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The Battle of Life
Chapter 1....................................................................................................................3 Chapter 2..................................................................................................................19 Chapter 3..................................................................................................................40
Once upon a time, it matters little when, and in stalwart England, it matters little where, a fierce battle was fought. It was fought upon a long summer day when the waving grass was green. Many a wild flower formed by the Almighty Hand to be a perfumed goblet for the dew, felt its enamelled cup filled high with blood that day, and shrinking dropped. Many an insect deriving its delicate colour from harmless leaves and herbs, was stained anew that day by dying men, and marked its frightened way with an unnatural track. The painted butterfly took blood into the air upon the edges of its wings. The stream ran red. The trodden ground became a quagmire, whence, from sullen pools collected in the prints of human feet and horses' hoofs, the one prevailing hue still lowered and glimmered at the sun. Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the sights the moon beheld upon that field, when, coming up above the black line of distant rising- ground, softened and blurred at the edge by trees, she rose into the sky and looked upon the plain, strewn with upturned faces that had once at mothers' breasts sought mothers' eyes, or slumbered happily. Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the secrets whispered afterwards upon the tainted wind that blew across the scene of that day's work and that night's death and suffering! Many a lonely moon was bright upon the battle-ground, and many a star kept mournful watch upon it, and many a wind from every quarter of the earth blew over it, before the traces of the fight were worn away. They lurked and lingered for a long time, but survived in little things; for, Nature, far above the evil passions of men, soon recovered Her serenity, and smiled upon the guilty battle-ground as she had done before, when it was innocent. The larks sang high above it; the swallows skimmed and dipped and flitted to and fro; the shadows of the flying clouds pursued each other swiftly, over grass and corn and turnip-field and wood, and over roof and church- spire in the nestling town among the trees, away into the bright distance on the borders of the sky and earth, where the red sunsets faded. Crops were sown, and grew up, and were gathered in; the stream that had been crimsoned, turned a watermill; men whistled at the plough; gleaners and haymakers were seen in quiet groups at work; sheep and oxen pastured; boys whooped and called, in fields, to scare away the birds; smoke rose from cottage chimneys; sabbath bells rang peacefully; old people lived and died; the timid creatures of the field, the simple flowers of the bush and garden, grew and withered in their destined terms: and all upon the fierce and bloody battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been killed in the great fight. But, there were deep green patches in the growing corn at first, that people looked at awfully. Year after year they reappeared; and it was known that underneath those fertile spots, heaps of men and horses lay buried, indiscriminately, enriching the ground. The husbandmen who ploughed those places, shrunk from the great worms abounding there; and the sheaves they yielded, were, for many a long year, called the Battle Sheaves, and set apart; and no one ever knew a Battle Sheaf to be among the last load at a Harvest Home. For a long time, every furrow that was turned, revealed some
fragments of the fight. For a long time, there were wounded trees upon the battleground; and scraps of hacked and broken fence and wall, where deadly struggles had been made; and trampled parts where not a leaf or blade would grow. For a long time, no village girl would dress her hair or bosom with the sweetest flower from that field of death: and after many a year had come and gone, the berries growing there, were still believed to leave too deep a stain upon the hand that plucked them. The Seasons in their course, however, though they passed as lightly as the summer clouds themselves, obliterated, in the lapse of time, even these remains of the old conflict; and wore away such legendary traces of it as the neighbouring people carried in their minds, until they dwindled into old wives' tales, dimly remembered round the winter fire, and waning every year. Where the wild flowers and berries had so long remained upon the stem untouched, gardens arose, and houses were built, and children played at battles on the turf. The wounded trees had long ago made Christmas logs, and blazed and roared away. The deep green patches were no greener now than the memory of those who lay in dust below. The ploughshare still turned up from time to time some rusty bits of metal, but it was hard to say what use they had ever served, and those who found them wondered and disputed. An old dinted corselet, and a helmet, had been hanging in the church so long, that the same weak half-blind old man who tried in vain to make them out above the whitewashed arch, had marvelled at them as a baby. If the host slain upon the field, could have been for a moment reanimated in the forms in which they fell, each upon the spot that was the bed of his untimely death, gashed and ghastly soldiers would have stared in, hundreds deep, at household door and window; and would have risen on the hearths of quiet homes; and would have been the garnered store of barns and granaries; and would have started up between the cradled infant and its nurse; and would have floated with the stream, and whirled round on the mill, and crowded the orchard, and burdened the meadow, and piled the rickyard high with dying men. So altered was the battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had been killed in the great fight. Nowhere more altered, perhaps, about a hundred years ago, than in one little orchard attached to an old stone house with a honeysuckle porch; where, on a bright autumn morning, there were sounds of music and laughter, and where two girls danced merrily together on the grass, while some half-dozen peasant women standing on ladders, gathering the apples from the trees, stopped in their work to look down, and share their enjoyment. It was a pleasant, lively, natural scene; a beautiful day, a retired spot; and the two girls, quite unconstrained and careless, danced in the freedom and gaiety of their hearts. If there were no such thing as display in the world, my private opinion is, and I hope you agree with me, that we might get on a great deal better than we do, and might be infinitely more agreeable company than we are. It was charming to see how these girls danced. They had no spectators but the apple-pickers on the ladders. They were very glad to please them, but they danced to please themselves (or at least you would have supposed so); and you could no more help admiring, than they could help dancing. How they did dance!
Not like opera-dancers. Not at all. And not like Madame Anybody's finished pupils. Not the least. It was not quadrille dancing, nor minuet dancing, nor even country-dance dancing. It was neither in the old style, nor the new style, nor the French style, nor the English style: though it may have been, by accident, a trifle in the Spanish style, which is a free and joyous one, I am told, deriving a delightful air of off-hand inspiration, from the chirping little castanets. As they danced among the orchard trees, and down the groves of stems and back again, and twirled each other lightly round and round, the influence of their airy motion seemed to spread and spread, in the sun-lighted scene, like an expanding circle in the water. Their streaming hair and fluttering skirts, the elastic grass beneath their feet, the boughs that rustled in the morning air - the flashing leaves, the speckled shadows on the soft green ground - the balmy wind that swept along the landscape, glad to turn the distant windmill, cheerily - everything between the two girls, and the man and team at plough upon the ridge of land, where they showed against the sky as if they were the last things in the world - seemed dancing too. At last, the younger of the dancing sisters, out of breath, and laughing gaily, threw herself upon a bench to rest. The other leaned against a tree hard by. The music, a wandering harp and fiddle, left off with a flourish, as if it boasted of its freshness; though the truth is, it had gone at such a pace, and worked itself to such a pitch of competition with the dancing, that it never could have held on, half a minute longer. The apple- pickers on the ladders raised a hum and murmur of applause, and then, in keeping with the sound, bestirred themselves to work again like bees. The more actively, perhaps, because an elderly gentleman, who was no other than Doctor Jeddler himself - it was Doctor Jeddler's house and orchard, you should know, and these were Doctor Jeddler's daughters - came bustling out to see what was the matter, and who the deuce played music on his property, before breakfast. For he was a great philosopher, Doctor Jeddler, and not very musical. 'Music and dancing TO-DAY!' said the Doctor, stopping short, and speaking to himself. 'I thought they dreaded to-day. But it's a world of contradictions. Why, Grace, why, Marion!' he added, aloud, 'is the world more mad than usual this morning?' 'Make some allowance for it, father, if it be,' replied his younger daughter, Marion, going close to him, and looking into his face, 'for it's somebody's birth-day.' 'Somebody's birth-day, Puss!' replied the Doctor. 'Don't you know it's always somebody's birth-day? Did you never hear how many new performers enter on this - ha! ha! ha! - it's impossible to speak gravely of it - on this preposterous and ridiculous business called Life, every minute?' 'No, father!' 'No, not you, of course; you're a woman - almost,' said the Doctor. 'By-the-by,' and he looked into the pretty face, still close to his, 'I suppose it's YOUR birthday.' 'No! Do you really, father?' cried his pet daughter, pursing up her red lips to be kissed.
'and many happy returns of the . with earnestness opposed to lightness. of course! Where did the minstrels come from?' 'Alfred sent the music. 'Poultry-stealers. in respect of age. and more removed. to look upon the world as a gigantic practical joke.of the day. saying that if I thought so too. Didn't we. in the beginning. part and parcel of the battle-ground on which he lived.' cried her sister.' said the wilful beauty.' 'Hush! Don't speak lightly of a true heart.I don't want him to be so very true. conversing thus. 'Well! But how did you get the music?' asked the Doctor.' said the Doctor. just now!' It was agreeable to see the graceful figures of the blooming sisters. did he?' returned the Doctor. in her admiration of that youthful beauty. and pausing for a moment to admire the pretty head she decorated. The difference between them. as often happens in such cases. and the heart and mystery of his philosophy was. a great philosopher. but Grace. as I have said. by any rational man. and which the dancing had disarranged. in course of nature. as something too absurd to be considered seriously.' said his daughter Grace. and something fervently and deeply felt.' 'Ay. I .' 'And my opinion being favourable. and scattering them on the ground. His system of belief had been. could not exceed four years at most. 'he always takes your opinion. 'I am almost tired of hearing of him. as you shall presently understand. he sent them on. adjusting a few simple flowers in her sister's hair. and as it was Marion's birth-day. breaking through the wilfulness of what she said. and striving with it painfully. But I don't know that there's any great merit in that. why need we talk of him at all. and he thought it would please her. seemed. 'I am sure I don't much care to have him mentioned.' said Marion. and beginning to dance.' said the Doctor. And so we danced to Alfred's music till we were out of breath.'There! Take my love with it. The men are travelling on foot. she had herself adorned it half-an-hour before. good-humouredly. 'even in jest. 'Yes. with a pencilled note to me. and as to his being my lover . I joined her. which is all your own. ay. twined together. from all competition with her. And we thought the music all the gayer for being sent by Alfred. And it was very curious indeed to see the younger sister's eyes suffused with tears. when no mother watches over both (the Doctor's wife was dead). and in the steadiness of her devotion to her. with love responding tenderly to love. If he expects that I . with which. stripping the petals from some flowers she held. Marion. they had come to serenade her.' said Grace. raising her eyebrows with a pleasant air of careless consideration. older than she was. dear Marion?' 'Oh. with her own thrown back. or participation. imprinting his upon them. and rested there last night. How you tease me about Alfred. 'Oh! Alfred sent the music. The notion of wishing happy returns in such a farce as this. in her gentle care of her young sister. I don't know. He met it coming out of the town as he was entering early. . 'is good! Ha! ha! ha!' Doctor Jeddler was. carelessly.' 'Tease you by mentioning your lover?' said her sister.But.the idea! . 'and Marion being in high spirits. 'perhaps not.' said the Doctor to himself. Grace. yet. There is not a truer heart than Alfred's in the world!' 'No-no. I never asked him. dear Grace. lingering among the trees.
otherwise than through her sympathy and true affection. yet including so much constancy and bravery of spirit. before the coach comes by? That this is a very particular occasion?' 'I couldn't do anything. emerged from the house. and her sweet temper. Mister. and raises the exalted nature nearer to the angels! The Doctor's reflections. looking at his watch. in her wayward fancies. till the women had done getting in the apples. or either of them. 'Britain!' cried the Doctor. A kind and generous man by nature. and the idle imposition practised on themselves by young people. and has the fatal property of turning gold to dross and every precious thing to poor account.' said a voice from one of the ladders. She was about thirty years old.that life should be such a very ridiculous business as it was. 'In the house.' returned Britain. than their ages seemed to warrant. as she did so. his voice rising with his reasoning. who believed for a moment. purifies the heart. could I?' said Britain. Dr. Clear away. and he was sorry for her sake sorry for them both . But. The Doctor never dreamed of inquiring whether his children. over that common Philosopher's stone (much more easily discovered than the object of the alchemist's researches). which sometimes trips up kind and generous men. and heard the purport of their discourse. 'Come! make haste! where's Clemency?' 'Here am I. and clapping his hands. even in this shadow and faint reflection of it. Mister. Everything shall be ready for you in half a minute. and were always undeceived . helped in any way to make the scheme a serious one. Great character of mother. the home-adorning.' With that she began to bustle about most vigorously. and returned to this call the unceremonious acknowledgment of 'Now then!' 'Where's the breakfast table?' said the Doctor. were limited at first to certain merry meditations on the folly of all loves and likings. 'Are you going to spread it out here. 'Britain! Holloa!' A small man. which a pair of clumsy feet descended briskly. and . he had stumbled. the extraordinary homeliness of her gait and manner. as he looked after them. seemed all expressed to him in the contrast between her quiet household figure and that of his younger and more beautiful child. Jeddler. But then he was a Philosopher. have they done now?' replied the Doctor. with an uncommonly sour and discontented face. 'Don't you know that there are gentlemen coming? That there's business to be done this morning.always! But. though it was twisted up into an odd expression of tightness that made it comical. that there could be anything serious in such bubbles. as you were told last night?' said the Doctor. To say that she had two left legs. gals. that. presenting. 'It's all done now. would have superseded any face in the world. self-denying qualities of Grace. and had a sufficiently plump and cheerful face. so that it was very loud at last. so gentle and retiring. 'Well. an appearance sufficiently peculiar to justify a word of introduction. by chance.
for he didn't look. gave rise to one of her most startling evolutions.' to Marion. 'He had so much to do this morning in his preparations for departure. my dear! Marion! Here are Messrs. like a gentleman troubled with many warm outpourings of soul. is to offer the mildest outline of the reality. and the most hideous pattern procurable for money. with his hands in his pockets. grazed elbows. and that all four limbs seemed to be out of joint. good morning! Grace.' 'Ha ha ha!' laughed the Doctor thoughtfully. and a white apron. standing a small professional blue bag against one leg of the table.which he might or might not. that he was up and out by daybreak.' said Grace. in outward form and garb. 'good morning! Miss.' who bowed. and jogged off to fetch it. To say that she was perfectly content and satisfied with these arrangements. Where's Alfred!' 'He'll be back directly. whom she had supported almost from a child. by that article of dress. Such. 'And I wish you' . her laudable anxiety to be tidy and compact in her own conscience as well as in the public eye.' Which he did. Her dress was a prodigious pair of self-willed shoes. and that she took her arms and legs as they came. father. at intervals. in which she took so lively an interest. advancing to the gate to meet them. 'a hundred happy returns of this auspicious day. 'cut the great farce short for this actress. and staring at it very composedly.' . no doubt. Doctor Jeddler. for the deaf old mother. a little cap placed somewhere on her head. 'Good morning. rubbing her grazed elbows with opposite hands. 'I kiss your hand. Good morning. from head to foot she was scrupulously clean. and she had no other relation). Mister!' said Clemency. I am sure. is to render faint justice to her equanimity. Snitchey.' said Mr. 'The great farce in a hundred acts!' 'You wouldn't. but. Snitchey. from Clementina (but nobody knew. until they fell into a symmetrical arrangement. in behalf of other people. and always had. at all events. who was supposed to have unconsciously originated a corruption of her own Christian name. was Clemency Newcome. 'Ah!' cried the Doctor. and regarded them as being no business of hers. with her bare red arms crossed. at first sight. blue stockings. by some accident. that never wanted to go where her feet went. and allowed them to dispose of themselves just as it happened. a printed gown of many colours. in a tone of no very great good-will. though it was rarely to be met with in the place usually occupied in other subjects. gentlemen.somebody else's arms. until she suddenly remembered something else she wanted. a very phenomenon of age.' 'Ladies!' said Mr. 'for Self and Craggs. was dead. She always wore short sleeves. and who stood. that she was continually trying to turn them round and get impossible views of them. Snitchey and Craggs. and familiarly called a busk). which was to grasp herself sometimes by a sort of wooden handle (part of her clothing. and maintained a kind of dislocated tidiness. In general. who now busied herself in preparing the table. 'Here are them two lawyers a-coming. and to start from perfectly wrong places when they were set in motion. Indeed. and wrestle as it were with her garments.
looking out of the blue bag. 'and one . as I have often told you.' said Mr. Nothing serious in life! What do you call law?' 'A joke. 'Yes. 'A hundred happy returns of this auspicious day. 'Law is?' asked the Doctor. like the brothers of the sister Fates. sir. We are oiling the gates of life. as possible. sir. offered a remark of his own in this place. Doctor Jeddler.' Mr. depend upon it. They ought to be rusty.so I defy you all!' . dressed in grey and white. But. like a flint. It ought to be as hard a struggle. I am glad you are not the first I have met this morning: I should have taken it for a bad omen. 'God forbid! May she live to laugh at it. as long as she CAN laugh.' returned the Doctor. it ought to be made a very difficult joke to crack. The three natural kingdoms.all foreboders of no good. these three drew together. Mr.two . 'Did you ever go to law?' asked Mr. and greeted him. and the Doctor had a streaked face like a winter-pippin. as he delivered this opinion. Snitchey. and your philosophy is altogether wrong.'No. peeping sharply into his blue bag. Grace was the first . 'was wrong. Craggs. all alone. bowing low. what a battery!' exclaimed Alfred. but. 'everything is. "The farce is ended. Craggs seemed positively to grate upon his own hinges. 'If you ever do. We shall have them beginning to turn. 'It's made a great deal too easy. with here and there a dimple to express the peckings of the birds. and then say. or like the Graces most effectually disguised. If the world is a joke (I am not prepared to say it isn't).' said Mr. and to be conscious of little or no separate existence or personal individuality. But. or like the three weird prophets on the heath. Snitchey. and a very little bit of pigtail behind that stood for the stalk. for Snitchey was like a magpie or raven (only not so sleek). as if something struck sparks out of them. hard. now-a-days. Craggs.' replied the Doctor. 'Why. lightly. It involved the only idea of which he did not stand seized and possessed in equal moieties with Snitchey. Alf!' said the Doctor. man.' returned the Doctor. who seemed to be represented by Snitchey. Whereas they ought to grate upon their hinges. with small twinkles in his eyes. indeed. draw the curtain. stopping short. As the active figure of a handsome young man.' said Mr. Snitchey. 'Returns!' Craggs murmured in a deep voice. 'perhaps you'll alter that opinion. with a smooth sound.three . to which he communicated immense effect . 'Happy returns. soon. and followed by a porter bearing several packages and baskets.' said Mr. in the great sea before me. dry.sweet. Heathfield!' said Snitchey. with the French wit. 'Never.' Craggs. entered the orchard at a brisk pace. had each a fanciful representative among this brotherhood of disputants. That's the intention.being a cold. and with an air of gaiety and hope that accorded well with the morning. It's the vice of these times."' 'The French wit. it's being made far too easy. pleasant Grace . he had some partners in it among the wise men of the world. Everything appears to me to be made too easy. dressed for a journey.
