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Title: Kitty Alone (vol. 3 of 3) - A Story of Three Fires
Author: Baring-Gould, S. (Sabine)
Language: English
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                          Transcriber’s Note:

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Italics are delimited with the ‘_’ character as _italic_. Bold text and
text in blackletter font are delimited with ‘=’.

Minor errors, attributable to the printer, have been corrected. Please
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                              KITTY ALONE


                              KITTY ALONE

                         A STORY OF THREE FIRES


                            S. BARING GOULD

                               AUTHOR OF
                 “MEHALAH” “CHEAP JACK ZITA” ETC. ETC.

                            IN THREE VOLUMES

                                VOL. III

                             METHUEN & CO.
                         36 ESSEX STREET, W.C.

                          CONTENTS OF VOL. II


           CHAP.                                           PAGE

         XXXVII. THE ANSWER OF CAIN                           7
         XXXVIII. WANTED AT LAST                              16
          XXXIX. ONE FOR THEE AND TWO FOR ME                 25
             XL. A GREAT FEAR                                35
            XLI. TAKING SHAPE                                45
           XLII. AN UGLY HINT                                54
          XLIII. MUCH CRY AND A LITTLE WOOL                  64
           XLIV. PUDDICOMBE IN F                             74
            XLV. DAYLIGHT                                    82
           XLVI. A TRIUMPH                                   91
          XLVII. PARTED                                     100
         XLVIII. A SHADOW-SHAPE                             110
           XLIX. FLAGRANTE DELICTO                          118
              L. THE THIRD FIRE                             128
             LI. THE PASS’N’S PRESCRIPTION                  137
            LII. IN COURT                                   145
           LIII. JASON’S STORY                              156
            LIV. CON AFFETTUOSO CAPRIZIO                    165


                              KITTY ALONE

                             CHAPTER XXXVII
                           THE ANSWER OF CAIN

The accommodation of the little inn was not extensive, so Pasco had to
be put into the same room with the lawyer, and Kitty slept with the
innkeeper’s daughter.

Pasco would have greatly preferred a room to himself. He was in a
condition of unrest. As it was not possible for him to return to Coombe
Cellars that night, he was in ferment of mind, uncertain whether it were
advisable that he should return there that week, whether he should not
go with Mr. Squire to Tavistock to make provision for the burial of his
uncle, and to see after his estate. He had added crime to crime to save
his credit as a man of substance, and all had been in vain. The
succession to his uncle’s estate supplied him with what he required. Why
had not the old man died a day earlier? Why, but that fate had impelled
him into crime only then to mock him. If fate could play such malicious
tricks with him, might it not pursue its grim joke further, lift the
veil, disclose what he had done, and just as the property of his
relative came to him, just as the money from the insurance company was
due–strike him down, drive him into penal servitude, if not send him to
the gallows? He tossed on his bed; he could not sleep.

At one moment he resolved to go with the solicitor to Tavistock, and
remain there till the funeral, or till he received news of what had
taken place at home. But a devouring desire to know what had happened,
what was the extent of his crime, to know whether Jason had escaped,
whether the fire had been put out, what his wife thought, what was the
general opinion relative to the fire,–all this drew him homewards.

Moreover, his sprained ankle and arm were painful, and he could lie on
one side only. In the night he put out his hand for his coat, drew it to
him, and groped for the box of lucifer matches. He desired to light a
candle, rise, and bind a wet towel round his foot.

But the box was missing.

Alarmed, he started from bed and explored the pockets of his trousers
and of his waistcoat, and then again went through all those of his coat,
but in vain. He had lost the box.

Here was fresh cause for uneasiness. Where had he lost it? Surely not at
Coombe Cellars. With a sigh of relief, he recalled having struck a light
in the linhay in Miller Ash’s field, and that it had excited the
interest of Kate. He had then slipped it back into his pocket, as he
believed. In all likelihood it had fallen out when he was thrown from
the cart on the moor.

Towards morning he dropped into broken sleep, from which he started
every few moments in terror, imagining that a constable was laying hold
of him, or that he saw Jason Quarm leaping upon him enveloped in flames.

When he woke, he saw the lawyer dressing himself and shaving. His face
was lathered about chin and neck and upper lip. He turned towards
Pepperill and said, “You are a nice fellow to have as a comrade in a

“Am I? Well, I daresay I am,” answered Pasco, always prepared for a
recognition of his merits.

“I was speaking ironically, man,” said Mr. Squire. “By George! how you
did toss and tumble in the night. If I had had an uneasy conscience, you
would have kept me awake. What was the matter with you?”

“With me? Nothing. I never slept sounder.”

“Then you must give your wife bad nights at home. I thought it might
have been your spill.”

“Oh yes, to be sure it was that. I suffered in my arm and foot; and
look, I’m all black and yellow this morning. I shall go back at once to
Coombe Cellars.”

“You will? Why, man alive, we want you at Tavistock. There is your poor
uncle’s funeral, you know, to see to. I say, if we are to travel
together, you won’t cry over-much, will you? I love tears, but in

“I must return to the Cellars, if only for an hour. I wish to tell
Zerah’that’s my wife’our piece of good fortune’I mean, our sad
bereavement. And I must put together my black clothes and get my hat.”

“If it must be, it must. I wish you had been communicated with earlier.”

“Earlier? Was that possible?”

“Of course it was; the old gentleman died two days ago.”

“Two days ago? Why, to-day is Wednesday.”

“Well, his decease took place at five in the morning of Monday.”

“Why did you not tell me at once?” almost shrieked Pasco, swinging from
his bed, and then collapsing on his crippled foot.

“Bless you, man, it was not my place to do so. I knew nothing of you;
the housekeeper was the person he trusted. I came to know of it, as I
managed your uncle’s affairs. When I inquired about relatives, then I
heard of you, or rather got your address, and came off. You see, as he
died on Monday, it won’t do for you to be away long. The housekeeper has
instructions, and is a sensible woman, but you are the proper person to
be on the spot.”

“Is she honest? Will she make away with things?”

Mr. Squire shrugged his shoulders.

“I will run to Coombe; we will go in the chaise, and return to Tavistock
directly I have been there. Kitty shall be driven by the boy to Brimpts
in my trap.”

Pasco would not have his niece at Coombe for some time if he could help

As soon as he was dressed he was impatient to be off. He hurried
breakfast, and hardly ate anything himself. He gave instructions that
Kate was to be sent on at once, and was not content till he had seen her
off. He had not deemed it prudent to warn her again not to speak of his
return to the Cellars after leaving Coombe. To do so might excite her
suspicions. Besides, she would be at Brimpts, where there was no one
interested in the affairs of Coombe’no one who belonged to it. It would
suffice to caution her when she came back to the Cellars, and that
return he would delay on one excuse or another.

When Pasco seated himself in the chaise beside the solicitor, an
expression of satisfaction came over his face. He was returning to
Coombe as a man of consequence, and in good society. How the villagers
would stare to see him in a carriage drawn by post-horses. An April
weather reigned in his heart, now darkening with apprehension, then
brightening with pride and self-satisfaction.

Ever and anon the ghastly figure of his brother-in-law in the sack,
burning, rose before his mind’s eye, but he put it from him.

As the chaise entered Ashburton, Pepperill said to his companion’“Will
you accommodate me with a sum of money till I come in for my

“With the greatest pleasure, but I have not much loose cash about me.”

“You have your cheque-book. The circumstances are these’I owe money for
wool to a fellow named Coaker, and gave him a bill’unfortunately, I
could not meet it, the bank returned it, only a few days ago, and this
has made me very angry. I should like to show the bank and Coaker that I
am not the moneyless chap that they choose to consider me.”

“I shall be happy to assist you. Let us go to the bank at once; I’ll
settle that little matter with them. Shall I do it for you?”

“I shall be obliged, but I think I must go also.”

It was possible that the tidings of what had taken place might have
reached Ashburton’possible, though hardly probable.

His uneasiness was relieved when he entered the bank. No allusion was
made to any fire. The banker was profuse in his apologies. He could not
help himself. There were certain rules in his affairs that he was bound
to follow. He had no doubt it was an oversight of Mr. Pepperill not to
pay in the sum required, but a man so full of business as he was reputed
to be was liable to such slips of memory. The banker knew Mr. Squire by
reputation, was quite sure all was as it should be. He would at once
communicate with Coaker’indeed, Coaker was sure to be in Ashburton that
day, and let him have the money of the bill.

For some distance Pasco held up his head, and talked boastfully. He had
taught that banker what he really was. Everyone else knew he was a man
of his word and a man of substance. The solicitor was glad of this
change in his companion’s mood, and talked chirpily.

But the change in Pepperill’s manner did not last long. As he neared
Newton, he leaned back in the carriage. He did not desire to be
recognised and saluted with the news of the fire. The chaise drew up for
the horses to be watered at the inn which had been rebuilt after a fire.

“Will you have a drop of something?” asked the solicitor. “I shall
descend for a minute. I suppose we have not got far to go now?”

He left the chaise, and left the door open. Pasco closed it, and being
affected with sneezing, opened his pocket-handkerchief and buried his
face in the napkin, as the landlord came to the door.

He did not lower the kerchief, he listened from behind it to the host
conversing with Mr. Squire.

“Fine morning, sir’come from far?”

“No, nothing very great to-day. Off the moor and through Ashburton.”

“Going on to Teignmouth, sir?”

“No, only to a place called Coombe.”

“Coombe-in-Teignhead? You haven’t many miles more. Nice place. Just
heard there has been a fire there.”

“Indeed. Insured?”

“Can’t say, sir. My little place was burnt down. A tramp slept in the
tallat over the pigs and set it ablaze with his pipe. Happily, I was
insured, and now I have a very respectable house over my head. What will
you please to take, sir?”

“Some rum and milk, I think.”

Then Mr. Squire and the landlord went within, and Pasco lowered his
kerchief. He wished he had heard more’that the man had entered into
particulars, and yet he dared not inquire.

Presently the lawyer stepped into the carriage. The host attended him,
and in shutting the door, caught sight of Pasco.

“Halloo!” he exclaimed. “Mr. Pepperill, have you heard the news?”

“News’what news?”

“Why, rather bad for you. There’s been a terrible fire at your place.”

“The house?”

“I really don’t know particulars. They say it’s been dreadful. I’m sorry
to have to say it, but I hope there’s no lives lost, and that you are

“Drive on!” shouted Pasco to the postilion. “Drive on’lose no time.
There is a fire at my house.”

The horses whirled away, and Pasco no longer disguised his nervousness.
It was natural that he should be uneasy.

“You needn’t trouble yourself,” said Mr. Squire. “If lives had been lost
you would have heard, and if you are insured to full value, well”’

On reaching the summit of the hill whence Coombe was visible, a sickly
scented smoke was wafted into the carriage windows.

“By George, I can smell it!” exclaimed the solicitor. “It is a sort of
concentrated essence of burnt wool.”

“Then my stores are gone!” cried Pepperill. “And all the fleeces for
which I have just borrowed two hundred pounds of you to pay’all lost.
I’m a ruined man.”

“Not a bit,” answered the lawyer. “You are insured.”

The postilion needed no urging; he cracked his whip, and the horses flew
down hill, the chaise rattled through the village, past the church and
the inn, whence the host came out to see whether a distinguished guest
was coming, and drew up at the entrance to the paddock before the

A crowd of villagers, men, women, and children, was assembled round the
wreck of the storehouse, from which volumes of smoke still ascended.
Every now and then stones and bricks exploded, and the children shouted
or screamed if a hot cinder flew out and fell near them.

Pasco burst out of the carriage and rushed towards his house, pushed his
way through the assembled crowd, and ran to his door.

There stood Zerah, ghastly in her pallor, her usually well-ordered hair
dishevelled, with clenched hands held to her breast, a look of despair
in her face. Directly she saw her husband, she shrank from him, and when
he put out his hands to her, she thrust him away, with an expression of

“I will not be touched by you,” she said hoarsely. “Where is Jason?”

“Jason? Am I his keeper?”

“The answer of Cain,” retorted Zerah. “This is your doing. I knew it
would come, when you insured. And you have destroyed my brother also. O
my God! my God! Would that I had never seen this day!”

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII
                             WANTED AT LAST

Pasco thrust his wife within and shut the door behind. Zerah had
returned early in the morning, and had found that her husband and Kate
were away, and the house locked, whilst the stores were in
conflagration. Half the parish was present. The fire had broken out some
time after nightfall’at least, it had been observed about nine o’clock
by a boy connected with the mill, who ran to the alehouse and roused the
village orchestra, which was practising there, and in ten minutes nearly
everyone in the little place was at the Cellars. The fire was pouring in
dense sheets of flame out of the windows. It had apparently begun below,
the wool above dropped into it as the rafters and boards gave way.
Nothing could be done to arrest it, but precautions were adopted to
prevent the fire communicating with a little rick of straw that
Pepperill had for litter near the stables. The flames and smoke were
carried inland, and no apprehensions were entertained of the house
becoming ignited.

Much comment was made on the absence of Pasco, his wife, and niece. But
that which excited most uneasiness was the presence of Jason Quarm’s
cart and donkey in the yard. If they were at the Cellars, then Jason
could not be far distant. Was it possible that, finding the house locked
up, and his relatives absent, he had made his way into the store-shed
and perished there? This was the question hotly debated.

When Mrs. Pepperill arrived from the other side of the river, and saw
the conflagration, and heard that there was a probability that her
brother had fallen a victim, she was driven frantic with terror and
grief. In her mind connecting her husband with the occurrence, she
charged him with the firing of the stores and with the death of her

Pepperill endeavoured to pacify her. He protested his innocence; he
declared that he had left the house soon after herself, and by entreaty,
remonstrance, and threat urged Zerah to hold her tongue and not
recklessly put him in peril by rousing against him suspicion which was
without grounds.

As to Jason, he knew nothing about him. He had probably left his trap at
the Cellars and crossed the water on some business of his own. He would
return shortly. The fact of his cart and ass being there was not
sufficient to cause alarm for his safety. If anything transpired more
grave, Pasco would be the first to take the necessary steps to
investigate what had become of him. Meanwhile, let Zerah moderate her
transports and listen to the news he had to tell. He must leave her, and
that immediately, to go with the lawyer to Tavistock, and make provision
for his uncle’s interment and for securing his property.

Pepperill was unable to get away as soon as he wished. He was forced to
show himself among the crowd, to give expression to consternation, to
answer questions as to his surmises about the origin of the fire, to
explain how he had left the place before it broke out, and to offer
suggestions as to the whereabouts of Quarm. He scouted the idea of his
brother-in-law having been burnt in the stores; he said he suspected the
fellow Redmore of having set fire to his buildings. Redmore was at large
still; he, Pasco, had given him occasion of resentment by sending the
workmen at Brimpts in pursuit of him. The man was a bitter hater and
revengeful, as was proved by his having burned the stack of Farmer
Pooke. What more likely than that he had paid off his grudge against
himself’Pepperill’in like manner?

As soon as ever Pasco was able to disengage himself from the crowd, he
re-entered the chaise and departed with the lawyer, glad to escape the
scene. When the chaise had got outside Coombe, he leaned back with a
puff of relief and said, “That is now well over.”

“I should hardly say _that_,” observed the lawyer, “till you have the
insurance money clinking in your pocket. Now look here, Mr. Pepperill;
it may be you will have a hitch about the same. If so, apply to me.”

Among those looking on upon the mass of glowing, spluttering combustible
material was the rector, with his hands behind him, and his hat at the
back of his head. He was touched on the arm, and, turning, saw the
pretty face of Rose Ash looking entreatingly towards him.

“What is it, my child?”

“Please, sir, do you think anything dreadful has happened to Kitty’s

The rector paused before he answered. Then he said leisurely, “I do not
know what reply to make. I saw him last night about seven. I was at my
garden-gate when he drove by, and we exchanged salutations.”

“The neddy is in the stable here, and there is his cart,” said Rose.

“He may have crossed the water.”

“But, sir, Mrs. Pepperill had the boat.”

“True’is there no other?”

“Yes; the old boat. I did not think of that. I’ll run and see if her be
in place.”

Rose left, and returned shortly, discouraged, and said’

“The old boat be moored to the landing-stage as well as the new boat.
And, sir, I do not think he could have got across the water after seven
by any boat. The tide was out. By nine, when it was flowing, the people
were running about here because of the fire.”

“I will go and see Mrs. Pepperill.”

“May I come with you, sir? Kitty is my very dear friend.”

“Kitty?’I thought she had no friends?”

“It is only quite lately we have become friends. I would do anything for
her. I am not happy. I think she ought to know what has taken place, and
yet I wouldn’t frighten and make her miserable without reason. That is
why I so much wish to know what is really thought about poor Mr. Quarm.
It would be too dreadful if he had come by his end here, and it will
break Kitty’s heart.”

“You shall come with me, certainly, Rose.”

On entering the house, they found Mrs. Pepperill moving restlessly about
the kitchen. Her mood had gone through a change since the visit of her
husband. The wildness of her first terror and grief had passed away, and
given place to great nervous unrest. She had smoothed her hair as well
as she could with her trembling fingers; her lips quivered, her eye was
unsteady, and she could not remain in one posture or in one place for
more than half a minute.

She had hitherto appeared a hard, iron-natured woman without sympathy,
but now the shock had completely broken her down. She had rushed to the
conclusion that her husband had deliberately set fire to his warehouse,
and without scruple had sacrificed her brother. The horror of the death
Jason had undergone, and the greater horror to her of the thought that
this was the callous act of her own husband, had shaken the woman out of
all her self-restraint and rigidity of nerve. She was morally as well as
physically broken down. A woman stern, uncompromising, strictly honest
and upright, harsh and unpitying in her severity, she found herself
involved in a terrible crime that touched her in the most sensitive
part. It was the conceit mingled with stupidity in Pasco, his
recklessness in speculation, and his obstinacy in refusing to listen to
her voice, which had hardened and embittered the woman.

Something he had said, something in his manner, had led her to fear he
contemplated an escape from his difficulties by dishonest means, and it
was to avert the necessity of his having recourse to these that she had
produced her little store, the savings of many years. When she returned
from Teignmouth to find that her husband, notwithstanding, had carried
out his purpose, and in doing so had swept her own brother out of his
path’then all her fortitude gave way.

After the first paroxysm of resentment and despair had passed, she felt
the need of using self-control, and of concealing what she thought, of
endeavouring to avert suspicion from falling on Pasco. Now also, for the
first time in her life, did this stern woman crave for sympathy, and her
heart turned at once instinctively to the girl she had disregarded and
despised. Dimly she had perceived, though she had never allowed it to
herself, that there was a something in her niece of a strong, noble, and
superior nature to her own. And in this moment of terrible prostration
of her self-respect and weakness of nerve, her heart cried out with
almost ravenous impatience for Kate. To Kitty alone could she speak her
mind, in Kitty’s breast alone find sympathy.

When, therefore, the door opened and the rector entered with a girl at
his side, her eyes, dazzled by the sunlight behind them, unable to
distinguish at the moment through the haze of tears that formed and
dried in her eyes, she cried out hoarsely’

“It is Kitty! I want you, Kitty!”

“I am not Kitty,” said Rose. “I am only her dear friend. If you want
Kitty, I will fetch her.”

“I do want her. I must have her,” said Zerah vehemently. “I have no one.
My brother is dead, my husband is gone. My Kitty’where is she? I do not
know if it is true that she is on the moor. She may be burning yonder,
along wi’ her father.”

The woman threw herself into the settle, and burst into a convulsion of

Mr. Fielding spoke words intended to console her. She must not rush to a
conclusion so dreadful without sufficient cause; it was possible enough
that in the course of the day something might transpire which would give
them reason to believe that Mr. Quarm was safe. Then, to divert her mind
from this point to one less distressing, as he thought, he inquired
whether she had any idea as to how the fire had originated.

He could hardly have asked a question more calculated to agitate her.
Zerah sprang from the settle, walked hurriedly about the room, hiding
her eyes with her hand, and crying’

“I know nothing. I cannot think. I want Kitty.”

Then Mr. Fielding put forth his arm, stayed her, and said’

“Mrs. Pepperill, remember, however dear to you your brother may be, he
must be dearer to Kitty, as he is her father. You are advanced in life,
have had your losses and sorrows, and have acquired a certain power to
sustain a loss and command sorrow, but Kitty’s is a fresh young heart,
that has never known the cutting blows to which yours has been
subjected. Spare her what may be unnecessary. Let us wait over to-day,
and if nothing happens to relieve our minds of the terrible fear that
clouds them, we will send to Dart-meet for the child. Indeed, she must
be brought here’if our fears receive confirmation. All I ask is, spare
her what, please God, is an unnecessary agony.”

Then Rose Ash came up close to the bewildered woman.

“Mrs. Pepperill, I will go after Kitty, I promise you, if you will wait
over to-day. I am Kitty’s friend, as I was once the friend of your
Wilmot, and if you will suffer me, I will remain in the house with you,
to relieve you, all day, and do what work you desire.”

“No, no!” gasped Zerah; “I must be alone. I will have no one here but

“You consent to the delay?”

The woman did not refuse; she shook herself free from Rose and the
rector, retreated to the window, and cast herself on the bench in it,
and cried and moaned in her hands held over her face.

When Rose proposed to Mrs. Pepperill that she should go to Brimpts to
fetch Kate, a scheme had formed itself in her brain. She would ask Jan
Pooke to drive her. At the time of our story two-wheeled conveyances,
gigs, buggies, tax-carts, were kept only by the well-to-do, and there
were but three in all Coombe’the parson’s trap, and those of Pasco
Pepperill and yeoman Pooke. Her own father, the miller, though a man of
substance, had not taken the step of providing himself with a trap; to
have done so would have been esteemed in the parish an assertion of
wealth and importance that would have provoked animadversion, and might
have hurt his trade. The miller is ever regarded with mistrust. His fist
is said to be too much in the meal-sack, and had he dared to start a
two-wheeled conveyance, it would at once have been declared that it was
maintained, as well as purchased, at the expense of those who sent their
corn to be ground at his mill.

But now that Rose considered her scheme at leisure, it did not smile on
her as at first. At the moment she proposed it, the prospect of a long
drive by Jan’s side, of union in sympathy for Kitty, had promised
something. Now that she reviewed her plan, she foresaw that it might be
disastrous. Kate, when she heard the tidings of the fire and the news of
the disappearance of her father, would be thrown into great distress,
and a distressed damsel is proverbially irresistible to a swain. It
might undo all that Kate had done, make Jan more enamoured than ever,
and he as a comforter might gain what he had failed to win when he
approached as a lover. Rose was a good-hearted, if a somewhat wayward
girl. She desired to do a kind thing to Kitty, but not at such a cost to

She turned the matter over in her head, and finally reached a
compromise. She would ask Jan to drive her to Brimpts so as to fetch
Kate, but lay the injunction on him, for Kitty’s sake, not to say a word
relative to the loss of her father. Grieved Kate would be to hear of the
burning of the storehouse, but not heart-broken. The consumption of so
much coal would not extort tears. A sorrowful girl is only interesting’a
heart-broken one is irresistible.

                      ONE FOR THEE AND TWO FOR ME

Rose and Ja by side in the trap that belonged to the Pookes. In his
good-nature and readiness to do whatever was kind, Jan had promptly
acceded to Rose’s request that he should help her to bring Kitty home.
It was not right, she said, that the child should be left on the moor,
when her father was dead, and her aunt in despair.

“You know, Jan,” she said, pressing against the driver’s side, and
speaking low and confidentially, “I am dear Kitty’s very, very best
friend,’I may say, her only real friend,’and have to fight her battles
like a Turk.”

“I did not know that,” observed Jan in surprise, ill-disguised, for his
mind ran to the incidents of the Ashburton fair.

“You boys don’t know everything. I love Kitty dearly, and I believe she
loves me. We have no secrets from each other, and now that she is in
trouble, my heart flies out to she, and I want to be with her, and break
the news to her very, very gently.”

“I thought”’began Jan, then paused.

Rose looked up in his dull, kindly face, and said roguishly, “Oh, Jan, a
penny for your thoughts. No, really; I will give half a crown’a thought
with you must be _so_ precious, because so rare.”

A little nettled, Jan said, “I thought this, Rose: from your treatment
of Kate the other day at the fair, that you were her enemy rather than
her friend.”

“That is because you are an old buffle-head. Of course we are bosom
friends, but I’m full of fun, and we tease one another’we girls’just as
kids gambol. You are so heavy and solemn and dull, you don’t understand
our gambols. You are like a great ox looking on at kids and lambs, and
wondering what it all means when they frisk, and you take it for solemn

“But about the quarrel at the stall’the kerchief?”

“That was play.”

“And the workbox that Noah knocked from under her arm? Was that play?”

“Purely. Jan, I had a much better workbox which I wanted to give Kate,
and you went and spoiled my purpose by giving her that trumpery affair.
I am not ashamed to own it. I told Noah to strike it from under her arm,
that I might give her the box I had put aside for her.”

“And she has it?”

“Yes; oh dear, yes!’of course she has it.”

Jan shook his head; he was puzzled, but supposed all was right’supposed,
because he was too straightforward and good-hearted to mistrust the girl
who spoke so frankly, with great eyes looking him full in the face, and
smiling. Impudence is more convincing than innocence.

Then Rose said, “How good you are, Jan’how tremendously good! Really, it
is a privilege to live in the same parish, and drive in the same buggy
beside so excellent a Christian.”

“What are you at now?” was Jan’s outspoken response.

“I mean what I say, Jan. Considering how you’ve been treated, I declare
that by your conduct you do a lot more good to me than any number of

“How so? You are making game of me.”

“Not a bit; I’m serious. How is it you show your goodness? Why, by
driving me to Brimpts.”

“Oh, I have nothing else to do, and I like a drive.”

“With me?’or perhaps I just spoil the pleasure,” Rose asked, with a
roguish look out of the corners of her eyes.

The young yeoman was unaccustomed to making gallant speeches, and he let
slip the opportunity thus adroitly offered him. Rose curled her lip, as
he replied’

“It is always pleasanter to have someone to talk to than to be alone,
especially for a long drive.”

“But it is so good, so _very_ good of you to fetch _her_.”

“Why should I be such a churl as not to go when asked?”

“After what has occurred, you know. What a fellow you are! In the
orchard, you know.”

Pooke turned blood-red. A fly was tickling him; he raised the butt-end
of his whip and rubbed his nose with it.

“Get along, Tucker!” he shouted. Tucker was the horse.

“I hope I shall profit better from your example than I have from all the
parson’s sermons,” pursued Rose.

“What are you at?” asked Pooke uneasily, conscious that some ulterior
end was in his companion’s view, as she thus lavished encomiums on him,
and then dug into his nerves a needlepoint of sharp remark.

“What am I at? Oh, Jan! nothing at all, but sitting here with my hands
in my lap, so happy to have a drive’and in such excellent
company’company so good.”

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“It is not every man would lend his cart, nay, drive himself, to do a
favour to a girl who had treated him outrageously.”

“When did you treat me so?”

“I’oh, Jan’not I! I could not have done that. A thousand times no”’ Rose
spoke in pretty agitation, and fluttered at his side. “I mean Kitty.”

