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TORONTO'CANADA

THOMAS HARDY'S WORKS

THE WESSEX NOVELS
Volume
XIII.

WESSEX TALES

^^
MACMILLAN AND
LONDON

CO., Limited

UOMHAV CALCUTTA MELUOUKNE

MADRAS

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK
DALLAS
• •

SAN'

BOSTON CHICAGO FRANCISCO

THE MACMILLAN

CO.

OF CANADA,

Ltd.

TORONTO

LIMITED MARTIN'S STREET. CO.Wessex Tales THAT IS TO SAY AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN THE THREE STRANGERS THE WITHERED ARM FELLOW-TOWNSMEN INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAPj THE DISTRACTED PREACHER . LONDON T917 ..^>a' BY THOMAS HARDY JVITH A MAP OF WESSEX MACMILLAN AND ST.

(i vol. 1917 iijio./HC^ COPYRIGHT /^irst Collected Edition (2 1'^/j.") and reprints.) 1888.. 191 3 Pocket Edition 1907. 1889-1893 and reprints 1896-1900 Crown Zvo. Nciv Edition New Edition (augmented) First published by Macmillan &' Co. Reprinted h^'essex Edition 191 2 . Reprinted 191 1. 1903.

in some eating ' disease.' convict's corpse. forgetfulness has weakened the In reality it facts out of which the tale grew. with the results upon the body of lying down on a the original as described. my some years ago I have been rewho knew 'Rhoda Brook' that. too.PREFA CE An which in the apology is is perhaps needed for the neglect of contrast shown by presenting two consecutive stories of hangmen in such a small collection as the following. had been taken Arm. though never personally acquainted with any chief operator at such scenes. But neighbourhood of county-towns tales of executions used to form a large proportion of the local traditions and . To my mind the occurrence of . and who sank into an incurable melancholy because he failed to get it. cause some wonder why his ambition should have taken tion of his grief being to dwell such an unfortunate form. some slight mitiga- upon striking episodes in the lives of those happier ones who had held it with sucHis tale of disappointment used to cess and renown. In those days. in the her youth to have her 'blood turned' by a manner described in The Withered Since writing this stor>' minded by an aged in relating friend her dream. was while hot afternoon that the incubus oppressed her and she flung it off. there for the cure of was still living an old woman who. the writer of these pages had as a boy the privilege of being on speaking terms with a man who applied for the office. but its nobleness was never questioned.

T. must have been of for considerable weight. inland over a rough country and in that though years of his youth He said and young manhood were from the same. did not average the in wages he might have earned a steady employment. that of planting an appletree in a tray or box which was placed over the mouth of the pit is. April 1896. which affords an instance of how our imperfect memories insensibly formalize the fresh originality of living fact —from whose shape they slowly depart. earth.PREFACE such a vision in the daytime is more impressive than if it had happened in a midnight dream. thing was done through many My informant often spoke. and it is detailed in one in of the tales precisely as described by an old carrier of ' tubs ' —a man who was afterwards in my father's employ over thirty years. and receptacle. There is no doubt. spent taken in this irregular business. I never gathered from his reminiscences what means were adopted for lifting the tree. with its roots. as machine-made castings depart by degrees from the sharp hand-work of the mould. burden of them for several miles darkness. whilst the fatigues story in the series turns and I risks were excessive. that the years. that the first may add upon of a physical possibility that may attach to women imaginative temperament. which. I believe. too. Among the many devices for concealing smuggled goods caves and pits of the earth. however. . unique. of the horribly suffocating sensation produced by the pair of spirit-tubs slung after stumbling with the upon the chest and back. and that is well supported by the experiences of medical men and other observers of such manifestations. Readers are therefore asked to correct the misrelation. his profits all together. H.

Water-side Hermit 97 lOI Vll A Rencounter .CONTENTS I'AGE An Imaginative Woman The Three Strangers The Withered Arm I 63 65 A Lorn Milkmaid The Young Wife 68 73 A A Vision Suggestion . 78 83 87 91 Conjuror Trendle A A A Second Attempt Ride .

238 247 256 267 277 How THEY WENT TO LULSTEAD CoVE The Great Search at Nether-Moynton Tiiii Walk to Warm'ell Cross.CONTENTS Fellow-Townsmen ' . How HIS Cold was Cured 219 234 How HE SAW TWO OTHER MEN The Mysterious Greatcoat At the Time of the New Moon . 105 Interlopers at the Knap The Distracted Preacher 217 . . and afterwards .

\ AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN .

.

and went back together. with the children. you Will you come find they are stuffy and uncomfortable. Marchmill started out of the reverie into which the book had thrown her. came up with his wife. drear}' hotel. The pair left the children and nurse to continue their . and Marchmill followed in the direction indicated by the militarj'-looking hall-porter ' By Jove. Will ' ? 'Well. I have had trouble to suit myself. had rambled along the shore. Upper She.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN AN IMAGINA TIVE WOMAN VVlIEN for William Marchmill had finished his inquiries lodgings at a well-known watering-place in Wessex.' she said. who impatiently. But I am sorry if you have wanted me. you see the airy and comfortable rooms heard When of. he returned to the hotel to find his wife. how far you've gone rather ! I am quite out of breath. when he was reading as she walked. in personal appearance 3 fairly . Mrs. In age well-balanced. and see if what I've fixed on will do ? There is not much room.' better. the three children being considerably further ahead with the nurse. ramble.' Marchmill said. I am afraid but I can light on nothing The town is rather full. 'you've I was tired of staying in that been such a long time. 'Yes.

I i 1 WESSEX TALES matched. though even here they did not often clash. of his weapons were sooner or later used for the extermination of horrid vermin and animals almost as cruel to their inferiors in species as human beings were to theirs. and letting off her delicate and ethereal emotions in imagi- . no common denominator could be applied. she wondered what she had got mentally walked round it. estimated it whether it were rare or common . She came to some vague conclusions. tastes that . everything to her or nothing. greatest particulars. and fancies. Marchmill considered his wife's likes and inclinations somewhat The she considered his sordid and material.' An impressionable. and reached the Then. ' could only recover her equanimity by assuring herself that some. the necessity of getting life-leased at all cost. at least. upon some object in the dark. silver. or . She had never antecedently regarded this occupation of his as any objection to having him for a husband. silly husband's business was that of a gunmaker in a thriving city northwards. a cardinal virtue which all good mothers teach. those smallest. Indeed. were a clog or a pedestal. lead. shrinking humanely from detailed knowledge of her husband's trade whenever she reflected that everything he manuShe factured had for its purpose the destruction of life. and his soul was in that business the lady was best characterized by that superalways annuated phrase of elegance a votary of the muse. palpitating creature was Ella. had passed the honeymoon. and It was to their she decidedly nervous and sanguine. in temper this couple differed. kept her from thinking of it at all till she had closed with William. and since then had kept her heart alive by pitj-ing her proprietor's obtuseness and want of refinement. . . contained gold. like a person who has stumbled reflecting stage. and in domestic requirements conformable. if not lymphatic. pitying herself. he being equable.

he had a pondering regard : and was.' The distinguished as Cobiirg spot was bright and lively now . which stood in a terrace of facing the sea. and is too often a cause of heart- dark-eyed. i W which in tripping. being rather larger than the rest. New Parade. gentleman's return. and night-sighs. . The householder. or rather bounding. and she spoke anxiously of the conveniences of the establish- ment. and She informed them that she was a professional man's widow. She was that marvellously bright and liquid of sparkle in each pupU which characterizes persons Ella's cast of soiil. showed the rooms. movement. though ' everybody else called it Thirteen. Husband and wife walked till they had reached the house they were in search of. left in needy circumstances by the rather sudden death of her husband. Her figure was small. which had worn the paint so thin that the priming and knotting showed through. and was fronted by a small garden wind-proof and salt-proof evergreens. with a brown beard . Marchmill said that she liked the situation and but. to her. ultimately some- Her husband was a tall. stone steps leading up to the porch. the house.AN IMAGINATn^ WOMAN native occupations.Mrs. was in addition sedulously House by its landlady. there would not be 5 . It had its number in the row. but. aaan. and was supremely satisfied with a condition of sublunar}chings which made weapons a necessity. long-featured times to herself. elegant. and slight in build. it being small. and had ache to the possessor's male friends. and to stuff up the keyhole against the wind and rain. l liam if he perhaps would not much have disturbed had known of them. who had been watching for the met them in the passage. usually kind and tolerant He spoke in squarely shaped sentences. it must be added. but in winter it became necessary to place sandbags against the door. day-dreanis.

' ' ' time. Hardly had they sat down to tea when the Her gentleman. rather melancholy — and — he cares more to be here when the south-westerly gales are beating against the door. After luncheon Mr. than he does now in the season. examining this and 6 . he's going temporarily. and there's not a soul in the place. of the rooms were occupied permanently by a bachelor He did not pay season prices. she did not like to turn him out for a month's let. so -obliging as to offer to give up his rooms for three or four weeks rather than drive the new-comers away. He'd just as soon be where. with obvious honesty. it won't inconvenience him.' said the Marchmills. in fact. having despatched the children to their outdoor amusements on the sands.' even at a high figure. Perhaps. and it seemed to suit them very well. and went back to the hotel. and was an extremely nice and interesting young man. he's a different sort of young man from most dreamy. She wanted the to be her tenants very badly. ' It is very kind. solitary. settled herself in more completely.WESSEX TALES accommodation enough. and the sea washes over the Parade.' They would not hear of this. who gave no trouble. but as he kept on his apartments all the year round. gentleman. I assure you ' said the landlady eloquently. for a change. But unfortunately two she said. had been landlady called. The Marchmill family accordingly took possession of the house next day. but we won't inconvenience him ' ! in that way. intending to proceed to the agent's to inquire further. he might offer to go for a however. Marchmill. and Mrs. unless she could have rooms. it was true . Marchmill strolled out towards the pier.' she added. she said. You see. all the The landlady mused with an visitors air of disappointment. to a little cottage on the Island opposite. ' O.' She hoped therefore that they would come.

and saw Dear the owner's name written on the title-page. in the literary line himself somewhat. he has a good many. he a poet income of his own. He won't mind my reading some of them. in an endeavour to find a congenial channel in which to let flow her painfully embayed emotions. Herself the only daughter of a struggling man of letters.' A poet O. I know his name very well me she continued Robert Trewe of course I do . You see. Shabby books. I hope ? ' ' O is dear no. ma'am. ' ' ' ! — . young In the small back sitting-room.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN that article. Marchmill opened one of the books. thought with interested surprise of Robert Trewe. but He — is Yes. I did not know that.' Mrs.' said the latter. and testing the reflecting powers of the mirror in the wardrobe door. Mrs. Her own whose former limpidity and sparkle seemed departing 7 . bringing could care to look landlady hovered on the threshold to rectify anything that Mrs. really a poet — is enough to write verses not enough for cutting a ! figure. were piled up in a queerly manner in corners. sitting down alone a few minutes later. which on. — ! ' latter history will best explain that interest. Marchmill might not find to her satisfaction. the person of the season's The ' * who has left seems to have a good many. I'll make this my own little room. because the books are here. she had during the last year or two taken to writing poems. even if he cared ' to. By the way. of correct rather than rare editions. which had been the bachelor's. Hooper. and he has a little yes. as if the previous occupant had not conceived the possibility that any incoming reserved person inside them. she found furniture of a more personal nature than in the rest. and his writings And it is /lis rooms we have taken. and Aim we have turned out of his home ? Ella Marchmill.

' had watched with much attention the appearance anywhere inspiration. fact. had never once thought of passing himself off as a woman. Being his little attracted by excellences of form and rhythm apart from content. subscribed with a in masculine pseudonym. a few verses this very man. that nobody might believe in her inspiration if they found that the sentiments came from a pushing tradesman's wife. Ella Marchmill had rhymed Elizabethan 8 . Trewe's verse contrasted with that of the rank and file of recent minor poets in being impassioned rather than ingenious. artistic when speed. These poems. Robert Trewe. coincidence. from the mother of three children by a matter-of-fact small-arms manufacturer. with a man's unsusceptibility on the question of sex. which every right-minded reviewer said he ought not to have done. ' in print of verse bearing the signature of Robert Trewe. luxuriant rather than finished. in daily been struck by a tragic incident reported in the papers. in smallish print. perpetrated sonnets feeling outran in the loosely fashion. and had used it simultaneously as an the editor remarking in a note upon the and that the excellence of both poems prompted him to give them together. In the second of the latter the page which bore her effusion at the bottom. and in two cases in rather prominent ones. on the same subject by Both of them had. Neither symboliste nor decadent. bore at the top. who. Mrs. he sometimes. To be sure.WESSEX TALES the stagnation caused by the routine of a practical household and the gloom of bearing children to a commonplace father. After that event Ella. otherwise John Ivy. With sad and hopeless envy. he was a pessimist in so far as that character applies to a man who looks at the worst contingencies as well as the best in tlie human condition. had appeared in various obscure magazines. Marchmill had satisfied herself with a sort of reason for doing the contrary in her case . in large print.

but talked of fortnight — it. or at any rate of making up a book of her rhymes by adding many in manuscript to the few that had seen the light. and the collapse of her poetical venture had perhaps less effect upon her mind than it might have done if she had been domestically unoccupied. though more than a mere multiplier of her kind. She had'' imitated him. and had a sale quite sufficient to pay for the printing. and was much or little praised according to chance. the volume of his own verse was among the rest. Months she observed from the publishers' collected his fugitive pieces into a volume. and inquired again 9 .AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN often and often scanned the rival poet's work. all had ended for the time. Her husbctnd had paid and there less it the pubHsher's bill with the doctor's. Ella was But. it fell nobody dead in a The author's thoughts were diverted to another groove just then by the discovery that she was going to have a third child. tri\-ial then called up Mrs. if it nobody bought it. and her inability to touch his level would send her into fits of despondency. for she had been able to get no great number into print. she read it here as if it spoke aloud to her. than a poet of her century. the landlady. Though quite familiar with its contents. which was duly issued. and latterly she had begun to feel the old afflatus once more. And now by an odd conjunction she found herself in the rooms of Robert Trewe. passed away thus. service. Yes. that till list Trewe had This step onward had suggested to John Ivy the idea of collecting her pieces also. A a ruinous charge was made for costs of publication. few reviews noticed her poor little volume . so much stronger as it always was than her own feeble lines. Hooper. for some about the young man. She thoughtfully rose from her chair and searched the apartment with the interest of a fellow-tradesman. and had ever been alive.

day or two he'll say that he will take a trip to Paris. .' Ah." he'll say. " Mr. only he's so shy that I don't Mrs. Still he's odd in some things. Then in a . you myself he kept me awake up further. On one of these occasions Mrs. kind young fellow that folks him ' if they would only be too glad to be friendly with knew him. know. " though 1 don't know how you should find it out. Hooper drew Ella's attention to what she had not noticed before minute scribblings in pencil on the wall-paper behind the sations about : curtains at the head of the bed.' * Yes . no doubt. Hooper. Marchmill. and doesn't see many people." " " Why not take a little change ? I ask. and him very till wished him . Hooper seemed nothing loth suppose you will.' said Mrs. cessor.' to minister to her tenant's curiosity about her predeLived here long ? Yes.' This was but the beginning of a series of converthe rising poet as the days went on. You don't meet kind-hearted . He keeps on his rooms even when he's not here the soft air of this place suits his chest. people every day. or Norway.' His is a sensitive nature. ^Vlrs. you are rather " out of spirits. he is such a good. or somewhere . " Trewe. for the matter of that. unable to . and he likes to be He is mostly writing able to come back at any time. if ' : or reading. he's kind-hearted and good. I am." I say to him sometimes.WESSEX TALES 'Well. ' O ! let me look. Once when at night it . he'll oblige me in anything if I ask him. I'm sure you'd be interested in him. nearly two years.' Ah. indeed ' ! 'Yes. ." Well. he had finished a poem of his composition late he walked up and down the room rehearsing the floors being so thin though I I say it — — jerry-built houses. above But we get on well. ma'am. you could see him. . and I assure you he comes back all the better for it. though.

and where the couples would come suddenly down with a lurch into each other's arms for. I have the magazines. and suddenly wished her companion would go away.' yes Ella Marchmill ! only a few days ago.AX IMAGINATIVE WOMAN conceal a rush of tender curiosity as she bent her pretty face close to the wall. Thus. while this thri^^ng manufacturer got a great deal of change and sea-air out of his sojourn here. consciousness of personal interest rather than literarj' made her anxious to read the inscription alone . ' These. It must have been done not seen that one before. ' ver)- hnes you see here I have seen afterwards in print in Some are newer. with some rhyme in his head. of them out. with the manner of a ' woman who knew first things. who was He did not disdain to a bad sailor. ' . and mainly consisted in passing a ceitain number of hours each dav in bathing and walking But the poetic up and down a stretch of shore. now An indescribable that the information was imparted. and jots it down there on the wall Some of these lest he should forget it by the morning. but you can read them still. indeed. such scenes.' O . external at least. where there was dancing by moonlight. the company was too mixed for him to take her amid . and she accordingly waited till she could do so. the life. Ella's husband found it much pleasanter to go sailing and steaming about ^vithout his wife. . are the ver}' beginnings and He has tried to rub most thoughts of his verses. than with her. \sith a sense that a great store of emotion would be enjoyed in the act Perhaps because the sea was choppy outside the Island. as he blandly told her. of Ella was monotonous enough. My belief is that he wakes up in the night.' said Mrs. she was possessed II . impulse ha\"ing again waxed strong. go thus alone on board the steamboats of the cheap)trippers. Hooper. flushed without knowing why. you know.

understand To be and night by his first fit thing that came to hand did not^ of course. she was surrounded noon customary environment. which literally whispered of him to her at every moment. of a quality better than chance usually offers. the magnetic attraction exercised by this circumambient. when nobody was in that part of the house. Hooper explained that it belonged to Mr. which was. belonging to it. and. and that all that moved her was the instinct to specialize a waiting emotion on it. The mantle ' ^ of to ' Elijah rival ! she said. around in She had read till she knew by heart Trewe's last volume of verses. in her The personal element in failure. being a woman of very living ardours. indeed. and put it on. Trewe. whence. ' Would it might inspire he is • me him. and hung it up in the closet Possessed of her fantasy. her husband's love for her had not survived. they pulled out some clothing. opened the closet.WESSEX TALES by an inner flame which ^vhat Avas proceeding little left her hardly conscious of her. or even so much as. her own for him. except in the form of fitful friendship. till. a mackintosh. she burst into tears. Ella went later in the afternoon. they were beginning to feed on this the chancing material. with the waterproof cap again. Mrs. suggest itself to Ella. far One day the children had been playing hide-andseek in a closet. In the natural way of passion under the too practical conditions which civilization has devised for its fruition. but he was a man she had never seen. in their excitement. any more than. that required sustenance of some sort. glorious genius that ! 12 . unapproachable master of hers was so much stronger than the intellectual and abstract that she could not sure. unhitched one of the articles. and spent a great deal of time vainly attempting to rival some of them.

Ella was not glad. I found them in the closet here. so ready was she to discourse ardently about him. and removed them. Hii heart had beat inside that coat. The consciousness feel him made her quite sick. take you with me on board the yacht. .' she said. Trewe. ma'am. ' like to be in the way ' ! O Trewe then. ' : : To-day. are interested in Mr.' and he has just sent to say that he is going ' to call to-morrow afternoon to look he wants. who might herself have nourished a half-tender regard for the poet. never reach. I'll Perhaps it's true. "\Miat have I else to do ? ' ' * and put You are always away ' ! Always away ? Well That evening she had a . and went to bed musing of him.' For the first time in her experience of such an offer But she accepted it for the moment. The time ready. I know. ? ' ' ! if I'll be in. The longing to see the 13 . for setting out drew near. as there's not much sea.'' further talk with the land- lady.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN eyes always grew wet when she thought like and she turned to look at herself in the glass. Ell a CTocd deal and left you without much to amuse you. and her husband entered the room. them on in a freak. 'You she said his that . and she went to get She stood reflecting. of her weakness beside Before she had got the things off her the door opened. Next morning her husband observed I've been that I have gone about thinking of what you said. and his brain had worked under that hat at levels of thought she would Her that. . ' ^^'hat the devil ' She blushed. and he may up some books of select them from your room ' yes You could very well meet Mr. if you'd She promised with secret delight.

He was indifferent. Trewe sent a note just before lunch to say I needn't ' ! ' ' ! ' . is There some person waiting ! at the door. eyes. The blinds waved in the sunshine to the soft. and so tearful her When the children came in vnih wet stockings. and for a long time could not even re-read his mournful ballad on Severed Lives. and wouldn't come to select them. but nobody came up. For the rest of the day the house was quiet. Mrs. Marchmill did not hear any servant go to answer it. The books were in the room where she sat . Hooper came in ' ' ! So disappointing she said. and went his way. she ' 14 .' Mrs. band.' I she said. She Silesian A rang the ' bell. a troop of foreign gentlemen hired for the season. had drawn almost all the residents and promenaders away from the vicinity of Coburg House.WESSEX TALES poet she was now distinctly in love A\-ith overpowered all other considerations.' she said to herself. I don't want to go.' so aching was her erratic little heart. steady stroke of the sea beyond the wall and the notes of the Green .' ' ' ! She told her husband that she had changed her mind about wishing to sail. Trewe not coming after all But I heard him knock. ' O no. ma'am He's gone long ago. get any tea for him. ' answered it. the children having gone out upon the sands. I forgot to tell you that Mr.' Ella was miserable. and she became impatient. and ran up to her to tell her of their adventures. knock was audible at the door. I fancy No that was somebody inquiring for lodgings who came to the wrong house. Mr. herself. as he should not require the books. I can't bear to be away And I won't go.

' EUa was. I think. with eagerness.AN IMAGINATIVE could not as usual. as a matter of fact. the Royal Duke and Duchess but he's are in that. ' ma'am .' behind them." Duchess temporarily in front of him. Some. which I bought on pur" Cover me pose but as he went away he said up from those strangers that are coming. such as you'd expect a it. for God's sake. handsome. feel WOMAN them half as that she cared about much Mrs.' ' — man who ' ' No . perhaps.' ' Is he handsome ? she asked timidly. so . he wouldn't ! So I slipj)ed in the staring at them. with a very' electric flash in his eye looks round quickly. a large-eyed thoughtful when he ' you know. : I don't want them staring at me. perhaps. though striking than some would say he's more fellow. have you a photograph of the gentlelived here ? She was getting to be curiously shy in mentioning his name. and Royalties are more suitable for letting furnished than a private young man. Lord. ma'am. and I am sure they won't want Duke and had no frame. they are.' Should I ? she asked. or he wouldn't have thought of hiding himself. a few months over thirty herself. ' ' ' ' I think 5-0U would. yes. '/call him so. wouldn't. It's in the ornamental frame on the '^\^ly. Hooper. ma'am. 'Yes.' ' poet to be who doesn't get his li\ing by How old is he ? Several years older than yourself. about thirty-one or two. mantelpiece in your own bedroom. Though so immature in nature. as they me mind if he knew it He didn't think the next tenant would be such an attractive lady as j-ou. If you take 'em out you'll see him under. but she did not look nearlv so much. He belongs rightly to that frame. she was entering on that tract 15 .

preferring to reserve the inspection till she could be alone. and would not be able to get back till next day. The children had been sent to bed. poet wore a luxuriant black moustache and a slouched hat which shaded the forehead. and a more romantic tinge be imparted to the occasion by silence. The It was a striking countenance to look upon. took out the likeness. on learning that her husband was to be absent that stairs night she had refrained from incontinently rushing upand opening the picture-frame. her husband. and she would tract when soon. though light. followed. and Ella soon To gratify it was not yet ten o'clock.WESSEX TALES women begin to suspect that stronger than first love . After her li'At dinner Ella idled about the shore with the children till dusk. described by the landlady. solemn sea and stars outside. with a serene sense of some- photograph For. ness of fancy in which this young woman was an adept. than was afforded candles. it opened the back. first getting rid of superfluous garments and putting on her dressing-gown. i6 . by the garish afternoon sunlight. The showed an large dark eyes. and set up before her. She reflected on Mrs. her passionate curiosity she now made her preparations. with the subtle luxuriousthing ecstatic to come. and said no more about age. out from unlimited capacity for misery they looked . thinking of the yet uncovered in her room. alas. then arranging a chair in front of the table and reading several pages of Trewe's tenderest Then she fetched the portrait-frame to the utterances. Hooper's remark. who had gone down the Channel as far as Budmouth with his friends in the yacht. enter on the still more melancholy at least the vainer ones of her sex shrink from receiving of life in which emotional last love may be a male visitor otherwise than with their backs to the window or the blinds half down. and imperial. It came from Just then a telegram was brought up.

17 He must often have B . and she touched the cardboard with her lips. even though I've never She laid his book and picture on the table at the bedside. Then she scanned again by the light of the candle the half-obliterated pencillings on the wall-paper beside her head.shaped were not portended. considering that he had to provide for family expenses. richest. Ella * altogether overjoyed at what the spectacle murmured in her lowest. perhaps luckily for himself. she set up the photograph on its edge upon the coverlet. couplets. so palpitating. to let her mind stray to a No. in as hers. and the least of them so intense. ' He's nearer real self. and when she was reclining on the pillow she re-read those of Robert Trewe's verses which she had to time as most touching and true. he's more intimate with the my real than Will seen him. bouts-riiiies. her eyes filled with tears. they were. like marked from time — Shelley's scraps. fact. so sweet.' she said. Putting these aside. fanned her cheeks from those walls. Then she laughed with a nervous As she gazed long and wiped her eyes. She thought how wicked she was. a woman having a husband and three children. he was stranger in this unconscionable manner. There they were phrases. that it seemed as if his very breath.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN brows as if they were reading the universe in the microcosm of the confronter's face. beginnings and middles of lines. me is. and contemplated it as she lay. not a stranger! She knew his thoughts and feelings as lightness. ideas in the rough. his head times and times as they surrounded her own now. well as she knew her own same thoughts and feehngs . warm and walls that had surrounded loving. tenderest tone cruelly eclipsed : And ! it's ' you who've so me these many times till at the portrait she fell into thought. after all. and beneath well. the self- which her husband distinctly lacked .

' ' ' i8 . the thoughts and spirit-strivings which had come to him in the dead of night. she slipped the photograph under the pillow just as he flung open the door. we found we could get back in very good time after all.WESSEX TALES with the pencil in it. These inscribed shapes of the poet's world.' How is No. in full daylight perhaps never. with an instinctive objection to let her husband know what she had been doing. where are you ? ' possessed her she could not have described. I've not got a headache. No doubt they had often been written up hastily by the light of the moon. a footstep came upon the stairs. with the air of a man who had dined not badly. * ' What ' ' it you've * come ? ' Well.' said she. ' Ell. I'm as tired as a dog. as it would be if executed by one — who extended his arm thus. I beg pardon. and I didn't want to make another day of it. Yes.' said William Marchmill.' Shall I come down again ? O no. she was* sleeping on a poet's lips. you a headache ? I am afraid I have disturbed you. permeated by his spirit as by an ether. because of going somewhere else to-morrow. Nurslings of immortality. And was dragging where his arm had lain when he secured the fugitive fancies . no doubt. and in a moment she heard her husband's heavy step on the landing immediately without. but.' were. the rays of the lamp. Have O. and I shall turn in straight off. While she was dreaming the minutes away thus. I've had a good I want to get feed. in the blue-grey now her hair dawn. ' Forms more real than living man. immersed in the very essence of him. when he could let himself go and have no fear of the frost of criticism. the put up his hand so writing was sideways.

with a tremor in her gentle voice which she herself felt to be absurdly uncalled for.. Ha ha O. Hooper told me when she showed me the not ' Ella's loyalty to the object of her endure to hear him ridiculed.' at it yesterday.' to-morrow if I can. the bed. . he's a friend of yours ' ! Bless his picturesque heart admiration could He's a clever man she said. bending over her„ No. ' ' ' ! What. I shan't my getting up. Sure you're not ill ? he asked. Trewe. dear ? said she. if you've never seen him ? Mrs. her husband exclaimed. I suppose.' ' ' ' ' ! ' her.' How do you know. While her eyes followed his movements. Ella softly pushed the photograph further out of sight. it will be long before And he came forward into the room.' ' I was looking in then. though I've never seen him. Well. only wicked And he stooped and kissed Never mind that. He is a rising poet the gentleman who occupied two of these rooms before we came.. Next morning Marchmill was called at six o'clock and in waking and yawning she heard him muttering to himself: 'What the deuce is this that's been crackling under me so ? Imagining her asleep he searched round him and withdrew something.' 19 . I wonder how it came here whisked off the table by accident perhaps when they were making ' ' ' ' ! ! ' ' ' — . ' ! ' — ' ' ' photograph. ? and it must have dropped ' O. Through her half-opened eyes she perceived it to be Mr.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN out at six o'clock disturb you by you are awake. I'm damned . you are awake ? What do you mean ? Some bloke's photograph a friend of our landlady's.

to stay with a friend near here till you leave. must up and be off". dear.' It is getting rather slow. What's the use : ? No we'll all return have to come to fetch you Wales together . she pleaded.' ' * and. she crossed over in the packet from the neighbouring pier the following .' I don't. declared suddenly that he and his family would have to leave a week earlier than they had expected to do in short. Ella knew but What a useless journey it was vaguely where the house stood. Trewe were likely to call at any other time. Marchmill did return quite early in the afternoon . Marchmill inquired if Mr. you've three days longer It yet. and ventured to inquire of a pedestrian if he lived there. and to whose person she was now absolutely Yet she determined to make a last effort attached.' said Mrs. Besides. well. the answer returned by the man was And it he did live there.' That day Mrs. Hooper. Surely we can stay a week longer ? — ' ' ' ' ' I like it here. Then you might leave me and Ell ! ! the children ' ! ' How perverse you are. week He's coming this day Yes. Mind the children don't go getting drowned. ! could she call upon him? Some women might have 20 . and we'll make out our time in North And or Brighton a little later on. afternoon. opening some letters which had arrived in his absence. I shall be home rather Sorry I can't take you to-day. He'll be sure to call. I early.WESSEX TALES ' O . how that he did not know. and when she fancied she had found it. and having gathered from her landlady that Trewe was living in a lonely spot not far from the fashionable town on the Island opposite. in three days.' for seemed to be her doom not to meet the man whose rival talent she had a despairing admiration.

to indulge her taste for lyric and she had ample time and elegiac composition. On Saturday morning the remaining members of the Marchmill family departed from the place which had been productive of so much ferv^our in her. if she felt herself able to get home without him. She concealed the pleasure this extension of time gave her. the sun shining in moted beams upon the dreary train : hot cushions. and Marchmill went off the next morning alone. and Trewe did not call. for it contained 21 . reachmg home for dinner without having been greatly the assurance to do he would think her.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN but she had not. she tried to read. instead. the mean rows of wire these things were her accompaniment while out of the window the deep blue sea-levels disappeared from her gaze. either. At the last moment. as the suburban life is apt to be. How crazy She might have asked him to call upon her. and he and his family lived in a large new house. since she wished to do so. Marchmill was in a thriving way of business. the dusty permanent way. missed. her husband said that he should have no objection to letting her and the children stay on till the end of the week. perhaps. which must have been written almost immediately before her visit to Solentsea. She had hardly got back when she encountered a piece by Robert Trewe in the new number of her favourite magazine. Ella's life was lonely here. but she had not the courage for that. and wept Mr. particularly at certain seasons . Heavy-hearted. and with them her poet's — : home. unexpectedly enough. She lingered mournfully about the seaside eminence till it was time to return picturesque to the town and enter the steamer for recrossin?. The dreary. which stood in rather extensive grounds a few miles outside the city wherein he carried on his trade. But the week passed. it.

as one ostensibly coming from a man. nor did he send her any of his own in return. and Mrs. had dared to hope for it a civil and brief — which the young poet stated that. Hooper had declared to ' Ella could resist no longer.WESSEX TALES the very couplet she had seen pencilled on the wallpaper by the bed. did it matter ? He had replied . in . . which he very kindly accepted. pen impulsively. Ella Marchmill sending him from time to time some that she considered to be the best of her pieces. he recalled the name as being one he had seen attached that he was glad to to some very promising pieces gain Mr. Ivy's acquaintance by letter. little voice told her that. were he only 22 iV flattering to see her. tainly look with the future. though he was not well acquainted with Mr. much interest for his productions in There must have been something juvenile or timid in her own epistle. The correspondence thus begun was continued for two months or more. Ella would have been more hurt at this than she was if she had not known that Trewe laboured under the impression that she was one of his own sex. he had written to her with so his well. she declared to herself. using the name of John Ivy. \\T0te to him as a brother-poet. and should cernote. for Trewe quite adopted the But what tone of an elder and superior in this reply. knew own hand from that very room she for he was now back again in his quarters. though he did not say he sedulously read them. as the compared same pathetic To little this as she address there came a response in a few days. but seizing a be recent. Ivy's verse. Yet the situation was unsatisfactory. congratulating him in her on his triumphant executions in metre and letter rhythm of thoughts with her trade. that moved his own brow-beaten efforts in soul.

And." " her beloved though as yet unseen one was he Behold. the rain is over and gone. Her correspondent and his friend Trewe would days. the time of the singing of birds is come. Ella was blithe and buoyant. succeeded ." she thought ecstatically. Her scheme had . if something had not happened. to render it unnecessary. looked forth at the windows. whose acquaintance she was The answer arrived after some few anxious to make. have much satisfaction in accepting her invitation on their way southward. and requesting him to bring with him. to her delight. had not been too sublime Poetess as she was.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN No doubt she would have helped on this by making a frank confession of womanhood. the editor of the most important newspaper in the city and county. to begin with. which would be on such and such a day in the following week. It was about five in the afternoon when she heard a ring at the door and the editor's brother's voice in the hall. and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. and awaited the pregnant day and hour. she that day to dress with infinite trouble in a fashionable robe of rich material. lo. having a 23 . observed during their conversation about the poet that his (the editor's) brother the landscape-painter was a friend of Mr. showing himself through " the lattice. inviting him time on his way back. This she did most solicitously. and that the two men were at matters would be otherwise. coming. A that very moment in Wales together. Trewe's. who was dining with them one day. The next morning down to stay at her house for a short she sat and wrote. friend of her husband's. the winter is past. the flowers appear on the earth. Ella was slightly acquainted with the editor's brother. Trewe. he standeth behind our wall But it was necessary to consider the details of lodging and feeding him. or as she thought herself. if practicable. his companion Mr.

' ' it ? 24 . She longed to run away from this dreadful bore and cry her eyes out.' What he has actually gone past my gates ? ' ! handsome gates they got to them are. after their introTrewe is a curious ductory words had been spoken. Mrs. you know . he's a Httle bit depressed just Yes.' He he's not coming ? * He's not . in the name of the God of Love. he saw a copy of it at the station by accident. you know. her nether lip starting off quivering so much that it was like a tremoIo-%\. . a style just then in vogue among ladies of an artistic and romantic turn. then he said he couldn't.' said the painter. and a warm friend. you know. and he wanted to get on home. The truth is. which had been obtained by Ella of her Bond Street dressmaker when she was last in London. and he has just come in for a terrible Revie7V that was published yesterslating from the day. talking there a little while. was Robert faint Trewe ? O.wessex tales resemblance to the chiton of the Greeks. I'm sorry. He said he'd come . too. but a little uncertain and gloomy sometimes he thinks too much of things. Perhaps you've read «No. * When we — — He's a very now. We've been doing a few miles with knapsacks. and then he wished me good-bye and went on. He's rather dusty. She looked towards his rear . fellow. the finest bit of modern wrought-iron work I have seen when we came to them we stopped. good fellow. nobody else came through the door. ' ' * — ' ' ' ' ' Just now. and doesn't want to see anybody. Marchmill. His poetry is rather too erotic and passionate. Where. Her visitor entered the drawing-room. and he asked me to make his apologies.OY> opened in her speech. for some tastes .' When did you p-p-part from him ? she asked. in the turnpike road yonder there.

just one of those articles written to order. and showed him everywhere about the neighbourhood. is the misrepresentation that hurts fair attack.minded landscape . he has. it is not worth thinking of. and not himself. to please the narrow-minded set of subscribers upon whom the He says it But he's upset by it. or in their writer.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN ' So much the better. The painter had been gone only a day or two when. I don't know that he took any great interest ' — ' ' ' ' in Ivy. though he can't stand lies that he's That's powerless to refute and stop from spreading. did he say ? Well. circulation depends. that. The obtuse and single . like their father. he thought. neither of them noticing Ella's mood. seeming to enjoy the society of Ella's husband. poems ? poems so far as I know.painter never once perceived from her conversation that it was He made only Trewc she wanted. away she went into the nursery and tried to let off her ' ' Or Or in his ' in his — emotion by unnecessarily kissing the children. O.' Robert Trewe took no interest in her house. that is. in her As soon as she could get poems. that these things affect him much more than they would if he were in the bustle of fashionable or commercial life. him so . till she had a sudden sense of disgust at being reminded how plain-looking they were. while sitting upstairs alone one morning. making the excuse that it all if looked so new and monied you'll pardon But he must have known there was sympathy Has he never said anything about getting letters here ' — — ' — ! from ' this address ? perhaps a relative Yes. she glanced over 25 . from John Ivy of yours. visiting here at the time ? Did he— like Ivy. yes. the best of his visit. who also took a great fancy to him. He lives so much by himself just Trewe's weak point. he can stand a So he wouldn't come here.

There are ample funds in my name at the bank to pay all expenses. mostly of an impassioned kind. — Before these lines reach your hands I shall be delivered from the inconveniences of seeing. committed suicide at his lodgings at Solentsea on Saturday evening last by shooting himself in the Readers hardly need to be reminded right temple with a revolver. though not certainly known. Trewe. at which the folwas read. and which has been made the subject of a severe. it having been addressed to a friend at a distance letter : — * Dear . I will not trouble you by giving my reasons for the step I have taken. inspired my last the imaginary woman alone. Robert Trewe. order tliat no blame may attach to any real woman cavalier treatment of me. by his new volume of verse." which has been already favourably noticed in these pages for the extraordinary gamut of feeling it traverses. though I can assure you they were sound and a sister. that may have partially conduced to the sad act. unwon. and he has the the article been observed to be in a somewhat depressed state of mind since the critique appeared. volume said in some she. Trewe has recently attracted the attention of a much wider public than had hitherto known him. and knowing more of the things around me. but my occupancy of the rooms will soon be forgotten. long dreamt of such an unattainable creature. logical. that Mr. for.' Then came lowing the report of the inquest. or or a female friend of another sort tenderly devoted to me. last has continued to the desiral:ile to mention this in I think it unrevealed.' 26 . as having been the cause of my decease by cruel or Tell my landlady that I am sorry to have caused her this unpleasantness . as a copy of the review in question was found on his writing-table . criticism in Review. hearing. entitled "Lyrics to a Woman Unknown. and . as you know . Perhaps had I been blessed with a mother. there is no real woman behind the title. if not ferocious. I might have thought it worth while to continue my present existI have ence. unmet. paragraph ' : — and read the following 'SUICIDE OF A rOET Mr.WESSEX TALES the Ivondon paper just arrived. It is supposed. elusive one. who has been favourably known for some years as one of our rising lyrists. in spite of what has been She quarters. this undiscoverable. R.

Hooper that Mrs. O. in as subdued a style as she and informing enclosing a postal order for a sovereign.. hot forehead — kissed once and put my hand upon would loved him — him know how him — : if of me ! if I his . Trewe during her stay at Coburg House. . — ! jealous and me ' ! All possibilities were over . . Yet whereof life was barren. also the photograph that By had been requested. person. Marchmill had seen in the papers the sad account of the poet's death. as Mrs. and that happiness was not for him ! ! .' She wrote to the landlady at Solentsea in the third could command. the meeting was stultified. let I that I have suffered shame and scorn. for him God is a But no it was not allowed life God. chamber and flung stunned. Yet it was almost visible to her in her fantasy even now. Mrs.. yet might not be. then rushed into herself upon her face . would have lived and Perhaps it would have saved his dear died. and send it her as a memorial of him. though it could never be substantiated •o' — ' The hour which might have been. and having been. Her grief and distraction shook her to pieces and she lay in this frenzy of sorrow for more than an hour. much interested in Mr. the return-post a letter arrived containing what Ella wept over the portrait and 27 . Hooper was aware. had only once met him — only .AN IMAGINATIVE Ella sat for a while as if WOMAN the adjoining on the bed. Broken words came every now and then from her quiver' ing lips he had only known of me — known — me O. as was in the frame. she would be obliged if Mrs. Which man's and woman's heart conceived and bore. Hooper could obtain a small portion of his hair before his coffin was closed down.

Mrs Hooper. the lock of hair she tied with white ribbon and put in her bosom. had got down to his factory came into Marchmill's head He. in sending the and photograph. . .' ' Do you mind my It I will tell you some day. was aware that a suicide had taken place recently at the house they had occupied at Solentsea. Having seen the volume of poems in his wife's hand of at late. sation about and heard fragments of the landlady's converTrewe when they were her tenants. of her eccentricities. had informed her of the day of the funeral and as the morning and noon wore on an overpowering wish to know where they were laying him took possession of the sympathetic woman. a sob hanging heavy in her voice. too. ' Who ? ' ! ' ' I don't insist ' want to tell you.' walked away whistling a few bars of no tune in particular. Will. she wrote Marchmill a brief note. whence . ! the devil did she get to ' animals women are How Why of course it's he ! . What's the matter ? said her husband. Caring very little now what her husband or any one else might think .WESSEX TALES secured it in her private drawer . just now. refusing ? O. know him ? "\^'hat sly placidly dismissed the matter. and when he in the city the subject again. all right. of course. looking up from his newspaper on one of these occasions. Crying she drew ' ' ' over something ' ? ' ! A lock of hair ? Whose is it ? ' He's dead she murmured. it and kissed it every now and then in some unobserved nook. stating that she was called away for the afternoon and 28 . he all ' once said to himself. unless you she said.' * He doesn't matter in the least. By this time Ella at home had Then he come hair to a determination. and went on with his daily affairs.

The gate was locked. beheld a crouching object beside a She heard him. a married woman with ' ' ' — ! ! 29 . and he found some difficulty in keeping to the serpentine path which led to the quarter where. and sprang up. arriving not a great while before his own. how silly this is I never heard such a thing ning away from home Of course I am not jealous of this unfortunate man . He could see none . Although it was not late. the autumnal darkness had now become intense. stooped now and then to discern if possible a figure against the sky. season at Solentsea was now past the parade was He asked gloomy. He stepped upon the grass. The the : way to the Cemetery. that there was nobody within the precincts. bound he also started off. mill reflected. however. and he knew that if his wife had preceded him thither it could only have been by a slower train. and soon reached it. newly made grave. but lighting on a spot where the soil was trodden.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN evening. the one or two interments for the day had taken place. he said indignantly. RunEll. stumbling over some pegs. Upon the whole he thought that she Without saying whither he was had not done that. Marchmill reached home early the servants ticket for Solcntsea. and. but would return on the following desk. This she foot. telling them not to sit up for him. though he had come by a fast train. It was dark when he reached the place. as the man had told him. took him privately aside. He drove to the railway-station. and hinted that her mistress's sadness during the past few days had been such that Marchshe feared she had gone out to drown herself. and took a WTien Mr. went out of the house on his afternoon in the The nurse looked anxious. left on inform'ation to and having given the same the servants. but the keeper let him in. but it is too ridiculous that you. declaring. morning. and the flys were few and cheap.