and then looking round.' 'Farce as this. Jeddler made a hasty move towards the breakfast. 'Meat?' said Britain. sir. you remember. but so discreetly stationed herself. he lingered as near the Firm as he decently could. 'So I defy you with Clemency. and as yours does too. .' 'If anything could be serious. and they all sat down at table. yes. than by hinting that Mr. and Grace afterwards. 'I thought he was gone!' 'Now. Having executed these orders.' observed the Doctor. Clemency hovered galvanically about the table. and the melancholy Britain.' 'That's true! Clemency was the first. with the blue bag between them for safety. ha. and . may be. 'It is to the purpose. Much to the purpose.for Self and Craggs. 'for a word or two of business. 'Lean and well done.' 'Ha. as to cut off her sister and Alfred from the rest of the company. he hastily betook himself to where the sisters stood together. 'In such a farce as this. 'it might be this recurrence. and moderately supplied the Doctor (he seemed to know that nobody else wanted anything to eat).' said Snitchey and Craggs. the Doctor took his usual position.' Perhaps to change the subject. Mister.' said the young man.' hinted Alfred. This was on the occasion of Mr. before sunrise. Snitchey. watching with an austere eye their disposition of the viands. on the eve of separation. with the carving knife and fork in his hands. he respectfully answered: 'If you please. Snitchey and Craggs sat at opposite corners. at another and a smaller board.' said Alfred.however.' said Clemency Newcome. Dr. of a double birthday.Good Heavens!' With a start. and seemed to have quite enough business on his hands as it was. . sir.' said Alfred.' 'Ah! yes. which is connected with many associations pleasant to us four. and also with Snitchey and Craggs. partially choking. Craggs may possibly have considered it 'too easy. 'Do YOU want any?' to Craggs. Alfred. opposite to Grace. whose teeth were not of the best.' replied that gentleman. I needn't more particularly explain his manner of saluting Marion first. and throwing the question at him like a missile. I know. Grace presided.'If you please. productive for the moment of a closer partnership between Jonathan Snitchey and Thomas Craggs than the subsisting articles of agreement in that wise contemplated. as my heart bears witness this morning. 'What a defiance!' 'Not so bad a one as it appears. approaching Mr. 'She was walking out here. ha. 'in such a . Although Alfred had not been breakfasting. I was the first you know. and with the recollection of a long and amicable intercourse. That's not to the purpose. Jeddler. 'Certainly.' 'While we are yet at breakfast.' returned the lawyer. as waitress. I was in the house.' the Doctor began. when he cried out with great animation. shaking hands heartily with the Doctor. acted as Grand Carver of a round of beef and a ham. while we are yet at breakfast.' said the Doctor. Craggs. and but once relaxing the severe expression of his face.' said Snitchey. who seemed to have no present idea of leaving off. 'Where are the . Dr.
has been dug up from underneath our feet here. On this ground where we now sit. I leave your house to-day. a churchyard full of bones. 'once overrun by soldiers .' resumed Snitchey.' said Clemency. and looked at Alfred.' said Alfred. 'that commands respect. Come. we part with tender relations stretching far behind us. and dust of bones.if you would let it speak. Doctor. For example.' Clemency Newcome made an angular tumble against the table. 'Such a system!' 'But. where I saw my two girls dance this morning. voluntarily. 'There we agree. a something tangible. 'Do you know what the world has been doing. and chips of cloven skulls.' said Snitchey. on this day. Why. I was saying. not a hundred of the inconsiderate rejoicers in the victory.' pursued Mr. 'to be very serious. Serious. and with a purpose and intention in it . 'Long ago!' returned the Doctor. in short. Yet not a hundred people in that battle knew for what they fought. why they rejoiced. He. that there is One. you laugh at your fellow. and in its legal system altogether. Snitchey. ever since? Do you know what else it has been doing? I don't!' 'It has gone to law a little. ha! Of all days in the foolish year. ha. 'And you'll excuse my saying.' 'To-day!' cried the Doctor. really.' said his partner.so long ago.' observed Mr. Here's a smiling country.' he looked down at Marion beside him. wasteful. too!' said the Doctor. Snitchey. 'having been already put a thousand times in possession of my opinion. that within my recollection. that. you know. that war is foolish.' pointing it out with his fork. the roots of which are struck in Men. Not half-a-dozen men agree to this hour on the cause or merits. I cease to be your ward today. ever knew anything distinct about it.' 'Besides . or why. he. when you think of it! But take this smiling country as it stands. he! The idea of any man exposing himself. rallying his spirits and the Doctor at once. the great battle was fought on this ground.now. not earth. occasioning a sounding clatter among the cups and saucers. stirring his tea. but the mourners of the slain. laughing.yet before us. 'Granted. Let us allow today. in its having gone to law. Jeddler? With law in it?' The Doctor laughed. you must go mad.so many lives were lost.creatures. if you please. 'fraught with such considerations as I must not trust myself to speak of now.trespassers every man of 'em . Dr. I do observe a serious side . or die. and turn hermit. Doctor. Life a farce. Not half a hundred people were the better for the gain or loss.' said Alfred. all this seems to me. 'If you allowed such things to be serious. and nobody. positively ridiculous. 'Although the way out has been always made too easy. 'there's a serious grain in this large foolish dust-heap. generations afterwards. where the fruit has just been gathered for our eating from these trees. come!' he added. to fire and sword! Stupid. 'Heyday! what's the matter there?' exclaimed the Doctor. that never can be exactly renewed.and laid waste by fire and sword.' 'Serious!' cried the Doctor. 'It's this evil-inclined blue bag. in the course of our discussions. . 'always tripping up somebody!' 'With a purpose and intention in it. Think of the . and with others dawning . 'Hear him! Ha. or climb up to the top of a mountain.
freehold. Jeddler. and firing into people's heads from behind. to the mortgage and redemption of real property. because they have no earthly chronicle or audience . to leasehold. Snitchey. being a woman).any one of which might reconcile the sternest man to such a world.' he added. with such great emotion that he actually smacked his lips. and unselfishness. he. It is rather a bad business.' 'Really. and copyhold estate. bah! We see what they're worth. Alfred!' cried the Doctor. 'I am too old to be converted.' replied Alfred. you mustn't laugh at life. Alfred. Snitchey.laws appertaining to real property. and seldom meet. observed that he would take a little more beef and another cup of tea. and yourself too. rolling his head and winking his eye. and acknowledge. Jeddler. Snitchey.' 'I believe. as if he would have added. that there is a green spot in the scheme about us! I believe. 'what do you say now?' 'I say. you've got a game to play. sir. and has led a sympathising life with all sorts of people ever since. Dr. Sixty years have gone over . Craggs having signified assent. There is terrible treading down. Mr. to have my thoughts directed to the real history of a battle-field. Mr. full of something worse. in it . even by my friend Snitchey here. 'Well. though two-fourths of its people were at war. or my good spinster sister. looking at his partner. There's a great deal of cutting and slashing.not the less difficult to achieve. rubbing his hands and chuckling.and then not much. great sacrifices of self. would be to try sometimes to forget this battle-field and others like it in that broader battle-field of Life. and another fourth at law. But. and that's a bold word. I was born upon this battle-field. and fill him with belief and hope in it. 'it's full of folly. he! And then not much. Mr. and who is so much of your opinion (only she's less reasonable and more obstinate. bah. and all that! Bah. somewhat freshened by his recent eloquence. and in little households. Professions of trust.' said Alfred. 'that I speak for Self and Craggs?' Mr.' repeated Snitchey. well!' said the Doctor. I began. 'you may do this instead!' 'Well. I am inclined to think. 'I don't stand up for life in general. to which this pleasant prospect may give rise. and in men's and women's hearts . 'there are quiet victories and struggles. Oh! it's a very interesting thing. to the bequest and devise of real property. when you win . think.' said Snitchey.' Both the sisters listened keenly. 'that the greatest favour you could do me. who had what she calls her domestic trials ages ago. and confidence. think of the infinite number of ingenious and interminable chancery suits. and you're playing against them.done every day in nooks and corners. Martha Jeddler. as a boy.even in many of its apparent lightnesses and contradictions . on which the sun looks every day. a very serious game indeed! Everybody's playing against you.' said Mr. There are deep moves upon the board. and trampling on. Snitchey. He. you know. that we can't agree. I'm afraid that wouldn't soften his opinions. and noble acts of heroism. 'The combatants are very eager and very bitter in that same battle of Life. Dr. You must only laugh. 'of the complicated laws relating to title and proof of title.' said Mr. with all the contradictory precedents and numerous acts of parliament connected with them.
His face. never served to make them clearer. 'Who then?' 'Humanity. seemed suddenly to decide in favour of the same preference. who rousing him with one of those favourite joints. and held them in abhorrence accordingly. with a leaden eye and an immovable visage. as a mental stimulant. and such practical knowledge as a dull old country Doctor like myself could graft upon both.my head. Benjamin Britain . both before and afterwards.' said Britain. and your studies in London could add to that. serving as a sort of man Miles to the Doctor's Friar Bacon. away you go now.' Britain.' Although this forlorn summary of his general condition may have been overcharged in an access of despondency. giving him a lunge with the other elbow.had defined his real state more accurately than might be supposed. For. you are away. including Heaven knows how many loving mothers and good enough girls like mine here. that the new element usually brought into these discussions by Snitchey and Craggs. to express Old England with a decided difference . 'Do you know where you are? Do you want to get warning?' 'I don't know anything. what he laughed at. and leaving us full to the brim of such learning as the Grammar School down here was able to give you. into the world.sometimes called Little Britain.' said Britain. One must either laugh or cry at such stupendous inconsistencies. this is not our business. and always seemed to give the Doctor a species of advantage and confirmation. if a deep sepulchral sound that escaped him might be construed into a demonstration of risibility. being over. all tending to show that his very existence was at best a mistake and an absurdity. in a reproachful whisper. was. and listening day after day to innumerable orations addressed by the Doctor to various people. that although one or two of the breakfast party looked round as being startled by a mysterious noise. who had been paying the profoundest and most melancholy attention to each speaker in his turn. however. to fulfil his second desire. he's getting more and more addleheaded every day!' cried Clemency. nobody connected the offender with it. anything but mad for a battle. 'But. was on the level surface as compared with Britain in the depths of his mystification. The first term of probation appointed by your poor father. 'That's the joke!' 'What between master and them lawyers. and I have never seen the Christian world. And I don't want anything. Alfred. by degrees. The only point he clearly comprehended. her elbows. 'Not you!' said Britain. and I prefer to laugh. as we might say Young England. Clemency Newcome.' said the Doctor. to distinguish him from Great. he looked upon the Firm as one of the proximate causes of his state of mind. And long before your three years' tour among . into such an abyss of confused and contradictory suggestions from within and without.field. Therefore. The same contradictions prevail in everything. 'I don't care for anything. was so perfectly unaffected by it. I don't make out anything. 'Ceasing to be my ward (as you have said) to-day. that Truth at the bottom of her well. now. Except his partner in attendance. your own master. I don't believe anything. inquired. this unfortunate servitor had fallen.
She looks uncommonly like it. ha. is it. and seeming to descry it. in so far as the fund was concerned. and other drolleries of that sort. a lucky penny.' chuckled Snitchey. 'What are you talking about. Mrs. Lord. a very unjust steward in the execution of my trust. Miss Grace!' said Snitchey. 'Oh. 'No. night and morning. seemed to say . and accounts. I hope. held one pocket open. you'll have forgotten us. 'I haven't been. and smiled. laughing.But you know better. sealed. an orange.' said Clemency. formally discharged. Ha. Newcome. explained that each of the articles in question bore an engraved motto. but you must get to be a great man and make it so).' 'And duly witnessed as by law required. Newcome?' 'I an't married.' 'Read a thimble!' echoed Snitchey. before replying to this question. Grace. 'Oh! I beg your pardon. pushing away his plate. with a bagful of papers. 'but I am to be. if he could. casting his eyes over her extraordinary figure. 'You CAN read?' 'A little.' said Snitchey. however. at the bottom. Doctor. I should think not. staring at her.but she didn't say it . who was not much given to the study of books.' answered Clemency. that's it. ha! I thought our friend was an idiot.and how she then held an opposite pocket open. and released. interposing. . why should I speak to you!' said Alfred. and delivered. . cleared away such intervening obstacles as a handkerchief. with a supercilious glance. for the transfer of the balance of the trust fund to you (I wish it was a more difficult one to dispose of.' said Clemency.the foreign schools of medicine is finished. I only reads a thimble.' pursued the Doctor.that he was welcome to forget. we shall want your two servants to attest the signatures can you read. a . 'What do you say. 'and Self and Crags having been co-trustees with you. jocosely. 'What does the thimble say. you'll forget us easily in six months!' 'If I do .' observed Clemency. Grace pressed the blooming face against her cheek. and looked down into its yawning depths for the thimble which wasn't there. Newcome?' How Clemency. Mrs.' stipulated Craggs. and so formed the pocket library of Clemency Newcome. and taking out the papers. Mister.' 'Why. trifling with her teacup. and here are our good friends Snitchey and Craggs. Newcome?' 'I an't married.' returned the Doctor. which are to be signed. this is a lunatic! a subject for the Lord High Chancellor!' said Snitchey. 'And a nutmeg-grater. Mister. an end of wax candle. eh?' observed the lawyer. which his partner proceeded to spread upon the table. a flushed apple. like a pearl of great price.'If possessed of any property. and documents. young woman?' Clemency nodded. 'Well. Alfred. 'I don't know anything of the sort.' he muttered. 'And what does the thimble say. yes. at any rate. Will that do?' said the lawyer. 'Yes. Marion?' Marion. 'The marriage service. and what not this morning. 'Too hard.
It is enough that at last she triumphantly produced the thimble on her finger. she assumed and calmly maintained. in our profession. and it's rather hard to quarrel with us if we reflect unpleasant aspects. 'I an't no lawyer. in short. and twist itself round the nearest corner). young woman?' said Mr.' If one might judge from his appearance.be . a padlock. mentally balancing the Doctor against the lawyers. Snitchey.' said Mr.' said Mr. are little else than mirrors after all. Snitchey. 'we'll sign. 'And so. a cabinet collection of curl-papers. reading slowly round as if it were a tower. a pair of scissors in a sheath more expressively describable as promising young shears. They are serious enough in that . 'she'd find it to be the golden rule of half her clients. and the lawyers against the Doctor. returning to the papers. we are generally consulted by angry and quarrelsome people who are not in their best looks.' Snitchey and Craggs laughed heartily. and. diverting himself at her expense.and lay the blame on us afterwards. 'That's the thimble. Snitchey.though he had the meanest possible opinion of her understanding. who was his good Genius . and deliver as soon as possible. turning to him suddenly. 'Such a knowledge of human nature in it!' said Snitchey.' 'Do. shaking her head vaguely. and being always at hand to do the right thing at the right time - . Britain will oblige us with a mouthful of ink.whimsical as your world is . a handful or so of loose beads.cramp bone. But. as if to anticipate any effect that might otherwise be consequent on this retort.wold . Mr. for he stood in a state of abstraction. through excessive friction. Snitchey. bewildering himself as much as ever his great namesake has done with theories and schools. 'For-get and For-give. you mean.' replied Clemency. 'So new!' said Snitchey. several balls of cotton. 'Do as you . 'The grater says. 'that I speak for Self and Craggs?' 'Decidedly. an attitude apparently inconsistent with the human anatomy and the laws of gravity. Snitchey. Britain knew where HE was. if Mr. I think. We. 'And the nutmeg-grater?' inquired the head of the Firm.' 'I am afraid that if she was.' retorted Clemency.' said Mr. by reason of her seldom troubling herself with abstract speculations. or you'll be done brown. Nor how. Alfred. 'So easy!' said Craggs. or the coach will be coming past before we know where we are. and a biscuit. 'And what does the thimble say?' 'It says.' returned Clemency. all of which articles she entrusted individually and separately to Britain to hold.' said Mr. is of no consequence. and their clients against both. Clemency. there was every probability of the coach coming past before Mr. seal. is it. but. 'So applicable to the affairs of life!' said Craggs. and engaged in feeble attempts to make the thimble and nutmeg-grater (a new idea to him) square with anybody's system of philosophy. in her determination to grasp this pocket by the throat and keep it prisoner (for it had a tendency to swing. a needle-case. and rattled the nutmeg-grater: the literature of both those trinkets being obviously in course of wearing out and wasting away. Doctor. 'I don't understand.done by.' said Craggs.