“Kitty? Get along, Tucker!’it’s no use your trying to scratch yourself
with your hind hoof, and run at the same time.” He addressed the horse,
which was executing awkward gymnastics. “Excuse me, Rose; I must
dismount. There is a briar stinging Tucker.”

Jan drew up, descended, and slapped with his open hand where a horse-fly
was engaged sucking blood. The fly was too wide awake to be killed; it
rose, and sailed away. Then young Pooke mounted again.

“Get along, Tucker!” he said, and applied the whip.

“I mean,” pursued Rose, as if there had ensued no interruption. “I mean,
after you had been treated so shamefully.”

“I didn’t know it.”

“Really, Jan! Everyone knows that Kitty refused you. It is the village
talk, and everyone says it was scandalous.”

“Drat it! there is that fly again at Tucker.”

“Oh, if you can think of nothing but Tucker, I’ll be silent.”

“Don’t be cross, Rose, I must consider Tucker, as I am driver. There
might be accidents.”

“Not for the world. Of course you must consider Tucker, and poor little
I must be content to come into your mind in the loops and gaps not took
up by the horse and the gadfly.”

“What do you suppose Tucker cost father?” asked Pooke, clumsily
endeavouring to change the topic.

“I really don’t know.”

“Eight pounds, and he is worth twenty. That was a piece of luck for

“Luck comes to those who desarve it,” said Rose. “I am not surprised at
you and your family being prosperous in all you undertake. There’s no
knowing, Jan,”’she spoke solemnly,’“you may feel low and discouraged at
being, so to speak, kicked over the orchard hedge by Kate, but it may be
a blessing in disguise, who can tell? but Providence may have in view
someone for you much better suited’_much_ in every way, than Kitty.”

“Drat it! there is that fly again.”

“Mr. Puddicombe’what a good soul he is!’has been about the place
spreading the news.”

“What news?”

“About Kitty and the schoolmaster.”

“Kitty and the schoolmaster?” echoed Pooke. His brows went up, his jaw
dropped, and his cheek became mottled.

“Haven’t you heard? Why, poor dear Jan, she went helter-skelter away
from the orchard where she had trampled on you to fling herself into the
arms of Mr. Thingamy-jig. I cannot tell his name’I mean the new

“How do you know?”

“Of course I know. Mr. Puddicombe is brimming with the news. They went
like a pair of turtle-doves cooing and billing to Mr. Puddicombe, and he
has nearly run his legs down to stumps since. The schoolmaster”’

“But I don’t mean about the schoolmaster.” Pooke spoke with a tremble in
his voice.

“Oh! about that affair, that comical affair in the orchard? Half the
village, I reckon, was out behind the hedges looking and listening.
There was Betsy Baker, and there was Jenny Jones, and that sprig of a
chap, Tommy Croft’I won’t be sure they heard, but I fancy so’anyhow,
everyone has been talking of it, and pitying you that you were made
ridiculous; and then to go off, right on end, and accept a
schoolmaster.” In a tone of infinite contempt, Rose added, “A
schoolmaster! It takes ten tailors to make a man, and ten schoolmasters
to make a tailor; Puddicombe excepted’that was a man, and was so highly
respected, he knew how to make himself looked up to, and folk forgave
him his profession for his own sake. But this new whipper-snapper! And
to be rejected for _him_!”

Jan Pooke writhed. He had not heard the news of Kate’s engagement.
Somehow it had been kept from, or had not reached, him. The fire had
distracted men’s and women’s thoughts from the affairs of Kate, Bramber,
and himself. His colour changed, and he flushed purple. He shared the
prejudice entertained by farmers and labourers’by all who were
semi-educated and wholly uneducated’for the man of culture that was
striving to enlighten dull minds and wake torpid intelligences. Parsons
and schoolmasters are in the same category. The heavy soul resents being
raised to spiritual life, and the heavy mind resents being wakened to
intellectual life. It ever will be so, and it ever has been so. A man
going along a road found a sodden toper lying in a ditch. He tried to
pull him out. “Leave alone!” roared the drunken man. “I likes it, I
enjoys it. I’ll knock you down if you don’t let me lie in my ditch.
There are effets there, and slugs there, and frogs and toads; get along
your own way and leave me where I am.”

Pooke and Rose Ash had imbibed the views of their parents and
companions, and the prevailing atmosphere in a country parish. They had
not risen above it, and their ideas took colour from it.

“It was scandalous conduct, was it not, Jan?” asked Rose. “If I were
you, I wouldn’t stand it, not half an hour.”

“But what can I do?”

“What’? do’? Oh, lots!”

“I can do lots. I do not see it. If Kitty chooses”’His lips quivered,
and he gulped down something.

“If Kitty chooses a beggarly schoolmaster instead of you, you must not
let the neighbours see you are crestfallen. It will never do in coming
out of church for everyone to point at you and say, ‘Poor chap! There he
goes, Jan Pooke, whom Kitty Alone would not have; and here comes Mr.
Thingamy-jig, whom she prefers so highly, looking like the cock of the
walk.’ It would be very shaming, Jan, and I don’t think your dear father
would like it terrible much.”

“I can do nothing,” said Jan, looking wistfully at the horse’s ears: “if
Kitty likes Mr. Bramber, and don’t care for me.”

“And if the story of the silver peninks gets about?”

“Don’t, Rose!” His face expressed pain.

“I don’t wish to hurt you, I wish you well, Jan, you know. I was anxious
that you should not be the laughing-stock of Coombe and the
neighbourhood. That would be too dreadful. I have such a regard for you.
Mind you, I love dear Kitty, but I cannot blind my eyes that her has
made a mistake’a happy mistake for you, because, dear, good girl as she
is, I do not think that she could ha’ made you happy.”

“Why not?”

“She would have been eternally axin’ questions which you could never

“There is something in that.”

“She’d have been wanting to take you to the bottoms of wells, you know,
so as to see the stars by day. You would not like that, Jan?”

“No’there is something in that.”

“And to make you read that stupid book’Wordsworth, her calls it’in the
evening, whilst she knitted. You couldn’t have stood that, Jan?”

“Horrible!’I should ha’ died.”

“Then you may rejoice that Providence has ordained that she should go
after the schoolmaster. Now you must look out and see what step you can
take to recover the respect of the parish.”

“How can I do that?”

“Oh, there be more fishes in the sea than come out of it, I reckon.”

Jan remained in meditation, speechless. Rose pressed close to his side.

“Have you no room?” he asked.

“Oh, ’tisn’t that altogether; my feelings overcame me. I do so, so pity
you, you dear, poor Jan.”

Presently, as he continued silent, she said, “If I were you, when
shortly you meet Kitty, and when she will be in my place at your side,
and I ride behind, I would not look like an apple that has gone under
the rollers, nor hang my ears like a whipped dog, but laugh and joke and
whistle and be jolly, you know.”

“That don’t seem right, with her father burned to death.”

“She knows nothing of that, and is to know nothing of it from us. The
proper person to tell her is Mrs. Pepperill. So mind, Jan, not a word
about Mr. Quarm. Understand, not a word. So look cheerful and whistle.”

“What shall I whistle? Jackson’s ‘Tee-dum’?”

“Of course not, something lively. The ‘Green Bushes.’”

“Why the ‘Green Bushes’?”

“Oh, silly Jan!” Then she began to sing’

             “’The old lover arrived, the maiden was gone;
             He sighed very deeply, he stood all alone,
             “She is on with another, before off with me,
             So adieu ye green bushes for ever!” said he.‘

“Green bushes’that is the orchard, Jan, where grow the silver peninks.”

“Drat that fly!” exclaimed Jan, flicking with his whip. “Her’s at it

                               CHAPTER XL
                              A GREAT FEAR

Kate was among the felled timber at Brimpts, skipping about the logs,
stooping, then rising again, and withal singing merrily, when Jan and
Rose, having put up the horse at Dart-meet, came up the valley to join

The peeled trunks lay white as bones on the surface of the moor, and a
fresh and stimulating odour was exhaled from them. The bark was piled up
in stacks at intervals. The whortleberry was flowering in the spring
sun. The heather was still dead. Horns of ferns, brown, and curled like
pastoral staves, stood up between the trunks.

After the first greetings had been exchanged, Rose asked Kitty, “What in
the world are you doing here’bobbing about? In search of long cripples

“No; I do not want them. I have started some basking in the hot sun, but
they slip away at once and do no harm. I am counting the rings on the

“What for?”

“To learn their age.”

“Who cares how old the trees are?”

“I do; and thus one can find out in what years the trees grew fast, and
which summers were wet and cold.”

“Really, Kitty, you are going silly.”

“It is interesting,” pursued Kate; “and then, Rose, I do not altogether
believe in the rings telling the age truly. I think the oaks are much
older than they pretend to be.”

“Like old maids?” suggested Rose.

“Yes, Rose; after a certain age they cease to grow’cease to swell, they
just live on as they were, or go back in their hearts, then they make no
rings. The rings tell you for how many years they went on expanding, but
say nothing about those when they were at a standstill. Then, look here:
the rings are on one side much thicker than on the other, and that is
because of a cold and stormy wind. They thicken their bark against the
wind, just as I might put on a shawl.”

“Oh,’by the way’touching a shawl”’

But Kate was too eager and interested in her subject to bear

“I have the oddest and most wonderful thing to show you, Rose. You do
not care about the rings, but this you will be truly pleased to see.”

“What is that?”

“Follow me.”

Kate skipped among the prostrate oaks till she reached one large trunk.
As she skipped, she sang merrily’

              “’All in the wood there grew a fine tree.‘”

“What song is that, Kate?” asked Rose.

“It is one that the head woodcutter taught me.

                ’All in the wood there grew a fine tree,
                The finest tree that ever you might see,
                And the green leaves flourished around.‘

All on this tree there grew a fine bough, and all on this bough there
grew a fine twig. Then it goes on to tell how on this twig there was a
fine nest, and how in this nest there was a fine bird, the finest bird
that ever you did see; and on this bird there grew a fine feather, and
out of the feather was made a fine bed, and on this fine bed was laid a
fine babe, and out of the babe there grew a fine man, and the man put an
acorn into the earth, and out of the acorn there grew a fine tree, and
the tree was of the acorn, and the acorn of the man, and the man was
from the babe, and the babe was on the bed, and the bed was of the
feather, and the feather of the bird, and the bird was in the nest, and
the nest was on the twig, and the twig was on the bough, and the bough
was on the tree, and the tree was in the wood.

         ’And the green leaves flourished around’around’around,
           And the green leaves flourished around.‘”

“What nonsense, Kate!”

“It is not nonsense. There is a great deal in it. The song goes on
without an end, always the same; just as at the end of the psalm, ’As it
was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.‘ See!’this is what I
have to show you.”

She pointed to some lettering that ran round the white peeled trunk,
brown as coffee; somewhat large and strained the characters seemed, and
Rose was not able to decipher them, but she said’

“However came letters to be there, under the bark?”

“That is the great curiosity,” answered Kate. “Someone cut them in the
bark with his knife when the tree was young, two hundred years ago. The
tree has grown big since then, and has healed up its wounds, but still
bears the scars; and it has drawn its bark round it, and for years upon
years has hidden what was written from the eyes of man. Only now that
the dear old oak is hewn down, and the bark stripped away, is the
writing revealed which was cut on it two hundred years ago.”

“What are the words?”

“Listen’I have spelled them out.

                          ’O Tree defying Time
                              Witness bear
                         That two loving Hearts
                            Did meet here.‘

[Illustration: hearts]

Is not this wonderful? The tree was trusted, and it has fulfilled its
trust, and would have done so till it died. Two hundred years ago, two
young lovers met here, and the youth cut this on the bark. Two hundred
years after, it gives up its witness. If it had not been cut down, two
hundred years hence it would have done the same.”

Rose looked at Jan, and took his hand and sighed.

“Jan, let us sit down on this tree. This touches me; does it not you,

“What’your hand?”

“No, silly; I mean this about the lovers.”

Then Kate began to sing’

               “‘All in the wood there grew a fine tree,
               The finest tree that ever you did see,
               And the green leaves flourished around.’”

Then Kate said, clapping her hands’

“Is there not a great deal in that song of the tree in the wood? I
suppose in paradise that Adam stood by the tree of life and felt happy
when he held Eve by the hand and looked into her eyes. If he could have
written, he would have cut these same words in the bark of the tree of
life. And years went by, and it was always and ever the same story: the
young grew old, and then others came in their places, and loving hearts
met, and again and again in an endless whirl, and an ever-returning
tide, and a perpetual circling of the stars in heaven, and the new
flowers coming after the old have died’‘As it was in the beginning, is
now, and ever shall be.’”

Then Jan started up, drew his hand from Rose, and said’

“We have come for you, Kitty. As soon as the horse has had a feed, we
must be off.”

“Is there such a terrible hurry?” asked Rose with a tone of reproach in
her voice.

“We have no time to lose.”

“Lose, Jan?”

“To waste, I mean.”

“Waste, Jan?”

“I mean’bother it!’we must be off as soon as the horse is a bit rested.
We have a long journey to take, up and down, and little trotting ground.
We have come for Kitty. You must return with us,” looking at Kate.
“There has been something”’

“Let me speak,” interrupted Rose, afraid lest Pooke should let out too
much. “Kitty, your uncle and aunt have met with a great loss. The stores
have been burnt, and Mrs. Zerah does nothing but sob and cry after you.”

“Auntie cry for me?”

“Yes. She will not be at rest till you return.”

“I’ll go at once,” said Kate, flushing with pleasure. “When did this

“Tuesday night.”

“That is the night we came here. Is my father at the Cellars?”

“I have not seen him. Now, Jan”’Pooke was about to speak. Rose stopped
his mouth. “Leave me to speak. You are a blunderer.”

“But I know he passed us going to Coombe,” said Kate.

“Passed you’where?”

“On the hill. We were in the linhay.”

Rose held out a shawl.

“Kitty, is this yours?”

“Yes; it is. I lost it on my way here. Where did you find it?”

“In the linhay in Furze Park. I went there with our cow, Buttercup. The
calf is taken from her. There I found it.”

“We turned into the field, and I remained a long time in the linhay,”
said Kate.

“And your uncle?”

“Oh, he went back to the Cellars.”

“What, by the road?”

“No; by the waterside. I was tired, and the time was long, or I thought
it was; so I folded my shawl to keep the prickles from my head,’there is
so much furze there,’and I lay down and slept.”

“I found this also,” said Rose, extending a match-box. “I don’t
understand what it is.”

“It is a lucifer-box. My uncle had it. He pulled a match across
something, and it blazed up. I suppose he dropped it in the linhay,
also, whilst getting the horse and cart out.”

“What! you had horse and cart there?”


“And your uncle went back to the Cellars?”

“Yes; just before. Indeed, as we turned into the field, I heard my
father go by; I heard him speak to Neddy. He always talks to the donkey
as he goes along.”

“You did not speak to your father?”

“No. Uncle was impatient, and father was rattling along at a fine pace,
and you know from that place it is all down hill to Coombe.”

“Your uncle returned to the Cellars after that; you are quite sure of

“Yes; certain. He told me he had forgotten to lock up.”

“Why did he not go by the road?”

“I cannot tell’perhaps he thought the other way shortest.”

“It is not that. Was he long away?”

“I cannot tell. I fell asleep. Have you not anything to tell me of
father? I know he went to Coombe.”

“I have told you’I have not seen him.”

“Where can he be?”

Neither answered that question.

Even into Jan’s dull brain there penetrated an idea that some mystery
connected with Pasco Pepperill was involved’that it was singular that
he, his wife, and niece should have all left the Cellars before the fire
broke out, and that Pasco should have returned there secretly after
having left. He said nothing. If he tried to think, his thoughts became
entangled, and he saw nothing clearly. An uneasy feeling pervaded him,
which he was unable to explain to himself.

During the first part of the journey back to the Cellars, Kate talked.
She sat beside Jan Pooke. Rose was behind, keeping a ready ear to hear
what was said, and interfere should she deem it expedient.

“Where can my father be?” asked Kitty.

As no answer was given to her query, she said further’

“It is very strange, and I cannot understand how he is not there. He
must have been at Coombe just before the fire broke out. I know he
passed along the road. Where are the donkey and cart?”

“They are at the Cellars,” answered Jan.

“Then my father must be there. He cannot be far off. He cannot get about
easily, as he is so lame.”

“I suppose he must be somewhere,” was the wise observation of Pooke.

“Hasn’t my aunt seen him?”

“No, Kitty.”

“Nor anyone.”

Jan hesitated, and presently said’

“I did hear something about the parson having spoke with her, but I
don’t know the rights of it.”

“He must be there. He cannot be far off. We shall see him when we
arrive. I daresay he had some business that took him off; but if he
heard of the fire, he would come back at once. He will be a loser by it
as well as my uncle.”

“Folk say there will be no loss, as Mr. Pepperill insured so terrible
heavy. They do tell that he has insured for two thousand pounds, and
that only about fifty pounds worth of goods is burnt.”

Kate shrank together. Rose touched Pooke significantly to hold his

After that Kitty remained very silent. A feeling of unrest took
possession of her, even of alarm, at some impending catastrophe. That
her uncle had been in difficulty she knew. That he was in want of money
to pay for the timber before he could realise on it, and to meet his
dishonoured bill for the wool, she knew. A chill ran through her veins.

After a long period of silence Rose said to her’

“Kitty, is it true that you and the schoolmaster went to old Mr.
Puddicombe about being engaged?”

“Yes,” answered the girl addressed.

“He took it as a mark of proper respect?”


“Jan, dear,” said Rose, touching Pooke, “as soon as we get to Coombe,
you and I will go and call on Mr. Puddicombe. It will please him. He was
the first who heard about your engagement, Kitty?”

“Not quite that’we told Mr. Fielding.”

“Oh, the parson! But everyone respects Mr. Puddicombe _so_ much, that I
think Jan and I will go to him first. You know, Kitty, we have settled
it between us’I mean, Jan and I’on our way to Brimpts, and Mr.
Puddicombe ought to know.”

                              CHAPTER XLI
                              TAKING SHAPE

It was evening when Kate was driven up to the Cellars, yet not so dark
but that she could see the donkey in the paddock, and dark enough to
make the glow of the still smoking heap visible, here and there, in red
seams and yellow sparks.

“There is Neddy,” exclaimed Kate. “My father must be here.”

As she was descending from the cart, she said, “Why, he may have crossed
the Teign in the boat.”

“No, Kitty,” answered Jan; “I don’t think that.”

“Why not?”

Pooke was afraid of answering lest he should involve himself; and Rose
had jumped down at the mill, and so was not there to prevent him from
committing an error.

Before entering the house, in her anxiety about her father, Kate ran to
the mooring-place of the boats, and came back in some exultation to Jan.
“I said so. He has crossed. The old boat is gone.”

“It was there yesterday. It was there all the night of the fire and next
day. It has been taken since,” answered Pooke.

Kate was downcast. She held out her hand to Jan, took her little bundle,
and entered the house. Her aunt had not come out to meet her. That she
had not expected. No one in that house had shown her graciousness and
desire for her presence, and she had ceased to expect it.

When she entered, it was with a hesitating foot. She thought that Rose,
out of good nature and desire to please, had represented her aunt as
more desirous to have her than she really was. Having never met with
affection on the part of Zerah, hardly with recognition of her services,
she did not anticipate a complete change in demeanour. She was surprised
to find that her aunt had not lighted a candle.

She called to her, when Zerah replied, with a cry that thrilled Kate to
her heart’s core, “Is that my Kitty? My child come back to me?”

In another moment aunt and niece were locked in each other’s arms, and
sobbing out their hearts,’Kate, through joy, dashed with dread of evil;
Zerah, through joy at seeing her niece again, a joy that sprang out of

A singular relation now developed itself between them. After a very
short while, Kitty perceived that there was something on her aunt’s
mind, that Zerah was weighed down with a sense of some calamity far
exceeding that of the loss of so many tons of coal and so many fleeces
of wool. The woman was suddenly become timid and apprehensive. It gave
her pain to speak of what had taken place, and she avoided by every kind
of subterfuge expressing an opinion as to the cause of the fire, and as
to the extent of the damage done. She had for some years faced the
prospect of financial ruin, and if this had come upon her, Kate was sure
she would have met it, not indeed with equanimity, but with sullen
assurance that it was inevitable, and have prepared herself to accept
the new position of poverty.

But that which occupied and disorganised the heart of Zerah was
something else, something more tearful. Kate saw that she shrank not
only from allusion to the fire, but from inquiries as to the fate of her
brother, and whenever Jason was named or referred to, the woman caught
her niece to her bosom and covered her with kisses, wept, trembled, but
said nothing.

Mrs. Pepperill took Kate from her little attic-room to share her bed
during the absence of Pasco, and the girl found that the trouble which
weighed on her aunt during the day haunted and tortured her during the
night. Zerah slept little, tossed in her bed; and if she slept, broke
into moans and exclamations.

Meanwhile, Kitty did not rest from making inquiries relative to her
father. She visited the rector, and ascertained from his lips that he
had seen and exchanged words with Jason Quarm on the evening of the
fire, in fact, only an hour or two before the fire must have broken out.

But where was her father? The old boat was gone, that was true; but it
was in its place on the morning after the fire, as well as all that
night. It had been taken later; and there was, perhaps, not much to
marvel at in this, when the Cellars were crowded with all conditions of
sightseers and mischief-doers pervading the precincts. Dishonest men
might have taken advantage of the confusion to purloin the boat, or
mischievous boys to have loosed the cable and let her drift with the
tide where it chose to sweep her.

Inevitably Kate became aware of the opinion prevailing in the village,
that her father was burned to death in the storehouse, and it was hard
for her to come to any other conclusion. She went to Mrs. Redmore to
inquire whether he had been to his old cottage, but the timid, not very
bright woman nervously denied any knowledge of him.

Her distress was very great, but she sought to conceal it from her aunt,
who wanted nothing to augment her own trouble.

Hitherto the fire had smouldered on in the ruins, but it became less,
and though the charred masses still gave out gusts of heat, there was no
more smoke rising from them, only a quivering of the air above the

The fire was naturally the main topic of conversation in the
neighbourhood. Minds as well as tongues were exercised. Comments were
made on the absence of Pasco, which were rendered hardly more favourable
by the knowledge that he had gone to a funeral. He knew nothing of his
uncle’s illness and death when he started. Why had he sent his wife
away? Why had he carried his niece back to Dartmoor, from which she had
been recently brought?

Incautious exclamations of Zerah, when first made aware of the fire and
of her brother’s disappearance, together with her reticence since, were

Prowlers came round the house, peering into this part, then another. An
agent from the insurance office suddenly presented himself, listened to
and noted down the various rumours in circulation, and threw out a hint
that his office would consider before it paid the sum for which the
storehouse and its contents were inscribed.

The rector called on Mrs. Pepperill, and without appearing to intrude on
her troubles, endeavoured to gain from her something which might
elucidate the mystery of Quarm’s disappearance. Her mouth remained shut,
and her eyes scrutinised him with suspicion.

Mr. Pooke senior was constable, and he considered it his duty to
intervene. He owed a grudge, nay, two, to Pasco Pepperill, and this fire
was an opportunity for paying it off. He was angry with Pepperill
because he had not shown him the deference that Pooke considered his
due, and had wrested from him the office of churchwarden. A triumph
indeed would it prove were he to be able to make Pepperill amenable to
the law. Moreover, Pepperill was uncle to the chit who had
dared’positively dared!’to refuse his son. He had not desired the
engagement’he had disliked the idea of it’he would have vastly preferred
his son’s union with the miller’s daughter. But that Pepperill’s
niece’the daughter of that donkey-driver, Jason Quarm’should have the
temerity to refuse his son was a fact he could not stomach; it was a
spot in his mantle of pride.

When he heard the talk about Pepperill, he considered himself
justified’nay, called upon by virtue of his office’to make himself
acquainted with all the facts, and, if possible, to get his rival into
difficulties. A rival Pepperill was. Pooke regarded himself as a sort of
king in Coombe, where his family had held lands for centuries; never,
indeed, extending the patrimony; never suing for a grant of arms, but
holding on to the paternal acres as yeomen’substantial, self-esteeming,
defiant of new-comers.

Pasco was not exactly in this latter category, but he was a man who gave
himself great airs, who showed the yeoman no deference, and took a
delight in thwarting him, and heading a clique against him at vestry,
and generally in the parish.

Pooke listened attentively to all that was said relative to the fire,
and prejudice against the man induced him to believe that Pasco had
fired his own stores in order to obtain the insurance money; by what
means Quarm was made the victim he could not tell. If he could prove
Pepperill to be a rascal, it would be great satisfaction, but if he
proved him to be a villain guilty of murder, that would be ecstasy.

Without warning given to Mrs. Pepperill, Mr. Pooke made a descent on the
Cellars, attended by four of his men armed with shovels and picks. He
did not even ask her leave to overturn the ruins and search among the
heaps of ash for the remains of the man who, it was surmised, had
perished in the fire. With an imperious voice and a consequential air he
gave his orders; and when the men were engaged in testing the cinders to
find whether they were cool, and might safely be turned over, and in
hacking and removing the beams charred and menacing a fall, he betook
himself to the outhouse, where was the cart, so as to examine that.

He returned speedily, carrying a bundle fastened in a handkerchief, and
this he proceeded to open. It contained a clean shirt, stockings, a
razor, and other articles such as a man would be likely to take with him
when about to stay abroad a night or two.

“There!” exclaimed Pooke. “I have found at once what no one else
saw’indubitable evidence not only that Jason Quarm came here, but that
he never left this place. If he is not under these cinders, I ask, where
else can he be?”

Kate and her aunt looked out at the door timidly. They knew that Mr.
Pooke was constable, and they had no idea of any limit to his authority.
He came towards them.

“I must know all about it’the ins and outs; the ups and downs. No
blinking with me’no rolling of the matter up in blather. What do you
know of Jason Quarm?” He turned to Mrs. Pepperill.

“Nothing at all,” she answered. “I do not even know that he came here.”

“Come here he did,” said Pooke. “Here is the donkey’here the cart’here
his bundle of clothes. Now, did he go away?”

“I was not here; I was at Teignmouth. I know nothing,” said Zerah in
nervous terror.

“The girl’the girl who had the impudence’to’to refuse my son’she knows
something about this! She was with her uncle. Why did he ask Mr. Ash,
the miller, to not only date his receipt of a trifle by the day of
month, but by the hour of the evening? That is not ordinarily done. And
why did he sneak back to the Cellars, after he had got a little way
along the road, putting his trap up, and leaving it with the girl? I
want to know all that!”

“Here is my uncle; he will answer you himself,” gasped Kitty, perplexed
and alarmed at the string of questions, and then relieved to see Pasco

“What is the meaning of this?” shouted Pepperill, jumping out of a hired
conveyance. He was in profound mourning, very new and glossy. “What is
this you are doing, Pooke? Where is your authority?”

“I am constable.”

“A constable without a warrant! Off!’leave my ground at once! I’ll
communicate with my solicitor, and have a summons taken out against you.
My solicitor is not a man to understand jokes’nor am I.”

