trifles together, the lock of hair, the
raisin, the glass peacock, the tinsel pictures, with soft and reverent
touch, and placed all together in the desk.  The jewels he re-laid in
their _étui_, and relegated it to its proper compartment.  Then he
locked up the desk.  His face was cold, collected, with hard lines about
the mouth, and a hard look in the eyes, in which no sign of a tear was
manifest.  He removed the desk to a shelf in the cabinet, then he went
out and ascended the stairs.

At the sound of his step, a door at the head of the staircase opened,
and Genefer came out, with her eyes red, and tears glittering on her
cheek.

’It be you, to last, Master John.  I knew it.  I knew you wasn’t dead.
God be praised! Even out of the belly of the whale; when the waters
compass me about, even to the soul; when the depth hath closed me round
about, and the weeds are wrapped about my head.  I will say, Salvation
is of the Lord.’

Herring was about to pass her, but she stayed him, barring the door,
looking hard into his face.

’Oh, Master John! you must not go in looking like that, as the fleece of
Gideon without dew.  Stay and let me tell you, afore you see the sweet
flower of God, His white lily, what was her message to you, the last
words her uttered in this world.  Her was standing where I be now, and
her said to me: "Promise me, if ever you see him, to tell him that I
wish with all my heart I had loved him as he deserves."  That were the
olive leaf in the mouth of the dove as her flew back to the ark.’

The old woman opened the door and went forward, leading the way, with
her arms uplifted, saying, ’The dove found no rest for the sole of her
foot, and she returned into the ark, for the waters were on the face of
the whole earth: then He put forth His hand, and took her, and pulled
her in unto Him into the ark.’  As the old woman said these last words,
she touched the crucifix and the right, transfixed hand of the figure on
it.

The white blinds were down in the room, the atmosphere was sweet with
the scent of violets.  At the head of the little bed was a table covered
with a linen cloth, and the crucifix between bunches of white flowers
and lighted wax candles was on it.  Upon the bed lay Mirelle, her face
as the purest wax, and a wreath of white and purple violets round her
head, woven by the loving hands of old Genefer. The hands, contrary to
the usual custom, were crossed over the breast.  Genefer had seen this
on a monument ’of the old Romans,’ and she had thus arranged the hands
of Mirelle, thinking it would be right so for her.

Herring stood by the bed looking at the pure face.  Then he signed with
one hand to Genefer to leave.  The old woman went out softly.  Herring
still looked, and drawing forth a little case opened it and took out a
sprig of white heath and laid it in the bosom of his dead wife.

’Mirelle! once you refused it when I offered it you, once you refused it
when offered you by Trecarrel, now you will keep and carry with you into
eternity my good luck which I now give you.’



                             *CHAPTER LX.*

                            *INTRODUCTORY.*


Several weeks had passed.  John Herring was back at West Wyke, grave,
calm, with a gentle expression in his face and a far-off look in his
eyes.  The hardness and bitterness had gone, never to return.  The Snow
Bride would not freeze him to ice.  He, in time, would thaw away like
her.  On his first return to West Wyke he had come back with blasted
hopes, on his second with dislocated faith. Now he returned with
recovered moral balance, not indeed hopeful, for hope is a delusion of
youth, but able to look life in the face without a sneer.

Cicely received him with her usual brightness and sympathy.  It was
always pleasant to see her kind, sweet face, and to know what a good and
honest heart beat in her bosom.

Herring had never been to her other than uncommunicative, partly out of
natural modesty, partly because they were out of harmony over Mirelle.
But Cicely had a woman’s curiosity, and would not be left in the dark as
to what had taken place; and she felt real sympathy for John Herring,
only she did not know how to exhibit it, because she did not know what
course it should take.  So she put to him questions, and with tact drew
from him the entire story.

’Where does she lie, John?’ she asked in her soft tones, full of tender
feeling for his sorrow.  They were sitting together in the porch,
looking out on the old walled garden, with its honesty, and white
rocket, and love-lies-bleeding all ablow.  ’Have you laid her in
Launceston churchyard, or removed her to Welltown?’

He shook his head.  ’No, Cicely.  Neither under the shadow of Launceston
church, nor exposed to the winds and roar of Boscastle. She lies in the
sunny cemetery of the Sacré Coeur.’

Cicely said nothing.  Indeed, neither spoke for some time.  Presently,
however, Cicely, who had laid her needlework in her lap, and had rested
her folded hands on it, and was looking dreamily across the garden,
said, ’Mirelle was your ideal, John.’