Time flies. so winning and so much admired. and insisted on pausing to look at them before writing (the cramped hand.so young and beautiful. how bravely I would leave this place to-day!' 'Would you?' she answered with a quiet smile. and gave her into her embrace. with which gentle flappers she so jogged his memory. to sustain myself. . and also on turning them round to see whether there was anything fraudulent underneath. without committing himself in some shadowy manner. brooded over the whole table with her two elbows. and put her name in all kinds of places. and how he approached the deeds under protest. like a spread eagle. and watch for the coach.' said the Doctor. Marion had stood apart. and he couldn't leave it. she became thirsty in that regard. in an ecstasy of laughter at the idea of her own importance and dignity. how the blue bag containing his signature. 'Time flies.' 'Yes. tendered him the further service of recalling him to himself by the application of her elbows. I want the time to tell.' returned the young man. now.' 'And yet.' 'I do believe it. if I could!' 'Coach upon the hill-top!' exclaimed Britain.' 'Use it!' she said quickly. and tranquil mind. Alfred. yes. in a more literal construction of that phrase than usual. sister. and imaginary counterparts whereof she executed at the same time with her tongue. I wouldn't carry them away. Call me nothing else. Alfred. and making us both happier and better. was fairly started on the journey of life. that he soon became quite fresh and brisk. how. She is doubly so. that he couldn't append his name to a document. 'Dear Grace! a moment! Marion . and reposed her head upon her left arm as a preliminary to the formation of certain cabalistic characters. 'I am glad to hear it. and not know it! Ah. with her eyes fixed upon the ground. he became desolate as one who had parted with his property and rights. taking it on himself. as tame tigers are said to be after tasting another sort of fluid. How he laboured under an apprehension not uncommon to persons in his degree. Alfred. Also.Sister. this warning being given. dear to my heart as nothing else in life is . her young lover brought her tenderly to where her sister stood. Grace! If I had your well-governed heart. being so much Chinese to him). Who could look upon your face. but. 'Marion and I had better have your true and steadfast qualities serving us here. then. I will be faithful to my trust. afterwards had a mysterious interest for him. and hear your voice. not of his own writing. sir. and by dint of the Doctor's coercion. believe me. the Doctor was discharged of his trust and all its responsibilities. having once tasted ink.having produced the ink in a twinkling.' said Alfred. and Alfred. which required a deal of ink. Also. having signed his name. 'Run to the gate. Grace. also. hurriedly. how Clemency Newcome. to say nothing of the phraseology. I know it well. and how. and wanted to sign everything. 'And yet. or somehow signing away vague and enormous sums of money. seems the natural word. In brief. Grace . to whom the use of pen and ink is an event.remember! I leave Marion to you!' 'She has always been a sacred charge to me. 'Britain!' said the Doctor.
'Yes! I am ready .' The younger sister had one hand in his.talking often of old times. and the bright prospect of our married life lies stretched before us. Snitchey! Farewell. Mr. on herself and on her lover.you know what I mean . dearest. but Grace knows best. would be sheer nonsense.'I have been telling Grace. the other rested on her sister's neck. She looked into that sister's face. dear?' 'Yes!' interposed the elder sister.'I wonder it has never come yet.' said Alfred . Craggs!' 'Coming down the road!' cried Britain. and turned not . as if it were the face of some bright angel. 'To talk about any serious correspondence or serious affections. dearest heart.' said Alfred. again sought those so calm. as seriously as you can! Adieu. sorrow. it shall be one of our chief pleasures to consult how we can make Grace happy.why that. and what delight to us to know that she. and.even towards him. that if you and Marion should continue in the same foolish minds.'these shall be our favourite times among them . eagerly. were blended. wringing the Doctor's hand stoutly. and with a radiant smile. for Grace is always right . 'Think of me sometimes. admiration. how we can anticipate her wishes. our dear good sister. with a gaze in which affection. Marion. All I can say is. dear Marion. how faithful we will prove. my boy!' said the Doctor. and cheerful. 'A kiss of Clemency Newcome for long acquaintance' sake! Shake hands. Calm. how we can show our gratitude and love to her. and cheerful. Mr. telling each other what we thought and felt. I shall not object to have you for a son-in-law one of these days. and to be to her something of what she has been to us . Released from his embrace. so happily in spite of all. as we would have her!' Still the younger sister looked into her eyes. as it must one day. 'Yes! Alfred. and keep it as a treble birth-day. And still those honest eyes looked back. Britain! Marion. and her eyes. and cheerful. 'And when the time comes. serene. we'll make this day the happiest in all the year.when SHE will want a friend to open her whole heart to. good bye! Sister Grace! remember!' . my old friend and guardian. in such a . and hoped and feared at parting. serene. Say good bye to Marion.then. Shall we. wonder. She looked into that sister's eyes.ha ha ha! . and living (as we must!) together close together . And when I come back and reclaim you.and how we met again.' 'Over the bridge!' cried Britain. how we can return her something of the debt she will have heaped upon us.this day most of all. with the same blended look. And Heaven be with you!' He pressed the younger sister to his heart.' 'Coach coming through the wood!' cried Britain. of course. . serene. my precious trust at parting. 'Let it come!' said Alfred. 'And when all that is past.' he said. don't linger. almost veneration. and we are old. and engagements and so forth. 'that you are her charge. and how we couldn't bear to say good bye . and cheerful. There's no time. she again clung to her sister. serene. the face looked back on her and on her lover. 'Farewell. so calm. so calm. loves and is loved again.
and the face so beautiful in its serenity. darling. 'Oh.The quiet household figure. and. God bless you! But I cannot bear to see it. fell sobbing on her neck. and fully meeting. turned it.' said Grace. turning back again. 'He waves his hat to you. those calm eyes. Grace! It breaks my heart. The coach was at the gate. were turned towards him in reply. Then. The coach drove away. Look!' The younger sister raised her head. 'Your chosen husband. Grace. Marion never moved. but Marion's look and attitude remained unchanged.' . for a moment. There was a bustle with the luggage. for the first time. my love.
Though it could hardly be said of these conflicts that they were running fights . and in most of the Actions wherein they showed their generalship. or in knowing with any degree of distinctness what they were about. which seemed to be knitting its brows gloomily in the consideration of tangled points of law. Snitchey. a partner of his own. 'I don't see what you want with your Snitcheys. Snitchey would observe to Mr. Snitchey and Craggs were the best friends in the world. and fought a great many small pitched battles for a great many contending parties. Craggs. every curl in whose dreadful wig had made a man's hair stand on end. it was afterwards observed by the combatants that they had had great difficulty in making each other out. in consequence of the vast amount of smoke by which they were surrounded. garnished with great goggle-eyed brass nails.for in truth they generally proceeded at a snail's pace . Craggs. Snitchey and Craggs had each. obliged to spell backwards and forwards. Snitchey. which anxious visitors felt themselves. just as the occasion served. with people's names painted outside. might tumble into it at once. You trust a great deal too much to your Snitcheys. with a low dark ceiling. as in fields of greater renown. of Craggs. to Mr. that now they took a shot at this Plaintiff.Chapter 2 SNITCHEY AND CRAGGS had a snug little office on the old Battle Ground. I think. and round the wainscot there were tiers of boxes. The offices of Messrs. but Mrs. and that if ever she read a double . and Mrs. 'that if ever he was led away by man he was led away by that man.' the latter lady would observe.or had been picked out. Snitchey. perhaps. and tables. Snitchey and Craggs stood convenient. by the wandering thumbs and forefingers of bewildered clients. in the market-place. or other articles not possessed of a singular number. and now had some light skirmishing among an irregular body of small debtors. for my part. without comprehending one word of what they said. every here and there. Their special council-chamber and hall of conference was an old back-room up-stairs. in private life as in professional existence. of which. using that imaginative plural as if in disparagement of an objectionable pair of pantaloons. and had a real confidence in one another. was on principle suspicious of Mr. now made a heavy charge at an estate in Chancery. Craggs was on principle suspicious of Mr. with an open door down two smooth steps. shelves. by a cruel enchantment.the part the Firm had in them came so far within the general denomination. There was a framed print of a great judge in it. by a dispensation not uncommon in the affairs of life.' While Mrs. padlocked and fireproof. It was furnished with some high-backed leathern chairs. while they sat. Bales of papers filled the dusty closets. two or three had fallen out . where they drove a snug little business. sometimes. and the enemy happened to present himself. so that any angry farmer inclining towards hot water. 'Your Snitcheys indeed. and now aimed a chop at that Defendant. The Gazette was an important and profitable feature in some of their fields. and I hope you may never find my words come true. seeming to listen to Snitchey and Craggs. and to make anagrams of.
' which they both considered the Blue chamber. Sometimes. 'That's all. as if to express that it was a partnership view of the subject. sometimes. well-attired. were in a bad way. 'Really there's no other resource. and the rest was then in course of passing through the hands of Mr. shook his head. passed over them: their calendar. however. negligently dressed. Esquire. when they sat together in consultation at night. and somewhat haggard in the face. and no husks to share with them? Eh?' pursued the client. pondering moodily. with one hand in his breast. also coughed. and sold. who couldn't always be at peace with one another and go to law comfortably. she read that purpose in Craggs's eye. and years. Craggs maintained a close bond of alliance against 'the office. but well. Mr. they would stop. 'Nothing else to be done.' Notwithstanding this. spent. Here. the gradually diminishing number of brass nails in the leathern chairs. who sat in the armchair of state. shook his head.' 'All lost. and well-looking. Snitchey and Mrs.made.' replied Mr. as if to deprecate the being supposed to participate in any figurative illustration of a legal position. of a fine evening. they would linger. wasted. Snitchey coughed. days. Messrs. at the window of their council-chamber overlooking the old battle-ground. who brought it to the candle. since the breakfast in the orchard. with a man of about thirty. In this office.' returned Mr. we may conclude from these premises that the name and the box were both his. 'And I am not even personally safe in England? You hold to that. Snitchey. turning up the last paper. nearly three years' flight had thinned the one and swelled the other. rocking one leg over the other. . no swine to keep. Here. look towards the abstracted client. and that the affairs of Michael Warden. looked at every paper singly. Esquire. and searching the ground with his eyes. and the other in his dishevelled hair. Not alone. One of the fireproof boxes. And the name on the box being Michael Warden. 'All.purpose in a mortal eye. and pondered again. and shaking their heads in concert. Snitchey. you say?' 'Nothing at all. pawned. full of dangerous (because unknown) machinations. Craggs.' The client bit his nails. or that time of life. Craggs. eh?' said the client. No other resource. and weeks. Snitchey and Craggs made honey for their several hives. when much business had made them sentimental) at the folly of mankind. who looked it over also. and laid it down. as he produced it. Snitchey. and the increasing bulk of papers on the tables. and handed it to Mr. but. Snitchey and Craggs sat opposite each other at a neighbouring desk. borrowed. Mr. Here. unpadlocked and opened. and months. Snitchey. 'A mere prodigal son with no father to go back to. and common enemy. document by document. nevertheless. they were all very good friends in general: and Mrs. a part of its contents lay strewn upon the table. was upon it. looking up. do you?' 'In no part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.' said Mr. and wonder (but that was generally at assize time.
' said Snitchey.speaking for Self and Craggs . Craggs's pardon.' said the client. I say.' he leaned forward in his chair. No doubt about. Warden. and C. Or. 'Not so bad as that. and you to keep terms.' 'A little Devil.I dare say. You might get another estate by showing yourself.excuse me .' 'What DO you advise?' 'Nursing. dusting the snuff from his fingers.' 'Not in love!' cried Snitchey. say? Six or seven years. my iron. and an impatient change of his position.' 'I beg Mr. How long nursing?' 'How long nursing?' repeated Snitchey. A little nursing . the while.' said the client. 'To starve for six or seven years. 'but I am deep in . had a favourable influence on the client's moody state. I must say. Snitchey stopped and stared at him.Craggs. whimsical manner. sir. 'Deep in love. shrewd. 'Self and . Mr. Warden.' he said. 'you don't know half my ruin yet. Snitchey pointed out his partner. the client gradually broke into a smile. as he thoughtfully pursued his occupation. you must live abroad. and making a slow calculation in his mind.' repeated Snitchey.' said the client. putting the papers slowly back into the cast-iron box.'s. Snitchey. 'Humph!' 'Not ruined. 'Yes!' said the client. Mr.' he repeated to himself. 'Some few years of nursing by Self and Craggs would bring it round. he sat looking at his immovable adviser with a smile.' 'To starve for six or seven years!' said the client with a fretful laugh. and had elicited such encouragement as he had received. You have done a good deal towards it. 'would be very uncommon indeed. 'Mr. But. Warden. at any rate his dry.'Ruined at thirty!' said the client. Mr. and surveying the Firm with his hands in his pockets.' said the client. As to starvation. 'my iron-headed friend . you must go away. and dropped his voice a little. The lawyer very likely knew HIS man. 'will you oblige me with a pinch of snuff? Thank you.and consequently don't advise it. sir? In good hands? S. said: 'You talk of nursing.' said Snitchey.' .' retorted Mr. even in the beginning . we don't think you could do it . 'And I have spent thousands!' 'That. Gradually raising his head. But to enable us to make terms. and.' Mr. which presently broke into a laugh. Craggs also stared.' 'Hundreds. and disposed him to be more free and unreserved. falling back in his chair. looking up. we could ensure you some hundreds a-year to starve upon.' As the imperturbable lawyer applied it to his nose with great apparent relish and a perfect absorption of his attention in the proceeding. 'there is no doubt about. Craggs. but you are not ruined.' Mr. 'After all. 'After all. perhaps the client knew HIS man. Mr. 'I am not only deep in debt. and hold terms.' returned Snitchey.headed friends. 'For your involved estate. to render some purpose he was about to disclose the more defensible in appearance.
a sort of client. if he can. Snitchey. I trust?' said Mr. if I can. Mr. Snitchey. 'will you oblige me with another pinch of snuff? Thank you! I am happy to say it don't signify. The general precedent is in a much larger volume than any of your law books. 'Yes!' returned the client.' . and did you never hear of a woman changing her mind?' 'There certainly have been actions for breach. 'Mr. gravely addressing himself to his partner. but it looks bad now. she's bespoke. and Mr. 'Really. and the Lord knows how many bruises. in that box. a snapped collar. Mr. Michael Warden too. Snitchey.' Snitchey began. with great expression. Snitchey. We didn't think so much of it. 'Mr. and I . 'Not with an heiress. I am sure.' said the client. 'that of all the scrapes Mr. at the time when we knew he was going on well under the Doctor's hands and roof.our client. impatiently. so do I perhaps.' 'Nor a rich lady?' 'Nor a rich lady that I know of . without her own consent.and they have been pretty numerous. And in proof of it.' 'Really. as none know better than himself. Alfred Heathfield too . partners both. with three broken ribs. sir?' said Snitchey. Craggs. We know the fact.' observed Mr. interrupting him. and I mean to win where he would win. Mr. sir. 'Not his younger daughter?' said Snitchey. suddenly squaring his elbows on his knees. 'Certainly. My partner can corroborate me. 'Why. Craggs. 'Yes!' returned the client. Mr.there's their crop. and you. but. in the majority of cases . Heathfield's bosom friend. Michael Warden has sown his wild oats now .' returned the client quietly. Warden. Jeddler's daughters?' said Snitchey. Doctor Jeddler too .' 'It's not one of Dr. a kind of client.' 'Mr. and you know well enough. 'and no bad one either: having played the fool for ten or twelve years. and he means to repent and be wise. Michael Warden means. Warden's horses have brought him into at one time and another .' said Craggs. the Doctor's lovely daughter. I never was Mr. 'brought against both spinsters and widows.' 'Cases!' interposed the client. 'you know your duty to your clients.' 'We know the fact. Bad? It looks very bad. 'What of that! Are you men of the world.' said Mr. that it is no part of it to interfere in a mere love affair. I violate no confidence of his. and pretty expensive. However.' repeated Craggs. Mr. Mr. much relieved. I love where he loves. Mr. which I am obliged to confide to you.except in beauty and merit. and advancing his face at least a yard. and to carry her away with him. she's engaged. this having ever been left by one of them at the Doctor's garden wall.' 'A single lady.the worst scrape may turn out to be.'And not with an heiress. if he talks in this way.bone. sir. to marry Marion. do you think I have lived six weeks in the Doctor's house for nothing?' 'I think. I am not going to carry the young lady off.' said Snitchey. Craggs.' said the careless visitor. Craggs. 'Don't talk to me of cases. There's nothing illegal in it. Besides. sir. Snitchey.
and has repented of it. I am briefly going to review in half-a-dozen words. thought so. Snitchey's shining eye.with a country girl .' he continued. But I shall soon make all that up in an altered life.' 'Now. avoided the subject: shrunk from the least allusion to it. evidently anxious and discomfited. but I watched them. for the moment.' thought the shrewd lawyer. who presents himself (or is presented by his horse) under romantic circumstances.this may seem foppish again. Craggs. you know? Why should she. and Mr. has the not unfavourable reputation . sir.' calmly pursued the client. that they might be greatly better if he chose: and that. 'knew her almost from a baby!' 'Which makes it the more probable that she may be tired of his idea. it will be. in money matters. and so forth .' There was no gainsaying the last clause.' taking him by the button also. her old playfellow too. Craggs. 'I don't know why she should. It seemed to suggest. she dotes on him. and to become another man under her bright influence). as I have fallen in love with her. glancing at him. and I doubted that soon. for his youth and figure.if it may be called one. Alfred himself. sir. but upon my soul I don't mean it in that light . Perhaps . sir?' inquired Snitchey. You are right to keep quite aloof from all parties in such a matter. without doing much harm to anybody. from a young lady's eyes. Craggs. certainly.' 'Does she?' returned the client.' . some few months ago.' 'Why should she. 'I didn't live six weeks. rising and taking him by the button. 'and not indisposed to exchange it for the newer one of another lover. There was something naturally graceful and pleasant in the very carelessness of his air. if I run away with the Doctor's beautiful daughter (as I hope to do. on any side.' 'He. you remember. 'to seem to catch the spark he wants. I am not even sure of that . and then I shall leave it to you to do the best for me. if her sister could have brought it about. and making himself informed upon the subject. 'She would have doted on him.' said the client. Snitchey. perhaps. and placing one partner on either side of him. Mr. in the Doctor's house for nothing. 'A dangerous sort of libertine. which is not one in which grave men like you could interfere. that you can: seeing.'He can't. 'He can't do it.' observed the client. with a disconcerted laugh. smiling at the attention and perplexity expressed in Mr.' persisted Snitchey. and who. Marion avoided his name. She was very young when she made the engagement . 'Mr. once roused and made earnest (but he never had been earnest yet).of having lived thoughtlessly and gaily. he! Mr. though there are many likely reasons. 'I don't ask you for any advice. She dotes on Mr. observe. Snitchey. Craggs.' said Snitchey. that. he could be full of fire and purpose.' said Snitchey.might perhaps pass muster in a crowd with Mr. 'but I know she does. Mr. so that neither might evade him.it seems a foppish thing to say. my position and intention. more chargeable than running away alone. of his comely face and well-knit figure. and at his cautious way of carrying on the conversation. Alfred. 'and Craggs. with evident distress. Alfred.she may have fallen in love with me. but upon my soul I don't mean it in that light . Mr.