WESSEX TALES three children and a fourth coming. I hope it didn't go far between you and him. coffee-house close to the station. ' your own sake.' * And me ' ! 'You'll soon find somebody 30 to fill my place. * ! ! ' ' . I won't have any more of do you hear ? Very well. have to undergo the stress of childbirth for a fourth time.' She did not answer. and Frank. should go losing Do you your hea'd like this over a dead lover know you were locked in ? You might not have been able to get out all night. . he took her to a miserable little . Will. and neither of the twain ever ventured Ella a conversation upon this episode. and that apparently did not tend to raise her to start seemed to spirits. for ! . ' I don't think I shall get over it this time ' ! she said one day. it Pooh what childish foreboding Why shouldn't be as well now as ever ? I feel almost sure I am going She shook her head. under the sense that it was one of those dreary situations occurring in married life which words could not mend. and Tiny.' Mind. that night and not wishing to be recognized in their present sorry condition. if it were not for Nelly. ' * He drew her arm within his own.' Don't insult me. ' ' this sort of thing .' she . and conducted her It was impossible to get back out of the Cemetery. which might almost have been called The time was approaching when she would pining. and reaching their own door at noon. to die and I should be glad.' she said. . be only too frequently in a sad and listless mood. travelling almost without speaking. whence they departed early in the morning. The months passed.

you are not thinking still about that poetical ' ' — friend of yours ? I am She neither admitted nor denied the charge. But when she had been buried a couple of years it was chanced one day that. and she went off in sudden collapse a few hours later. he lighted on a lock of hair in an 31 . I assure you of that. in turning over some forgotten papers that he wished to destroy before his second wife entered the house.' EH.' This view of things was rather a bad beginning. Just before her death she spoke to softly : Marchmill 'Will. wanted a fuller appreciator. in fact. not going to get over my illness this time. I — want to confess to you the entire circumthat time we about you know what stances of that how I can't tell what possessed me visited Solentsea. But I had got I could forget you so. my husband I thought you had been unkind into a morbid state that you had neglected me . pulseless and bloodless. as it usually is and. right to . like the subject of her love for the poet. and far above it.AN IMAGINATIVE WOMAN And you'll have a perfect murmured. while he was. lover ' She could get no further then for very exhaustion .' she reiterated. ' ' * Something . without ha\-ing said anything more to her husband on in truth. little disturbed by retrospective jealousies. tells me I shan't. most husbands of several years' standing. rather than another — — — ! : . she was King in her room. with a sad smile. with hardly strength enough left to follow up one feeble necessary fat breath with another. in the month of May. the infant for whose unlife she was slowly parting with her own being and well. that you weren't up to my I intellectual level. and had not shown the least anxiety to press her for confessions concerning a man dead and gone beyond any power of inconveniencing him more. six weeks later. perhaps. William Marchmill.

Let . for peculiar expression of the poet's face sat. upon the child's. you poor brat I You are nothing to me 1893. Marchmill looked long and musingly at the hair and something struck him. Fetching the little boy who had been the death of his mother. yes. . with the photograph of the deceased poet. . Then she did play ! me see : false at the lodgings week in August. he took him on his knee. It was that of the time they spent at Solentsea. so that he could closely compare the features each countenance presented.WESSEX TALES envelope. There were undoubtedly strong traces of resemblance . and set up the photograph on the table behind. Get away. the ' ! third week in May. . now a noisy toddler. little . . . * I'm damned ' if I didn't think so ' ! murmured Marchwith that fellow mill. . a date being written on the back in his late wife's hand. the dreamy and portrait. Yes . the dates — the second . me . as the transmitted idea. and the hair was of the same hue. held the lock of hair against the child's head. . .

THE THREE STRANGERS .

.

' camp or barrow. If any mark of human Among occupation of the is met with hereon. grassy and furzy downs. with their sleets. by actual measurement. In spite of its loneliness. some clump of starved fragment of ancient hedge is usually taken advantage of in the erection of these forlorn dwellings. to please that less repellent tribe. was not more than five miles from a county-town. the poets.' . stood quite detached and 35 . But. and mists. in fair weather. Higher Crowold earthen trees. in the present case. cottage of it usually takes the form solitar)' some shepherd. that fill a large area of certain counties in the south and south-west. artists. such a kind of shelter had been disregarded. Yet that affected it little Five miles of irregular upland. the spot. snows. during the long inimical seasons. coombs. rains. Fifty years ago such a lonely cottage stood on such a down. and others who c»nceive and meditate of pleasant things.THE THREE STRANGERS THE THREE STRANGERS the few features of agricultural England which retain an appearance but little modified by the lapse of centuries. at least Some some stairs. afford withdrawing space enough to isolate a Timon or a Nebuchadnezzar much less. or ewe-leases. as they are indifferently called. however. may be reckoned the high. as the house was called. philosophers. and may possibly be standing there now.

Such sheep and outdoor animals as had no shelter stood with their buttocks to the winds while the tails of little birds trying to roost on some scraggy thorn were blown inside-out like umbrellas. The seemed to severe. and the rain hit hard whenever it fell. the various weathers of the winter season were not quite so formidable on the coomb as they were imagined to be by dwellers on low ground. and the frosts were scarcely undefended. and the eavesdroppings flapped against the wall. though the exposed to the elements on all sides. and hedges like the clothyard shafts of Senlac and Crecy. The gable-end of the cottage was stained with wet. slopes. A glance into the apartment at eight o'clock on this eventful evening would have resulted in the opinion that it was as cosy and comfortable a nook as could be wished for in boisterous weather. placed. Yet never was commiseration for the shepherd more mis- so ' ' . ^^^len the shepherd and his family who tenanted the house were pitied for their sufferings from the exposure. which may have crossed there and thus for a good five hundred years. they said that upon the whole they were less inconvenienced by wuzzes and flames (hoarses and phlegms) than when they had lived by the stream of a snug neighbouring valley. 3^ .was precisely one of the nights that were wont to call forth these expressions of commiseration. The level rainstorm smote walls. and they were all now assembled in the chief or living room of the dwelling. Hence the house was But. wind up here blew unmistakably when it did blow. ]arge For that cheerful girl. rustic was entertaining a christening of his party in glorification of the second The guests had arrived before the rain began to fall.WESSEX TALES only reason for its precise situation be the crossing of two footpaths at right angles hard by. The raw rimes were not so pernicious as in the hollows. The night of March 28. 182.

holy-days. in front of a back-brand to give like substance. was in itself significant. the hedge-carpenter. a neighbouring dairyman. four men. in candlesticks that were never used but at high-days. Of these. The lights were scattered about the room. to the The room was On the hearth. or do any eclipsing thing whatever which nowadays so unhampered — 37 . sat beneath the corner-cupboard . and family feasts. amounting to a truly princely serenity. Enjoyment was pretty general. confidence in each other's good opinion begat perfect ease. two of them standThis position of candles ing on the chimney-piece.crooks without stems that were hung ornamentally over the fireplace. who were blushing over tentative pcurparlers on a life-companionship.' ' Nineteen persons were gathered here. lolled in the settle . while the finishing stroke of manner. including Charley Jake five .THE THREE STRANGERS The calling of its inhabitant was proclaimed by a number of highly-polished sheep. enlarge their minds. and so much the more prevailed in being Absolute by conventional restrictions. women. Candles on the chimney-piece always meant a party. a young man and maid. wearing gowns of various bright hues. blazed a fire of thorns. lighted by half-a-dozen candles. Elijah New the parish-clerk. the shepherd's father-in-law. was lent to the majority by the absence of any expression or trait denoting that they wished to get on in the world. sat in chairs along the wall girls shy and not shy filled the window-bench. ha\-ing ^ncks onlv a trifle smaller than the grease which enveloped them. the curl of each shining crook varying from the antiquated t}-pe engraved in the patriarchal pictures of old family Bibles most approved fashion of the last local sheep-fair. and John Pitcher. that crackled the laughter of the fool. and an elderly engaged man of fifty or upward moved restlessly about from spots where his betrothed was not to the spot where she was.

Shepherdess Fennel fell back upon the intermediate plan of mingling short dances with short periods of talk and singing. his wife being a dairyman's daughter from a vale at a distance. about twelve years of age. so But this as to hinder any ungovernable rage in either. while avoiding the foregoing objection on the score of good drink. from which he scrambled back to the first position with At seven the sounds not of unmixed purity of tone.WESSEX TALES generally nips the bloom "and bonhofnie of two extremes of the social scale. party was the alternative . 38 . an unconscionable deal of toping that they would A dancingsometimes fairly drink the house dry. the counterbalancing disadvantage in the matter of good ravenous appetites engendered by the exer- cise causing immense havoc in the buttery. had a victuals. Fennel privately enjoining the exceed the length players on no account to let the dance of a quarter of an hour. the parisli-clerk. but an undisturbed position of ease in its advantages chairs and settles was apt to lead on the men to such . scheme was entirely confined to her own gentle mind the shepherd himself was in the mood to exhibit the most reckless phases of hospitality. all except the Shepherd Fennel had married well. they should be required for ministering to This frugal woman the needs of a coming family. had been somewhat exercised as to the character that till A sit-still party had should be given to the gathering. who brought fifty guineas in her pocket and kept them — there. Mrs. who had thoughtfully brought with him : his favourite musical instrument. The fiddler was a boy of those parts. accompanied by a booming ground-bass from Elijah New. Dancing was instantaneous. but this. the serpent. who had a wonderful dexterity in jigs and reels. shrill tweedle-dee of this youngster had begun. though his fingers were so small and short as to necessitate a constant shifting for the high notes.

as a bribe to keep going as long as they had Mrs. seeing the steam begin to generate on the countenances of her guests. the performers moving in their planetlike courses. Fennel's concern in the gloomy night without. quite forgot the injunction. though the sky was lined with a uniform sheet of dripping cloud. following the little-worn path which. crossed over and touched the fiddler's elbow and put her hand on the serpent's mouth. It was nearly the time of full moon. cumulative fury. Giles. Oliver position. from apogee to peridown gee. an incident having considerable bearing on the party had occurred Mrs. in the excitement of their Moreover. rolling to the musicians.THE THREE STRANGERS But Elijah and the boy. and on this account. who was enamoured of his partner. about the growing fierceness of the dance corresponded in point of time with the ascent of a human figure to the solitary hill of Higher Crowstairs from the direction This personage strode on through of the distant town. had recklessly handed a new crown-piece muscle and wind. till the hand of the well-kicked clock travelled of the room had at the bottom over the circumference of an hour. ordinary objects out of doors were The sad wan light revealed the lonely readily visible. the rain without a pause. While these cheerful events were in course of enact- ment within Fennel's pastoral dwelling. further on in cottage. direct and retrograde. she retired and sat And so the dance whizzed on with helpless. though not so far as to be otherwise than rapid of motion when occasion gested that 39 . one of the dancers. his gait sug- he had somewhat passed the period of perfect and instinctive agility. Fennel. skirted the shepherd's pedestrian to be a man of supple frame. But they took no notice. its course. a man of seventeen. and fearing she might lose her character of genial hostess if she were to interfere too markedly. a fair girl of thirty-three years.

He was chiefly owing to his gauntness. He turned aside. its louder beating on the cabbage-leaves of tlie garden. By the time that he had arrived shepherd's abreast of the premises the rain came down. While he stood. and that he was not more than five-feet-eight or nine. Notwithstanding the regularity of his tread. finding it empty. At a rough guess. or rather came along.WESSEX TALES required. or other person accustomed to the judging of men's heights by the eye. The most salient of the shepherd's domestic erections was an empty sty at the forward corner of his hedgeless garden. and its dripping from the eaves into a row of buckets and pans that For had been placed under the walls of the cottage 40 . there was caution in it. nor a dark garment of any sort that he wore. there was something about him which suggested that he naturally belonged to the black-coated tribes of men. was attracted to this small building by the pallid shine of the wet slates that covered it. His clothes were of fustian. would have discerned that forty years of age. as in that of one who mentally feels his this and despite the fact that it was not a black coat . with yet more determined violence. for in these latitudes the principle of masking the homelier features of your establishment by a conventional The traveller's eye frontage was unknown. and the lesser strains of the fiddler. The outskirts of the little settlement partially broke the force of wind and rain. yet in his progress he showed not the mud-accustomed bearing of way hobnailed and fustianed peasantry. and his boots hobnailed. the boom of the serpent within the adjacent house. stood under the pent-roof for shelter. reached the spot as an accompaniment to the surging hiss of the flying rain on the sod. he might have been about appeared tall. but a recruiting sergeant. and this induced him to stand still. on the eight or ten beehives just discernible by the path. and.

kneel down on a large stone beside the row of vessels. In his indecision he turned and sur\'eyed the scene The Not a soul was anywhere visible. a mere acceptance of what the skies bestowed was last sufficient for an abundant store. gleamthe roof of the little well ing like the track of a snail (mostly dry). are absolutely necessitated in upland habitations during But at this season there were the droughts of summer. grand difficulty of housekeeping was an insuffiand a casual rainfall was utilized by ciency of water turning out. Since the dark surface of the wood revealed absolutely it was evident that he must be mentally looking through the door. but paused with his eye upon the panel. garden-path stretched downward from his feet. contrivances for economy in suds and dish-waters that the . the notes of the house was silent. no such At exigencies . Beyond all this winked a few bleared while. his first act was to the house-door. and.THE THREE STRANGERS at Higher Crowstairs. around. thereby all the possibilities that might include. Having quenched his thirst he rose and hfted his hand to knock. he walked up the path to Arrived here. emerging from the shed. as at all such elevated domiciles. as catchers. were varnished with the same dull liquid glaze. far lights that delamplights through the beating drops noted the situation of the county-town from which he — 4r . : away in the vale. a faint whiteness of more than usual extent showed that the rivers were high in the meads. the top rail of the gardengate. the well-cover. and to drink a copious draught from one of them. every utensil that the house Some queer stories might be told of the contained. and how they a house of this might bear upon sort the question of his entry. with an apparently new intention. This serpent ceased and the cessation of activity aroused the solitary pedestrian from the reverie into which he had lapsed. as if he wished to measure nothing.

without concealing that they were open. His hat. so that the knock afforded a not unwelcome ' diversion.' spoke up a woman. to be sure.' And be sure. with his survey. you've been lucky in choosing your time. said the shepherd promptly. and out of the night our The shepherd pedestrian appeared upon the door-mat.' For 'tis best to Nor less.WESSEX TALES had appeared life to come. ' To ' faith. and turned to ! Walk in The latch look at him. The hedge-carpenter was suggesting a song to the company. in low over a rich deep voice. ' The rain is so heavy. arose. baring his shaggy head. clicked upward. moving with a flash rather He seemed pleased than a glance round the room. hung large.' ' you the And what may be this glad cause ' ? asked stranger. and being invited by a gesture to a pull at the mug. and determined. said. before enter42 . as soon as can. which. snuffed two of the nearest candles. at The absence of all notes of in that direction seemed the door. which for a moment he did not remove. to clinch his intentions.' said the shepherd. which nobody just then ' was inclined to undertake. * birth A and The stranger christening. — ' ' get your family over and done with. that I ask leave to come in and rest awhile. stranger. his eyes. a man could hardly wish that glad cause to happen more than once a year. Their light disclosed that the stranger was dark in complexion and not unprepossessing as to feature.' said the shepherd. so as to be all the earlier out of the fag o't. he readily acquiesced. hoped his host might not be made un- happy either by too many or too few of such episodes. and he knocked Within. for we are having a bit of a fling for a glad cause though. and. His manner. friends. a desultory chat had taken the place of movement and musical sound.

having got completely inside the chimney-corner. out of. quickly. and made room comer. as you say. the chimney-corner. ma'am.' for the self-invited Mrs. wife fell upon his seeing that the eyes of the shepherd's and I am not well fitted either. I'll take a seat in Late it is.' A smoker. ma'am . 43 . ' must ask you to lend me a pipe likewise. ' Yes. if you have nothing to urge against for I am a little moist on the side that was it. ' ' ' you see. master. I am rather cracked in the vamp. and have been forced to pick up what I can get in the way of wearing.THE THREE STRANGERS ing.' The shepherd filled and handed him a new clay ' I ' ' pipe.' This testimony to the youthfulness of his hostess had the effect of stopping her cross-examination.' said the shepherd.' But you would hardly have heard of me.' he said freely. stretched out his legs and his arms \\-ith the expansiveness of a person quite at home. who. Late to be traipsing athwart this coomb hey ? ' — ' said the ' engaged man of fifty. you come from my neighbourhood.' continued the new-comer. • had been so dubious. And so be I and by your tongue I thought so. Shepherd Fennel assented. and no pipe about 'ee ? I have dropped it somewhere on the road.' ' One Not of hereabouts quite that ' • — ? further she inquired. which I am sorry to say I am ' ' ' I'll fill your pipe. was now altogether that of a carele^ and candid man. up the countr}'. — next the rain. some rough times lately. but I must find a suit better fit for working-days when I reach ' home.' he said My time would be long before yours.' baccy.' . There is only one thing more wanted to make me And that is a little happy. I have had boots.

as he did so. as if he wished to say no more. and a certain his first upon features. ' the his movement entertainer. At sound of the same the man in the chimneycorner took up the poker and began stirring the brands as if doing it thoroughly were the one aim of his existence . and a second time the shepherd said. large heavy seals.' — I'll The man went through his pockets. A few grog-blossoms marked the neighbourhood of his nose. they were about to stand up when an interruption came in the shape of another knock at the door. ' ' ! This individual was one of a type radically different from the first. There was more of the commonplace in sat his manner.' Lighting his pipe at the candle with a suction that drew the whole flame into the bowl. now I am about it.WESSEX TALES saying. He flung back his long drab greatcoat. me in a screw of paper. 'Hand me your baccy-box fill that too. yet out.woven door-mat. He too was a stranger. ' am it ' Give to afraid so. of searching Lost that too I ' ? said with some surprise. revealing that beneath it he wore a suit of cinder-gray shade throughhis cheeks. Meanwhile the general body of guests had been taking notice of this visitor by reason of an absorbing discussion in which they were engaged with the band little about a tune for the next dance. he resettled himself in the corner and bent his looks upon the faint steam from his damp legs. bristly. The matter being settled. dangling from his fob as his only 4 4 . Walk in In a moment another man stood upon the straw.' said the man with some confusion. eyebrows it and whiskers cut back from His face was rather full and flabby. and was not altogether a face without power. He his was jovial cosmopolitanism several years older loeing than the his his hair slightly frosted. of some metal or other that would take a polish. arrival.

nothing loth. I must ask for a few minutes' shelter. and damp companions were not altogether desirable at close quarters for the Not that in his women and girls in their bright-coloured gowns. raised the mug to his and drank on. other man. comrades. and on. but the room was far from large. each other by way of breaking the ice of unacquaintance. second surprise the first of what did not 45 . However.THE THREE STRANGERS Shaking the water-drops from his personal ornament.' Make yourself at home. who had regarded with no little stranger's free offer to the belong to him to dispense. advanced and sat down at the table. to give all available room to the dancers. perhaps a trifle less heartily than on the first occasion. after taking off his greatcoat. having its upper edge worn away like a threshold by the rub of whole — generations of thirsty lips that had gone the way of all flesh. he said. The lips. or I shall be wetted to my ' skin before I get to Casterbridge. and bearing the following inscription burnt upon its rotund side in yellow letters : — THERE IS NO FUN i UNtIlL CUM. and hanging his hat on a nail in one of the ceiling-beams as if he had been specially invited to put it there. and the first stranger handed his neighbour the family mug a huge vessel of brown ware. the second comer. spare chairs were not numerous.' said the shepherd. This had been pushed so closely into the chimney-corner. master. and on till a curious blueness overspread the countenance cf the shepherd's — wife. that its inner edge grazed the elbow of the man self by the fire . and thus who had ensconced him- the two strangers were They nodded to brought into close companionship. low-crpwned glazed hat. ' Fennel had the least tinge of niggardliness composition .

threw himself back in his chair. said the shepherd warmly. rosemary. but you'll never have the heart stranger in ' ! cried the cinder-gray. enough to make and really I make any more." ' O." a truly comfortable sort as this I really didn't expect to He took yet another pull at meet in my older days. moved by its creeping influence.' assented IMrs. . with an absence of enthusiasm which seemed to say that it was possible to buy praise for one's cellar at too heavy a It is price. the stranger in cinderactually was.WESSEX TALES * I knew ' it ! said the ' toper to the shepherd with I much satisfaction. honey. When walked up your garden before coming in. ha. ginger. after a third time and setting it down 'tis old like this. mace.' said the man in the chimney-corner. in spite of the taciturnity testimony to his comrade's humour. Ha. ' ' till it assumed an ominous elevation. brewed of the gallon purest first-year or maiden honey. or to relieve the needy any day of the week. and buttoned his waistcoat. ha mug reproachfully taking up the * I love empty. could not or would not refrain from this slight who. gray at the table. For honey sells well. and made presence felt in various 46 . and cellaring markably strong but it did not taste so -strong as it Hence. and But mead of such where there's honey there's mead. presently.' the mug.washings. four pounds to the with its due complement of white of eggs. tasted reprocesses of working. and saw the hives all of a row. mead. Now the old mead of those days. bottling. and we ourselves can make shift with a drop o' small mead and metheglin for common use from the 'It is trouble shall — hardly think we comb. — cinnamon. legs. Glad you enjoy it ' ! goodish mead. his spread his ways. Fennel. un- — yeast. as I love to go to church o' Sundays. I " Where there's bees there's said to myself. when ' ' ! induced by the pipe of tobacco. cloves.

Fennel. and have been almost to Casterbridge I there by this time ? must . as if to consider whether he would accept that definition of himself He presently rejected it by answering. dame.' I won't spoil kindness by partaking o' your second. your ' crease again. and I'm not sorry ' for it. 'Rich is not quite the word for me. famine or sword. And even if I only get to Casterbridge by midnight I must begin work there at eight to-morrow morning. at once ' if the Here's a call it. . the speaker did not move. and I must work. as I say. you be trade. only the ' ' Small.' rich. no. more than my poverty.' my Poor man 'Tis ! Then. .' said Mrs. men and maidens.' stairs and multiply every day. first ' No. ' . work to-morrow must be done. I me ' into your dwelling. The shepherdess followed him. o' we ' though to be sure 'tis first wash the combs. well. mug mug were not dry. and directly added. going to should but the rain drove I ' am go. blow or snow.' he resumed. There's time for one more draught of friendship before I go and I'd perform it the nature of my 'Tis the nature of my trade .' broke in Fennel. and don't want work cinder-gray stranger paused. 'Not as yet though I shortly mean to move there.' said the stranger disdainfully. het or wet.' We don't inCertainly not.' said the shepherd's wife.' said the shepherd. or I shan't get a lodging in the town. day's ' The Yes. perhaps ? . replied the shepherd's wife. ' worse off than we ' ? in spite o' seeming. But really and truly I must up and off.THE THREE STRANGERS ' Well.' ' Going to set up in trade. Casterbridge. and I'll fill the mug He went away to the dark place under the where the barrel stood. is ' It is easy to to see that the gentleman at anything. You don't live in Casterbridge ' ' No.' However. 47 . I do work.' o' small.

' she answered. You may claws.' For my a stranger unbeknown to don't like the look o' the man ' at But he's in the house. out his allowance in a small cup. he's though it held enough for ten people. all. looking But what is the man's calUng. and the man in the chimney-corner.' *A very shepherd. Anybody may know my trade ' — Fm wright. and a christening. and now not contented wi' the small. but must needs call for more o' ! And part. that he should come in and join us like this ? I don't know. and 4S . time. mead more or less ? There'll be plenty more next bee.' catastrophe of having the mug drained dry at one pull by the stranger in cinder-gray was effectually She poured guarded against this time by Mrs. I'll ask him again. burning. keeping the large one at a discreet distance off his portion the The When he had tossed from him. ' good trade for these parts. what's a cup of night.' own his generally tell what a man is by observed the hedge-carpenter. My fingers be as full of thorns as an ' old pin-cushion is of pins. then.' said the And anybody may know mine it — if they've the sense to find ' out. He's emptied it once.' The hands of the man in the chimney-corner inhe gazed into the fire stinctively sought the shade. I any of us.' said the stranger in cinder-gray.WESSEX TALES ' as Why should you do this soon as they were alone. shepherd renewed his inquiry about the stranger's occupation. Fennel. with sudden demonstrativeness. looking at his hands. the strong ' ? ' she said reproachfully. a wheelsaid. ' and where ' is he one ' of. The latter did not immediately reply.' ' Very well — this wistfully at the barrel. my honey and 'tis a wet Daze it.

waft 'em to a far countree I tie. The man at the table took up the hedge-oirpenter's remark. with an extemporizing gaze at the shining sheep-crooks above the mantelpiece. customers. The shepherd looked meditatively on the ground. instead of setting a mark upon me. whose soul had now risen working temperature. he would a good by exclaimto sing himself. at the singer's word. True but the oddity of my trade is that. the engaged man of fifty. seemed lost in thought not of the gayest kind. John Pitcher the dair)'man.THE THREE STRANGERS as he ' resumed his pipe. that of the man in the chimney. and take them up on high.' No observation being offered by anybody in elucidation of this enigma. The at — stranger the table. relieved the difficulty ing that. women and with some suspicion this . or was composing one there and then for 49 D . Thrusting one thumb into the arm-hole of his waistcoat. he waved the other hand in the air. The same obstacles presented themselves as at the former time one had no voice another had forgotten the first verse. ' ! silent when he had finished the verse with one exception. who. the parishclerk. the row of young against the wall. Simple shepherds trade is all — For my And a sight to see . the shepherd's wife once more called for a song. corner. to start the company. and added smartly. she was doubting whether stranger were merely singing an old song from recollection. the shepherdess gazed keenly at the singer. began : — ' O my trade My customers it is the rarest one. 'Chorus joined him in a deep bass voice of musical relish ' The room was — — ! ' And waft 'em to a far countree ' ! Oliver Giles. and. it sets a mark upon my .

' and smoked on. Second verse. and he's got the place here now our own county man's dead he's going to live in the same cottage ' ' — . all Simple shepherds — A little no sight to see hempen string. whose family were a-starving. who used to live ' — ! — away at Shottsford and had no work to do Timothy Summers. ' ! O. mentioning the name of an ominous pubhc ofificer. There was no longer any doubt that the stranger was answering his question The guests one and all started back with rhythmically. who quietly said. under the prison wall. but finding him wanting in alacrity for catching man of fifty her she sat ' down trembling. stranger. and so he went out of Shottsford by the high-road.WESSEX TALES the occasion. suppressed exclamations. and went on with the next stanza as re: quested — * My tools are but common ones. ' ! Shepherd Fennel glanced round. to the The young woman engaged fainted half-way. He's come to do it 'Tis to be at Casterthe man for sheep-stealing bridge jail to-morrow the poor clock-maker we heard of. except the man in the chimney-corner. and a post whereon Are implements enough for me My tools are : to swing. and took a sheep in open daylight. The lips singer thoroughly moistened himself from his inwards. he's the whispered the people in the background. and every man jack among 'em. He (and they nodded towards the stranger of the deadly trade) is come from up the country to do it because there's not enough to do in his own countytown.' The stranger in cinder-gray took no notice of this 50 . defying the farmer and the farmer's wife and the farmer's lad. All were as perplexed at the obscure ' revelation as the guests at Belshazzar's Feast. and would have proceeded.

And on his soul may God ha' merc-y — To-morrow is ' ! The stranger in the chimney-corner. the instant when the latter. repeated in his bass voice as before : — 1 'And on his soul may 51 (>od ha' merc-y ' . This time it was a short. hesitating. his eyes It was just at lighted on the stranger in cinder-gray.Simple sliepherds all a working day for me For the farmer's sheep is slain. He. and the lad who did it ta'en. The company seemed with consternation with scared towards he resisted his alarmed wife's deprecatory glance. who also held out his own. Walk in The door was gently opened. and uttered for the third time the welcoming words. that They clinked together. the room hanging upon the singer's lips for He parted his the third verse . who had thrown his mind into his song with such a will that he scarcely heeded the interruption. feeing that his friend in the chimney-corner was the only one who reciprocated his joviaHty in any way. was a stranger. gazing round the room to observe the nature of the the shepherd looked the entrance. waving cups with the singer so heartily that his mead splashed over on the hearth.THE THREE STRANGERS whispered string of observations. : . and it was some effort that ' ' ! ' ' : company amongst whom he had fallen. and dressed in a decent suit of dark clothes. eyes of the rest of the actions. but again wetted his Hps. and another man stood upon the mat. but at moment another knock was faint audible upon the door. of fair complexion. small personage. silenced all whispers and inquiries by bursting into his third verse ' : — To-morrow is my working day. ? he began Can you tell me the way to when. he held out his cup towards that appreciative comrade. like those who had preceded him. This time the knock was and .

accompanied by the occasional hiss of a stray drop that The room was — — fell down the chimney into the fire. and the steady puffing of the man in the corner. jumping up. .WESSEX TALES in the doorway. ^^'hat does that ' ' mean ' ? asked several. and his eyes fixed on the merry trembling. Instinctively they withdrew further and further from the grim gentleman in their midst. an empty space of floor being 'o left between them and him ' . cujus centrum diabolus. stood before them the picture of abject terror his knees — violently that the doorlatch by which he supported himself rattled audibly his white lips were parted. his hand shaking so : officer of justice in the ' middle of the room.' so silent though there were more than twenty people in it that nothing could be heard but the patter of the rain against the window-shutters. . ' A moment fled. more and he had turned. All this time the third stranger had been standing Finding now that he did not come forward or go on speaking. ' —apparently The distant Be ' jiggered ! cried the stranger who had sung the song. looked as if they knew not what to think. the guests particularly reThey noticed to their surprise that he garded him. his pipe of long clay. jail A prisoner escaped from the — that's what it means. and What a man can it be ? said the shepherd. The rest. who had now resumed The stillness was unexpectedly broken. and said nothing.' 52 . whom some of them seemed to take for the Prince of Darkness himself. air sound of a gun reverberated through the from the direction of the county-town. till they formed a remote circle. closed the door. — circulus. between the awfulness of their late dis- covery and the odd conduct of this third visitor.

! And surely we've zeed him in at the door by now.' faltered 'tis one of the women against the ! and now explained The and firing of the alarm-gun went on at intervals. let him step forward.THE THREE STRANGERS All listened. sullenly.' of fifty stepped quavering out from the wall.' ' such a wall. — summed up ' the man in the chimney-corner. * And his heart seemed to stone. ' That little man who looked and quivered like a leaf when he ' ! zeed ye and heard your song His teeth chattered. of thefii spoke but the ' The sound was repeated. sir. sir.' said the hedge-carpenter. sink ' True his teeth chattered. but I never heard it till now. and the breath went out of sink within his body. in I didn't notice We ' were all remarked the hangman. low The ' and their suspicions became a certainty. his betrothed beginning to sob on the back of the chair. sinister If so. gentleman in cinder-gray roused himself. ' ' Surely it is ! said the shepherd involuntarily. He ' at once.' said quietly. I will — when 53 can't have I've gone far. and his heart seemed to and he bolted as if he'd been shot at. • I wonder if it is 7ny man ' ? murmured the personage ' in cinder-gray.' said Oliver Giles. ' The engaged man You are a sworn constable ' ? ' I be. who I've often been told that in this county they fire a gun at such times . 'Is there a constable here?' he asked. fright. . him like a 'And he ' bolted as if he'd been shot at.' 'Then pursue the criminal and bring him back here. and none man in the chimney-corner.' slowly . I will.' I'll got my staff. in thick tones. with assistance.' said the dairyman. a-wondering what made him run off it.

who could instandy pursue not as yet have gone more than a few hundred yards over such uneven countr>'. these hastily. that but little argument was needed to show the shepherd's guests that after what they had seen it would look very much like connivance if they did not the unhappy third stranger. the men prepared e\-idence to give chase.' 'Staff! ' it. and mth hurdle-staves in 54 . though circumstantial. ' Now ' then. A and. and the lion and the unicorn. so en up and hit my prisoner. for there's William.' said the formidable in ' gray. so con- vincing. staff no. * And ' Able-bodied the rest of you able-bodied men ^yes the rest of ye — — — ' ! said the constable. instead take up me my — If I hadn't o' the law to gie me my taking up him he might ' ! 'Now. indeed. I'm a king's man myself. and Charles Jake? the king's royal crown a painted on en in yaller and as when I raise gold. and start in — never can't mind your staff. the man'll be I.enough for this. and can give you officer authorit}. shepherd lighting is always well pronded with lanterns . courage. and do as in authority tell ye ' ! Thus aroused. all of ye. 'tis made a lawful blow I wouldn't 'tempt to take up a man without thereby.WESSEX TALES go home and get a body. ? Have ye ' any lanterns ? Yes have ye any lanterns — — I demand ' it 1 said the constable. and come sharp here. ' Have you some good ' stout staves and pitch- forks And we in the name o' the law! 'Staves and pitchforks take 'em in yer hands and go in quest. not I. and John. gone But ! ' I do nothing without my staff —can No. be ready. why. The was.

I smiling. I thought you had gone. ' mug of And Well. dreams Disturbed by the noise.' said the first confidentially. away from the town. they poured out of the door. who jumped up one by one. And thought you had gone to help in the capture. He ravenously eating and drinking these as he stood. I felt there were enough without me. too. Thus in the space of two or three minutes the room on the ground-floor was deserted quite. ' here ? said the latter. for long. These notes of grief came down through the chinks of the floor to the ears of the women below. the rain having fortunately a little abated. he entered leisurely. thoughts. and seeing nol)ody It was the stranger of the there. motive of his return was shown by his helping himself to a cut piece of skimmer-cake that lay on a ledge beside where he had sat.THE THREE STRANGERS their hands. and which he had apparently it But was not footsteps died forgotten to take with him. or possibly by unpleasant of her baptism. the child who had been christened began to cry heart-brokenly in the room overhead. and such a night as it is. 'tis the business ' on second 55 . Peeping in at the door.' said the other. Besides. and seemed glad of the excuse to ascend and comfort the baby. Hardly had the sound of away when a man returned round the corner of the house from the direction the pursuers had taken. a cup more mead from the He also poured out half quantity that remained.' this speaker also revealed the object of his return by quietly ' O — you — ' looking solicitously round for the fascinating old mead. for the incidents of the last half-hour greatly oppressed them. taking a directron along the crest of the hill. The chimney-corner. con- tinuing his skimmer-cake with ' some effort. who nad gone out with the rest. had not finished when another figure came in just as his friend in cinder-gray.

my way is 'tis much as my legs will ' do I to Casterbridge . right). between you and me. all misguided midnight ramblers over formation. and I feel quite enough for my legs to do ' The other had by this time finished the mead in the mug. In the meantime the company of pursuers ha3 reached the end of the hog's-back elevation which dominated this part of the down. to take care of its criminals — not mine. stirred up to anything in a moment. shaking hands heartily at the door.' it is have to get home over to the.' True so it is. you know. that there were enough without me. They had decided on no particular plan of action and.' ' True. And I felt as you did. and wishing each other well. this part of the cretaceous The ' lanchets. as Well.' They'll have him.' I don't want to break ' ' my limbs running over the humps and hollows of this vd\d country. and losing their footing on the rubbly steep they slid 56 . they went their several ways. finding that the man of the baleful trade was no longer in their company.. Going the same way ? No. true.' which belted the escarpment at intervals of a dozen yards. took the less cautious ones unawares. after which.' ' These shepherd-people are used to it — simple- minded souls. and we shall have saved ourselves ' all labour in the matter. They descended in all directions down the hill. and . They'll have him ready for me before the mornins. they seemed quite unable to form any such plan now. that before bedtime.WESSEX TALES o' the ' Government . and to take me that far. and no trouble to me at all.' Nor I neither. straightway several of the party fell into the snare set by Nature for or flint slopes. I am sorry to say there (he nodded indefinitely ' ! ' as you do.

he strolled slowly 57 . were extinguished. That's the doctrine of vagabonds like him. probably sown there by a passing bird some And here. I surrender. trunk. moist defile. you'd say the wrong thing too the Crown. and in this more rational order they plunged It was a grassy. and after . and. the lanterns rolling from their hands to the bottom. 'Tisn't our side No. and we be on the side of the law. due silence was observed . no. Here they wandered apart. affording some shelter to any person who had sought it but the party perambulated it in vain. perhaps Prisoner at the bar. At the second time of closing in they found themselves near a lonely ash.' whispered John Pitcher. standing a little to one fifty years before. his outline The band being well defined against the sky beyond. appeared the man they were in quest of. well. into the vale. and guided who knew the country best. gi%'ing now to notice them them no opportunity whatever for exhibiting their courage. the single tree on this part of the coomb. them round these treacherous inclines. an interval closed together again to report progress. brier}'. and there lying on their sides till the horn was scorched through. as motionless as the trunk itself. noiselessly drew up and faced him. side of the ' Your money still or your ' life ! said the constable sternly ' to the ' figure. The lanterns. the shepherd.' replied the constable impatiently I ? ' .' ' Well.THE THREE STRANGERS sharply downwards. and ascended on the other side. in the name of the Father must say something. mustn't and if ! — — mane The man under ! ' the tree seemed for the first time. which seemed rather to dazzle their eyes and warn the fugitive than to assist them in the exploration. I you had all the weight o' this undertaking upon your mind. as the man took the lead. When they had again gathered themselves together. ought to say that.

' ! ' ' ' The man. On and was cottage. Who is this ? said one of the officials. and seize the culpet ' ! hearing the charge.' ' ' but He is inside this circle every one must do his duty of able-bodied persons. the a stranger but trepidation ' had in great measure gone. The light shining from the open door. did I hear ye speak to prisoner on the me?' You ' did ' : you've got to come and be our ' at once ! said the constable. and. the man seemed enlightened. Or why was he so terrified at sight o' the singing ' ' ' * 58 . indeed. said the constal)le. travellers. Men. But how can it be otherwise ? asked the constable. We arrest 'ee charge of not biding in Casterbridge jail in a decent proper manner to be hung to-morrow morning. who.WESSEX TALES towards them.' said the turnkey corroborated his statement. and the first Certainly not. Neighbours. resigned himself with preternatural civility to the search-party.' said the constable. do your duty. and a well-known magistrate who lived at the nearest country-seat. ' Well. proclaimed to them as they approached the house that some new events had arisen in their absence. surrounded him on marched him back towards the shepherd's It all sides. considering their ignorance of Crown work. who have lent me useful aid. saying not another word. bring risk . eleven o'clock by the time they arrived. . was. the his little man. with their staves in their hands. I have brought Gentlemen. On entering they discovered the shepherd's living rooil^ to be invaded by two officers from Castcir- bridge jail. intelligence of the escape having become generally circulated.' he said. ! back your man — not without and danger forward your prisoner And the third stranger was led to the light. a sound of men's voices within. third He .

THE THREE STRANGERS Here he reinstrument of the law who sat there ? lated the strange behaviour of the third stranger on entering the house during the hangman's song. sir. my crime is that well speak. ' ' the condemned man is my brother.' he take no more said. and jammed close to him. and yet he's not the man we were in search of. He's I know is that it is not the condemned man. and with a musical bass voice that if you heard it once ' ' ' you'd never mistake as long as you lived. souls 'twas the man in the chimney-corner what ? said the magistrate. were in search of. wanted. For the man we were in ' search of was not everj' ' ! the man we .' said the constable. that's true . if you understand ' my day way for 'twas the ' man in the chimney-corner said pretty kettle of fish altogether 'You had better start for the other magistrate. The time is come when I may as trouble about me. and called here to rest and ask the way. Early this afterI left home at Shottsford to tramp it all the way I was beto Casterbridge jail to bid him farewell. mention of the man in the chimney-corner seemed to have moved him as nothing else could do. quite a different character from this one.' Why. with dark hair and eyes. sir.' ! A the man The The prisoner now spoke for the first time. He was in this chimneycorner . nighted. coming forward He}' ' ' — — ' ' I ' after inquiring background. Sir. noon When man. at once. was the executioner my 59 . I have done nothing. All Can't understand it. I opened the door brother.' said the officer coolly. that I I saw before me the very thought to see in the condemned cell at Casterbridge. stepping forward to the magistrate. ' particulars from the shepherd in the Haven't you got the man after all ? ' he's the man we W'eW. a gauntish fellow. so that he could not have got out if he had tried. rather good-looking.

whom he regarded with more solicitude than When this was done.' ' I can testify for we've been between ye fly ever since. ' I thought his hands were palish ' for's trade. the quest for the clever sheep- 60 ." I was not of all so terror-struck knowing what could hardly stand. singing a song about it and not knowing that it was his victim who was close by. ' manner and tone had the stamp made a great impression on And do you know where your brother is story ' at the present time I ? do not. Where does he think to ' to ? — what is his ' occupation ? He's a watch-and-clock-maker. it being beyond the power of magistrate or constable to raze out the written troubles in his brain. Next day. My brother looked a of agony at me. it appears to me that nothing can be gained by retaining this poor man in custody.' said the constable. and the man had gone his way. " Don't glance who'd come to take reveal what you see. turned and hurried away. 'your business lies with the other. I closed this door. have never seen him since to that. accordingly. no doubt.' 'A said 'a was a wheelwright a wicked ' ' — rogue.' The truth.' And so the little man was released off-hand .' said the constable. I asked the magistrate. but he looked nothing the less sad on that account. sir. unquestionably. joining in to save appearances. for they concerned another himself.WESSEX TALES his life. that I did. 'The wheels of clocks and watches he meant.' said the magistrate.' said Shepherd Fennel. narrator's his ' and around. I my I life depends on it. and.' Well. and I knew he meant. the night it was found to be so far advanced that was deemed useless to renew the search before the next morning.

Stories were afloat of a mysterious figure being occasionally seen in some old overgrown trackway or other. the genial comrade with whom he had passed an hour of relaxation in the lonely house on the coomb. but when a search was instituted in any of these suspected quarters nobody was found. March 1883. the bass-voiced man of the chimney-corner was never recaptured. the arrival of the three strangers at the shepherd's that night. In brief. to all appearance at But the intended punishment was cruelly disleast. be questioned if selves so circumstances of the won all their admiration. others that he did not. his marvellous coolness and daring in hob-and-nobbing with the hang- man. The grass has long been green on the graves of Shepherd Fennel and his frugal wife the guests who made up the christening party have mainly followed their entertainers to the tomb. So those who ostensibly that it may made them- busy in exploring woods and fields and lanes were quite so thorough when it came to the private examination of their own lofts and outhouses. Thus the days and weeks passed without tidings. the baby in whose honour they all had met is a matron in the sere and yellow leaf. for business purposes. remote from turnpike roads . proportioned to the transgression. but buried himself in the At any rate.THE THREE STRANGERS became general and keen. is a story as well known as ever in the country about Higher Crowstairs. under the unprecedented shepherd's party. 61 . But . and the sympathy of stealer a great many country-folk in that district was strongly on the side of the fugitive. Some said that he went across the sea. Moreover. nor met anywhere at all. and the details connected therewith. in cinder-gray never did his morning's work at Casterbridge. the gentleman depths of a populous city.