’She _is_ my ideal, Cicely.’

Miss Battishill looked round at him.  She was very pretty, with her
copper-gold hair, and the reflection of the sunlight in the garden
illumining her sweet face of the most delicate white and purest pink.
’I remember your speaking to me—almost when first I knew you, about
Mirelle as your ideal, and I thought what you said was extravagant and
unreal. But I was in fault.  There was no exaggeration, and all was real
to you.’

’It was, and is so still.’

’Now, tell me the truth, honestly, cousin, does the possession of such
an ideal in the heart conduce to happiness?’

’On the contrary, it saddens.’

’Then why do you not shut your eyes to such alluring but unsatisfying
fancies?  Why are you not satisfied with what _is_, instead of sighing
after what _may be_?’

’Cicely, it seems to me that the world is divided between those with
ideals and those without.  When I say without, I mean that the great
bulk of mankind are, as you say, content with things as they are.  They
are without ambition after the perfect, they are satisfied with the
defective.  Such men put forth their hands, and without effort gather
happiness.  They ask for nothing very high, and certainly nothing above
them.  They are vulgarly happy, enjoying what is on their level and
attained without effort.  But there are others who are not thus easily
satisfied. They form in their minds an ideal from which every
imperfection is cast off, and the formation of this ideal in their
hearts deals it its death-wound.  The ideal is the ever-unattainable,
and if happiness consists in obtaining the desired, happiness can never
be theirs, because the ideal can never be reached.  Hope also is killed
along with happiness, for how can you hope for the unobtainable?  The
ideal may be of various sorts—it may be sought in moral, social,
political, religious perfection; in Woman, in the State, in the Church,
in Art; but is always pursued with disappointment—I had almost said with
despair.  When I was a child, I was told by my nurse that under the root
of the rainbow lay a golden bowl, and many is the rainbow I have run
after in hopes of finding the golden chalice from which could be quaffed
immortality. As I grew older and always failed, I found that the rainbow
moved before me as I advanced, and that the cup of supreme felicity
could never be pressed by my lips. That is the picture of all idealists.
We have given up every hope of attaining the Iris we look on, but we
still follow it.’

’I think yours is a sad story, John.’

’Perhaps so, but I do not know.  Mirelle has been my ideal, and
therefore unattainable.’

’But, John, suppose she had really loved you, and been everything you
could wish as a wife—you would have been happy.’

’I should have been happy—yes.  But my ideal would have died.  I
remember a story that Genefer—by the way, you do not know her—my old
nurse told me many years ago of a man of Trevalga, who saw a pixy, a
beautiful fairy who haunted the glen and waterfall of S. Kneighton.  He
saw her when she was bathing, and took away her white garment, and
refused to restore it till she allowed him to kiss her lips.  She wept
and pleaded, but in vain.  Then she suffered him to draw her to him and
to touch her lips, but the touch of mortal flesh withered her.  She
shrivelled like a faded rose, and lost all beauty, and became as a
wizened hag.  And he went from his mind and drowned himself in the
Kieve.  I cannot conceive of Mirelle other than one far, far above and
distant from me. It is possible, had things been as you say, that I
might have discovered imperfections.’

’Of course she had her imperfections,’ interrupted Cicely, with a slight
touch of impatience in her tone.  ’I do not wish to say a word that may
wound you, but, my dear John, nothing human is perfect, and certainly
Mirelle had her short-comings apparent enough to me.’

’Then, better a thousand times that things should be as they are, that
these imperfections should not have been seen by me; and now, I know
they are swallowed up in a faultless splendour.  If Heaven gave me my
choice, I would choose this.’

’Do you mean seriously to tell me that you would not have Mirelle
restored, and restored to be yours entirely?’

’I would not.  I had rather have my unapproachable ideal shining down
upon me from afar, than have my ideal dissolve in my arms into the
commonplace.  The ship sails by the star but never attains to it.  I can
look up, and I am content.  I ask for nothing more.’

’This frame of mind is to me inexplicable. It is unworthy of a man of
reason to strive for the unreachable.  When a person of sense sees that
what he or she has wished is not to be had, that person makes an effort
and accommodates herself to circumstances.’  She coloured a little.

’That is to say—some weary of pursuing an ideal, and settle themselves
down to enjoy what they can obtain.  I can quite understand that; and
perhaps it is the most practical course, but it is, to some,
impossible.’