as he says) I hope to rescue his child. on the day when that release was executed. from what I see . shaking hands with the Firm. When must I leave here?' 'In a week. I am so harried and worried here just now. my Marion. . 'It was our opinion.' 'It's too long a delay. 'This day month. sir. But I mean to do the Doctor no wrong or harm. Craggs. however. who are never sanguine . Mr. I should say. if he don't. 'that I had even . 'or. Mr. If anything in the world is true. 'It was. I recollect. Mr. will come back to me one day. putting on his great-coat (for the weather was very cold). and wants.' responded Craggs. the return of this old lover. drawing on his gloves.' said Snitchey. And yet I thought that pretty face was very true. 'Are you going? Good night. My right is as good as his. Nobody is injured so far. 'You'll live to see me making a good use of riches yet. because (besides there being nothing serious in such trifles. I skulk about in the dark. 'I'll mention it. and many an acre besides.' he murmured to himself. I thought he'd have stipulated for three. because he wouldn't give it me. and putting it away. and Marion will probably be richer . watching him down. 'much too long. than as the wife of Alfred Heathfield. Craggs?' said Snitchey. 'Perhaps he deceives himself altogether. looking at him across the client. 'Mr.I KNOW . my passion is not surpassed. as you know and say. on this day month I go. Marion!' 'Take care of the stairs. and I will tell you no more. but. I don't mean to ask the Doctor's consent. sir!' 'Good night!' returned the client. they stood looking at each other. locking up the fireproof box.'I think it will be better not to hear this. Craggs?' said Snitchey. that house. Good night!' 'Good night!' So they both stood at the stair-head with a pair of office-candles. Snitchey. and warned off my own grounds. When he had gone away. whose return she dreads (remember that). I thought.' replied their client. a little bit of fickleness and perfidy is not a miracle.ten years hence as my wife. Craggs shook his head. To-day is Thursday. Craggs?' 'In something less.she dreads.' said Mr. You will like to know no more after this. that I lead the life of a flying-fish. Now you know my purpose. that there was something curious in the parting of that pair. and those grounds. But let it be so. 'Well! You needn't hear it. Who is injured yet? It is a fair case throughout.' said the client.on your showing. and snuffing out one candle. 'I think not. and contemplates with misery: that is. it is true that she dreads his return. Snitchey. Mr.Both listened attentively.' said Craggs. Succeed or fail. after attentively watching the two faces. and in whom or in any man. and I will try my right by her alone. if she decide in my favour. I am shut out of my own house.' pursued Mr.' replied Snitchey. 'In a month. 'for she don't shine there. 'What do you think of all this.' said Mr.' said Snitchey. Craggs.' said Snitchey. Henceforth the star of my destiny is.
O Home. . '"To part with whom. Snitchey. 'Why. Puss!' exclaimed her father. gentleness. Those loving eyes. so true to us. and I can't quite think that. on that same night. Our friend Alfred talks of the battle of life.' returned Craggs. be lenient to them that turn away from thee.' 'Mrs. still seemed to rest her head upon her sister's breast.' observed Mr. leaned back in his easychair. where.' said Mr. is always sorrowful. as of old. The Doctor. But she still appeared at once the lovelier and weaker of the two. We had better not interfere: we can do nothing. and thrilling in her voice. Mr. shaking his head. 'Our friend the Doctor makes light of such things. Craggs was of the same opinion. welcome. forbearance. who was a good-natured man. he knows something of the world and its people (he ought to. though she made an effort to command it when thus interrupted. Craggs? I am going to put the other candle out. '"And being in her own home. 'I hope he mayn't stand in need of his philosophy. lightheaded.' he shook his head again. at any step between the cradle and the grave"''Marion. Mr. so calm. Marion read aloud from a book before her. Craggs replying in the affirmative. so often slighted in return. her voice still faltering and trembling. 'I hope he mayn't be cut down early in the day. Grace was working at her needle. never made a fireside bright and sacred. 'what's the matter?' She put her hand upon the hand her sister stretched towards her. and look into her eyes for counsel and reliance. and they groped their way out of the council-chamber. for he has bought what he does know.' returned Craggs. My story passes to a quiet little study. and listened to the book. no well-remembered smiles. capricious. and do not haunt their erring footsteps too reproachfully! Let no kind looks. Let no ray of affection. Craggs.seen her character becoming stronger and more resolved of late. and put her trust in her. Something of the difference between them had been softened down in three years' time. and enthroned upon the clear brow of the younger sister. serene. from the book. in his dressing-gown and slippers. and cheerful. 'I'd really give a trifle to-night.' 'Nothing. now dark as the subject. the sisters and the hale old Doctor sat by a cheerful fireside. and read on. our comforter and friend when others fall away. or the law in general. dear enough)."' read Marion. and could not be delayed. '"her home made exquisitely dear by these remembrances. my love!' said Grace. but. 'if I could believe that Mr. O Home.' Mr. Snitchey. Mr. with his feet spread out upon the warm rug. looking through her eyes. at any step between the cradle and the grave. but keep quiet. Have you got your hat. Snitchey suited the action to the word. be seen upon thy phantom face. she now began to know that the great trial of her heart must soon come on. Warden was reckoning without his host. to part with whom. and looked upon his daughters. More like her sister's. and unballasted as he is. Two better faces for a fireside. They were very beautiful to look upon. was the same earnest nature that her own motherless youth had ripened in the elder sister long ago.
putting in her head at the door.' said Clemency. and closed the book. Alfred's coming home. it is true.' said Grace for she was weeping. 'I cannot. to have the arms chafed in that narrow passage. A novice in the family might have supposed. Oh Luck. Abrasions on the elbows are not generally understood. Indeed the Doctor himself seemed alarmed. that 'one. in some astonishment. ungainly as she was.come a little closer. dry your eyes. my dears. love. gradually rising higher and higher on tiptoe. in mercy to the Penitent!"' 'Dear Marion. going away to the wrong one. to judge from her well-soaped face. as if she were embracing herself.cordiality. 'and see the mail come in. going through the world. it is better. and seeing the Doctor still engaged in the perusal of the letter.' she chuckled. dry your eyes. do. but if thou canst look harshly and severely. but quickly regained his composure. or tone. 'And what's the matter with YOU?' said the Doctor. made her quite engaging. 'You said I wasn't to give you one before them. There's A. Mister. as Clemency. and a fictitious one. and laughed as he patted her on the head. I bet. mere rags and ink.beginning with the right one. having had recourse to both her pockets . shine from thy white head. as well as from a singular rapture or ecstasy which pervaded her elbows. meant a chaste salute. a real home is only four walls.produced a letter from the Post-office.' The Doctor. to range within that class of personal charms called beauty-spots.well! never mind that. But.' said Clemency.' said Clemency. rise up in judgment against thy deserter. which. and making a corkscrew of her apron. 'Oh. Let no old loving word. 'Here! Girls!' cried the Doctor.' returned Clemency . you know. 'The words seem all on fire!' The Doctor was amused at this.' in its most favourable interpretation. 'What! overcome by a story-book!' said Doctor Jeddler. Mr. I dare say the heroine has got home again long ago. directly. over her head.and truly too. handing it to the Doctor. Alfred's on his journey home. arriving at a climax of suspense.there was two spoons in my saucer this morning. she came down flat upon the soles of her feet again. it's all one. and cast her apron. It's as rational to make a serious matter of print and paper as of anything else. in the corner. At last. We shall have a wedding in the house . by way of soliloquy. in a mute despair.' she replied. from her extraordinary ogling as she said it. But. What's the matter now?' 'It's only me.' . in her impatience to hear the news. for the moment. 'Print and paper! Well. bless you. 'Britain was riding by on a errand. well. how slow he opens it!' All this she delivered. as a veil. There are not many secrets. in which there gleamed as usual the very soul of good-humour. nothing an't the matter with me. 'but . indeed. and inability to bear it any longer. entering. and a bottle of her mouth. read no more to-night. than the temper: and Clemency's was sound and whole as any beauty's in the land. complied with this invitation. 'I can't help it: I never could keep a secret in my life. Mister. and waited for it. and made it up all round . worth being kept in such a . 'Nothing an't the matter with me. H.and if she hasn't. and afterwards coming back to the right one again .
like a couple of walking dolls. but full of sisterly affection. "Let it be a surprise. 'She was a staid little woman. 'when you and he. though love and gratitude were part of it. and come at last. kissing her in congratulation.' 'True. It was not exultation. and hover on the lips. perhaps not what your impatience calls "directly. 'That hardly seems a twelve month ago. still busy at her work.' laughed Grace.' returned the Doctor. and you liked it better. and move the spirit like a fluttered light. a something shining more and more through all the rest of its expression. with her pleasant laugh. softly.' 'This day month!' repeated Marion. quiet. To-day is Thursday. Grace.' . for sordid thoughts do not light up the brow. even then. picturing the happiness of this return. Grace. 'This day month.' 'I am afraid I have changed sadly for the worse. in spite of his system of philosophy . for which I have no name. but more famous philosophers have done that . this day month. and plying her needle busily. if we could have made you one. stretched out his slippered feet once more upon the rug. 'however little. cheerily. It was not love and gratitude alone. dearest. looking at the fire. on any subject but one. a mournful smile.could not help having as much interest in the return of his old ward and pupil as if it had been a serious event. and listened to the quiet music of her voice. Grace was everything to me. read the letter over and over a great many times. since. You remember?' 'I remember. and always ready to forget her own.' She answered with a smile. her own face glowed with hope and joy. triumph.' said the Doctor. And where was my little Marion then!' 'Never far from her sister. was Grace. Dr. I believe (odd as it seems now). even in those times."' returned the doctor. 'A gay day and a holiday for us. And with a something else. He must have a welcome. But I can't let it be a surprise. 'Nothing would serve you but you must be called Alfred's wife. As she looked in her sister's face. so we called you Alfred's wife. proud enthusiasm. my darling. Let us see.' she answered. true. 'Why. Let us see. I never knew you positive or obstinate. 'What was that one. 'Ah! The day was. than being called a Duchess. Jeddler. father?' 'Alfred. 'What! The story-book is soon forgotten!' said the Doctor. pleasant body. So he sat himself down in his easy-chair again. 'but pretty soon too. bearing with our humours and anticipating our wishes. here. pinching her cheek. until the sympathetic figure trembles. in his holiday time." he says. 'I thought the news would dry those tears.which he was continually contradicting and denying in practice. even when she was a young child herself.' 'Directly!' repeated Marion.' said the cheerful voice of her sister Grace. and a busy.'Directly!' exclaimed Marion. used to trot about arm-in-arm. and a wise housekeeper. Yes. and talked it over more times still.' said the Doctor. indeed!' mused the Doctor. It emanated from no sordid thought. is it not? Then he promises to be here. 'Long looked forward to. of course.' said Marion. They are not so calmly shown. Puss.
and that I have loved YOU. breaking off. some tolerably welllooking. placidly. dear Grace. Clemency Newcome. when I give you back to him. listened to the tune. 'Why. and what's the news?' Clemency told him the news. these trifles were agreeable enough.' And as she sat at work. May I tell him so.' said Britain. and thought that among the many trifles of the trifling world. certainly.' she said. 'that there never was a trust so generously. who nodded condescendingly to Clemency. she resumed the work she had for a moment laid down. which the Doctor liked. all the time. and was now untwisted and smoothed out. in respect of one fact. and beat time on his knee with Alfred's letter. nobly. 'I think I remember something of it. like your own. quite at his ease. Clemmy!' 'Lor!' replied his fair companion. Britain. she hummed the burden of an old song. we will leave my deserts to Alfred's imagination. much more cheerful. dear Marion. love?' 'Tell him. when her sister spoke so fervently: and with it the old song the Doctor liked to hear. according to their several manners of reflecting: which were as various. with her favourite twist of her favourite joints. as those of so many kinds of men. It's so long ago. and other tokens of her industrious habits. returning her embrace. puffing slowly at his pipe. Mr. It seemed as if his face had been tied up in a knot before. The majority did not give forth very flattering portraits of him. and that he has never once needed my good services. and much jollier in all respects. perhaps. where her coadjutor. and looked at his two daughters. 'There'll be another job for Snitchey and Craggs. having accomplished her mission and lingered in the room until she had made herself a party to the news. Clemmy.' With that. don't you remember?' inquired the Doctor. and O! how dearly now!' 'Nay. steadfastly discharged.' replied Marion. when she stationed herself at the same table. My three years' trust is nearly at an end. 'Alfred will find a real wife soon. still reposing in his easy.' said her cheerful sister. It will be liberal enough. that you have loved him dearly all the time. which he received very graciously. A gracious change had come over Benjamin from head to foot. others vastly ill-looking. 'and that will be a happy time indeed for all of us. others very broad-faced. that he sat as in the centre of a hall of mirrors. Marion. arranged upon the walls and shelves. I shall tell Alfred. 'I wish it was me. nor were they by any means unanimous in their reflections. burnished dinner-covers. 'Well. surrounded by such a plentiful collection of bright pot-lids.' she returned. 'I can scarcely tell him that. I suppose. and a jug of beer at his elbow. well-scoured saucepans. descended to the kitchen. was regaling after supper. Britain!' .chair. in the meantime. 'More witnessing for you and me. gleaming kettles. 'but not much. much redder. an individual with a pipe in his mouth. He was much broader. dearer and dearer every day.'Indeed?' said Grace. But they all agreed that in the midst of them sat.' he observed. And the Doctor. 'how are you by this time. as some made him very long-faced. with his slippered feet stretched out before him on the rug. It has been a very easy one.
and staring retrospectively at the candle. you know.' returned Mr. you know. 'Yes! you're a likely subject for that!' he said. I was light porter to a stay and mantua maker.if it hadn't been for me. can afford to turn only his eyes towards a companion. ready to fly out if anybody pocketed a volume.' she assented. and becoming abruptly reminiscent of its healing qualities as a balsam. Britain. as if it were actually the question.which soured my spirits and disturbed my confidence in human nature. 'having been always of an inquiring turn of mind. Mr. and he were surveying it in various aspects.' 'Lor. and after that. After blowing out a great cloud of smoke. Mr. 'if it hadn't been for . but .I suppose you mean to. Britain. 'Poor Clem!' Clemency for her part laughed as heartily as he. now would she. 'I'm a likely subject for that. Britain. don't you?' A question so abrupt. for it was accidental. and that very passively and gravely. resuming his pipe. Britain. and looking at it with his head now on this side and now on that. in perfect good faith. with the profundity of a sage. as a safe and comfortable sweetener of the same. 'Oh! I'm greatly beholden to you. 'Not a chance of it!' 'Only think!' said Clemency. required consideration. and I've read a good many books about the general Rights of things and Wrongs of things. 'Well! . Clem. 'I wish her joy.' said Mr.' said Benjamin. she anointed her left elbow with a plentiful application of that remedy. and after that.' 'Did you though!' cried the admiring Clemency. and wouldn't have had quite such a sociable sort of husband as she will have. Benjamin took his pipe out of his mouth and laughed heartily. upon a subject so momentous. that. for I went into the literary line myself. I heard a world of discussions in this house. one of these days. and my opinion after all is. how nice that is to think of!' said Clemency. 'You see I've made a good many investigations of one sort and another in my time.'Wish what was you?' 'A-going to be married. 'Oh she'll have that. whoever she may be!' cried Clemency.' . 'safe enough. and as a pleasant guide through life. 'Yes. when a man can open his mouth but a very little way for speaking purposes. Britain shook his head. Britain?' 'Certainly not.ye-es . I am sure . by this time in that high state of appreciation of his pipe. which soured my spirits fresh.' pursued Mr. Britain: 'I was hid for the best part of two years behind a bookstall. an't I?' 'YOU'LL never be married.' 'But she wouldn't have led quite such a joyful life as she will lead.not that I went to do it.' said Clemency. there's nothing like a nutmeg-grater. nothing but deceptions .' said Mr. in oilskin baskets.' said Clemency. in which capacity I was employed to carry about.he thought he might come to that at last. and sitting luxuriously immovable in his chair. Britain replied that he wasn't altogether clear about it. spreading herself half over the table. At the same time. 'Don't you think I ever shall though?' said Clemency. and seemed as much amused by the idea. bringing her thoughts as well as her sight to bear upon the candle-grease. 'Yes. when I began life.