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THE WITHERED ARM .

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for. the feed lay entirely in water-meadows. I hear. tisty-tosty little body enough. red. response from the first. Though they say she's a rosy-cheeked. whose face was buried in the flank of that motionless 'He do bring home They've come as far as beast. rectangular animals having been finished off.' she added. fading woman the rest. and the troop of milkers. there was opportunity evening. tiiough the time of year was as yet but early April.THE WITHERED ARM A LORN MILKMAID was an eighty-cow dairy. Anglebury to-day. his bride to-morrow. cow's tail to the other side of the barton. milked somewhat apart from 65 « .' The voice seemed to proceed from the belly of the cow called Cherry. and the cows were in full pail' The hour was about six in the regular ' IT and three-fourths of the large. of thirty where a thin. and as the milkmaid spoke she turned her face so that she could glance past her ' Hav' arybody seen her There was a negative ' ' ? said another. were all at work . for a little conversation. and supernumerary. but the speaker was a milking-woman.

' said the second. set upright in the earth. 'Tis hard for she^ signifying the thin worn milkmaid aforesaid. by whom the milkmaids and men were employed. that the purr of the a voice from another Turk do cow's belly cried with authority. ' He ha'n't spoke to Rhoda Brook for years. and the twain went away up the field also. they say. but the first woman murmured under her cow to her next neighbour. what the it matter to us about Farmer Lodge's age.' dairyman himself.' * * The discussion waxed so warm till ' milk-streams became jerky. ' ' O no.' broke in an old milkman near. rent evening This speaker was the is pinking in a'ready. or 'twill be dark afore we have done. in a long white pinafore or 'wropper. and not far 66 . Now then. ' How old do you call him. lonely spot Their course lay apart from that of the others. and I hadn't man's wages when I laved water there. woman who had not spoken was joined by a boy of twelve or thereabout.' and with the brim of his hat tied down. The your work. so that he looked like a woman. and The majority then resembling a colossal antlered horn. then so. whatever his age or hers.' When the milking was done they washed their pails and hung them on a many-forked stand made of the peeled limb of an oak-tree.WESSEX TALES Years younger than he. The thin dispersed in various directions homeward.' ' ? ' Thirty or More like forty. Nothing more was said publicly about Farmer Lodge's wedding. or Farmer Lodge's new mis'ess? him nine pound a year for the I shall have to pay of every one of Get on with these milchers.' continued the second. 'A was born before our Great Weir was builded. to a high above the water-meads. with also a glance of reflectiveness in the same ' direction.

' Yes. whose dark countenance was visible in the distance as they drew nigh to their home.' for a living. as I expect she do. and you'll be pretty mother. Yes. notice if her hands be white if not.' me what's she's ' like. or are milker's hands like mine.' the woman observed. . and shows marks of the lady on her. You can her a look. and if you can. blowing at the red-hot ashes with her breath till the turves flamed. see if they look as though she had ever * * . give ' Is father married tell then ' ? Yes. seem handsome anew. and made her dark eyes. 67 . sure to meet 'em. that had once been handsome. before two pieces of turf laid together with the heather inwards. his mother not obser\'ing that he was cutting a notch with his pocket-knife in the beech-backed chair. done housework. ' you ' for a few things to market. while here and there in the thatch above a rafter showed hke a bone portruding through the skin. It was built of mud-walls.' crept up the hill in the twilight. ' said the boy. She was kneeling down in the chimney-corner. see if she is dark or fair.' If she's dark or if and if she's tall — as tall as I. or ' Yes. 'They've just been' saying down in barton that your father brings his young wife home from Anglebury toI shall want to send morrow. if you do see fair. mother. and entered the cottage. .THE WITHERED ARM from the border of Egdon Heath. and her.' The boy again promised. The radiance lit her pale cheek.' she resumed.' . and has never done anything. And she seems like a woman who has ever worked one that has been always well off. 'Yes. the surface of which had been washed by many rains into channels and They depressions that left none of the original flat face visible . inattentively this time.

Beside him sat a woman. a handsome new gig. indeed. was spinning westward along the level The driver highway at the heels of a powerful mare. who trot all the rest of the way. with a lemon-coloured body and red wheels. many years his junior Her face too was fresh in almost. save of one small scarce-moving speck. level road from Anglebury to Holmstoke is in general but there is one place where a sharp ascent its breaks monotony.WESSEX TALES THE YOUNG WIFE II 1 HE . which presently resolved itself into the figure of a boy. main road stretched before . was a yeoman in the prime of life. walk their horses up this short incline. The next evening. Few people travelled this way. who was creeping on at a 68 . like the light under a heap of rose-petals. soft and colour. but it was of a totally different quality — — evanescent. his face being toned to that bluish-vermilion hue which so often graces a thriving farmer's features when returning home after successful dealings in the town. while the sun was yet bright. for it was not a and the long white riband of gravel that them was enipty. a girl. Farmers homeward-bound from the former market-town. cleanly shaven like an actor.

boy may have looked at us in the hope we might relieve him of his hea\7 load.' ' stared at just at I think the poor do. my pretty Gertrude.' ' ' One think he ' lives with He knows who we are. and thus the lad preceded them.' country lads will it on their backs weight in able to it. Supporting the large bundle by putting one hand on his hip. ' Yes. dear . rendering every feature. though he seemed annoyed at the boy's persistent presence. his hard gaze never her. then. if not the reason of. I did. his dilatoriness. rather than from curiosity. You must expect to be first. his mother a mile or two off. I saw that he village. he turned and looked straight at the farmer's wife as though he would read her through and snail's — through. The farmer.THE WITHERED ARM the pace. the pedestrian was only a few yards in front. How that poor lad stared at me ' ' ! said the young wife. When the bouncing gig-party slowed at the bottom of the incline above mentioned.' ' ' He is one of the suppose I ? of the neighbourhood. and continually looking behind him heavy bundle he carried being some excuse for. did not order him to get out of the way . shade. when the farmer trotted on with relief in his lineaments having taken till — no outward notice of the boy whatever. no doubt ? 'O yes. 69 — . another mile and I shall be her carr>' a . lea\-ing they reached the top of the ascent. and particles flew from their periphery as before. The low sun was full in her face.' The wheels spun round.' I — though said 'O no. from the curve of her little nostril to the colour of her eyes. pacing along abreast of the horse. and contour distinct. show you our house in the distance if it is not too dark before we get there. husband off-handedly. 'These hundredweight once they get besides his pack had more size than Now.

and her ways be woman's. her teeth show white. ascended towards the leaner pastures. Hold up the net a moment. and more. and come home and tell me if she's * I couldn't see. and till turning up a by-lane some mile and half short of the white farmstead. quite plain. Meanwhile the boy had quickened his pace. of course.WESSEX TALES a white house of ample dimensions revealed itself. * : taller * than I.' Very well. ' mother. But why don't you go and see for yourself? go to see her ' I wouldn't look up at her if she / were to pass my window this instant. What did he say or do ? ! ' ' Just the same as usual. Lodge. She had reached home after her day's milking at the outlying dairy. held the edge of the she filled its meshes with the dripping leaves she went on. ' bundle.and face ? Her hair is lightish. What colour is her haii. as the boy came up.' ' Her 'No —of a . She was sitting down. eyes.' ' Is she tall ? said the woman sharply. Go early and notice her walking in. she's growed up. She was v>'ith Mr.' 70 .' she said. are not dark like mine ? ' and red ' and bluish turn. and was washing cabbage at the doorway in the dechning light. ' A lady complete. and her mouth is very nice when she smiles. ' cabbage-net. then. with farm-buildings and ricks at the back. Well.' ' ' Is she ladylike ? ' Yes .' Then do you go to Holmstoke church to-morrow morning she's sure to be there.' ' * Of course.' quite a ' ' Is she ' young? Well. and her face as comely as a live doll's. and so on to the cottage of his mother. without preface. did you see her ? flung his He down and as ' ' Yes .

' ! 71 . * ' — ' gloves. and his young wife. it whewed . The hare you caught is You've very tender . never told me what sort of hands she had. upon When her. Well ? ' ' before he had entered the room. she's lovely.' Not she However. mother said. Mr.' did she wear this morning ? It white bonnet and a silver-coloured gownd.' more than ever. Now. She is rather short. spread the table-cloth. and he was the by the font. he seemed pleased. his waistcoat stuck out. whewed and whistled so loud when it rubbed against the pews that the lady coloured up more than ever for ' ' \\T. with satisfaction. but mind that nobody catches you. The Farmer Lodge came nearly last.iat 'A very shame at the noise. .THE WITHERED ARM ' Took no notice of you ' ? 'None. and started him off for Holmstoke church. youthful freshness of the yeoman's wife had evidently made an impression even on the somewhat hard ' But — The nature of the boy. walked up the aisle with the shyness natural to a modest woman who had appeared thus fixed for the first time. That's all I want to hear. and and his great golden seals hung but she seemed to wish her noisy gownd like a lord's anywhere but on her. Ah said his mother. and pulled it in to keep it from touching but when she pushed into her seat. who accompanied him. that will do now.' She never took off her I have never seen 'em. He reached the ancient Httle pile when first the door was just being to enter. opened.' Next day the mother put a clean shirt on the boy. ' ' ! In fact.' he replied. he watched well-to-do Taking his seat all the parishioners file in. the youth's stare he reached home his As all other eyes were was not noticed now. Lodge.' said his mother quickly.' she's very pretty very. ' She is not tall.

and knew perfectly the tall milkmaid's history. The dairyman.WESSEX TALES These descriptions of the newly-married couple were continued from time to time by the boy at his mother's after any chance encounter he had had with them. Lodge's arrival . at quarter where the farmhouse lay. But the atmosphere thereabout was full of the subject during the first days of Mrs. Lodge for herself by walking a couple of miles. though she might easily have seen young Mrs. request. Lodge that was realistic as a photograph. ever speak recent marriage. . and from her boy's description and the casual words of the other milkers. who rented on the subject of the the cows of Lodge. But Rhoda Brook. would never attempt an excursion towards the Neither did she. the daily milking in the dairyman's yard on Lodge's outlying second farm. with manly kindUness always kept the gossip in the cow-barton from annoying Rhoda. Rhoda Brook could raise a mental image of the unconscious Mrs.

so wore glitter as to ring tally. still regarding her. she too retired. when two or three weeks after the bridal return. make the weddingMaddened men- and nearly suffocated by pressure. and wrinkled as by age. the boy was gone to bed. was not to be believed— that the young wife. withdrew to 73 . She contemplated so intently the new wife. but with features shockingly distorted. the blue eyes peered and then the figure thrust forward . in Rhoda's eyes. in the pale silk dress and white bonnet. before falling asleep. that she forgot the lapse of time. left it hand mockingly.THE WITHERED ARM A VISION III One night. was sitting upon her chest as she lay. Rhoda Brook dreamed since her assertion that she really saw. Rhoda sat a long time over the turf ashes that she had raked out in front of her to extinguish them. wearied with her day's work. The pressure of during — cruelly into her face its MrSo Lodge's person grew heavier . At last. But the figure which had occupied her so much this and the previous days was not to be banished at night. as presented to her in her mind's eye over the embers. the sleeper struggled. the incubus. For the first time Gertrude Lodge visited the supplanted woman in her dreams.

also observing her. before. and flash her come forward by left hand as in a last desperate effort. She looked on the floor whither she had whirled the ! ' — — spectre. ' ! Rhoda seemed Ah. and when she went milking at the next dawn they noticed how The milk that she drew pale and haggard she looked. the boy assisting her. yet. slept no more that night. ' that was not a dream she was here She could feel her antagonist's arm within her grasp even now the very flesh and bone of it. seized the confronting spectre by its obtrusive left arm. sitting on the edge of the bed in a cold sweat . * woman of her vision. Between eleven and twelve the garden-gate clicked. starting up herself as she did so with Gasping for breath. for he hated going afield on the farms. At the bottom of the garden. ' to breakfast as wearily as if it had been supper- What was ' night ' ' ? said her son. she said she would come Said so exclaimed the boy. only. resume her seat. quivered into the pail . that noise in your chimmer. last ' You fell off the bed. surely ? ' ' Did you hear anything fall ? At what time ? Just when the clock struck two. and still retained the feel of the home time.' She could not explain. stood the transfixed. however. swung out her right a low cry. ' — when ? How does she know us ' ? 74 . O. and she lifted her eyes to the window. and she indulged his reluctance.WESSEX TALES the foot of the bed. and whirled it backward to the floor. as it seemed. within the gate. to degrees. merciful heaven ' ' ! she cried. hand. and when the meal was done went silently about her household work. mother. her hand had not calmed even She came arm. but there Rhoda Brook was nothing to be seen. Rhoda.

her glance so winning. ' till I ' she spoke to me.' the poor boy ' What did you tell her ? 'Nothing. But I was not sure glancing at the lad." She gives away things to other folks in the meads besides us. silk. and gown of common light material. no backdoor to the possible. or go near ' ' the place. ' I see I have come to the right house. and the cruelty on her visitor's face.' I told you. flushing indignantly. however. She would have escaped an interview. " I'll come and bring you some better boots. and we had enough to do to keep ourselves. She was truly glad that 75 . my mother. and in an instant the boy had lifted the latch strong.' The figure and action were those of the phantom . I told her I lived with because they were so cracked. never to speak to anybody in that house. — which became her better than carried a basket. that the latter could hardly believe the evidence of her senses. but in a morning hat. her smile so tender. the scorn. as Rhoda had seen her in the bed-chamber. I talked to her yesterday. so unlike that of Rhoda's midnight visitant. cottage. And met her in the road. said then. had escape been There was.' Mrs. ' till you opened the door. Lodge's gentle knock. but her voice was so indescribably sweet. and see your mother. to Mrs.' I did not speak to her I did not go near the place. and that's how it was and she . She said. had looked at to bring the heavy load from market ? " my boots.' said she.' said the mother. On her arm she The impression remaining from was still the night's experience Brook had almost expected to see the wrinkles. and smiling.THE WITHERED ARM ' I have seen and spoken to her. and said they would not "Are you who she And keep my feet dry if it came on wet. Lodge was by this lime close to the door not in her silk.

you are well. At these proofs of a kindly feeling towards her and This innohers Rhoda's heart reproached her bitterly. I hope house is the nearest outside our own parish. The conversation became quite confidential as regarded their powers and weaknesses . her health Rhoda's gaze as the exact original of the limb she had beheld and seized in her dream. and other useful articles. Upon the pink round surface of the arm were faint marks of an unhealthy colour.' Rhoda said she was well enough . the pair of boots that she had promised to the boy. indeed. On this occasion the boy was absent. Lodge brought been inclined to do.' She uncovered her left hand and arm and their general . serious. and not suffer from ' the damp of the water-meads. cent young thing should have her blessing and not her curse. as she had In her basket Mrs. and. ma'am. though the paler of the two. and your I walk a good deal. there was more of the strength that endures in her well-defined features and ' large frame. outline confronted colorations she fancied that she discerned in them the shape of her own four fingers.WESSEX TALES she had not hidden away in sheer aversion. and less than a fortnight after that paid ' Rhoda another call. Lodge. Lodge was leaving. than in the soft-cheeked young woman before her. You don't look quite well. now you remind me. I hope you will find this air agree with you. When she left them a light seemed gone from the dwelling. Rhoda said. Though.' said Mrs.' she added.' The younger one replied that it. Two days later she came again to know if the boots fitted . 76 . and when Mrs. I have It is nothing one litttle ailment which puzzles me. as if produced by a Rhoda's eyes became riveted on the disrough grasp. but I cannot make it out. . there was not ' much doubt of ' being usually good.

O. soon disappear. ' cannot night in tell.' replied Mrs. and had such things as this ever happened before? . laughing. and said it would be a When I awoke I could fortnight ago on the morrow. a pain suddenly shot into I there. The artless disclosure startled her. Ha. and all the scenery of that ghastly night returned with it double vividness to her mind. ' ' striking two reminded me. but never having understood why that particular stigma had been attached to her. she did not reason on the freaks of coincidence.' ' she said to herself. * One away when I was sound asleep. dreaming I was some strange place. I I don't remember doing so. ' when her visitor had departed. and Brook felt like a guilty thing. ha .' Yes.' she added.' tell my dear husband that it looks just as if he had flown into a rage and struck me there. . Lodge. and was so keen as to awaken me. not remember where I was.THE WITHERED ARM ' How I did ' it happen ? she said mechanically. that I exercise a malignant power over She knew that she had people against my own will ? been slily called a witch since her fall. shaking her head. I suppose.' She had named the night and the hour of Rhoda's spectral encounter. must have struck it in the daytime. Could this be the explanation. it had passed disregarded. can be. till the clock ' ! . though She added. ' O. Mrs. I daresay my arm ' it will ' On what night did it come ? Lodge considered.

Indeed it is no better ' at all . Yet a fatality seemed to convict Rhoda of crime. that ' HE I hope your —arm is well again. ma'am ' ? She had perceived with consternation that Gertrude Lodge carried her left arm stiffly. But the surgeon had not seemed to understand the afflicted limb at all he had told her to bathe it in hot water. ma'am. sometimes would direct the steps of the latter to the outskirts of Holmstoke whenever she left her house for any other purpose than her daily work . 78 . It pains me dreadfully sometimes.' She replied that she had already seen a doctor. * . and hence it happened that their next encounter was out of doors. No .WESSEX TALES A SUGGESTION IV i summer drew on. Lodge again. notwithstanding her feeling for the young ^^ife amounted wellSomething in her own individuality nigh to affection. Rhoda could not avoid the subject which had so mystified her. and Rhoda Brook almost dreaded to meet Mrs. it is rather worse. and after the first few words she stammered. it is not quite well.' Perhaps you had better go to a doctor. Her husband had insisted upon her going to one.

but the treatment had done no ' Will you let me see it ? said the milkwoman.' And so the milkwoman's mind was chained anew to the subject by a horrid sort of spell as she returned home. and blasted the flesh. The sense of having been guilty of an act of malignity increased. ' Well. affect as she might to ridicule her 79 . she fancied that they were imprinted in precisely the relative position of her clutch upon the arm in the trance . it. the first finger towards Gertrude's wrist. my husband says it is as if some witch. had taken hold of me there. ma'am. What the impress resembled seemed to have struck Gertrude herself since their last meeting. Mrs. Moreover.' — ' * Yes. Men much of personal appearance. and the outline of the four fingers appeared more distinct than at the former time. soon as Rhoda Brook saw it.' she said .' I shouldn't so ' with hesitation.THE WITHERED ARM and she had bathed good/ ' it. adding with a faint ' laugh.' ' Rhoda ' shivered.' it. There was nothing of the nature of a wound. love me less. at first. and the fourth towards her elbow. my husband think so ' * — if — much mind if I said the younger. I wouldn't mind ' if I were you. but the arm at that point had a shrivelled look. which was a few inches above the wrist. it hadn't a notion that dislike me — makes no.' Keep your arm covered from his sight. and he was very proud of mine.' Some do he for one. she could hardly preserve her composure.' Ah he knows the disfigurement is there — ' ! She tried to hide the tears that filled her eyes.' she said hurriedly. ' That's fancy. Lodge pushed up her sleeve and disclosed the As place. It looks almost like finger-marks. I earnestly hope it will go away soon. or the devil himself.

when she was going to call. and could tell me if he were still to be consulted. what would she think ? Not to inform her of it seemed treachery in the presence of her friendUness . but tell she could not of her own neither could she devise a remedy. but For she did not wish to inflict upon her physical pain. after the morning milking.WESSEX TALES In her secret heart Rhoda did not altosuperstition.' So — . everything like resentment at the unconscious usurpation had quite passed away from the elder's mind. hereabout.' Rhoda noticed that Mrs. of it.' replied the other anxiously. n9. By watching the house from a distance the milkmaid set out to obtain was presently able to discern the farmer's wife in a ride she was taking alone probably to join her husband Mrs. though this pretty young woman had rendered impossible any reparation which Lodge might have made Rhoda for his past conduct. — . Rhoda ' ' ! I some ' difficulty.e ? But you know. Dear me what was his. If the sweet and kindly Gertrude Lodge only knew of the scene in the bed-chamber. being held to her by a gruesome fascination. Gertrude said. Lodge held the reins with Good morning. by whatever means it had come about . — cantered in her direction. gether object to a slight diminution of her successor's beauty. me there is possibly one way by which I might be able to find out the cause. and in some distant field. and the next day. and so perhaps It is by the cure.' said Rhoda. ' had come up. accord She mused upon the matter the greater part of the — night. the bad arm.m. another glimpse of Gertrude Lodge if she could. Lodge perceived her. I hope — ' They tell ' going to did not They know if he was still alive and I cannot remember his name at this moment but they said that you knew more of his movements than anybody else clever some man over in Egdon Heath.

and she had been seized with sudden dread that this Conjuror Trendle might name her as the malignant influence which was blasting the fair person of Gertrude. with reluctance. a shadow window-pattern thrown on Rhoda Brook's floor by the afternoon sun. the young farmer's wife went on. But she had a haunting reason to be superstitious now. But was not over.' said ' Rhoda. ' Why Well he say he was a had powers other folks have not. They suspected her. Trendle ' ' ' — yes. said I have again been thinking of what they I don't really believe about Conjuror Trendle. A short time ago this would have given no concern to a woman of her common-sense. how could my people be so superstitious as to recommend a man of that sort I thought they meant some medical man.THE WITHERED ARM ' Not Conjuror Trendle ' ? said her thin ' companion. I shall think no more of him. 'Are you alone?' said Gertrude. but I should not mind just visiting him.' O. that there must exist a sarcastic feelins: among the work-folk that a sorceress would know the whereabouts of the exorcist. Lodge rode on. in such men. The milkwoman had inwardly seen. almost breathlessly. ! and troubles ' It is so mysterious I do hope it will not be an incurable wound. The ' me ! place on my arm seems worse. and to treat her as some ' you — they say— theyconjuror used do call him ? to — * ! fiend in human all shape.' said he alive ? Rhoda. 8i F . and Mrs. and so lead her friend to hate her for ever. then. from the moment she heard of her having been mentioned as a reference for this man. The woman opened the door at once.' Rhoda looked relieved. She seemed to be no less harassed and anxious than Brook herself. Is I believe so. the intruded into 'Yes. Two days after. turnmg pale.

WESSEX TALES
from curiosity know. Is it far
'

— though on no account must my husband
to

Yes

where he Uves

'

?
'

five miles,' said

Rhoda backwardly.

In the

heart of Egdon.'
'

with
'

Could not you go Well, I should have to walk. me to show me the way say to-morrow after-

noon

'

?

that is,' the milkwoman murmured, O, not I with a start of dismay. Again the dread seized her that somethincr to do with her fierce act in the dream might be revealed, and her character in the eyes of the most useful friend she had ever had be ruined
irretrievably.

Mrs. Lodge urged, and Rhoda
with

finally assented,

though

Sad as the journey would be to her, she could not conscientiously stand in the way of a possible remedy for her patron's strange affliction. It was agreed that, to escape suspicion of their mystic intent, they should meet at the edge of the heath at the corner of a plantation which was visible from the spot where they now stood.
misgiving.

much

9Ba9"<

THE WITHERED ARM

CONJUROR TRENDLE

V
JjY the next afternoon Rhoda would have done anyBut she had promised to thing to escape this inquiry. Moreover, there was a horrid fascination at times go.
in

becoming instrumental in throwing such possible light on her own character as would reveal her to be something greater in the occult world than she had ever herself suspected.

She started just before the time of day mentioned between them, and half-an-hour's brisk walking brought
her to the south-eastern extension of the
country, where the
fir

plantation was.

A

Egdon

tract of

slight figure,

cloaked and veiled, was already there. Rhoda recognized, almost with a shudder, that Mrs. Lodge bore her
left

to each other, and immediately out on their climb into the interior of this solemn country, which stood high above the rich alluvial soil It was a long walk ; they had left half-an-hour before.
set

arm in a sling. They hardly spoke

thick clouds
as

made

the atmosphere dark, though

it

was

only early afternoon ; and the wind howled not improbably dismally over the hills of the heath the same heath which had witnessed the agony of the
yet

83

WESSEX TALES
Wessex King Ina, presented to after-ages as Lear. Gertrude Lodge talked most, Rhoda replying with She had a strange dislike monosyllabic preoccupation. to walking on the side of her companion where hung the afflicted arm, moving round to the other when inMuch heather had been brushed advertently near it.
their feet when they descended upon a cart-track, beside which stood the house of the man they sought. He did not profess his remedial practices openly,

by

or

care anything about

their

continuance, his
'

direct

interests being those of a dealer in furze, turf, sharp Indeed, he affected sand,' and other local products.

warts that had been

own powers, and w^hen shown him for cure miraculously which it must be owned they infallibly disappeared did he would say lightly, O, I only drink a glass of perhaps it's all chance,' and immedigrog upon 'em
not to believe largely in his

'

ately turn the subject. w^as at home when they arrived, having in fact w^as a grayseen them descending into his valley.

He

He

bearded

man, with a reddish

face,

and he

singularly at

Rhoda

the

first

moment he

looked beheld her.

Mrs. Lodge told him her errand ; and then with words of self-disparagement he examined her arm. 'Tis Medicine can't cure it,' he said promptly.
' '

the work of an enemy.' Rhoda shrank into herself, and drew back.
'

An enemy ? What enemy ? asked Mrs. Lodge. That's best known to yourHe shook his head.
'
'

self,'

he

said.

'

If

you

like, I

you, though I shall not myself know who do no more ; and don't wish to do that.'

can show the person to I can it is.

She pressed him; on which he told Rhoda to wait outside where she stood, and took Mrs. Lodge into the room. It opened immediately from the door ; and, as the latter remained ajar, Rhoda Brook could see the
proceedings without taking part in them.

He

brought

84

THE WITHERED ARM
filled it with water, and'fetching an egg, prepared it in some private way; after which he broke it on the edge of the glass, so

a tumbler from the dresser, nearly

that the white went in

and the yolk remained.

As

it

was getting gloomy, he took the glass and its contents to the window, and told Gertrude to watch them
closely.

They leant over the table together, and the milkwoman could see the opaline hue of the egg-fluid

it sank in the water, but she was not near enough to define the shape that it assumed. Do you catch the likeness of any face or figure as you look ? demanded the conjuror of the young

changing form as
'

'

woman.
She murmured a
reply,

in

tones

so low as to be

inaudible to Rhoda, and continued to gaze intently into the glass. Rhoda turned, and walked a few steps

away.

Mrs. Lodge came out, and her face was met it appeared exceedingly pale as pale as Rhoda's against the sad dun shades of the upland's Trendle shut the door behind her, and they garniture. by the
light,

When

at

once started homeward together.
'

But Rhoda

per-

ceived that her companion had quite changed. ' Did he charge much ? she asked tentatively.
'

O

no

— nothing.

He

would not take a
'

farthing,'

said Gertrude.

what did you sec ? inquired Rhoda. Nothing I care to speak of.' The constraint in her manner was remarkable her face was so rigid as to wear an oldened aspect, faintly suggestive of the face in Rhoda's bed-chamber. Was it you who first proposed coming here ? Mrs.
* ' ;
'

And

'

Lodge suddenly
very odd,
'

inquired, after a long pause.
'
!

'

How

if

No.

you did But I am not sorry we have come,

all

things

considered,' she replied. of triumph possessed her,

For the first time a sense and she did not altogether
8:;

WESSEX TALES
side should learn deplore that the young thing at her that their lives had been antagonized by other influences than their own. The subject was no more alluded to during the long

But in some way or other a and dreary walk home. lowland story was whispered about the many-dairied
that winter that Mrs. Lodge's gradual loss of the use of her left arm was owing to her being 'overlooked'

by Rhoda Brook.

The latter kept her own counsel about the incubus, but her face grew sadder and thinner and in the spring she and her boy disappeared from the
;

neighbourhood of Holmstoke.

THE WITHERED ARM

A SECOND ATTEMPT
VI
rrALF-a-dozen years passed away, and Mr. and Mrs. Lodge's married experience sank into prosiness, and worse. The farmer was usually gloomy and silent the woman whom he had wooed for her grace and beauty was contorted and disfigured in the left limb ; moreover, she had brought him no child, which rendered it likely that he would be the last of a family who had occupied that valley for some two hundred years. He thought of Rhoda Brook and her son and feared this might be a judgment from heaven upon him. The once blithe-hearted and enlightened Gertrude was changing into an irritable, superstitious woman, whose whole time was given to experimenting upon her ailment with every quack remedy she came across. She was iionestly attached to her husband, and was ever secretly hoping against hope to win back his
:

;

heart again by regaining some at least of her personal Hence it arose that her closet was lined with beauty.

and ointment-pots of every description and books of necromancy, which in her schoolgirl time she would
bottles, packets,

nay, bunches of mystic herbs, charms,

have ridiculed as

folly.

87

you know. and only a few months of love. and said. I only meant it for your good. by that solitary heath-man. or she thought was revealed to her. She had never revisited Trendle since she had been conducted to the house of the solitary by Rhoda against her will . if he yet lived.' She guessed to whom he alluded . He was entitled to a certain credence. but turned her sad. and of what was revealed to her. when liis eye chanced to fall upon the multitudinous array. but she seemed older. ' ' ' ' ! ' ' .' I'll clear out the whole lot.WESSEX TALES Damned if you won't poison yourself with these apothecary messes and witch mixtures some time or other. — . and try such remedies no more You want somebody to cheer you. for Rhoda Brook's story had in the course of years become known to her.' said she huskily. If I could only again be as I was when he first saw me ' ' ! She obediently destroyed her nostrums and chafms but there remained a hankering wish to try something else some other sort of cure altogether. ever spoken to him of her visit to Conjuror Trendle. Neither had she sorry for his words.' he observed. soft glance upon him in such heart-swollen reproach that he looked ' and added. and destroy them.' she sometimes whispered to herself. ' Six years of marriage. And then she thought of the apparent cause.' said her husband. with a tragic glance at her withering limb. in a . I once thought of adopting a boy but he is too old now. She did not reply. for the indistinct form he had raised in the glass had undoubtedly resembled the only woman in the world who 8S would. And he is gone away I don't know where. She was now five-and-twenty . again seek out the man. Gertrude. though not a word had ever passed between her husband and herself on the subject. but this it now suddenly occurred to Gertrude that she last desperate effort at deliverance from seeming curse.

He shook his head. that I can It has never failed in kindred afflictions. No. though she nearly got lost on the heath. and especially for a woman. ' nearly to the earth. You can send away warts and other excrescences. he was not indoors. he offered to accompany her in her homeward direction. and laying down the handful of which he was gathering and throwing into a heap. You must touch with started a the limb the neck of a man who's been hanged. out of her way. his head bowed and his form of a colour with it. ' ' know. But ' ! it is hard to carry out. ' ' If I only could ' ! only one chance of doing it known to me. remembered furze-roots her.' he said approvingly This is of but not many of them for such as this.' ' . no . it is too ' ' ! . ' Thc-e is — declare. This time she went alone. . ' much for me ? to ' atttempt in my own person. Some were good enough. and instead of waiting however as she : — now knew. as the distance was considerable and the days were short. not of the nature of a wound . and if you ever do throw it off. though — at the cottage. the nature of a blight. The visit should be paid.THE WITHERED ARM could have a not then reas6n for bearing her ill-will. it will be all at once.' she said . You think too much of my powers said Trendle and I am old and weak now. why can't you send away this ? And the arm was uncovered.' She little at the image he had 89 raised. she went to where his bent figure was Trendle pointed out to her at work a long way off. too. and roamed a considerable distance Trendle's house was reached at last.' ' ' Tell me said she. 'W'hat have ye tried She named to him some of the hundred medicaments and counterspells which she had adopted from time to time. I So they walked together.

turned and left her.' to tell her . refusing money as at first. How ' It will can that do good ? turn the blood and change the constitution. The last I sent was in ' 1 3 — near twenty all and.WESSEX TALES 'Before he's cold ' — just after he's cut down. to do it is hard. and wait for him when he's brought off the gallows. I used to send dozens for skin complaints. But. . ' You must get into jail. Lots have done it. though perhaps not such pretty women as you. as I say.' con- tinued the conjuror impassively. But that was in former times. when he had put her into a straight track homeward. He had no more years ago.

THE WITHERED ARM

A HIDE
VII
1

HE

communication sank deep into Gertrude's mind.

nature was rather a timid one ; and probably of all remedies that the Avhite wizard could have suggested there was not one which would have filled her with so

Her

not to speak of the immense adoption. Casterbridge, the county-town, was a dozen or fifteen miles off; and though in those days, when men were

much

aversion as

this,

obstacles in the

way of

its

executed
assize
likely

for horse-stealing, arson, and burglary, an seldom passed without a hanging, it was not that she could get access to the body of the

criminal unaided.

And
to

made

her

reluctant

the fear of her husband's anger breathe a word of Trendle's

suggestion to him or to anybody about him. She did nothing for months, and patiently bore her But her woman's nature, disfigurement as before. craving for renewed love, through the medium of

beauty (she was but twenty-five), was ever stimulating her to try what, at any rate, could hardly ^\'hat came by a spell will go by do her any harm. Whenever her imagia spell surely,' she would say.

renewed

'

nation pictured the act she shrank in terror from the 91

WESSEX TALES
it then the words of the conjuror, It turn your blood,' were seen to be capable of a scientific no less than a ghastly interpretation ; the mastering desire returned, and urged her on again.

possibility of

'

:

will

There was at this time but one county paper, and her husband only occasionally borrowed. But old-fashioned days had old-fashioned means, and news was extensively conveyed by word of mouth from market to market, or from fair to fair, so that, whenever such an event as an execution was about to take place, few
that

within

coming

a radius of twenty miles were ignorant of the and, so far as Holmstoke was concerned, sight
;

some

known to walk all the way to Casterbridge and back in one day, solely to witness the The next assizes were in March ; and when spectacle.
enthusiasts had been

Gertrude Lodge heard that they had been held, she inquired stealthily at the inn as to the result, as soon as she could find opportunity.

She was, however, too late. The time at which the sentences were to be carried out had arrived, and to

make

the journey
tell

and obtain admission

at

such short

notice required at least her husband's assistance.

She

him, for she had found by delicate experiment that these smouldering village beliefs made him furious if mentioned, partly because he half enter-

dared not

tained

them

himself.

It

was therefore necessary
fillip

to

wait for another opportunity. Her determination received a

two epileptic
village of
results,

children

had

attended

from learning that from this very
beneficial

Holmstoke many years before with

though the experiment had been strongly condemned by the neighbouring clergy. April, May, June, passed and it is no overstatement to say that by the end of the last-named month Gertrude well-nigh longed
;

for the death of a fellow-creature.

Instead of her formal prayers each night, her unconscious prayer was, O Lord, hang some guilty or innocent person soon
'

'

!

92

THE WITHERED ARM
This time she made
earlier

inquiries,

and was

alto-

Moreover, gether more systematic in her proceedings. the season was summer, between the haymaking and thus afforded him her husthe harvest, and in the leisure

band had been holiday-taking away from home. The assizes were in July, and she went to the inn as There was to be one execution only one for before.

arson.

Her greatest problem was not how to get to Casterfor obtaining bridge, but what means she should adopt admission to the jail. Though access for such purposes
had formerly never been denied, the custom had fallen and in contemplating her possible diffiinto desuetude culties, she was again almost driven to fall back upon her husband. But, on sounding him about the assizes, he was so uncommunicative, so more than usually cold, that she did not proceed, and decided that whatever she did she would do alone. Fortune, obdurate hitherto, showed her unexpected
;

favour.

On

the execution.

the Thursday before the Saturday fixed for Lodge remarked to her that he was going

away from home for another day or two on business at a fair, and that he was sorry he could not take her
with him.

She exhibited on this occasion so much readiness to home that he looked at her in surprise. Time had been when she would have shown deep disappointment at the loss of such a jaunt. However, he lapsed into his usual taciturnity, and on the day named left Holmstoke. She at first had thought of It was now her turn. would not driving, but on reflection held that driving do, since it would necessitate her keeping to the turntenfold the risk of her pike-road, and so increase by She decided to ride, out. ghastly errand being found
stay at

and avoid the beaten
her

track,

husband's

stables

there

was

notwithstanding that in no animal just at

93

WESSEX TALES
present which by any stretch of imagination could be considered a lady's mount, in spite of his promise before marriage to always keep a mare for her. He had, however, many cart-horses, fine ones of their kind and among the rest was a serviceable creature, an equine Amazon, with a back as broad as a sofa, on which Gertrude had occasionally taken an airing when unwell. This horse she chose. On Friday afternoon one of the men brought it round. She was dressed, and before going down looked at her shrivelled arm. Ah she said to it, if it had not been for you this terrible ordeal would have been
;
' ' '
!

saved

strapping up the bundle in which she carried a few articles of clothing, she took occasion to say to the
'

me When

'
!

servant,

I

take these in case I should not get back toI

am going to visit. Don't be not in by ten, and close up the house as usual. I shall be at home to-morrow for certain.' She meant then to privately tell her husband the deed He accomplished was not like the deed projected. would almost certainly forgive her. And then the pretty palpitating Gertrude Lodge went from her husband's homestead but though her
night from the person I
if

alarmed

am

:

;

goal was Casterbridge she did not take the direct route thither through Stickleford. Her cunning course at
first was in precisely the opposite direction. As soon as she was out of sight, however, she turned to the left,

by a road which led into Egdon, and on entering the heath wheeled round, and set out in the true course,

due

A more private way down the county westerly. could not be imagined ; and as to direction, she had merely to keep her horse's head to a point a little to the right of the sun. She knew that she would light upon a furze-cutter or cottager of some sort from time to time, from whom she might correct her bearing. Though the date was comparatively recent, Egdon
94

THE WITHERED ARM
was

much less fragmentary in character than now. The attempts successful and otherwise at cultivation

slopes, which intrude and break up the original heath into small detached heaths, had not been carried far; Enclosure Acts had not taken effect, and

on the lower

the banks of

and fences which now exclude the
villagers

cattle

formerly enjoyed rights of commonage thereon, and the carts of those who had turbary privileges which kept them in firing all the year

those

who

round,

were not erected. Gertrude, therefore, rode along with no other obstacles than the prickly furzebushes, the mats of heather, the white water-courses,

and the natural steeps and declivities of the ground. Her horse was sure, if heavy-footed and slow, and though a draught animal, was easy-paced ; had it been otherwise, she was not a woman who could have
ventured to ride over such a bit of country with a It was therefore nearly eight o'clock half-dead arm. when she drew rein to breathe the mare on the last outlying high point of heath-land towards Casterbridge,
previous to leaving Egdon for the cultivated valleys. She halted before a pool called Rushy-pond, flanked by the ends of two hedges ; a railing ran through the

Over the railing centre of the pond, dividing it in half. she saw the low green country ; over the green trees the
roofs of the

town

;

over the roofs a white
jail.

flat

noting the entrance to the county
this front

On

facade, dethe roof of

workmen

specks were moving about ; they seemed to be Her flesh crept. She erecting something.

descended slowly, and was* soon amid corn-fields and In another half-hour, when it was almost pastures. dusk, Gertrude reached the White Hart, the first inn of the town on that side. farmers' Little surprise was excited by her arrival wives rode on horseback then more than they do now ; though, for that matter, Mrs. Lodge was not imagined
;

to be a wife at all;

the innkeeper supposed her

some

95

WESSEX TALES
harum-skarum young woman who had come to attend Neither her husband nor herself hang-fair next day. ever dealt in Casterbridge market, so that she was unknown. While dismounting she beheld a crowd of
' '

boys standing at the door of a harness-maker's shop
just above the inn, looking inside it with deep interest. What is going on there ? ' she asked of the ostler.
'

'

Making the rope
'Tis

for to-morrow.'

She throbbed responsively, and contracted her arm.
'

sold
*

tinued.

I
'

by the inch afterwards,' the man concould get you a bit, miss, for nothing, if

you'd like

?