’But that is the most—it is the only, sensible course.  The other offers
a mere treadmill round of duties, without hope to spur you on, and
happiness to reward you.’

’No doubt you are right; and yet it is impossible to some.  I have set
up pure and perfect womanhood as my ideal; but others have ideals of
different nature.  The young politician starts with an ideal of a
perfect commonwealth before him, and he is sanguine of redressing
grievances, of elevating politics to a noble patriotic passion instead
of mean party rivalry.  But after a while he finds that every reform
brings in fresh evils, and, if it does away with some wrongs, it
inflicts others; he finds that it is impossible to be patriotic without
partisanship, and that those whom he strives to raise are unworthy of
being raised.  I believe the leaders of the Revolution in France were
earnest men with their ideal before them, and, striving after a perfect
state of liberty and fraternity, they called up a Reign of Terror.  I
saw once an enthusiast who had taken to educate a pig; he taught it
letters, he washed the beast clean, and dressed it in a coat, but, when
left to itself, it wallowed in the next mire and forgot its alphabet.  I
have no doubt that a young curate starts on his sacred duties with the
sincere hope and belief that he will do good: he preaches with
earnestness, thinking to waken the religious sense of his people, he
establishes schools to instruct the young, and presently finds that all
he has done is absolutely useless—the people will not be regenerated,
his sermons are profitless, and his educated children read only vicious
literature.  It is the same——  But I see I weary you.’

’I do not understand you.’

They were silent awhile.

Presently Cicely said: ’John, do you not think your own weakness may be
at the bottom of all the trouble you have met with? I do not speak with
any intention to be unkind.  You will allow that.’

Herring thought a moment.  ’I do not know, Cicely, that I could have
acted other than I have, and been true to my conscience. I might have
taken the selfish line, and cast aside those responsibilities which
seemed to me to be forced upon me, and, no doubt, then I should have
been light-hearted and boyish to the present moment, laughing, shooting,
riding, spending money, a careless young officer without much thought of
the morrow. But I had rather have my sorrows and walk uprightly.  I am
better for having an ideal and following it, though I shall never catch
it up.’

Cicely did not pursue the subject: she stooped over her work, took it
up, and averting her pretty face said, as the colour mantled her white
throat and deepened in her rosy cheek, ’John, you have been candid with
me: I will be equally frank with you.  I will make a confession to you.’
She hesitated a moment, and then said, ’Mr. Harmless-Simpleton has asked
me to be his wife.’

’I wish you joy with all my heart, dear Cicely,’ said Herring, warmly.
’He is a good, well-intentioned, amiable man, with whom you are sure to
be happy.’

’Vulgarly happy,’ said Cicely, drily.

Herring coloured.  ’I beg your pardon. I meant no disparagement when I
used that term.  I meant only ordinarily happy, happy as the buttercups,
and the birds and bees, as all nature that is content with the place God
has given it, and the sunshine and sweet air that surround it.  Why
should you not be so?  It is no privilege to have an ever-aching void in
the heart, to be ever stretching after the moon.  You will be happy in a
sphere where you will do good and be beloved. When do you intend to be
married?’

’I do not know.  There is no occasion for delay, and there is nothing to
precipitate matters.  But now—when I am married and settled into the
Vicarage at Tawton, what is to become of that queer Joyce?  Is she to
come with me?’

’I—I!’  Joyce was there in the door to answer for herself.  ’Wherever
the maister be, there be I too.  He sed as how he’d never wear no
stockings more but what I’d knit; and you wouldn’t have he go barefoot?’

John Herring turned his head, and looked at Joyce.

’You had better remain with Miss Cicely. I do not want you.’

’I will not,’ answered Joyce, resolutely. ’I go with you.’

’Then, I dare say, Genefer will find work for you on the farm, or in the
house at Welltown. But you will not be so comfortable or happy as here.’

’I care not,’ said the girl.  ’I must follow you.  I belongs to you.
You bought me of vaither for shining gold.  No, Miss Cicely, I follow
the maister.’

’Go your ways,’ said Cicely: ’you are each of you, in your several ways,
idealists, and each following the unattainable.’

’And now, beginning life,’ said Herring, ’all that has gone before is
introductory to the real life; a rough and painful initiation into the
axioms on which the problem will have to be worked out.  We know now
where we stand, and which is the direction in which we must set our
faces, to plod on our way forward, hopeless indeed, but still,
conscientiously forward.’



                                THE END.



                           LONDON: PRINTED BY
                SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE.
                         AND PARLIAMENT STREET





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