Clemency was about to offer a suggestion. 'I'll have a look round.' but sallied out. Whatever happens. before I go to bed myself. Clemency. 'Are they all abed up-stairs?' 'Yes. and casting the light of the lantern far and near in all directions. it sounded like.' said Mr. shook it. you know. I suppose you haven't so much as half an idea in your head. 'I don't pretend to none. that he would only have his walk for his pains.' said Clemency. I've my doubts about that. yourself. and cetrer. 'that it's what would be considered good philosophy. 'But the most extraordinary thing. and said. Clemmy.' said Mr.' 'Will you?' returned Clemency. giving her his pipe to knock the ashes out of it. for satisfaction's sake. without the smallest inclination to dispute it. 'with a thimble. all abed by this time. did the like. but observed as she did so. and laughed till the tears ran down his face. Britain. Hark! That's a curious noise!' 'Noise!' repeated Clemency. 'I'll stand by you.' 'I'm pretty sure of it. 'Com-bined. Clemmy!' he said. and saves a quantity of snarling. 'What's that!' . nevertheless. eh!' observed Clemency. 'I tell you what.' said Clemency. 'A footstep outside. you know!' said Clemency. 'and almost as ghostly too!' Glancing back into the kitchen.' she replied. Britain. taking down a lantern. Undo the door while I light this. 'Didn't you hear anything?' 'No. she cried fearfully. as a light figure stole into her view. I'll always take notice of you.' Clemency. is that I should live to be brought round. and patting her elbows. and wiping his eyes. but it wears well.' said Mr. 'I can't help liking you.' Benjamin took his pipe from his lips. through you. armed with the poker. without taking the least offence.' Clemency complied briskly. 'Such a short cut. an't it?' 'I'm not sure.' said Britain. 'Oh! I dare say you're right. Britain. with an infinite relish of the joke. Clem. yes.' said Mr. shaking his head. folding her arms comfortably in her delight at this avowal. so shake hands. but heard nothing.' 'See how you used to go on once. 'It's as quiet as a churchyard.' They both listened. 'Well! that's very good of you. 'you're a regular good creature in your way. and so forth. she didn't suppose she had.' said Benjamin. 'No.' he added gravely.' 'Do as you wold.' 'Yes. which the genuine article don't always. looking after him. Britain said 'very likely. Through you! Why. Mr. Britain. and be a friend to you. That's the strange part of it. Britain. but he stopped her by anticipating it. and laughed as heartily as he. 'Ah!' said Mr. Clemmy. Somebody dropping from the wall. I don't want any. 'What a natural you are. that it was all his fancy. and laughed and hugged herself.
Matter! Oh. yes!' 'If you're frightened out of your life by a lantern. while I speak to him. and pressing it with both her own to her breast . Britain. 'Don't go to bed. child! You may be sure I have. to-night. in whom I CAN trust. Little Britain. Michael Warden. in its passion of entreaty. 'Not now! Wait.Marion withdrew. may I not? There is no one else just now. . 'whom I must see. 'One of the effects of having a lively imagination. Wait here for me!' said Marion. she saw a dark figure standing in the doorway. and taking up his candle strolled drowsily away to bed. 'that apparition's very soon got rid of. Clemmy. She softly unbarred the door: but before turning the key. 'and stand there close beside me. nervously.' 'I am sure. Fancy.' said Mr. who could not conceal the effects of her surprise and concern. after giving utterance to the original remark that it was impossible to account for a woman's whims. I suppose. hurriedly. I will come presently. and began to bustle about with a show of going to bed herself immediately.' he said. But you're as bold as brass in general. 'Open the door. Oh. was sitting in a chair: pale. 'There is some one out there. composedly blowing it out and hanging it up again. Marion returned. 'You have always loved me. stopping to observe her. as he locked and barred the door. such as Clemency could not resist.' said Clemency. following the direction of the speaker's eyes. looked round on the young creature waiting to issue forth when she should open it. and looking anywhere but at him. outside. Britain. that is! After going and frightening one out of one's life with noises and lanterns. and trembling from head to foot. after the noise and the lantern too. and was gone. 'Matter!' she repeated. what's the matter?' Clemency. for God's sake retire! Not now!' Clemency started with surprise and trouble as.' said Mr. bade her good night in return. it still evinced a resolute and settled purpose. What have you taken into your head? Not an idea.' 'Yes. as Clemency bade him good night very much after her usual fashion. as the light of the returning lantern flashed into the room. chafing her hands and elbows.'Hush!' said Marion in an agitated whisper.an action more expressive. 'That's good in you. and speak with. Nobody there. Halloa! Why.' she said. Britain.' pointing to the door. than the most eloquent appeal in words. And I may trust you. eh?' But. in some concealment.' He waved his hand to her. be true to me!' Eagerly seizing her bewildered hand.' said Marion. . 'All still and peaceable. and I don't know what all. if you can. 'In another moment you may be discovered. 'and were. have you not!' 'Loved you. 'I have been seeking to speak to you for an hour past.' Timid as her manner was. with all her heart. When all was quiet.
'or shall I go alone?' Sorrowing and wondering. The door was barred and locked again. it was an unhappy day when Mr. Then.and breathe upon the parted lips. she threw her arms round Marion's neck. implicitly. 'I'll tell him what you like. with confidence. Clemency. seized the other hand. she fell upon her knees. Not bowed down by the secret that she brought there.of your sister. soothing her. that. but looking full upon her. 'Him that you used to love so dearly. Into the dark and doubtful night that lay beyond the threshold. of its own will.though sadly: murmuring as she kissed her forehead. and pressed it to his lips. Some simple sense of the slightness of the barrier that interposed itself between the happy home and honoured love of the fair girl. I MUST speak to him. look upon her face and smile . in the strong feeling of the speech it emphasised unconsciously. and once again she stood beneath her father's roof. but I must take this step. protectingly and tenderly even in sleep . You are the best and truest friend in all the world for what you have said to me. and bending over her fond sister in her slumber. 'It's little that I know. but I know that this should not be. repeating 'Once!' as if it rent her heart. in her hands. and trusted to her. but. and so filled it to overflowing with sorrow and compassion.' said Clemency. my dear. Marion passed quickly. once!' She hid her face. and the hand that held so fast by Clemeney's. and with her secret weighing on her heart. and pausing there a moment. now trembled. and she loved her as a child! Could draw the passive arm about her neck when lying down to rest .' cried Clemency. Will you go with me. as she said. he followed to the door.The face was not averted or cast down. gently. stealthily withdrew. and what might be the desolation of that home. God bless her! . Alfred's sake. bursting into tears. 'Let me go out. 'very little. Don't cross the door-step to-night. darling .' said Clemency. smote so keenly on the tender heart of Clemency. Again she thanked and thanked her humble friend. in its pride of youth and beauty. 'Till to-morrow. 'For Mr. upon the instant.' Marion shook her head. 'Once more.it seemed to cling there. with that same expression on her face for which I had no name before. 'You don't know what I do.' urged Clemency. Oh. and opened the door. how that Grace had been a mother to her.' said Marion. Her chamber safely reached. could pray! Could rise up from her prayers. and they spoke together earnestly and long.' said Marion. Warden was ever brought here! Think of your good father. hastily raising her head. so tranquil and serene. and shipwreck of its dearest treasure. ever. with homely earnestness. though so young.' she kissed her on her friendly face. I'm sure no good will come of it. now clasped and closed on hers.' 'I have. and shining through her tears. now turned deadly cold. When they returned. holding by her hand. Think of what you do!' 'I have thought of it many times. Clemency turned the key. In the dark night he joined her.
To shed a ruddier glow upon the faces gathered round the hearth. peeping from among the leaves. for curtained rooms. and they would make the night air ring. and wore upon her head a wreath that Grace had proudly twined about it . high.' 'I never was so happy. sometimes. sat again upon her brow. dancing. of every hospitable kind. A raging winter day. Grace. that shook the old house. The day arrived. They knew that he could not arrive till night. 'or I am no true prophet. he said. but there was a sweet composure on her face that made it lovelier than ever. light. 'Ay. as Grace remembered when she chose them . who noiselessly presided everywhere. against the roaring elements without. pensive. even at its tardiest pace. at Marion. for music. I never saw you look so beautiful as now. She saw her paler. A month soon passes. the dancing-room was garlanded and hung with it. and yet so spiritual. in which she cried out. No! They should every one be there! So. He should not miss a face that he had known and liked. 'Alfred and his young wife will soon be living. and musicians were engaged. Such a wild winter day as best prepares the way for shut-out night. Because it was the Christmas season. All his old friends should congregate about him. like a vapour.' said Grace. than usual. and tables spread. and draw each fireside group into a closer and more social league. and stirring. and they had all forgotten her. as he approached. A day to make home doubly home. and floors prepared for active feet. tenderly. In such another home. as cheerful and as bright as this looks now. and went by. herself. To give the chimneycorner new delights. and her eyes were fixed upon it. but there is a greater happiness in store. guests were bidden. in her innocent and touching voice.' Her sister smiled. dear girl. and his eyes were all unused to English holly and its sturdy green. almost sorrowful. It was a busy day for all of them: a busier day for none of them than Grace. and cheerful looks. but for one dream. and almost fearfully.' said Grace. 'The next wreath I adjust on this fair head. dear. laughter. will be a marriage wreath. did Clemency glance anxiously. Don't leave me yet. 'My art. The month appointed to elapse between that night and the return. perhaps. that she was quite alone. 'A moment. nor your beauty.its mimic flowers were Alfred's favourites. 'can go no farther. At night when she was dressed.' . Are you sure that I want nothing more?' Her care was not for that. was quick of foot. and jovial entertainment! All these the Doctor had in store to welcome Alfred back. and was the cheerful mind of all the preparations. It was her sister's face she thought of.' she returned. and held her in her arms.that old expression. and the red berries gleamed an English welcome to him. as if it shivered in the blast. Many a time that day (as well as many a time within the fleeting month preceding it). and bountiful provision made. enhanced a hundred-fold.' said Grace.Could sink into a peaceful sleep.
in your fancy. That you will forgive her. trembled as if the Bird of Paradise were alive again. or may do . all ready for Alfred. Snitchey. but we'll be nonsensical with the rest of 'em. impetuous fathers fell into disgrace for too much exaltation of her beauty. and expectant. dear. and bring 'em on a mile or two a day. That she shall always share your love. Say that you forgive her. 'Oh-h! Business. It's a world of nonsense. Craggs knew. tut. and -.' said the Doctor gently. 'Tut.' 'Well. but that I'm the father of two handsome girls. Craggs.' cried the Doctor. eh? He can't be here until pretty late . Don't tell me!' said Mrs.' said Mrs. we must hold 'em at a distance. . innumerable pairs of lovers profited by the occasion. Forgive! Why. what a silly child you are! If you had vexed and crossed me fifty times a day. smiling lips gave her joy of his return.' said Mrs. Pile up the fire here. Craggs.so there'll be plenty of time for making merry before he comes. Craggs came arm in arm. 'That nasty office.' said Marion. I know it WILL be happy. and give our true lover a mad welcome. and hoped she mightn't be too youthful and inconstant for the quiet round of home. I can see it in your eyes. until we're properly prepared to meet 'em. He'll not find us with the ice unbroken. sons envied him. among other absurdities.he's . 'He's . 'Forgive! What have I to forgive? Heyday. 'It is a happy home. More and more company came flocking in. when she said that doubtless Mr. 'Here we are. Bright eyes sparkled upon Marion.' 'All that one of them has ever done.there's a little matter of business that keeps my partner rather late.She smiled again. Snitchey. if our true lovers come back to flurry us like this. looking at his daughters proudly. for her face was hidden on the old man's shoulder. all were interested. and already there was a pleasant air of cheerful excitement stirring through all the house. or I'll not forgive some of you!' So gaily the old Doctor carried it! And the fire was piled up. tut.an hour or so before midnight .all nonsense. and a murmuring of lively tongues began. Grace. when her heart is full. and the lights were bright. Kiss me.to cause you pain or grief. instead of not at all. Puss. but such a supplication. Puss. and company arrived. dearest father . sage mothers fanned themselves. 'Why.' and the rest was not said. Snitchey's turban. but Mrs. Upon my word!' said the old Doctor. Kiss me again.may do. we must send expresses out to stop 'em short upon the road.a clear score between us. true lovers and all the rest of it . Mr. 'forgive her now. what's become of HIM?' inquired the Doctor. forgive her. 'I wish it was burnt down. and Mrs. How glad I am to know it. The feather of a Bird of Paradise in Mrs. Britain! Let it shine upon the holly till it winks again. and warm. Puss. bustling in. SHE was never told. 'I'm not clear to-night. animated. Snitchey came alone. looking uneasily about him. I'd forgive you everything. daughters envied her. Pile up the fire here! Would you freeze the people on this bleak December night! Let us be light. There! Prospective and retrospective .' said Mr. and merry.
up the broad old chimney. 'Good evening. coughed. Sometimes its genial humour grew obstreperous. and the dance commenced. Craggs put on his spectacles to see the better. Mr. Mr. and then it cast into the room. I suppose?' . upon the youthful whisperers in corners. 'Mr. within herself. as though it joined the dance itself. Craggs. Sometimes. Snitchey. Another dance was near its close.is she here?' asked Craggs. Mr. as he spoke. among the twinkling feet. 'A person with an office has no business to be married at all.' 'Oh. 'You look charmingly. and Mrs. is she . 'I wonder YOU could come away. Craggs started. that 'his Snitcheys' were deceiving him behind his back. Still. it flashed and beamed as if it were the eye of the old room: it winked too. and passed out of their view. 'That office so engrosses 'em. and he knew it.Humph!' The dance was finished. Craggs. Craggs. and was very particular indeed. 'He didn't recur to that subject. shining on the leaves by fits and starts. Craggs's ear-rings shook like little bells. like a mad thing. upon the arm. and put them. rose and fell.' said Mr. Marion passed close before him. with an air of satisfaction.' said Mrs. who was looking on. Your . She did not observe him. and in his pocket.I . Craggs observed to Craggs. a shower of harmless little sparks. But their not knowing what it meant. made them look as if they were in the cold winter night again. Craggs.your sister.Miss .' said Snitchey. Miss Marion. but. I'm sure!' said Mrs. He went over everything. or his partner. it sported with the holly-boughs. Snitchey's Bird of Paradise feather quivered so portentously. 'Here! Don't you see her yonder? Going to dance?' said Grace. it roared as if it would make music too. Snitchey. to whom he immediately presented himself. as she slowly made her way into the crowd. The bright fire crackled and sparkled. when Mr.' said his wife. Craggs. looked uneasily about until his eye rested on Grace. Craggs is fortunate. looked over her shoulder towards her sister in the distance.' said Mrs. and he would find it out when it was too late. was perhaps the reason why Mrs. He . and. Now the music struck up. without much heeding these remarks. Sometimes. with a loud burst. and fluttering in the wind. and passed all bounds. Snitchey said. for some time. He looked into all our arrangements for him. like a knowing patriarch.' 'Yes . Mrs. as if his familiar had been a spectre. Snitchey touched his partner.' said Craggs. 'for three hours and more. in right good fellowship. looked at her through them. she's quite well. and why all the pendant bits on Mrs.' said Mrs. Mr. in their sheath again. 'Hush! He has been with me. Sometimes. that that look of hers had pierced to Craggs's soul. Then. 'You see! All safe and well. ma'am. 'Is he gone?' he asked. and in its exultation leaped and bounded. sometimes. Craggs.'WE know what business means. Mr.