“You may be in the right for the moment,” said Pooke, becoming purple
with vexation at being caught going beyond his powers, and with anger at
being sent off, when he had come to the spot with such blare and blaze
of authority. “But I’ll tell you what it is, Master Pepperill, there are
queer tales abroad about you and this fire, and we want to know, where
is Jason Quarm?”

“Quarm?’gone to Portsmouth.”

“To Portsmouth?”

“Of course; we are in treaty with the dockyard for our timber at

“I don’t believe it! He is burnt!’here!”

“Burnt? Fudge! He said he was going to Portsmouth.”

“He said that? When did you see him?”

“I mean I heard from him to that effect. Now be off! I’ll have no
overhauling of my premises! I’ll have no cross-questioning here! I have
a solicitor of my own now, and he shall know the reason of everything.
Get you gone!’and be blowed!”

                              CHAPTER XLII
                              AN UGLY HINT

Talking loudly, laughing noisily, boisterously threatening proceedings
against all trespassers, Pasco Pepperill came in at his door.

“For heaven’s sake, what are you doing?” was his first salutation from
his wife. “How dare you behave as you do? You’you?”

He saw at once that she believed in his guilt, and designed to caution
him against overacting his part.

A great transformation had taken place in Pepperill. Now that he had
done the deed, all dread of the consequences seemed to have been swept
away; he must assume an innocent part, look people full in the face, and
resent suspicion as an insult. The fact that he had come in for a
handsome legacy assisted him to shake off the consciousness of guilt. He
was now a man worth three or four thousand pounds, and when the
assurance was paid he would be worth an additional thousand.

What could be proved against him? Nothing. Suspicion might be
entertained, but what was suspicion when it had nothing substantial as a

“Give me a jug of cider,” he commanded, and Zerah hastened to obey. She
put a tumbler on the table beside the jug.

Pasco leisurely poured out a glass, and held it up between himself and
the light, and was pleased to observe how steady his hand was.

“Zerah! come and look here. There is rope in the liquor’it is turning

Kate looked fixedly at her uncle’s face. The child was in distress and
doubt. Was her father alive, or had he died a death of the worst
description? Was he away on his business, carrying out some risky
speculation, or did his bones lie resolved to ash in the great
cinder-heap that had smouldered on so long, and was but just extinct?

She had not met with anything in her uncle’s character which would
justify her in attributing to him so deliberate and desperate a crime as
firing his own warehouse, and sacrificing, intentionally or
accidentally, the life of his brother-in-law; and yet his wife, who
ought to know him best, had arrived at the worst conclusion, and though
she said nothing, Kate saw by her manner that she was for ever estranged
from her husband, and regarded him as guilty of the crime in its worst

Zerah had retained Kitty in her room, and had more than once said to her
that after the return of Pasco she would make him occupy Kate’s old
attic; she would no longer treat Pasco other than as a stranger. Her
reception of him now showed repugnance and restraint; the shrinking of
an upright nature from one tainted with dishonesty, and exhibiting
restraint from saying all that was felt.

Kate looked on her uncle with his self-satisfied expression, holding the
glass between him and the light with a steady hand, concerning his mind
about the ropiness of the cider, and in her simple mind, ignorant of
evil, direct, with no trickiness or dissimulation in it, she felt vast
relief. She could not believe that Pasco had done wrong, nor that he had
any misgivings as to the well-being of her father.

She drew a long sigh, and passed her hand across her brow, as though to
brush away the cloud that had hung over it and darkened all her

In the new confidence established between herself and her aunt, Kate had
whispered to her that she was engaged to Walter Bramber, but the news
seemed to make as little impression on Zerah as it had on Pasco, and for
the same reason, that each mind was engrossed in other more immediately
interesting matters. The girl submitted with that resignation which
characterised her. She made little account of herself, and did not
suppose that what concerned her could excite lively emotions in the
hearts of her uncle and aunt. Even Mr. Puddicombe had shown more
sympathy and pleasure. But then, Kate could make allowance for the
preoccupation of her aunt’s mind consequent on the fire.

Kate now timidly approached her uncle, keeping her eyes riveted on his
face, and, standing on the other side of the little round table on which
was his jug, she asked’

“Are you quite sure my dear father is all right?”

Pasco looked sharply at her.

“Questions again?” he said hastily, and a flush came into his cheek.

“I have a right to ask this question,” said Kate firmly.

His eye fell under hers; he set down the glass unsteadily and upset the

“Hang it! why have you a right?”

“I want to know that my father is alive.”

“I say he’s gone to Portsmouth.”

“But how did he go?”

“That was his affair, not mine; the Atmospheric, I suppose.”

“He could not cross during that night’at least, not till near dawn, and
so must have been here when the warehouse was burnt.”

“I don’t see that; there are other ways of getting away. He went on to

That was certainly possible. Quarm might have pursued the right bank of
the river to where it could be crossed at any tide, but this was not

An interruption was occasioned by the entry of the rector. After the
usual salutations, he at once turned to the topic which had been
engaging thoughts and tongues before he appeared.

“I have no desire to intrude,” said he, “but I have come to prevent a
scandal, if possible, and perhaps a quarrel. Mr. Pooke is in a great
heat, and vows he will have a search-warrant to turn over the heaps, as
you have refused him to explore them. You are churchwarden, Mr.
Pepperill, and I not only desire to prevent unpleasantness on your own
account, but on that of the Church. You have, I believe, sent Mr. Pooke

“I have.”

“But why so? He may have acted irregularly, but it was with good
intentions, and you were absent.”

“He had no right to touch what was mine.”

“No doubt he erred, but you were absent, consider; and your wife, your
niece, the whole village, were in excitement and alarm. He did what
seemed fit to allay this unrest; to find out whether Mr. Quarm had been
here or not.”

“It is no good. He’ll get no warrant, unless magistrates be fools. He
has no case’not a ghost of a case. Jason went to Shaldon, and so over
the water.”

“You are sure?”

“I fancy he did. I heard he wanted to reach Portsmouth, and the tide was
out when he got here, so he could not cross in the ferry. He went on. At
Teignmouth he would get into the Atmospheric.”

“That is readily ascertained. We have but to send to Shaldon and
inquire. The boatman who took him across can be found. If he crossed the
wooden bridge, then the man who takes toll will be able to say

“He may have gone round the head of the estuary.”

“Not likely, if he left his cart and donkey here.”

Pepperill was unable to answer. He was a heavy-headed man, not quick at

“Then,” continued the rector, “the warehouse did not catch fire of
itself; someone must have fired it.”

“Of course,” said Pepperill.

“I may as well tell you,” continued Mr. Fielding, “that Mr. Bramber, the
schoolmaster, came to the Cellars the evening of the fire”’

“The deuce he did!”

“Just after dusk.”

“And what brought him here, the puppy?”

“He came,” answered Mr. Fielding, “because he wished to see Kitty and

“Pray what did he want with Kitty?”

“Surely, Mr. Pepperill, you know that the two young people have come to
an understanding.”

Pasco shrugged his shoulders. “I may have heard something of the sort,
but I have other things more important to interest and occupy my mind. I
gave it no heed.”

“Well, he desired to speak with you, as her father was away, and you
stood in a semi-parental relation to her, living as she did in your

“Well, he found no one here,” observed Pasco, with some uneasiness of

“As he approached the Cellars he heard an altercation, and then the
house door violently slammed. Then, thinking the occasion unpropitious,
he turned back.”

“It was fancy. No one was here. My wife was over the water, and I on my
way to Brimpts. If you doubt my word, ask Mr. Ash, he receipted my bill,
and I had a talk as well with the landlord.”

“That is true, Mr. Pepperill, but Jason Quarm was here. I saw him drive
past my gate, and I cast a good-even to him. If an altercation took
place here, he was probably one of those engaged in it. I took it for
granted that you were the other.”

“I’I’I?” stuttered Pasco.

“Yes, because you returned to the Cellars after you had got to the head
of the hill.”

“Who said that? It is a lie!”

“Kitty, I understand, said as much to John Pooke.”

“Kitty said it?”

“Kitty told Jan and Rose as she was being driven home from the moor’so I
have been informed.”

“It’s a lie!” roared Pasco, glaring round at the girl with a curl up of
his thick lips, showing his teeth like a dog about to bite. “It’s a ’––

“Mr. Pepperill!” said the rector, rising in dignified anger from the
seat that had been accorded him, “I will not suffer you to use such an
expression in my presence, even in your own house. You do not add one
jot to the force of your repudiation’to your charge against Kate’by
burdening it with an oath.”

“It’s like that beggarly schoolmaster’s impudence to come poking his
snout here, where he’s not wanted, where”’with some energy’“I won’t have
him! I’ll have the law of him for trespass!”

“He did not trespass. It is free to anyone to approach a house door.”

“I don’t care; I’ll shoot him if he shows his face here again.”

“You are branching away from the matter in immediate consideration.
There seems to be a conflict of testimony. Kitty, whom I have always
found true and direct as a needle, has made one statement,’not indeed to
me, but to others,’and this you contradict.”

“I’m churchwarden’I’m a man of means and in a good business. I should
think my word was worth more than that of a sly, chattering, idle minx.”

“Sly, chattering, that my little Kitty is not; I have ever found her
straightforward and reserved. As to her work in the house, her aunt is
better qualified to express an opinion than you, Mr. Pepperill.”

“I don’t see that you’ve any call to come here, poking into matters and
axin’ questions like another Kitty, if I may make so bold as to say so,”
said Pasco, defiant and then qualifying his defiance.

“As I told you at the outset, Mr. Pepperill, I have come here not to
make an official inquiry, but to prevent one. There is a mistake
somewhere. My wish was to clear it up before matters grew to a head. You
and Mr. Pooke are both stubborn men, and may knock heads and crack
skulls over nothing. A word will probably lighten what is now dark, and
dissipate a growing mistrust. I cannot, and I will not, believe half of
what is being said relative to you. I have come to your house as a
peacemaker, to entreat you to so account for little matters which puzzle
the good people here, before what is now whispered may be brayed, what
is now a conjecture may be crystallised into a conviction. As far as is
known, the matter stands thus: Mr. Quarm came here, and here have been
found his donkey and cart and his little bundle of clothes. If he had
crossed the water, he would have taken the latter with him. Two persons
were heard in altercation here shortly after his having passed through
Coombe, and the door was shut violently. Next morning the door was
locked, and Mrs. Pepperill when she came found the key in a hiding-place
known, as she then said, only to herself and you.”

“Don’t you suppose Kitty knew it also?”

“I daresay she did. Your wife’s words, when she arrived, found the
stores burnt, and the house locked, and the key in a certain place’her
words were, ‘Pasco has put the key where I have found it.’ It was of
course surmised that before you left you had locked the door, but Kitty
told young Pooke that when you reached the top of the hill you returned
to the Cellars, saying that you had forgotten to lock the house. It,
therefore, seemed to me probable that on your return, you and Quarm came
to high words about something.”

“Nothing of the sort I never came back.”

“Oh, uncle!” escaped Kate’s lips.

He turned his menacing eyes on her, with the same snarl on his mouth.

“I’ll tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,”
said he. “That is, if you will insist on having it, and you can make of
it what you like, pass’n. When I got to the top o’ the hill, where is
Ash’s linhay, it is true that I remembered I’d not locked up the
dwelling-house. Then I sent Kitty back and told her to lock and put the
key where her aunt would find it, and I’d stay and mind the hoss.”

“Uncle!” Kitty turned white and rigid.

“And, dash it! if someone must ha’ set fire to the old place,’and I
reckon there was someone, them things don’t do themselves,’it must ha’
been either she or Jason, or both together. And I reckon he’s run away
to escape the consequences.”

The rector stood up. He had reseated himself after his protest. His face
was very grave.

“I see,” said he, taking his hat, and moving to the door. “This affair
wears a different colour from what I supposed. It must be elucidated
irrespective of me. My part is done. It must be taken up and
investigated by the proper authorities.”

                             CHAPTER XLIII
                       MUCH CRY AND A LITTLE WOOL

“Aunt!” exclaimed Kitty, blank and trembling, turning to Zerah, the
moment the rector had left the house. “Oh, auntie dear, this is not
true’this that Uncle Pasco says. I did not go back. I was left in the
linhay with the cart. What does he mean?”

“He means to shelter himself,” answered Mrs. Pepperill. Then the woman
stepped in front of her husband, and, in her harshest tones and hardest
manner, said, “Pasco! A yea or nay from Kitty is, as pass’n said, worth
a thousand of your protestations, though bolstered up wi’ oaths.”

“Of course Kitty is everything to you and the pass’n, and I am nothing.
I know that very well. I’ve had enough of your violence o’ tongue-lash
these twenty years; and let me tell you, Zerah, I’ve got hard to it and
don’t care a snap for it.” And he suited the action to the word, with an
insolence of expression and manner that would have made the woman blaze
forth into fury at any other time. Now she passed his rudeness with

“Pasco!” she said in metallic tones, “there has been a load o’ lead
crushing down my heart. I’ll shake it off and run it into bullets
against you now, and every word shall be a bullet. Now, before Kitty, I
will say what I have had on my mind. It is you who have lied. I have
known for some time what you were thinking of. I’ve seen you hovering
like a hawk, and the moment I was gone’had crossed the water’you
dropped. You durstn’t do it whilst I was here. You feared me because I
feared God. There’s no bigger coward on earth than the man who fears his
fellow because that fellow has God before his eyes. No sooner was I out
of the way than you at once seized the chance offered; and I’I had gone
with all my little lay-by to get you out of your difficulties and
prevent you doing what I feared was in your intent. You’d never spoke a
word to me of that purpose of yourn, you durst not do it; but I saw it
formin’ in you; I saw it, looking into your eyes, just as you may see
the sediment settlin’ in dirty water. When I was out of the way, then
you thought you could do it. You took Kitty away’who was but just home
from the moor, and all for no reason save that you didn’t want any
witness. Then you left her with the cart and hoss at Ash’s linhay in
Furze Park, and came back here to carry out your purpose. So far I can
see. Then my sight becomes thick, a mist is over my eyes, and all the
rest is doubtful. What happened when you came back here’what passed
between you and Jason’what became of my brother? All that I know not’but
know I must and will.”

Pasco’s face grew more sullen, and his demeanour dogged to defiance. He
could not look his wife in the face, he kept his eyes on the ground, and
with his boot scratched the floor in fantastic figures.

“I can see all that passes in your heart,” pursued Zerah. “It’s like as
if I were outside a window, and see’d shadows on the blind as this and
that went by and this and that rose up or sat down. Now the folk begin
to talk and to suspect you, and say how that you insured for a big sum,
and when the goods weren’t paid for, burnt ’em all to secure the
insurance; then you try and throw the suspicion off on to Kitty or
Jason, or both together. It is like you, you black coward. But it shall
not be. I will stand betwixt you and Kitty, and no harm from you shall
hurt her. What I and Kitty want to know is’What has become of Jason?
Where is he? If you will not answer, we will work out the answer for our
own selves’she with the heable (fork), I with the phisgie (pick). We
have strong arms, and we will ourselves root about in the ruins, till we
learn something to satisfy our minds.”

“I don’t know how you’ve the face to talk to me like this, Zerah,” said
Pasco surlily. “I’ve come into something like four thousand pounds
through my uncle, and there’ll be another thousand and more from the
insurance. On five thousand pounds’Lord! I’m a Christian and a

“Bank-notes won’t plaster sore consciences,” retorted Zerah. “You think
money is everything, and no matter how it be come by. So it has ever
been with you.”

“Am I like to be a villain,” queried Pasco in exasperation, “when I knew
my uncle was worth a pot o’ coin that was sure to come to me?”

“You did not know he was dead.”

“I knew he was sickening and worn out. A man of means don’t do criminal
acts; that’s the perquisite of beggars and labouring men.”

“I do not ask for excuses and evasions. I ask’where is my brother?”
persisted Zerah.

At that moment the door was thrown open, a hand was thrust in, waving a
paper, and a voice shouted’

“There you be, Pasco Pepperill. I’ve got my warranty. I said I would,
and I’m the man o’ my word. I went full gallop up to Squire Carew. None
can stand agin me.”

Pepperill went to the door, saw the back of Mr. Pooke as he walked away,
and the faces of a number of workmen with pick and crowbar and shovel,
backed by a crowd of all descriptions of persons from the village and

He hesitated for some moments. He stood irresolute, holding the
door-posts and working his nails at the paint, picking it off in flakes.
His heart turned sick within him. If the heaps of cinders were thrown
back, then surely the remains of Jason Quarm would be discovered, and
with the discovery there would ensue an inquest, and much unpleasantness
if not danger to himself. With low cunning he resolved to make the best
of the inevitable. He shouted to his wife’

“Zerah! bring out cider for the good fellows. They are working for us,
as you know. If you have saffron cake, out with that too. I daresay I
shall find a shilling apiece as well.”

He went behind Pooke, slapped him on the back, and said boisterously’

“Well done, old man! That is what I wanted. If a thing has to be
executed, let all be above-board and legal. That’s my doctrine. I don’t
like no hole-and-corner proceedings. Meddlin’ wi’out authority makes the
end a botch. If you hadn’t begun, I would have done it myself.”

In the house Zerah restrained Kitty with one hand and closed the door
with the other. The woman was labouring for breath, so great was her
excitement. Her face was now flushed, then became wan as death.

“Kitty, my darling,” she said, “I reckon I’ve been hard and exactin’ in
the past. The old pass’n were right, though I wouldn’t believe him, and
said he was insultin’ of me to say it. ’Twas love, he told, as you
wanted, and I didn’t give it you. Love, the very air of heaven, wi’out
which the little maid couldn’t thrive. I wi’held it from you’so he
told’and I shut my ears and hardened my heart. But in the end he were
right. When I found out what had been done, then it broke me down. I
cannot respect and love _him_ no longer. I tried my best when he was
foolish and unfortunate. But now he’s guilty, I cannot’I cannot, and
then all my love turns to you.”

Kitty threw herself into her aunt’s arms and sobbed.

“There’s no time now for tears,” said Zerah, with a gulp in her throat.
“We cannot tell what is coming on us. It may be that the remains of your
poor father will be found. If so, then’” Zerah shivered as if
frost-smitten. “God bless us! It will be too horrible’to live under the
same roof, to eat at the same table, to see the face, hear the voice of
the man’” She was unable to conclude her sentence. After a long pause
and a hug of Kitty, she continued: “I cannot say how it all came about.
Bad as he may be, I hardly think he did it of purpose. ’Twas some
accident. I don’t mean the burning the stores’but of your father. No; he
was not so bad as that, please God! I hope, I trust not! Now, Kitty, you
and I must make up our minds to whatever happens. And I reckon there is
but one thing us can do.”

“What is that, dear auntie?”

“Hold our tongues.”

After a long pause, whilst the girl clung to her, she added, “No good
can come of us speaking what we know, and what we fancy. It can but heap
up a great pile of misery and shame. If it comes to an inquiry in
court’that’s another matter. They won’t call on me, as I am Pasco’s
wife, but they will on you, and you must up and speak the truth at any
cost. But if there be no such inquiry, then hold your tongue, as I will
mine. The mischief, so far, has come from what we have said. We can do
no good; we may make the affair worse for ourselves if we talk. Leave
him in the hands of God, to do wi’ him as He wills.”

Kate kissed her aunt and promised silence.

Then both went forth, and reached the crowd about the ruins and piles of
ashes, as Pepperill was saying in a loud tone, “I don’t say you won’t
find bones. I believe now I had a pile, but all mutton and beef bones.”

“Why, what were you doing wi’ bones?” asked Pooke.

“Collecting of ’em for dressing,” answered Pepperill promptly. “I’ve
been in the hide line some while, and lately I took a fancy to bones
also; but I didn’t do much, just begun on it, so to speak’all ox and
sheep bones’nothing else. Pound bones up wi’ a hammer, they’re fine for
turnips. Jason put me up to speculating in bones.”

The mass of crumbling wall, charred beam, and cinder was speedily
attacked by the workmen under the direction of the constable, who had
much difficulty in keeping the curious at a distance; men, women, and
children were eager to assist with their hands, or advise with their
tongues. They ran into danger by approaching tottering walls. They
trampled down the ashes; they got in the way of the workmen; and
occasionally a scream and an objurgation was the result of a labourer
casting his shovelful of cinders in the face of an inquisitive spectator
who got in his way. Mr. Pooke protested and stormed, but with little
avail; all were too interested to attend to his orders, and he was
without assistants to enforce them.

Pepperill bustled about, vociferating, driving spectators back,
encouraging workmen, running after cakes and cider, and making the
confusion greater. Kate sat on a fallen beam, chin in hand, watching
intently every spade as it turned the ashes, wincing at every pick
driven into the cinder heaps. The tears were trickling down her cheeks.

Then Walter Bramber, who had just arrived, went up to Farmer Pooke and
asked leave to run a cord across from one rail to another, and
volunteered with the assistance of Noah Flood and John Pooke to keep the
people from interference.

“Why should they be kept back? Don’t they want to find what has become
of Mr. Quarm every whit as much as me? Let ’em come on,” shouted

But the constable saw the advantage of the proposal, and gave the order.
In ten minutes the scene of the conflagration was freed from sightseers,
who were confined at a distance.

Then Bramber went to Kitty and said in a low tone, “You do not think it
is hopeless, I trust?”

“I do not know what to think,” she answered.

“Is it true what I have heard, that your uncle returned here after dark
and left you at the top of the hill?”

Kate did not answer.

“That is what is said. Jan Pooke told me he had heard it from your own

She continued silent.

“I should like to know, Kitty, the truth in this matter.”

“I can say nothing,” she answered, and hung her head lower.

Bramber was surprised, but he had not time to expend in conversation: he
had undertaken to keep off the crowd, and some were diving under the
rope, others attempting to stride over it.

An hour was expended in turning about the refuse. All the coal had been
consumed, but, singularly and inexplicably, not all the fleeces. Bundles
of wool were found’not many, indeed, but some, singed, not consumed,
which, when exposed, exhaled a sickening odour. The dangerous portions
of tottering walls had been thrown down, the slate flooring exposed. Not
a trace of Jason Quarm could be found.

Pasco, who had been nervous, watching all the operations of the
excavators in deadly fear of a revelation of the charred remains of his
brother-in-law, breathed freely, recovered all his audacity and

“I said as much, but none believed me. Jason is gone; he was not the man
to sit quiet in a fire. How the fire came about is a question we won’t
go into too close.”

“The bones you spoke of,” said Pooke, “we ha’n’t come on them. They’ve
been consumed’perhaps poor Quarm as well. The fire must have been deadly

“It didn’t burn those fleeces,” answered Pasco triumphantly. “I’ll tell
you what; Jason made off for reasons well known to himself. If we don’t
hear of him again, I sha’n’t wonder; but burned here he certainly was
not, as any fool can see. He was not the man to let himself burn.
Cripple though he was, he could hop out of danger.”

Pasco turned to Bramber. “What is that you have been saying to the
parson about hearing Mr. Quarm and his daughter argyfying at my door the
night of the fire?”

Walter Bramber was taken aback.

“Yes, you said you had heard them in hot dispute.”

“I said,” answered Bramber in surprise and indignation, “something very
different from that. I said”’

His hand was caught by Kate, who looked pleadingly into his face.

“A word alone.”

“What is it, Kitty?”

“Say nothing to anyone of what you saw and heard that night.”

                              CHAPTER XLIV
                            PUDDICOMBE IN F

The mystery of the disappearance of Jason Quarm was not cleared up; on
the contrary, it had become more profound. The excavation of the ruins
had revealed nothing. It had disclosed no remains of the lost man, and
opinions were divided. Some contended that the intense heat of the mass
of coals, a heat which had split the flooring slates and burnt the soil
beneath them to the depth of six inches, reddening it like brick, that
this heat had completely consumed the unhappy man. On the other hand,
others asked, How could that be? Some of the wool was scorched, not
burnt; a man would make his way from fire; he had eyes and arms, and
though Quarm was crippled, yet he could extricate himself from danger,
or at all events use his powerful lungs so as to call for help.
Moreover, Quarm wore brass buttons. Even if his body had been resolved
to ashes, the molten buttons would be found; but no metal of any sort
had been discovered on the floor.

To this responded the first: If Quarm were not burnt, how was it that he
had not put in an appearance? His bundle of clothes was found in the
cart. If he had escaped, he would surely either have made known his
escape, or have gone off with his parcel of necessaries. Some hinted
that, finding the Cellars locked, he had made his way into the
warehouse, there to spend the night, and had gone to sleep with his pipe
alight, and the pipe had set fire to combustibles in the place. But
then, supposing this, why was his body not found if he had been
smothered by smoke? and if he had escaped, why had he not gone off with
donkey, and cart, and bundle? There was the puzzle.

Others hinted that Pasco Pepperill was the gainer by the fire, and that
he had had a finger in setting the stores alight. It was suspicious that
he had sent away his wife, and had gone away with his niece just before
the conflagration broke out. There was an ugly rumour afloat, that he
had returned secretly to the Cellars, and had there met and quarrelled
with his brother-in-law. This rumour was constructed out of the reported
admission of Kate, and something, it was believed, that the schoolmaster
had said. But neither of these, on being interrogated by the
inquisitive, would say a word. The schoolmaster, with the cheek of a
stuck-up creature, had answered all inquiries with the question, “Who
has authorised you to catechise me? If the matter is brought into court,
I will say what little I know on oath before the magistrate. I will say
nothing to self-constituted inquisitors.”

Whenever this answer of the schoolmaster was repeated, and it was so a
hundred times in the course of a week, it never failed to elicit an
indignant remark, generally couched thus: “Them schoolmasters want
setting down. They’re owdacious cocky monkeys. But they’re a low
lot’they must be taught their place, which is under our heels. They
gives theirselves airs, as if they was parsons and knew everything, but
they lives on our voluntary subscriptions, and unless they come to eat
humble-pie, we’ll withdraw our farthing-in-the-pound rate. ’Tisn’t for
our pleasure or profit they exist, but just because of a fad o’ the
pass’n. Mr. Puddicombe was the man for us. Him we could respect. And now
they sez that Mr. Puddicombe is compoging a Tee-dum which will cut out
even Jackson.”

The minds and hearts of Kitty and her aunt were sensibly relieved. The
girl had watched the exploration of the cinder heaps with quivering
nerves and brooding fear. What might not each spade disclose? Into what
an object of horror might not her poor father be reduced? But, as the
floor of the warehouse was cleared, and every mass of ash turned over,
and nothing revealed, her heart swelled, and the blood began again to
pulsate in her arteries. She covered her face with her hands, and lifted
her heart half in thanksgiving and half in prayer. And yet, what had
become of him? How was it that, if he were alive, he had given no signs
of life?

It was ascertained that Jason Quarm had not crossed the estuary, either
by the bridge or by boat, at Shaldon. It was inconceivable that he had
traced the creek up to its head, below Newton Abbot, to cross the water
there, as there was no path along the water-side, and he must have come
into the road and made such a circuit as was not possible for a man in
his crippled condition.