She hastily repudiated any such wish, all the more from a curious creeping feeling that the condemned wretch's destiny was becoming interwoven with her own and having engaged a room for the night, sat
;

down

to think. to this time she

Up
prison.

notions about
her mind.

her

had formed but the vaguest means of obtaining access to the
of the cunning-man returned to that she should use her
it

The words

He

had implied

beauty, impaired though inexperience she knew

little

In her was, as a pass-key. about jail functionaries ;

she had heard of a high-sheriff and an under-sheriff, She knew, however, that there must but dimly only. be a hangman, and to the hangman she determined to
apply.

she discerned on the level roof over the gateway three rectangular lines against the sky. Another hundred \-ards brought her to the executioner's house. and for several j'ears after. where the specks had been mo^ing in her distant \iew . 97 G . It stood close to the same stream. and passed quickly on. and before she had eaten for she could not take her ease till she had or drunk — ascertained some particulars Gertrude pursued her way by a path along the water-side to the cottage indicated. there was a to almost ever}' jail. the waters of which emitted a steady roar. and an man came forth shading a candle with one hand. and was hard by a weir. on Casterbridge official dwelt in a lonely cottage by a deep slow river flowing under the cliff on which the prison buildings were situate the stream being the self-same one. Ha\-ing changed her dress. Passing thus the outskirts of the jail. that the — lower down in its course. which a boy pointed out. old \Miile she stood hesitating the door opened. — she recognized what the erection was. which watered the Stickleford and Holmstoke meads inquir)-. though she did not know it. Gertrude found.THE WITHERED ARM A WATER-SIDE HERMIT VIII -AlT this hangman date.

and preceded her to the room within. but by the time she reached the foot of the ladder he was at the top. or. Yes. ' ! Ah that? folks is come here about the knot do come continually. he looked down and to said. . this being evidently the Gertrude hastened forward. and Davies (as the hang1 was just man was called) backed down the ladder.' he said minute for such a rise. he said. * What d'ye want here ? To speak to you a minute. ' ' thought so.WESSEX TALES of a flight Locking the door on the outside. in case of a reprieve. stood in a corner. We ' ! always wait for that. pale. one as you. yes That's it. such as it was. ' me I. staircase to his and began ascend them. perhaps (looking at her dress) a person who's been in your employ ? No. to undertake country work leave real I can't come. To-morrow ^Vell. ' . but I tell 'em one knot as merciful as another if ye keep it under the ear. and seeing If you want probably that she looked rural. 'Tis no use to ! I what's the matter about — the unfortunate man a relation. which was that of a jobbing gardener." but I don't mind stopping a ploring. he turned to wooden steps fixed against the end of the cottage. bedroom. The implements of his daily work. She called to him loudly enough to be heard above the roar of the weir .' O —a reprieve — I hope not 98 she said involun- tarily. for never Casterbridge My ' ' calUng ! is not for gentle nor simple officer of justice. fell upon her im' upturned face. What time is the execution ? The same as usual twelve o'clock. Come into house.' He reopened the door.' he added — I formally. or as soon after Is ' ' ' ' — as the ' London mail-coach gets in. " Early to bed and early to going to bed.' ' ' The candle-light. I should say.

and given your name and address that's how it used to be done. as they are obliged off. jail. there's not much risk of it. 'Yes. for this. I'll get ee' a touch of Where is it now ? she . it is truly as suitable for the cure as any I 'ee. 'Twas a knowing-man that sent contrive for whoever ' he was.' Lover not to know. o' subject.' he continued.' Now I understand. only just turned eighteen. so do fellow deserved to be let one does . by the advice of a has proved the virtue of the remedy. shuddering. ' the corpse. with interest. ever a young as a matter of business. eh ? No husband.' she explained. I can manage it for a trifling fee. and only Howsompresent by chance when the rick was fired. Still. 'that I want to touch him for a charm. examin- skin. .' ' You can me all that's necessary ? she said breathlessly. should really have gone to the governor of the 'ee. as I should like it kept private. ' Ah — 'tis a-scram said the ing * it. a cure of an ! man who ' O affliction. this to make an example of him. — hee. ever. looked of a sort ? But to it didn't strike me I'll require blood-turning. perhaps.' I would rather do it this O. there having been so much destruction of property that way lately. The wrong kind My ! arm. thank you way. that is the class I'm bound to admit I like the look of ' ! the place ever saw.said.' 99 .' She all reluctantly ' ! showed the withered hangman. miss people that come you What's the complaint be bound. if I recollect. hee if ! — I ! But still.' ' in past years. Well.' 'I mean.' ' You and your doctor with — — ! ' ! * ' ' * ' Aha Very well. I've had such yes.THE WITHERED ARM * Well.' said she.

from the inside. wicket in the wall. Its outline was soon visible to her a narrow opening in the outer wall of the prison preThe steep was so great that. he's that little small winder up there living yet. and. and if you Ah don't want anybody to know 'ee. as I shan't come home to dinner till he's cut down. wear a veil. at the little am ' proceed ? Now. He took her to the door. and climbed the path above. having reached the cincts. that you'll find up there I will open it not later than one o'clock. to assure herself — — that she would be able to find the wicket next day. and entered the loft a few minutes extinguished his light. do you be waiting I to in the lane. she stopped a moment to breathe .' she said . in the Just inside glum. saw the hangman again ascending his outdoor staircase. ' She thought of her husband and her and how of course.WESSEX TALES ' It ? — he. The town clock struck ten. signified the jail on the ' cliff above. and she returned to the White Hart as she had come. looking back upon the water-side cot. wicket.' * He Yes. you mean . or He in chamber to which it led. . Be punctual ' ! . once I had such a daughter as you She went away. friends. Good-night.

and bearing the inscription. Gertrude Lodge. and the market suspended but Gertrude had seen scarcely a soul. she went out and crossed the inner paved court beyond 101 ' ' ! . following directions. space below the cliff where the spectators had gathered . was sitting in a waiting-room within the second gate. then compacovnty ratively modern. hear the multitudinous babble of their voices. Near at hand was a passage to the roof on which the gallows stood. Last dying There had been no reprieve.' the heath the day before. which stood under a classic archway of ashlar.THE WITHERED ARM A RENCOUNTER IX It was one o'clock on Saturday. Soon the persistent girl heard a trampling overhead. speech and confession and the execution was over but the crowd still waited to see the body taken down. even now-. having been admitted to the jail as above described. she had proceeded to the spot by a way which avoided the open . but she could. then a hand beckoned to her. out of w^hich rose at intervals the hoarse croak of a single voice uttering the words. This had been the facade she saw from JAIL: 1793. Having kept her room till the hour of the appointment. and. . ' The town was thronged.

borne by four men. rounded it. which sur. 02 . at the same time hearing persons approaching behind her. she was conscious of a rough coffin passing her shoulder. uncovering the face of the corpse. but without a tear. The corpse had been thrown into the coffin so hastily that the skirt of the smockfrock was hanging over. Turn her head she would not. rigid in tliis position. and fustian breeches. By this time the young woman's state was such that a gray mist seemed to float before her eyes. : ' ' ! By a last strenuous effort she advanced. Immediately behind her stood face drawn. and in it lay the body of a young man. a second shriek rent the air of the enclosure it was not Gertrude's. Now said a voice close at hand. Behind Rhoda stood Gertrude's own husband his countenance 1 lined. took Gertrude's hand. upon a line the colour of an unripe blackberry. and she was just conscious that the word had been addressed to her. Gertrude shrieked the turn o' the blood. It was open. or could not. scarcely walk. and only covered by her shawl. and held it so that her arm lay across the dead man's neck. her knees trembling so that she could One of her arms was out of its sleeve. her and her eyes red with weeping. she could scarcely discern anything it was as though she had nearly died. On trestles. . The burden was temporarily deposited on the trestles. and.WESSEX TALES the gatehouse. and its effect upon her was to make ' : : her start round. the spot at which she had now arrived were two and before she could think of their purpose she heard heavy feet descending stairs somewhere at her back. wearing the smockfrock of a rustic. on account of which. but was held up by a sort of galvanism. had taken place. She bared her poor curst arm and Davies. his eyes dim. and the veil she wore.' predicted But at that moment by tlie conjuror. Rhoda Brook.

' to come between us and our child now 'This is the meaning of what Satan Khoda. He had been summoned by her as soon as the young man was taken in the crime. to which she had subjected herself during Her blood had been the previous twenty-four hours. The mere sight of the twain had been enough to suggest to her that the dead young man was Rhoda's At that time the relatives of an executed convict son. This was the The two holiday he had been indulging in of late. and very seldom in public 1=3 . ' ' and sheet for its conveyance and covering being in it waiting outside. . which he had so much frequented. but she home alive. sapped perhaps by the paralyzed arm. She was taken out of the jail into the town . wretched parents had wished to avoid exposure . Her husband was never seen in Casterbridge again . if they chose to do so and it was for this purpose that Lodge was awaiting the inquest with Rhoda. once only in the old market-place at Anglebury. Gertrude's case was so serious that was deemed advisable to call to her the surgeon who was at hand. ! Hussy— cried ' ! ! she pulled her unresistingly back against the wall. never reached ' ' — town three days after.THE WITHERED ARM ' P—n yoii ! what are you doing here ' ? he said ' hoarsely. a waggon . Her death took place in the turned indeed too far. Her delicate vitality. collapsed under the double shock that followed the severe strain. and hence had come themselves for the body. When he lifted her up she was unconscious. physical and mental. had the privilege of claiming the body for burial. and at different times since and he had attended in court during the trial. showed me in the vision Vou are like her at last And clutching the bare arm of the younger woman. Immediately Brook had loosened her hold the fragile young Gertrude slid down against the feet of her husband.

but evenabsolutely tually she reappeared in her old parish. times. took steps towards giving up the farms in Holmstoke and the adjoining parish. his. however. then found that he had bequeathed the whole of his not inconsiderable property to a reformatory for boys. somehaps by long pressure against the cows. he went away to Port-Bredy. those who knew her experiences would stand and observe her. wrinkled brow. and. to do with the refusing. after attending the funeral of his poor young wife he anywhere. For some time she could not be found . (' Blackwood's Magazine^ January 1888 ) . having sold every head of his stock. and Soon appeared as a chastened and thoughtful man. Her monotonous milking at was resumed. to have anything to the Brook. death living there in solitary lodgings till It was two years later of a painless decline. and her once abundant dark hair white and worn away at the forehead perHere. and followed for many long her form became bent. at the other end of the county.WESSEX TALES Burdened at first with moodiness and he eventually changed for the better. to — rhythm of the alternating milk-streams. and wonder what sombre thoughts were the beating inside that impassive. if — provision the dairy years. till made for her. remorse. subject payment of a small annuity to Rhoda she could be found to claim it.

TO WNSMRN .FELLOW.

.

was descending one of these hills by the turnpike road when he was overtaken by a phaeton. with a real mayor and corporation. a pedestrian of professional appearance. and ride down to your door. and a damp evening five-and-thirty years ago. Jump up here with me. over the intervening town chimneys. a young man of pale and refined appearance. And at night it was possible to stand in the very midst of the town levels and hear from their native paddocks on the lower of greensward the mild lowing of the farmer's heifers. before the twilight was far advanced. and the profound. without great inconvenience to his voice. During a certain is that Hullo.' ' ' — 107 . so nearly did the steep pastures encroach upon the burghers' backyards. But the community which had jammed itself in the valley thus flanked formed a veritable town. warm blowings of breath in which those creatures indulge. ' staple manufacture.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN FELLOW TOWNSMEN 1 HE shepherd on the east hill could shout out lamb- ing intelligence to the shepherd on the west hill. carrying a small bag in his hand and an elevated umbrella. Downe you } said the driver of the vehicle.

' — thanks. .WESSEX TALES The other turned a plump. where the trade was still . I am a member of the corporation — — . Barnet's position in the town was none of his own making his father had been a ver>' successful flaxmerchant in the same place. O. Having acquired a fair fortune. and immeHe diately took up another thread of conversation. Barnet was a they were differently circumstanced. exchanging his meditative regard of the horse for one of self-consciousness. bringing up his son as a gentleman-burgher. Downe had meant to call and congratulate Mrs. it must be added. carried on as briskly as the small capacities of its quarters would allow. Downe at any time. Mrs. Mr. Barnet mounted beside his acquaintance. Barnet ? asked Downe. old Mr. good evening. some of them say. Barnet was very well when I left home. Barnet. true and I should have decHned the . . is ' How ' congratulated his friend on his election as a council- he thought he had not seen him since that event took place Mrs. my wife would welcome Mrs. rather self-indulgent face over his shoulder towards the hailer. Downe seemed to regret his inquiry-. inexperienced member. cheer)'. Barnet had retired from business. as you know. richer man than the struggling young lawyer Downe. Mrs. though nothing of it ever showed in Barnet's manner towards the solicitor. Mr. and. and They were fellow-burgesses of the town which lay beneath them. . rather an Yes.' the other answered constrainedly. I have been glad to see you. It is quite premature — having other things on my honour as hands just now. io8 . but though old and very good friends. liberal-minded ' young man. but he feared that she had . as a well-educated. a fact which was to some extent perceptible in Downe's manner towards his companion.' he said. man failed to do so as yet. ' We should Barnet seemed hampered in his replies.

What the deuce do you want to build that new mansion for. Downe declared that he had chosen a pretty site for the new building. at any rate such a name as that. and inconvenient. Downe m. The street Talking thus they drove into the town. Upon that matter I am firm he added grimly.urmured in an unconvinced tone that he thought he had seen it yesterday.' Mr.FELLOVVTOWNSMEN too-^if heartily. Barnet thought not. was unusually still for the hour of seven in the evening . And he did not care for a name." I think it was. he answered after a moment with no apparent embarrass- Barnet's ment ' — the house I you know . without a name It must have been a week ago that you saw it It was taken down last Saturday. with good-humoured freedom. Was he going Well. hut as the question had been idly asked by the solicitor while regarding the surrounding flocks and fields. we wanted to get out of the town. ' ! 109 . . They would be able to see for miles and miles from the windows.' said But we have decided finally to do Barnet hastily. Is am living in rather old it a name ? He supposed so.' ' it had not hx-en pressed upon me so very There is one thing you have on your hands which I can never quite see the necessity for. There was no other house near that was likely to be mistaken for it. up on a board It was an idea she we had for a short time. to give ' ' ' — — — ! : ' ! ' — ' — . an increasing drizzle had prevailed since the afternoon. stuck something.' said Downe. when you have already got such an excellent house as the one ' you live in ? ' face acquired a warmer shade of colour . . and I saw " Chateau Ringdale. But I think it has a name Downe obser\'ed I went past when was it? this morning.

do To I lO . and checking the horse a moment to finish * Downe The house speech before delivering up his passenger. it was built by my grandfather.' Barnet continued. I would give a hundred such houses as my new one to ' have a home like yours. I have already is good enough for me. as you supposed. He thereupon turned into the narrow street. My father was born I was born there. revealing a bitterness hitherto suphis pressed. It is my own freehold and is stout enough for a castle. new ' ' one. I do preserve peace in the household.' Why do ^\^^y ' you I ? ? said Downe. is none of my ordering. we get along pretty comfortably. consisting of a row of those two-and-two windowed brick residences of no particular age. them past the Uttle town-hall.' replied « — complacently.' Barnet broke out. there. that bent the house-ridges hollow-backed with its weight. when Downe prepared to alight at the corner. the gaze of all ' — ' You four being directed eagerly up the empty street. when the faces of three little girls could be discerned close to the panes of a lighted window a few yards ahead. the Black-Bull Hotel. surmounted by that of a young matron. as run to the door. Wait I'll drive you up to your door.' Well yes. mother and children disappeared from the window to You must be happy if any man is. and in some instances caused the walls Their route took to bulge outwards in the upper story. lived there. and have always lived there . I was anything for that. are a fortunate fellow. and onward to the junction of a small street on the right. That house. yet I must needs build a ' . and died there. but I don't succeed.WESSEX TALES and now formed a gauze across the yellow lamps. except in the people they contain.' said Barnet. which are exactly alike wherever found. Downe. Downe. and trickled with a gentle rattle down the heavy roofs of stone tile.

In your happy home you have had no such experiences and God forbid that you ever should. his foot slipped. have thought those recent said Barnet. running down O. exclaiming. quite ignoring the presence of Barnet. my dear Charles the steps . that I . are ' all ready to receive course ! ' you ! Of ! And receive you.' was only a little than at the husband. ' said his wife. Downe's solicitude so affecting that his eye grew damp as he witnessed it. because your wife once had a fancy for him. but it was too much to have your house christened after Lord Ringdale. but circumstances own to which he had just alluded made Mrs. chiming in darling Poor papa piteously. Bidding the lawyer and his family good-night he left them. butbeing encumbered with his bag and umbrella.' ' hope He moved family on Barnet replied dubiously. she seized hold of her husband.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN " Chateau not Ringdale. I hope you are not hurt. If you only knew everything.' will said Downe." however would not have put up with the absurdity of the name. which the solicitor's had already opened. so will your wife be waiting to Take my word for it she ' And I with a dinner prepared for you far better so. pulled him to his feet.' than mine. See. and he fell upon his knees in the gutter. Downe descended. you would think all attempt at reconciliation hopeless. The children crowded round. perceiving that Downe muddy. ' ' ! ' ' ! ' He's all right. ' ! and kissed him. and drove slowly into the main street towards his heart of Barnet was sufficiently impressionable to be influenced by Downe's parting prophecy that he own The house. in resisting . to Downe's door. 111 . and looking more at the wife Almost too at certainly during his fastidious bachelor years any other time he would — — her a demonstrative of his woman life . and. here they firm.

to On entering his wife was nowhere The servant inbe seen. sir. ^nerely transmitted her former Barnet said nothing more. .WESSEX TALES the as he imagined might not be so unwelcome home this one occasion. as if ' he saw not the room but if way beyond. I wonder she lives there ' still ! he said. sir. and would be engaged for Dressmaker at this time of day She dined early. and he inquired for her.' But she knew I was coming to-night ' ? O yes. and fell back into past years upon a certain pleasing would loom out of their shades gentle being whose face Barnet turned in his chair.' and tell her I am come. and hopes you will excuse her ' ' ! - joining « ' you this evening. which was eaten abstractedly. make dreary night might. and looked with unfocused eyes in a direction south- him by its ward from where he a long sat. at such times as these. at least on Downe's forecast true. her.' servant did so. the ' Go up The domestic scene he had lately witnessed still impressing His mind contrast with the situation here. Hence it was in a suspense that he could hardly have believed possible that he : halted at his door. but the mistress of the house words. and presently sat down to his lonely meal. formed him that her mistress had the dressmaker with some time.

though his family had no more to do with the flax manufacture. Mary's tower. li 113 . in such words as Smith. blinked together one by one. from Barnet &: Co. In two minutes only those shops which could boast of no attendant save the master or the mistress remained with open eyes. Yet the night beine dreary the delay was not for long. These were ever somewhat less prompt to exclude customers way along o'clock than the others : for their owners' ears the closing hour had scarcely the cheerfulness that it possessed for the hired servants of the rest. by a long street leading due southward. pursuing the glistening pavement while eight was striking from St.' The sight led upon his father's busy life. his own name occasionally greeted him on gates and warehouses. too. and the apprentices and shopmen were slamming up the shutters from end to end of the town. if it late him to reflect manager at Barnet's. During this time Barnet had proceeded with decided step in a direction at right angles to the broad main thoroughfare of the town.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN II hat and coat. and he quesfar tioned had not been happier than his own.' ' — ' Robinson. being used allusively by small rising tradesmen as a recommendation. and their windows. his JtIE rose with a sudden rebelliousness. Here. put on his and went out of the house.

The road led to . vaulted over. apparently not much interested in the sight. still keeping his back to the town. they the lamps were still continued at the roadstood at wider intervals than before. After seeing the obnoxious name-board Barnet had forgotten to open his umbrella. and the rain tapped smartly on his hat. had spoken stuck his umbrella into the sod. the harbour. Barnet slackened his pace and stood for a few moments without leaving the centre of the road. the track on the right hand rising to a higher level till it merged in a knoll. board at the top. He had advanced with more decision since passing the new building. and at their bases could be discerned the lower courses of a building lately begun. and walked board ' A effect truly. and occasionally stroked his face as he went on. and seized Downe. till suddenly his eye was caught by a post in the fore part of the ground bearing a white He went to the rails. and presently open ground appeared between them on either side. Though side. in far enough Chateau Ringdale. like one bewildered by an opposition which would exist none the less though its manifestations were removed.WESSEX TALES The houses along the road became fewer. from which the trade of the district was fed. builders' scaffold-poles On the summit a row of probed the indistinct sky like spears. and soon a hoarse murmur rose upon the gloom it was the sound of the sea. at a distance of a mile from the town. Then. Every . Let it be.' Taking up his umbrella he quietly left the enclosure.' dismal irony seemed was to irritate him. as intending to loosen and throw down. and went on his way. to discern painted upon the and its to lie in the words. he allowed his arms to it ' sink to his side.' he said to himself ' there shall be peace — I have declared if possible. and the pavement had given place to 114 common road. He then. if the post with both hands.

whose white pinafore could just be discerned. signified a door in the side of the passage. with wet. It A wet. pausing the mantelpiece. and Barnet went forward at the same moment. On entering the room he closed till he heard the retreating footsteps of the child. Barnet said at random. he had patiently waited minutes enough to lead any man in ordinary cases to knock again. being in scrupulous order. Miss Savile's sitting-room ? ' person. the door the gate When was heard to open. ' . and by a sudden afterthought asked him to come in. Don't trouble yourself to get a light for me.' said Barnet hastily it is not Which is necessary at all. from the miniature chiffonnier to the shining little daguerreotype which formed the central ornament of the door behind him. standing in its own garden.I FELLOW-TOWNSMEN time he came to a lamp an increasing shine made itself visible upon his shoulders. Scrutinizing the spot to ensure that he was not mistaken. elderly lieutenant in the navy. but it was still some distance off when he paused before one of the smallest of the detached houses by the wayside. there being no light in the passage. — — From behind the lamp on the table a female form now "5 . He found himself in an apartment which was simply and neatly. till at last they quite glistened The murmur from the shore grew stronger. ' would soon get a light. though it was impossible to see by whose hand. it said but the night being mother had not thought it worth while to trim the : passage lamp. Does Miss Savile live here ? * ' youthful voice assured him that she did live there. the latter being divided from the road by a row of wooden palings. ever^-thing. he opened and gently knocked at the cottage door. though not poorly furnished . so that The young no light should fall upon his face. The picture was enclosed by a frame of embroidered card-board and it was the evidently the work of feminine hands portrait of a thin faced.

WESSEX TALES rose into view. and the young lady's lineaments.' she answered. You can give your hand to me. I can hardly consider it kind of you to allude to such a thing as our past or. certainly. seeing how often I have held it in past ' I know I ing the look. have no business here. Mr.' in it surely ? I don't trouble you ' I have not had the honour of a visit from you for a very long time. I ' meeting.' last — ' There was no harm often. remained with her for a moment after the state that caused it had ceased. which. as she coldly complied with the When I think of the circumstances of our request. half-proud. and a resemblance between her and the portrait was early discoverable. without They both remained standing for a few seconds The face that confronted Barnet speaking. . ' ' days ' ? would rather forget than remember all that. to come here at all. and additional brightness broke the shade of her rather heavy eyes. though not so inconsistent as to make her plain. in which the blood diffused itself quickly across her cheek. had a beautiful outline the Raffaelesque oval of its contour was remarkable for an English countenance. would have been accepted rather as The preoccupied expression pleasing than as correct. answerBut I had a great wish to see you. indeed. like images on the retina. : now changed into a reserved. Lucy. and inquire how you were. But her features did not Nature had do justice to this splendid beginning recollected that she was not in Italy. and slightly indignant look. that of a young girl.' he said. and that countenance housed in a remote country-road to an unheard-of harbour. Barnet. and I did not expect it ii6 . She had been so absorbed in some occupation on the other side of the lamp as to have barely found time to realize her visitor's presence.

and for yourself Don't speak any more as you have spoken.' O — — Barnet looked as if he regretted it deeply. and don't come again.' And he turned towards the portrait of her father. I ' ' I came ? — painting flowers. yes suppose so though I only speak from inference But she is your wife. ' ? the outhnes. The getting on fairly well.' he said. to inquire how you are getting on since your great loss. to not painting them only sketching do that at night to save time I have get three dozen done by the end of the month. do it. I didn't ' I came ' I am by her look borne out but Barnet courteously reproached himself for not having guessed a thing so natural . ^V'ell I almost wish I had never seen li^ht ' will ' — with ' my own eyes when I think of that ' ! Is this a time or place for recalling such matters ? ' You used to have a gentleshe asked. and to .' she said. You wear your poor eyes out. with the same stiffness in her air. ' manly respect for me. Barnet. its . 117 . thank you.' no.' he pursued .' force of her utterance was scarcely dissipate all embarrassment. Barnet is very well ? At least I he impatiently returned. come to talk of Mrs. added. to talk of you. by laying her face against the cage and murmuring a It might partly have been done to coaxing sound. sir. Yes. and She went and stilled it as.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN I now. as ' he bent over the table. The unwonted tones of a man's voice in that feminine chamber had startled a canary that was roosting in cage by the window the bird awoke hastily.ainst the bars. fluttered still ' herself. with dignity. There was a time when I should have said you must not. with more sentiYou ought not to ment than he had hitherto shown.' said the young girl ' ' * ' ' — ! ' ! ' tremulously. of yourself alone . hope Mrs. What were you doing when and by candlelight she said.

and thought what might have been in my case. and talk of those we used to know in common. it is only what Ambition pricked me on no. . him home. I deserve. evening I fell in with an acquaintance. or was closely considered by you. to visit a woman I ' — : I could not help doing it. Yes. . I came to see you as an old and good friend not to mince matters. Indeed you must have forgotten it Her voice grew long before you acted as you did. was very strong.' But I am stronger and more vivacious as she added ' : — doing my best to forget it too.' said Miss Savile quietly .' he said. and when I saw how happy he was with his wife and family welcoming loved. it fairly broke down my discretion. and remained with for But. I declare I should have come back to you. There I write to you ? was no opening my so. for me to regard with some calmness what at present I remember far too impatiently though it may be you almost forget it. Now I am here I feel that I am wrong to some extent.' . . Barnet watched her moodily. : always remember this. though with only one-tenth of my income and chances.' He broke out vehemently ' ! * ' — ' ! .' ' Before that can be the case a ' little more time must a time long enough pass. Barnet. Don't be ! so many .WESSEX TALES I cannot think that this visit is serious. when she turned and sat down. But the feeling that I should like to see you. how could doing 11^8 his eyes on the skirting. and off I came here.' Considered well. facing half away from him. Lucy if you had written to mie only one little line after that misunderstanding. and I know I shall succeed from the progress I have made already She had remained standing till now. Mr. Had I it was not ambition. That ruined me he slowly walked as far as the little room would allow : ' ! him ' to go. . it was wrongheadedness But but reflected. angr}This things brought you into my mind.

but as there had been nothing said by me which required any explanation by letter.' ' ! ' ' — — . that separated us. Barnet. Anyhow you were the woman I ought to have made my wife and I 'Then — — — you slip. to think the course you did not adopt must have been the best. I did not send one.' he said hastily. Everything was so your position to be so fancied I might have mistaken your meaning.' said Barnct. Mr. and feeling much wealthier than mine. indeed. like the foolish man that I was O.' Your disposition said Barnet. And when I heard of the a woman of whose family even you might other lady be proud I thought how foolish I had been. am not right in doing this. never mind my 119 dis- . as And you she followed him to the door of the room. ' would soon have won them round. with gentle solicitude. in a voice of soothing playfulness. that perhaps your companions would have made it unpleasant for us on account of my ' — deficiencies. ' looked up to add.' she continued. and she dropped her gaze.' ' : She archly expostulated Now. sir.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN _^*Then there ought to have been. My family was so much poorer than yours. She knew that There was a silence till she her voice belied her. even before I lost my dear father. and said indefinite. — ' ' — ! ' 'It is a very common folly of human nature.' know let I don't I suppose it was destiny accident what. even if you had asked me to be your wife.' At this his eye met hers. and I won't do it again. I don't know anything about that . don't know that I should have accepted you. almost in tears. you should not be here it would be so bad for me if it were known I It would it would. you know.' she said. dear Lucy. ' That was my fault ' ! Well. I — — nothing. don't I am the wrong one to conrevive the subject to me sole you think. turn' ing.

he gossiped with men instead of with women . his eyes were in a state which showed straw-like motes of light radiating from each flame into the surrounding air. the quiet eye. and a bold black eye that made timid people nervous. as he had expected. walking parallel with himself. a surgeon of the town. which Barnet . Sundry circumstances stood in his he was needy he was as a medical practitioner not a coddle. .' I will.WESSEX TALES position . Those only proper features in the family erroneous. I must make the best of all. Charlson was a man not without ability . All this was against him in the little town of his adoption. and the thin straight passionless hps which never curl in public either for laughter or sational for scorn. — though of irreproachable suggests fraternization carried to the point of unscrupulousness. yet he did not prosper. doctor. root. and left her you ' ' ! alone. It had been only a matter of fifty pounds. Presently this man left the footway. he had a full-curved mouth. more cheerfully than he had as yet spoken. was called upon to meet it when it fell due. he had married a stranger instead of one of the town young ladies and he was given to conver- way : . up with your wife And now you are it ! Those to leave me ' at once. But I shall never again meet with such a dear girl as And he suddenly opened the door. who owed him money. try to make it are my commands to you. His companions were what in old times would have been called boon companions an expression which. his look was quite buffoonery. Moreover. When his glance again fell on the lamps that were sparsely ranged along the dreary level road.' he replied. On the other side of the way Barnet observed a man under an umbrella. and to oblige him Barnet had put his name to a bill and. it was Charlson. were not his . and gradually con- The latter then saw that verged on Barnet's course. I20 . I suppose. Charlson had been in difficulties.

who no encouragement. * I've had a dream. so as just to illumine his face against the shade behind. and that he was bound to obey Lucy's injunction for before. carried seeing that his humour had him too far. no — of course — not. ' we'll have no more of that. had done many times He Lucy's own sake. whence it leered with impish jocoseness as he thrust his tongue into his cheek.' repeated Charlson. before he had quite forgotten a nice little girl he knew before. he was certain that scandal was a plant of quick root. Barnet. Barnet knew from ' his tone that the surgeon was going to begin his characteristic nonsense. 12 I . I saw him come out of that dear little girl's present abode. and did not encourage him.' ' No. and he bore no thriftless ill-will to the But Charlson had surgeon on account of it. This particular three weeks had moved on in advance of Charlson's present with the precision of a shadow for some considerable time.' said Barnet gravely. The rays from a neighbouring lamp struck through the drizzle under Charlson's umbrella.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN Could well afford to lose. as I was walking up the harbour-road. who required I dreamed that a gentleman. and that one wet evening. a little too much brazen indifferentism in his composition to be altogether a desirable acquaintance. and show that his eye was turned up under the outer corner of its lid. married a haughty lady in haste.' Charlson hastily answered. like the pri_sent.' Barnet glanced towards the speaker.' ' said Charlson with hail-fellow friendliness. I hope to be able to make that little bill-business right with you in the course of three weeks.' Charlson continued. Barnet replied good-naturedly that there was no hurry. Mr. ' Come. as it was profuse in his Of one thing apologies. has been very kind to me. ' I've had a dream. but Barnet did not reply.

and looked at the rope-makers walking backwards. saying that he seldom saw Barnet now. the harbour-road was a not unpleasant place to walk in. where no Sometimes he went round by other townsman came. as if trade had established itself there at as to considerable inconvenience to Nature. Barnet's feet never trod its stones. were present. but there was not much business doing. to the letter. when the sun was raise so warm steam from the south-eastern slopes of those flanking hills that looked so lovely above the old roofs. but made every low-chimneyed house in the town as smoky as Tophet. that way as he would have avoided a dangerous dram.WESSEX TALES III iiE did so. less and took his airings a long distance northward. and in a few minutes Downe came leisurely across to him. Barnet glanced from the windows of the town-council room for lack of interest in what was a Several members of the corporation proceeding within. overhung by apple-trees and bushes. where the rope-walks stretched in which his family formerly had share. the lower lanes of the borough. among severely square and brown ploughed fields. and though. much He avoided a saunter approached her door. and intruded on by cows and calves. as the crocus followed the snowdrop and the daffodil the crocus in Lucy's garden. 122 . One morning.

' I have thought more than once of proposing a 123 . hear vague reports of such things. they were out that morning somewhere . of truth in that. there is a grain because of that I often try to make peace any ' at home. serious.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN Barnet owned that he was not often present. drily. he was just looking to see if they were walking that way. had done the same ' thing.' said Downe. Life would be tolerable then at little rate. : ' ' ' Not this morning. ' It is * Yes. Not Downe. we must look the thing in the face. just coming down the street to the figures of two children with a nursemaid. even if not particularly bright. . Downe depressed a then. You will come out and speak to her ? he asked. and then out of the window. . I have not heard of anything he said. thanks. ' You have heard. The fact is I don't care to speak to anybody just now. reflecting its hot hues into their faces. Ah. No. poppy nor mandragora however.' Barnet mused.' ' ' . with ' cheering sympathy. Barnet. right It will be all and turned away. Barnct in whom the solicitor recognized Barnet's wife.' 'You are too sensitive.' said Barnet But I have a different opinion. how are your wife and children ? — ' Downe said that they were all well. At that moment there passed along the street a tall commanding lady. At school I remember you used to get as red as a rose if anybody uttered a word that hurt your feelings. and a lady walking behind them. with as long a face as one naturally I only round could be turned into at short notice. there they and Downe pointed were. Mr. some day. Downe looked at the crimson curtain which hung down beside the panes.' he admitted. of her last outbreak ? his cheerfulness to its very reverse 'No. in moment.' 'You may think it will be all right.

be likely to find out what ruffles Mrs. She seems will : know whether to think that Mrs. She will . There is no woman in England I would so soon trust on such an errand. There was reason in Mrs.' don't said Downe it with some hesitation. who has of course been accustomed to London people of good position. is and without Her impression rather alone in the town. and not be * — — ' ' frightened at a repulse. ing ' own sex. perhaps I was.' he said. I think. Barnet and get into her confidence. However. is that your wife will listen to reason. or some little thing in your conduct that irritates her because she does not The truth is. Barnet. But do let her call. I am afraid there will not be any brilliant result. which made Emily fearful of intruding. and you were a lucky fellow to find her. Downe's fear that he owned. the former went to the Town Savings-Bank. of which he was a trustee. Perhaps it is some misunderstanding. who suggested it that she would be very glad to call on Mrs. been more ready to make advances if she had been quite sure of her fitness for Mrs.' is She a charm- woman.' Barnet expressed his warmest thanks for the wellintentioned proposition. to which at 124 ."WESSEX TALES plan to you. it was my wife you choose. He sat and watched the working-people making their deposits.' When Barnet and Downe had parted. Emily would have fully comprehend you. still I shall take it as the kindest and nicest thing if she will try it. Barnet advisers. you know something that she is too proud to ask you to explain.' simpered Downe. and endeavoured to forget his troubles in the contemplation of low sums of money. Emily has a wonderful way of winning the hearts of people of her ' And of the other sex too. as In fact. trying to wear an aspect of being the last man in the world to feel pride.' Well. but take it or leave it. and figures in a network of red and blue lines. ' I meet your views. Barnet's society.

' he said. Earnet. in a low voice. She has got Mrs. ' if it is Good afternoon Barnet shook Downe by the hand without speaking.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN he signed his name. Emily has seen Mrs. down ! to the shore to-morrow. and Downe went away. Before he left in the afternoon Downe put his head inside the door. Barnet's promise to take intervals ' * her for a drive fine. .

and then his handsome Xantippe. old-fashioned town five-and-thirty years ago did not. declined westward. in and allowed to settle for many weeks before the superstructure was built up. Downe. Barnet resolved results. and thence The wheels of a looked down a slope into the road. not to interfere. niche which had as yet received no frame.WESSEX TALES IV i HE next day was as fine as the arrangement could As the sun passed the meridian and possibly require. which — 126 . was there inspecting the progress of the works for A building in an the first time during several weeks. as in the modern fashion. there was a pleacing seemed upon the countenance that politesse dn avur which was so of her companion natural to her having possibly begun already to work But whatever the situation. chaise were heard. in the company of Mrs. the tall shadows from the scaffoldthe ground poles of Barnet's rising residence streaked as far as to the self Barnet himmiddle of the highway. or do anything to hazard the promise of Mrs. and a whole summer of drying was hardly sufficient to do justice to the imporBarnet stood within a windowtant issues involved. light in faintly to reflect itself Downe's face. rise from the sod like a booth The foundations and lower courses were put at a fair. They were driving slowly. drove past on their way to the shore.

She went nimbly round and round the beds of anemones. He — ' ' some for flowers. her stiff erect figure. jonquils. pre\ious sentiments that day led him to pause in his walk and watch her. After lingering on at the house for another hour he started with this intention. she was walking and stooping to gather the day. She did not see him . he might have passed unnoticed but a sensation which was not in strict unison with his . however. possibly for the purpose of painting them. have justified him in travelling by that road to-day. she moved about quickly. and materially by her higher cushion. I ' ' ' 1 127 . Why. exhibiting their owner as one fixed for ever above the level of her companion socially by her early breeding. clad in velvet and lace. Mr. which led him to perceive that. A few hundred yards below Chateau Ringdale stood the cottage in which the late lieutenant's daughter had her lodging. looking a very charming figure in her half-mourning bonnet. he might have to fight the battle with A tenth of his present himself about Lucy over again. innocently smiling. and as he approached the forbidden ground a curious warmth passed into him. Barnet decided to allow them a proper time to themselves. unless he were careful. and other old-fashioned flowers. passed on. Raising herself to pull down a lilac blossom she observed him. His wife's clenched rein-hand in its lemon-coloured glove. and turned his eyes for a momentary glance into the little garden that stretched from the palings to the door. tuHps. excuse would. He came opposite the dwelling. Barnet she said.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN might well afford to trust the issue to another when he could never direct it but to ill himself. and then stroll down to the shore and drive them home. Barnet had not been so far that way for a long time. Lucy was in the enclosure . polyanthuses. and with an incomplete nosegay in her left hand. and her boldly-outlined face. as if anxious to save time.

coloured a burning orange by the sunlight. and now here you are Yes. with the result that 128 .' he said. was a haven. and he believed that she flushed. Barnet went by in the pony-carriage. responded many times to that mute appeal. gap appeared in the rampart of hills which shut out the sea.WESSEX TALES have been thinking of you many times since Mrs. Beright being livid in shade. like the Libyan bay which sheltered little the shipwrecked Trojans. its name. how weary you look ' tell ' me. If I do. Lucy.' he added. ' A great is many draw- people begin to go there ing on. and spoilt the Lhe wind had already quiet of the scene. can I help you ? he was going to cry out. though it might have been only the fancy of his own super' ! ' sensitivenesss. and he noticed how much thinner and paler it was than when he had seen it last. and on the left of the opening rose a vertical the cliff. Then she seemed to recall particulars of their last meeting.' now the summer Her face had come more into his view as she spoke. The harbour-road soon began to justify companion tween these a beginning cliff on the cliffs. ' I am going to the harbour. it will be the ruin of us both He merely said that the afternoon was fine. As he went as if a sudden bhst of air came over the previous contradiction to his words. seemingly herself of a perfect harbour. in shifted violently. which appealed to the passer-by as only requiring a little human industry to finish it and make it famous. and went ' ' ! ' — ! on hill his way. ' ' Are you ? Lucy remarked simply.' he thought. in the course of ten centuries. A and now smelt of the sea. Lucy. But the Port-Bredy burgesses a mile inland had. the made by Nature ground on each side as fir back as the daisied slopes that bounded the interior valley being a mere layer of blown sand.

How it could have happened was beyond his mind to fathom. has fleeted out to 129 I . empty. ^Vhich is the way to the place ? cliff. Barnet of the old town they had driven down there that afternoon they had alighted. and they approached each other. Barnet. and it was thought they were both drowned.' Which ? ' ' ' ' ? Mrs. stranger to him. a residence or two. sea.' Mrs. of the water ' Have they been got out One lady has. it is feared. for John Green knew how to sail a boat . the boat listed over. he saw an indigo-coloured spot moving swiftly along beneath the radiant base of the eastern cliff. that. the tides had invariably choked : On the open ground by the shore stood his wife's pony-carriage. they had been tempted to go out for a short sail round terrible calamity ! A ' the Two ladies — — . but few houses here a rough pier.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN up their works with There were sand and shingle as soon as completed. the wind shifted with a sudden gust. ' said Barnet. Barnet. which proved to be a man in a jersey. Downe. It ' was just round the to Run to the carriage and tell the boy to bring it Then go to the the place as soon as you can. a few boats. were the chief features of the settlement. and it was so fine. Harbour Inn and tell them to ride to town for a doctor. my man ? ' seemed. Downe and Mrs. had been capsized in a boat they were Mrs. after walking about a little while. but a What is it. an inn. some stores. When Barnet drew nearer. He held up his hand to running with all his might. the cliff. a ketch unloading in the harbour. ' said Barnet. the boy in attendance holding the horse. - boatman hastily explained. Just as they were putting in to the shore.as well as any man ' there. as ' it The man was local.

on the sloping woman's his wife. and. nized him. and there discerned. a soaked and sandy form in the velvet dress and yellow gloves of . and. shingle beside it. turned aside with misgiving. a group of fishermen As soon as he came up one or two recogstanding. a long way ahead. He went amidst them and saw a small sailing-boat lying draggled at the water's edge. not Hking to meet his eye.WESSEX TALES Barnet ran on to that part of the shore which the cUff had hitherto obscured from his view.

much time must have elapsed before have arrived down there. Barnet was in her own house under medical hands. and every possible restorative of shingle. The second course would have occupied nearly as much time as a drive to the town. but the result was still uncertain. with no skilled help had seemed hopeless. There had been much to decide whether — to attempt restoration as it lay on Harbour Inn — whether The of the apparently lifeless body the shore whether to carry her to the — to drive with her at once to his own house.FELLOW-TOW NSMEN ivLL had been done that could be done. a doctor called to her side. At what a tearing pace he had driven up that road. owing to the intervening or appliances near at hand. and the necessity harbour by boat to get to the house. Barnet had acted as if devotion to his wife were the dominant passion of his existence. but she had been laid in her own bed in seven minutes. to which a doctor could her home in the carriage some precious moments had slipped by. through the yellow evening sunlight. Mrs. first course. the shadows flapping irksomely into his eyes as each wayside object rushed past between him and the west Tired workmen with their baskets at their backs had turned on ! 131 . By bringing ridges of crossing the added brought to bear upon her.

gig. stood as if up. and had brought Charlson back with him to the house. By the time larger had been laid in the carriage. where. rendering his own help superfluous. 132 . Barnet like a pulled out his handkerchief and began to cry His sobs might have been heard in the next child. neither uttering any further . then his shoulders heaved. He seemed to have no idea of going to the room. he left Downe with his friends and the young doctor. bereft of his faculties. He was accompanied by his assistant in a Barnet had sent on the latter to the coast in case that Downe's poor wife should by that time have been reclaimed from the waves. When the solicitor comprehended the intelligence he turned pale. and remained for a moment perfectly still. He found Downe in his office. he that Mrs. he word acquiesced. Barnet's presence was not needed here.WESSEX TALES homeward journey to wonder at his speed. and he felt it to be that his next duty to set off at once and find Downe. and once more hastened back to his own house. and that his stay would be of no avail. shore. no other than himself might break the news to him. He Mrs. Halfway between the shore and Port-Bredy town he had met Charlson. Downe. Barnet accompanied him to the shore. the duty of breaking the news was made doubly painful by the circumstance that the catastrophe which had befallen Mrs. who had been the first surgeon to hear of the their accident. nor making any effort to repress his tears. was quite sure that no chance had been his lost for Downe by leaving the shore. a much group had assembled to lend assistance in finding But her friend. or of doing anything gently by the quietly but when Barnet took him hand and proposed to start at once. Downe was solely the result of her own and her husband's loving-kindness towards himself. finding that no trace had as yet been seen of Mrs.

where he stood mutely regarding the bed for a few minutes. Lucy Savile and the smoke was from the fire which was regularly lighted at this time to make her tea. Far down the His eye glanced through the window. but had : . but without you in Barnet said 'we have sympathize with ! ' your bereavement. He looking helplessly at each other and at him. passed them by and entered the room. Mr. servants were The coming from his wife's chamber. muffled as they were by the carpet. I done everything. 'I have just ' \Vell come down.' matter between us ' — Charlson resumed. Barnet.' He Never mind that now. after which he walked into his own dressing-room adjoining. but that might have been imaginary. as from a fire newly kindled. and there paced up and down. U3 . In that house lived often seen such a sight before. and stood She there some time regarding his wife's silent form. ' And.' said Barnet abruptly directed the surgeon to go to the harbour in case his and himservices might even now be necessary there : self entered the house. and his thoughts to disturb the air like articulate utterances. result. ' that little I hope to settle it finally in three weeks at least.' said the doctor. an odd spark in Charlson's full black eye as he said the words .' Barnet did not much appreciate Charlson's sympathy. and out of the red chimney a He had curl of sm^oke. . which sounded to his ears as something of a mockery from the lips of a man who knew what Charlson knew Indeed there seemed about their domestic relations. seemed noisy. was a woman some years older than himself. After that he went back to the bedroom.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN - At the door he met Charlson. In a minute or two he noticed what a strange and total silence had come over the upper part of the house his own movements. road to the harbour a roof detained his gaze out of it rose a red chimney.

so that the general tone of light was remarkably warm . then struggling to go on. The effacement of life was not so marked but that. While he reflected. and statuesque in life. but there was visible on a close inspection the remnant of what had once been a flush . then breaking down in weakness — and ceasing again. Long orange rays of evening sun stole in through chinks in the blind. were doubly so now mouth and brow. it was pallid in comparison with life. he might have supposed her sleepHer complexion was that seen in the numerous ing. Still the fact impressed him as strange.WESSEX TALES not by any means looks and vigour-. although positive colour was gone. faded portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds . and fancied that ever and anon a faint flutter of palpitation. beneath her purplish black hair. Charlson had been gone more than a quarter of an hour: could it be possible that he had left too soon. and that his attempts to restore her had operated so sluggishly as only now to have made themselves felt ? Barnet laid his hand upon her chest. well-defined. and being thence reflected upon the crimson hangings and woodwork of the heavy bedstead. and it was probable that something might be due to this circumstance. entering uninformed. her firm. striking on the large mirror. disturbed the stillness there ceasing for a time. the maturity of good passionate features. I wonder if all has been done? The thought was led up to by his having fancied its that his wife's features lacked in complete form the expression which he had been accustomed to associate with the faces of those whose spirits have fled for ever. he suddenly said to himself. 134 . overpassed Her : showed only too clearly that the turbulency of character which had made a bear-garden of his house had been no temporary phase of her existence. the keeping between the cheeks and the hollows of the face being thus preserved. gentle as that of a butterfly's wing.

as if he had suddenly found hiinself treading a high rope. it was now barely two hours and a half from the time when he had first heard of the accident. his eye There he saw that red glanced out of the window. and that roof. walked over one of the green hills which bulged above But Barnet took no notice. the man and There are the dog. a weak action of any of the organs show itself when the case seems almost hopeless. moveinents stopped. the sparrow.' . our efforts must be redoubled has made . While he stood a sparrow lighted on the windowNext a man and a dog sill. We may wonder what were the exact images that passed through his mind during those minutes of gazing upon Lucy Savile's house. even as idle hypotheses. and Lucy Savile's house again. He threw aside the book and turned quickly to reach a stimulant which had previously been used. as there life have been many cases in which itself visible even after a longer interval. shelf in Barnet's dressing-room. as it had lain for many years. under the head ' He ' hastily fetched : Drowning — and there read immersed returning ' Exertions for the recovery of any person who has not been for a longer period than half-an-hour should be continued for at least four hours. and he seemed to become breathless. Pulling up the blind for more light.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN the healing art Barnet's mother had been an active practitioner of among her poorer neighbours. honest men who will not admit to their thoughts. howe%'er. which at this moment was lying. his hand remained on the blindcord. ' on a it. and her inspirations had all been derived from an octa^•o volume of Domestic Medicine. it will certainly Barnet looked at his watch . views of the future that assume as 135 . the feeble spark in this case requires to be solicited disappear under a relaxation of labour. saw him. and flew away. and His mechanical through the roof that somebody. chimney still smoking cheerily. the roofs of the town. Should.

and open up an opportunity of which till now he had never dreamed. Barnet lived. The triangular situation himself his wife Lucy Savile was the one clear letting the intelligence — . ' 136 . but much care and patience were needed to catch and retain it. life. rang the bell for assistance. My wife was dead.WESSEX TALES done a deed which they would there are other honest recoil from doing . and men for whom morality ends at the surface of their own heads. but did not deliberate. The slow life timidly heaved again . From Barnet's actions we may infer that he supposed such and such a result. — — — — thing. of lingered that motionless . learn if life still In a short time another surgeon was in attendance and then Barnet's surmise proved to be true. and as he walked about downstairs he murmured to himself. When this was the case. who will deliberate what the first will not so much as suppose. and it was a question which could never be asked. Barnet had a wife whose presence distracted his home she now lay as in death by merely doing nothing by . . Whether the conjuncture had arisen through any unscrupulous. and a considerable period elapsed before it could be said with certainty that Mrs.' It was not so with l^owne. and she is alive again. calmly turned. ill-considered impulse of Charlson to help out of a strait the friend who was so kind as never to press him for what was due could not be told there was nothing to prove it . for a moment. and vigorously in exerted himself to frame. The blue evening smoke from Lucy's chimney had died down to an imperceptible stream. Barnet left the chamber. He withdrew his hazel eyes from the scene without. and there was no further room for doubt. — which had gone forth to the world lie undisturbed he would effect such a deliverance for himself as he had never hoped for. After three hours' immersion his wife's body had been recovered.

and there learned helpless in his wild grief. in the finding that some guiding hand was necessary sorrow-stricken household.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN coupse. Barnet said little. house. but occasionally even hysterical. took upon him to super\-ise and manafre till Downe should be in a state of mind to do so for himself. being quite his extinct. Downe was Barnet on descending. friend's went straight to the result. .