Craggs. giving her his arm. 'Expected every minute. and bent down .' Mr. 'With the exposure of a defenceless woman to ridicule and remark.about this time.' 'Good.' said Mrs. 'It has been the theme of general comment. I haven't been so nervous since we've been in partnership.' said Mr. Don't mention names. THAT is. that I am glad to know it as the avowed enemy of my peace. Snitchey joined them as he announced this intention. 'If you can look that man in the eye this night. ringing a perfect peal upon the little bells. 'I understand you. 'No. yes. There is something honest in that. Snitchey wiped his forehead. as Mr. Craggs. 'your good opinion is invaluable. you are. 'Your chosen companion. Craggs. my dear?' said Mr. The tide flows. Snitchey cut this reference very short by hitching her husband to a distance. Mr. occasioned Mr. I'm not. at the keeper of your secrets. The evidence would seem to point that way. and the little bells were ringing quite audibly. Craggs. seem to be talking secrets. my dear?' asked Mr.' 'Yes. I'm sure. Snitchey. 'That is quite in the way of the office. 'It's a great relief. he says.' returned his wife. Mr. at the man you trust. I don't know what to think. It's a great relief. Snitchey. Snitchey. Craggs knows . Craggs and Mrs. Snitchey wiped his forehead again. Snitchey. and don't let us.' said Mrs. I'M no companion to you. I don't care now. at all events. Craggs.' 'My dear.' 'Satisfied with what. an hour before midnight . at your other self. I'm glad it's over. but I never avowed that the office was the enemy of your peace. His self-love deceived him. Snitchey.'Not a word. but. indeed. my dear.' said Mrs. Snitchey. Will you look at your chosen companion. in short?' The habitual association of Self with Craggs.' 'As to my having been away to-night. and to tell you the truth. Snitchey with a majestic smile. I intend to spend the evening now.' he interposed. 'What do you think.' said Mrs. To do her the favour to look at him! 'At which man.' urged Mr.' 'No.' Mr. There's no such lonely road anywhere else. myself. Snitchey. made the victim of his arts. He drops down the river with the tide in that shell of a boat of his. if you had the candour to. at your referee. Snitchey. 'have been so long accustomed to connect the office with everything opposed to domesticity. Perhaps the young lady coquetted a little. The Bird of Paradise was in a state of extreme vibration. and so goes out to sea on this dark night! . 'Not you. 'and not know that you are deluded. Mr. You wouldn't be worthy of the office. my dear. and asking him to look at that man.a dare-devil he is . Alfred not arrived?' 'Not yet. I suppose. no.before the wind.' 'I really. which looked hot and anxious. 'about . That's one thing.' said Mr. 'the deprivation has been mine.' said Mrs.' said Mr.' 'And is he really gone? Is he safe away?' 'He keeps to his word. Craggs.' Mrs. looking straight before him.' 'Hush!' replied his cautious partner. 'I know my station. Mr. Snitchey to look in that direction. 'I hope the office is satisfied.' Mrs. practised upon.
it sparkled in the jewels on the snowy necks of girls. and Mr. that each wife went as gravely and steadily to work in her vocation as her husband did in his. if I decline. for they were excellent friends. by the way. It shone in people's eyes. cunning. were with the two husbands: or. footed it for Self and Craggs. she said. and the Doctor's rosy face spun round and round. when Mr. in like manner. and would have considered it almost impossible for the Firm to maintain a successful and respectable existence. Snitchey. without her laudable exertions. these two shares in the business. incessantly running up and down bailiwicks. and present everywhere. the Bird of Paradise was seen to flutter down the middle. and Mr. that Craggs could so blind himself to his Snitcheys. And would he still assert to her at noon-day (it being nearly midnight). certain it is. and reason. But. rather than be left out of it altogether. was hardly a clear illustration of the case. all I can say is . and burnt clear and high. as he had walked in very mildly at the door. that his Snitcheys were to be justified through thick and thin. it twinkled at their ears as if it whispered to them slyly. favoured by the lively wind the dance awakened. to do so. Craggs was oracular on the cross subject. whether country dancing had been made 'too easy. it flickered on the ground and made it rosy for their feet. It was an old custom among them. didn't show that there was something weighing on the conscience of his precious Snitcheys (if he had a conscience). but. Craggs gallantly offered himself to Mrs. indeed. It was the Genius of the room. and to pair off. in the man? Would he tell her that his very action.I pity you!' At the very same moment Mrs. treachery. Snitchey. until its force abated. This happened at about the same time as a general movement for a country dance. and experience? Neither Snitchey nor Craggs openly attempted to stem the current which had thus set in. when he wiped his forehead and looked so stealthily about him. like an expressive pegtop highly varnished. Perhaps the false Craggs and the wicked Snitchey were a recognised fiction with the two wives. Craggs began to doubt already. it flashed about their waists.prostrate to his will by some unaccountable fascination which it is impossible to explain and against which no warning of mine is of the least avail. Now. and on a footing of easy familiarity. too. and took her place. it . with his nimble cuts and capers. Craggs. that wouldn't bear the light? Did anybody but his Snitcheys come to festive entertainments like a burglar? . the fire took fresh courage. Was it possible.' like the rest of life. and taken upon themselves. as not to feel his true position? Did he mean to say that he had seen his Snitcheys come into that room. and after some such slight evasions as 'why don't you ask somebody else?' and 'you'll be glad. each lady graciously accepted. and half-a-dozen more. against all facts. as Doe and Roe. Snitchey proposed himself as a partner to Mrs. now. at dinners and suppers. and didn't plainly see that there was reservation. But. I know.which. both were content to be carried gently along it.' and 'I wonder you can dance out of the office' (but this jocosely now). perhaps the ladies had instituted. and the little bells began to bounce and jingle in poussette. and breathless Mr.
hung upon the smaller branches like dead garlands. it only made him the more impatient for Alfred's coming. and throw another log upon it. Britain? Anything been heard?' 'Too dark to see far.pictured it under all circumstances . the lively air that fanned it. figures passed and repassed there. to give him welcome. 'Anything been seen. and they could see and hear him. Withered leaves crackled and snapped beneath his feet. if not. But he could make it one. the wall was easily climbed. too. and a breeze arose that made the leaves and berries dance upon the wall. which. He dismounted from the chaise. and it kindled up a general illumination in Mrs. and he would be among them in an instant.even that was not easy in his agitation . and now there were a thousand little bells at work. triumphantly. Stop! He knew the Doctor. tried the gate. 'Let him see his welcome blazing out upon the night . .bloomed upon the ceiling that its glow might set off their bright faces. as they had often done upon the trees. as he turned the corner by the old church. he knew. and waved his hat. There was a frosty rime upon the trees. as if the light were they. and cheered out. jumped down on the other side. the red light came cheerily towards him from the windows. and wearied for it . sir. He saw the wintry branches of the old trees between the light and him. Craggs's little belfry. ran on with exceeding swiftness. Too much noise inside the house to hear.yearned. and the dance was over. as he crept softly on towards the house. yet. How often he had thought of this time . He knew that one of those trees rustled musically in the summer time at the window of Marion's chamber. as he knew of old. His heart throbbed so violently that he could hardly bear his happiness.' said the Doctor. Hot and breathless as the Doctor was. kindled. too. and now there seemed a dozen Birds of Paradise in fitful flight. He can't be long. and the breeze rustled in the room as if an invisible company of fairies.' 'That's right! The gayer welcome for him. and telling the driver . and in the sky. by going forward on foot. The tears were in his eyes.' 'Stir up the fire. How goes the time?' 'Just twelve.to remain behind for a few minutes. Now. and the hum and murmur of voices greeted his ear sweetly. and stood panting in the old orchard. sir. he could enter there. loud. and understood what he had done. were whirling after them. But. in the faint light of the clouded moon. and now a fleet of flying skirts was ruffled by a little tempest. treading in the foot-steps of the good substantial revellers.Yes! From the chaise he caught the light.good boy! .as he comes along!' He saw it . Now. and to speed him home.far away! Again the light! Distinct and ruddy. as he dashed towards them through the mud and mire. He would not let it be a surprise to them.feared that it might never come . He beckoned with his hand. scaled the wall. when the music gave in. grew less gentle as the music quickened and the dance proceeded with new spirit. If the orchard-gate were open. and then to follow slowly. sir. He knew the room from which it shone. The desolation of a winter night sat brooding on the earth. no feature of the Doctor's face could be distinguished as he spun and spun.
'don't you know me?' 'Don't come in!' she answered. and half believing that he heard it: he had nearly reached the door. some admonished him that Grace must be removed into the house. I . as he bent upon his knee beside the insensible girl. .rushed out at the door. He looked up for a moment in the air. and with his hands before his face. and even that remembrance of her blotted out. was heard. 'Will no one look at me? Will no one speak to me? Does no one know me? Is there no voice among you all. Some approached him kindly. to tell me what it is!' There was a murmur among them. and no purpose. clasping one of Grace's cold hands in his own. disorder. with the view of offering consolation. and thought how Marion's footprints would be hushed and covered up.night! She writes that she has made her innocent and blameless choice . as soon as made. Don't ask me why. There was a hurried running to and fro. pushing him back. but. The snow fell fast and thick. 'Grace!' He caught her in his arms. 'Fled.and is gone. as he crept on. Hark!' There was a sudden tumult in the house. grasping his hair with his hands. Among them was her father. and Grace distraction in her looks and manner . Go back. But he never felt the weather and he never stirred.' 'Gone!' he echoed. 'What is it!' cried Alfred. A crowd of figures came about them from the house.' 'With whom? Where?' He started up. 'I don't know. and some took horse. such as no hands could shut out.entreats that we will forgive her prays that we will not forget her .I am afraid to think. to detach it from the rest. A wild scream. staggered back. Don't come in. 'She is gone. my dear Alfred!' said the Doctor. and fell down at his feet. looked wildly round upon them. She put her hands upon her ears. and he never moved. with a paper in his hand. and a figure coming out encountered his. and that he prevented it. were suited to them well.' he said. 'Clemency. It instantly recoiled with a halfsuppressed cry. 'Gone from her home and us. He looked round on the whitening ground. when it was abruptly opened. when they gave way to let him pass. as if to follow in pursuit. and sunk down in his former attitude. in a broken voice. and some got lights. and looking in an agony from face to face. confusion. noise. 'Go away. 'What is it! Is she dead!' She disengaged herself. To.Listening for hers: attempting. and thought that those white ashes strewn upon his hopes and misery. urging that there was no trace or track to follow. as if to recognise his face. Some proceeded to disperse themselves about the roads. He never heard them.' 'What is the matter?' he exclaimed. and some conversed together.
and an easy confidence . beckoned. with its golden letters winking in the sun. addressed a cheerful front towards the traveller. and an affecting picture of a brown jug frothing over at the top. had swilled as much as they could carry . and now had found a sense of sight where-with to look up at the shining sky. as a house of entertainment ought. and clustered roofs. full of clear fresh water.in the general resources of the Inn. red: its different forms of trees. Upon the window-sills were flowering plants in bright red pots. a minute since. fences.perhaps a trifle more . homesteads. the steeple of the church. like a jolly face. Birds sang sweetly. which spread along the country side as if a joyful beacon had been lighted up. The ruddy signboard perched up in the tree. The crimson curtains in the lower rooms. Corn-fields. The sun burst suddenly from among the clouds. At such a time. which glanced off from the surfaces of bottles and tankards. Upon the bright green shutters. The verdant meadow-land. looking over the palings of his neat well-ordered garden. and promised good cheer. On the door-step. ogled the passer-by. and his legs just wide enough apart to express a mind at rest upon the subject of the cellar. How beautiful the landscape kindling in the light. the water-mill. and neat wines. for. which made a lively show against the white front of the house. set him off well. made every horse that passed. spanned the whole arch with its triumphant glory. from among the green leaves.and . flowers raised their drooping heads. all sprang out of the gloomy darkness smiling. flashed a responsive welcome there. and there had been heavy rain. and answered from a thousand stations. The horse-trough. green.Chapter 3 THE world had grown six years older since that night of the return. hedge-rows. sparkling brilliantly and cheerfully at sight of it in one green place. brightening everything! The wood. trickling from everything after the late rain. spirit of all the colours that adorned the earth and sky. and tempted him with many mute but significant assurances of a comfortable welcome. already the sun's slanting rays pierced mortally the sullen bank of cloud that lingered in its flight. one little roadside Inn. brown. too. Nothing near him was thirsty. revealed its varied tints of yellow. bright and glowing. he was round and broad. prick up his ears.ground. with raindrops glittering on their leaves and twinkling as they fell. snugly sheltered behind a great elm-tree with a rare seat for idlers encircling its capacious bole. and the pure white hangings in the little bed-chambers above. seemed as if it had been blind. and a rainbow. It was a warm autumn afternoon. and in the darkness of the doorway there were streaks of light. a sombre mass before. The superabundant moisture. there were golden legends about beer and ale. and that luxuriant influence passing on like a celestial presence. fresh scents arose from the invigorated ground. and the ground below it sprinkled with droppings of fragrant hay.too calm and virtuous to become a swagger . and the old battle. Certain top-heavy dahlias. the stream. and stood with his hands in his pockets. the blue expanse above extended and diffused itself. and good beds. though he was a short man. Come in! with every breath of air. appeared a proper figure of a landlord.
They looked over at him. if I didn't keep it. he strolled towards the garden-paling. and a rosy comfortablelooking soul she was: with as much soap on her glossy face as in times of yore..' Then. It was called The Nutmeg-Grater. She's a long time coming!' Mr. Oh! here we are at last!' A chaise-cart. but not many. and she stood in them. By Benjamin Britain. alighting from it. and a certain bright good nature in her face and contented awkwardness in her manner. in a chair. slipped nimbly through Mr. wall.reasonably changed by time. And underneath that household word.flowers. that had grown quite dimpled in her improved condition.' said Ben. 'You're late. I think. Clemmy!' said Mr. Sprinkling dewy drops about them on the ground. came clattering along the road: and seated in it. Britain's better half seemed to be by so very much his better half. and on a more minute examination of his face. Britain. up in the tree. driven by a boy. and the leaves on the old tree. with her bare arms folded across a basket which she carried on her knee. 'You must be looked after. but the sweet-briar. but for the better. 'It's just the sort of house.' said Benjamin. and when the cart stopped at the Nutmeg-Grater door. as the heavy drops of wet dripped off them. that his own moiety of himself was utterly cast away and helpless without her. and came down with a substantial weight upon the pathway. which smacked of old times. even in the distance. on being established. 'Memorandum. and had served to develop their best qualities. the plants at the windows. several other baskets and parcels lying crowded around her. looking down the road. 'Mrs. softening neglected corners which the steady rain could seldom reach. you might have known that it was no other than Benjamin Britain himself who stood in the doorway . In fact they did belong to her. this relish of by-gone days was not diminished. Britain's open arms.' said Benjamin. Upon her nearer approach. a very comfortable host indeed. and in the like golden characters. Britain coming. not to forget to tell her so. roses. It's tea-time.may have been the worse for liquor. but with whole elbows now. This village Inn had assumed. on the same flaming board. very much to his satisfaction. they seemed profuse of innocent and sparkling mirth.' said Mr. . was inscribed. which shoes could hardly have belonged to any one but Clemency Newcome. he strolled leisurely out into the road and looked up at the house. 'She hadn't much to do. 'is rather late. At a second glance. an uncommon sign. as she jogged to and fro with the motion of her carriage. and took a look at the dahlias.' As there was no Mrs. and hurting nothing. with a large well-saturated umbrella spread out to dry behind her. with a helpless drowsy hanging of their heads: which bobbed again. 'There were a few little matters of business after market. a pair of shoes. was the plump figure of a matronly woman. Britain. 'I should wish to stop at. were in the beaming state of moderate company that had taken no more than was wholesome for them. that did good where it lighted. B.
' retorted Clemency.' '"To be sold by Auction." &c.' returned Ben. Not if you was to have twenty. hearty. Britain's face assumed a serious expression. Eight.seventeen pound four. Here's a printed bill to stick on the wall. "shrubberies. and smoothing her hair with her open hands. he'd never put you to the cost of a halfpenny. Harry. is it?' 'It's very good.' . ten. nine. Wet from the printer's. 'No. paid into the Bank Doctor Heathfield's charge for little Clem . C. "Messrs.turnips sold . and I think that's all." &c. Ben. 'Here it is. Ha ha ha! There! Take all the papers. Snitchey and Craggs. Britain.' said Ben. ten where's eleven? Oh! my basket's eleven! It's all right. 'I haven't read a word of it. Ben. soon!' said Clemency. How's the children. Ben. "ring fence. and that an't bad. and he looked hard at the wall. where's eleven? Oh! forgot.'bacco pipes ordered .. old man!' Mr. "ornamental portion of the unencumbered freehold property of Michael Warden. Esquire. Why. applying herself to her pockets and drawing forth an immense bulk of thin books and crumpled papers: a very kennel of dogs'-ears: 'I've done everything. yonder. 'I'm glad you're pleased!' exclaimed his wife. Britain promptly complied... 'Look here.' 'No.he fetched eight pound two."' 'They always put that. looking over the document. it's all right. Britain. 'I think. nine. Oh! Wait a minute. Clemmy. 'Look!' 'And it was only this very day that I heard it whispered at the old house.' 'Bless their precious faces!' said Mrs. unbonneting her own round countenance (for she and her husband were by this time in the bar). looking busily after the safe removal into the house of all the packages and baskets: 'eight.'Why.' returned Mr.' replied his wife.you'll guess what that is .' he returned. dear! There'll be heavy hearts. I've had a deal to do!' she replied. Put the horse up. How nice it smells!' 'What's this?' said Ben. shaking her head sorrowfully. 'Dear. 'An't it kind of him?' said Clemency. 'Very. and lock 'em up. 'It's the sort of kindness that I wouldn't presume upon. Britain. "Mansion. 'Of course not.' said Britain. and if he coughs again give him a warm mash to-night. and so no more at present from yours and cetrer.' said Clemency.Doctor Heathfield won't take nothing again. Bills all settled . Ben. "offices. you see."' read the host of the Nutmeg-Grater. 'Give us a kiss. that better and plainer news had been half promised of her. intending to continue to reside abroad"!' 'Intending to continue to reside abroad!' repeated Clemency." &c.' 'I thought he wouldn't. Ben?' 'Hearty. 'I don't know. Britain. 'Yes. He says whatever family you was to have. Then there's the pony .' said Mrs. dear. but they don't always put this." &c.brewer's account looked into and paid ." &c. 'I thought you would be. on any account.' Mr. and patting her elbows as if the recollection of old times unconsciously awakened her old habits. '"unless previously disposed of by private contract.
no. 'how that bill does set me thinking of old times!' 'Ah!' said Mr. handling his saucer like an oyster. and industry.' said Mrs. he applied himself to putting up the bill just inside the bar window. that it was she who managed the whole house. and made him. Britain. whose innate worth. She was a perpetual testimony to him of the goodness of his heart. and he felt that her being an excellent wife was an illustration of the old precept that virtue is its own reward. 'lost me my old place. and disposing of its contents on the same principle. Though the host of the Nutmeg-Grater had a lively regard for his good-wife. Michael Warden. and that little Clem was sleeping 'like a picture.chuckling all the time. Ha! ha! We! Who'd have thought it!' 'Who indeed!' cried Clemency. to think of his own condescension in having married Clemency. returning with the news that the two Master Britains were playing in the coach-house under the superintendence of one Betsey. and the kindness of his disposition. and I found I shouldn't be able to get on without you.' 'No. honesty. right to the minute (it was half-past five). 'and many thanks to him. Britain. as if she had sat down for the night. I declare. Clem. over her capacity for business . in any degree of life (as the world very often finds it). He had finished wafering up the bill.' . by her plain straightforward thrift.' retorted Clemency. 'Well! So he did. Britain. over his saucer. with the usual display of bottles and glasses. at their own modest valuation.' said Mr.' replied Mr. and she amused him mightily.' said Mr. and had locked the vouchers for her day's proceedings in the cupboard . Britain. So we went and got made man and wife. a sedate clock. and bustled off to look after the children. Clemency. shaking her head at the notice of sale. It was a very neat little bar. but getting up again immediately to hand her husband his tea. Britain heaved a sigh. everything in its place. 'Nothing worth mentioning. Nothing would have astonished him so much. and everything furbished and polished up to the very utmost. it was of the old patronising kind. 'That same Mr. if we would look so far. Britain.' 'And got you your husband. 'It's the first time I've sat down quietly to-day. to take those cheerful natures that never assert their merit.' said Clemency. and to conceive a flippant liking of people for their outward oddities and eccentricities. and cut him his bread-and-butter. which had awaited her arrival. cleared her thoughtful brow.when. no. and said he couldn't make it out: he had left off trying long ago. after meditating in silence for a few moments. With that remark.Mr. as to have known for certain from any third party. So easy it is. 'I had somehow got used to you. on a little table. taking a long breath. a thriving man. roused herself. and shook his head.' she sat down to tea. with an air of self-denial. Ben. might make us blush in the comparison! It was comfortable to Mr. 'It was very good of you. Britain.' 'Man's the creature of habit. surveying her. good-humour.