At one moment Kitty was sanguine, at the next her spirits fell. It was
to be hoped’nay, believed’that he had not perished in the fire; but was
it not possible’nay, probable’that he had died by some other means, that
he may have fallen into the mud, and been smothered therein? That mud
would swallow up the man that sank in it and never restore him again. If
he had come by his end thus, had he fallen in, or had he been cast in?

Again, with a chill, as if pierced by an icicle, came the thought of her
uncle. Undoubtedly, he could explain all if he chose. He had returned to
the Cellars and found her father there. The altercation which Walter had
imperfectly heard must have taken place between her father and her
uncle. It could not have occurred at that time, in that place, between
any others. Her father had passed by the road as the cart entered the
linhay, her uncle had gone home immediately after. Therefore, these two
had met at the Cellars. What had been the occasion of the quarrel? and
what the result of that quarrel? The result was the disappearance of her
father. How had he disappeared? That, she felt convinced, her uncle
could answer, and he alone. But for motives which she dared not
investigate, he remained silent; nay, worse, he endeavoured, by denial
of his having returned to the Cellars, to cast the suspicion of having
fired the storehouse from himself on other shoulders. These questions
turned and twisted in Kitty’s brain without rest. They occupied her by
day, they tortured her by night. She did not venture to express them to
her aunt. She knew that the same thoughts, the same questions, were
working in her mind; and she knew also that her aunt could not endure
their discussion. Meanwhile, the work of the house must be carried on,
and Mrs. Pepperill called in the assistance of Mrs. Redmore. With their
preoccupied minds, neither she nor Kitty was capable of doing all that
had been done as in days gone by.

Pasco grumbled at the introduction of this woman into his house’the wife
of the wretch who had set fire to the rick of Farmer Pooke, and who had
escaped pursuit. But Mrs. Pepperill did not yield. There were no other
women disengaged in Coombe, and of girls she would have none to break
dishes, and throw away spoons, and melt the blades out of the handles of

Pasco acquiesced, with a growl, and a malicious look at Kate, and a
mutter that some folk were mighty fond of incendiaries and their
belongings, backing them up, helping them to escape, providing for their
families; to which neither Kate nor her aunt made reply.

Pasco found that he was not comfortable at home; his wife would not
unbend, and Kate kept out of his way. To his boisterous mirth, to his
boastfulness, they made no response; when he stormed, they withdrew. He
was uneasy in himself, suspicious of what men said of him, and alarmed
when he heard from his lawyer, Mr. Squire, that the insurance company
refused to pay the sum for which he had insured. Society, distraction,
were necessary for him. As he could find none at home, he wandered to
the village tavern, the Lamb and Flag, to seek both there.

The first occasion was the evening of the practice of the village
orchestra, and it was attended by every member of the same, not only
because all desired to say something relative to the matter exercising
all minds, but also because the score of a new Te Deum had been placed
before them, the composition of the ex-schoolmaster. Puddicombe in F was
to be rehearsed by the instruments before the vocalists were called in.
Puddicombe in F was expected to be a huge success, and to make
Puddicombe known through the wide world of music, and to render
Coombe-in-Teignhead famous in after generations, just as Exeter was
known as the place which had produced Mr. Jackson, who had won such a
fame with his Te Deum.

Each instrumentalist had his separate sheet of music, and each devoted
himself to his score with seriousness.

Puddicombe in F began with a movement slow and stately, with all the
harmonies in thirds and fifths, and a solemn tum-tum bass. Then,
precipitately, it transformed itself into something headed _Fugg_. If it
had been entitled _fugue_, no one would have understood what was meant.
But “fugg” signified that the instruments were to perform a sort of
musical leap-frog, to go higgledy-piggledy, one after the other, like
children tumbling out of school, with the master behind them threatening
to whack the hindermost.

And, verily, never was a fugue more of a higgledy-piggledy
devil-take-the-hindermost character than this one of Puddicombe in F,
never such a caterwauling of cats that could surpass it in discords,
with random gruntings in and out of the violoncello.

A villager, standing breathless outside, listening, ventured to say to
the landlord, who was smoking complacently at his door, “There don’t
seem to be much tune in it.”

“No; but there’s tremendous noise.”

The landlord drew whiffs, blew out the smoke in a long column, and said,
smiling, “Wait till we come to the _largo molto tranquillo con
affettuoso caprizio_.”

“What’s that?” asked the bumpkin, in an awestruck tone.

“It’s something writ on the music by the hand of Mr. Puddicombe. The
Lord knows what it means!”

The hubbub of the “fugg” came to an end, and the instruments paused,
drew a sort of sigh, and, with stately tread, marched in unison _largo
molto tranquillo con affettuoso caprizio_, and stalked through it to the

“There’s tune there now, and be blowed,” said the landlord triumphantly.

“It’s the tune of ‘Kitty Alone and I,’” retorted the irreverent
countryman, and he began to sing’

                  “‘There was a frog lived in a well,
                    Crock-a-mydaisy, Kitty alone;
                  And a merry mouse lived in a mill,
                    Kitty alone and I.’”

The instruments behind the lighted window-curtains were hushed. They had
heard the rustic song.

“It is that, ain’t it?” pursued the man. “I’ll sing another verse, and
make sure’

               “‘So here’s an end to the lovers three,
                 Crock-a-mydaisy, Kitty alone,
               The Rat, the Mouse, and the little Frogee,
                 Kitty alone and I.’”

Within, the instrumentalists looked at each other. None spoke for a
minute, and then the ’cello said, in a deep voice, as from a tomb,
“Puddicombe han’t riz to the theme. He’s forgot and worked in that frog
and mouse tune. Not but what it’s a good ’un, only unsootable.”

“It’s easy set right,” observed the first violin. “If you’ll wait,
brothers, I’ll clap on my hat and run up to his house, and get him to
titch it up a bit, and git the Kitty tune out of it altogether. The fugg
was famous.”

“Yes,” said the second violin; “it’s only to stir it about a bit and
shuffle as you do cards. Cut along with all your legs.”

At that moment Pasco Pepperill came up, puffing, looking about him half
suspiciously, half defiantly. “How are ye, gents?” said he. “What!
practising? I don’t mind if I sit a bit and listen to you. I’m fond of
music, especially sacred music, as I’m churchwarden.”

                              CHAPTER XLV

The musicians looked at each other. They could hardly continue to
practise Puddicombe in F till the little awkwardness of the passage
_largo molto con affettuoso caprizio_ was set to rights. It would be
half an hour before this was done. Meanwhile, the orchestra might as
well work their tongues as well as their arms and fingers, and blow
questions and puff opinions in place of musical notes. They had
assembled that evening with a double intent: the excuse for their
meeting was the rehearsal; the real object, the airing of their views on
the fire at the Cellars, its probable origin, and what had become of
Jason Quarm.

For the gathering of information on such matters, what was more
fortunate than the presence in their midst of Pasco Pepperill, the man
of all others best qualified to give information relative to the matters
troubling all hearts? It was true that a good many’the bassoon and the
ophicleide among the orchestra’entertained grave views relative to the
conduct of Pepperill. Well! there the man was. They might prove him with
keen questions, catch him off his guard with sly hits, entangle him in a
net of incautious admissions into which they had lured him, and then sit
in judgment on him and the whole case, after he had withdrawn.

“Gents and neighbours, and friends all,” said Pasco, seating himself,
“as churchwarden, my place is among you, and allow me to stand treat of
rum and water all round’no, better than that, a grand bowl of punch, and
we’ll spoon it out with our good host’s whalebone ladle, and the Queen
Anne shilling in the bottom. Landlord, don’t spare the rum; thanks to my
uncle, I’m a man of means, and can pay my way.”

Marvellous as a solvent is punch. The mere mention of a bowl began to
melt and break up prejudice and fixed opinions. The bassoon had been
persistent in insisting on the criminality of Pepperill; he had urged
every point against him, he had turned aside every argument that tended
to exonerate him. As a man of strict integrity, he was now placed in a
difficult position. Either he must hold to his opinion, rise, bow
stiffly, and decline to drink out of the bowl, to wet his lips with the
generous liquor the churchwarden provided, or else his judgment must
undergo modifications, then a complete _volte face_.

The popping of a cork was heard. At once the bassoon acknowledged that
he had been precipitate in forming his conclusions. A waft of rum and
lemons entered the room. He began to see that there were weighty
considerations which had escaped him hitherto, and which undermined his
convictions. Then came the clink of the ladle in the bowl, as the bowl
was being brought in. The bassoon’s preconceptions went down like a pack
of cards. The whole room was redolent with a fragrant steam, as the
great iron-stoneware bowl was planted on the table. The bassoon was
converted into an ardent, enthusiastic believer in the churchwarden.

Wondrous is the power of conscience. It may lie asleep, it may remain
for long inert, but a little something comes, unexpectedly touches it,
and it springs up to full energy, and resolves amidst much self-reproach
to make amends for the past. So was it in the interior of the bassoon.
The sniff of punch was to his conscience what “Hey, rats!” is to the
dozing dog. It was alive, it was stinging him, it had brought him
metaphorically in penitence to his knees before Pasco Pepperill. He
could not think, say, show himself, sufficiently convinced that that man
who provided and paid for the punch was the embodiment of all virtues,
with a character unstained as is the lily. He trampled on his own base
self, he spurned at it, for having for a while thought evil of so
admirable a man.

“Peter Squance bain’t here. ’Tis a pity’our first fiddle,” said the
second violin. “He’ll be mazed when he comes back with the _molto
largo_, and finds the punch all gone.”

“Gone?” exclaimed Pepperill. “Not a bit of it. When this bowl is done,
we will have another.”

Mr. Pepperill stood up and stirred the steaming sea before him, in which
floated yellow islets of lemon. All eyes were on the bowl, all nostrils
were dilated and sniffing, all mouths watering.

Pasco filled each glass, and then ensued a nodding all round; eyes were
turned up, lips smacked, and the precious liquor allowed to trickle down
the throats in thin rills over the tongue.

Presently the clarionet put down his glass and said, “It was a lucky
job, Pasco, that your rick o’ straw escaped t’other night.”

“Ay, ’twas a first-rate chance,” said the landlord, who had come and
remained to taste his own brew and hear encomiums on it.

“You see the wind was t’other way,” said the ’cello.

“And ’twasn’t insured,” added the clarionet.

All the rest looked round, and frowned, and reared their chins. The
clarionet shrank together. What had he said? Something stupid or
uncivil? He was too dull to see where his error lay.

“That had nothing to do with it. ’Twas water chucked over it as saved
it,” threw in the bassoon, flying to the rescue.

“My straw rick suffered more from well-intentioned assistants than from
anything else,” said Pepperill. “The wind was direct away from it, and
so it couldn’t hurt.”

“It was coorious, though, the fire taking place when everyone was away
from home,” said the clarionet.

Again all looked indignantly at him. That instrument had a way of always
sounding out of key.

“There was nothing coorious at all in it,” answered the churchwarden,
with promptitude. “It was just because everyone was away that the fire
got the upper hand.”

“There’s something in that,” said the hautboy.

“There is everything,” answered Pasco. “If I or my wife had been at the
Cellars, we would have speedily called help and had the fire
extinguished before it could take hold. No one was there, so it was
allowed freedom to get the mastery, and then, no one could do nothing.”

“That’s true,” said the second violin.

“It’s true,” said the rest of the instruments in unison, looking into
each other’s faces; “it couldn’t be truer.”

“You don’t happen to know how the fire came about?” asked the clarionet.

“I don’t _know_,” answered the churchwarden.

“You don’t know,” repeated the violoncello, “but you guess.”

“I have my ideas,” observed Pasco. “Gents! let me fill your glasses

“And if I might make so bold to ask?” pursued the clarionet.

“My mouth is shut,” answered Pasco. “I don’t want to hurt nobody, least
of all a relation. Just fancy, gents all! the insurance company have
refused payment.”

“You don’t say so! Well! what is the world coming to? But it all stands
in prophecy, in the Book o’ Dan’l,” said the hautboy.

“It is one of them beasts in Revelation!” said the second fiddle. “The
question only is which.”

“But,” pursued Pepperill, “I’ve set my solicitor at ’em. He’ll make ’em
dance a Halantow.”

“Very glad to hear it,” said the bassoon. “I drink to his and your

“We’re going to institute proceedings,” continued Pasco.

“What is proceedings?” asked the clarionet under his hand of the

“It’s a sort of blister o’ Spanish fly,” was the answer, also in

“Then it will make ’em dance, no mistake,” said the clarionet. “Do you
think, churchwarden, it will draw?”

“Draw?” Pasco rubbed his hands and looked round. “It’ll draw getting on
for fifteen hundred pound. If that bain’t drawin’, show me what is!”

This announcement produced a great effect.

“To go back to the p’int,” said the clarionet. “It would be a comfort to
us all if you’d give us your ideas on the matter of the fire. You see,
we’re all abroad.”

“I wouldn’t hurt nobody’not a fly. I was always tender-hearted,” said
Pasco. “Besides, you’d talk.”

“We are all friends,” urged the bassoon. “You see, coals don’t as a rule
set alight to themselves, nor wool, nor hides neither.”

“That’s what I’ve said all along,” observed the second fiddle. “Someone
must ha’ done it. The question is’who?”

“I’ll have another thimbleful of punch,” said the bass viol. “It’s
uncommon good, and does credit to all parties’

            ‘Come let’s drink, and drown all sorrow,
            For perchance we may not’
            For perchance we may not meet here to-morrow.’”

Then the hautboy trolled out’

                “‘He that goes to bed, goes to bed sober
                Falls as the leaves does’
                Falls as the leaves does’in October.’”

“Someone must ha’ done it,” observed the clarionet.

“Of course some one did,” said Pepperill, “and when folk begin yarnin’
lies, you ain’t got to go far to find the evil-doer.”

“That’s true,” was the chorus.

“And no one was at the Cellars at the time but one or two persons,” said
the clarionet.

“One was Jason Quarm,” said Pasco; “and burnt he was not, as was proved
by the constable.”

“I don’t know,” said the second fiddle. “The fire was so tremendous hot,
and lasted so tremendous long, it would ha’ burned a fatter man nor
Jason Quarm.”

“Jason’s not burnt. He’s runned away.”

“Runned away?”

“Yes,” pursued Pasco; “’cos he didn’t want to have to give evidence as
to what he knew.”

“What wor that?”

“He comed to the Cellars, and found someone there doin’ of the
wickedness, and he runned away so as not to have to say what he didn’t
want to be forced to say.”

“What was that?”

“It’s not for me to speak!”

“Someone did it! who could ha’ done it?” said the clarionet. “I thought
it wor proved, if I may be so bould, that you, Mr. Churchwarden, comed
back to the Cellars.”

“I?” exclaimed Pasco, becoming purple in the face. “It suited somebody’s
convenience to say so, but I was in the linhay minding the hoss, and I
put it to the company’no one can be in two places at once, can they?”

“There’s something in that.”

“I was minding the hoss, but I sent somebody back to lock up. I name no
names, and she’s gone and put it on me to clear herself.”

The eyebrows of all the instrumentalists went up.

“Kitty? What! Kitty Alone?”

“I name no names,” said Pasco; “but I must say this to clear myself.
I’ve borne hard words too long for the sake of sheltering she. The
schoolmaster heard her father lecturing of her for what she’d done.”

“But she wouldn’t do it out of pure wickedness,” urged the clarionet;
“and what reason had she?”

“There it is,” answered Pasco. “I see I’m among friends, and it won’t go
no farther. I’d been speaking to her rather sharp for her goings-on with
young men, drawin’ on Jan Pooke, then kicking him over, then Noah Flood,
and same with he. Noah, poor fellow, was took cruel bad along of
she’ever since Ashburton fair had a pain in the stomach; if that ain’t
love, show me what love is. Then she took up with that schoolmaster
chap, and when I said I wouldn’t have it, and I wasn’t going to have the
family disgraced wi’ bringing schoolmasters into it, she cut rusty, and
sulked, and I believe it were naught but spite.”

“But,” observed the clarionet, “the tale I was told of what the
schoolmaster said wasn’t quite that.”

“You are right there,” said Pasco. “He’d alter his tale when he found
what she’d been about. As is nat’ral. I put it to the company, if you
was sweetheartin’, and you found your love had been up to wickedness,
you wouldn’t tell tales of her, but would do all you could to screen

“That’s true,” was the general opinion.

“And you think Jason see’d her, and made off?” said the bassoon.

“That explains everything,” observed the violoncello.

“I begin to see daylight,” remarked the hautboy.

At that moment, in rushed the first violin, waving the score above his

“I’ve got it!” he said. “Nothing easier. It wasn’t no fault o’
Puddicombe, he said it were our stoopidity. ‘What does _largo molto con
affettuoso caprizio_ mean?’ he asked. ‘_Largo molto_, turn the score
upside down, _con affettuoso caprizio_, and go ahead like blazes!’”

                              CHAPTER XLVI
                               A TRIUMPH

The fumes of the punch had been dissipated, not only from the room of
the Lamb and Flag, but also from the brain of the orchestra.

The bassoon’s scruples revived; he was still grateful for the punch, but
resentful for the headache it had produced.

The several points brought out by the clarionet, that provoking advocate
for Pasco, who asked awkward questions and propounded awkward
suggestions, stood twinkling like sparks in tinder. The bassoon thought
that punch, good thing though it might be, did but momentarily overflow,
and did not drown, doubts. It darkened the burning questions, but did
not quench them. The disappearance of Quarm was not satisfactorily
explained. The coincidence of the voiding of the Cellars conveniently
for the fire, was not explained. The contradiction between the
statements made by the uncle and the niece was unsifted. The bassoon
grunted in his bed a grunt of dissatisfaction with himself for having
yielded his opinions, a grunt of resentment against Pasco for having
obfuscated his clear judgment, a grunt of resolve never again to allow
his opinions to give way before punch. Conscience, that capricious
factor, which had pricked him in one direction last night, pricked him
in another this morning.

The hautboy, also, was out of tune. On review of the events of the past
night, he considered that the entry of Pasco was an unwarrantable
intrusion. The rule was well known that during a practice of the
orchestra no one should be admitted. Pepperill had entered uninvited,
had forced himself into their society, and he must have done that for a
purpose. For what purpose but to cajole, to hoodwink them?

In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. The hautboy was a
very wideawake and watchful bird, and he saw the meshes clearly. In vain
is the hook cast in clear water; and the medium was so transparent that
the hautboy plainly saw the hook. He resolved to maintain an
independent, observant attitude, to form his own opinion, not accept
ready-made views served up to him with punch. When before had the
churchwarden favoured the village orchestra with punch? Never’since
Pasco had been churchwarden. Never when in a private capacity. Only when
popular feeling became suspicious or hostile, did he show himself
free-handed. His present liberality told against him.

The violoncello also entered into commune with himself. Was there any
chance of another brew? Would another bowl of punch be produced to keep
up the favourable opinion formed on the preceding evening, or would a
mistrustful attitude act as a stimulant to excite greater liberality?
One brew of punch was not much, it prepared the soil, a second would sow
the seed, a third make it germinate, a fourth develop, and only a fifth
fructify conviction in the integrity of the provider.

The words spoken by Pepperill relative to Kate had spread. The orchestra
confided them to their spouses, and the wives whispered them to their
intimates. There arose in Coombe-in-Teignhead two rival factions. One
party contended that Pasco was guilty, the other argued that Kitty had
fired the storehouse. The advantage of the latter view was that it
explained what was otherwise inexplicable’the disappearance of Quarm.
The story was worked into shape; it was elaborated in detail. Kitty, of
a morose and vindictive nature, had been exasperated because her uncle
had forbidden her engagement to the schoolmaster. Kitty had never been
as other girls were. Her reserve was slyness, her bashfulness sulkiness.
Her schoolfellows had disliked her. Their mothers shared the feelings of
their daughters. As the proverb says, “Still waters run deep,” and of
the stillness of Kitty there could be no question.

The dislike entertained of Kitty had been vague and unreasonable. Now a
reason was supplied, and consistency given to what had been shapeless.

It was suspicious that Kitty had volunteered the statement relative to
her being left in the linhay before she had been asked questions
relative to her whereabouts. Why should she have blurted this out to Jan
Pooke and Rose Ash, but for the purpose of throwing dust in their eyes?

Kitty had been unwarrantably forward in telling her tale, and the
schoolmaster unwarrantably reticent relative to his experience. Why did
the schoolmaster refuse to speak out what he had seen and heard at
Coombe Cellars, on that eventful night. The reason was plain enough. He
did not desire to compromise Kitty. But it was clear what had occurred.
She had been sent back to the Cellars by her uncle, and there her
malignant spirit had induced her, out of revenge, to set fire to her
uncle’s stores. Her father had come on her red-handed, and had rebuked
her sharply. That was what the schoolmaster had overheard. Then Quarm,
finding it too late to undo the mischief done by his daughter, afraid to
call in neighbours to his aid, lest Kitty should be compromised, had
made his escape. There were a thousand other ways by which he might get
away besides crossing the Teign. No one had thought of that. Every one
had considered only whether he had crossed by ferry or by bridge. There
were a score of lanes at the back of Coombe by which he might get away
unperceived. All attention and investigation had been devoted to the
water, and every other means of evasion left unconsidered.

Thus was the case worked out against Kitty. It assumed deeper colouring
when it was remembered that she had allowed Roger Redmore to escape when
entrusted with the charge of him by Jan Pooke, and Jan had said that as
he left Roger he could not free himself, without Kate’s consent. It was
noted, also, that she had, as her uncle had told, deliberately and of
_malice prepense_, frustrated the efforts he made to catch the
incendiary at Dart-meet.

She had, moreover, induced her father to give up his house to Jane
Redmore. Birds of a feather flock together’and surely fireflies are
actuated by mutual sympathy.

On the other hand, the party that held Pepperill to be guilty were not
silent. Who was the gainer by the fire? Pasco, to the amount of twelve
hundred pounds. Was it not certain that he had been greatly embarrassed
for money? that a bill of his had just been dishonoured? Was it not just
as probable that his story was false as that of Kate? Was it she who
sent away Zerah across the water? Who persuaded Pasco to drive in the
direction of Newton? Did not all his proceedings on that eventful
evening show a deep-laid plan? And so on.

The pros and cons were thrashed and re-thrashed over the tavern table
and the ale-mugs, and over the tea in private houses. Hardly any other
topic occupied men’s minds and women’s mouths, till suddenly something
happened which silenced everyone.

The insurance company had refused payment, and the solicitor of the
company sent down an agent to Coombe that he might collect information
which might justify them in their refusal. At once all became mum. No
one knew anything, no one suspected anybody. Nothing had happened but
what was natural and easily accounted for. This change was due to the
fact that there is, and more than half a century ago there was, a strong
_esprit de corps_ in a secluded village, that resented any intrusion of
a stranger into its affairs. The rural mind is naturally suspicious, and
naturally mistrusts anyone not intimately known, and regards any
questions asked as something to be evaded, and on no account to be

When, accordingly, the agent came among the Coombe-in-Teignheadites, and
busied himself in cross-examining the people, they snapped their mouths
as an oyster snaps before a lobster; or they may be likened to hedgehogs
that rolled themselves up and presented nothing but prickles to the
inquirer intruding in their midst. Never in his life had the man come
among people like these; they neither saw with their eyes, nor heard
with their ears, nor thought with what they called their brains.

Pasco took no measures to protect himself. He knew his fellow-villagers
well enough to be sure that they would say nothing against him.

After a week spent in unprofitable investigation, the agent retired. At
once the whole place woke up. Everyone uncoiled, every mouth opened, and
every brain worked again. The rival factions recommenced their warfare,
and the difference in opinion became poignant.

In due course the case of Pepperill against the insurance company came
off, or rather, was announced to come off.

Pepperill was full of consequence.

He had felt acutely that suspicion hung about him like a cloud which he
could not dissipate. Men who had hitherto courted his society now
avoided him. The rector was especially cold in demeanour towards him.
The orchestra remained divided in opinion, agreed only in desire for
more punch. When, after church, he approached a group at the graveyard
gate that was in eager conversation, his approach silenced the talkers
and broke up the conclave. He was certain that he had been their topic.
Hands that had formerly been extended to him now remained buried in
trousers-pockets. Voices that had given him the good-day now withheld
salutations. Customers were reluctant to deal with him. His appearance
in the bar of the Lamb and Flag induced a hasty rise, a payment of shot,
and a departure of all save sodden topers. By no other means were they
to be retained save by the offer of drink at his expense. When he
bragged, his boasts fell flat; when he joked, none laughed.

In ill-humour and uneasy, Pasco departed for Exeter. The case, however,
never got into court. At the last moment the Company, convinced it had
no grounds to go upon, agreed to pay.

This was a triumph for Pepperill. He deferred his return to Coombe for a
week, that the news might be carried to everyone there, and have time to
ripen in the somewhat sluggish brains of the natives, and produce the
effect he anticipated.

The triumph of Pepperill was more than his own individual triumph. When
the tidings had well soaked in, then Coombe awoke to the knowledge that
the entire parish had achieved a victory, and that over an influential,
moneyed, and powerful society. Whether Pepperill was guilty or not
guilty was immaterial. The fact remained that a little parish like
Coombe, by its representative, Pasco, its churchwarden, had stood up
face to face with the capital of the county, represented by the
insurance company, and that the latter had cringed and acknowledged
defeat without daring to measure arms. That was something unheard of
heretofore. If Coombe-in-Teignhead were not proud of its doughty
champion, then it would cover itself with disgrace. The situation was
discussed in the bar of the Lamb and Flag, and a self-constituted
committee formed to celebrate this momentous achievement. The rector was
to be solicited to have a special service, at which Puddicombe in F
would be performed and a sermon preached. The rector had a service on
Saints’ Day, attended only by a few old women. Who cared for the saints?
But Pepperill’who had extorted one thousand two hundred pounds from the
insurance company’that was the sort of man to honour, and the service in
his honour would be attended by all Coombe. The bells should be rung.
There had been a disturbance with the parson about the right to the
belfry on the occasion of Puddicombe’s return. The parish must assert
and maintain its right to ring the bells when it chose, and defy the
rector if he objected.

As was feared, Mr. Fielding raised objections to both the thanksgiving
service and to the peal of bells. Thereupon ensued another meeting in
the bar.

Now Mr. Pooke, senior, came forward. He had been opposed to Mr.
Pepperill; he had disapproved of his conduct. But when it came to a
matter of ringing of bells, he felt that a principle was involved. If
once the parishioners yielded that point, they might as well yield
everything, and be priest-ridden. There were two church-wardens; Pasco
Pepperill was one, Mr. Ash, the miller, was the other, having succeeded
at Lady-Day to Whiteaway, the grocer. Let Mr. Ash insist on the bells
being rung, and if the rector withheld the key, then let him authorise
the blacksmith to break open the door. He, Yeoman Pooke, would back him

They could not force Mr. Fielding to preach a sermon, but that didn’t
matter; they’d have music, and have it in the road, and escort Pasco
Pepperill home to the strains of Puddicombe in F.

Carried by acclamation.