Downe but a weakening memory.' ' Is the carriage ordered to sir.veiled lady in a travelling-dress came out and descended the freestone steps. when Mrs. ment. and at intervals a flitting shadow fell upon the blind at his Words also were audible from the same apartelbow. 'No. four months later.' meet her anywhere ? ' ' 'No. When she had been out of sight for some minutes Barnet appeared ' at the door from within. sir. yet lighted. * * Did she take a latch-key ? No. and a tall closely. an errand-boy paused to rest himself in front of Mr. and Mrs. The servant stood in the doorway watching her as she went with a measured tread down the street. Barnet's old house. Barnet was in perfect health. their purport. mistress leave Did your word where she was going?' he asked.WESSEX TALES VI vJNE September evening.' 138 . But the boy could not gather and he went on his way. sir. but there were lights in the house. Ten minutes afterwards the door of Barnet's house opened. depositing his The street was not basket on one of the window-sills. and they seemed to be those of persons in violent altercation.

sat down again and had not In searching about the rooms he discovered that she had taken a case of jewels which had been hers before her marriage. He awoke fell asleep. at six o'clock to find that she evening this order was carried out. and a sense of relief. bedtime he told the servants to retire. still his wife came not. Barnet himself. and the large clear moon which rose over the most prominent hill flung its light upon the booths and standings that still remained in the street. that he would sit up for Mrs. and when they were gone he leaned his head upon his hand and mused for this that and made his ! for hours. sat down in his chair. \vith 139 . and expressed a wish that certain boxes. and leaned back. mixing its rays curiously with those from the flaring naphtha lamps. The town was full of countr)'-people who had come in to enjoy themselves. The clock struck one. With a certain recklessness he By the Barnet. and. and on this account Barnet strolled throusrh the streets unobserved. At eight a note was brought him it was from his wife.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN Barnet went in again. At last he . returned. and so on. walked out into the A fair had been held during the day. might be sent to her forthwith. town. and had been written by Mrs. The note was brought to him by a waiter at the BlackBull Hotel. and nobody came to disturb him. with impatience added to depression. he went from room to room till another weary hour had passed. in which she stated that she had gone by the coach to the house of a distant relative near London. It was he had gratuitously restored her to life. two . articles of clothing. . Barnet immediately before she took her place in the stage. This was not altogether a new experience for Barnet but she had never before so prolonged her absence. union with another impossible The At evening drew on. Then in solitude and silence he brooded over the bitter emotions that filled his heart.

Downe had lost her life. tempted to retaliate on her egotism by owning that he loved at the same low level on which he lived .WESSEX TALES made for the harbour-road. but prudence had prevailed. a peer . Barnet ? the rambler said. for which he was now thankful. He looked sorely round. was not with him or his feelings. and possibly brought down. ' surprise. Her frequent depreciation of Barnet in these terms had at times been so intense that he was of the realm. thrown herself away upon a common burgher when she might have aimed at. so far as he was aware. Here he ruminated on their characters. He had made it a pomt of the utmost strictness to hinder that feeling from influencing in the famtest degree his attitude towards his wife . and not a living soul was near. Barnet made upon his attentions. Mr. where he walked on till he came to the spot near which his friend the kindly Mrs. He could not see her face because it was in the direction of the ' moon. and presently found himself by the shore. Nothing. for which she ever evinced the greatest contempt thus . a"nd this was made all the more easy for him by the small demand Mrs. and his own wife's life had been preserved. Something seemed to sound upon the shingle behind him over and above the raking of the wave. 140 . Her concern any personal behaviour of his at all. had ever appeared in his own conduct to show that such an interest existed. and a slight girhsh shape appeared quite close to him. and next on the young girl in whom he now took a more sensitive interest than at the time when he had been free to marry her. indeed. unwittingly giving him the satisfaction of knowing that their severance owed nothing to jealousy. in a moment of weakness. or. as she frequently told to him but that she had. A tremulous pathway of bright moonshine now stretched over the water which had engulfed them. in timid The voice was the voice of Lucy Savile.

You have an opening ? I have not exactly got it. or that I we indifferent to delicacy. am glad we have met. to give me an occupaI am sure I ought to help you. so let me do something of a different kind for you.' ' I will let tion. But I am going to make a little change in my life to go out as a teacher of freehand drawing and practical perspecShe ' hesitated. because I have not been specially educated for that But I am sure I shall like it much. and Don't ever touch upon that kind hastily turned aside.' ' Lucy. and leave this place and its associations for ever ' ! She played with the end of her bonnet-string. ' ' How can I repay you for I this pleasure ' ? I only came because the night was so clear. ' — of course I mean on a comparatively humble scale. but I have advertised tive. you must let me ' help you ! « Not at all' ' You need not think it would compromise you.' said Barnet. am now on my way home. ' of topic again. everywhere with you. I shall go to India and join ' my ' brother. or something of that sort. ' ' ' for one. as an idle man ? know you are almost without friends. I want to know if you me do something for you.' * for I Why should you tell me that ? she said. anywhere.' I wish I could go abroad. I bear in mind how stand. Say what you would like. if I can't be a drawing-mistress or governess. In the hope that you will be frank with me. It is very unlikely that you will succeed as am teacher of the class you mention.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN * Ygs. Lucy. and it shall be done. with a quick severity not free 141 .' profession.' she said.' No .' I am not altogether without friends here.

sent to bed about a quarter of an hour earlier. good-bye. and as I suppose my uncertainty will end in my leaving for India. now a widower with straight to the residence The young motherless brood had been four children. slipped into the gutter and his wife The old had been so enviably tender towards him. and while he remained in doubt whether a gentle irony was or was not inwrought with their sound.WESSEX TALES simply makes it impossible for me to any guidance from you. he himself followed in the same direction. widower. Mr. much less receive you. Barnet . unrenovated air which usually pervades momentarily deposited ever since . of Downe. If ever I think you cati do anything. and the place in general had that stagnant. No.' of her latter round and left him alone. you can do nothing for me at present. there some months forgotten there were . words was equivocal. That her hopes from an advertisement should be the Savile in England was single thread which held Lucy On reaching the town he went too much for Barnet. and when the same It was Barnet entered he found Downe sitting alone. ' It see you. thank you. cliff into the harbour-road. neatness had gone from the house. and no flowers things were jumbled together on the furniture which should have been in cupboards. she swept lightly The tone Till then. room as that from which the family had been at the beginning of the year. as if looking out for Downe when Downe had ago. and even when he had worked went on volubly. the maimed home of the Downe soon renewed wife. I fear you never will. I will take the trouble to ask from anger. his customary full-worded lament over his himself up to tears. He saw her form get smaller and smaller along the damp belt of sea-sand between ebb and flood and when she had vanished round the . articles lay in places which could show no reason for their presence. as if a listener 142 .

and how far short of them that will ' fall ! Barnet privately thought the design a sufficiently imposing one as it stood. who. though Downe's words drew genuine compassion from his heart.' Downe resumed. Downe's really sterling virtues than ' ! — — ' such a second-class lament as this. even extravagantly ornate. I see.' You have got Jones to do it. you know. And Downe wiped his eyes again. producing from a drawer a sheet of paper on which was an elaborate design for a canopied tomb. the man w ho is carrying out my house. and nobody else can ever fill the void left in my heart by her loss — Nobody now to nurse — . but it is not exactly what I want. could not help feeling that a tender reticence would have been a finer tribute to Mrs. should you not live more in your gently. ' be enjoyed whenever he could be She was a treasure beyond compare. feeling that he had no right to criticize. and soften the sharpness of regret for your own past by thinking of their future?' M3 . Paul's Cathedral. Mr.' gravely answered Barnet.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN were ^ a luxury to caught. more like a tomb I have seen in thing more striking St. It would be unbecoming to rethe tender pine. as he glanced at ' ' the signature to the drawing. ! I shall me nobody to console me in those daily troubles. but. nobody nobody She was a good woman in the highest sense. for her spirit's home was elsewhere but it is a long light in her eyes always showed it dreary time that I have before me. he said Downe. 'This has been sent me by the architect.' said Barnet. Nothing less will do justice to my — feelings. ' I want someYes. ' children's lives at the present time. but it is not quite what I want. I have something to show you. Barnet never see such another. which make consolation so necessary to a nature like mine. Barnet.

and would answer your purpose as well as anybody for six or twelve months. . Where does she live ? musing. and so your housekeeping arrangements would not be much means. wants to do She something for herself in the way of teaching. if Downe should think of her as suitable. She is rather stiff in her ideas of me. but that he could not see his way to it. would be rather beyond ' ' my in the ' No. and added that.' said the solicitor. She would probably come daily if you were to ask her.' he said. ' and it might prejudice her against a course if she knew that I recommended it. it would be advisable not to mention my name. he would do well to call as ' ' ' soon as possible.WESSEX TALES but what can I do more ? asked Downe. It was with anxious slowness that Barnet produced his reply the secret object of his visit to-night.' he said. which was not till nearly bedtime. yes wrinkling his forehead hopelessly. Lucy. or she might be on the wing. would be inexpensive. 'If you do see her.' Now. affected. Barnet told him. Yes. But when Barnet rose to go. Did * ' . he reminded Downe of the suggestion and went up the street to his own solitary home with a sense of satisfaction at his promising diplomacy in a charitable cause. — ' you not say one day that you ought by ' rights to get a governess for the children ? Downe admitted that he had said so.' Downe promised tion. to give the subject his considera- and nothing more was said about it just then. I think I shall send them to school town when they are old enough to go out alone. The kind of woman I should like to have. I know of something better than that. The late Lieutenant Savile's daughter.' I thought she had gone away.

or picturing under what circumstances the last fire would be kindled in the at present sootless One day when thus occupied he saw three chimneys. and perhaps something like an inherited instinct disqualifies such men for a life of pleasant inaction. it was an excellent distraction interest in for a man in the unhappy position of having to live in a provincial town with nothing to do. Barnet's feehngs about that unnecessary structure had undergone a change . and he might have been seen on most days at this time trj'ing the temper of the mortar by punching the joints with his stick. looking at the grain of a floor-board. By a curious though not infrequent reaction. he took considerable 1 walls of his full HE to their its progress as a long-neglected thing. such as lies in the power of those whose leisure is not a personal accident. . Thus Barnet got into a way of spending many of his leisure hours on the site of the new building. but a vast historical accretion which has become part of their natures. and meditating where it grew. K whose sudden appearance caused him to flush perceptibly. Moreover. children pass by in the company 145 of a fair young woman. He was probably the first of his line who had ever passed a day without toil.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN VII new house were carried up nearly height. his wife before her departure having grown quite weary of it as a hobby.

Another head rose above the Lucy uttered a small exclamation : : she was ven sorry that she had intruded . Lucy made but few remarks ir reply. stepping on to the sisters chile flooi and Miss Savile to follow floor. near the hole lef for the staircase. she had not the least ide£ that Mr. and he took her round There was not much to show in such a bare skeletor of a house. * followed. Barnet was there the children had come up and she had there. and stol( away down the ladder.' Casting an interested glance over the rising building and the busy workmen. though she seemed pleased with her visit. ' That's a blessec thing.WESSEX TALES ' '• Ah. and Barnet came forward. After this the new residence became yet more of hobby for Barnet. Barnet replied that he was only too glad to see thert And now. and another. anc Lucy herself came into view. whicl she was in the habit of doing on most fine afternoons It was on one of these occasions. that there appearec above the edge of the Uttle head. Downe's children did not forget thei 146 i . and the the ladder. not yet erected. when he had beer loitering on the first-floor landing. followed by < came to the top of and crying to her then Barnet withdrew through a doorway. shaving-strewr rooms. let me show you the rooms. floor a little hat. but he made the most of it. towards the sea-shore with her young charges. she is there. Lucy Savile and the littl( Downes passed by and after that time it became a re gular though almost unconscious custom of Barnet t( stand in the half-completed house and look from th( ungarnished windows at the governess as she trippec . and explainec the different ornamental fittings that were soon to b( fixed here and there.' he said She passively assented.' he thought. The troop rar hither and thither through the empty. followed by her companions.

but it must replied Lucy. looking round at in : — ' ' ! the hall.' ' I daresay. Will all the furniture be new ? she asked. who rarely missed a day in coming to inspect progress. O.' said Barnet.' Do let them make the house their ' regular play- There is no ground. However. and it was settled that we should build. ' The rooms ours ' . while Lucy stood waiting for them at the door. its recent associations are cheerful. Barnet. with an but I tried to do so very much apologetic blush. and the handsome broad low steps into the hall. and when the windows were staircase spread its glazed. 147 . but another person had a voice in the matter. I could not keep them out. ' All the furniture be new only — that's a thing I have not on.' perhaps never. better place for children to romp and take their exercise than an empty house. I daresay. and you yours. thought of In fact I come here and look house would have been large enough for me. and I am getting to like it fast.' she said. modern tastes develop. particularly in muddy or damp and weather such as we shall get a good deal of now this place will not be furnished for a long long time I am not at all decided about it.' she said. they are rather wilful. twice as high as are so lovely.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN first vfsit. withdrawing to call and serenely bidding him good afternoon the children she went on her way. and we are directed to walk this ' ' : way ' for the sea air. stepped out from the drawing room. and ' Still. My father's the place gr<^\vs upon me . Barnet's life at this period was singularly lonely. and the views from the windows ' are excellent. prancing in unwearied succession through every room from ground-floor to attics.' he said absently.' certain uneasiness in Lucy's manner A showed that the conversation was taking too personal a turn for her. as room to gratify . people retiuire more them in. they came again.

Barnet. advance seemed had broken down.WESSEX TALES His yet he was happier than he could have expected. I find I owe you a hundred thanks and it comes to me quite as a surprise It was through your kindness that I ' — ! was engaged by Mr. and the solitary walks that he took gave him ample opportunity for chastened reflection on what might have been his lot if he had only shown wisdom enough to claim Lucy Savile when there was no bar between their He would lives. I Believe me. and she was to be had for the asking. gardeners so far progressed that the beginning to grass down the front. he beheld her coming Hitherto Barnet in boldly towards him from the road. being engaged in the school-room. which promised to be permanent. I did not know it until yesterday. wife's estrangement and absence. had only caught her on the premises by stealth and The new house had were . occasionally call at the house of his friend Downe . either Lucy was never . depressing idea but. or ' ! should have thanked you long and long ago 148 . of going off to the other side of the globe. and it was quite radiant when she came up. or in taking an airing out of doors able. left him free as a boy in his movements. this to show that at last her reserve A smile gained strength upon her face as she approached. without a trace of embarrassment. and said. he was quite content. knowing that she was now comfortand had given up the. Mr. but there was scarcely enough in common between their two natures to make them more than friends of that excellent sort whose personal knowledge of each other's history and character is always in excess of intimacy. During an afternoon which he was passing in marking the curve for the carriage drive. to him. Downe. whereby they are not so likely to be severed by a clash of sentiment as in cases where intimacy springs up in excess of knowledge. visible at these times.

Barnet found that. architect . which ' the architect has just sent him. certainly. it must leally don't quite know what it is. and talked on bright matters till she said. with no useless elaboration at all. Mr.' She would not let him harp on this gloomy refrain. to tell the truth. I just a trifle said Barnet. it was to be a more modest memorial even than had been suggested by the knew why a coped tomb of good solid construction.' came up with their hoops. know house with a lighter tread . the architect . But I'll ask Jones. be Palladian. The it How beautiful look when the evergreens are grown Do you call the style Palladian. and we will let finished almost. Downe had now kindly done for him. Barnet ? I Yes. instead of the vast altar-tomb and canopy Downe had determined on at their last meeting.' Yes. for. though in reason he hardly his tread should be light.' she returned that. He would like you to look it over. I had not thought much about the I had nothing to do with choosing it.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN ' I ? had offended you ' think ' at the time. and he returned the drawing with a note of approval. smiling. 149 . Downe wished me to bring you this revised drawing of the late Mrs. Mr. yes. He returned to his desolate to . I am sorry style ' ' — : to say. Don't allude to it is house will is past and over. producing a small roll of paper which he had noticed in her hand all the while. ' and it was best that you ' — — should not know. Barnet had been glad to get those words of thanks he had been thinking for many months that he would like her children off with . is it not ? ! be. Downe's tomb. it hastily. and she went them down the harbour-road as usual. On examining the drawing. The of his share in finding her a home such as it was and what he could not do for himself. Barnet was truly glad to see that Downe had come to reason of his own accord .

which. : : . he murmured words and fragments of words. would have revealed all the secrets of his existence. and as he walked up and down the rooms. occasionally gazing from the windows over the bulging green hills and the quiet harbour that lay between them. if listened to. for he did not go anywhere out of his accustomed ways to endeavour to discover her. Lucy did not call the walk to the shore seemed to be abandoned again he must have thought it as well for both that it should be so. Whatever his reason in going there.WESSEX TALES He followed up the house-work as before.

had taken a long walk before breakfast . though not in the habit of rising early. to their visitor. returning by way of the new building. and made his an old newly-laid lawn look as well established as The house had been so adroitly manorial meadow. and notwithstanding the representations of her friends that such a journey was unadvisable in many ways for an unpractised girl. and he walked from . A sufficiently exciting cause of his restlessness to-day might have been the intelligence which had reached him the night before. and he entered. that Lucy Savile was going to India after all.FELLOW-TOWNSMEM viri 1 HE winter and the spring had passed. and the houSi It was a fine morning in the early part was complete. of June. cawed melodiously trees was a dissatisfied . that they seemed like real ancestral and the rooks. and Barnet. He hardly saw that the dewy time of day lent an unusual freshness to the bushes and trees which had so recently put on their summer habit of heavy leafage. The door was not locked. No workmen appeared to be present. Barnet's walk that he up the slope in to the building betrayed mood. unless some more definite advantage lay at the end of it than she could show to be the case. young and old. placed between six tall elms which were growing on the site beforehand.

and. ' : Downe ? ' ' Well yes it is at last. that the whole thing has been nothing but waste labour for me. ventilating. he perceived Mr. for his choice. come to look over the building before giving the contractor his final certificate. coming back and speaking as if he were in a mood to make a confidence.' Jones hastened to say. I am heartily glad ' it is Barnet expressed his surprise. in bell-hanging. reduced design after design. the architect. when Barnet was leaving to keep another engagement." " said. to over. O no — he . I have had no end of trouble in the ' — matter. I headstone for least. Footsteps echoed through an adjoining room . They walked over the house together. till in the end it has become a common headstone.wessex tales sunny window sunny window of the empty rooms. and bending his eyes in that direcHe had tion.' said the architect. Is the tomb finished yet for Mrs. having directed Barnet's attention to a roll of wall-paper patterns which lay on a bench said. I thought poor given up those extravagant notions of his ? then he has gone back to the altar and canopy after all ? Well. poor fellow O no he has not at all gone back to them He has so quite the reverse. which a mason put Downe had ' ' — ! — ' up in half a day.' ' A common Yes. he is to be excused. fire- and French windows. Everything was finished except the there were the latest improvements of the papering : period grates. Jones. smoke-jacks. ' ' ? said Barnet. The business was soon ended. and Jones.' tell the truth. for the addition * held out some time But he 152 of a footstone at couldn't afford it. with a sense of seclusion which might have been very pleasant but for the antecedent knowledge that his to almost paternal care of Lucy Savile was to be thrown away by her wilfulness.

And again directing Barnet's attention to his ' "Ah. And there's this one from Mr.' Yes. poor fellow. and somebody enter the open porch. as it were. and lived on again. ' — it was his manservant in have been trying for some time to find you. at the blank walls. he turned and climbed the stairs slowly. Barnet had died suddenly on the previous day. but had not long been engaged in the work when he heard another footstep on the gravel without. turned to the window and stretched his gaze to the cottage further down the road. had entirely dislodged the possibility of her actual death from his conjecture.' This letter has come by the post. ' Downe. wherein he was briefly informed that Mrs. The fact of his wife having. as if the subject were none of his. ' left him to keep A common to himself. He mused headstone. who called just now wanting to see you. died once already. and it is marked immediate. and with eyes downcast. well — his the wall-papers. I he said. exactly. or in that Barnet looked vaguely round the empty hall. Drawing a long paljntating breath. Barnet took the first letter it had a black border. wife's handwriting. out of the doorway.' murmured Barnet. leant over the balusters. He went to the landing. which was visible 153 . like a man who doubted their stability. the bustling architect some other engagement. of whose duration he had but the faintest notion. expenses are getting serious. Barnet went to the door search of him. sir. but conjecture soon ceased as he read the page. and after a reverie. left again a minute or two. It was not in his — of any person he knew . and bore the London postmark. at the furnished villa she had occupied near London. and next began looking over and selecting from the patterns .FELLOW-TOWNSMEN and family is growing up.' said Jones.' He searched his pocket for the second.

study-table. the papers previously chosen seemed wrong in their shades. again. Barnet fell down on his knees and murmured some incoherent words of thanksgiving. He called just after you went out.WESSEX TALES from to his landing. I beg your pardon. and footsteps again advancing to the door. and from which Lucy the solicitor's house by a cross path. brushed the dust from his trousers. he wrote this on your ' ' . there All should be no going to India for Lucy now. he mechanically descended and resumed his occupation of turning over the wall-papers. What her evident interest in him. speaking to him woman can in the long run avoid being interested in a man whom she knows to be devoted to her ? If human solicitation could ever effect anything. and set himself to think of his next movements. sir. Downe that you didn't take. whom he had quite forgotten in his mental turmoil. Surely his virtue in restoring his wife to ! life had been rewarded But. At Then. was still waiting there. almost involuntarily. While entering on the task he heard a forced Ahem from without the porch. evidently uttered to attract his ' ' ! attention. and he began from the beginning to choose . who would sit in those papers. It was all changed the rooms that they were to line? He went on to muse upon Lucy's conduct in so frequently coming to the house with the children her occasional blush in . and as he couldn't wait.' 154 . he quickly rose. They had all got brighter for him. — . He could not start for London for some hours and as he had no preparations to make that could not be made in half-an-hour. his still walked faint ' The words that came from last ' ! moving lips were simply. His man. as if the impulse struck uneasily on his conscience.' the man said from round the doorway but here's the note from Mr.

for reasons which I am sure you will fully appreciate. William. No calmly. and stood in the front awhile. themselves together into one half-hour of this day showed that curious refinement of cruelty in their arrangement which often proceeds from the bosom of _ 155 . dashed extent now.ne. it ran 'Perhaps you will be prepared for about to give that Lucy Savile and myself I have hitherto said nothing are going to be married this morning. as to my intention to any of my friends. near the spot where the body of Downe's late wife had been found and brought ashore.' ' Need That I wait. When the man had gone Barnet re-read the letter. and go to church with us . sir ? said the servant after a dead answer. as it were. discovered that I could not do without her.FELLOW TOWNSMEN J He handed a in the letter — no — now. and there is no doubt that he exercised it to its fullest The events that had. returning into the town.' said Barnet silence. in the belief that I should find you at home . which he had been at such pains to select. Turning eventually to the wall-papers. locked Instead of the door. ' but it is my particular wish It is to be quite a private wedding . ' will do. the request. Dow. that you come down here quietly at ten. but practical-looking black-bordered one note in the well-known writing of the solicitor. and threw them into the empty fireplace. he went down the harbourroad and thoughtfully lingered about by the sea. to Lucy's also. he deliberately tore them into halves and quarters. and. ' C. Barnet was a man with a rich capacity for misery. The crisis has been brought about by 'Dear Baunet' I — — the information am I then her expressing her intention to join her brother in India. it will add greatly I to the pleasure I shall experience in the cere- mony. Then he went out of the house. — Yours sincerely. early to make I have called on you very believe. but you are beforehand with me in your early rising.

His eyes. but which was never to be gone thereafter. Downe. looked from them being largely mixed with the surprise of a man taken unawares. out on his journey to London. between the reading of the first and second letters. and Barnet then could perceive that the marriage between Downe and Lucy was 156 at that . the god at other times known as blind That his few minutes of hope. of a light hazel. as yet. Now he gave a perceptible start. the town knew. for some hours (there being at this date no railway within a distance of many miles). had a curious look which can only be described by the word bruised the sorrow that . no great reason existed why he should leave the town. taken with that which had accompanied the death of Mrs. which he had never noticed before. being so singular as to be quite sufficient to darken the : pleasure of the impressionable solicitor to a cruel extent. Impulse in all its forms characterized Barnet. But as Barnet could not set if made known to him. and his mechanical the himself to condition went away. Before the church-gate were a couple of carriages. was somehow gradually forming itself in the smooth of his forehead. and when he heard the distant clock strike the hour of ten his feet began to carry him up the harbour-road with manner of a man who must do something to bring life. The secondary too.WESSEX TALES whimsical Circumstance. though for some time they apNot a soul in peared to engage little of his attention. his own new one. into his face would have shown a close watcher that a horizontal line. particulars of his present position. had carried him to extraordinary heights of rapture was proved by The sun blazing the immensity of his suffering now. He passed Lucy Savile's old house. and he almost owed Downe the kindness of not publishing it till the day was over the conjuncture. where his wife lay. of his wife's death . and came in view of the church. were odd enough.

Pacing up the paved footway he entered the church and stood for a while in the nave group of people was standing round the passage. It seemed as if Barnet expected upon Lucy's face but no. I wish you could have come sooner I called on purpose to ask you. and when he reached the wicket-gate he turned in without apparent effort. 157 . offering his congratulations. and Downe's little flurry : ' : ' * ' . an indocile wish to walk unin spite of grim environments. when he turned again front to front he was calm and quite smiling . A There they were. plainly possessed A moved him. Seeing Dovvne about to look round. there was nothing whatever in her bearing which showed a disturbed mind her gray-brown eyes carried in them now as at other times the well-known expression of common-sensed rectitude which never went so far as to touch on hardness. Lucy's new silk dress sweeping with a smart rustle round the base-mouldings of the ancient font. no. Barnet advanced through these and stepped into the vestry. . even though I had not time to go home and dress. self-confidence. and observe the effect of the spectacle upon myself as one of the public' Then Lucy and her husband laughed. busily signing their names. a half-guilty look natural flush and engendered by the service just performed. feeling of sudden. and Barnet and the quiet little party went laughed and retired gliding down the nave and towards the porch. You'll drive back with us now ? I am not at all prepared No. save the . and deserved to be remembered in his native town. greeted He Downe heartily. and Downe said warmly.' said Barnet but I thought I would look in upon you for a moment. Barnet averted his somewhat disturbed face for a second or two . .FELLOW-TOWNSMEN moment proud being solemnized within. vestry door . She shook hands with him. it was a creditable triumph over himself. I'll stand back and see you pass out.

In those short minutes of treading in the dead man Barnet had formed a design. stepped into the grave. The sexton rested on his looked after him for a few moments. and helped to ' him. which had taken place twelve months. almost convulsive. ' Shall I help ' O no. called on his lawyer. When the two flys had driven off had vanished. In the churchyard he became pale as a summer cloud. a follow^ed to the door. and finding it not easy to proceed he sat down on one of the tombstones and supported his head with his hand. and the spectators and went He took no more trouble to preserve spruce exterior. ness. sexton apparently thought his conduct a little but he made no observation. rousing himself and standing up. now nearly filled. who. but what it was the inhabitants of that town did not for some long time He went home. their teacher and friend. said. Observing Barnet. and recognizing you home. The sexton returned to his grave. after watching him awhile. and looked shovel far to the gate and then began banking up the mound. Barnet suddenly stopped. he went up to him. Barnet out into the sun. away. and with a decided step proceeded and vanished. and the slight changes of colour which went on in his face seemed refracted from some inward flame. followed by Barnet. So Downe was comforted after his Emily's death. and that of Lucy.' said Barnet. Hard by was a sexton filling up a grave which he had not found time to finish on the previous evening. wrote several letters of busiimagine. hesitating. sir ? thank you. two weeks. The singular. his step was unequal. and three days before that time.WESSEX TALES daughters following in a state of round-eyed interest in their position. an old man of the same 158 . tread in the earth. and when the grave was full.

if any. had certain knowledge of that next leaving a note for . By eleven o'clock the heap of papers in and grate had reached formidable dimenThis. and during the evening overhauled a large quantity of letters and other documents in his possession. real and personal. and the name became extinct in the borough of Port-Bredy. 1. and he sat long into the night to complete the before Barnet's sions. The fact. every vestige of him had disappeared from the precincts of his native place. but when a thrice-sufficient time for that purpose had elapsed. task. and that he was gone to bury her. Downe to inform him of Mrs. Barnet's old habitation was bought by the trustees of the Congregational Baptist body in that town. it was not so easy to do as he had expected. now a thriving man in the borough. after having been a hving force therein for more than two hundred years. By the time the last hour of that. or in his old one. and he their quantity.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN place who had been the legal adviser of Barnet's father before him. morning Barnet departed for London. to Barnet. and one whose growing family and new wife required more roomy accommodation than was afforded by the little house up the narrow side street. eventful year had chimed. nobody knew whither. owing to began to burn them. Barnet's sudden death. He was gone It was soon disfor good.59 . covered that he had empowered his lawyer to dispose of all his property. new residence was sold with the rest of and its purchaser was no other than Downe. The elegant his possessions . or in his new house. in the borough. and pay in the proceeds to the account of an unknown The person person at one of the large London banks. was by some supposed to be himself under an assumed name but few. he was not seen again in his accustomed walks. who pulled down the time-honoured dwelling and built a new chapel on its site.

damp and even constitutional infirmities of its own Its architecture.WESSEX TALES IX 1 years and six months do not pass without setting a mark even upon durable stone and upon humanity such a period works nothing triple brass In Barnet's old birthplace less than transformation. stiffened. had had such a tremendous it by some practical joke played upon facetious restorer or other as to be scarce its recognizable by dearest old friends. men and women had dried in the skin. WENTY-ONE had grown up to be stable men and women. Trees about the harbour-road had increased in circumwhile the church ference or disappeared under the saw . withered. mellowness. while selections from every class had been consigned to the outlying cemetery. Virginia creepers. and sunk into decrepitude . had already become stale in style. once so insistently new. without having reached the dignity of being old-fashioned. tying it on to a main line at a junction Barnet's house on the harbour-road. a dozen miles off. with ivy. once so very like its elder fellows. During this long interval George Barnet had never once been seen or heard of in the town of his fathers i6o . Of inorganic differences the greatest was that a railway had invaded the town. improved and modern. lichens. had acquired a respectable patches. vivacious young children with bones like india-rubber .

remarked.' in a tone of painful duty. ' And after that we shan't see much further difference far as all's winter. Come fair-day we shall have to light up before we ' ' start for home-along. and then a man came into the manteau on his hall. were not unwilling to go even so The barmaid sighed again. It ' The farmers merely acknowledged by their countenances the propriety of this remark. Days get shorter.' his neighbour conceded. with curly ashen- i6i L . and raised one of her hands from the counter on which they rested to scratch the smallest surface of her face with the smallest of her She looked towards the door. and some halfdozen middle-aged farmers and dairymen were lounging round the bar of the Black-Bull Hotel. these latter sighing and making a private observation to one another at odd intervals. and noticed that the lamplighter was passing by. on more interesting experiences than the present.' 'That's true. The stranger was an elderly person. as he looked towards the street. poll. and less frequently to the two barmaids who stood within the pewcer-topped counter in a perfunctory attitude of attention.' said one of the dairj-men. station. occasionally dropping a remark to each other. and finding that nobody else spoke. followed by a porter with a portwhich he deposited on a bench.' rest The this. there was a lumbering down of luggage.' ' I think I hear the 'bus coming in from The eyes of the dair}-men and farmers turned to the glass door dividing the hall from the porch. and in Then a minute or two the omnibus drew up outside. and presently fingers.JJ-ELLOW-TOWNSMEN was the evening of a market-day. one of the barmaids said yes. w^ith a gaze of blankness.

its hue and that of his hair conHe walked trasting like heat and cold respectively. and walked out into the town. As soon as invited he disappeared up the staircase. The traveller passed on till he came to the bookA seller's. barrow. looked curiously round the hall. In a moment or two he addressed them. a deeply-creviced outer corner to each eyelid. His chief interest at present seemed to lie in the names painted over the shop-fronts and on door-ways. 162 . and with his elbow on the counter began to turn over the pages he had bought. but said nothing. preceded by a chambermaid and candle. and a countenance baked by innumerable suns to the colour of terra-cotta. these now differed to an ominous extent from what they had been one-and-twenty years before. A quarter of an hour later. with his dubious eyes fixed on the barmaids. The gray-haired observer entered. as far as they were visible.WESSEX TALES white hair. though that he read nothing was obvious. and asked to As he waited he be accommodated for the night. took a biscuit and one glass of wine. and followed by a Not a soul had recognized him. lad with his trunk. when the farmers and dairymen had driven off to their homesteads in the country. at the bottom of his breast had evidently made him so accustomed to its situation there that it caused him little practical inconvenience. and idler that occupied the wayside. he seemed to consider himself. where the radiance from the shop-windows had grown so in volume of late years as to flood with cheerfulness every standing cart. asked for some periodical by way of paying for admission. like one who was fearful of disBut whatever lay turbing his own mental equilibrium. whether shabby or genteel. fresh-faced young man was standing behind the counter. He paused in silence while. where he looked in through the glass door. he came downstairs. meditatively and gently. otherwise the shop was empty. stall.

' ' I believe Ringdale. ' — on. she's alive ' and well.' to it. and cleared his voice. the solicitor. ' My it father I is is dead. Is Mr. Downe still alive ? firmly as soon as the words were out of his mouth.' Barnet. sir. and it Here observer ' ' dropping ' Yes. Melrose ? He's been dead a great many years. and Company still in existence? they used to be large flax-merchants and twine-spinners here ' ' — ? The firm is still going dropped the name of Barnet. closing his lips Mrs. he's dead. Watkins still alive said. his eyes. and rested the paper on the counter.' was a longer silence still. at Chateau it has 163 . Mary's Mr. 'Ah. She's living at the old place. but they have I believe that was a sort knew of any living does Andrew Jones still keep on as architect ? He's dead. sir.' Dear me He paused yet longer. Browse. ' am so But many that I could said the stranger. been in the family for some generations.' ' In East Street ? O no . which had a curious youthful cadence in ' ' ? it even now. Is himself. sorry sir. he asked. and an attentive would have noticed that the paper in the stranger's hand increased its imperceptible tremor to a That gray-haired gentleman noticed it visible shake. No. I never 'Tis now Browse and Co. years since I last visited this town hardly expect it should be otherwise. still in ' And ' — ' ' ' ' ! ' ' practice ' ? sir. sir.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN At length he in a voice Is old Mr. He died about seven years ago. of fancy name at least.' said the young man.' And the "\'icar of St. Downe.' hear After a short silence he continued — ' And is the firm of Barnet.

and once more emerging. on the palm of the other. Downe lives living in other parts of the town. perhaps ? she has no children of her own. when he was young and interesting. full value received As far as the world was concerned. . well. I some Miss Downes alone. did I ? Here the stooping man laid one hand emphatically I gave you a chance. I suppose. that fifty pounds. hey ? * Heaven forbid all that. bent his steps in and dined. The Fates have rather ill-used me. with her children. ' There were think they were Mr. she's again 164 ! . Mr. Barnet? — — ' ! 'Tis Mr. his shoulders having a perceptible Each greasiness as they passed under the gaslight. newly-arrived gentleman went back to the hotel after which he made some change in his shaved back his beard to the fashion that had prevailed twenty years earlier.' The dress. he overtook a shambling. your wife was a ' — — ' . George Barnet. ! ' — ' droivjied zvoman. But I was not ungrateful I never paid it. sir . surely ' « Yes . pedestrian momentarily turned and regarded the other. . unshaven man.' ' Quite alone Yes. Charlson ' Well. 'Good why is that Mr.WESSEX TALES ' She lives ' No . Downe's daughters by a former wife. 'twas a wrong way of ' ! showing gratitude. stooping. . Barnet. who fessional and the tramp-like gentleman started back. but they are married and Mrs. which many men would have thought the chance to marry your Lucy. Just before getting to the point where the pavement ceased and the houses isolated themselves. Barnet. at first sight appeared like a protramp. and you are Charlson ? Yes ah you notice my appearance. By-the-bye. And now a drop of something to drink for old acquaintance' sake And Mr. the direction of the harbour-road. ' ? ' quite alone.

bosomed in trees and shrubs planted since the erection of the building that one would scarcely have recognized the spot as that which had been a mere neglected slope till He opened the chosen as a site for a dwelling. he announced himself as friend of Mrs. trees and bushes which revealed itself at every step Savile ran in to thank was beyond all expectation sun-proof and moon-proof bowers vaulted the walks. and on ' the servant appearing. Downe's. and slipping a small present into the hands of the needy. he stepped ahead and was soon in the outskirts of the town.' an old The turned it hall lo"/. which remained exactly as it had been marked out by Barnet on the morning when Lucy him for procuring her the post But the growth of of governess to Downe's children. ha ' ! speaker pushed tongue cheek and slanted his eye in the old fashion. Could him ? The partitions which had were 165 . and gently moved into the semicircular drive.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN free^ — there's a chance the now if you care for it — ha. bending boughs. During the servant's absence the following colloquy rare. closed it noiselessly. the After Hngering for a few minutes in the dusk of the visitor rang the door-bell. There was a stagnaseemed to be waiting. And his into his hollow He reached the harbour-road. was as if lighted. tion in the dwelling it really be waiting for been probed by Barnet's walking-stick when the mortar was green. the gas being visitors . the first-floor \Aindows. and paused before It was so highly the entrance to a well-known house.' said Barnet quickly. and the walls of the house were uniformly bearded with creeping plants as high as . which had glistened with a pale yellow newness when first erected. and the ornamental woodwork of the staircase. was now of a rich wine-colour. 'I know all. but not brightly. were now quite brown with the antiquity of their varnish. swing-gate. saddening man.

Mr. ' ' He He didn't give his name ? " an old friend. but I never ' thought if ' so.' And the stranger was shown in face to face with the Lucy who had once been Lucy Saviie. I will see him." ma'am. Very the listener greatly. of course. In her eyes the only modification was that their originally mild rectitude of expression had become a little more Yet she was still girlish a stringent than heretofore. a pervasive grayness overspread her once dark brown hair. don't you know me ' ? he said. 166 . The parting down the like morning rime on heather. well. with gray hair. you would come back to your old town again.' The voice of the second speaker seemed ' A to ' affect After a pause. We should have heard of it for certain you had been. said you were dead. but I always thought cheerfully. ' Lucy. and then they sat down.' in all Yes . — girl a gratuitously weighted by destiny with burden of five-and-forty years instead of her proper who had been twenty.' It is a ' very long time since we met. The round cheek of that formerly young lady had.WESSEX TALES could be dimly heard through the nearly closed door of the drawing-room.' continued Lucy. what you must have seen. the lady said.' ' ! ' They She gave him her hand. some knob behind. middle was wide and jagged . ' when the servant had closed the door. alarmingly flattened its curve in her modern representative .' only said of gentleman is ' ' What kind he ' ? staidish gentleman. and some curls beneath inwrought with a few hairs like silver wires were very becoming. she returned I knew you the instant I saw you 'I don't know why. Barnet. a narrow crevice between two high banks of But there w\as still enough left to form a handshade. once it had been a thin white Une.