'I'm sure I think so. Ben. to cool it. How often he has sat in this room. I couldn't help telling . How often he has sat in this room. 'What would you please to want. Ah!' looking again at the bill.' said the stranger. sir. blowing her tea. 'May I come in here?' 'Oh. stealing a glance at him in return. sir.' he said. . in which he made believe to be interested! . with great simplicity. could I?' 'You told it. Britain's wife.' answered Clemency. if you like. as he put the tumbler down again: 'It's a new house. Mr. 'You were asking me. how did you ever come to catch a glimpse of that. and told me over and over again he was sorry for it! .' He sat down as he spoke. but. for he repented that truly. 'I don't know. putting down her tea-cup. who stood at the bar-door. and drank. and because he knows she used to like me. without being any interruption to your meal. He seemed attentive to their conversation.for her sake quite as much as theirs . and he was reading it. without any further parley. when you were out. dear girl.' returned Clemency. I couldn't tell you. even then. surely. and looking thoughtfully at the bill. about one thing and another. moving to a table by the window. His face. only yesterday. sir?' The bill had caught his eye. anyhow. was shaded by a quantity of dark hair. Clem?' asked her husband: astonished that she should have a distinct perception of a truth which had only dimly suggested itself to his inquiring mind.' observed Mr.' said his wife. still looking at her. 'If you will let me have a draught of ale. is it not?' 'Not particularly new.' said Clemency. and talked to me. 'Bless you. good-humouredly. sir? There's a very nice room up-stairs. sir. Ben!' 'Why.' He might have pursued this metaphysical subject but for her catching a glimpse of a substantial fact behind him. Britain. as that I didn't say an angry word to him.' observed her husband. and not at all impatient to interrupt it. . 'Will you please to walk up-stairs. 'Excellent property that. He made no answer.' replied Mr. looked at Clemency with the same observant curiosity as before.but only for the sake of the days that are gone by. His beer being set before him. and he wore a moustache. 'when she was known to be gone. looking earnestly at Mr.' 'Thank you.the last time. 'and will let me have it here. and hadn't any angry feeling towards him. he filled out a glass. Jeddler. in the shape of a gentleman attired in mourning. I'm sure. Britain. afterwards.' he said. turning round. to the house.'What you would please to take. and am very much obliged to you.' pursued Clemency. and looked out at the prospect. adding. when he had finished reading. much browned by the sun. if you was to offer me a reward of a hundred pound. sir. hour after hour. and out of reach. 'in his grief and passion turned me out of house and home! I never have been so glad of anything in all my life. and cloaked and booted like a rider on horseback.'Oh yes it was. I shall be much obliged to you. He was an easy. admitting him. Clemency hastily rose at this sight. 'And Dr. sir. Britain also rose and saluted the guest. well-knit figure of a man in the prime of life.what I knew.
speaking very distinctly. and looked back through the intervening years. and raised it to his lips. Britain. and to praise her. 'I should like to hear. Mr. I think he's happy now. 'He's grey and old. 'And so. or consciousness of having auditors. At first. He paused for some time before he asked.' 'But told as a short one. He has taken on with his sister since then.it comes round again to-morrow . if it was properly told. railing at the world.Is the old man living?' 'Yes. he's living. That did him good. and found excuses for her! Every one knows that. how beautiful and good she was.' said Clemency. sir. and without any change in her attitude or manner. and remembered her together.' he replied. as she shook her head. Alfred said. 'It would be a long story. 'they at last were married. like a person dead.' said Clemency. 'To whom?' Clemency narrowly escaped oversetting the tea-board. and it was enough to make one's heart bleed. . to see him wandering about. and without any apparent reference to him.' repeated Clemency in the same thoughtful tone. as he filled his glass again. by hearsay. one night when they were walking in the orchard. you remember?' Mr. resting her chin on the palm of her left hand. No one better. but. 'Ah! It would be a long story. Jeddler's name. very humble like. 'Much changed?' 'Since when. . called her back to one another as she used to be. and supporting that elbow on her right hand.' returned the stranger. he was sadly broken down. I am sure.' suggested the stranger.' 'Yes! he's greatly changed since then. Told as a short one. directly. that they were so tender of her. Britain remembered very well. 'That bill reminds me of him. He had forgiven her then. ay and the world too! and was never tired of saying.' said Clemency. 'Did YOU never hear?' she said. I'm sure I do.went away.very quiet.' added Clemency. 'I think I heard you mention Dr. shall our wedding-day be Marion's birth-day?" And it was. wiping her eyes with her hand. for I happen to know something of that story.' suggested the stranger.' inquired the stranger. never would reproach her. and goes to see her very often. 'The sister is married then. but a great change for the better came over him after a year or two. taking him up mechanically. with remarkable emphasis and expression. 'Since his daughter . and hasn't the same way with him at all. "Grace. That was about the same time as Miss Grace's marriage. as I came in.'Between five and six years old. and then he began to like to talk about his lost daughter. with the tears in his poor eyes. but very happy. 'what would there be to tell? That they grieved together. 'And so. as if she were looking at a fire.' said Clemency.' 'And they have lived happily together?' said the stranger. They were married on her birth-day .' said Clemency. sir?' returned Clemency. and through certain connexions of mine. in her emotion at this question.
' She faltered here. from your own lips.and couldn't approach her meaning.followed her pantomime with looks of deep amazement and perplexity . sir. at the stranger. and which . But there's a mystery about her life and fortunes. and pointed to the bill. 'Let them know that they may hear of her. presently: 'And what is the after history of the young lady who went away? They know it. and stopped. at the spoons.' answered Clemency. You were.asked in the same language. could explain. and made much happier by her being married to Mr. if you please. 'You remember me. As she uttered no sound.' 'monthly warning.answered her signals with other signals expressive of the deepest distress and confusion .run somewhere. I believe. saying that she was well and happy. directly!' 'Stay!' said Michael Warden.guessed half aloud 'milk and water. clapping her hands in sheer agitation. as a hopeless attempt. They have had no sorrow but this. 'Who may that be?' asked the stranger. drawing her breath quickly. I was with her!' 'Yes.' She raised her head as with a sudden attention to the circumstances under which she was recalling these events.' she said. at his wife . Clemency gave it up at last. I suppose?' Clemency shook her head. my dear Ben. Seeing that his face was turned toward the window. altogether. and looked quickly at the stranger. was it property in danger.' he said. 'Which only one other person. 'I've heard. which nothing has cleared up to this hour. this unintelligible conduct reduced Mr.' returned Clemency. for he said. sat with her eyes apparently cast down but glancing sharply at him now and then. She had not to wait long. and letting Michael Warden know that he was recognised. and moved her mouth as if she were repeating with great energy. and moving her chair by very slow degrees a little nearer to the stranger. 'And which' . This is my husband. sir?' said Clemency.'Ay. 'Mr. that night in the garden. was it she . 'No two people ever more so. almost in a shriek: at once conveying to her husband what she would have had him understand before. Miss Grace has had letters from her sister. Alfred: and has written letters back. she made some eager signs to her husband. Ben! Bring somebody here. was it he in danger.repeated the stranger. Michael Warden!' answered Clemency.' 'mice and walnuts' . 'that Doctor Jeddler is thought to know more of it than he tells. Ben. 'What would you do?' 'Let them know that you are here. He stared at the table. Britain to the confines of despair. trembling with emotion.followed the motions of her lips . Alfred .run to Mr. waiting until he should ask some other question. and as her dumb motions like most of her gestures were of a very extraordinary kind. and that he seemed intent upon the prospect. quietly interposing himself between the door and Britain. run to Miss Grace . one word or phrase to him over and over again. 'Yes. sir.' said Clemency. to be sure.' said Clemency. 'I saw just now you did! You remember me. 'Yes. .
I saw her grow to be the pride of all this place. hid her face upon the table.' 'Our caution!' returned the lawyer. 'what wind has blown . 'If you could have heard what has just passed . that he couldn't get on any further until after a pause. and how it changed when she was gone and lost. and I had a natural curiosity in everything new and old. She may be timorous of going home. 'with a sight of her sweet face. it may give her new heart. Perhaps if she sees me. He didn't contradict her. Let me see her. Marion was dead.' here Mr. how they love her. perhaps she's close by. feebly. yes. shook his head. I think from your manner she is. when he added. not angrily. she was dead! Clemency sat down. At that moment. This answer. 'how truly they forgive her. a grey-headed old gentleman came running in: quite out of breath. Warden stood before it. If it were not for your confounded caution. Only tell me truly. Warden? It was understood between us that the . and his coming back so quietly. I see by your manner that you can tell me. But why did you ever come here. even me. in these old scenes. and cried. I know what her old home was when she was like the soul of it. Let me speak to her.' said Clemency. but sorrowfully. and still Mr. I knew her when she was Mr. and panting so much that his voice was scarcely to be recognised as the voice of Mr. and his announced intention of continuing to live abroad.' he answered. Snitchey. 'I don't think she CAN know. before appearing there. to bless her father and her loving sister . glancing at his hat-band. if you please!' He gazed at her with compassion. shaking his head.' He was so blown himself. running past her husband. Warden!' said the lawyer. and it was outside the town. he made no gesture of assent. 'speaking for Self and Craggs .' she struck herself upon the breast with both hands. Run. and catching in her emotion at Mr. first. I am afraid. I tried to warn her when you tempted her away. Snitchey. run!' And still she pressed him on towards the door. Ben. Mr.deceased. 'you here?' 'An ill-wind. I waited on her when she was a little child. to see her once more. not unmixed with wonder: but.even her old servant. if you please. I strolled in here because the place was new to me. and his black dress.' pursued Clemency. 'how can you reasonably blame us. taking him aside. I should have been possessed of everything long ago.' he answered. Warden.how I have been besought and entreated to perform impossibilities what confusion and affliction I carry with me!' 'I can guess it all. Mr. my good sir?' retorted Snitchey. Mr. and his manner. 'Good Heaven. Alfred's promised wife. 'Or perhaps. explained it all. I wanted to communicate with you. but that she will come home again yet. sir. 'perhaps she's here now. what joy it would be to them. 'Come! How should I know who kept the house? When I sent my servant on to you. is she with you?' 'She is not.let them know that she is not quite lost to them. I wanted to know what people would say to me. with his hand stretched out. Warden's cloak.
'Ah.' returned Michael Warden.' said the tender-hearted attorney. Mr. in a childish sort of a way. sir. sir. It's a very good place to dine at. He bequeathed his share of the business to Mrs. He was my right arm. and assigns. and in our duty towards a variety of clients. They have given her that promise. not to run the chance of any more such difficulties as you have had here. Mr.' 'I had given a solemn promise of silence until I should return. His name remains in the Firm to this hour. Warden: your own property.' 'By whom?' inquired his client.deceased. Our caution too! When Mr. and I repeat it. In the meantime. I regret to say. 'Mr. but. sometimes. sir. and had it very comfortably served. 'was struck off the roll of life too soon. 'I do. He. by. or he would have been among us now. my right ear. She was always very faithful to Marion. turned to Mr. administrators. Mistress . whenever that might be. my right leg. passing his hand across his forehead. to make believe. But. Craggs. I had my suspicions. Snitchey. and been assured that you lost her. shaking his head. 'Yes. it is not six months since I have known the truth. he's alive. Craggs.' observed Snitchey. and opening them again.' 'Heaven forgive me for not condoling with you. Craggs. Michael Warden. 'By Doctor Jeddler himself. I think I might have passed you myself. sir . She was always very fond of her. Craggs. Clemency. Warden . perhaps you'll give me the honour of your company at my house. sir. you know.' 'Well. went down to his respected grave in the full belief . as easy to have and to hold as his theory made it out.subject was never to be renewed.you are married now. You may observe that I speak for Self and Craggs . her executors. who were as close as wax.' 'And you know it?' said his client.though you're a good deal changed.' said Snitchey. Self and Craggs (deceased) took a chop here sometimes.' . sir. has known the whole truth. years and years. and walk on in the evening. and whispered in his ear. I am paralytic without him. sir. I try. my right eye. I seem to want my wits. 'but I'm like a man in a dream at present. Mr.yes . 'we were bound to silence too. who at last reposed that confidence in me voluntarily. 'and I have kept it. 'didn't find life.' returned Mr. Craggs. waving his pockethandkerchief. being unexpected at your own.the-bye. Mr. 'and I have also reason to know that it will be broken to her sister to-morrow evening. Craggs.I am very sorry we have lost Mr. you among them. We were bound to silence in our duty towards ourselves. and that it wasn't a subject on which grave and sober men like us (I made a note of your observations at the time) could interfere. was Mr. and only he. who had still been observant of Clemency. Snitchey when he ceased to speak.' interrupted Mr. It's a great loss to me. consoling her. Pretty Marion! Poor Marion! Cheer up.' But he looked at Clemency as he said it. in case you should be recognised . Craggs . poor thing!' said Snitchey. and seemed to sympathise with Ben. shutting his eyes tight for an instant. sir!' replied Snitchey. It was not our place to make inquiries of you on such a delicate subject. Warden.we had better dine here.deceased.
became irradiated by the couch of sorrow.with a dreadful click every now and then as if it had met with some mortal accident to its head.' said Clemency. and making its way beautiful. youthful. Wait till to-morrow!' So Clemency. in each succeeding year. he had better learned and proved. and in his watching of sick beds. as in the olden time. patient.and it was a mother's now. it may bring some comfort. and in his daily knowledge of the gentleness and goodness flowering the by-paths of this world. unawares. without her. and how the most unlikely forms . Mister. want. in a fit of giddiness .even some that were mean and ugly to the view. in his useful. there was a cherished little daughter playing by her side . the truth of his old faith. no successor. 'Well. from whose heart she had never passed away. had shown him how often men still entertained angels. The manner of his life.she had no rival. the trees cast bountiful and changing shadows on the grass. though quiet and remote. Those eyes of Grace. shaking his proffered hand. and his and Marion's birth-day. said she would. and shook her head. But. unchanging. that no murmur of it was audible above the clatter of plates and dishes. and Mr. Craggs. said that was right. on their wedding-day.' said the lawyer. Snitchey and Michael Warden went up-stairs. the landscape was as tranquil and serene as it had ever been. the bubbling of saucepans. Not there. and there they were soon engaged in a conversation so cautiously conducted. not to be trodden down beneath the heavy foot of poverty. in whose true memory she lived. deceased. the hissing of the frying-pan.' returned the lawyer.and all the other preparations in the kitchen for their dinner. he had not grown rich. or it would bring back Mr. She would have been a stranger sight in her old home now. To-morrow was a bright and peaceful day. 'No. 'To-morrow can't bring back' the dead to life. The snows of many winter nights had melted from that ground. and Britain. It can't do that. The honey-suckle porch was green again. the low monotonous waltzing of the jack . unknown visiting of poor men's homes. sobbing. He had not become a great man. but springing up. The spirit of the lost girl looked out of those eyes. and pain. he had not fulfilled any one of the Doctor's old predictions. kindly. and changed to ministering spirits with a glory round their heads. and poorly clad . her sister. in its track. the withered leaves of many summer times had rustled there. radiant with all promise and all hope. But. but where was she! Not there. and nowhere were the autumn tints more beautifully seen. well! Wait till to-morrow. he had not forgotten the scenes and friends of his youth. a lady sat in the familiar place. in whose affection . . sitting with her husband in the orchard. 'But it may bring some soothing circumstances. than from the quiet orchard of the Doctor's house. upon whose gentle lips her name was trembling then. elastic. even than that home had been at first. who had been terribly cast down at sight of his despondent wife (which was like the business hanging its head).Clemency only sighed. since she had fled.