                             CHAPTER XLVII

If anything had been needed to clinch in Pasco Pepperill the sense of
his conduct being irreproachable, the ovation on his return to
Coombe-in-Teignhead would have served this purpose; but nothing was
necessary after that the insurance office had thrown up the ball. The
retirement of the Company from the contest, and the payment of the money
for which his stores were insured, acted on his conscience as much as
would a plenary papal absolution on that of a Roman Catholic.

Previous to this his conscience had given occasional twitches, now it
glowed with conscious sense of righteousness. It was vexed with neither
qualm nor scruple. He held his head higher, boasted louder, strutted
with more consequence, and became impatient and offended at his wife’s
maintaining her distance. He might deceive himself, deceive the world,
but he could not blind her, and this made him angry. He was slighted in
his home, where he had best claims for recognition.

He was, moreover, disappointed that there was so little real enthusiasm
for himself at the back of the demonstration, which was organised rather
in honour of the parish than of himself. The same suspicion attended
him, the same reluctance to deal with him, and the same indifference to
his society.

The demonstration was destined not to pass without leaving some
unpleasant consequences.

At the urgency of Farmer Pooke, Miller Ash, the second churchwarden, had
forced the belfry door and admitted the ringers, and authorised them to
give a peal of welcome to the returning conqueror.

Mr. Fielding was of a mild and kindly disposition, but he was a stickler
in matters of discipline, and he could not suffer this high-handed
conduct to pass unquestioned. Ash was cited before the archdeacon, and
legal proceedings were instituted to establish the sole right of the
incumbent to order when and by whom the bells should be rung. Ash was
dismayed at the prospect of a suit. He attempted to fall back on Pooke,
but found that Pooke was by no means inclined to find money for the

Mr. Fielding was reluctant to proceed against a parishioner and a
churchwarden, and a man eminently worthy, but he considered that it
would be a neglect of duty not to do so. Twice had he been defied, and
twice had the bells been rung on improper occasions. He was aware that
his action must produce ill-feeling against himself, but he was too
conscientious a man to allow this consideration to weigh with him.
Nothing is easier than for a man in authority to court popularity by
giving way at every point. Mr. Fielding did not desire popularity, and
he did not believe that in discharging a duty he would interfere with
his ministerial influence in the place.

And, in fact, Ash did not so much resent the action of the rector as the
unreliability of Pooke’a man who had urged him to act, and had promised
to take the responsibility on himself for such action; a man whose son
was about to marry his own daughter. Ash was bitter at heart, in the
first line with Pooke, and the second with Pepperill, for having
occasioned this affair. If Pepperill had never insured, never had
allowed his warehouse to be burnt, never had confronted the Company,
this unpleasantness would not have arisen; and only in the third line
did his resentment touch the rector. Moreover, Pooke was discontented
and uncomfortable. He was well aware that he was morally responsible for
the infraction of the belfry, but he would not admit it, lest it should
cost him money. Pooke was a man ready to admit a moral obligation up to
ten-and-six; not a penny beyond. He allowed that the parson was in the
right to stick out for his authority, and if the law gave him command of
the bell-ropes’well, he was justified in trying to obtain it. But it was
Pasco Pepperill who was really to blame. He ought not to have delayed
his return from Exeter. Why did he stick at that city for seven whole
days after he had got what he wanted? Had he come flying home by the
Atmospheric the day he received payment, there would have been no
demonstration. By dawdling in Exeter, he allowed time for the
organisation of a demonstration, and he did not deserve one, Heaven
knew! So Pooke’s self-reproach converted itself into anger against
Pepperill. In the physical world all forces are correlated, and it is so
in the world of feeling. Love becomes hate, and joy turns into grief,
and, as we have seen, compunction glances away from self and converts
itself into a sting aimed at another.

Kitty’s position in the place became one full of discomfort. Not only
was she regarded as guilty of the fire by one body of the inhabitants,
but she had given offence to others by her engagement to the

Walter Bramber was not merely a pleasant-looking man, but a good-looking
one as well, and several young and middle-aged women in the place had
set their caps at him.

One of these was the distorted milliner, designed for him by his
landlady, and encouraged by her in hopes of exchanging her condition of
maid without a home for wife in the schoolhouse. This person went about
to all the farmhouses making garments for the farmers’ wives and
daughters, and was able, without allowing it to transpire that she had
aspired to Bramber, to stir up a good deal of ill-feeling against Kitty,
who had been lucky where she had failed.

Another was a good-looking wench with a flaw in her reputation, who had
hoped that the new-comer would be ignorant of her past history, and
would succumb to her charms, and enable her to repair her faulty
character out of the respectability of the position she would acquire.

Another, a damsel of erratic ecclesiasticism, who became a Particular
Baptist or an Anglican Churchwoman, according as desirable young men
attended chapel or church.

The last was a widow on a nice income of her own, some twenty years
Bramber’s senior, who had made up her mind to marry again, and marry a
young man.

Pasco was subjected to passive suspicions, Kate to active hostility. The
art of ingeniously tormenting is one that men are too dull to acquire,
and too clumsy to exercise. It is an art easily exercised and rapidly
perfected by women. In a hundred ways Kate was annoyed by those of her
own sex in Coombe; and these were ways skilfully contrived to excite the
maximum of pain. She endeavoured to keep entirely to herself, but this
was beyond her power. No mosquito curtains have been contrived which a
person can draw about himself as a protection against malignant and
poisonous tongues.

Without malicious interest’on the contrary, with the kindest desire for
Kate’s welfare’Rose Ash interfered and caused her the greatest distress.

Rose had set her mind on matching Kate with Noah; she by no means
approved of the engagement to Walter Bramber. A girl like Kate, enjoying
her friendship, might look higher, do better than throw herself away on
a two-penny-ha’penny schoolmaster, of whose origin nobody knew anything;
and when Rose took an idea into her head, she left no stone unturned
till she had carried it out.

She visited Kate, she assured her that a union with Bramber was out of
the question. There was so strong a feeling against her in the place
that, were she to marry the schoolmaster, it would damage his prospects.
The farmers would withdraw their subscriptions from the school, and the
parents refuse to send their children to be educated there.

“Of course,” said Rose, “I don’t believe you burnt the warehouse, but a
lot of people in the place do. Some say you did it out of spite, because
your uncle wouldn’t let you have the schoolmaster; others say he sent
you back to set the wares alight, being too much of a coward to do it
himself. I know better’but folks won’t listen to me. I don’t see how you
can put the notion out of them but by marrying Noah. He’s related to
nearly everyone in the place, and if you became his wife, you see, all
the relations of Noah would take your part; they’d be bound to do it.
Noah is a good fellow, and he’s terribly in love’got a pain under his
ribs, and walks bent’all along of love. You’d best chuck over the
schoolmaster and stop their mouths with Noah. There’s no other way of
doin’ it.”

“You really think that my engagement to Walter Bramber will injure him?”

“If it goes on, he may as well leave the place. It would be made too hot
to hold him. You see, Kitty, the Coombites ha’ never taken much to
him’he bain’t like Mr. Puddicombe in nothing. But they might get used to
him and put up wi’ him. If you go on holding him to his engagement,
then’what everyone says is’he must go.”

Zerah, moreover, sought to influence her niece. She was a selfish woman,
and now that she had opened her heart to Kitty, she was jealous of
anyone else claiming a share in the girl. Moreover, she could not endure
to live at the Cellars if left there alone with Pasco, of that she was
convinced. She therefore extorted a promise from Kate not to leave her.

Kitty had become more than ever thoughtful, and was nervous and
depressed in spirits. She could not clear herself of this suspicion that
attached to her without incriminating her uncle, and she greatly doubted
whether her word would avail against his. She could not hear anything of
her father, the same mystery enveloped his fate unrelieved. She would
have liked to pour her troubles into the ear of Walter, but her uncle
had forbidden his coming to the house, and she would not go and seek
him, observed, watched by all, and everything she did subject to
misconstruction. Kate’s time was more at her disposal than formerly, as
Jane Redmore came in charing. This was a disadvantage to her, so far
that it allowed her time to brood over her troubles and annoyances.

After Rose had gone, she went on the water side of the house and seated
herself on the parapet above the rippling inflowing tide, with her head
sunk on her bosom.

Presently the tears began to course down her cheeks. She had not been
seated there long before the timid, feeble Jane Redmore came fluttering
out to her, looking over her shoulder as she came. The woman touched
her: “I wouldn’t take on so,” she said. “You ain’t sure Jason Quarm’s
dead, you know. He wasn’t found, and for why?”

Kate looked at the poor woman with tear-filled eyes.

“I can’t say nothin’,” said Mrs. Redmore hastily. “Only’there’it makes
me bad to see you cry, it do, and I reckon there’s no reason.”

Then she slipped back in the same wavering, timid manner to the kitchen,
without another word.

But Kate’s distress of mind was not due solely, as the woman believed,
to her anxiety concerning the fate of her father. She had been debating
in her heart whether she ought to continue her engagement with Bramber,
and, perhaps, never had Kitty felt how truly she was “alone” as now,
when she had satisfied herself that for his sake it were well for her to
release him.

She stood up, when her purpose was formed, and walked quietly, firmly,
to the Rectory. One friend she had there, ever faithful’the parson. He
knew that she was innocent, he alone could appreciate her difficulties,
and he would approve her determination.

She entered the study where he was at work on a sermon. He smiled, and
his face brightened when he saw her, and he signed to a chair.

Kate, direct, clear, and firm in all she said and did, told the rector
of her intention. She informed him of what he knew already, that a body
of feeling was engaged against her, that she was incapable of
establishing her innocence. That, under the circumstances, it was out of
the question her holding Walter Bramber to his promise. She had,
furthermore, passed her word to her aunt not to leave her. Mr. Fielding,
though disappointed, saw that under the circumstances nothing could be
done; and he felt that Kate was acting honourably and in accordance with
her conscience. He knew, therefore, he must not dissuade her from
obedience to that inner voice. He took a more hopeful view than did she,
and this he expressed.

“If things change, then no harm has been done,” said Kate. “I have to
say what is in my mind as made up on things as they are. Will you be so
kind, sir, as to speak to Walter?”

“I see him coming in at the gate,” said Mr. Fielding. “He is with me
about this time every day for a Greek lesson’a bit of New Testament in
the original tongue.”

Kate stood up.

“Yes,” said he. “You go to meet him at the mulberry tree.”

The girl left quietly and composedly, as she had entered, and, crossing
the lawn, came on the young man just as he reached the bench under the

“Walter,” she said, “I want a word with you. Have you a knife?”

“Yes; why?”

“Will you cut this in the mulberry bark? Mr. Fielding will not object’

                  ‘O Tree, defying time, witness bear,
                  That two’”’

She hesitated, slightly coloured’

               “‘That two friends met and parted here.’”

“What do you mean, Kitty?”

“Ask the rector’he will tell you all.”

Then hastily, unable further to control herself, she passed him, and
left the garden.



Kate walked at once to the house of Mr. Puddicombe, and, without giving
any reasons, announced to him that the engagement to Walter Bramber was
at an end. She calculated on his publishing the fact, but she had not
calculated on his inventing and promulgating reasons of his own
supposition for explaining the rupture. According to him, she had formed
a preference for Noah Flood, and regarded an alliance with Noah more to
her advantage than one with a person of whose origin nothing was known,
and whose prospects were uncertain. One of the first to hear the news
was Rose Ash, and she made an excursion immediately to the house of the
Floods, where Noah lived with his mother, a widow. The Floods were a
well-to-do yeoman family, with land of their own. The father of Noah had
died three years previous to the events recorded in this tale. Noah was
the only child, and had been the idol of his mother. That he should seek
a wife, she admitted, was natural. She would greatly have preferred his
taking someone of more position and means, and in greater favour than
Kitty Alone, but she was accustomed to regard everything her son did as
right, and she would not offer any opposition to what he determined on.
As Rose Ash was not to be won, he might take Kitty; though she would
have vastly preferred Rose. The old woman was, it is true, made uneasy
by the reports relative to Kitty and the fire at the Cellars, but her
son knew how to set her mind at rest, by ridiculing them as idle and
baseless, bred of malice or stupidity.

Rose was really energetic on behalf of Kitty. She did brave battle for
her, and combated every adverse opinion. She was thoroughly resolved to
forward the match between Noah and Kate, and now that the field was
cleared of the schoolmaster, she hurried to the house of the Floods to
spur on Noah to immediate action.

The evening was already closing in, and the house of the Floods was at
some distance out of Coombe; but Rose was impulsive, and what she did
was done in impulse. She was generous, so far as did not interfere with
her own prospects and wishes and comforts. Mrs. Flood was her aunt, and
with her she was ever welcome. Noah was happily at home when Rose
arrived. She was not the girl to beat about the bush, and she rushed at
once upon the topic uppermost in her mind.

“You must put on your hat at once, Noah, and come with me. I’m going to
the Cellars, and going to make all right between you and Kitty. The time
has arrived. The door is ajar, and you must thrust your shoulder in
before it is shut. It’s off with the schoolmaster, and must be on with
you at once.”

“Noah hasn’t been hisself of late,” said Mrs. Flood. “I don’t think he
ought to be out with the dew falling heavy.”

“Nonsense, Aunt Sally! it’s love,” said Rose. “The dew won’t hurt. It’s
his disappointment has upset him.”

“He’s been off his feed terrible,” said the mother; “there is a nice
piece of boiled bacon I’ve had cold, but he don’t seem to relish it.”

“That’s love,” said Rose; “and I heard Mr. Pepperill say that Noah had a
pain under his ribs.”

“It’s like a hot pertater lodged here,” said Noah; “I can’t get no rest
at all from it.”

“That’s love also; I know it. I’ve had the same till Jan came to his

“And I don’t seem to take no interest in the farm; do I, mother?” asked

“Indeed you don’t, Noah.”

“That also is love,” said Rose; “we’ll soon put that to rights.”

“I thought it was liver,” observed the mother; “and that blue pill”’

“Oh, nothing of the sort,” interrupted Rose. “I know all the symptoms:
hot potato, distaste for biled bacon, and indifference to farm
affairs’it’s love; I had it all badly till Jan came round. Love turns
heavy on the chest, if disappointed. That’s what Noah feels under his
ribs. Come on, Noah, take your hat, and we will go to the Cellars

Noah complied with as much alacrity as he was capable of displaying. He
was a docile youth; he had fallen in love with Kitty, partly at Rose’s
bidding, partly out of compunction at his conduct at the fair.

That evening had closed in rapidly. There were dense clouds overhead, so
that the twilight was cut off, also all danger of dew, as Rose at once
pointed out to Mrs. Flood. As, however, the mother feared her dear boy
might get wet in the event of rain, Noah was induced to take a

The young man was shy and timid.

“You know, Rose, I treated her terrible bad at Ashburton, when I knocked
away the workbox from under her arm.”

“She will like you all the better for it,” answered the girl. “Young
maidens like a lad of spirit, and you may be sure it gave her pleasure
to see you and Jan punching each other’s heads. That schoolmaster! he
ain’t up to nothing but whacking childer with a cane. If you like, I’ll
try and egg him on to fight you, and then you can knock him all to
pieces; and there’s nothing surer for finding your way to Kitty’s heart.
If she’s like me, she’ll like to see lads fighting about her.”

“You don’t think, Rose, she really had anything to do wi’ the fire?”

“The fire?” snapped the girl. “No more than you or I. Her uncle did it.
He wanted the insurance money. That’s a fine tale’that she set fire to
the warehouse, because her uncle wouldn’t hear of her marrying the
schoolmaster’and now, of her own accord, she throws the fellow over. If
she had been so set on him, she wouldn’t have done _that_. Can’t you
see, Noah, or are you stupid, that her giving up Mr. Bramber is the best
answer to that story? It shows it could not have been. And then, as to
that other tale,’that Mr. Pepperill sent her back to set the place in a
blaze,’no one who knows Kitty can believe _that_. She’s not the girl to
do a wrong thing at anyone’s bidding. Besides, what good would it have
been to her?”

Noah did not answer.

“You can’t do better than go right up to her and ask her to be
yours’now. Everything is in your favour. Folk talk a pass’l of nonsense
and spiteful lies about her. It makes her cruel unhappy. She’s been
doing little else but cry for some days. You show her you don’t mind one
snap what folks say, and you don’t believe a word o’ the lies against
her, and I tell you she’d jump into your arms. It’s my belief that the
schoolmaster turned nasty’that he began to show her he thought there
might be something in it, that he knew people said they’d take away
their subscription if he married her, and he made it so unpleasant for
Kitty that she gave him up. And now you march in and conquer.”

“I’ll do so,” said Noah.

“And,” pursued Rose, “you must begin by making Kitty cry; that’s the
preparing of the ground.”

“How am I to do that?”

“Talk about her father. Ask if she has heard any news of him.”

“Why? it don’t seem kind to make her cry.”

“What a noodle you are, Noah! Nothing is more profitable for what you
intend than to get her into a crying mood, regular soft and tender, and
then pity her about her father, and so out with it when she is in tears.
That’s the way to win her!”

Noah mused awhile, walking by the side of Rose, in silence. After a
minute he said, “What is your notion, Rose? I mean about Jason Quarm. Is
he dead or not?”

“Of course he is. Burnt to ashes.”

“But the ashes were not found.”

“My dear Noah, you saw the fire as well as I; you know with what fury it
burnt, and how it lasted three days. He was no Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego all pounded into one.”

“You really think he is dead?”

“Sure of it. Would he not have turned up and let folk know he was alive,
if he had not perished? Would he have allowed Kitty to go on’and not
Kitty only, his sister Zerah as well’all this long time, suffering and
miserable, because they believe he died a terrible death, if he could
relieve their minds by a letter, or, better still, by appearing?”

Suddenly Rose started, caught her cousin by the arm, and drew back.

“What is the matter?” asked the young man.

“There is something there’moving’in the hedge.”

They were in a true Devonshire lane, with the hedges high on each side,
planted with trees that extended their branches overhead, almost
interlocking. Through the boughs and leaves the grey sky glimmered, and
the soil in the lane here and there showed in the light from above, but
all was indistinct and dark. A turn in the lane, and a fork beyond the
turn, lay before them, and through one of the lanes the light of the
estuary reflecting the sky made a partial gleam, as though that lane
were a tube with ground glass at the end.

Both remained motionless and listened.

“Hark!” whispered Rose; “did you hear something?”

“I heard you speaking.”

“Before I spoke’a clitter, as of a foot on stones.”

“Well, what of that? This is a road, and people may go along it, I

“Look’look!” gasped Rose, pointing down the funnel-like lane, at the end
of which was the light of the steely water.

Rose maintained her grasp of Noah.

The young man looked in the direction indicated, and both saw a figure
in the vista, lurching as it went along, as though lame; a thickset
figure, as far as they could make out in the uncertain light. In another
moment it had disappeared.

“Go after it!” said Rose, relaxing her hold.

“It? What do you mean?”

“That’s just like Jason Quarm.”

“But he’s dead. You said so.”

“I know he is, but that’s his ghost. Run, Noah, and force it to speak.
It’s walking, because it can’t rest wi’out burial.”

“I won’t!” said Noah. “Go yourself.”

“You are a man. It’s vanished now. That’s the way to the cottage he had,
which Kitty gave up to the Redmores. Oh, Noah, do run!”

“I’ll do nothing o’ the sort. Come on, Rose’we are going along t’other
lane, thanks be. Lord, that we should ha’ seen a ghost! I shan’t be able
to propose. I shall be so terrible took aback.”

“Nonsense, Noah!”

“But consider’it’s terrible frightening to propose right on end to a
ghost’s daughter.”

                              CHAPTER XLIX
                           FLAGRANTE DELICTO

Noah and Rose reached the Cellars just as Pasco and his family were
about to seat themselves to supper. Pepperill somewhat boisterously
welcomed them, and insisted on their sharing the evening meal.

“You see,” said he, “it is dull here. Zerah ain’t much in the way of
entertainment, and Kitty be just as heavy. Stupid place this, and stupid
people; I shall get away as soon as possible.”

“Going to leave the Cellars, Mr. Pepperill?” asked Rose.

“I don’t find this place lively enough for me, now I’m a man of
independent means. I want amusement, and can get none here; society, and
here no one can talk of anything but bullocks.”

“I don’t know that,” said Noah; “there is the fire, everyone is talking
of that.”

Rose cast a reproachful glance at her cousin. His remark made Pasco
wince, and Zerah look down into her plate.

“You see,” pursued Pepperill, “having come in for a little property”’

“The insurance money?” asked the blundering Noah.

“My uncle’s little fortune,” answered Pasco hastily. “There’s no
occasion for me to toil and drudge like a slave selling coals, and wool,
and hides, and the like; so I think I’ll take a little box somewhere
near Exeter, somewhere where I can amuse myself, and have agreeable

As soon as opportunity offered, Rose drew Kate aside and said to her
cheerily, “I have brought you Noah.”

“Noah! Why?”

“I heard you were off with the schoolmaster.”

“Yes, I am.”

“Then it is high time you were on with another.”

“I want no one.”

“Oh, that’s nonsense! You must have Noah. He’s a nice fellow and has a
good property; besides, he is cruel sweet on you.”

“Indeed, indeed, Rose, I wish to be left alone.”

“It won’t do, Kate. When the circus girl goes round driving two horses,
she skips off one back and on to another. You can’t skip off one saddle
wi’out another saddle to skip into, that ain’t reason.”

“I am not a circus girl.”

“We all are going round and round in one ring, and then comes a fool and
holds up the hoop for us to go through. Jack has been my clown, and Noah
shall be yours.”

“I do not wish it,” said Kate hastily. “I desire only to be let alone.”

“My dear, I know what is best for you. I’ll call Noah.”

Kate sprang up. “I have to wash up after supper with Mrs. Redmore,” she
said, and hastened into the kitchen.

Rose was vexed. She returned to the others, and gave Noah a sign to
follow the girl; and he obeyed with his usual docility. Then Rose began
to propound her scheme to the uncle and aunt, to explain Noah’s
prospects and dilate on his attachment for Kate. The aunt alone raised
objections, which Rose combated in the most airy manner. Zerah doubted
whether Kate felt any regard for Noah; Rose was positive that this would
come as a matter of course, now that she was free from entanglement with

Pepperill said he would be glad, after what had happened, to have Kate
married and out of his house. Whereupon Zerah caught him up and asked
his meaning.

Before he could answer, Kitty came in trembling, and, standing before
Rose, asked, “What does he mean? Noah says he has seen my father.”

Rose tossed her head, and cast an angry glance over Kate’s shoulder at
the stupid young man who was following.

“Noah is a blundering fellow,” she said, “and does not know what he
says. Your father! Do you think that if we had seen him we would not at
once have made him come on here with us?”

“You told me”’began Noah apologetically.

“Whatever I may have said, you are too dull to understand, and you turn
everything cat-in-the-pan.”

Apparently satisfied, Kate prepared to go back into the kitchen, and
Noah would have followed her; but she stood in the doorway and said
firmly, “No, I do not wish to have you in the kitchen. If you persist in
following, I shall pin a dish-clout to your back. Jane Redmore wants to
get home to her little ones, the night is dark as pitch. I must help her
to clean up, and we can have no one to interfere with us; you nearly
made me break a dish with what you said just now.”

“Come here,” said Rose. “You are a duffer, and don’t know how to
manage”; and Noah obeyed, and seated himself in the settle. Kate shut
the kitchen door.

“What was that you said about my brother Jason?” asked Zerah.

“It was nonsense,” answered Rose sharply.

“But Noah meant something, when he said he had seen him.”

“Noah is a fool: are you not, Noah?”

“I suppose you know,” answered the young man meekly.

“Tell me what it was that made Kate nigh on drop the dish,” persisted
Zerah, always a resolute woman to have her way.

“It was nought but a parcel of nonsense,” said Rose evasively.

“There must have been something,” persisted Zerah.

“Well, I don’t mind saying,” Rose replied,’“that is, if you will
hear’but it was fancy, I reckon.”

“What was fancy?”

“Thinking we saw him. I had told Noah to propose to Kate, and to get her
into proper humour for accepting, first by making her cry, and then I
told him he could make her cry by speaking in a sort of sympathising way
about her father; and like an old buffle-head he went and said he had
seen his ghost.”

“His ghost?” exclaimed Zerah, and Pasco drew back in the settle with a
scared expression on his face.

“We were coming down the road from Noah’s, and before us was the fork of
the lane,” said Rose. “Well, then, if you will hear all, Noah and me, us
thought us see’d someone in the lane as went towards Jane Redmore’s
cottage. The night was dark, but there was light at the end of the lane
because of the Teign, which was full of the tide; and there was, sure
enough, someone walking down that road. Us see’d him, whoever he was. He
walked like a lapwing.”

“’Twas Jones Maker, the roadman,” said Pasco in a voice that was not
firm. “He’s lame.”

“He goes on a crutch,” answered Rose. “What we saw was different, was it
not so, Noah?”

“Yes,” assented the young man. “He walked lop o’ this side like, just
the same as Jason Quarm.”

“’Twas Jonas Maker,” persisted Pasco.

“It can’t ha’ been Jonas,” answered Rose; “Jonas is tall, and this we
saw was stout and thickset.”

“Did he speak?” asked Zerah breathlessly. Pasco fidgeted in his seat.

“No, he did not; us weren’t very near, and I axed Noah to run on and
catch him up, and ax him questions why he walked, but he wouldn’t.”

“I reckon Mr. Pepperill would ha’ been shy to do that,” growled Noah.

Then a dead silence fell on all; and in that dead silence a sound like
the tread of a man with a limp was audible, coming up the steps to the
door. Next as if a hand were laid on the door-hasp, and all saw that the
latch was raised, and cautiously lowered, without the door being opened.
Then ensued the halting hobble down the steps again.

No one stirred. Every face was blank. Possibly one of those present
would have started up and gone to the door to look forth into the black
night, but at this moment Kate entered, and, going up to a crook, took
down a lantern.

“Jane Redmore is going home,” she said, “and she’s axed me just to show
her off the premises and into the lane, with a light; it’s too dark to
find the way at once, when one has been in the room with plenty of

Kate opened the lantern and looked in.

“There is a candle,” she said, and proceeded to ignite it.

Rose looked at Noah, and Noah at Rose.

“I think,” said the girl, “we will ask you, Kate, to show us a light on
our way presently, after you have put Jane Redmore into hers.”

“I will do so cheerfully,” answered Kitty, and went back with the
lighted lantern into the kitchen to fetch Jane. Then the two passed
through the room where the rest sat, and Mrs. Redmore wished them all a

Silence ensued after the door was shut. The glitter of the lantern was
visible through the window for a moment, and then disappeared.

Pasco looked uneasily at the door. He was the first to break silence. “I
wish you to know,” said he, “that if you marry Kitty, Noah, you do not
take a beggar. On the contrary, you take an heiress.”

“How do you make that out?” asked Zerah.

“Kitty is not of my blood,” said Pasco, gaining firmness, “but I have no
relations of my own, and I intend to treat Kitty as my child. Noah, you
marry an heiress.”

“What will you give her?” asked Zerah.

“Great expectations,” answered Pasco pompously.