— daughters — time these twenty years.' she said simply nor did Charles. ' ' and a little in Australia. indeed look at me.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN these roving years. ' . ! — You * guessed why. accordingly. and have been any . in comparison with what I have seen in ' ' this quiet place ! Her face grew more serious. Barnet nodded. solely because you married him on the day I was free to ask you to marry me. pausing at the Surely not because of me ? ' No. and yet more than But when people get to my twenty years have flown. Downe's to keep me pretty cheerful. ' ! ' ' ' commencement of surprise. I have not stayed in any place for Cape. The fixing of my journey at that particular moment was because of her funeral but once away I knew I should have no inducement to come back.' And I am a lonely old man. ' ' . considering what been ' manage all though Mr.' 'But where have you kept yourself? And why did you go off so mysteriously ? Well. but his smile was Because I married Charles ? she asked.' Her face she looked up and assumed an aspect of gentle reflection. and smiled again sadder than hers. she said. I have kept myself a little in America. a little at the . a little in India. and down his form with great interest 167 . My wife died fourand-twenty hours before you went to church with Downc. and took my steps . Lucy. time ? have married I You know my husband has been dead a long I am a lonely old woman now. as it seems to me. why age two years go like one did I go away so mysteriously. and so on a long time.' Now think it over again. nor did anybody as far as I know. didn't you ? I never once guessed. 'Yes. is surely not necessary. and then Well. Your second question. and say if you can't guess ? She looked him in the face with an inquiring smile.

— came in at the door. They had both risen and gone to the fireplace. how like it all is. since my husband's death. you know. It was from Downe. understand it all. Then my servant — again ' till now.' at last I Ah. • back. and handed me a note. so. I never thought of it she said. bearing the patterns of wall-papers. Was it not stupid of me But you will have some tea or something? I have never dined late. of course. well ' ! said Barnet he room ' . ' regardless of the flying hour. I was choosing them standing in this way. You will have some in ' ' ! ! ' — ' tea with me.' she murmured. The mantel came almost on a level ^\^th her shoulder. that you had once imphed some warmth of feehng towards me.' he said. I chose no more wall-papers tore up all those I had selected. when I was last here. They sat and tea and chatted over the meal. ' better late than never. presently. and announced that you were just going to be married to him.WESSEX TALES her eyes. as for the first time Well. I knew. and yet all reason and common sense went to prove that she was not acting. And I have ahvays been under the impression that your wife was ahve at the time of my marriage. I never entered it as it might be. It was difficult to believe that she had been quite blind to the situation. and Barnet laid his hand upon the shelf close beside her shoulder. which gently rested against it. Will you marry me now ? ' ' She started obvious in that it should be so. but I concluded that it passed off. and the surprise which was so her wrought even greater surprise in him You take me quite unawares by such a question 1 ' ! 68 . was brought in. and leisurely surveyed the yet how different Just ! where your piano stands was a board on a couple of trestles. Lucy. will you not ? The travelled man assented quite readily. I have got into the way of making a regular meal of tea. and left the house.

dropping her hand. than any other man I have ever met. ' I am in earnest. rather But sudden. ' I am ' And in earnest in asking. let me say that I am quite opposed to the idea of marrying a second time. Had pose. ' is — I — ! Why not ' ? — — out of ' my thoughts . I couldn't marry you for the ' ' world.' said Barnet more slowly.' Well. the first time she had shown any embarrassment at all.' 'Well.' she added. I would on your account if on anybody's in existence.FELLOW-TOWNSMEN It was she said.' he answered. ' How hall. yes. because I see that you are really in earnest. and earnestness is never ridiculous to my mind. helped him to 169 . But you don't know in the least what it is you are I won't say such an impracticable thing asking — — ridiculous. With all good feeling and all kindness. Barnet. I have not the least intention of marrying again. of course. which he had taken at the moment of pleading. If you really won't accept me. with same subdued and tender humorousncss that he had shown on such occasions in early life. at the Cape. with a forced laugh of uneasiness. Mr. no the ' ' you any notion that it was so late absorbed I have been She accompanied him to the ' ! ' ? he asked. I supHis eye fell on the clock as he spoke. if I ever dreamed But I don't dream of it it is quite of marriage again. it is true.' she said with a little flutter.' But — on my account — couldn't you Come ' ! alter your plans ' a little ? * Dear Mr.' I in declining. Barnet. and as I see now. to come back once more was.' harm has been done.' ' Not It after all this would I really think I may say it I would upon the whole rather marry you. Why. not well considered. I must put up with it. two months ago. The resolve.

and let him out of the house lamp shone the 'Good-night. he had shown no anger.' he ' pleasantly ' replied. it ones. deserving She recalled to her mind with tenderest consideration. much pleasure that he had told her he was staying at so that if. with eyes dropped Barnet's urbanity under to an unusually low level. case. and had philono better sophically taken her words as if he deserved It was very gentlemanly of him. . On there looking in the glass she was reminded that was not so much remaining of her former beauty as to make his frank declaration an impulsive natural homage it must undoubtedly have to her cheeks and eyes arisen from an old staunch feeUng of his. in his modesty. useless having his long period of probation rendered by her decision. closed the Here the modest door softly and returned to the room. as You are not offended with in his face. 170 light youthful hues flew . he should not.' said Barnet. call again. widow long pondered his speeches. . the more she questioned the virtue of her conduct in checking him so peremptorily . his overcoat. and Mr. and went to her bedroom in a mood of dissatisfaction. Til consider whether I am or not. his footsteps After the blow of her refusal greatly impressed her. as any generous woman ought to do. after waiting a day or the Black-Bull Hotel she two. She watched him safely through the gate and when had died away upon the road. was more than gentlemanly . it was heroic and grand. on the doorstep. certainly.WESSEX TALES put on herself. Barnet in. To alter her might then send him a nice little note. ' ' me? * Nor you with me ? Certainly not. The morrow came and passed. but views for the present was far from her intention she would allow herself to be induced to reconsider the . The more she meditated. did not drop At every knock. Good-night.' .

her romance absorbed her. On closely.FELLOW'TOWNSMEN across and she was abstracted in the her cheek In the evening she presence of her other visitors. thinking she The growing beauty of might meet him in the street. from those which ruled only four-and-twenty What had been at first a tantalizing short hours ago. next day she walked out early. and her person was so informed by ferent that emotion that she might almost have stood as its emblematical representative by the time the clock struck In short. without any consciousness of distance. and from the fields to the shore. In the evening she took a step which under the circumstances seemed justifiable . and questioned the staff 171 . she The wrote a note to him at the hotel. inviting him to tea with her at six precisely. but he had stated that he would probably return in the course of the week. walked about the house. Mr. and she longed to see him again. elusive sentiment was getting acclimatized within her as a definite hope.' In a quarter of an hour the messenger came back. not knowing what to do with herself. bling that of her early youth led her present heart to belie her yesterday's words to him. Lucy to the Black-Bull. There was no sign from the inn that this desired event had occurred. till reminded by her weariness that she could go no further. an interest in Barnet precisely resemten. and following. and she went from the street to the fields. went herself the Saturday. and signing her note Lucy. He had nowhere appeared. the conditions of existence seemed totally dif. Barnet had left the hotel early in the morning of the day before. The note was sent back. had scarcely slept half-an-hour. putting off all diffidence. to be given to him immedi' ately on his arrival. either on the next day or the day On both nights she had been restless.

and resolved to wait. April 1880. She did wait years and years but Barnet never He had — — reappeared. Barnet had cursorily remarked when leaving might return on the Thursday or Friday. left no address. . Lucy sorrowfully took back her note went home.WESSEX TALES Mr. but they were directed not to reserve a room for him unless that he he should write.

INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP .

.

or too young. ' have to walk it. was riding beside him. are weak too old. hill.Ash Lane. and with very seldom a turning. All three were well horsed on strong. round-barrelled cobs and to be well horsed was to be in better spirits about . especially in winter-time. a monotonous track without a village or hamlet for many miles. but who. or in other respects too for the distance to be traversed. say. a dairyman.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP is tedious and Along a part of its course it connects with Long. farmer's friend. as ' ! they look wistfully ahead. Unapprized wayfarers who 1 HE north road from Casterbridge lonely. much to his friend as The enterprise which had brought him 175 . <-his few Long-Ash Lane than poor pedestrians could during its attain to passage. and Long-Ash lessly as before. never- theless. Once at the top of that see the end of Long-Ash Lane hilltop. A years ago a certain farmer was riding lane in the gloom of a winter evening. talk But the farmer did not he rode along. and I must surely But they reach the Lane stretches in front as merci- Some through The few paces in the rear rode the farmer's man.

since he had of his expedition to- night showed the same absence of anxious regard for Number One. none of his own making. measure of a deed be proportionate to the space it occupies in the heart of him who undertakes it. . had been a one-idea'd character. Contemplative.WESSEX TALES mind for in truth it was important. and of sheep a multitude. In Barton the son. naturally enough. since succeeding to hopes. He had was probably thirty thousand pounds a year. The party . Farmer Barton's head jigging rather unromantically up and down against the sky. from the present representative of the line. His turnover. as it is called. this trade subtlety had become transmuted into emohe would tional. when estimated by its value to society at large but if the true there filled his . with a buttoned-up pocket and a chink-like eye brimming with commercial subtlety. safe trot proper to night-time and bad roads. Not altogether so important was it. The motive nature. and up to his present age of thirty-two. and the harshness had disappeared . a great many draught horses. the father. the agricultural calling. while those of the latter were travestied in jerks still l^ss softened by art in th^ 176 . unstrategic that he desired. rode on in the slow. Farmer Charles Barton's business to-night could hold its own with the business of kings. a great many milch cows. he allowed his mind to be a quiet meeting-place for memories and So that. however. created by his father. and his motions being repeated with bolder emphasis by his friend Japheth Johns. perhaps. have been called a sad man but for his constant care not to divide himself from lively friends by piping notes out of harmony with theirs. This comfortable position It had been was. He was a large farmer. he had neither advanced nor receded as a a stationary result which did not agitate one capitalist — of his all unambitious. Barton. a man of a very different stamp .

The darkness thickened rapidly. "neighbour Darton?' asked Johns. and still further spoiling the On close inspection they might have grace of his seat. with a distinctive traffic. and where the dunghills smell of pomace instead of stable refuse as elsewhere. neglected lane had been a highway to Queen Elizabeth's subjects ' and the cavalcades of the its past. of — prefix or affix. bumping against him at each step. but not sufficient to saturate them.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP person of the lad who attended them. with only an open they were door between them and the four seasons they regarded the mist but as an added obscuration. lying thereabout) the best cider and cider-wine in — where all the people make Wessex. The lane was sometimes so narrow that the brambles of the hedge.' resumed Darton 177 M . Ay ' — call it my fate! Hanging and wiving go by destiny. I have decided to marry her. The customary close of day was accelerated With the fall of by a simultaneous blurring of the air. Its day was over now. at intervals shutting down on the land in a perceptible flap. scratched their hats and Yet this curry-combed their whiskers as they passed. Countrymen as born. like the wave of a wing. breaking a silence which had lasted — ' while five-and-twenty hedgerow trees had glided by. been perceived to be open rush baskets one containing a turkey. A pair of whitish objects hung one on each side of the latter. They were travelling by no modern current in a direction that was enlivened the place of Darton's one of the pilgrimage being an old-fashioned village Hintocks (several villages of that name. Darton with a half-laugh murmured.' And then they were silent again. and the other some bottles of wine. and ignored its night had — — humid quality. come a mist just damp enough to incommode. and Why history as a national artery done for ever. Mr. as may be said. D'ye feel ye can meet your fate like a man. which hung forward like anglers' rods over a stream.

' said Dairyman Johns. why should a woman like a rope-dancer because she's going to do the most ' ' solemn deed of her ' ' life But she will.' Serviceable is a wise word in Good. ' * is rather serviceable than ' showy ' — suitable for the winter weather. but that I can a fairly practical point of view. as he glanced round to see that the lad was not too near. who'll think me as much a you know who I superior to her as I used to think mean was to me.' said Darton. 178 except dying ? because she will. is not only that I like her. why ? suppose. villainy. I . independent. because no Sally is. wrong denomination to apply to a woman.' Mine's a 'Well.' said Johns. this one wouldn't. dress up For. Not exactly a weddingIt is a dress. as your best man. and ' ' affects me. Darton expressed a hope that the said Sally had received what he'd sent on by different one. It dress . I commend ye. stage like cold water. when that's what you've paid your half-crown to see. simple character.' a bridegroom.' said Johns. with no make-up about her." said I when. Charles. I shouldn't call Sally Ay. may your opinion do you good.' the carriex that day.WESSEX TALES (in a measured musical voice of confidence which ' re- vealed a good deal of his composition).' said Darton. Faith. Charles. though she may use it as one if she likes. 'Tis like play by saying there's neither murder. recommending a And turning the conversation from the philosophical to the practical. Hall simple. Primary. though it is really all nonsense. even from That I might ha' looked higher I is possibly true. have had experience enough in looking above me. Johns wanted to know what that was. do no better. 'Tis a because if some could be.' — — — However. secondary. " No more you know superior women for me. nor harm of any sort in it. Sally is a comely.

' leapt oft'. sonny. come ' ! ' 'Not a letter. he slipped down to the ground. and tell us the way. Enoch — come and cUmm Here's a this post. By night country roads are apt to reveal ungainly qualities which pass without obser\-ation during day and though Darton had travelled this way before.' The lad dismounted. he had not done so frequently. ' What's the matter ? asked Darton.' said Darton.INTERLOPERS AT THE KXAP • H'm. certainly for . ' ways looking so equally Johns rode on a few cried. I'll do it. ' Don't be out of heart. ' Was there ever less ' head in a brainless world ' ? He Here. or you'll smash up that wine cried Darton. or we have arrived in a land where the natyves have lost the art o' writing. and should ha' brought our compass like Christopher Columbus. ' the hedge ' ! Unstrap the baskets. and with much puffing climbed the post. as this don't short of devilry And flinging the match away. I have faced tantalization these twenty years with a said Japheth but such' things temper as mild as milk * ' ' ! .' 179 . baskets and all. steps. The lane they followed several miles. as the young man began spasmodically to climb the post. Sally having been wooed at the house of a He never remembered seeing relative near his own. the light along the arm. the lad standing and gazing at the spectacle. sacred or heathen would tell us the way to the great ! — not so fireplace — much ever as I should sin to say it Either the moss and mildew have eat away the words. at this spot a pair of alternative probable as these two did now. but it now took had been nearly straight for a turn. striking a match when he reached the top. and jumped into where the post stood under a tree. and winding un- some distance forked into two.' he handpost. simple Nocky. and moving said Johns.

Maister Darton.' said Darton 'tis a tireshan't be sorry to get there — some ride.' These straps neither. ' If 'tis much further plough my shoulder like a zuU. sir. I shall ask to be let carry half of these good things in my innerds hee. and the pit-a-pat of their horses' hoofs lessened ironical directing-post stood in sohtude as before. holding out its blank arms to the raw breeze.' said Enoch. Nor I would have driven if I had known. which brought a snore from the wood as if Skrymir the Giant were sleeping there.' sternly. . the left winding away under ' Johns a plantation. I'll take the turkey. the straightest road. which ascended a hill.' said Here. they went forward by the right-hand lane. hee ' ' ! — Don't you be such a reforming radical. This being done.WESSEX TALES 'Let placidly ' us ' take I I . Enoch. up the slope The . to your lady's home.

whose moulded four-centred arch was nearly hidden by a figured blue-cloth blower. or Sally. Hall. as Beside a Tudor plenty was construed at Hintock. But within there was plenty of light to see by. grew a large sycamore-tree. Its situation gave the house what little distinctive name it possessed. rose an old house with mullioned windows of Ham-hill stone.' Some forty yards off a brook dribbled At past. accessible for vehicles and ' Thus much only of the by a side drong. which.' character of the homestead could be divined out of live-stock ' doors at this shady evening-time. for its size. were seated two women mother and daughter Mrs. The Knap. made a great deal of noise.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP 11 1 miles to the left of the travellers. i8i . and Sarah. — — the name was the young woman by whose means Mr. fireplace. whose bared roots formed a convenient staircase from the road below to the front door of the dwelling. and chimneys of lavish solidity. namely. for this was a part of the world where the latter modification had not as yet been effaced as a The owner of vulgarity by the march of intellect. It stood at the top of a slope beside HREE King's-Hintock village-street of it and immediately in front . the back was a dairy barton. along the road they had not followed.

in the centre of the room. ' its prepara- The new gown he was going like to send Sally's about on the way saying. to — — Come rathe or ' have a dress of time is it ? come late it don't much matter. quick-spirited. himself. and she might have been regarded without much mistake as a warm-hearted. I shouldn't be amazed if it didn't come ' they are it Young men make such kind promises when near you. either in face or clothes. certain whiffs of air laden with fat vapours.' cried Sally indepenLord. The mother's bereavement had been so long ago as not to leave much mark of its occurrence upon her She had resumed the now. Roseate good-nature lit up her gaze.' you stays mother was dently. But the number of speeches that passed was very small in proportion to the meanings wood ember with exchanged. Long experience together often enabled them to see the course of thought in each other's minds without a word being spoken. not finished. Sally required aids to pinkness. I daresay. which ever and anon entered from the kitchen. Behind them. her features showed curves of decision and judgment . her as she picked mother up fragments listening of the tongs.WESSEX TALES Darton proposed to put an end to his bachelor condition on the approaching day. talking. mob-cap of her early married life. and piled them upon the brands. the table was spread for supper. She did most of the with a half-absent red-hot air. enlivening its whiteness no such by a few rose-du-Barry ribbons. at all ! 'Yes. and forget 'em when they go away. it But he doesn't intend to as a me merely as a is gown it travelling-dress what wedding-gown he gives wear when I like a would be called by some. hand- some girl. as I my own to fall back upon. But what 182 . denoting tion there.

How you are up and down. Mrs.' she said.' she said. with a breath of relief. So pray God 'twill go smooth.' said Eight o'clock. she asserted. so much more wall than window the hour was not was there she. I heard something. and his thought runs on before down upon us like the star in the she exclaimed.' Of course it Sally would not listen to misgivings. ' showed what you don't. would go smoothly. her eyes sparkling. and Mrs. and east.' 183 . and drily observed that she was not so sure about Sally not caring. Mother. or stay away altogether I don't care. settles ' 1 Hrrk ' ! ' — they are The next moment her mother's slower ear also distinguished the familiar reverberation occasioned by footsteps clambering up the roots of the sycamore. if you think to tantalize me by talking like Let him be as late as you are much mistaken he will — ! Sally. At this moment. ' It is nearly eight. minute quaver in the negation — that there was something forced in that statement. after all. Hall perceived it. and indeed at all times was rather a thing to be investigated than beheld. ' ' ' ! whatever hinders him. Darton. otherwise discernible by night. But perhaps you don't care so much as I do. we are not so anxious to see him as he is to be here. And I think I see a kind husband in him. and wind up * For I see flourishing .INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP She went for to the family clock and opened the glass. * Yes it sounds like them at last.' said But a tender. that it is a good and match for you a very honourable offer in Mr. mother she went on. ' neither dress nor man.' said that. Hall. ' it is not so very late after all. considering the dis- tance. Yes here him. Well. well. ' in the apartment.

mother. humiliated demeanour. then with an the two women fixedly for a moment abashed. as soon as he could speak. tion than irregular His cheeks and eye-orbits were deep concaves from natural weakness of constituwere indicaliving. though there He gazed at tions that he had led no careful life. who had reShe now tried to discern fire. They began to think and there appeared. she said. it's a tramp —gracious me ' ! said Sally. I've come home. no. Sally mained standing by the was in advance of her mother. and a fit of coughing seized the man with the ragged clothes. 'How it is I Things were against to worse. and grew pale. But for God's sake how do you come here and ' — just now too ' ? 'Well.' said the man. but a palealmost the garb of extreme poverty — O. mother. and went from bad 184 . expecting a might have been.' replied he impatiently. and they it arose. Philip are ' ' ' ! — ' you ' ill ? No. Hall. footfall ceased. starting back. ' with pair of travellers already made acquaintance.' me because I was out there. To come home like this O. It is Phil. when their giving the centre of the road doubts were dispelled by the new-comer's entry into the The door of the room was gently opened. not the whom we have faced man in in rags. 'Why — Mrs.' said Sally faintly. passage.WESSEX TALES The knock. and sank into a chair without uttering a : — word. driven to it. I hardly know. it might be. Hall started. rather. some neighbouring villager a wide berth. dropped his glance to the floor. am here. all. after under Bacchic influence. from Australia Mrs. mother. turning back to ' ' ! the visitor across the candles.

We thought it must be their step when we heard you.' The son admitted sadly that he had not. and for a larger and that an air of festivity number than pervaded their asked quickly what was going on.' he murmured. perceiving their commiserating glances at his clothes. and other details. And I have no business here spoiling other people's happiness. and dubiously asked if he had chosen to come that particular night for any special that in a reason.' Phil. Mr. he told her.' he didn't writ a line for the last "Then why — — ' repeated. and saw for the first time that the table was laid somewhat themselves dress. plied the mother Sally's intended husband. Yes. indeed. with a tear in her eye. luxuriously. 'Why. ' . ' ' He — — ' ^85 . but with a thinness of lip and severity of manner vs'hich were presumably not more than past events justified j Sally is .INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP you let us know? you've not two or three years.' reand she explained how Mr. things are very bad with me. and had finally come home from sheer necessity previously to making a new start. and be able to send good news. Hall. see I see. sumed her inquiries. which was so small and smooth to show had not been as his attempts to fetch up again His mother remanual direction. should I have come to-night ? Such folk as I are not wanted here at these times. took his hat from his thin hand. Johns. He said that he had hoped and thought he might fetch up again. naturally.' said his mother. was coming there that night with the groomsman.' said Mrs. Darton. For no reason. I The needy wanderer looked again on the floor. room. His arrival had been Then Philip Hall looked round the quite at random. Then he had been obliged to abandon that hope. going to be married in a day or two. They brought him nearer the fire.

' no. 186 . But. Having ruined myself. ' I think you had 'Well I shall be out of the way there. have expected. Mother.' Yes. better go to bed at once. I ought to have ! ' written . I have not you all. brightening and looking up at her with a smile. ' I don't wish to turn you adrift. O She looked at him anxiously. and you ought to have made good use of it all. little Sal said her brother. we will bring something upstairs to you. and that you us cannot be denied. don't let me ruin you by being seen in these togs. altogether.' His mother gazed upon him in grieved suspense. yes. will ' ' — ' there's worse behind. much harm. ' ' Ay. But let but perhaps I have thought of you all the more. me get out of sight. But you come back like a beggar . that He told floor is. still looking on the Sad as what you see of me between his knees. and I hope you are not seriously ill ? I have only this infernal cough. I would rather go and jump into the river than be seen here. with grief in her face.' he resumed slowly. But have you I am confoundedly thirsty with anything I can drink ? my long tramp. 'since you speak like that to me. I'll speak honestly to For these three years you have taken no thought for us.' she said. and strength and education.WESSEX TALES you. for Heaven's sake.' said the son wearily. Who do you say Sally is going to be married to a Farmer Darton ? ' — — ' ' Yes — a gentleman-farmer — quite Far better is ' in station than she could ' a wealthy man.' said Sally. stopped. as long as it come in a very awkward time for Your return to-night may do us But mind you are welcome to this home — is mine. You left home with a good supply of money. do nicely. It a good thing. Sally and mother and they waited.' Well done. We ' will make the best of a bad job.

then.' ' In short.' Wife and children whispered Mrs.' Sally ' every sound.' ' ' ? Well. ' unhappy Would Phil. mother. that is the way with sons said he. I can only able place. Hall. ' stable. ! ' I. and sighing.' said the only one in this mess. sinking down confounded. ! Besides ' ' ' ! said Sally involuntarily. I don't care Philip. and was even more moved by such a collapse of genteel aims as this than a substantial dairyman's widow would in ordinary have been moved. Hall's fortitude visibly broke down. They are in England. Phil I have a wife as destitute as A wife ? said his mother. been brought up not without refinement. besides ! ' ! ' O. tell the saying. and broken the bad news a bit to you. they are in the Where ? In the I ' till I did not like to bring them indoors had seen you. ! Well.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP and went and leant upon the bureau. Philip.' She had Mrs. and are resting out there on some straw.' ' ' hope you've left them in a respect- I have not left them of us. ' ' 187 . with her hands tightly joined. Poor Uttle things I suppose these His mother turned again to him. and take your time. They are here — within a few yards stable. Well. listening for Suddenly she turned round. it must be borne.' ' ' ' Unhappily ! ' A I wife 'And ' ' Yes. Let them come. at all. They were very tired. ' ! ' ' helpless beings are left in Australia No. surely have two little children. A in a low voice. I am not the to Heaven I were! ' But ' ' ' ' O. worst.' she said.

' Wait till you are twenty years older and you tale. changed at that.WESSEX TALES Let Starving son. But if he should be.' said Philip. which will quite upset my poor ! chance of a happy life ? Why have you done What respectable man will wrong. so I will go. a starving wife.' she answered hastily never shall it be said that I sent any of my own family from my door. while Nonsense.' he said bitterly. and marry open-eyed into a family of vagabonds ? said Sally vehemently. i88 .) Sally went to fetch a lantern from the back-kitchen. Hall. The son stood up.' (Rebekah was the woman who assisted at the dairy and housework Sally.' all We will put 'em into the large bedroom. be gone by break of day. But why is this come to us now.' said and make up a large fire. Philip. I have come. to-day. mother her face flushed. All I ask of you is that tell a different ' as you will allow I give you me and mine my word that ' to ' ! lie we'll in your stable to-night. Bring 'em . Mother. the mother. brightening. in. who attended to the cows. O no. ' and trouble you no further Mrs. she lived in a cottage hard by with her husband. I won't be ashamed of my own flesh and* blood for any man in And then Sally turned away and England not I girl's us this ' ' ' ! ' — ' ! burst into tears. ' or take me ' out to them. Philip? come here. and won't marry me because Phil's come. Hall. starving children it be. Let's go and help them in. and call Rebekah. toCould no other misfortune happen to helpnight? less women than this. You won't want a light. I lit the ' lantern that was hanging there.' ' will replied her mother. let him go and marry elsewhere. ' Helena. but her brother said. Charley isn't the man to desert me.' ' What must we call your wife ' ? asked Mrs. .

will you ? Philip's agitation at the confession had brought on ' No — no . I was ashamed that you should 'twas not what she I untied the parcel in the road. great consequence ? as far as I could see. and guessing that I was bound for this place for I think he knew me he asked me to bring on a dressmaker's parcel for Sally that was marked " immediate. ' I daresay. gowns. not of consequence. pushhands in calm despair. 'Twas a flimsy parcel. ' ' 189 ." 'Twas nothing very ornamental.' he con" and I just looked in at the " Sow-and-Acorn old if Mike in still kept on there as usual. and the paper was torn. Sally has other gladly enough. with a " sick man's impatience. had come — — — to and told her I that she was to ask had managed no question.' adding in a gentle voice. We ' tinued. wish you to see poor Helena in a shabby state. it on to her where she was waiting in the Lower Barn. all.' ' I I haven't confessed ' Then Heaven to help us ' ! said ing ' the door and clasping her Mrs.' returned Sally sadly. through having reached a place where I was known.' Sally looked at her mother. and I found on I didn't looking at it that it was a thick warm gown. took was born to." My wife had walked on with the children. I daresay repeated Phil. speechless. to see carrier passed through Evershead as we came. ' — One minute before you go. is the dress of Sally cry than Helena freeze. get it for her. I thought to myself. You will not mind if I lend her another instead of that one. Hall.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP AVith shawls over their heads they proceeded towards the back door. and She. poor thing. Yoi^ have others.' interrupted Philip. must have supposed I obtained it on trust. The from Sherton Abbas at that moment. Better ' ! ' Well. for she put it on She has it on now.

they descended to fetch their unhappy new relations.WESSEX TALES another attack of the cough. which seemed to shake to pieces. . and having hastily given him a cordial and kindled the bed- him room fire. He was so obviously unfit to sit in a chair that they helped him upstairs at once.

INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP

III

It was with strange feelings that the girl and her mother, lately so cheerful, passed out of the back door into the open air of the barton, laden with hay scents and the herby breath of cows. A fine sleet had begun
to fall, and they trotted across the yard quickly. The stable-door was open ; a light* shone from it from the lantern which always hung there, and which Philip had

lighted, as

he

said.

Softly nearing the door, Mrs. Hall
'
'
!

pronounced the name Helena There was no answer for the moment. Looking in she was taken by surprise. Two people appeared For one, instead of the drabbish woman before her. she had expected, Mrs. Hall saw a pale, dark-eyed, ladylike creature, whose personality ruled her attire rather She was in a new and handsome than was ruled by it. She was standing gown, of course, and an old bonnet. her hand was held by her companion up, agitixted none else than Sally's affianced. Farmer Charles Darton, upon whose fine figure the pale stranger's eyes were His other hand held fixed, as his were fixed upon her. the rein of his horse, which was standing saddled as if
;

just led in.

At

her in a

sight of Mrs. Hall they both turned, looking at way neither quite conscious nor unconscious,

and without seeming

to recollect that words were neces-

19J

WESSEX TALES
sary as a solution to the scene.

In another

moment

Sally entered also, when Mr. Barton panion's hand, led the horse aside, his betrothed and Mrs. Hall.
'

dropped his comand came to greet

Ah

'
!

he

composure
will

'

with something like forced said, smiling this is a roundabout way of arriving, you

But we lost our way, say, my dear Mrs. Hall. which made us late. I saw a light here, and led in my horse at once my friend Johns and my man have gone back to the little inn with theirs, not to crowd you too much. No sooner had I entered than I saw that this and found I lady had taken temporary shelter here was intruding.' She is my daughter-in-law,' said Mrs. Hall calmly. My son, too, is in the house, but he has gone to bed

'

unwell.'

moment, hardly recognizing Darton's shake of the hand. The spell that bound her was broken by her perceiving the two little children seated on a heap of She suddenly went forward, spoke to them, and hay. took one on her arm and the other in her hand.
'

Sally until this

had stood

staring

wonderingly at

the scene

And two

that he

children ? said Mr. Darton, showing thus had not been there long enough as yet to underHall, with as

'

stand the situation.
' grandchildren,' said Mrs= affected ease as before.

My

much

Philip

her

first
it

by

Hall's wife, in spite of this interruption to rencounter, seemed scarcely so much affected as to feel any one's presence in addition to Mr.

However, arousing herself by a quick reshe threw a sudden critical glance of her sad eyes upon Mrs. Hall ; and, apparently finding her satisThen factory, advanced to her in a meek initiative.
Darton's.
flection,

Sally and the stranger spoke some friendly words to each other, and Sally went on with the children into the house. Mrs. Hall and Helena followed, and Mr.

192

INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP
Darton followed these, looking at Helena's dress and and listening to her voice like a man in a

outline^

dream.

By

already gone

the time the others "reached the house Sally had She upstairs with the tired children.

rapped against the wall for Rebekah to come in and help to attend to them, Rebekah's house being a little
'

spit-and-dab cabin leaning against the substantial stone-

'

work of Mrs. Hall's taller erection. When she came a bed was made up for the little ones, and some supper given to them. On descending the stairs after seeing this done Sally went to the sitting-room. Young Mrs. Hall entered it just in advance of her, having in the interim
retired with her mother-in-law to take off her bonnet,

and otherwise make herself presentable. Hence it was evident that no further communication could have passed between her and Mr. Darton since their brief
interview in the stable.

Mr. Japheth Johns now opportunely arrived, and broke up the restraint of the company, after a few orthodox meteorological commentaries had passed between him and Mrs. Hall by way of introduction. They at once sat down to supper, the present of wine and
lest

turkey not being produced for consumption to-night, the premature display of those gifts should seem to throw doubt on Mrs. Hall's capacities as a provider. drink hearty,' said that Drink hearty, Mr. Johns
'

Such as it is there's plenty matron magnanimously. But perhaps cider-wine is not to your taste? of though there's body in it.'
'

quite the contrairy,' Quite the contrairy, ma'am For though I inherit the maltthe dairj-man. liquor principle from my father, I am a cider-drinker on my mother's side. She came from these parts, you know. And there's this to be said for't 'tis a more peaceful liquor, and don't lie about a man like your
'

said

'

hotter drinks.

With

care,

one may
193

live

on

it

a twelve-

N

WESSEX TALES
month without knocking down a neighbour,
or getting

a black eye from an old acquaintance.' The general conversation thus begun was continued briskly, though it was in the main restricted to Mrs.

Hall and Japheth, who in truth required but little help from anybody. There being slight call upon Sally's tongue, she had ample leisure to do what her heart most desired, namely, watch her intended husband and her sister-in-law with a view of elucidating the strange momentary scene in which her mother and herself had If that scene meant surprised them in the stable. anything, it meant, at least, that they had met before. That there had been no time for explanations Sally could see, for their manner was still one of suppressed amazement at each other's presence there. Barton's eyes, too, fell continually on the gown worn by Helena as if this were an added riddle to his perplexity ; though to Sally it was the one feature in the case which was no mystery. He seemed to feel that fate had impishly changed his vis-a-vis in the lover's jig he was about to foot; that while the gown had been expected to enclose a Sally, a Helena's face looked out from the bodice; that some long-lost hand met his own from
the sleeves.
Sally could see that whatever

Helena might 'know

of Darton, she knew nothing of how the dress entered into his embarrassment. And at moments the young
girl

would have persuaded
But surely
at

herself that Barton's looks
fruit

at her sister-in-law

were entirely the

of the clothes

query.

other times a more extensive

range of speculation and sentiment was expressed by her lover's eye than that which the changed dress would account for. Sally's independence made her one of the least But there was something in the jealous of women. relations of these two visitors which ought to be
explained.

194

INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP
Japheth Johns continued to converse in his
well-

known

interspersing his talk with some private reflections on the position of Darton and Sally, which, though the sparkle in his eye showed them to be highly
style,

entertaining to himself, were apparently not quite communicable to the company. At last he withdrew for

the night, going oft' to the roadside inn half-a-mile back, whither Darton promised to follow him in a few

minutes.
to leave, Sally

Half-an-hour passed, and then Mr. Darton also rose and her sister-in-law simultaneously wish-

him good-night as they retired upstairs to their But on his arriving at the front door with Mrs. rooms. Hall a sharp shower of rain began to come down, when the \ndow suggested that he should return to the fireside till the storm ceased. Darton accepted her proposal, but insisted that, as it was getting late, and she was obviously tired, she should not sit up on his account, since he could let himself out of the house, and would quite enjoy smoking a pipe by the hearth alone. Mrs. Hall assented ; and Darton was left by himself. He spread his knees to the brands, lit up his tobacco as he had said, and sat gazing into the fire, and at the notches of the chimney-crook which
ing

hung above.

down the chimney and still he smoked on but not like a man whose mind was at rest. In the long run, however, despite his meditations, early hours afield and a long
occasional drop of rain rolled
;

An

with a

hiss,

open air produced their natural result. He began to doze. How long he remained in this half-unconscious state he did not know. He suddenly opened his eyes. The back-brand had burnt itself in two, and ceased to flame the light which he had placed on the mantelpiece had But in spite of these deficiencies nearly gone out. there was a light in the apartment, and it came from
ride in the
;

195

WESSEX TALES
elsewhere.

Turning

his

head he saw Philip Hall's wife

standing at the entrance of the room with a bed-candle in one hand, a small brass tea-kettle in the other, and

gown, as it certainly seemed, still upon her. Helena said Darton, starting up. Her countenance expressed dismay, and her first words were an apology. I did not know you were here, Mr. Darton,' she said, while a blush flashed to her cheek. I thought every one had retired I was coming to make a little water boil ; my husband seems to be worse. But perhaps the kitchen fire can be
his
' '
!

'

'

up again.' Don't go on my account. By all means put it on Allow me to help here as you intended,' said Darton. He went fonvard to take the kettle from her you.' hand, but she did not allow him, and placed it on the
lighted
*
*

fire herself.

They stood some way
fireplace, waiting
till

apart,

one on each side of the

the water should boil, the candle on the mantel between them, and Helena with her eyes

on the
'
'

kettle.

Shall I call Sally

Darton was the ? he said.
'

first

to break the silence.

* have given no,' she quickly returned. trouble enough already. have no right here. But we are the sport of fate, and were obliged to come.'

O

We

We

'

No

'

None.

said he in surprise. right here I can't explain it now,' answered Helena.
!

'

This kettle is very slow.' There was another pause ; the proverbial dilatoriness of watched pots was never more clearly exemplified. Helena's face w'as of that sort which seems to ask
'

for assistance without the owner's knowledge the very antipodes of Sally's, which was self-reliance expressed. Darton's eyes travelled from the kettle to Helena's face, then back to the kettle, then to the face for rather a

longer time.

So I am not to mystery that has distracted me 196
*

know anything
all

of the
'

the evening

?

he

and the little kettle to I The heart of Darton was subject flowings.' said she. and quickly took his former place. She no longer belongs another. so I cannot take care of you. she repeated. at which he became conscious of his movement. 'You ' can. I have heard the she 197 .INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP is it that a woman. Helena withdrew a step or two.' said a voice . let me take care of the children. ' Well.' said Darton earnestly. seem to wish to to It ' was .' she implored. left you nothing ? How could he be so cruel • ' ' as that ? ' ' I disgraced myself in his eyes.' he said at last. is found to be the wife of a man who certainly seems to be worse off than I ? said. chosen. at least while you are so unsettled. Yes. ' am began ' to sing. yes 'Whatever my errors.' Yes you can. ' How (as I ' had the prior claim. Sally. is ? . What you knew him at that time ? Please say no more.' What. Voii belong to another.' he said. and suddenly a third ' ' figure since you stood beside them. her My poor brother dead ' ! Her face was to eyes ' sparkled. He was kind to a fault. He left me without a farthing. involuntarily approaching her. Does your uncle know of your distress ? My uncle is dead. you might have been my wife if you had But that's all past and gone.' ' Now. I have paid for them during the ' ' He ' ! ' ! last five years ' ! sudden oversorry from my soul. and it all ' ! woman oime the front. However. and as your relation by marriage I shall have a right to be. if you are in any trouble or poverty I shall be glad to be of service. who refused me because supposed) my position was not good enough for her taste. Here he stood without speaking. red. . And now we have two children to maintain.

and weakly. a solicitor. and he felt it. almost angry demeanour of years ago Sally at discovering them. and made him question whether he ought to leave the house or offer assistance. intending to speak. and he was again left that. differing much from her previous It must passionate words). and Mrs. But for Sally's manner he would unhesitatingly have done the latter. 198 After standing front door . that I couldn't leave even to call you.WESSEX TALES went on to him passionately. daughter of in deep poverty. He went off so quickly. Hall came out. and it was so unexpected. ' heard something. ' You can protect her to her now as well as the children ' ' ! She turned then agitated sister-in-law. women hastened upstairs. this which followed brother whom alone. softly closing it behind him. who had been brought up by her uncle. and the dampness which had just descended upon the earth in rain now sent up a chill from it. and had refused Darton in marriage the passionate. all this coming together was a conjuncture difficult to cope with in a moment. He was still standing under the tree when the door She in front of him opened. seeing him. and that during Helena's absence for The two young water the end had unexpectedly come. there a short time he went to the and looked out till.' Darton was just able to gather from the confused I discourse the fire. went round to the garden-gate at the side without Darton followed her. — — .' said Sally (in a gentle murmur. of Helena a deceased naval officer. Darton was in a strange The unexpected appearance. the abrupt announcement that Helena was a widow. during his sleep by he had never seen had become worse . have been the moment you left. he advanced and stood under the large sycamoretree. position. and I went into his room. a young lady. The stars were flickering coldly.

nothing. Meanwhile Mrs. It was the universal custom thereabout to wake the bees by tapping at their hives whenever a death occurred in the household. she proceeded to a spot where the sun came earhest in spring-time. and they will do She told him in a few words everything necessary. Mrs. and they parted. broken in health indeed. thank you. as the result of a conversasuspect it — and her daughter. as ' you? Mrs. voice. What can I do in this trouble. if it would be any convenience to her and to you tell che mother of his children that. and where the north wind never blew it was where the row of beehives stood under the wall.' said Darton. soon as she came back he met her. that the wedding should be postponed. he waited till she had accomplished it. Will tion between her ' ' ' they are now left fatherless. We have ' Rebekah and her husband. Hall went on to the second. as if in thought. Hall ? ' As ' he said. As soon as an interior buzzing responded to her tap at the first hive Mrs. under the belief that if this were not . * O — nothing. Hall had entered the house. though they did not and suggested. Discerning her object.' just tearful now perceiving she said in a him. 199 Sally .' called — the particulars of her son's arrival. Hall promised that her son's widow should be told of the offer. He retired down the rooty slope and disappeared in the direction of the inn. go straight to the inn and tell Johns what has hapIt was not till after he had shaken hands pened. I shall be glad to take the eldest of them.' with her that he turned hesitatingly and added. of course. at death's very door. I think now to Yes. and thus passed down the row. done the bees themselves would pine away and perish during the ensuing year.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP Pausing outside. where he informed Johns of the circumstances.

' It I doubt he has. shall never marry him. with sad emphasis. not put off for a week.WESSEX TALES was downstairs in the sittingn-oom alone.' said Sally. or a year. or a month. and her mother explained to her that Darton had readily assented to the postponement. and she will ' No is ' ! .