and happy man again. and all our life seeming to soften and become hushed with the departing day. here. laying her hand upon his shoulder earnestly. I know why no trace of it ever showed itself in any word or look of yours at that time. was hard to win to be my wife. and he was happy with his wife. said: 'But. as the tears collected in her eyes. to make myself so blest and honoured in your love. does it not. than if he had contended restlessly in more ambitious lists. we have sat here on her birthday. dear husband.that I have never told you.' returned Grace. And knowing it. and that she prayed you. dear Grace. I cannot keep it secret. again upon his shoulder.' ' . trustfully and hopefully to do the same. and what I was to learn to-night. and as I loved you. 'and yet it seems a long long while ago. Did she say so?' 'She meant. .' He looked towards the sun.And make me a proud. as he held her in his arms. Grace.and as he spoke.' he said. with that sunset drawing near.this old letter. and drawing nearer. 'Six times.' they had been talking of that night. and spoken together of that happy return. 'Alfred!' said Grace. that you had once left her a sacred trust to me. he gently laid the head she had raised. I know why Grace.' 'And every other letter she has written since?' 'Except the last . she said) you would transfer to me when the new wound was healed. 'Hear me.He lived to better purpose on the altered battle-ground. Ah when will it be! When will it be!' Her husband attentively observed her. and that now she left you. but to encourage and return it.' was his wife's answer. 'I know why I have never heard this passage in the letter. although so true a friend to me. love. and all would be made clear. that years must pass away before it COULD be. love?' 'When Marion went away. so eagerly expected and so long deferred. since Marion was with us.in which she spoke of you. my dear?' 'Yes. Marion told you.' 'Yet we have years to count by. And Marion. such a trust in my hands: praying and beseeching me. 'since then. and what you then knew. not to reject the affection she believed (she knew. and said 'Yes. Hear me so!' . The letter runs so. too. and kissed it. however happy she might be. she would look forward to the time when you would meet again. in that farewell letter which she left for you upon your table.' 'That through these intervening years. and which you read so often.some months ago . Alfred. perhaps. Did she not?' She took a letter from her breast. dear Grace. and said that the appointed time was sunset. then fast declining. to-night. my dear!' he said. dear husband. Not by years. which you say I read so often . counting to-night as one. Alfred. as I loved her.' 'What is it. until now. she wrote me. Had HE forgotten her? 'The time has flown. 'there is something in this letter . We count by changes and events within us. But.'No. my own! I .
and pressed against it to his loving heart! O God! was it a vision that came bursting from the old man's arms.' he answered. It is.a surprise .' he answered. It is to come from other lips. You have not forgotten what I am to know before it sets. 'Before the sun went down on Marion's birth-day. which frightened her. or what hoped. despite its steady gaze.a moment. Ah! what was that. 'The sun is going down. standing on its threshold! That figure. 'to say no more. 'And what intelligence does he bring?' 'I am pledged. and Grace was left alone. Tell me that you have present fortitude to bear a trial . with its white garments rustling in the evening air. emerging from its shadow. Alfred? It is sinking fast. and with a wild precipitation of itself upon her in its boundless love. that it was wonderful to see. its head laid down upon her father's breast. That was the promise.' she said. but remained there. and looked upon him going away. She called her back . 'All the truth. Do you think you understand me?' 'I am afraid to think. Again she hid her own face on his shoulder. her face was so like Marion's as it had been in her later days at home. Grace!' She raised her head. told him she was ready. trembling. looking steadily into her eyes. imploringly. that the time is come.she bore the lost girl's name . I know how brave you are. the messenger is waiting at the gate.' she said. preserving his steady look. dear Grace. who was sitting at their feet playing with a little basket of flowers. Courage. being released again. truly. my love. sped after him. sank down in her embrace! . motionless. looking at the porch by which they had disappeared. 'Alfred. but not for sorrow. And you see it. and.' 'You are to know the truth of Marion's history. raising her head quickly at these words. After a brief space. and bade her look how golden and how red the sun was. and with a cry. 'Yes. he looked down at the child. There was that emotion in his face. rejoined: 'That truth is not reserved so long for me to tell. She knew not what she dreaded. and.' he answered her. and with a waving of its hands.a shock: and the messenger is waiting at the gate. I know that to you a word of preparation is enough.know the priceless value of the heart I gird within my arms.and pressed her to her bosom. and thank GOD for the rich possession!' She wept.' He put his arm about her waist. The little creature. 'Nothing veiled from me. courage. The sun is setting on Marion's birth-day. You have said. and entreated him to pause . Was it not?' 'It was. 'Courage.' 'From other lips!' she faintly echoed. As she stood. as he pressed her to his heart.' 'What messenger?' she said. He took the child with him. looking at him.' said Grace. my wife! When you have firmness to receive the messenger. I know your constant heart. any more.
sweet Marion! So beautiful. inestimable worth to him. in that great strife of which he spoke. and everything is wholly changed. I then loved him dearly. every day and hour. well-tuned to the time. I had its great example every day before me. so calm. and how truly he had said (for I knew that. her voice. if I would.' Her sister. my sister! was so yielded up. and never known or cared for. I never slighted his affection in my secret breast for one brief instant. I could not bear to think that you. with both arms twining round her.'Oh. and who knows there is no drop of bitterness or grief . in all its other tenderness.and kneeling. I loved him most devotedly. 'When this was my dear home. my heart's dear love! Oh. but that I never would (Grace. to me. should think I did not truly love him once. enabled me to make the resolution that I never would be Alfred's wife. Marion. Grace.' 'Stay. 'another heart. no phantom conjured up by hope and fear. But. bending over her. Although it is so long ago. so elevated and exalted in her loveliness. she might have been a spirit visiting the earth upon some healing mission. but I prayed with tears to do it. that there must be. I knew its high. unconsciously. if the course I took could bring that happy end to pass. joy and happiness unutterable.and with the glory of the setting sun upon her brow. I knew that I could do. and past. that as the setting sun shone brightly on her upturned face. but Marion. I never loved him better. dear one. and never turning for an instant from her face . who love so well. clear. I would have died for him. but I thought of Alfred's own words on the day of his departure. to hear you speak again. I never loved him better. 'When this was my dear home. and with the soft tranquillity of evening gathering around them . to which these fields of battle were nothing. low. could look into her face. my sweet love! A moment! O Marion.and was content to sacrifice itself to me. than when he left this very scene upon this very day. so unalloyed by care and trial. let him love me as he would.' said Marion. It was far beyond all price to me. before I knew that I had one to give him. and his appreciation of it. that it plucked its love away.' She could not bear the voice she loved so well. and gone. I knew the struggle it had made. Thinking more and more upon the great endurance cheerfully sustained. as it will be now again . and your husband. I never laid my head down on my pillow. I knew something of its depths. 'But he had gained. Clinging to her sister. with a gentle smile. my dearest.yours. I loved him from my soul. was so devoted. so to meet again!' It was no dream. Grace. and so noble. That he should be my brother. Grace.Marion at length broke silence. as it will be now again. than I did that night when I left here. and kept its secret from all eyes but mine Ah! what other eyes were quickened by such tenderness and gratitude! . And He who knows our hearts. so happy. Grace. knowing you) that there were victories gained every day.in mine. Marion! Oh. and pleasant. What you had done for me. dearly!) be his wife!' . my sister! Oh. my trial seemed to grow light and easy.of anything but unmixed happiness . at first. I knew the debt I owed it. for you. in struggling hearts. I never laid my head down on my pillow. and hold her fast. though I was so young. at this moment. That heart . close before her. who had dropped upon a seat and bent down over her and smiling through her tears .
my hand has . brought here by an accident.'O Marion! O Marion!' 'I had tried to seem indifferent to him. against some cherished feeling of their hearts and conquer it. where those who would abjure a misplaced passion. I had tried to tell you of my resolution. before the daily intercourse between us was renewed. I believe he thought my heart had no part in that contract. I tried to hide indifference .I cannot tell. Mr. as I left here. And such a one am I! You understand me now?' Still she looked fixedly upon her. but something of my story. our companion. and you were always his true advocate.if I had no little namesake here . there may be sisters. and call each other Sisters. for some time. clinging yet more tenderly and fondly to that breast from which she had been so long exiled. my kind brother. When women do so. for a refuge in her house: I did not then tell her all. Do not look so strangely on me. perhaps thought I might have loved him once. Warden. love?' Her sister looked into her face. and her countenance was ashy-pale. There are countries.if Alfred. 'Oh Grace. but you would never hear me. and did not then.hopeless to him . 'My love.' said Marion. with hearts still fresh and young. would save a lengthened agony to all of us. He kept it. dear?' Grace looked confusedly upon her. and with my love of you. While I was contesting that step with myself. my sister!' said Marion.dead. listen to me. He wrote to me. and among its busy life. . retire into a hopeless solitude. you would never understand me. I knew that one great pang. 'but that was hard. were not your own fond husband . and open to all happiness and means of happiness.' exclaimed her sister. or would strive. the victory long won. dear Grace. 'on the eve of going secretly away for a long time. 'I saw Mr. on the eve of his and my departure. and underneath its free sky. can say the battle is long past. and home. Warden.' said Marion. He told me he had seen I was not happy in the prospect of Alfred's return. dearest. and in its crowded places. that this might have been. and offered me his hand. who. Do you understand me. undergone at that time.from whence could I derive the ecstasy I feel to-night! But. I knew that if I went away then. Grace. told me what his condition and prospects really were. My heart has known no other love. in the broad world out of doors.' 'I have sometimes feared of late years. Do you understand me. and close the world against themselves and worldly loves and hopes for ever. became. and made no reply. they assume that name which is so dear to you and me. and she freely promised it. But I wished that you should feel me wholly lost to Alfred . and which has made us both so happy. so I have returned. 'You never loved him . charged him with my secret. 'if you were not a happy wife and mother . She seemed in doubt. Grace! I wrote to good Aunt Martha. The time was drawing near for his return. perhaps thought that when I tried to seem indifferent. and confided in his honour. But. after leaving here. and trying to assist and cheer it and to do some good.' and she pressed her sister's face against her own. attentively.and you married him in your self-sacrifice to me!' 'He was then. 'recall your thoughts a moment. drawing her sister closer to her.learn the same lesson. that end must follow which HAS followed. and who. She scarcely seemed to hear. I felt that I must act.
if it dissected and laid open to your view the transports of this family. and his sister good Aunt Martha.' 'You must come and live here. Brother?' 'I've a great mind to say it's a ridiculous world altogether.even with mine. Her face relaxed: sobs came to her relief.' said his sister. will I tell how serious he had found that world to be. in return for my Marion?' 'A converted brother. and until then (it will not be very long. So I'll make up my mind to go and live with Marion. Grace!' She understood her now. and bending across her to hug Grace . What do YOU say. 'You might take twenty affidavits of it if you chose. nor. hugging his youngest daughter. I suppose. 'We shan't quarrel now.' returned the old lady. revealed the truth to him by slow . unbetrothed: your own loving old Marion. nor. I dare say) to live alone. I hear. 'This is a weary day for me. long severed and now reunited. and falling on her neck. Therefore. Anthony. I won't.for he couldn't separate the sisters. perhaps he mightn't respond. 'in such a farce as .' said Alfred. Aunt. and what can you give me.' said the Doctor. how such a trifle as the absence of one little unit in the great absurd account.' 'Or you must get married. his sister had. Nor. for it is a world of sacred mysteries. I will not follow the poor Doctor through his humbled recollection of the sorrow he had had. when she marries. 'but nobody would believe you with such eyes as those.' observed the poor old Doctor. they found that the Doctor. 'But. 'That's something. when Marion was lost to him. after we have lived together half-adozen years. in which some love. unmarried. to be sure. who. in compassion for his distress.never been bestowed apart from it. When they were more composed.' said good Aunt Martha. and it is a world on which the sun never rises. deep-anchored. in whose affection you exist alone and have no partner. pray don't. with Alfred. 'Indeed.' retorted Aunt Martha. as she embraced her nieces. and there's nothing serious in it. and I was not a very young woman then.' said the Doctor. were standing near at hand. with all its folly . and fondled her as if she were a child again. I consider myself ill used.' said the doctor penitently. 'I think it might be a good speculation if I were to set my cap at Michael Warden.' replied the Doctor. which was enough to have swamped the whole globe. 'for I lose my dear companion in making you all happy. 'Well. but it looks upon a thousand bloodless battles that are some set-off against the miseries and wickedness of Battle-Fields. 'and a serious world. I am still your maiden sister.' 'It's a world full of hearts. is the portion of all human creatures. long ago. and it is a world we need be careful how we libel. had stricken him to the ground.' 'No. she wept and wept. I don't know what's to become of me without my Marion. Heaven forgive us. But as I knew him when he was a boy. smiling through her tears. Martha. is come home much the better for his absence in all respects. how. and its Creator only knows what lies beneath the surface of His lightest image!' You would not be the better pleased with my rude pen.' replied Aunt Martha.
Craggs was a man who could endure to be convinced. 'Mr. 'Yes.at his summons that lady appeared from behind the door. my dear. the latter doleful with the presentiment.' said Mr. Mrs. and interposing himself between them. 'But I ask you if you recollect. 'It is not in my nature to rake up the ashes of the departed. that if she abandoned herself to grief.this is weakness.When. I brought a friend of yours along with me. looking into the orchard. 'what's the matter with YOU?' 'The matter!' cried poor Clemency.' 'Upon your knees. in the course of that then current year.' Mrs.' said that lady. my dear?' said Mr. 'If Mr. sharply. and kissed her hand. I . 'I beg your pardon. in the evening. and brought him to the knowledge of the heart of his self-banished daughter. Craggs had been alive. Mistress. it will bear any little smoothing we can give it. If you do. twitching her by the sleeve. and whether at that moment he knew secrets which he didn't choose to tell. and in the added emotion of a great roar from Mr. how Alfred Heathfield had been told the truth. Snitchey.to remember how I begged and prayed you. and both knew just the same professionally. and if you are not absolutely in your dotage. and in indignant remonstrance. Snitchey. It might have suggested to him. 'Now.' returned her husband. too. sir.' said the lawyer.' he continued. . and had promised him.' said Snitchey. 'Don't flatter yourself. If he were open to conviction. . Mr.' pursued his wife. that night. 'but have I liberty to come in?' Without waiting for permission. and to that daughter's side. Alfred. Mr. Doctor. the Nutmeg-Grater was done for. Mr. my dear. 'it happens that we both knew secrets which we didn't choose to tell. he came straight to Marion. taken altogether. took her husband aside.to beware of that man to observe his eye . Snitchey.' returned her husband.' .' 'Mrs. looking up in wonder. Madam. checking Marion as she ran towards her. 'One moment. And so the less you say about such things the better. escorted by her husband. 'Madam. came slowly in. 'that evening of the ball? I only ask you that. my dear.' said Mrs. but Mr. 'you are among old friends. Here! Mistress!' Poor Clemency. Snitchey. with her apron to her eyes. in her ear.degrees. Grace should know it from her lips at last.' 'Yes. I ask you to connect this time with that . and Marion had seen him. quite joyfully. that on her birth-day. Nor. Snitchey. Craggs is .' 'Because. and take this as a warning to have wiser and more charitable eyes another time. my dear Miss Marion.' said Mrs.' said Mr. he is deceased.' 'No. Did you ever observe anything in MY eye?' 'No.and now to tell me whether I was right. now. Snitchey. 'and you know it . that our life is not too easy perhaps: that. on my knees . Snitchey. 'he would have had great interest in this occasion. Miss Marion. as her brother. Snitchey. He was always open to conviction. Snitchey. Snitchey having delivered her congratulations. Snitchey. confidently. and if your memory has not entirely failed you. Mrs.
I will not say that I am six years wiser than I was.' said the lawyer. and bringing out a legal-looking document. sir?' asked Britain. I can urge no reason why you should deal gently with me. and had remained apart. and concluded by embracing herself. and appeared surprised. "and Thimble. or house of public entertainment. Do as you would be done by! Forget and Forgive!' TIME . but stood alone. Snitchey. Britain. screamed. I would fain hope. she stared. fell on Mr. In a few days I shall quit this place for ever. 'to whom I made my humble supplication for forgiveness. and seeing that sweet face so well remembered close before her. and commonly called or known by the sign of the Nutmeg-Grater. without being observed by any of the group.' said Mr. Snitchey's indignation).' said a voice behind them. I shall have the pleasure of canvassing you for the county.from whom I had the latter portion of this story. Mr.' 'And let me. and I'll have the two mottoes painted up in the parlour instead of my wife's portrait.' 'Would it make any difference in the vote if the sign was altered. putting his hand in his pocket. Heathfield and Dr. at any rate. but soon recovering from her confusion.' he glanced at Marion. throwing her apron over her head. for they had little spare attention to bestow. I might have deeply wronged you both. 'Then. held her fast. in Aunt Martha's company. Jeddler. almost as soon as she espied him. remarked him at all. one of these fine mornings. leaning easily upon his scythe. Your wife lost one house. That I did not. however. Presently. laughed. I abused the hospitality of this house. she was in conversation with him. yet with some profit too. is no virtue of my own. None but the quick eyes of Aunt Martha. fell on Mr. handing him back the conveyance. from one.and-thirty years' duration informed me. and there was an air of dejection about him (though he was a gentleman of a gallant appearance) which the general happiness rendered more remarkable. or better. near the gate. 'I congratulate you. with downcast eyes. fell on the Doctor and embraced him. cried. and now gains another. that term of self-reproach. A stranger had come into the orchard. and that had been monopolised by the ecstasies of Clemency. He did not appear to wish to be observed. sobbed. it was the stranger's . while this was going on. and going into hysterics behind it. after Mr. released her. she whispered something in Marion's ear. but.Britain. Michael Warden. 'just clap in the words.Michael Warden's. through my client Mr. at which she started. I entreat your pardon. Britain. and learnt by my own demerits. she timidly approached the stranger. with a shame I never have forgotten.' replied the lawyer. You are now the whole and sole proprietor of that freehold tenement. Snitchey and embraced him (much to Mrs. going to where Marion stood with Grace and her little namesake. at present occupied and held by yourself as a licensed tavern. But I have known. that Michael Warden never went ." will you be so good. and engaged in conversation with him too. 'Mr. embraced her. Britain and embraced him. 'let me claim the benefit of those inscriptions. 'Not in the least. and with whom I have the pleasure of a personal acquaintance of some five. when I knew her merit and my deep unworthiness.
maintained a golden means of hospitality.away again. and had a wife. but opened it afresh.The End ----- . the pride and honour of that countryside. whose name was Marion. and never sold his house. ----. as I have observed that Time confuses facts occasionally. I hardly know what weight to give to his authority. But.