“I don’t count much on expectations,” said his wife contemptuously.
“Give her something down.”

“I’ll do better than that,” said Pasco. “I’ll make my will and
constitute her my heir.”

“That’s moonshine and tall talk,” scoffed Zerah.

“It is nothing of the sort,” said Pasco. “Here you are, Rose and Noah,
and I’ll make my will before you, and you shall witness it. Then Noah
will know what he takes, when he takes Kitty.”

Zerah looked at her husband with surprise. This was the first intimation
she had received that he intended to do anything for his niece. She did
not see deep enough into his heart to read his reasons. At that moment
he was alarmed and uneasy at the story of the apparition of Jason Quarm,
whom he knew to be dead, and then at the mysterious tread and the
raising of the hasp of the door. He was not a superstitious man, but the
guilt on his soul made him subject to terrors. He thought that the
spirit of the man he had brought to his death might be walking, and
would trouble him, not only on account of the wrong done to him, but
also to his daughter. In his mean mind Pasco hoped that by constituting
Kitty heir to all he possessed, he might lay the troubled spirit of her

“I will do it at once,” said Pepperill, opening his desk and drawing
forth ink and pen and paper, and laying them on the table.

“I will show you that I understand legal forms,’I keep a solicitor of my
own,’and that I am the man who can deal generously and with a free hand.
I, Pasco Pepperill of Coombe Cellars, being in sound condition of mind
and body”’

He wrote the words, then looked round complacently and added, “I
bequeath to my niece, Kate Quarm, the sum of three thousand pounds.
Three thousand pounds,” repeated Pasco, looking round. “Also to my wife
Zerah, two thousand pounds and my house at Coombe Cellars, and my house
property at Tavistock, inherited from my uncle,”’he turned his head
consequentially to look at Noah, then at Rose,’“during the term of her
natural life.”

“What do you mean by natural life?” asked Zerah.

“It is an expression always used,” answered Pasco.

“It is nonsense,” said Zerah, “If there be a natural life, there must be
one which is unnatural.”

“It means, plain as Scripture,” replied Pasco, “that you may have my
house as long as your nat’ral life lasts, and after that lie quiet in
your grave, and not walk and bother people. Your right to the house is
tied up to your nat’ral life. That’s the meaning o’ that there legal
term. It stops and prevents all after unpleasantness.”

“Now I understand,” said Zerah. “But you need not get hot over it.”

“I’m not hot, but some folk be stupid and understand nothing. Now I will
proceed. After my wife’s decease,’that’s the legal term for death,’then
all goes to my niece, or reputed niece, the aforesaid Kate Quarm. This
is my last will and testament, and true act and deed. Here you see me
sign it. Now then, Rose Ash, and you, Noah Flood, witness my signature.
You, Zerah, cannot, because you are beneficially affected.”

Mr. Pepperill had completely recovered his self-consequence and his
courage. He had shown Noah that he was a man of means, a man with house
property, a man of capital as well, and he had eased his conscience by
making satisfaction for the wrong he had done to Kate.

As soon as Pasco had seen the young people witness his signature, he
handed the will to Zerah. “There, wife, keep it.”

At that moment the door was thrown open, and Kate entered, and stood by
the table, with changes of expression flying over her countenance, like
flaws of wind on the face of a pool.

She put down the lantern on the board.

“Why, Kitty, the light is out!” said Zerah, and opened the horn door.
“Why, Kitty, where be the candle to? She’s gone.”

At that moment, a flare that illumined the entire room, a sheet of
light, entering by door and window.

“Good heavens!” exclaimed Pasco, springing up. “My rick.” Then with a
scream of triumph, as he pointed with one hand to Kate, with the other
to the lantern, “I told you so, now you will believe me. Caught in the

                               CHAPTER L
                             THE THIRD FIRE

The light poured into the room like a flood, yellow as sunlight, and
more intense in brilliancy. Kitty standing at the table had her face in
shadow. Pasco opposite was as a mass of gold. The fire glittered in his
eyeballs, it flashed in the new heavy gold watch-chain that he had
purchased in Exeter.

“Now’now I shall be believed. Now’now the world will know how falsely I
have been judged. Now’now is revealed what a viper I have nu’ssed at my

“We had best go and put out the fire,” said Noah, and he went to the
door, to see that no possibility existed of arresting the flames. The
rick was all but enveloped as in a blazing sheet that was drawing round
it to meet at the only side which was dark. Little wind blew, so that
the flame poured up in one tongue.

Voices could be heard, loud shouts in the village, where the
conflagration had attracted attention, and had broken up the session of
the orchestra. The bassoon was braying a loud note, prolonged and
hideous, to rouse such as were behind curtains, and did not observe the

“How did this come about?” asked Rose, catching Kate by the arm.

“I’I cannot say. I cannot say,” answered the girl addressed; “but,
indeed, I am not guilty.”

“Is it insured?” asked Noah.

“No, it is not insured,” answered Pasco triumphantly. “I hope now you
won’t go and say _I_ did it’and that I did it to get money out of a

Except the words recorded, nothing further was spoken. The little party
was too dismayed at the occurrence, and at the prospect of what must
spring from it, to stir, to speak. It was in vain to think of doing
aught to the rick. No outbuilding was endangered. An attempt to tear
down the stack would result in spreading the fire.

Then in at the door burst the constable.

“Halloo! what is the meaning of this?” he shouted. “Insured again?”

“I am not insured,” answered Pepperill. “If you want to arrest the
culprit’there she is.”

“How came this about?” asked Pooke. “I’m not going to arrest nobody
without a cause.”

“There is cause enough,” said Pasco. “Kitty is the person who has set
fire to my rick. I have plenty of evidence for that. And now that I
have, you’ll all see I’m innocent’white as driven snow.”

“What is the meaning of this?” asked the constable, turning Kitty about
that the blaze might illumine her face. In the yellow glare it could be
seen that she was deathlike in complexion, and that her eyes were wide
distended in terror. She trembled, and seemed unable to stand without
the support of the table.

“I’ll tell you all,” said Pasco majestically, “and then, perhaps, Mr.
Pooke, you’ll believe my word in preference to that of such as she.”

“What is it?” asked Pooke. “I’ll not arrest nobody without good cause
shown, as satisfies my judgment. I said so before.”

“Look at that lantern,” said Pasco.

“Well, I sees it.”

“Open it. There’s no candle in it’is there? But there was’a quarter of
an hour ago.”

Numerous voices were now audible around the burning rick. The constable
looked out, and hesitated whether to go forth and ensure order without,
or to hear what had to be said within.

He saw that there was not much chance of further mischief, the intensity
of the fire kept everyone at a distance.

“Go on,” said he. “What have you to say against the girl?”

“She was in the kitchen with Jane Redmore. And Jane Redmore asked her to
go along with she on her way home, wi’ a lantern, because of the pitch
darkness. Was it not so, Zerah?”

“I can’t say. I wasn’t in the kitchen,” answered Mrs. Pepperill

“Was it as he says?” asked the constable, turning to Kate.

“Yes.” Then suddenly, she woke out of a condition of almost
stupefaction; and throwing herself on her knees before her uncle, she
entreated, “Do not say that I did it!”

“I leave that to the magistrate, when he tries, and commits you to

“No, no, you will not send me there!”

“I shall certainly have you tried and punished.”

“Uncle! I beseech you! Let me speak to you alone. I did not do it. I
must have a word with you, where no one can see, no one can hear.”

“Indeed, I shall not consent. You want to induce me not to prosecute. I
know what you will say. I know how you will appeal to my feelings. You
know well enough what a lovin’ and tender and feelin’ heart I’ve always
shown. But this won’t do. It won’t do. I’ve borne the slights and the
slanders because o’ the last fire, and folk cried out again’ me’I did it
for the insurance; and now’now I hope I’ll make all believe I’m not the
guilty party. They must look elsewhere. Take her in charge as an
incendiary, constable. Do your duty.”

“Uncle! I beseech you! For my sake, for your own, go no further in

“I must proceed, if only to clear myself.”

“Uncle!” In her anxiety she held him. “You do not know my reasons. I
pray you, I pray you on behalf of me and dear aunt, as well as
yourself’some terrible thing will happen otherwise!”

“I’ll look to that’that no more terrible things happen. Now, constable,
she’s threatenin’ to burn the house down over my head, to burn me and my
missus in our beds. You heard her. You all heard her threaten us. I call
you to witness.”

“I will do no harm to anyone. I entreat a word, a word in private,”
urged Kate.

“I’ll have no word in private,” said Pepperill. “What you have to say,
say out; lies, lies all it will be,” he added.

“I cannot say it before all. I must speak it in your ear.”

“I won’t listen to nothing,” said Pepperill.

“And I,” said Pooke, “I won’t allow of no tamperin’ wi’ justice, no
persuadin’ not to prosecute. We’ve had enough of these little games
here. This is the third fire, and we’ll have someone punished for this
if I can manage it.”

“You do not know what you are doing, uncle,” gasped Kitty, staggering to
her feet.

“I reckon I know pretty well,” he answered coldly.

“You do not. You will bitterly, bitterly rue it. Do not rush on what
must happen, and then tear yourself in grief and dismay that you did not
listen to me.”

“Listen how she threatens. Tell’e what, Mr. Pooke, there’ll be no safety
for none i’ the parish so long as she’s at large. Silence, Kitty!
Neither the constable nor I will hear another word but what concerns
this fire, and what will serve to convict you.”

“Did you go with the lantern all along wi’ Jane Redmore?” asked Pooke.

Kate recovered her composure, and, with a despairing action of the
hands, dashed the tears from her eyes.

“Answer me,” said Pooke; “no prevarication.”

“I went out with Jane.”

“Did you accompany her home?”

“No, only a little way.”

“How far?”

“To the gate.”

“What! not into the lane even?”


“How long was she absent?” asked Pooke.

“Long enough for me to draw up a document,” said Pepperill. “What should
you say, Zerah? Half an hour?”

Zerah was in no condition to answer.

“And why did you not go on with Jane Redmore?” asked the constable of

“Because’I cannot say.”

“Oh, you cannot say? Mind, what you speak now may be used again’ you at
your trial. I’m bound to tell you that, and you ain’t obliged to answer.
Nevertheless, if you can give a reasonable account of yourself, I’m not
called on to think you guilty, and arrest you. What was you a-doing of
yourself all that half an hour, when you wasn’t with Jane Redmore,
a-seeing of her home?”

He paused for an answer, and received none.

“Am I to understand you won’t say? You ain’t forced to do so, you know.”

“I had rather not say,” replied Kate in a low voice.

“I suppose there was a candle in the lantern when you went out?”


“Was it burnt out?” Pooke looked into the socket in the lantern. “No,”
he said; “it has illicitly been removed. There is no guttering of
grease. How do you account for that?”

Kate made no answer.

“We know very well how your rick was fired,” said Pepperill. “It seems
to me, Mr. Pooke, that mine was set alight to in much the same way.”

“How do you account for the candle being gone?” asked the constable.

Again no answer.

“Now, look here,” said he. “You’re a little maid, and I don’t want to
deal hard with you. If you can give me an explanation of your conduct as
will satisfy, why, I’ll not proceed to extremities. But I must say that
things look ugly. If you was innocent, you could say so.”

“I am innocent.”

“Then how came the rick to be fired?”

Kate made no reply. She was trembling, and nervously plucking at her
light shawl, tearing away and unravelling the fringe.

“You alone had the lantern. It wasn’t Mrs. Redmore now’eh?’or her

“Oh no, no!” replied Kate eagerly. “She had nothing to do with it. She
had gone away along the lane, some time before”’She halted.

“Oh! you know how the fire arose?”

Kate gave no reply.

“I’m afraid it’s a bad case, and I must do my duty, and convey you to
the lock-up.”

“Oh, aunt!” cried the girl, turning towards Zerah, who stood cowed,
speechless, in the background. “Oh, aunt! let me speak with you alone.”

“No! it is of no use,” said Pasco, stepping between the girl and his
wife. “Nothin’ that she can say to Zerah will avail, and certainly
nothin’ that Zerah can say will persuade me. Remove her at once.”

The constable laid his hand on Kate’s shoulder.

“One question more. Mind, I caution you not to answer unless you choose.
If Mrs. Redmore was not with you, she had gone on. Were you alone,
Kitty, in the stackyard after she left; and how was it you were there so
long? Say, was there anyone with you?”

“Aunt, let me speak to you!” in a despairing cry.

Zerah made a movement towards her niece, but Pepperill intercepted her,
and, catching her by the shoulders, rudely thrust her back. “You shall
not speak with her.” Then, turning his head, with a coarse laugh, “So,
someone with her! The schoolmaster, I suppose. She had given him up, and
was inclined to take him on again. Women change like weathercocks.”

“Mr. Bramber was not there,” said Kate, a flush mantling her brow.

“Then who was it?”

Dead silence.

“Come, Kate Quarm, with me. I must do my duty,” said the constable.

“Stay!” said the rector, who had entered unperceived. “Trust her with
me. I solemnly promise that I will keep her secure. Let her go with me
to the parsonage, and do not, in pity, take the frightened, innocent

“Innocent?” in a mocking tone from Pasco.

“Innocent child,” repeated the rector, with his eye on Pepperill, who
dropped his at once. “Mr. Pooke, rely on me to produce her when you
require. In pity, do not frighten her; she may be able easily to clear
herself. That she is innocent, I stake my word. Trust her to me.”

The constable hesitated. The lock-up was in a bad condition. It had not
been occupied for years, and had been turned into a poultry-house.

“Come, Kitty,” said the rector. “I have made myself answerable for you.
And I am proud to do so.”

                               CHAPTER LI
                       THE PASS’N’S PRESCRIPTION

Not a word on that evening would the old rector allow himself to speak
to Kitty relative to the fire, nor would he suffer her to speak about
it. He saw that she was in a condition of nervous excitability, and that
she must be tranquillised. But, indeed, she made hardly an attempt to
speak about the rick, and how it was set on fire; and directly the
rector put up his hand to indicate that the topic was taboo, she
submitted with a sense of relief.

Mr. Fielding had a kind, motherly housekeeper, with tact, and, at a word
from him, she understood how that Kate was to be treated. The rector
was, indeed, alarmed lest the fright and mental excitement he found the
girl labouring under might throw her into fever. He knew that she was
not strong in constitution, and that she was endowed with high-strung
and sensitive nerves.

Walter Bramber, having heard of the fire, of the threatened arrest of
Kate, of her having been taken to the Rectory, hastened to the parsonage
in the hope of seeing her. But this Mr. Fielding would not allow. The
young man was greatly agitated, grievously distressed. He entreated to
be permitted an interview, but the rector was peremptory in refusing it.

“Remember, all is off between you, at all events for a time. That she
likes you, has not ceased to like you, I am convinced. In her present
trouble the sight of you would but increase her distress. There is
something behind all this’something of mystery, which I do not fathom.
Kitty cannot justify herself; not that she is guilty, that neither you
nor I credit. There is something that ties her tongue. She is, perhaps,
afraid of compromising another, and who that is I do not know.”

“I believe,” said Walter impetuously, “that this is a wicked conspiracy
against Kitty. Mr. Pepperill, to clear himself of the suspicion that he
caused the burning down of his stores, painfully laboured to spread the
report that Kitty had done it, and done it out of revenge because he
refused to allow of my suit. And now he has contrived, by some means or
other, to get his rick fired’which is not insured’in such a manner as to
make it appear that Kitty, and Kitty alone, could have done it. It is a
vile plot to ruin her, and she is innocent as a lamb.”

“That she is innocent I am assured,” said the rector. “How this last
fire has come about I cannot even venture to guess. The material for
forming an opinion is not to hand. Till Kitty speaks we probably shall
not know, and I do not know what will induce her to speak. Of one thing
be confident, Walter: whatever Kitty believes is right, that she will
do. I would not urge her to speak, because her sense of duty, her
conscience, tells her to be silent. I have that perfect, unshaken trust
in her, that I simply leave matters alone, and all I seek is to relieve
her of unnecessary trial.”

“I am a poor man,” said Bramber, “but I will give every penny I have,’I
will sell my books, ay, and my violin, to secure the best counsel for
her defence, if it comes to that.”

“You need not trouble yourself on that score,” said Mr. Fielding, with a
smile. “Kitty has other friends besides you. There is her aunt, who
loves her, and there is her pastor, who watches over her with much

Bramber moved in restless unhappiness. The rector saw how wretched the
young man was, and he said gently, “Bramber, do you not see that the
case is taken almost completely out of our hands?”

“I suppose it is’to some extent.”

“Almost entirely. I will not urge Kitty to say what she thinks should be
withheld. There is but one thing you and I can do, and that is what I
shall advise Kitty, before she goes to bed, that which will be better
than any sleeping draught, that which alone will strengthen her to bear
what is to come, that will cool the fevered heart, and calm the working

“What is that? I have tried my violin’music will not ease my mind.”

“No, it is something else. A prescription I had long ago from a Great
Physician: one I have often tried, and never found to fail.”

“What is that?”

“Cast all your care upon God, for He careth for you.”

Walter clasped the old rector’s hand, he could not speak, something rose
in his throat. He turned away, and found that the prescription availed.

Before Kitty went to bed that night, the rector sought her. She had been
standing for an hour at a window, looking in the direction of the

In the few hours that had passed she had become whiter, more sunken
under the eyes, more tremulous in her limbs and mouth. It was with her
as the rector surmised. Her mind was torn with doubt as to what course
she should pursue. If she were to save herself, it must be at the cost
of others.

“Mr. Fielding, is it possible to prevent my being brought before the
magistrates? that is, can I see my uncle in private here, and induce him
to withdraw what he has said?”

“I do not think it is possible.”

“I could tell him something which would make him most anxious to hush
the matter up.”

“Nevertheless, he cannot withdraw. He has made a charge against you. It
has gone beyond the stage at which a recall is possible. Remember,
Kitty, this is not a mere prosecution for injury done; it is a criminal
charge, and your uncle dare not now hold back without making himself
guilty of compounding a felony. I am nothing of a lawyer, but I fancy
such is the law. Even if your uncle did not take the matter up, Mr.
Pooke would be bound to do so. You must make up your mind to that.”

“Then something dreadful will happen.”

“Kitty,” said the rector, “you will have to take my prescription’not
mine, but one given by the Greatest of physicians. Unless you do that,
you will have no rest for mind or body, no sleep, and you will be worn
out before the trial.”

“What is that?”

He told her. “The matter, you see, is taken out of your hands. You can
do nothing by torturing your brain with thoughts how to avoid this, how
to modify that.”

“It is so.”

“Then cast all your care upon God, for He careth for you. Now go to
sleep, and be fresh to-morrow.”

The rector left his house and visited the Cellars. The rick was resolved
into a huge glowing ember, from which fell avalanches of fiery powder.
Above the mass flickered ghost-like blue flames, not in touch with the
incandescent heap below.

At the door of the house the rector encountered Pasco Pepperill.

“There’see how I am served by the public!” exclaimed Pasco. “When a
misfortune happens, there are always some wanton rascals to do mischief
above and beyond what is the main loss.”

“What has happened to you now, Mr. Pepperill?” asked the rector.

“Some idle vagabonds have been at my boat again,” answered Pasco. “It
was so when my stores were burnt’not the same night, but soon after’out
of sheer wickedness they cut my old boat adrift, and I lost her. She was
carried out by the tide, and never have I heard of her from that day to

“Well, and now?”

“And now they’ve gone and done the same’or worse. Before it was my old
boat, and now it’s the new one’cut the rope, and away she’s gone. It’s
wickedness. Oh my! You should preach and pray against it. There be such
a lot of it in the world’and cost me six guineas did that boat.”

“I am very sorry to hear of this additional loss,” said the rector.

“I suppose the next thing they will say is, I cut my own boat away and
let her go out to sea, because I had insured her. But you may tell
everyone, pass’n, that I hadn’t insured my boat no more than I had my
rick o’ straw. Oh dear! the wickedness there is in the world!”

“I wish to see your wife for a moment.”

“Zerah’s inside, in a fine take-on. She’s gone about like a weathercock
lately, and can’t make enough of Kitty. And now that Kitty is proved to
ha’ done all these horrible crimes, she’s in a bad way, I can assure

The rector entered the house and found the poor woman. Her former
hardness had given way under the troubles she had undergone; her pride
had been broken down beneath the burden of the knowledge that her
husband had been guilty of setting fire to his stores for the sake of
the insurance money, and of the gnawing suspicion that her brother had
died in the flames; that he had been remorselessly sacrificed by Pasco
to conceal his own guilt. And now that this new conflagration had
occurred, and that Kitty was apparently implicated in it, she was nigh
in despair.

“Mrs. Pepperill,” said the rector, “I have come to you after having
dismissed Kitty to rest.”

“Rest?” echoed Zerah. “Can she sleep? That is more than I can.”

“Yes; so also will you when you have taken the same prescription.”

“I want no medicine.”

“You will take this. You can do nothing for your niece, can you?”

“Nothing but fret,” said Mrs. Pepperill.

“That will not help her. You believe her to be innocent?” asked the

“I am sure of it.”

“Nothing you can say or do will prove it?”

“Nothing; but if I’m called to bear witness, and I must speak the truth,
then what I say may go against her. That troubles me, terrible. I’m
mazed wi’ the thought. You see, I looked, and there was a can’l-end in
the lantern when she took it; and I saw there was none at all when she
brought back the lantern. I don’t want to say it, as it may go against
her; but I can’t go against my oath and against the truth.”

“Of course not. Speak out what is true.”

“And I can’t have no rest thinkin’, and thinkin’, and frettin’ about it

“No, Mrs. Pepperill; but you will rest and sleep peacefully after you
have taken my prescription’a sovereign one, as many a vexed soul has
found’the only one possible in many a case’‘Cast all your care upon God,
for He careth for you.’”

                              CHAPTER LII
                                IN COURT

The day of the petty sessions at Newton followed closely in the same
week, within two days, and whilst excitement was at its height. The
court-house was packed, there was hardly standing room; and there was a
full bench of magistrates.

Kate was brought in, looking pale; her broad white forehead like ivory,
with the dark hair drawn back on either side; the dark eyebrows and long
dusky lashes showing conspicuously on account of her pallor; and the
lustrous blue eyes, so full of light, alone giving brightness to her
face. Though pale, she was composed. She no longer trembled, and her
lips were closed and firm.

The transparent purity, the innocent modesty of her bearing and
appearance, impressed the court.

She wore a black dress, as she had been accustomed to wear since the
fire at the Cellars, in which it was supposed her father had died, but
the black was spotted with white, as a sort of concession to the
supposition that he might be still alive.

Mr. Fielding was present. He had been courteously accommodated with a
chair within the precincts of the bench; he caught Kitty’s eye, and
raised his finger, pointing upwards. She understood him, and smiled

Far more anxious than Kitty was Walter Bramber, who had given a holiday
to the school, with the rector’s consent, and had come into Newton to
hear the case. He was not able to master his agitation; his pain to see
Kitty in so conspicuous a position, and in such danger, labouring under
an accusation which he was certain was unfounded.

Pasco Pepperill was present; he would have to appear in the witness-box.
He had sent for his solicitor to conduct the prosecution.

As soon as the case was called, Mr. Squire stood up. He had, he said, a
painful task imposed on him, and none felt it more deeply than his
client, the plaintiff, who naturally shrank from taking a step of so
grave a character, against one who was his wife’s niece, young in age,
and who had been for many years an inmate of his house, and one for whom
hitherto he had entertained an almost fatherly regard. Indeed, so deeply
did the plaintiff feel this, that if possible he would have held back
altogether, and have borne his loss in silence. But there were attendant
circumstances which precluded him from adopting this course. He acted in
the matter solely from a sense of duty he owed to himself and to the
neighbourhood, and he might add, of humanity towards the unhappy
individual placed before the bench under the grave charge of arson.

It was no secret’it could be no secret’that the most serious and
damaging reports had been circulated relative to his client in
connection with a recent fire at Coombe Cellars, reports most wounding
to a man of high integrity and irreproachable character, peculiarly
distressing to one of so sensitive and scrupulous a conscience as Mr.
Pasco Pepperill, who was churchwarden of his parish, and had served in
several important parochial offices, as guardian of the poor, waywarden
and overseer, always to the satisfaction of everyone, and had borne, in
all his dealings, the character of a straight and upright man.

Mr. Pepperill had formed his own opinions relative to the fire that had
occurred on his premises previous to this last, but with them, he, Mr.
Squire, would not trouble the bench. Suffice it to say that his view
relative to the origin of that fire had impelled him to act with
promptitude on the present occasion, not merely to bring to justice the
perpetrator of this last atrocious deed, but also to exhibit to the
neighbourhood the fact that he had harboured in his house one who was
capable of such acts, for which he himself had been most unjustly and
cruelly charged by the popular voice.

Moreover, in consideration of the fact that three cases of malicious
burning had taken place within a twelvemonth in the parish of Coombe,
Mr. Pepperill had thought himself morally bound, in the interest of the
public, to prosecute in this last instance, where the criminal had been
taken, so to speak, red-handed. And, lastly, he acted in her interest;
for he felt, and felt with the most sincere conviction, that it was for
the young girl’s own good in this world and in the next that a career so
badly begun should be checked; and that by wholesome correction she
might be induced to enter into her own heart and root out from it all
malice and resentfulness which had been allowed, as it would appear, to
harbour there and drive her to the commission of crime. In conclusion,
Mr. Squire hoped to produce such witnesses’all most reluctant to
speak’as would place the matter clearly before their worships, and leave
them no choice but to refer the case to the Quarter Sessions. The case
being one of felony, they were precluded from dealing with it as in a
case of summary jurisdiction.

Then Mr. Squire proceeded to call Mrs. Zerah Pepperill into the
witness-box. Zerah cast an appealing glance at Kitty, who acknowledged
it gently, with a faint smile.

The solicitor then questioned Mrs. Pepperill.

“You are, I believe, the aunt of the accused?”

“Yes, sir?”

“And you are greatly attached to her?”

“Very greatly. I have known her from a babe.”

“Then we may be quite satisfied that you are most unwilling to say
anything to her prejudice; and that only an overwhelming sense of duty
and responsibility induces you to give witness’and true witness?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Now, Mrs. Pepperill, will you look towards the Bench and tell their
worships, in order, the events of the evening of the 16th ultimo.”

Zerah was silent for a while.

“Do not be afraid; speak out,” said the chairman.

“Well, sir,” began Zerah, “it was supper’we mostly has our supper at
seven, or thereabout. Sometimes we can’t be exact. That clock of ours
ain’t over partic’lar to a minute, and us sets it by the Atmospheric,
and the Atmospheric is most irregular of all. Then us took the clock to
Mr. Ford, to Newton, to have ’n put to rights, and us paid ’n seven and
six, and he sent ’n home worse than he was afore. He used to go,
reg’lar, right on end till he runned down, tho’ he didn’t always keep
time exact-ly. But after Mr. Ford took ’n in hand, then he began to
stand still, after he wor winded up, out o’ pure wickedness; and if you
gentlemen would make Mr. Ford pay me back that there seven and six”’

The chairman interrupted her. “Come to the point, please, Mrs.