' at Chalk Newton where he was handed On a fine summer day ' — — over to Darton's bailiff in a shining spring-cart. which she could send the the boy came. and stated that she be glad to accept it as regarded the eldest. when Mr. Darton was as usual at in-law would boy. and Darton therefore deemed it advisable to stay away. no good school near Hintock to child. in Helena had. and the household on the Knap became again serene under the composing influences of daily routine. had continued passive thus Helena and her children remained at the dairylong. reached him from Helena. for her uncle had her penniless. who. dragged on between Sally Hall and Darton. not quite knowing how to take her petulant words on the night of her brother's death. good need to do so. There was. A desultory. very desultory correspondence. She thanked him kind offer about her children. One a note for his day. left truth. besides. almost of necessity. and all application to some relatives in the north had failed. house. seven months later on. the his farm. which her motherhad duly communicated. twenty miles from Hintock. who met them there. as she said. 20I .INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP IV 1 IME passed. He was accompanied half-way by Sally and his mother to the White Horse.

and (as Darton hoped) brought away a promising headful of the same at each diurnal expedition. Charles. that ' When ' At the last moment Sally would not come. That meeting practically settled the point towards which these long-severed persons were converging. in fact.'] : — here so long and intimately with have naturally learnt her history. three or four miles from Barton's.' Darton inquired if Miss and young Mrs. Sally Hall. No. performed in two stages. which taciturnity into was quite dissipated by the the Christmas holidays came it was arranged The he should spend them with his mother. — Living I Helena. on which he cantered to and from the aforesaid fount of knowledge. Yours — sincerely. Hall were there to He was meet little Philip (as they had agreed to be).' 202 . Sally Hall had. and that the boy and himself rode on horseback. for some reason or other. But nothing was broached about it for some time yet. as at his coming. except that Darton in person took the place of the bailiff. and I think you ought to give her the opporif I You inquire in an old note am sorry that I showed temper (which it wasn't) that night when I heard you talking to her.' she faltered. I am not sorry at all for what I said then. She soon gave them a second move by writing the following note '[Private. answered by the appearance of Helena alone at the door. having first been taught by Darton to ride a forest- pony. especially that of it which refers to you. tunity.WESSEX TALES Pfe was entered as a day-scholar at a popular school at Casterbridge. The thoughtful Darton had presence latterly fallen of this boy. imparted the first decisive motion to events by refusing to accompany Helena. journey was. Reaching the renowned White Horse. at the proper lime. I am sure she would accept you as a husband ' Dear Charles.

Hall. but I'll do your business as well as them that look better. Hall Well. In the following July. and they'll take off the roughest o' my edge. the transfer of Darton's heart back proceeded by mere lapse of time. original quarters ' With all my heart. Darton went off sorry. I've lost most of my genteel fair complexion haymaking this hot weather. ? Darton shortly explained particulars but Johns would not be reconciled. Sally compliment her. Charles such a thing you w^ould have — sworn I was a curst no'thern fool to be scent by such a red-herring doll-oU-olL' drawn off the in such sharp terms to opinion that the two friends finally parted in a way they had never parted before. ' It is young Mrs.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP Thus to its set in train. If I had done become it really you. ' Why not Sally ? I can't believe ! Not it ! ' Sally ' ? Mrs.' Japheth's face. ' became a he said. Hall." ' I'll say. Darton went to his friend Japheth to ask him at last to fulfil the bridal office which had been in abeyance since the previous January twelvemonths. Johns was to be no groomsman to Darton after all.' It is not Sallv. 'tis true. to particularly as Japheth was about leave that side 203 . ' man o' ' constancy ! said Dairy- man Johns warmly. She was a woman worth And now to let having if ever woman was.' replied the dairyman. do not.' he cried. thank God. ' his eyebrows ex- This don't pressively. ' her go ' ' ! But I suppose I can marry where lifting I like. " Better late than I'll never.' said Darton hurriedly. He had flatly this laconic Farmer Darton responded declined.' said Darton. picture of reproachful dismay. well — Young where's your ' wisdom . ' H'm. as soon as he really comprehended. There be scents and good hair-oil in the world yet. and even unhappy.

and instead of comparing her present state to A — — with her condition as the wife of the unlucky Hall. until Barton sometimes declared to himself that such endeavours as his to rectify early deviations of the heart by harking * back to the old point mostly failed of success. in short. Sometimes she spoke regretfully of the gentilities of her early life. physically or morally. Better go with the tide and make the best of its course than stem it at the risk of a But he kept these unmelodious thoughts to capsize. of little staying power. and she and her little girl joined the boy who had already grown to look on Barton's house as home. and was now occasionally given to moping. Per- I should have haps Johns was right. and since the time that he had originally known her eight or ten years before she had been severely tried. For some months the farmer experienced an unprecedented happiness and satisfaction. short time after the interview Darton was united Helena at a simple matter-of fact wedding . There had been a flaw in his life. She had loved herself out. Helena was a fragile woman. This led to occasional unpleasantness. She did not care to please such people as those with whom she was thrown as a thriving farmer's wife. She allowed first the pretty trifles of agricultural domesticity to glide by her as sorry details.' himself. so that the words which had divided them were not likely to be explained away or softened down.WESSEX TALES of the county. But after a season the stream of events followed less clearly. she mused rather on what it had been before she took the fatal step of clandestinely marr}dng him.' he would say. and had it not been for the children Barton's house would have seemed but little brighter than it had been before. and there were shades in his reveries. gone on with Sally. and it was as neatly mended as was humanly possible. and was outwardly considerate and kind. ' 204 .

305 . Darton was not a man to act rapidly. Helena had been a woman to lend pathos and refinement to a home. was a more promising husband for Sally than he had ever been — when liable to reminders from an uncured sentimental wound. Sally was the woman to She would not. had a pre-eminent qualification for Darton's household no other woman could make so desirable a mother to her brother's two children and Darton's one as Sally while Darton. life To make became at once as easy as possible to this touching object his care. she . he fancied he had gained wisdom from his mistakes and caution from his miscarriages. Moreover. the farm was a worse No woman place without her than with her. As this child learnt to walk and talk Darton learnt to see feasibility in a scheme which pleased him. as Helena did. and originally hopeful and She left him a tiny red infant in white wrappings. What the scheme was needs no penetration to discover. Her stagnant sympathies. Once more he had opportunity to recast and rectify his ill-wrought by returning to Sally on under her mother's roof at Hintock. after all. Revolving the experiment which he had hitherto made upon life. had covered a heart frank warm. and the working out of his reparative designs might have been delayed But there came a winter evening prefor some time.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP to less than a year This somewhat barren tract of his life had extended and a half when his ponderings were cut short by the loss of the woman they concerned. situations who still lived quietly rural simplicities of a farmer's fireside. her sometimes unreasonable manner. and well meaning. Hall. despise the brighten it. now that Helena had gone. short of divine could have gone through such an experience as hers with her first husband without becoming a little soured. When she was in her grave he thought better of her than when she had been alive .

• mistake this time. and though Darton had forgiven him a hundred spurred himself with a younger ! times. which seemed not half its former length. alas was missing. booted and horseman's nicety. removal to the other side of the county had left unrepaired the breach which had arisen between him and Darton . it was only between five and six o'clock when the bulky chimneys of Mrs. Hall's residence appeared in 206 . and rode off. thank Heaven. and became content with his own thoughts as he rode. he would fain have had his old acquaintance Japheth But Johns. instead of the words of a companion. His Johns with him.WESSEX TALES cisely like the ride to one which had darkened over that former Hintock. when the very landscape called repetition of that attempt. It arrive. ' ' ' right heartily. Nothing hindered the smoothness of his journey. like his first. To kissed the two youngest children.' he murmured. as Johns had probably forgiven Darton. gave him think that the proposed marriage. and he asked himself why he should for a postpone longer. sir/ and Darton replied to be He . when Nor I shall I Darton made no be able to mistake. By getting as dark as the time he reached the forking roads it was it had been on the occasion when Johns cUmbed the directing-post. Though dark. and not a momentary freak of peculiar satisfaction to fancy. The sun went down. was of the nature of setting in order things long awry. make the journey a complete parallel to the first. screwed himself up to as cheerful a pitch as he could without his former crony. He told his man to saddle the mare. the effort of reunion in present circumstances was one not likely made. the boughs appeared scratched in like an etching against the sky old crooked men with faggots at their backs said Good-night Good-night.

INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP view behind the sycamore-tree. and smoothed out the incipient wrinkles of care. called for something to drink. . and when he had plumed himself before the inn mirror. he walked on to the Knap with a quick step. On second thoughts he retreated and put up at the ale-house as in former time .

' — Well. Mrs. that Rebekah. if you had managed you. that much in the influence of modernism had supplanted the open chimney corner by a grate. that the beams were a shade blacker . But upon the whole there was little its change in the household economy.' poor boy Phil came home 'Ah.' to die. and not appearance. because it was reported that caps were not fashionable. ' ' ' am not mis- Not this very night though 'twas one night this week. Sally. which had been a hundred years coming.' said the correct Sally. if I taken she said. Five years ago Mr. Darton came ' to marr)' you. Darton would have had my 2C8 . as she had used to do.WESSEX TALES V i evening Sally was making pinners for the milkers. had left it off now she had scarce any. Hall was actually lifting coals with the tongs. well Mr. who were now increased by two. Helena or none. Five years ago this very night. for her mother and herself no longer joined in milking the cows them' HAT ' selves. 'tis near enough. was a trifle wider .' she presently said. laying on an ember. who had worn a cap when she had plenty of hair. and She sighed. beyond such minor particulars as that the crack over the window. and that Sally's face had naturally assumed a more womanly and experienced cast.

and on opening the door to Mr..' Now it was not long after this dialogue that there came a mild rap at the door. but Sally was quite light-hearted. and churner (now a resident in the house) had overheard the desultory observations between mother and daughter.' she added with decision . as did Sally. I wasn't so anxious. Mrs. I didn't care to manage well in such a case. never have married the man in the midst of such a and I hitch as that was. She fancied that Darton did not look so confident as when he had arrived. little act bridged over the awkward it. Mrs. smiling at Sally's recent hasty assertions of when she saw how civil Sally was. and there's an end of it. I am quite happy enough as I am. Can you push up the chimney-crook for me. looking as though a ghost had The fact was that that accomplished skimmer arrived. and left the principals together while she went to prepare him ' a late tea tea. Darton thought the coincidence must have a grisly meaning in it. mother. Hall welcomed the farmer with warm surprise. don't think I would if he were to ask me now. He did Darton ? the notches hitch.. I could hardly . Mr.' I am not sure about that. unless you have another Though ' ' in and I'll tell you why. I should have no need to marry for any meaner reason. And as we've quite enough to live on if we give up the dairy tomorrow. . and for a moment they rather wanted * your eye. marry him for love at this time o' day.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP ' Don't be sentimental about * that. When was ready she joined them.' I wouldn't words. and in a moment there entered Rebekah.' said the matron. and the meal passed pleasantly.' begged Sally. I would I liked him. 209 q . indifference. Hall soon saw what he had come for. and the homely consciousness that he had been a stranger for four years.

as your leavings were always trying civilization here. Not with Sally to marry her ? said Darton. though I fain would The speaker was Johns. * Then she's a very ungrateful ' girl ! emphatically ' said Mrs. with an eye to a favourable But she won't. Hall. else and asked. 210 .' ' for me. always seem to me. and. or that there isn't.' answered She's private in some things. and with this assurance the not very satisfactory visit came to an end. chose the night and everything. side. Mrs. I'm towards the house. the light was withdrawn. the door to light On ' the doorstep he said frankly I — him down the came to ask your daughter to marry me . Darton. bad as it was. and the door At the bottom of the slope he nearly ran closed. I'm on ' however. Hall slope. I dare not swear he can. thank 'ee said the farmer in a gayer accent . Hall and Sally. and I'll talk to her. more favoured ? ' I I can't Mrs. against a man about to ascend. Darton descended the roots of the sycamore.' answer. the fact is I find the natural barbarousness of man is much increased by a bachelor life. Darton said he was glad of this opportunity. Charles. — I Darton paused to shape suppose there's nobody ' his sentence. feeling something like a rill of ice water between his good enough ' — He nodded shoulders. Mr. Hall.' Thank 'ee.WESSEX TALES About seven he took went as far as his leave of them. or can't he ? exclaimed one whose utterance Darton recognized in a moment. say that there is. and asked the dairyman what he was travelling that way for. of putting an end to the silence of years. despite its unexpectedness. your ' ' ! Can a jack-o'-lent believe his few senses on such a dark night. Mrs.' he said ' ' * ' ! ' — — — ' Well. Japheth showed the old jovial confidence in a I'm going to see your relations as they moment.

Johns promised to write particulars. in a not conspicuous in Johns. We over dozens of times in the most 211 . But she didn't say a word about you.' few more remarks. 'Tis a bad job . wishing his friend joy of Sally in a slightly hollow tone of jocularity. and I see her through the window. A and ascended.' Try again said Johns talked it — till he said with treacherous ' 'tis coyness.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP Yes. Now that decides me. genially than ' rather more ? Darton exclaimed genially he felt When is the joyful — — ' day to be his great surprise a reciprocity of gladness was ' Not at all. and Darton. meeting Johns one day at a horse-auction. ' O no. you know. And I think I shall get her.' decisively. by the help of Providence and charms. There's been none of that. the wedding-day was fixed He learnt not a single particular till.' he said. A rectangle of light appeared when Johns was admitted. * every week —my my am personal this road You've just called ' ? Yes.' Darton held ' his breath solicitude. and was lost in the shade of the house and tree. and the next day went about his swede-lifting and storing as if nothing had occurred. and all was dark again. ' ' Happy Japheth ' ! ! said Darton. she won't have very subdued tone.' < I'll A good sign. bade him good-bye. I * present dairy is only four miles off. In a quarter of an hour he passed out of the village. ' To me. for a short while. He waited and waited to hear from Johns whether : but no letter came. 'Tis rather odd that I was going to speak practical to-night to her for the first time. a good sign. swing the mallet and get her answer this very night as I planned. ' This then is the explanation He determined to return home that night.

I will not my reasons . I do feel it an honour. there was just a possibility of sarcasm in it nice long speeches on mangold-wurzel had a sus' ' However. — I am as sensible as any woman can be of the goodness that leads you to make me this offer a second time. that he had been nearly ruined by the recent failure of farmer named Darton had lost heavily. at the Casterbridge . and wrote her as manly and straightforward a proposal as any woman could wish to receive. I am. Better women than I would be proud of the honour. 'Sally Hall. But my — wishes as in former times. was so persistent that it demanded several days of letter-writing to set matters straight. I cannot explain simply say that I must decline to be married to you. He proceeded to seek relief in a business which at this time engrossed much of his attention — that of clear- ing up a curious mistake just current in the county. She tells me plainly. Charles. and per213 similarity of it Belief in . for when I read your nice long speeches on mangold -wurzel. being rather pressed by business. a local bank.WESSEX TALES fair her.' said He seemed returned from Johns his successful rival. With good topics. you threw a prize away when you slip five years ago. and such like assure you. and square way. I don't suit 'Twould be simply annoying her to ask her again. your faithful friend. I answer is just the same as before. Darton had recourse to pen-and-ink. and he had to be content.' — Darton dropped the letter hopelessly. the answer. in trutli. sarcasm or none.' ' her I did — I did. This time. It really he might hope for Sally after all. A and the name had probably led to the error. I will try to explain what. Beyond the negative. mistake in thinking He Darton. The reply came promptly as if : feelings in play. there was picious sound. auction with a new set of had certainly made a surprising that — 'Dear Mr. let Ah. Farmers' Club. Darton.

We have been so alarmed these last few 's days by the report that you were ruined by the stoppage of Bank. that it was going to bask out of doors for evermore. Darton tore ' it open . again. it was very short. between April tentativeness and midsummer decrepitude. he waited on till a bright day late in May a day when all animate nature was fancying.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP suade the world that he was as solvent as ever he had been in his life. The cuckoo's note was at its best. No mistake fact The . another letter arrived in the handwriting of Sally. such was Darton. ^^'hat next ? • ' ' — And was there really more than Worldly wisdom. had a letter from each of them a few days ago. — how less do no truly glad we are to find there is no foundation for the After your kindness to my poor brother's children. to say report. worldly wisdom in her refusal to go aboard a sinking She now knew it was otherwise. and was to be allowed to baulk him and his reasoning was purely formal. even with his eyes shut.y Hall. in its trusting. —Your ! We faithful friend. What did he want in a wife? he asked himself. 'Sali. Love and integrity. was he had so Sally alone. Darton. I can than write at such a moment.' ' ' set his heart upon Sally. ship ? Begad. As he rode through Long-Ash Lane it was scarce recognizable as the track of his two winter journeys. that as hours went on he could not help feeling too generously towards Sally to condemn her in this. now it is contradicted I hasten. by my mother's wish. Anniversaries having been unpropitious.' Now. and the reptiles in 2T3 . Then that was the secret of her refusal this time she thought I was ruined. foolish way.' said Darton to himself Mercenary little woman with a smile. He had hardly concluded this worrying task when. that nothing — could be made now. that. to his delight. Dear Mr.' he I'll try her said.

closed the course of his argument like an iron gate across a highway. where riders seldom came. Five did the business at the ay. and was tie vibrating. Mr. and tempt her with. you hadn't heard of my supposed failure when you declined last time } I had not.' And 'tis not because of any soreness from my ' ' ' ' ' ' ' slighting ' No. If all goes well it can soon be taken round if not. Sally 214 . it was broad day and sunshine when he the details of the entered Hintock. And with a burst of real eloquence he went on to declare all sorts of things that he would do for her. But if I had 'twould have been all the same. I will never. three minutes back of that row of bees. and heavenly blue consecrated the scene. ' Ah —then you you years ago ? That soreness is long past. and about the same time as on the last occasion.' The tall shade of the horseman darkened the room in which Mrs. road.' said he simply. Darton. I mount and ride away.' she said. Then. Darton paused.' said Sally firmly. No. Though spring had come. Though afternoon. Darton. for he had ridden by a side path to the top of the slope. but now I never can. In a few seconds he was in the garden with Sally. He would drive her to see her mother every week take her to London settle so much money upon her Heaven knows what he did not — — ' ' ' ! — — — — But it availed promise.' But ' implored Mr.WESSEX TALES the sun behaved as winningly as kittens on a hearth. and Knap house were visible far up the set . She interposed with a stout negative. and made her start. never marry you.' he said my horse to the garden-gate. Hall sat. tended to go on to the inn : but ' No. suggest. which nothing. Darton succeeded not.' ' 1 despise me. He saw He had dairySally in in'I'll first . the garden. I would have done it once .

had refused several offers of marriage. whenever he thought of him curse his loss of her as . he learnt that Sally. but lovers and married never. It was only by chance that. and steadily adhered to her purpose of leading a single A/ay 1884.' said Darton. and a I don't sir ? mean ' Now. The truth is. ' Not if I live a hundred years. She spoke with an it. notwithstanding the solicitations her attractions drew down upon her. I am happy ' enough as I am. and were placed out in life. all communication between Darton and the Hall family ceased.long as he lived. don't think you quite such a hero as that's all. made 'To any ' extent. which. life. P'riends as long as you like.' ' I never will.' That he had worn out his was only too plain.INTERLOPERS AT THE KNAP ' No. welcome in her heart And he never did. When his step-children had grown up. may / ask favour.' she despise you. ineffable charm.' Please do not put this question to me any more. I once did — I I don't altogether slowly answered. to marry at all. years after. .

.

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER .

.

that stead. unknown. made his humble entry into the village. time. to be just to him. and including the parish-clerk in the winter-time. Stockdale. though he had scarcely as yet acquired ballast of character sufficient to steady the consciences of the hundred-and-fort>' Methodists of pure blood who. and almost unseen. at this addition Nether-Moynton. the young man in question. they were rather pleased with the substitute than otherwise. all told. lived in — — It was owing to this overlapping of creeds that the celebrated population-puzzle arose among the denser 2ig . and to give in supplementary support to the mixed race which v.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER BOPF HIS COLD WAS CURED bOMETHIXG delayed the arrival of the Wesleyan minister. when it was too dark for the vicar to observe who passed up the street at seven o'clock which.'ent to church in the morning and chapel in as many as a the evening. and a young man came temporarily in his It was on the thirteenth of January 183. or when there was a tea hundred-and-ten people more. Mr. he was never anxious to do. But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him.

they and the rest of his flock in Nether-Moynton had felt almost as indifferent about advent as if they had been the soundest churchhe their true going parishioners in the country. he was forced to attend to that business himself. berry.WESSEX TALES gentry could of it the district around Nether-Moynton fifteen : how be that a parish containing score of strong full-grown Episcopalians. and caused ' 1 to say. 'Why didn't we know of this before he came. those in contact were content to waive It a while the graver question of his sufficiency. who went to church and chapel both. hearers as soon as they saw who won upon his female and heard him. that we might have gied him a warmer welcome The fact was that. 220 . though without a ray of levity said . Newman enough. that at this time of his life his eyes were that his affectionate. and and appointed parson. that he was. Newberry might be. a very lovable youth. he added. at the upper end of the street. knowing him to be only pro- them in visionally selected. and expecting nothing remarkable his person or doctrine. As regarded Mrs. in short. The boy said that she was a widow-woman. Lizzy Newberry. score of well-matured Dissenters. Stockdale gathered that she was one of the trimmers . and his in the though his journey had given him a bad cold head. had been a well-to-do but he had gone off as the saying was. Thus when Stockdale set foot in the place nobody had secured a lodging for him. and his figure tail. because he was dead. and-twenty score adults in all ? and nearly thirteen numbered barely two- The young man with for is whom he came being personally interesting. On inquiry he learnt that the only possible accommodation in the village would be found at the house of one Mrs. and Stockdale asked him who Mrs. hair was curly. Mr. Newberry's serious side. and a farmer in a decline. It was a youth who gave this information. who had got no husband.

and studded with a countless throng of brass nails. covered with horsehair. trembling on the bulging mouldings of the table-legs. Newberry would have no objection to accommodate him. Newberry's from the carrier's. Or no for . It stood within a garden-hedge. and he wished to house himself as soon as possible . ' She's a little particular. since there was no inn in the place. he could do no better. as the front room was called. which only over-^ laid the trodden areas. and said that Mrs. was pulled up on 22X . and seemed to be roomy and comfortable. just me. you go up and ask first if she can find room I have to see one or two persons on another matter. folks. with whom he made arrangements to come the same night.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER 'I'll go there. where he had taken shelter. and won't hae gover'ment like. He forth-ft-ith sent his luggage to ]\Irs. leaving sandy deserts under the furniture. or such said the lad dubiously. As he now lived there. and in the evening walked up to his temporary home.Vh. in the absence of purely sectarian lodgings. You will find me down at the carrier's. or the pa'son's friends. though its stone floor was scarcely disguised by the carpet. playing with brass knobs and handles. feeling that. that may be a promising sign : I'll call. the village being a local centre from which he was to radiate at once to the different small chapels in the neighbourhood.' said Stockdale. But the room looked snug and cheerful.' In a quarter of an hour the lad came back. and entering quietly he had the pleasure of hearing footsteps scudding away like mice He advanced to the parlour. ' . and lurking in great strength on A deep the under surface of the chimney-piece. He saw an elderly woman. Stockdale felt it unnecessary to knock at the door .' or curates. into the back quarters. whereupon Stockdale called at the house. arm-chair. The firelight shone out brightly.

Stockdale remained in some doubt till Martha Sarah came to clear the table. apparently aware that he had not considered his answer. a tap sounded on the door behind him. Stockdale sat down. a wide.' And before he had occasion to say more she left the room. ' He them ' conscientiously examined the tea-things. Lizzy Newberry. warmed him itself before he all knew it. Miss Newberry. and she lived out there. I beg your pardon.' said he. thinking less of what he replied than of what might be her relation to the household. a rustle of garments caused him to turn his head. tea-things were on the open. beautiful He forehead. The the teapot cover was instinctively to stretch his hand. and found ' Quite sure. I used to be Lizzy Simpkins.WESSEX TALES one side of the table. and her hand waving the door by its edge. my all there. coming forward a step or two. Newberry. is It ' ' ' little woman.' O. said.' she said. saw before him a fine and extremely well-made young woman. ' You are quite sure ? said the young woman. and began his residence by tink- and made ling the bell.' said Stockdale. Before Stockdale had got far with his meal. eyes that souls. and a little handbell had been laid at that precise point towards which a person seated in the great chair might be expected fireplace. Her name. 222 . Mrs. Mrs. Newberry. she in. ' Nothing. sensible. an expression of liveliness on her features. with dark hair. and on his telling the inquirer to come for him. thank you. nodding towards the road and village generally. tea A little girl crept in at the summons. was Marther Sarer. Whose house is this.' he said. not objecting to his experience of the room thus far. and a mouth that was in ' a picture to appreciative ' Can I get you anything else for tea ? she said.

expected. when Stockdale was about to I have come myself. Newberry's mother. Newberry ' is not the old lady I saw this afternoon ' ? No. Stockdale. which perhaps it was intended that he should be. That's Mrs. What will you have for supper? there's cold rabbit. and was not in the least anticipating Mrs.' she said. begin supper. We have a chicken in the house. and supper was laid.' Later in the evening. cut a slice when tap-tap came to the door again. Stockdale's gratified look told that she had lost nothing by not appearing when Sarah. only in the hands of Martha Stockdale was disappointed. unless she brought it up herself. Marther might not make you understand. because she wanted to see if you was good-looking. Mr. she came again. In three minutes the chicken appeared. Newberry again that night.' Stockdale said he could get on nicely with those He had no more than viands. Perhaps you would like Marther Sarer to bring it up ? Stockdale had advanced far enough in the art of being a young man to say that he did not want the — ' chicken. and there's ' — a ham uncut. but.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER '' Mrs. perhaps a shade too strong for a serious man minister. Lizzy Newberry's. when she tapped and entered as before. It happened that the cold 223 in the head from . It was Mrs. Stockdale I quite forgot to mention it just now. He had finished supper. Newberry who corned in to you just by now. The in taps minister had already learnt that this particular rhythm denoted the fingers of his enkindling landlady. and the doomed young ' fellow buried his first mouthful under a look of receptive blandness. but when it was uttered he blushed at the daring gallantry' of the and a speech. sir. Mr. to his great surprise. The minister stood up in ' I am afraid little acknowledgment of the honour.' ' Then Mrs.

l:)eyond it Stockdale discerned in the night shades several grey headstones. ' . of course To this she replied.' There ' shall see. and even tenderness. but you must help cloak on.' Lizzy went away.' ' ' — ' ' * ' 'Well. Mr. a lonely young fellow. to the bottom. Mother has gone to bed. in the village. Stockdale. and the outlines of the church roof and tower. me to get it. very bad to-night. she added archly. who had for weeks felt a great craving for somebody on whom to throw away superfluous interest. looking down at the glass. across the garden. and you about to speak. seeing that he was Don't ask what it is . which the abstemious minister was going to drink. 'Your cold is Mrs. Mrs. and before she had spoken he was seized with a violent fit of sneezing which he could not anyhow repress. must try it. and nothing better to be got it ' is something better. you shall. where This wall was low. or you may be ill.WESSEX TALES which the young man suffered had increased with the approach of night.' She held up her finger. as there is no inn here. and Stockdale waited in a pleasant Presently she returned with her bonnet and I am so sorry. and please bring that cup with you ? Stockdale. Newberry ? I've a good mind that you should have something more likely to cure it than that cold stuff. 324 . Stockdale. was not sorry to join her and followed his guide through the back door. Yes. not I really think you though not in the house. will do. looking And I've a good mind at the cheerless glass of water on the table. Mr. far off. saying. Newberry looked full of pity. and the boundary was a wall. wait.' Stockdale replied that it was rather troublesome.' said Stockdale. and come this way. Yes. Will you mood. ' wrap yourself up.

stepping upon a bank which abutted on the wall . she softly closed behind them. the son of highly respectable parents. holding the lantern over her head to light him better. he uncovered. then putting her foot on the top of the stonework. panels. when they had entered. to his surprise. You know what they are ? she asked. When they were laid open Lizzy fixed her eyes on him. and descending by a spring inside. Then from under lighted lantern. in a musical voice.' said Stockdale simply. where the ground was much higher.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER It is easy to get up this way. a row of little barrels bound with wood hoops. but consisting mostly of decayed framework. p 225 . Perhaps you will drag some of those boards aside ? she said. as is the manner of graveyards to be. The light showed them to be the singing-gallery stairs. each barrel being ' move them ? I can manage ' about as large as the nave of a heavy waggon-wheel. barrels. close to that from time to time original fixings in the ' had been removed from their body of the edifice and replaced ' by new. He was an Yes. and ' ' ' brought up with a single eye to the ministry . which. finding that he did not speak. and pieces of flooring. inland man. as if she wondered what he would say. and acting as she ordered. and followed her in the dusk across the irregular ground till they came to the tower door. ' Like an iron chest said he fervently. Stockdale did the same. and the sight suggested nothing beyond the fact that such articles were there. that she carried at her cloak she produced a small which the minister had not noticed all. under which lay a heap of lumber of all sorts.' she said. pews. Or will you take the lantern while I ' it. ' ' You can keep a secret ' ! ' ? she said.' said the young man.

' said she. ought to have had some in the house. and then as very awkward for the good impression that she wished to produce upon him. Stockdale looked at her with an eye of sudden mis- Not smugglers' liquor ? he said. and his look of alarm when he guessed the sinister myster}'. . O. They are tubs of spirit that have accidentally come over in the dark from France.WESSEX TALES 'You are quite right. in an emphatic tone of candour that was not without a touch of irony. I suppose. to oblige you. and so I often forget to keep it indoors.' she said. and then I shouldn't ha' been put to this trouble . ' people always outside world gin smiled at the sort of sin called in the illicit trading. * Yes.' 'You ' are allowed to help yourself. they are barrels. It is so 'nation strong that it drives right away about that sort of thing in a jiffy.' she answered. and these Httle kegs of and brandy were as well known to the inhabitants as turnips. So that Stockdale's innocent ignorance. ' I will.' . he rolled one of the tubs out from the corner into the middle of the 226 . Smuggling is carried on here by some of the people. apologetic voice. since you have a right to it. So help yourself. and though he was not quite satisfied with his part in the performance. but I drink none myself. I may have what I I like the owner of says so. Now. will you roll out one of the tubs ? ' ' ' * What ' do with it ? said the minister. our taking the tubs it. that ' you may not inform where their hiding-place is ? Well. It has been their practice for generations. To draw a little from it to cure your to * ' cold.' she said in a gentle. no not that particularly but I may take any if I want it.' murmured ' the minister.' In Nether-Moynton and its vicinity at this date ' ' giving. it is all . and they think it no harm. seemed to strike Lizzy first as ludicrous.

You must never do these things with a gimlet.' He made he said. Now we or it must fill cluck like forty hens show that 'tis not full' will ' up the keg with when water. fi-om which she took mouthfuls. and the pressure taking thin. she produced a bottle of water. the smugglers : but the buyers must not that the smugglers have been kind to me at expense.' said Stockdale doubtfully. ' It won't run out. and the hole nearly closes up again. ' the hole as directed. I much question the honesty of this proceeding.' said Lizzy. How do you wish a gimlet. No. said she.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER tower floor. because the wood-dust gets in and when the buyers pour out the brandy that would tell them that the tub had been broached. the hoops forward. I'll show you.' your knees. and the flow immediately it stopped. which seemed to be When the spirted out in a stream.' O yes it will.' said his interesting companion and she held up with her other hand a shoemaker's awl and a hammer.' Stockdale took the ' hammer and did so. tub. and squeeze the cup. Now make the hole in the part that was covered by ' the hoop. upon the ceased ' ' the cup was he pressing. and I'll hold the effect spirit full Stockdale obeyed . is handled.' ' ' ' know their I see. I suppose ? ' ' me to get it out — with . An awl makes no dust. and while he went through the process of alternately pressing and ceasing to press.' Take the tub between heads. con- vepng each hole. to the it where keg by putting her pretty lips to the was sucked in at each recovery of the 227 I .' By her direction he held the tub with the hole upwards. and But they tell you you may take it ? 'Yes. Now tap one of ' ' .

Mrs.' I see the hardness of ' it. they are not afraid of that.' You must. and left him to his own reflections.' They have put you into said Stockdale emphatically. By this time they had passed over the wall and entered the house. asking himself whether he. *used to know against anybody. ' O I couldn't do such a ' thing. in a self-corrected of their doings. and a minister. no . I don't just now.' — feel is your duty as a duty . sometimes to inform really you must. besides. * Well. the hole. where she brought him a glass and ' He hot water. for her confusion.WESSEX TALES When it was again knocked the hoop down to buried the tub in the lumber as before. and and. and a shining light. cask from pressure.' she murmured. looked after her vanishing form. so honest and unsophisticated that he did not at once but at last he did perceive words were a slip. ' full its he plugged place. as a respectable man. I have never particularly ' felt it She stopped. as that it an honest person. 'And is you should be tossed and tantalized I do between your mCxTiories and your conscience. ' proceed. in fact. ' a very awkward corner. that you will soon see your way very cruel that out of this unpleasant position. and ' Aren't the smugglers afraid that you will tell ? he asked. and allowed her time to recover and discern why she paused ' : that the ' husband. and so did my I cannot inform. even though as yet only of the halfpenny-candle 228 .' she said. like a man it who looked far into the moral of things. My tone. father. and that no woman would first husband have uttered by accident unless she He felt had thought pretty frequently of a second. as they recrossed the churchyard.' Well. Newberry.' he continued. of course. hope. my first husband Stockdale was there was some confusion in her voice. and kept the secret.

Fear God. sneeze settled the question and he found that when the fiery liquor was lowered by the addition of twice or thrice sort. Aged II years. He then felt that. it was one of the prettiest cures for a cold in the head that he had ever known.Simpkins. Stockdale sat in the deep chair about twenty minutes sipping and meditating. Mr.' he said to himself. looking so disinterested that the most ingenious would have refrained from asserting that she had come ' to affect his feelings like a fire in ' Would you by her seductive eyes. till he at length took warmer views of things.' ' * 'Tis hers. ' ! Heavens. being still a little pricked in the conscience for countenancing her in watering the spirits.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER were quite justified in doing this tiling. was attracted by a framed and glazed sampler in which a running ornament of fir-trees and peacocks surrounded the following pretty bit of sentiment ' : — . tap-tap came again upon the door. shed. how I like that name Before he had done thinking that no other name from Abigail to Zenobia would have suited his young landlady so well. Rose-leaves smell when roses thrive. though chronologically at a short distance. on account of your cold ? minister. • Lizzy . and walked restlessly round the room. it would in an emotional sense be very long before to-morrow His eye came. your room. Stockdale. A the quantity of water. and the minister started as her face appeared yet another time. Newberry again. Here's my work while I'm alive Rose-leaves smell when shrunk and Here's my work when I am dead. The 229 . when he would see Mrs. particularly at this chilly time of the year. and longed for the morrow. . ' Honour the King.

luxury too far. even though it should have scorched him out of bed and endangered his selfHowever. he re-entered the door of his dwelling. to take a poetical view of the term lodger the morrow. and it would be giving way to ' ' . although two new . that he was under the same roof with Lizzy . that he said. though the tub should cluck like all the hens in Christendom.WESSEX TALES saw here a way to self-chastisement. I thank you. It was useless to him by appointment. Breakfast passed. Dinner time came he sat down to the meal. after a short walk. and went out. finished it. his cold The morrow came. to reconnoitre the premises. fact. in . and punctually at eight o'clock. he would see her in the evening. which proceeding he resolved to render more moral by steadfastly insisting that no water should be introduced to fill up. and which she would attempt to gratify.' she him by vanishing instantly.' 'Then I won't insist. He was disappointed. and perhaps engage again in the delightful tub-broaching in the neighbouring church tower. he wished had chosen to have a fire. and he slowly went his way down the lane. and disconcerted Wondering if she was vexed by his refusal. breakfast hour as he did that day. himself with what was in truth a rare consolation for a budding lover. her guest. used to one in my life. cheered by the thought that. and Martha Sarah attended. But nothing could disguise the 230 fact . and that he would certainly see her on rose early. hoping to see her at dinner. after all. and Stockdale He had never in his Ufe so longed for the quite gone. lingered on for a whole hour. he consoled discipline for a dozen days. teachers were at that to speak to moment waiting at the chapel-door wait longer. No. but nobody came voluntarily as on the night before to inquire if there were other wants which he had not mentioned.' I have never been he said firmly it is not necessary.

Simpkins. and no sweet temptations. or worse. Nothing ever happens to her. and his countenance fell when he thought how much more his mind was interested that in that matter than in his serious duties. meeting her at the foot of the stairs in the morning. as on the first evening. As for Stockdale. handing another penny. though it must be said that it was rather a humorous than a of pride designing consciousness. ' Anything serious happened ' ? he asked.' said Martha. and his tea and supper . However. and savoured more than of vanity. in spite of what the girl had said. Night came. he would not question further. but no At last Lizzy Newberry. — occasions there was something in her smile which showed how conscious she was of the effect she produced. O no nothing at all said she. judiciously handing a penny as he spoke. he went to bed dissatisfied. or other slight ailment. and revealing yet additional pennies in the background. with a On these promise to renew them when they drooped.' Being a young man of some honour.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER it was a queer business. he clearly perceived that he pos231 . only biding upstairs in bed because 'tis her way some' — ' ! ' times. not even I said last night setting eyes on old Mrs. and assuming that Lizzy must have a bad headache. and being favoured by a visit or two from her during the day once for the purpose of making kindly inquiries about his comfort. the minister could bear it no longer. and at another time to place a bunch of winter-violets on his table. and said to his quaint ' day ' ' ? Where is Mrs. with breathless She's confidence. compunction vanished with the decline of day. She's busy. ' ' that was not to be ' ! Next day he had better fortune.' he reflected . Ne\vl)erry tolittle attendant. but that I should see her to-morrow.

she could. during which time things proceeded much as such matters have done ever since the beginning of He saw the object of attachment several times history. The other minister will be here in a month. . himself when sitting over the fire. easily win him back by suddenly surrounding him with those little attentions which her position When as his landlady put it in her power to bestow. I shall have a furnished house to live in. ' ' and she shall I will distract my mind no more ! . as soon as the last plate is on the go on living dresser ' ! Thus a titillating fortnight was passed by young Stockdale. did not see her at all the next. and on finding that she would not be seen. 232 . This mild coquetry was perhaps fair enough under the circumstances of their being so closely lodged. missed her when hints and signs as to where she should be at a given hour almost amounted to an appointment. one day. sessed set a watch upon his tongue and eyes for the space of one hour and a half. had gone off in a huff to the dreariest and dampest walk he could discover. when my two years of probation are finished. she would restore equilibrium in the evening with Mr. ' or. and Stockdale put up with it as Being in her own house. I noticed that you sneezed twice again this morning. with a varnished door and a brass knocker. by myself for ever ? No . met her when he least expected to do so. And then. and I'll march straight back to her. . after which he found it was useless to struggle further. and so 1 have been putting up thicker curtains this afternoon while you were out ' ' . Stockdale. and wished He that tutelary saints were not denied to Dissenters. he had waited indoors half the day to see her. I have fancied you must feel draught o' nights from your bedroom window.WESSEX TALES unlimited capacity for backsliding. philosophically as he was able.' he said to Then I shall be off. after vexing him or disappointing him of her presence. and ask her flat. and gave himself up to the situation.

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Mr you. and the table ornamented with the few fresh flowers and leaves that could be obtained at this season. Thus they became friends again after a disShe would utter on these occasions some agreement.' Stockdale. pretty and deprecatory remark on the necessity of her troubling him anew. Depend upon I about you yet. chairs placed where the table had stood. and he would straightway say that he would do a hundred times as much for her if she . continually . . trying to nail up monthly rose which the winter wind had and of course he stepped forward to assist hands got mixed in passing the shreds and nails. when their should so require. blown down her. am sure it is — it that cold I is hanging have thought of it and you must let me make a posset for Sometimes in coming home he found his sitting-room rearranged. so as to add a novelty to the room. At times she would be a branch of the standing on a chair outside the house.

much interested in plainly the conversation there the and was watch and Had hngering Stockdale stood in 234 . and remained Lizzy's home grew still. Before the colloquy had ended. and upon reflection judged their wearer to be the wellbuilt and rather handsome miller's miller who lived below. dark.WESSEX TALES HOW HE SAW TWO OTHER MEN II IVlATTERS being in this advancing state. nor the candles lighted . was alternately low and and permanent shade. but the shutters were not yet closed. He to seemed at to be also door. and Stockdale was tempted to stretch his head towards the window. forming a thick One of the laurel boughs now quivered against the light background of sky. The and sometimes it reached the level of positive entreaty but what the words were Stockdale could in no way hear. Opposite voice firm. the minister's attention was attracted by a second incident. listen. at hearing her speak in low tones of exIt was nearly postulation to some one at the door. Stockdale was rather surprised one cloudy evening. He saw outside the door a young man in clothes of a whitish colour. and in a moment the head of a man peered out. . while sitting in his room. a clump of laurels.

. I am listener.' Ah yes. Well. Mrs. been ' ' much less serious for me. then ? Well the only talk between a young woman and ' ' — is man ' that likely to amuse an eavesdropper. Not that I wish him. be frank only on business. Stockdale was made so uneasy by the circumstance. O I it should ha' chimed in with for other reasons. If it was said the young man. every now and then. that's true . he did nothing more than stand up and show himself against : and firelight. Lizzy and the miller spoke in lower tones. 'When you were ' ' talking to that miller. Stockdale. 235 . my smiling in spite of her precousin Owlett has spoken to me about matrimony.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER any other relation to Lizzy than that of a lover. and your conversation heard ? ' When ? she said. the ' Newberry. Newberry It would. that you have told me of that It is a timely warning. with all my heart. he said.' ' ! Mrs. of course.' She showed more concern than the trifling event seemed to demand. Lizzy. glad. that as soon as the miller was gone. whereupon the listener disappeared. A man was looking from the laurel-tree as jealously as if he could have eaten you. he might have gone out and investigated the meaning of this but being as yet but an unprivileged ally. What else do you could be. It would have been sptjaking of it. occupation. I wish he had but he was not speaking of it then. ISIr. are you aware that you were watched just now. and I must see my cousin again. and he added. Perhaps you were talking of things you did not wish to be overheard ? I was talking only on business.' ' she said.' she said. why should anybody wish to listen ' ' ' ' ' ' ! to ' you ? She looked curiously it * think at him.

' ' Why I ' Because at once.' ' Tubs— they You things ? are called Things here. you 236 . in which she freely allowed her own to rest. It all comes upon ' — one thing at a time. 'At any rate.' At any rate. if you will. or do anybe so likely to put poor Owlett into much Stockdale sighed.' are too timid.' ' ' But why don't you deny him. and make no more be Yes or No between us.' I am thinking thinking of something she said with embarrassment. you can assure me that the miller shall not be allowed to' speak to you except on business ? You have never directly encouraged I me and must settle ' him ? She ' his party parried the question by saying.' said the minister.' as that.' not say at once you will wait for me until have a house and can come back to marry you. it makes him ' Things ' — what rather forward. dear Lizzy. I cannot well. he wants to leave his into the street ' of him to impose good name into danger by Promise me that the next time tubs here you will let me roll them It is unfair ' ? She shook her head. You mean Yes by that ? he asked.WESSEX TALES ( But don't go away ' till it I have spoken. and smuggling tricks. Lizzy .' said she. but without speaking. I'll out with at once. get your my dear Lizzy ' ? ' so his upon you. and said that he thought hers a mistaken generosity when it extended to assisting those who cheated the king of his dues. after waiting a ado. and as I have not denied him. he and have been in the habit of leaving things on my ' premises sometimes. ' You may be my sweetheart. please do And he held out his hand. ! Let it ' ' ' while. the neighbours so I would not venture ' to offend thing that would the hands of the excisemen. else. You see.