“Is it the leg o’ pork you mean?” asked Zerah. “I’m comin’ to her
direct-ly. You see, sirs, ’twern’t cured proper, not as I likes it, and
so the maggots got to the bone. Which do your worships like,
gentlemen’rubbin’ in the salt dry, or soakin’ in brine? I hold to the
dry rubbin’’that is, if it be well done; but to have a thing well done
you must do it yourself. You can’t trust nobody now. And so the

“Never mind the maggots, my good woman.”

“So I sed to Pasco. Us can’t waste thickey leg o’ pork; us must eat ’n,
and so I’ll get ’n out as well as I can, and you go and take plenty o’
exercise and work up a cruel strong appetite, and you won’t make no
count o’ there having been maggots in the leg o’ pork.”

The chairman again intervened, and requested Mr. Squire to extract what
was necessary to be known from this good woman by interrogation. If
allowed her own course, she would not know where to stop, like the clock
before taken in hand by Mr. Ford, and run clean away, as was threatened
by the leg of pork.

“Mrs. Pepperill,” said Mr. Squire, “you seem to be diffusive in your
evidence. However engrossing may be the interest attaching to your clock
and leg of pork, still we are not concerned, thank goodness, with
either’specially, thank goodness, we are not here to discuss that same
leg of pork.”

“The leg ought to ha’ been turned in the brine twice a day, and her
wasn’t. If her had been, her’d ha’ been famous.”

“I rather think, Mrs. Pepperill, this leg of pork is likely to become
famous now, as I see a local reporter present, and it will appear in the
paper. But this leg is blocking our way; let us lay it on the shelf and
proceed, as the French say, to our mutton. Where were you at seven, or,
may be, half-past seven, on the evening of the 16th ultimo?”

“I don’t think I was nowhere.”

“What! nowhere three days ago?”

“That wor the 16th August.”

“Well, I said so.”

“Beg pardon, sir, you asked for the 16th of Ultimo, and I never heered
tell o’ that month. It ain’t in the calendar.”

“Come; on the evening of the 16th last, were you at supper with your
husband and others?”


“And those others were”’

“Rose Ash and Noah Flood. They came in”’

“Never mind that. Answer shortly my questions. Where was Kate Quarm?”

“She had her supper, too.”

“And when she had done, did she go into the back kitchen to clean up?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Was anyone with her then?”

“Yes, sir; Jane Redmore.”

“And when Jane Redmore went home, did your niece accompany her?”

“She said she was going with her.”

“Did your niece take a lantern?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And did you see there was a candle in the lantern?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Sufficient to burn for an hour?”

“I don’t know that exactly.”

“Well, three-quarters of an hour?”

“Perhaps so. I didn’t notice exactly how long the candle was.”

“Anyhow, it would have burnt for more than a quarter of an hour?”

“Oh yes.”

“Or for half an hour?”

“I daresay it would.”

“You know it would. Now be careful as to your statements, Mrs.
Pepperill. You are quite sure it would have burnt for three-quarters of
an hour, if not an hour?”

“Perhaps’I cannot say.”

“You can say it would have lasted three-quarters, but are not sure it
would last an hour?”

“I suppose so.”

“It is not the way of candles, like legs of pork, to run away of
themselves, is it?”

“I don’t understand you, sir!”

“I mean, that if you put a candle into a lantern, it will remain in the
lantern till it is burnt out.”

“Unless someone takes it out.”

“Exactly! and when the lantern was brought back by Kate Quarm, was the
candle there?”


“It was not there. It was not burnt out, and it had not run away, eh?”

“I suppose so.”

“Then someone must have removed the candle. This is a point, your
worships, I wish to establish, and that you should observe. Kate Quarm
went out with a lantern in her hand, in which was a piece of candle that
would certainly last three-quarters of an hour, if not an entire hour.
When she returned, no candle was in the socket. I shall call other
witnesses to establish this, and the fact that there were no signs of
the candle having melted away; indeed, the lantern is here. Constable,
please to produce it. If the Bench will kindly look at it, your worships
will perceive that the candle was put in with a piece of brown paper
wrapped about it. The paper is still there. The candle is gone. It was
taken out. I will call the constable presently to testify that he took
charge of the lantern immediately after the event, and that it has not
been tampered with since. I now proceed to ask Mrs. Pepperill how long a
time Kate Quarm was absent after she went out with Mrs. Jane Redmore.
Now, Mrs. Pepperill, pray concentrate your mind and exercise your
memory. How long was Kate absent?”

“What’washing up?” asked Zerah.

“No’we have nothing to do with the washing up. After that, when she went
out with Jane Redmore.”

“I didn’t look at the clock.”

“About how long?”

“I can’t say.”

“Do you think it was half an hour?”

“It might be so.”

“Or less.”

“I really can’t tell.”

“Then she was absent for half an hour at the outside, possibly.”

“I suppose so.”

“You may go now. I shall want you again. I proceed to summon Jane

This poor woman was in such a nervous condition that she would have
fainted, had she not been provided with a chair. Nothing but what was of
absolute importance could be drawn from her; which was that Kitty had
not accompanied her beyond the gate from the Coombe premises, a distance
of hardly three hundred yards.

“This,” said the solicitor, “is what I require. I will not trouble this
feeble and timorous creature any longer. We have ascertained that the
defendant, Kate Quarm, went out with Mrs. Redmore, under the pretext
that she was going to accompany her home.”

“I do not think this point was established,” said the chairman.

“I beg your worship’s pardon. You are right. The next witness I shall
call will establish the pretext without a doubt. I summon Pasco

“Stay a moment’what is this noise, this disturbance in the court?”
called the chairman. “It is not possible for me or my brother
magistrates to hear what is said. Unless the disturbance be allayed
instantly, I shall give orders for the court to be cleared.”

The requisite stillness ensued.

“Now then, Mr. Pepperill, stand forward, take the book, and such
answers,” etc.

Again there ensued a movement among the crowd outside the
rails’exclamations, mutterings, and heaving and tossing, as though the
mass of mankind there densely packed was boiling up from below.

“I insist on order in the court!” called the chairman.

Then Pasco, having kissed the Bible, turned his face to the Bench. He
was elate, had spread his breast, and tossed back his head, a
self-complacent smirk was on his countenance.

“I have felt it my duty,” he said, “to speak’to clear my own self, and
to cut short the career of crime of the girl I have regarded as my

Again the agitation among the public; and now through the mob came a
man, elbowing his way, till he had forced himself to the front, and
stood face to face with Pasco Pepperill.

Pasco, disturbed in his pompous address, turned and saw before him’Jason

He put his hand to his head with a gasp, staggered back, and fell
senseless to the ground.

                              CHAPTER LIII
                             JASON’S STORY

The court was full of commotion. Pasco Pepperill had fallen, as though
struck down by a hammer, and was insensible. He was carried out with
difficulty, and with the crowd rushing about him and his bearers, unable
to realise what had taken place, anxious to see if he were dead.

He was not dead: a doctor was hastily summoned to the house into which
he was taken, and he pronounced the case to be one of apoplexy brought
on by sudden and violent emotion.

Meantime, inside the court order was gradually restored.

The chairman made a feeling allusion to the sudden illness which had
fallen on the most important witness in the case’which was the less to
be wondered at, since the case was one that must deeply move Mr.
Pepperill, as he had to appear against a member of his own family.

Then Mr. Pooke, with a mottled face, pushed up to the Bench, and
whispered something in the ear of the chairman.

“I beg pardon, I do not understand,” said he.

“Sir,” said Mr. Pooke, “the real culprit has come to deliver himself
up’Jason Quarm, who set fire to the rick, for which his daughter stands
here accused wrongfully by the biggest rascal that ever breathed.”

“Call Jason Quarm!” said the magistrate.

Jason at once hobbled forward and pushed himself in beside Kate, who was
trembling with emotions of the most varied nature. Jason cleared his
throat and said’

“I, your worships, I, and none but I, set fire to the rick at Coombe
Cellars, and I did it by inadvertence. Please you to remove my daughter
from this dock, and hear her presently as witness.”

“Let us hear first what you have to say. We cannot discharge her till we
know that she is innocent.”

“She is innocent, as innocent as the day. May it please your worships to
hear what I have to relate. It’s a main long story,” said Jason.

“What is to the point we will listen to. So you surrender yourself as
having fired the rick.”

“I did it, your worship. This is how it came about’you may put me on
oath if you will.”

“Stay a moment. I have to caution you that you are not obliged to say
anything, unless you desire to do so; but whatever you say will be taken
down in writing, and may be given in evidence against you upon your

“I quite understand that,” said Quarm. “If I may be allowed a seat, I
shall be obliged. I’ve got one leg a bit shorter than the other, and
it’s rayther a trouble for me to stand long, and I’ve a goodish long
tale to tell.”

“I again remind you that what you say must be to the point.”

“I shan’t wander,” answered Jason. “But I shall have to begin some way
back, and that in March last, when Mr. Pooke’s rick was set a-blazin’.
That were thought to ha’ been the doin’ of Roger Redmore, and there was
a warrant out agin him, but he wor niver ketched.”

“Does this concern the case before the court?”

“Ay, it do’intimate like.”

“Very well, then, proceed. We have ordered you to be accommodated with a
chair, and your daughter likewise.”

“Roger Redmore, he runned away, and the constables never ketched he. My
daughter Kitty, her took on terrible over the poor wife as was turned
out of house and home by Mr. Pooke, and her persuaded me to let the
woman have my cottage, for she and the little ones. I didn’t mind, as I
was away on the moor busy about Brimpts oak wood, and when I comed back
to Coombe, I wor mostly at the Cellars. My sister Zerah, she be that
rapscallion Pasco’s wife, you understand, your worship.”

“Is this really to the point? You are speaking of the fire at Mr.
Pooke’s, not of that at Mr. Pepperill’s.”

“One fire hangs on to the other. You’ll find that out, gents, when
you’ve heard my tale.”

“Proceed, then.”

“Well’it seems that Roger Redmore felt mighty grateful because of what
Kitty and I had done. I was agent for an insurance company, and I
persuaded my brother-in-law to insure in it, but I must say he rather
astonished me at the figure at which he insured, and made me a bit
uneasy; I hadn’t such a terrible high opinion of him as to think he
might not be up to tricks.”

“What do you mean by tricks?”

“Doin’ something to his insured goods that weren’t worth much, and
gettin’ for ’em payment as if they was gold. But, your worship, that
you’ll say ain’t to the point. No more it is’we come to facts, not
opinions, don’t us? Well, I had been to Brimpts about the oak we was
fellin’ and barkin’, and I wanted to tell my brother-in-law as how I
thought we could deal with the dockyard at Portsmouth. So I left the
moor and drove down in my conveyance,’which is nothing but a donkey cart
and a jackass to draw’n,’and when I came in the dark o’ the evening to
my cottage, there I found Roger Redmore in the bosom of his family, so
to speak. ’Twas awk’ard for he and awk’ard for me, as there was a
warrant out again’ him, and so I drove right on and on to the Cellars. I
found Pasco there in the house all by hisself, which was coorious. He
had sent his wife, my sister Zerah, away somewhere, and Kitty, my
daughter, away somewhere else, and he was in a pretty take-on because I
turned up unexpected. I didn’t quite understand why he was in so poor a
temper, and why he should turn me out of the house as he did’and I had
got nowhere to go to for a night’s lodgin’. You see, your worships, I
couldn’t go home, what wi’ all the beds and every hole and corner
chockfull o’ childer as thick as fleas in a dog’s back, not to mention
the woman and that chap Roger in hiding, who didn’t want to be found.
But Pasco, he wouldn’t listen to reason, and he was that suspicious and
that queer in all his goings-on, that I thought some mischief wor up,
and that I’d bide handy and keep an eye on him. Well, gentlemen, when he
jostled me out o’ the house door, I went to the warehouse, and it wasn’t
locked, so I stepped in and found the ladder and clambered up that.
Thinks I to myself, if Pasco don’t mean no wickedness, well, I can sleep
here comfortable enough, anyhow. There were plenty o’ fleeces’they
weren’t over clean and sweet, but in such a case one can’t be
partic’lar. I hadn’t been there a terrible long time before I heard the
door open and I see’d a light. So I went to the ladder head and looked
down, and there sure enough wor Pasco! I watched him awhile to see what
May-games he wor up to, and at last I spied what it wor. He were
arranging and settling shavings among the coal knobs, so as to make up
grand fires, and he was gettin’ everything ready to burn down the whole
consarn, coals and fleeces and building, and me in it, if I were that
jack fool to bide where I was. So I hollered out to he, and let ’n
understand who was there, and that I marked his little game. I were on
the ladder. He looked towards me, and came at me, and shook the ladder,
and shook me down, and I fell on my head, I reckon, and remember nothing
more till I came to myself, bound hand and foot in a sack, and throwed
a-top of a heap o’ coal, that were afire and fizzing out in flame and
smoke, and a’most stifled I were, and didn’t know ’xactly where I were,
whether I’d got to the wrong place down below. I cried out, and I tried
to get free, but couldn’t move, and then I rolled myself down over fire
and coals, and scorched I were a bit; but what’d been the end I cannot
tell, if it had not been for Roger Redmore, who broke open the door and
came in, and dragged me out of the smoke and smother, and cut the bands
and got me out o’ the sack, and helped me off to where his missis were,
that is to say, my cottage.”

Jason paused and looked about him.

“That, I reckon, is the first chapter. Now to go on. When I came there,
I thought it all over, and I got Roger to put me in the outhouse, where
none of the children might see, and himself he dursn’t bide more than
the night lest he should be took, but he told Jane to mind me and let me
have what I wanted. Well, I turned the matter well over in my head, and
I thought as how Pasco were my brother-in-law, and if all came out, I’d
bring trouble on Zerah, and on my own child; I’d have to say as how
Pasco had fired his own building so as to get the insurance money, and
tried to kill me too, ’cause I see’d what he were up to. So I didn’t
like to do that, and I thought it ’ud be best for all parties if I got
out o’ the way. I dursn’t stir all the day that followed. But at night I
got out when I knowed the tide was suitable, and I took the old boat at
the Cellars and I made off wi’ that, and I rowed out to sea, and rowed
along the coast to Torquay, and I landed there, and there I ha’ been,
unbeknown to the Coombe folk’there or in London. When I’d been a bit to
Torquay, I seemed to smell money. I see’d as how a lot o’ fortune could
be got there by building and making a great place of it for invalids and
such folk; and I went up to London to start a company, and get a
building firm to take the matter up. I’ve been off and on about this
idee, and a fine idee it is like to turn out’so I reckon. I did hear as
how Pasco, he’d dra’ed twelve hundred pounds out o’ the insurance
company. Blessed if I knowed ’xactly what I should do. On the one side,
I were agent for the company; on the other, I were brother-in-law to
Pasco, and if I peached on Pasco, I might just as well ha’ stuck a knife
into my sister’s heart. And then I owed him something for having reared
my daughter in his house since she wor a baby. And Pasco and me, us got
on famous together about speculations, and taken in the lump he weren’t
a bad chap till he began to look to gettin’ money by burning down his

Jason stood up, stretched his limbs, sat down again, and proceeded’after
a word of cheer to his daughter, who had risen and was standing
speechless, looking at him with dismayed eyes. She knew that her uncle
was false, but Jason had revealed a depth of wickedness in the man which
she had not conceived to be possible.

She had been satisfied that he had set fire to his magazines for the
sake of the insurance, and she knew that, basely, he endeavoured to
throw the guilt of the act on her. She had feared that her father had
been sacrificed when the warehouse was burned, but had never supposed
that her uncle had done this deliberately.

“Now,” continued Quarm, “I reckon I come to the third chapter. After a
bit, I thought I’d come back to Coombe, but not openly, and see how
Kitty were getting along. So I came unbeknown to everyone, and went to
Mrs. Redmore, and her put me in the same old outhouse as I were in
before, and I told her, as she worked at the Cellars, to say nothing
about it to Kitty, but find an excuse for getting her out from the house
after dark. That is what Jane Redmore did, and I met Kitty at the rick,
and us went together behind the rick, so as the light might not be seen
from the house whilst we talked. Well, I’d been wi’out my bacca-pipe for
some time, and seein’ as how Kitty had a light, I told her to open the
lantern, and I’d have a bit o’ a smoke for comfort. Her opened the
lantern door’but Lor’! gentlemen, I han’t told you how struck wi’ amaze
and main glad the little maid was to see her father, whom she had
believed to be dead, come to life again, hearty and wi’ fine prospects
of makin’ money out of building speculations to Torquay. But you must
imagine all that, your worships; it ain’t, as you may say, to the point;
but this here little affair o’ the pipe and lightin’ it is. Well, when
she opened the lantern door, I took out the bit end of a candle as was
therein, and I put it to my pipe to kindle my ’baccy. She was talkin’
and tellin’ of me all as had happened, and when her said as how Pasco
Pepperill had tried to lay the firing of his warehouse on she, then I
were that angry I burnt my fingers wi’ the candle-end, not thinking what
I were about, and throwed it down right among the straw, and afore I
could say Jack Robinson, there was a blaze as no stamping would put out.
The first thing Kate did was to run in, and the first thing I did was to
tumble into the boat and make off. I didn’t know what the consequences
might be, and I first thought I’d consider it, and learn what came of it
all before I stirred. If Pasco didn’t make a fuss, why, it might pass
and no harm come of it; if he made a stir, why, all must come out. The
little maid, I reckon, she would say nothing, because her knowed it was
my doing the stack catching alight, and thought she’d bring me into
trouble; and then there was that other fire behind; she didn’t know what
might come if it were examined into, and I made my appearance as one
returned from the dead. But I heard of it all. Jane Redmore sent to tell
me. And now, your worships, I reckon I’m the guilty one of the fire, but
it was accident, and she’s innocent and may be discharged. That is my

The Bench withdrew for a few minutes. When the magistrates returned, the
buzz of voices in court ceased at once.

“We have decided,” said the chairman, “that the case against Kate Quarm
be dismissed. She leaves the court without an imputation against her
character. You, Mr. Jason Quarm, must stand security in yourself and
find two others to stand bail for you to reappear before the court when

                              CHAPTER LIV
                        CON AFFETTUOSO CAPRIZIO

Pasco Pepperill did not recover. The shock had been too great’it had
sent the blood rushing to his head, and his consciousness never
returned. By midnight he was a dead man.

Now that he was gone, the will’made partly in a moment of scare, partly
out of compunction, partly also out of boastfulness’came into force, and
Kitty was provided with a small income of her own. The first thing done
by her and her aunt, as soon as the will was proved, was to refund to
the insurance company the whole of the money paid by them to Pasco on
account of the burned stores.

The Cellars belonged now to Zerah for her life. It was not long before
an understanding was reached between Walter Bramber and Kitty, the
purport of which was that next spring Kitty should cease to be Alone. No
inscription, such as the girl had desired, had been cut in the bark of
the mulberry tree, and now, were one to be traced there, it would be of
a different nature’a legend of two who met and parted, and met again
never more to part.

Jason Quarm for once had succeeded in a speculation. The Torquay
building society promised to be a prosperous company, and to pay good
dividends. Jason was not able to contribute much in capital, but as
promoter of the scheme he received certain shares. He was occupied, his
mind engrossed in carrying out the plans of the company, in making
contracts, in buying materials, in supervising, in altering, in scheming
terraces and detached villas, in planting Belle Views and Sea Prospects,
and Rosebank Cottages, and Lavender Walks, and Marine Parades, and he
could afford no time to be at Coombe.

Zerah was wrapped up in her niece. She could not have loved her more
dearly had Kitty been her own child. The hardness in the woman’s
character gave way; the trouble she had undergone had softened and
sweetened a nature really good and kind, but ruffled and soured by
adverse circumstances and uncongenial associations. A great change had
taken place in the opinion of the public in Coombe-in-Teignhead relative
to Kitty. The general feeling was, that she had been hardly treated, in
having a crime attributed to her of which she had been guiltless; that
if she had been reserved in her manner, it was her way, and all folk
were not constituted alike; that if she asked questions, no one was
bound to answer them unless he liked, and if he couldn’t give the
required information. Kitty was quiet’she harmed nobody. She had done
Rose Ash a great favour in stepping out of the way when Jan Pooke was
inclined to “make a fool of himself wi’ her.” She was worth three
thousand pounds for certain, and it was said that her father was piling
up a fortune in Torquay. Coombe Cellars would ultimately be hers, as
well as the little bit of ground about it’or rather, at the back of it,
which was what remained of the farm. And she had been grown in Coombe,
she had foothold there, and “all knew the worst o’ her, and that weren’t
so cruel bad.” Finally, and conclusively, Mr. Puddicombe pronounced in
her favour.

So public opinion veered round, and was prepared to make much of Kate.
The worst that could be spoken of her was that she had taken up with
that schoolmaster again. But then, just as Scripture said that the
believing wife might sanctify the heathen husband, so it was reasoned
that the indigenous Kitty might naturalise the foreign Walter, and that
because she belonged to the place, he might be accepted as a strange
plant, given room to root in at Coombe.

It was very well known that sometimes a stray cat came to a house from
nobody knew where, and meeowed, entreating to be fed and harboured, and
few housewives would shut it out. They would take in the stranger, give
it milk and a place by the fire, and domesticate it. Even so came this
Walter Bramber into Coombe out of space; whom he had belonged to, and
from what sort of habitation, no one knew. He asked to be domiciled in
Coombe, and Kitty took him in. What was allowable to a cat was surely
not to be refused to a schoolmaster.

If Walter Bramber was afflicted with superior education, it was probably
no more his fault than is water on the brain in a rickety child. And if
he was a schoolmaster by profession, perhaps it was not his fault, but
his misfortune. He’d been bred to it by his unfeeling and unnatural
parents, just as in London some boys were brought up to be thieves and
pickpockets. Mr. Puddicombe, indeed, had taken up schoolmastering, but
that was a different matter; he had not been reared to anything of the
sort, and had adopted it rather as a pastime than a profession, and had
never allowed it to interfere with his robust and intelligent pleasures,
such as cock-fighting; and Mr. Puddicombe drank and smoked and swore
sometimes, and all that showed he was a man. On the whole,
Coombe-in-Teignhead agreed to accept Walter Bramber and Kitty as his
wife, with the proviso that it would kick them over should they attempt
to give themselves airs.

As for the rector, he was radiant with happiness. Now at last he saw
some prospect of making an impression for good on his parishioners, if
not of elevating the existing generation, of greatly raising the moral
and intellectual tone of that which would follow. He had striven hard
for years in isolation and with absolutely no success. Now, with the aid
of a peculiarly well-qualified schoolmaster, and with Kitty at that
master’s side to direct the girls as Bramber guided the minds of the
boys, he was sanguine of success, not of much that he would see himself,
but of a success in the far future. Of no profession can that be said
more truly than of that of the pastor, “One soweth’another reapeth.”

“Walter,” said he to his schoolmaster, “I was not sent here to blow
Sunday soap-bubbles, sometimes iridescent emptiness, sometimes emptiness
without the iridescence. Soap-bubbles please for the moment, but they do
not satisfy. No father, the gospel says, when asked for bread, will give
his children a stone, but a stone has in it substance, whereas a
soap-bubble has but emptiness. But the children will not ask for bread
unless they be hungry, and will always be pleased to see soap-bubbles
sail over their heads. I believe the apostles were sent forth to be the
salt of the earth. Their successors are self-satisfied if they be but
insipid carbonate of soda. I have striven to feed, not to amuse, but
nothing can avail till the hunger come. You find that in the school, I
find it in the church. Some Indians chew clay, because they have not
bread. Our people have quite a fancy for this stodgy substance; we have
to rectify their appetites, so that they may come to desire nourishing
diet, and not what is merely stuffing’to seek for instruction, and not
amusement. You in your sphere, I in mine, have a similar office, and
similar obligations weighing on us, and similar difficulties to
encounter. If you seek for popularity, make Puddicombe your model; take
the level of the people among whom you are set, and do not stir to cure
them of clay-chewing. If you seek to do your duty, then do not expect to
have a path of soft herbage to tread, but one of thorns. If I had been
indefinite, flowery, hollow in my teaching here, I should have been the
most popular man in the parish, and after forty years’ ministration
would have passed away with a smile of self-satisfaction that I had
given no offence to anyone’only to awake in the vast beyond to the
startling conviction that I had done no good to anyone!

“Cast your bread on the waters, and you will find it after many days;
cast chaff, and it will be blown, washed, rotted away. Many a man in my
profession and in yours’we are both teachers’is like the
cuckoo-spittle-insect, which throws out a great froth bubble about it.
So do some of my profession surround themselves with a copious discharge
of words’words without substance. Avoid that in your school, Bramber.
Teaching must be definite, or it is trifling, not teaching; and in
sacred matters trifling is a guilty desertion of a duty. We are sent to
feed, not befool our flocks. Form a clear conception in your mind of
what you want to teach, and then impress it sharply, well defined, on
the minds given you to act upon. So only will you rear a generation in
advance of that to which we belong. But you will get no praise for so
doing, save from your own conscience.”

Roger Redmore had surrendered to justice, by the advice of Jason, and he
had been sentenced to a nominal punishment of two months’ imprisonment.
Mr. Pooke had readily pleaded for him, had frankly acknowledged that the
man had been greatly aggravated, and was perhaps hardly sensible of what
he _was_ doing.

On leaving prison, Roger was taken, along with his wife, into the
service of the Cellars, and gave promise of being a faithful and
energetic workman.

The spring arrived in course, and with the warm May air and flowers came
the day of Kitty’s marriage.

There had been grave discussions among the instrumentalists of the
village orchestra previous to the event, as to how it was to be honoured
by their performance. In compliment to the ex-schoolmaster, who took a
lively interest in the marriage, it was unanimously decided that
Puddicombe in F should be performed, if not in its entirety, at all
events in part. The “fugg,” it was thought, might be omitted, as only a
critical and scientific musician could appreciate its merits and
disentangle the chaos of sounds. But there was the _largo molto con
affettuoso caprizio_ at their disposal. As _largo molto_ meant, Turn the
score upside down, then if the score were not inverted, it would flow in
the melody of “Kitty Alone and I.” Mr. Puddicombe was approached with
the demand whether it were permissible to execute this movement without
the _largo molto_, _i.e._ the inversion of the score. Puddicombe at once
assented. That, as he pointed out, was the magnificent brilliancy of the
composition, that it could be turned about anyhow, and played right off,
and the effect was superb any way. Let them disregard _largo molto_ and
simply play _con affettuoso caprizio_’which meant, go ahead with the
score upright’and there you are.

Accordingly, after the ceremony, when bride and bridegroom issued from
the church, the orchestra, which was in readiness, struck up the
movement of Puddicombe in F, _con affettuoso caprizio_; and most
certainly as it so stood in the score, and so was performed, the air was
none other than “The Frog and the Mouse’Crock-a-mydaisy, Kitty alone.”

Forward marched the band, playing hautboy, clarionet, first fiddle,
second fiddle, the bass labouring along as best he could, tumbling over
his viol, throwing out a grunt and a growl when he was able.

The people of Coombe-in-Teignhead were at their doors wishing happiness
to the young couple. The children strewed flowers, and every now and
then broke out into chorus’

                    “Crock-a-mydaisy, Kitty alone.”

The ploughmen whistled the air and waved their caps. The church bells
burst out into clamour and drowned it. The rooks in the elms of the
churchyard poured forth volleys of “Caw, caw, caw,” introducing a new
element into the musical medley.

Through the street went the little procession, headed by children, who
danced and sang before the band; then came the musicians, and lastly the
married young people. They were on their way to the Cellars, where Zerah
was waiting for them, and had brought forth cake and ale in abundance,
to feast children, musicians, well-wishers’everyone who would drink the
health of bride and bridegroom.

Then, when the regaling was over, and thundering cheers had been given
for the schoolmaster, for Kitty, for Zerah’Walter Bramber and Kitty
appeared at the door, and half singing, with a smile on his face, to the
strain of “The Frog and the Mouse,” Walter thus tendered his thanks’

                “Curtsey, Kitty, and say with me’
                Neighbours, thanks for company;
                On all the world we will shut the door:
                In all the world I need nothing more
                Than Kitty, my wife, and Kitty Alone,
                      Kitty Alone and I.”

                                THE END



                          A LIST OF NEW BOOKS
                          AND ANNOUNCEMENTS OF
                          METHUEN AND COMPANY
                           PUBLISHERS: LONDON
                            36 ESSEX STREET


             FORTHCOMING BOOKS,                           2
             POETRY,                                     13
             GENERAL LITERATURE,                         15
             THEOLOGY,                                   17
             LEADERS OF RELIGION,                        18
             WORKS BY S. BARING GOULD,                   19
             FICTION,                                    21
             NOVEL SERIES,                               24
             BOOKS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS,                   25
             THE PEACOCK LIBRARY,                        26
             UNIVERSITY EXTENSION SERIES,                26
             SOCIAL QUESTIONS OF TO-DAY,                 28
             CLASSICAL TRANSLATIONS,                     29
             COMMERCIAL SERIES,                          29
             WORKS BY A. M. M. STEDMAN, M.A.,            30
             SCHOOL EXAMINATION SERIES,                  32
             PRIMARY CLASSICS,                           32

                              OCTOBER 1894


                                                           October 1894.

                           MESSRS. METHUEN’S




                                                         [_May_ 1895.
 =Rudyard Kipling.= BALLADS. By RUDYARD KIPLING.
    _Crown 8vo. Buckram. 6s_

  The announcement of a new volume of poetry from Mr. Kipling will
    excite wide interest. The exceptional success of ‘Barrack-Room
    Ballads,’ with which this volume will be uniform, justifies the hope
    that the new book too will obtain a wide popularity.

=Henley.= ENGLISH LYRICS. Selected and Edited by W. E. HENLEY. _Crown
    8vo. Buckram. 6s._

      Also 30 copies on hand-made paper _Demy 8vo. £1, 1s._
      Also 15 copies on Japanese paper. _Demy 8vo. £2, 2s._

  Few announcements will be more welcome to lovers of English verse than
    the one that Mr. Henley is bringing together into one book the
    finest lyrics in our language. Robust and original the book will
    certainly be, and it will be produced with the same care that made
    ‘Lyra Heroica’ delightful to the hand and eye.

=“Q”= THE GOLDEN POMP: A Procession of English Lyrics from Surrey to
    Shirley, arranged by A. T. QUILLER COUCH. _Crown 8vo. Buckram. 6s._

      Also 40 copies on hand-made paper. _Demy 8vo. £1, 1s._
      Also 15 copies on Japanese paper. _Demy 8vo. £2, 2s._

  Mr. Quiller Couch’s taste and sympathy mark him out as a born
    anthologist, and out of the wealth of Elizabethan poetry he has made
    a book of great attraction.

=Beeching.= LYRA SACRA: An Anthology of Sacred Verse. Edited by H. C.
    BEECHING, M.A. _Crown 8vo. Buckram. 6s._

      Also 25 copies on hand-made paper. _21s._

  This book will appeal to a wide public. Few languages are richer in
    serious verse than the English, and the Editor has had some
    difficulty in confining his material within his limits.

=Yeats.= AN ANTHOLOGY OF IRISH VERSE. Edited by W. B. YEATS. _Crown 8vo.
    3s. 6d._

                             Illustrated Books

=Baring Gould.= A BOOK OF FAIRY TALES retold by S. BARING GOULD. With
    numerous illustrations and initial letters by ARTHUR J. GASKIN.
    _Crown 8vo. 6s._

      Also 75 copies on hand-made paper. _Demy 8vo._ £1, 1_s._
      Also 20 copies on Japanese paper. _Demy 8vo._ £2, 2_s._

  Few living writers have been more loving students of fairy and folk
    lore than Mr. Baring Gould, who in this book returns to the field in
    which he won his spurs. This volume consists of the old stories
    which have been dear to generations of children, and they are fully
    illustrated by Mr. Gaskin, whose exquisite designs for Andersen’s
    Tales won him last year an enviable reputation.

    GOULD, and illustrated by the Students of the Birmingham Art School.
    _Crown 8vo. 6s._

      Also 50 copies on hand-made paper. _4to. 21s._

  A collection of old nursery songs and rhymes, including a number which
    are little known. The book contains some charming illustrations by
    the Birmingham students under the superintendence of Mr. Gaskin, and
    Mr. Baring Gould has added numerous notes.

=Beeching.= A BOOK OF CHRISTMAS VERSE. Edited by H. C. BEECHING, M.A.,
    and Illustrated by WALTER CRANE. _Crown 8vo. 6s._

      Also 75 copies on hand-made paper. _Demy 8vo._ £1, 1_s._
      Also 20 copies on Japanese paper. _Demy 8vo._ £2, 2_s._

  A collection of the best verse inspired by the birth of Christ from
    the Middle Ages to the present day. Mr. Walter Crane has designed
    some beautiful illustrations. A distinction of the book is the large
    number of poems it contains by modern authors, a few of which are
    here printed for the first time..

=Jane Barlow.= THE BATTLE OF THE FROGS AND MICE, translated by JANE
    BARLOW, Author of ‘Irish Idylls’ and pictured by F. D. BEDFORD.
    _Small 4to. 6s. net._

      Also 50 copies on hand-made paper. _4to. 21s. net._

  This is a new version of a famous old fable. Miss Barlow, whose
    brilliant volume of ‘Irish Idylls’ has gained her a wide reputation,
    has told the story in spirited flowing verse, and Mr. Bedford’s
    numerous illustrations and ornaments are as spirited as the verse
    they picture. The book will be one of the most beautiful and
    original books possible.

                          =Devotional Books=
                       _With full-page Illustrations._

    ARCHDEACON FARRAR. Illustrated by C. M. GERE. _Fcap. 8vo. 5s._

      Also 50 copies on hand-made paper. 15_s._

THE CHRISTIAN YEAR. By JOHN KEBLE. With an Introduction and Notes by W.
    LOCK, M.A., Sub-Warden of Keble College, Author of ‘The Life of John
    Keble,’ Illustrated by R. ANNING BELL. _Fcap. 8vo. 5s._

      Also 50 copies on hand-made paper. 15_s._

  These two volumes will be charming editions of two famous books,
    finely illustrated and printed in black and red. The scholarly
    introductions will give them an added value, and they will be
    beautiful to the eye, and of convenient size.

                             General Literature

    New Edition, edited with Notes and Appendices and Maps by J. B.
    BURY, M.A., Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. _In seven volumes.
    Crown 8vo._

  The time seems to have arrived for a new edition of Gibbon’s great
    work—furnished with such notes and appendices as may bring it up to
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    has made this period his special study, and issued in a convenient
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    HYKSOS. By W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE, D.C.L., Professor of Egyptology at
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  This volume is the first of an illustrated History of Egypt in six
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      I. Prehistoric to Hyksos times. By Prof. Flinders Petrie. II.
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        The Ptolemaic Rule. V. The Roman Rule. VI. The Muhammedan Rule.

    The volumes will be issued separately. The first will be ready in
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    D.C.L. With 120 Illustrations. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._ A book which
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=Flinders Petrie.= EGYPTIAN TALES. Edited by W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE.
    Illustrated by TRISTRAM ELLIS. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

    A selection of the ancient tales of Egypt, edited from original
      sources, and of great importance as illustrating the life and
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=Southey.= ENGLISH SEAMEN (Howard, Clifford, Hawkins, Drake, Cavendish).
    By ROBERT SOUTHEY. Edited, with an Introduction, by DAVID HANNAY.
    _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  This is a reprint of some excellent biographies of Elizabethan seamen,
    written by Southey and never republished. They are practically
    unknown, and they deserve, and will probably obtain, a wide

=Waldstein.= JOHN RUSKIN: a Study. By CHARLES WALDSTEIN, M.A., Fellow of
    King’s College, Cambridge. With a Photogravure Portrait after
    Professor HERKOMER. _Post 8vo. 5s._

      Also 25 copies on Japanese paper. _Demy 8vo._ 21_s._

    This is a frank and fair appreciation of Mr. Ruskin’s work and
      influence—literary and social—by an able critic, who has enough
      admiration to make him sympathetic, and enough discernment to make
      him impartial.

=Henley and Whibley.= A BOOK OF ENGLISH PROSE. Collected by W. E. HENLEY
    and CHARLES WHIBLEY. _Cr. 8vo. 6s._

      Also 40 copies on Dutch paper. 21_s._ _net._
      Also 15 copies on Japanese paper. 42_s._ _net._

    A companion book to Mr. Henley’s well-known ‘Lyra Heroica.’ It is
      believed that no such collection of splendid prose has ever been
      brought within the compass of one volume. Each piece, whether
      containing a character-sketch or incident, is complete in itself.
      The book will be finely printed and bound.

    _With Portraits. Crown 8vo. 6s._

    A full account of the early part of Mr. Gladstone’s extraordinary
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    With numerous Illustrations by F. D. BEDFORD, S. HUTTON, etc. _2
    vols. Demy 8vo. 32s._

  This book is the first serious attempt to describe the great barren
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    subterranean rivers. The region is full of prehistoric and historic
    interest, relics of cave-dwellers, of mediæval robbers, and of the
    English domination and the Hundred Years’ War. The book is lavishly

=Baring Gould.= A GARLAND OF COUNTRY SONG: English Folk Songs with their
    traditional melodies. Collected and arranged by S. BARING GOULD and
    H. FLEETWOOD SHEPPARD. _Royal 8vo. 6s._

  In collecting West of England airs for ‘Songs of the West,’ the
    editors came across a number of songs and airs of considerable
    merit, which were known throughout England and could not justly be
    regarded as belonging to Devon and Cornwall. Some fifty of these are
    now given to the world.

    With Illustrations and Maps. _Crown 8vo. 6s._

  A volume dealing with the French Riviera from Toulon to Mentone.
    Without falling within the guide-book category, the book will supply
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    the attention directed to those portions of the Riviera, which,
    though full of interest and easily accessible from many
    well-frequented spots, are generally left unvisited by English
    travellers, such as the Maures Mountains and the St. Tropez
    district, the country lying between Cannes, Grasse and the Var, and
    the magnificent valleys behind Nice. There will be several original

=George.= BRITISH BATTLES. By H. B. GEORGE, M.A., Fellow of New College,
  Oxford. _With numerous Plans. Crown 8vo. 6s._

This book, by a well-known authority on military history, will be an
  important contribution to the literature of the subject. All the great
  battles of English history are fully described, connecting chapters
  carefully treat of the changes wrought by new discoveries and
  developments, and the healthy spirit of patriotism is nowhere absent
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=Shedlock.= THE PIANOFORTE SONATA: Its Origin and Development. By J. S.
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  This is a practical and not unduly technical account of the Sonata
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  A short account of Local Government, historical and explanatory, which
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=Dixon.= A PRIMER OF TENNYSON. By W. M. DIXON, M. A., Professor of
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  This book consists of (1) a succinct but complete biography of Lord
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JOHN KEBLE. By WALTER LOCK, Sub-Warden of Keble College. _With a
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                             English Classics
                         Edited by W. E. HENLEY.

Messrs. Methuen propose to publish, under this title, a series of the
  masterpieces of the English tongue.

The ordinary ‘cheap edition’ appears to have served its purpose: the
  public has found out the artist-printer, and is now ready for
  something better fashioned. This, then, is the moment for the issue of
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The series, of which Mr. William Ernest Henley is the general editor,
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The books, which are designed and printed by Messrs. Constable, will be
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                       The first six numbers are:—

    Introduction by CHARLES WHIBLEY, and a Portrait. 2 _vols._

THE WORKS OF WILLIAM CONGREVE. With an Introduction by G. S. STREET, and
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    WALTON. With an Introduction by VERNON BLACKBURN, and a Portrait.

    Introduction by E. S. BROWNE, M.A.

THE POEMS OF ROBERT BURNS. With an Introduction by W. E. HENLEY, and a
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    Introduction by JAMES HEPBURN MILLAR, and a Portrait. 3 _vols._

                          Classical Translations
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LUCIAN—Six Dialogues (Nigrinus, Icaro-Menippus, The Cock, The Ship, The
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SOPHOCLES—Electra and Ajax. Translated by E. D. A. MORSHEAD, M.A., late
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TACITUS—Agricola and Germania. Translated by R. B. TOWNSHEND, late
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THE EARTH. An Introduction to Physiography. By EVAN SMALL, M.A.

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                        Social Questions of To-day
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                              Cheaper Editions

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                                New Editions

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    8vo. 1s. 6d._ A simple account of the privileges and duties of the
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    concordance to Latin Lyric Poetry.

                             Commercial Series

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                       =New and Recent Books=


=Rudyard Kipling.= BARRACK-ROOM BALLADS; And Other Verses. By RUDYARD
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      A Special Presentation Edition, bound in white buckram, with extra
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=Henley.= LYRA HEROICA: An Anthology selected from the best English
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    HENLEY, Author of ‘A Book of Verse,’ ‘Views and Reviews,’ etc.
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    Frontispiece by A. TOMSON. _Fcap. 8vo. 3s. 6d._

  An edition on hand-made paper, limited to 50 copies. 10_s._ 6_d._

  ‘Mrs. Tomson holds perhaps the very highest rank among poetesses of
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=Ibsen.= BRAND. A Drama by HENRIK IBSEN. Translated by WILLIAM WILSON.
    _Crown 8vo. Second Edition. 3s. 6d._

  ‘The greatest world-poem of the nineteenth century next to “Faust.”
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=“Q.”= GREEN BAYS: Verses and Parodies. By “Q.,” Author of ‘Dead Man’s
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  ‘The verses display a rare and versatile gift of parody, great command
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=“A. G.”= VERSES TO ORDER. By “A. G.” _Cr. 8vo. 2s.6d. net._

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=Hosken.= VERSES BY THE WAY. By J. D. HOSKEN. _Crown 8vo. 5s._

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  A Volume of Lyrics and Sonnets by J. D. Hosken, the Postman Poet. Q,
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=Gale.= CRICKET SONGS. By NORMAN GALE. _Crown 8vo. Linen. 2s. 6d._

    Also a limited edition on hand-made paper. _Demy 8vo. 10s. 6d. net._

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  ‘Simple, manly, and humorous. Every cricketer should buy the
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  ‘Cricket has never known such a singer.’—_Cricket._

=Langbridge.= BALLADS OF THE BRAVE: Poems of Chivalry, Enterprise,
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  ‘A very happy conception happily carried out. These “Ballads of the
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  ‘The book is full of splendid things.’—_World._

                             General Literature

=Collingwood.= JOHN RUSKIN: His Life and Work. By W. G. COLLINGWOOD,
    M.A., late Scholar of University College, Oxford, Author of the ‘Art
    Teaching of John Ruskin,’ Editor of Mr. Ruskin’s Poems. _2 vols.
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  This important work is written by Mr. Collingwood, who has been for
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  ‘Mr. Ruskin could not well have been more fortunate in his

  ‘A noble monument of a noble subject. One of the most beautiful books
    about one of the noblest lives of our century.’—_Glasgow Herald._

    GLADSTONE, M.P. With Notes and Introductions. Edited by A. W.
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    RUSSELL, Author of ‘The Wreck of the Grosvenor.’ With Illustrations
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  ‘A really good book.’—_Saturday Review._

  ‘A most excellent and wholesome book, which we should like to see in
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=Clark.= THE COLLEGES OF OXFORD: Their History and their Traditions. By
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  ‘A work which will certainly be appealed to for many years as the
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=Flinders Petrie.= TELL EL AMARNA. By W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE, D.C.L. With
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=John Beever.= PRACTICAL FLY-FISHING, Founded on Nature, by JOHN BEEVER,
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    and movement, full of quaint stories vigorously told, will not be
    excelled by any book to be published throughout the year. Sound,
    hearty, and English to the core.’—_World._


  ‘A collection of exciting and entertaining chapters. The whole volume
    is delightful reading.’—_Times._

FREAKS OF FANATICISM. _Third Edition. Crown 8vo. 6s._

  ‘Mr. Baring Gould has a keen eye for colour and effect, and the
    subjects he has chosen give ample scope to his descriptive and
    analytic faculties. A perfectly fascinating book.’—_Scottish

SONGS OF THE WEST: Traditional Ballads and Songs of the West of England,
    with their Traditional Melodies. Collected by S. BARING GOULD, M.A.,
    and H. FLEETWOOD SHEPPARD, M.A. Arranged for Voice and Piano. In 4
    Parts (containing 25 Songs each), _Parts I., II., III., 3s. each.
    Part IV., 5s. In one Vol., French morocco, 15s._

  ‘A rich and varied collection of humour, pathos, grace, and poetic
    fancy.’—_Saturday Review._


    GOULD. _Crown 8vo. Second Edition. 6s._

  A book on such subjects as Foundations, Gables, Holes, Gallows,
    Raising the Hat, Old Ballads, etc. etc. It traces in a most
    interesting manner their origin and history.

  ‘We have read Mr. Baring Gould’s book from beginning to end. It is
    full of quaint and various information, and there is not a dull page
    in it.’—_Notes and Queries._

_THE TRAGEDY OF THE CAESARS_: The Emperors of the Julian and Claudian
    Lines. With numerous Illustrations from Busts, Gems, Cameos, etc. By
    S. BARING GOULD, Author of ‘Mehalah,’ etc. _Third Edition. Royal
    8vo. 15s._

  ‘A most splendid and fascinating book on a subject of undying
    interest. The great feature of the book is the use the author has
    made of the existing portraits of the Caesars, and the admirable
    critical subtlety he has exhibited in dealing with this line of
    research. It is brilliantly written, and the illustrations are
    supplied on a scale of profuse magnificence.’—_Daily Chronicle._

  ‘The volumes will in no sense disappoint the general reader. Indeed,
    in their way, there is nothing in any sense so good in English....
    Mr. Baring Gould has presented his narrative in such a way as not to
    make one dull page.’—_Athenæum._

                        _MR. BARING GOULD’S NOVELS_

‘To say that a book is by the author of “Mehalah” is to imply that it
  contains a story cast on strong lines, containing dramatic
  possibilities, vivid and sympathetic descriptions of Nature, and a
  wealth of ingenious imagery.’—_Speaker._

‘That whatever Mr. Baring Gould writes is well worth reading, is a
  conclusion that may be very generally accepted. His views of life are
  fresh and vigorous, his language pointed and characteristic, the
  incidents of which he makes use are striking and original, his
  characters are life-like, and though somewhat exceptional people, are
  drawn and coloured with artistic force. Add to this that his
  descriptions of scenes and scenery are painted with the loving eyes
  and skilled hands of a master of his art, that he is always fresh and
  never dull, and under such conditions it is no wonder that readers
  have gained confidence both in his power of amusing and satisfying
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                           =SIX SHILLINGS EACH=

    IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA: A Tale of the Cornish Coast.


    ARMINELL: A Social Romance.
    URITH: A Story of Dartmoor.
    MARGERY OF QUETHER, and other Stories.
    JACQUETTA, and other Stories.


                            SIX SHILLING NOVELS

    Author of ‘A Romance of Two Worlds,’ ‘Vendetta,’ etc. _Eleventh
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  Miss Corelli’s new romance has been received with much disapprobation
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    papers. By the former she has been accused of blasphemy and bad
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    On the other hand, the ‘Guardian’ praises ‘the dignity of its
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    of the scene and circumstance, so much that is elevating and
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    appealing to what is best in it’; the ‘Christian World’ says it is
    written ‘by one who has more than conventional reverence, who has
    tried to tell the story that it may be read again with open and
    attentive eyes’; the ‘Church of England Pulpit’ welcomes ‘a book
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=Benson.= DODO: A DETAIL OF THE DAY. By E. F. BENSON. _Crown 8vo.
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  A story of society by a new writer, full of interest and power, which
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    dialogue was _a perpetual feast of epigram and paradox_; the
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    ability_; the ‘Academy’ praised his _amazing cleverness_; the
    ‘World’ said the book was _brilliantly written_; and half-a-dozen
    papers declared there _was not a dull page in the book_.

=Baring Gould.= IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA: A Tale of the Cornish Coast. By
    S. BARING GOULD. _New Edition. 6s._

    Edition. 6s._

  A story of Devon life. The ‘Graphic’ speaks of it as _a novel of
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=Baring Gould.= CHEAP JACK ZITA. By S. BARING GOULD. _Third Edition.
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  A Romance of the Ely Fen District in 1815, which the ‘Westminster
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    ‘National Observer’ ‘a story worthy the author.’

=Baring Gould.= THE QUEEN OF LOVE. By S. BARING GOULD. _Second Edition.
    Crown 8vo. 6s._

  The ‘Glasgow Herald’ says that ‘the scenery is admirable, and the
    dramatic incidents are most striking.’ The ‘Westminster Gazette’
    calls the book ‘strong, interesting, and clever.’ ‘Punch’ says that
    ‘you cannot put it down until you have finished it.’ ‘The Sussex
    Daily News’ says that it ‘can be heartily recommended to all who
    care for cleanly, energetic, and interesting fiction.’

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  ‘The characters are delineated by the author with his characteristic
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    classes with more subtlety.’—_Glasgow Herald._

  ‘Mr. Norris has drawn a really fine character in the Duke of
    Hurstbourne, at once unconventional and very true to the
    conventionalities of life, weak and strong in a breath, capable of
    inane follies and heroic decisions, yet not so definitely portrayed
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  Mr. Parker’s second book has received a warm welcome. The ‘Athenæum’
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    done by any writer of our time_; the ‘St. James’s’ called it _a very
    striking and admirable novel_; and the ‘Westminster Gazette’ applied
    to it the epithet of _distinguished_.

=Parker.= PIERRE AND HIS PEOPLE. By GILBERT PARKER. _Crown 8vo. Buckram.

  ‘Stories happily conceived and finely executed. There is strength and
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    ‘Pierre and His People,’ ‘Mrs. Falchion,’ etc. _Crown 8vo. 5s._

‘The plot is original and one difficult to work out; but Mr. Parker has
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‘A strong and successful piece of workmanship. The portrait of
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=Anthony Hope.= A CHANGE OF AIR: A Novel. By ANTHONY HOPE, Author of
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  A bright story by Mr. Hope, who has, the _Athenæum_ says, ‘a decided
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  ‘A graceful, vivacious comedy, true to human nature. The characters
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=Pryce.= TIME AND THE WOMAN. By RICHARD PRYCE, Author of ‘Miss Maxwell’s
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  ‘Mr. Pryce’s work recalls the style of Octave Feuillet, by its
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=Marriott Watson.= DIOGENES OF LONDON and other Sketches. By H. B.
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  ‘By all those who delight in the uses of words, who rate the exercise
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    book will be welcomed.’—_National Observer._

=Gilchrist.= THE STONE DRAGON. By MURRAY GILCHRIST. _Crown 8vo. Buckram.

  ‘The author’s faults are atoned for by certain positive and admirable
    merits. The romances have not their counterpart in modern
    literature, and to read them is a unique experience.’—_National

                        =THREE-AND-SIXPENNY NOVELS=

=Baring Gould.= ARMINELL: A Social Romance. By S. BARING GOULD. _New
    Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Baring Gould.= URITH: A Story of Dartmoor. By S. BARING GOULD. _Third
    Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

  ‘The author is at his best.’—_Times._

  ‘He has nearly reached the high water-mark of “Mehalah.”’—_National

=Baring Gould.= MARGERY OF QUETHER, and other Stories. By S. BARING
    GOULD. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Baring Gould.= JACQUETTA, and other Stories. By S. BARING GOULD. _Crown
    8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Gray.= ELSA. A Novel. By E. M’QUEEN GRAY. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

‘A charming novel. The characters are not only powerful sketches, but
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=Pearce.= JACO TRELOAR. By J. H. PEARCE, Author of ‘Esther Pentreath.’
    _New Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

  A tragic story of Cornish life by a writer of remarkable power, whose
    first novel has been highly praised by Mr. Gladstone.

  The ‘Spectator’ speaks of Mr. Pearce as _a writer of exceptional
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    picturesque_; the ‘Birmingham Post’ asserts that it is _a novel of
    high quality_.

    ‘Donovan,’ etc. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

    ‘The Wreck of the Grosvenor,’ etc. _Illustrated. Third Edition.
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=Author of ‘Vera.’= THE DANCE OF THE HOURS. By the Author of ‘Vera.’
    _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Esmè Stuart.= A WOMAN OF FORTY. By ESMÈ STUART, Author of ‘Muriel’s
    Marriage,’ ‘Virginié’s Husband,’ etc. _New Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s.

  ‘The story is well written, and some of the scenes show great dramatic
    power.’—_Daily Chronicle._

=Fenn.= THE STAR GAZERS. By G. MANVILLE FENN, Author of ‘Eli’s
    Children,’ etc. _New Edition. Cr. 8vo. 3s. 6d._

  ‘A stirring romance.’—_Western Morning News._

  ‘Told with all the dramatic power for which Mr. Fenn is
    conspicuous.’—_Bradford Observer._

=Dickinson.= A VICAR’S WIFE. By EVELYN DICKINSON. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Prowse.= THE POISON OF ASPS. By R. ORTON PROWSE. _Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d._

=Grey.= THE STORY OF CHRIS. By ROWLAND GREY. _Crown 8vo. 5s._

    Communist. By E. LYNN LINTON. Eleventh Edition. _Post 8vo. 1s._

                            =HALF-CROWN NOVELS=


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               Other volumes will be announced in due course.

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    Illustrated. _Crown 8vo. Cloth, gilt edges. 3s. 6d._

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=Cuthell.= ONLY A GUARD-ROOM DOG. By Mrs. CUTHELL. With 16 Illustrations
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=Manville Fenn.= SYD BELTON: Or, The Boy who would not go to Sea. By G.
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                             Transcriber’s Note

    Only one error was deemed most likely to be the printer’s and it has
    been corrected, as noted here. The minor errors in the section of
    advertisments have been corrected with no further notice.

    The reference is to the page and line in the original.

  115.17   if he had not perished[?]                      Added.

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