' 'This is too bad.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER will let me make him keep him flatly that his distance as for your ' lover. at present. I won't encourage him as my reasonable man Lizzy answered earnestly. It is not only Owlett who concerned.' said Stockdale.' she said.' Well. his countenance On my ' lover. ' honour. and ' tell you are not him ' ? offend is I don't wish to Please not. . so I am. will be satisfied with that.' A ' clearing.' said Stockdale impatiently. my old neighbours.

as he always had done. that she had never had a moment's heaviness. 238 . some days later. It was that she was markedly irregular in her hours oTOCKDALE now began a feature in the life of rising. former supposition was disproved. or illness of any kind since the previous January twelvemonth. when they were speaking on a question of health. and he concluded. headache. The second time his that this extreme lateness came under notice was on a day when he had particularly wished to consult with her about his future movements . perhaps for three or four days and twice he had certain proof that she . unless she had kept herself invisible to avoid meeting and The talking to him. however. Then suddenly she would not be visible twelve at noon. reaching the ground-floor within a few minutes of half-past seven. which he had casually observed but scarcely ever thought of before. which he could hardly believe.WESSEX TALES THE MYSTERIOUS GREATCOAT III to notice more particularly of his fair landlady. did not leave her room till half-past three in the aftertill in succession noon. or other ailment. For a week or two she would be tolerably punctual. by her innocently saying. that she had a cold. headache.

' she murmured. ' ! Mr. Stockdale might have waited a long time to know the real cause of her sleeplessness. 'Not at all. ' ' But then. past three in the afternoon.' no need for doing that it is all And she went away without further — remark. as for that it means nothing. thinking disastrous effects of such indulgence upon the household of a minister. that's another matter. ' I thought quite otherwise. I don't go to sleep till five or six in the morning sometimes.' said Stockdale. I merely thought so from your being sometimes obliged to keep your room through the best part of the day. ' ' Have you spoken ' O no — to a doctor is ' ? there natural to me.' When I stay in my room till halfIt is.' 'O. divining his ' good and prescient thoughts. lessness to such an alarming extent is real illness.' SleepAh.' she said. it only happens when I stay awake all night.' 'What. Stockdale. had it not happened that one dark night he was sitting in his bedroom jotting down notes for a sermon. He did not 239 . and worst look that he liked to see upon her. should it become a habit of everyday occurrence.' of the It is dreadful. — with a look which which was the It is ' pure Never sleepiness. you may always be sure that I slept soundly till three.' said he.' said Stockdale. some might have called cold. turning up her face to show the impossibility of his gazing on it and holding such a belief for a moment. which occupied him perfunctorily for a considerable time after the other members of the household had retired. do I look sickly?' she asked. or I shouldn't have ' stayed there.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER ' I am glad to hear it. I tell you.

discovered. Before he had fallen asleep he heard a knocking at the front door. Simpkins before he could reach it She was in her ordinary clothes. As there was now a sufficient entry for the voice. Newberry.WESSEX TALES bed till one o'clock. Partly dressing himself. woman's door and went on to the other. Mrs. went to his window. and had a light in her hand. Newberry could give her some mustard to make a plaster with. berry. which overlooked the door. Stockdale got out of bed. 240 . not a Stockdale now sent a positive shout through the open space of the door Mrs. or movement of any kind within. Newcompelled to act in person. and the person knocked again. that of Lizzy's mother. * What's the person calling about ' ? she said in alarm.' he said. he thumped the door persistently. having neither bell nor servant. and was dressing Stockdale softly closed the younger hastily. She did not ' answer. he went along the passage and tapped at Lizzy's door. first rather timidly performed. Then he heard sounds from the opposite room. ' The room was quite silent came from any part of ' ! it.' not a breathing. and. was I will call Mrs. As the house still remained undisturbed. Nobody answered it. as her father was taken very ill on the get to chest. The minister. rustle. that had only been gently pushed to. by it but said in firm ' tones. A young woman's voice replied that Susan Wallis was there. and then louder. asked who was there. Newberry still no answer. and that she had come to ask if Mrs. he knocked no longer. thinking of her erratic habits in the matter of sleep. — : by his herself uproar though Lizzy had not. when he its moving ajar under his knocking. which was opened by Mrs. you are wanted. as if she had been aroused . and opening it.

I can let the And girl have what she wants as well as my daughter. admit the girl. Mrs. go into her chamber.' said the old lady hastily. ' I should be much more went at ease. that he was constrained to go back again to the unlikely theory of a heavy sleep. and then the murmured discourse of both as required. He could not get rid of a singular suspicion. saying. There is nothing at all the matter with Lizzy. to her came out again almost instantly. if true. though he had heard neither breath nor 241 Q .THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Stockdale told the girl's errand. Stockdale went into his room and lay down as before. Newberry. notwithstanding that he had heard her come upstairs at the usual time.' said her mother. shut herself up in the usual way.ade such a clamour at the door he could not possibly convince himself. Simpkins returned up the daughter's room. . and ' staircase. I suppose there is nothing the matter with Mrs.' It is no matter. who. He heard Lizzy's mother open the front door.' she came out of the room and went downstairs.' Mrs. and . the door was fastened. Newberry. adding seriously. which was all the more harassing in being. and the house was again in silence. the most unaccountable thing within his experience. Simpkins from the landing. they went to the store-cupboard for the medicament The girl departed. to Mrs. Yet all reason was so much against her being elsewhere. 'Nothing at all. that I could not wake her?' ' ' ' ' ' O Still no.' she and descended again to attend to the applicant. had remained quiet during said this interval. having seen the light. I cannot wake Mrs. however. That Lizzy Newberry was in her bedroom when he m. as if on second thoughts. Still the minister did not fall asleep. Simpkins came upstairs. Stockdale retired towards his own apartment.' ' the minister was not satisfied. Will you go ' in and see ? he said.

looked rather paler than usual. walked in silence a long distance. the latter part of the that they might return proposition being introduced home unseen.' said Stockdale reproachfully. he suggested to her on the that they should take evening after her mysterious sleep a walk together just before dark. that kitchen. and gave out hymns that hitherto had always been skipped. as he liked to do when the weather was means fine. But. and sometimes turned her head away. With this end in view. pulpit. she seemed to be talking. ' 242 . minister suffered from these distractions. He saw asleep himself. and extemporized sermons were not improved thereby. but as this was by no At breakfast-time he unusual. in the Already he often said Romans for Corinthians in strange cramped metres. gregation could not raise resolved that as soon as his few weeks of stay approached their end he would cut the matter short. to a shrouded footpath suited for the occasion. and away they went over a stile. knew that she was not far off by hearing her in the of her person. Before coming to any positive conclusion he fell awake till day. in spite of attempts on both sides. and did not in the morning. repenting at leisure if necessary. they She were unable to infuse much spirit into the ramble. that there was no reason for his wasting more time in fruitless surmise. because the conHe fully a tune to fit them. he took no notice of it. She consented to go. and though he saw nothing back apartment being rigorously closed against his eyes. before he nothing of Mrs. and commit The his himself by proposing a definite engagement.WESSEX TALES movement during a shouting and knocking loud enough to rouse the Seven Sleepers. ordering. Newberry went out to meet the rising sun. and bustUng about among the pots and skimmers in so ordinary a manner. when they had Lizzy.

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER
*

Yes,' said she.

'

You yawned

— much

my company

is

to

'

you

!

He

put it in that way, but he was really wondering whether her yawn could possibly have more to do with physical weariness from the night before than mental weariness of that present moment. Lizzy apologized, and owned that she was rather tired, which gave him an opening but his modesty for a direct question on the point
;

would not allow him to put

it

to her

;

and he uncom-

fortably resolved to wait. The month of Februar)' passed with alternations of mud and frost, rain and sleet, east winds and north-

westerly
fields

gales.

The hollow

showed themselves

places in the ploughed as pools of water, which had

there from the higher levels, and had not yet found time to soak away. The birds began to get lively, and a single thrush came just before sunset each evening, and sang hopefully on the large elm-tree which stood nearest to Mrs. Newberry's house. Cold blasts and brittle earth had given place to an oozing dampness
settled

coming
kind.

more unpleasant in itself than frost but it suggested spring, and its unpleasantness was of a bearable
;

Stockdale had been going to bring about a practical understanding with Lizzy at least half-a-dozen times ; but, what with the mystery of her apparent absence

on the night of the neighbour's call, and her curious way of lying in bed at unaccountable times, he felt a check within him whenever he wanted to speak out. Thus they still lived on as indefinitely affianced lovers,
each of
to the

whom

name

hardly acknowledged the other's claim Stockdale persuaded himof chosen one.

self that his hesitation

was owing to the postponement

of the ordained minister's arrival, and the consequent delay in his own departure, which did away with all
necessity
for

haste in his
his discretion

courtship

;

but

perhaps
itself,

it

was only that

was reasserting

and

243

WESSEX TALES
him that he had better get clearer ideas of Lizzy before arranging for the grand contract of his life with her. .She, on her part, always seemed ready to be
telling

urged further on that question than he had hitherto attempted to go ; but she was none the less independent, and to a degree which would have kept from flagging the passion of a far more mutable man. On the evening of the first of March he went casually into his bedroom about dusk, and noticed
lying on a chair a greatcoat, hat, and breeches. Having no recollection of leaving any clothes of his own in that spot, he went and examined them as well as he

could in the twilight, and found that they did not He paused for a moment to consider belong to him. how they might have got there. He was the only man living in the house ; and yet these were not his garments, unless he had made a mistake. No, they were not his.

He
'

called

up Martha Sarah.
'

did these things come in my room flinging the objectionable articles to the floor.

How

?

he

said,

Martha said that Mrs. Newberry had given them to her to brush, and that she had brought them up there thinking they must be Mr. Stockdale's, as there was no other gentleman a lodging there.
'

Of

course you did,' said Stockdale.
to your
mis'ess,

'

Now
are

take

them down
clothes
I

and say they

some

have found here and
left
'

know nothing

about.'

As

the door was

open he heard the conversation
'
!

How stupid said Mrs. Newberry, in a tone of confusion. Why, Marther Sarer, I did not tell you to take 'em to Mr. Stockdale's room ? I thought they must be his as they was so muddy,'
downstairs.
' '

'

said
'

Martha humbly.

should have left 'em on the clothes-horse,' young mistress severely; and she came upstairs with the garments on her arm, quickly passed Stockdale's room, and threw them forcibly into a closet
said the

You

244

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER
at the

end of a passage. With this the incident ended, and the house was silent again. There would have been nothing remarkable in finding such clothes in a widow's house had they been
clean
lying
;

mud

or moth-eaten, or creased, or mouldy from long but that they should be splashed with recent ; When a young bothered Stockdale a good deal.

by

pastor

aspen stage of attachment, and open the merest trifles, a really substantial incongruity of this complexion is a disturbing thing. However, nothing further occurred at that time; but
is

in the at

to agitation

he became watchful, and given to conjecture, and was unable to forget the circumstance. One morning, on looking from his window, he saw Mrs. Newberry herself brushing the tails of a long drab greatcoat, which, if he mistook not, was the very same garment as the one that had adorned the chair It was densely splashed up to the hollow of his room.
judge by
of the back with neighbouring Nether-Moynton mud, to its colour, the spots being distinctly visible to him in the sunlight. The pre\'ious day or two having been wet, the inference was irresistible that the wearer

had quite recently been walking some considerable disStockdale opened tance about the lanes and fields. the window and looked out, and Mrs. Newberry turned she never Her face became slowly red her head. He had looked prettier, or more incomprehensible. waved his hand affectionately, and said good-morning she answered with embarrassment, having ceased her occupation on the instant that she saw him, and rolled
;
;

up the coat

half-cleaned.

Some simple explanaStockdale shut the window. tion of her proceeding was doubtless within the bounds but he himself could not think of one of possibility and he wished that she had placed the matter beyond conjecture by voluntarily saying something about it
;
;

there

and

then.

215

WESSEX TALES
But, though Lizzy had not offered an explanation at moment, the subject was brought forward by her at the next time of their meeting. She was chatting to
the

him concerning some other event, and remarked that it happened about the time when she was dusting some old clothes that had belonged to her poor husband. You keep them clean out of respect to his memory ?
' '

said Stockdale tentatively.
I air and dust them sometimes,' she said, with the most charming innocence in the world. Do dead men come out of their graves and walk in
'
'

? murmured the minister, in a cold sweat deception that she was practising. What did you say ? asked Lizzy. Nothing, nothing,' said he mournfully.
'

mud

'

at the

'

'

'

words

Mere
next

a

phrase

that

will

do

for

my sermon

It was too plain that Lizzy was unaware that Sunday.' he had seen actual pedestrian splashes upon the skirts of the tell-tale overcoat, and that she imagined him to

believe

it

had come

direct

from some chest or drawer.

aspect of the case was now considerably darker. Stockdale was so much depressed by it that he did not

The

challenge her explanation, or threaten to go off as a missionary to benighted islanders, or reproach her in

He simply parted from her when any way whatever. she had done talking, and lived on in perplexity, till by
degrees his natural

manner became sad and constrained.

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER

A 7 THE TIME OF THE
IV
i

NEW MOON

HE

gloomy

;

following Thursday was changeable, damp, and and the night threatened to be windy and

Stockdale had gone away to KnoUsea in unpleasant, the morning, to be present at some commemoration service there, and on his return he was met by the Whether influenced attractive Lizzy in the passage.

by the tide of cheerfulness which had attended him day, or by the drive through the open air, or whether from a natural disposition to let bygones alone, he allowed himself to be fascinated into forgetfulness of the greatcoat incident, and upon the whole passed a pleasant evening ; not so much in her society as within sound of her voice, as she sat talking in the back parlour to her mother, till the latter went to bed. Shortly after this Mrs. Newberry retired, and then
that

But before Stockdale prepared to go upstairs himself. he left the room he remained standing by the dying embers awhile, thinking long of one thing and another ; and was only aroused by the flickering of his candle in the socket as it suddenly declined and went out. Knowing that there were a tinder-box, matches, and another candle in his bedroom, he felt his way upstairs
247

WESSEX TALES
reaching his chamber he laid his and corner for the tinderbox, but for a long time in vain. Discovering it at length, .Stockdale produced a spark, and was kindling the brimstone, when he fancied that he heard a movelight.

without a

On

hand on every

possible ledge

ment in the passage. He blew harder at the lint, the match flared up, and looking by aid of the blue light
this time,

through the door, which had been standing open all he was surprised to see a male figure vanish-

ing round the top of the staircase with the evident intention of escaping unobserved. The personage wore the clothes which Lizzy had been brushing, and something in the outline and gait suggested to the minister

and, greatly excited, Stockdale determined to investigate the mystery, and to adopt his own way for doing it. He blew out the match without lighting the candle, went into the passage,
;

that the wearer was Lizzy herself But he was not sure of this

faint tiptoe towards Lizzy's room. grey square of light in the direction of the chamberwindow as he approached told him that the door was open, and at once suggested that the occupant was gone. He turned and brought down his fist upon the handrail of tlie staircase It was she ; in her late husband's
'
:

and proceeded on

A

coat and hat

' !

Somewhat
crept

relieved to find that there

was no intruder

in the case, yet

none the

less

surprised, the minister

down
:

the

and

hat,

and

stairs, softly put on his boots, overcoat, tried the front door. It was fastened as

usual

he went to the back door, found

this

unlocked,

and emerged into the garden. The night was mild and moonless, and rain had lately been falling, though for the present it had ceased. There was a sudden dropping from the trees and bushes every now and then, as each passing wind shook their boughs. Among these sounds
Stockdale heard the faint
outside,
fall of feet upon the road and he guessed from the step that it was 248

and Here she ascended got into the track for Ringsworth. passed the lonely hamlet of Holworth. her intention seemed to be to reach the shore about midnight. walks in this direction. helped by the Lizzy's.' she said hurriedly .' And d'ye tell o't and you must go at once Yes.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER followed the sound. but he was aware that if she the persisted in her course much longer she would near to the coast.' said Lizzy. It is.' I will. and tell them they will not be wanted till to-morrow night at the same time. circumstance of the wind blowing from the direction in which the pedestrian moved. she tripped at a quickening On pace till the lane turned into the turnpike-road. and kept there. which Stockdale 249 . round to where the chaps are waiting. whose voice Stockdale recognized as that of ' ' one of the most devout members of ' his congregation. a figure came forward to her from one of the cottage doors. He While he thus followed her up the street or lane. which she crossed. without risk of being overheard. there is danger to-night for our venture. Lizzy continuing her way. Lizzy soon ascended a small mound.' I dreamed there might be. draw and and as it three miles distant from Nether-Moynton had been about a quarter-past eleven o'clock when they set out. which was here between two . and.' I be quite ready Ah. there being more hedge than houses on either side. said the man who had Is that Mrs. I go to burn the lugger off. as it might indifferently be called.' he said . Newberry ? come out. the minister stepped upon the grass and stopped also. and went down the vale on the Stockdale had never taken any extensive other side. and instantly went off through a ' ' — ! * ' ' ' ' gate. Lizzy stopped. hill without the least hesitation. I have bad news . he got nearly close to her. I've been here this quarter-hour.' said she. John.

about fifty ' tons. which could be heard above the uninterrupted washings of the sea. did not know . man heard voices behind him.' The voices died away. was light enough in the sky to show her disguised figure against it when she reached the top. when she crept to the shelter of a little bush which maintained a precarious existence in that exposed spot and her form was absorbed in its dark and stunted outline as if she had become part of it. before he had decided to leave it. and his position one in which he did not care to remain long. and afterwards sat down. fearing that Lizzy was in danger. and there stayed still.' ' ' From Yes. : What they signified he but.WESSEX TALES same time adroitly skirted on the left and a dull monotonous roar burst upon his ear. where she paused. However. and by day it There apparently commanded a full view of the bay. and the heads and shoulders it • ' But O no. don't I suppose ? * 'a b'lieve. Cherbourg. talking in loud and careless tones. and which suggested that they were not engaged in any business at their own risk. he was about might be seen. There's another or two in it a farmer and such like. but the names I don't know. — 250 . ' ' What's the vessel ? A lugger. She had evidently heard the men as well as he. Stockdale. yet desirous of being near her. crept a little higher up.' ' all belong to Owlett } He's only got a share. the ground damp. the young at the . not wishing on any account to alarm her at this moment. The hillock was about fifty yards from the top of the clifis. They passed near him. This proved some of their words floated across to to be the fact him. to run forward and warn her that she his situation. and caused him to forget at once the coldness of . The wind was chilly. sank upon his hands and knees.

There was no audible movement either in front or behind him. and the door unfastened. and he now concluded that she had not outrun him. but that. ' ' be the ruin of her perturbation was interrupted by the sudden bursting out of a bright and increasing light from the few seconds later. and threatened Stockdale to consume the bush as well as the bough. . twisting his legs and ankles in unexpected fissures and descents. and believing him one of the excise party. hearing him at her heels. till. just as he had left them. his honest affection for Lizzy having quickened to its intensest point during these moments of risk to her person and That's why she's here. she had hidden herself somewhere on the way.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER of the ' men diminished towards the chff. village. O. he heard her rush past him down the hollow like a stone The light now from a sling. My darhng has been tempted to buy a share by that unbeUever Owlett. and showed its position clearly. and waited silently in the to 251 . which crackled fiercely. and let him pass by. on coming to the gate between the downs and the road. paused just long enough to notice thus much. His intention was to overtake her. spot where Lizzy was in hiding. He went on at a more leisurely pace towards the and before it .' he said to himself. for the gate was on the latch. and dropped out of sight. She had kindled a bough of furze and stuck it into the bush under which she had been crouching the wind fanned the flame. and then followed rapidly the route taken by the young woman. flared high and wide. Thus he flew across the open country about Holworth. he was forced to pause to get breath. On reaching the house he found his surmise be correct. it His will ! ' A had reached the height of a blaze.' groaned the minister. Stockdale closed the door behind him. in the direction of home. and reveal himself as a friend but run as he would he could see nothing of her. name.

I am sorry for that. and I am ashamed of you Lizzy could hardly find a voice to answer this unexpected reproach.' Lizzy meekly replied. ! But How have only a share in the run.' said he more tenderly. that's anywhen Lizzy. Stockdale went forward and said at once. I have got my own dress under just the same it is Will you go away upstairs and let only tucked in me pass ? I didn't want you to see me at such a time ! — as this ' ' ! I have a right to see you do you think there can be anything between us now ? ' Lizzy was silent. and keep it such a secret from me all this time ? I don't do it always. and Lizzy came in. footstep that he had heard in going out . Lizzy. which is no ' ' harm.' She started. ' ! ' And a nice game found you out in to-night. I have been waiting up for you. It is Mr. though she had recognized the voice. Well now. which opened and shut softly. . It is only his greatcoat shrinking back to the wall. isn't it ? she said.WESSEX TALES In about ten minutes he heard the same light passage. becoming angry now that she * ' ' ' was I've safe indoors. and not alarmed.' he continued sadly. Stockdale. no harm 252 ' is done . 'You are a smuggler. suppose . I am only partly in man's clothes. Yes. and you can't use your arms. That makes no difference. Whatever did you engage in such a trade as that for. and hat and breeches that I've got on. You are in man's clothes.' he answered.' she faltered. .' I Well.' she said. and I do it only because a cloak blows about so. don't be frightened. You because it can't be done have regularly upset me. and then the door-latch was lifted. it paused at the gate. I only do it in winter-time ' I ' ' ' when ' 'tis new moon. as he was my own husband.' ' ' else.

too. which was behind a headland further west. on the second night danger threatened. Lulstead Cove. and sink 'em a little-ways from shore. what will you do now ? Lizzy slowly murmured the particulars of their plan. ^Vhy I have kept it so secret from you is that I was afraid you would be angry if you knew. Suppose the officers hinder them landing there he said. I don't want to getting rather husky in the throat.' ' It is a pretty ' mess to be in altogether. the the run crew should attempt to make the second. only went to-night to burn the folks off. and take the 253 . that three landing-places were always agreed upon before if was attempted. Then we shan't try anywhere else all this dark that's what we call the time between moon and moon — —and perhaps they'll string the tubs to a stray-Hne. the vessel was 'burnt off' from the first point. ' ' share in ' it. blamable and dangerous practice altogether ? I must do my best to save this run. his attention to this interesting protoo ? gramme displacing for a moment his concern at her . which was and if there.' I suppose if I had married you I should think so without finding this out you'd have gone on witli it just my ! ' ! the ' same ? ' I I did not think so far ahead. as it had been by her to-night. is this. with the understanding that. Well.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Won't you for the sake of me give up as yet.' said ' ' ' this she.' said ' the distracted young minister. I don't know. you know that . but I don't want to lose give you up — I don't know what to do now venture. which was Ringsworth. because we found that the excisemen knew where the tubs were to be landed. the chief of which were that they meant to try their luck at some other point of the shore the next night . they should on the third night try the third place.

she gradually moved and moved ' ' ' * ' ' ' away.' The minister stood thinking. Poor Stockdale was dreadfully depressed all the next day by the discoveries of the night before. Don't you Lizzy.' he replied You would not think it worth while to give bitterly.WESSEX TALES bearings ' . all this is very wrong.' And you won't promise and wait till I am ready ? I cannot give you my word to-night. partly from her walk and partly from agitation. and the quick breathing of Lizzy. going into the adjoining room. but as 254 .' she pouted. is in force just the same. and closing the door between them.' I am nothing to live for. of course. not in such complete darkness but that he could discern against its whitewashed surface the greatcoat and broad hat which covered her. Lizzy was unmistakably a fascinating young woman. and then when they have a chance ' they'll go to creep for 'em. and almost everybody in Nether-Moynton lives by it. and there was no sound within doors but the tick of the clock on the stairs. as she stood close to the wall. and life would be so dull if it wasn't for that. ' ' ' ' ' But the spirit of the text it. remember the lesson of the tribute-money ? " Render unto Qesar the things that are Caesar's. that I should not care to live at all. looking thoughtfully down.' And. they'll go out in a boat and drag a creeper that's a grapnel along the bottom till it catch hold of — — the stray-line.' he said. up this wild business and live for me alone ? I have never looked at it like that.' What's that ? ' O. She remained there in the dark till he was tired of waiting.' ' My father did and so did my grandfather." Surely you have heard that read times enough in your growing up ? He's dead. and had gone up to his own chamber.

THE DISTRACTED PREACHER a ' ftiinister's -wife she was hardly to be contemplated. she would have ' ! bered that in that case he would never have his he rememcome from distant home to Nether-Moynton. Do you promise. he would never forgive himself for not being there to help. . much as he disliked the idea of seemin? to countenance such unlawful escapades. and said. If I had only stuck instead of suited to father's little grocery business. The evening drew on. act as he would. going in for the ministry. but. did not wish to repeat his own share of the adventure . The estrangement between them was but it not complete. and he knew well enough that her halfLizzy would repeat her excursion at night offended manner had shown that she had not the was sufficient to ' ' — He slightest intention of altering her plans at present. keep them out of each other's company. until known her. turning a reproachful eye upon But she did not reply. and never have me beautifully he said sadly. his uneasiness on her account increased with the decline of day. Supposing that an accident should befall her. Once during the day he met her in the garden-path. Lizzy ? her.

Then you will go. He was to brave his displeasure. ' ! ' And in it. ' little I must. at and went up the road some distance apart.' more < she exclaimed sure you will enjoy it Everybody does who tries buoyant tones. ' Then I shall I go too.' she said.' They opened abreast the wicket but of each other. she left the house at the same time passing his door without stealth.WESSEX TALES HOW THEY WENT TO LULSTEAD COVE /IS he had hour as if at night. the wind being lower. quite ready. ' But I must look after you. repressed by his stern manner. The evening scarcely a word passing between them. opened the door quickly. this expected. was rather less favourable to smuggling enterprise than the last had been. ' ' 1 am God forbid that I should he said. who now again appeared as a man with a face altogether unsuited to his clothes. and reached the she knew back door almost as soon as she. Lizzy ? he said as he stood on ' ' the step beside her. 256 . and the sky somewhat clear towards the north.' said he. and were resolved very well that he would be watching.

a village two miles on their way towards the point of the shore they sought. for while she spoke two or three dozen heads broke the line of the slope. It occurred to him once or twice. and R 257 . while she was excited by the adventure. Stockdale.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER ' It is rather lighter. for when we have to long it makes the stuff taste bleachy.' different Her course was from that of the preceding night. They now arrived at a ravine which lay on the outskirts of Chaldon. ' ' 'Tis. and it folks don't like so well. Lizzy broke the silence this time I have to wait here to I don't know if they have come meet the carriers. But it is only from to-day those few stars over there. be able to sink 'em for and I expected clouds. and a company of them at once descended from the bushes where they had been lying in wait. Chaldon. that should they be surprised by the excisemen. By the time they reached Chaldon Down. They were all young fellows of Nether-Moynton. but wait till it was over. As I told you.' said Stockdale. and endeavour to keep her from such practices in future. at shall The moon was new four o'clock. his situation would be more awkward than hers. These carriers were men whom Lizzy and ' : other proprietors regularly employed to bring the tubs from the boat to a hiding-place inland. as they rambled on. I hope we do it this dark. who had been in perplexed thought as to to her.' said she. branching off to the left over Lord's Barrow as soon as they had got out of the lane and crossed the highway. we go to Lulstead Cove to-night. for it would be difficult to prove his true motive in coming to the spot . but the risk was a slight consideration beside his wish to be with her. unfortunately. decided that what he should say he would not attempt expostulation now.' It turned out that the men had already come. yet. and it is two miles further than Ringsworth.

because they supply the pa'son with all the spirits he requires. and Stockdale and Mrs. their each a packet. They are all known to me very ' ' well.' added Lizzy. remuneration for the night's undertaking. and they don't wish to show unfriendliness to a customer. had better take it now. .' said Stockdale. Some are brickmakers. the men till that moment not but. * Nine of 'em are of your own congregation. and because they are strong and surefooted. only told you. for it proved how far involved in the business a woman must be who was so well acquainted with its conditions and needs. I shall follow behind. who simply engaged to carry the cargo for Lizzy and her cousin Ovvlett.' How do you choose 'em ? said Stockdale. I *0. You At a word from her they closed in together.' I can't I help that. she said to them. do these men do by day ? he said. quiet and inoffensive persons. agents when ' ' ' having been told whither they were bound. And yet he felt more tenderly towards her at this moment than he had 258 felt all the foregoing day. for obvious Owlett will meet you there. and able to carry a heavy others are ' ' ' load a long way without being tired. The place is the old one near Lulstead Cove .' she said to them and handed ' . to see that we are not watched. some carpenters. The more church-inclined.' Stockdale sighed as she enumerated each particular. know you can't. Twelve or fourteen of them are labouring men. which was paid beforehand without reference to success or failure . We choose 'em for their closeness. as they would have engaged in any other labour for which they were fairly well paid. New' * What berry followed at a distance of a stone's throw. besides this. It contained six shillings. reasons.WESSEX TALES the neighbourhood. to they had the privilege of selling as As soon the run was successfully made. some thatchers. some shoemakers. as it was done.' The carriers went on.

avoiding the cart-way.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Perhaps ' it was that her experienced manner and bold Lizzy. Take my arm. There was a sousing in the water as of a brood of ducks plunging in. Besides. or even their waists.' we may never be to each other again what we once have been. They yards all began down hands. ' to descend. when they went on together to the verge of the cliff. and Lizzy and Stockdale came up with them. and they went on ' again as before. ' I stay here to watch.' she said. An hour's brisk walking brought them within sound of the sea. showing that the men had not been particular about keeping their legs. partly stepping. which he drove firmly into the soil a yard from the edge. so as to reach the crest of the hill at a lonely trackless place not far from the ancient earthwork called Round Pound. In a moment the keel gently touched the shingle. Here they paused. partly sliding the incline.' The men remained quite silent when they reached the shore. ' she said. indifference stirred his admiration in spite of himself. Owlett is down there. 259 . and the next thing audible to the two at the top was the dip of heavy oars. as the rope slipped through their will You No. Lizzy ' ? said Stock' dale anxiously. and attached to it a rope that he had uncoiled from his body. The hired carriers paced along over Chaldon Down with as little hesitation as if it had been day. and the dashing of waves against a boat's bow.' he murmured.' said he. and leaving the village of East Chaldon on the left. and Stockdale heard the footsteps of the thirty-six carriers running forwards over the pebbles towards the point of landing. not many hundred from Lulstead Cove. One of the men now produced an iron bar. not go to the bottom.' That depends upon you. I don't ' want it.

the foremost men plunged across the down. and in a few minutes the shingle was The iron bar sustaining the rope. and turned to the carriers. but the customary load was a pair.' 'Thank God. Some of the one on stronger men carried three by putting an extra one on the top behind. on trampled again. * Is this what you meant the other day when you 260 .' said Stock'But I'll carry the bar and rope for dale heavily. Lizzy pulled up the rope.' said the carrier. and the carriers one by one appeared cUmbing up the : dripping audibly as they came. walked by her side towards the downs. the two being slung together by cords passing round the chine hoops. these being quite weighty enough to give their bearer the sensation of having chest and backbone in contact after a ' Where walk of four or is Owlett ? will five miles. ' Why. and resting on the carrier's shoulders. Well. * He's to bide on shore till we be safe off. without waiting for the rest. ' said Lizzy to this one of them. 'You ' are very anxious about Owlett's safety. you. sloping taining cliff. the tubs have got so far all right. wound it round her arm. Was he there ever such a man ' ! said Lizzy. and.' Then. and susEach man on themselves by the guide-rope. when the last had ascended. it is a bad night's work. isn't my cousin ' ? 'Yes.' said the minister. follow wriggled the bar from the sod.' Stockdale shook his head. which Stockdale's hand rested.WESSEX TALES dry from the brine but it was impossible to see what they were doing. and the moan of the sea was heard no more. said she. and. ' He not come up way. began to swerve a Httle. reaching the top was seen to be carrying a pair of tubs. taking the bar. his back and one on his chest.

to broach the tubs — No wonder you they were his. each of which made off in a direction of its own. of course. and win her away from this nocturnal crew to correctness of conduct and a minister's parlour some far-removed inland county. the smaller of the two. and by the time that Lizzy and Stockdale reached their own house these men had scaled the churchyard wall. ' ' ? the young man This is it. One company. ' I never see him on any other matter. as with them. its tendency being rather to stimulate in him an effort to make the pair as inappro- appropriateness priate as possible. I had permission from myself.' said Stockdale.' observed Lizzy. I see that Owlett has arranged for one be put in the church again.' Her companion could not that where tastes blind himself to the fact and pursuits were so akin as Lizzy's and Owlett's. they were not they were mine . they split up into two companies of unequal size. when they got in into the road to the village. who were brother-laws. in every undertaking. and where risks were shared.' she replied. I suppose ? No. there would be a peculiar in her answering Owlett's standing This did question on matrimony in the affirmative.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER spoke of having business with Owlett asked. ' batch to ' Do remember came? ' my taking you there the ' first night you you ' had permission ' Yes. The day after that they went 261 ' — . went towards the church. They had been walking near enough to the file of carriers for Stockdale to perceive that.' ' ' A It man is was begun by my father and his. not soothe Stockdale. and were proceed- ing noiselessly over the grass within.' partnership of that kind with a young very odd.

and the first man.WESSEX TALES several miles inland in a waggon-load of manure. : — the blow. in a tone so full of contraband anxiety and so free from lover's jealousy. I find that isn't it ? ' * Yes. said Owlett.' and the group of men who had made before began leaping one by one from the hedge opposite Lizzy's house. ' 'Od drown It is ' it all ! ' worth a good deal.' said she.' While Owlett thus conversed.' she said. Jim. ' O no —about I two guineas and half to us now. Newberry. the cord slipped which sustained his tubs the result was that both the kegs fell into the road. rushing back. ' We Very well. it is the minister you two that can't do anything had better get indoors and not be zeed. one of them being stove in by .' time. who had no tubs upon his shoulders. sold very well. the men who followed him had been descending one by one from the hedge and it unfortunately happened that when the hindmost took his leap.' said Owlett.' ' said Lizzy excitedly. said StockI suppose ? ' dale. sling the we any in Badger's Clump The We must apple-tree in place is the orchet watched.' . Ah. he said hastily. came forward. It is so It isn't that it — it is the smell ! blazing strong before water. and my mixen hev already more in en than is safe. I ' Be quick about it — that's all. if there's can't put any more under the church lumber than I have sent on there. can't put Lizzy. please. At this moment off to the left some time ' Mrs. that it smells dreadfully like that ! has been lowered by when spilt in the road till do hope Latimer won't pass by 262 it is gone off. What's the matter ' ' ' ? * to-night. ' What can do ' ? ! Nothing at all.

' ' They entered the house. those who had said . We ' had better go indoors. Of course I will not.' ' said Lizzy.' said he. and Lizzy bolted the door. bottom of the garden. though they Lizzy left his side and went to the nothing. where the men could be dimly seen bustling All was done about. Who ? ' said Stockdale. for several on recognizing him had looked wonderingly at his presence.' said Stockdale. Stockdale. Mr. what 263 and you . and then they all entered the gate of Owlett's orchard.' said Stockdale ' . not care to follow them. It is all ' finished : going indoors now. the faint clatter of horses' hoofs broke upon the ear. off to their taken their cargoes to the church having already gone homes. the door ajar for you. over which Stockstill ' dale was I abstractedly leaning. But. to disperse the liquor as much as possible . ought to and you know it perfectly know. looking over the hedge into the orchard.' But before either of them had moved. with faintest sarcasm. the and some assistant of his. and it seemed to come from the point where the track across the down joined the hard road.' she said gently. which Stockdale did adjoined Liz:y's garden on the right. if you do not. ' I am.' ' am I will leave O no —you needn't. I am coming too. Lizzy returned to the garden-gate. Please don't get a light. I well I love you. and when it was over noiselessly. and without a light they dispersed in different directions. riding-ofificer. have suffered . They are just too late ' ' ' ! cried Lizzy exultingly. Lizzy Newberr)'. and apparently hiding the tubs. ' Latimer.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Owlett and one or two others picked up the burst tub and began to scrape and trample over the spot. ' I thought you might be on the side of the king.' she said.

They could hear hounds as they paced slowly along. intently listening and observing the proceedings. as if they did not know of the singular incident which had happened to their faces. and saw the white shape of the animal as it passed by. ' ! see why. however.' she ' ' whispered. but before they had taken three steps apart. you are better than I The trotting of the horses seemed to have again died away. almost close to the I guess very well.' she said hurriedly. They were on the landing. and put her face close to the aperture. They went on listening. Lizzy and Stockdale. Newberry's garden. and the the dark horse did the same.' He it One always rides a white horse. Latimer reined in his horse.WESSEX TALES in my ' ! conscience on your account these ' last few days * Yet I don't Ah. the tramp of the horsemen suddenly revived. would think line. for the other man stopped also . one of 'em is Latimer. ' ' house. naturally put their heads as close as possible to the slit formed by the slightly opened case- ment came . and thus it occurred that at last their cheeks positively into contact. and the pair of listeners touched each other's of those whom somefingers in the cold Good-night thing seriously divided. and the pressure of each to each rather increased than lessened with the lapse of time. the excisemen sniffing the air like ^^'hen they reached 264 . Latimer dismounted. Its drift was. was the last colour for a man in that Stockdale looked. soon evident. but before the riders had gone another ten yards. opened the casement about an inch. and sharply turning the horses' heads they cautiously retraced their steps. Lizzy turned to the staircase window. Yes. When they were again opposite made man on Mrs. and said something to his companion which neither Stockdale nor Lizzy could hear.

' O. see will if everybody as I say. 'Yes. and the amble of their horses died quite away. withdrawing from his position.' she replied.' Anyhow. John . ' ay.' said Latimer musingly. 265 . officer. wrong way. the things. must have been brought to tole us the this way. or some of 'em.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER the ''spot where the tub had burst. to divert her attention from their own tender incident by the casement. I have known such ' things before. WTiat will you do ' ? said Stockdale. trick to put us off the scent. no.' said ' at the door ? ' the second Well. the street of which cur\-ed round at the bottom and entered the turnpike road at another junction. She knew that he alluded to the coming search by the officers. ' 'tis Shall we knock quite strong here. and thing in the morning with more hands. This way the excisem_en followed.' said Latimer. nothing. both stopped on the instant. which he wished to be passed over as a thing rather dreamt of than done. but they are always afraid to get off. We often have such storms as this. You would not be frightened if you knew what fools they ' * are. 'Ay.' said the other. I 'Unless 'tis all done have a mind that we go home first for to-night without saying a word. we do They went on. but we can do nothing We will look round the parish and by this owl's light. come the I know they have storages about here. this stink anywhere near their Maybe this is only a They wouldn't kick up hiding-place. and if all is quiet. and the two inside the window could hear them passing leisurely through the whole village. with as much coolness as she could command under her disappointment at his manner. Fancy riding o' horseback through the place: of course they will hear and see nobody while they make that noise .' is in bed.

WESSEX TALES some of our fellows should burst out upon 'em. alertness of the riding-officers. where tear fell from her eyes and that not because of the . Stockdale. Mr.' She closed the window and went to her room. a Good-night. and tie them up to the gate-post. . as they have done in case before now.

and had already communicated with each other and Owlett on the subject. and hidden in the middle of a double hedge bordercarriers horse while the adjoining field. having already drawn the hatch and started his mill for the ing ' 267 .THE DISTRACTED TREACHER THE GREA T SEARCH A T NETHER-MO YNTON VI was so excited by the events of the and the dilemma that he was placed in between conscience and love. The only doubt seemed ~to be about the safety of those tubs which had been left under the church gallery-stairs. and after a short discussion at the corner of the mill. but remained as broadly awake as at noonday. the footsteps of many men were heard coming down the lane from the highway.' said Owlett. had heard the well-known tramp of Latimer's they were undressing in the dark that night. who. Damn it. it was agreed that these should be removed before it got lighter. or even doze. and went downstairs into the road. here they be. evening. However. before anything could be carried into effect. that he did not sleep. dressed himself. Several of the The village was already astir. oTOCKDALE As soon as the grey light began to touch ever so faintly the whiter objects in his bedroom he arose.

' said Latimer to thirteen men in all. who numbered I know is that the things are somewhere in before us. Now. ' that I shall lose 'em. ' As I have none personally. and so creep round. Lizzy Owlett. Stockdale. rode about A with one eye on his fields and the other on Latimer and his myrmidons. The two or three with whom he had been talking dispersed to their usual work. and the formidable body of men they had between the mill and Mrs.' * But you have some 268 .' You have to guide ye. mind.' ' in the house or garden. into the chimmers. your part. and get 'em to this 'tis here place. are simply consequences. hired. as if the interest of his whole soul was bound up in the shaking walls around him. and went about his studies with a heavy heart. and then work our way the ricks and stables.Wessex tales day. who was no smuggler at all.' she said quietly. stood stolidly at the mill-door covered with flour. Newberry's house. reached the village cross. We hard if we can't light have got the day upon 'em and First Budmouth Custom-house and then to before night. we'll we will try the fuel-houses. they can't touch me in the orchard ? Owlett rents that of me. felt more anxiety than the worst of them. farmer down below. and he lends it to others. watched from his mill-window. So it will be hard to say who put any tubs there if they should be found. coming frequently to the door to ask Lizzy some question or other on the consequences ' The to her of the tubs being found. prepared to put them off the scent if he should be asked a question. what ' ' his associates. who also had a share in the run. during the early from the door of her house. with the greatest self-possession. and when the excise officers. lives before. so use 'em to-day nothing but your noses if you never did in Then the search began. the village wore the natural its aspect of a place beginning morning labours.

At different hours of the From daybreak to break- fast-time the officers used their sense of smell in a direct and straightforward manner at only. They now Old sniffed at — Smock-frocks shirts and waistcoats Smiths' and shoemakers' aprons Knee-naps and hedging-gloves Coats and hats Breeches and leggings Women's shawls and gowns Tarpaulins Market-cloaks Scarecrows And soon as the mid-day meal was over. owing to its oozing between the staves. such garments being usually tainted with the spirit. its vicinity this day. they pushed their search into places where the spirits might have been thrown away in alarm as : — Horse-ponds Sinks in yards Road-scrapings. and Back-door gutters. day they had different plans. mostly on hands and knees. Among the places tested and Hollow trees Cupboards Clock-cases Culverts Potato-graves Fuel-houses Hedgerows Faggot-ricks Bedrooms Apple-lofts Chimney-flues Rainwater-butts Picsties Haystacks Coppers and ovens. that is to say. directing their attention to clothes that might be supposed to After have come in contact with the tubs in their removal from the shore. . pausing nowhere but such places as the tubs might be supposed to be secreted in at that very moment. breakfast they recommenced with renewed taking a new line.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER There was never such a tremendous sniffing known and and as that which took place in Nether-Moynton parish All was done methodically. pending their removal on the following examined were : — night. vigour.

Well.' said Latimer. they prepared to start anew. over across there. men. But there's great cause of suspicion in this silence and this keeping out of sight. 270 . By this time not a male villager was to be seen in the parish. about three o'clock in the afternoon. it However. who had been hired for the day. and rubbed their noses. as if they had almost had enough of it for the quantity of bad air which had passed into each one's nostril had rendered again. Owlett was not at his mill. the smith had ' left and the wheel' wright's shop was silent. which even yet had not passed off.' The men. Now ' ' we will go we can find gate. waking up to the fact of their absence. who changed his moods at a moment's notice. well. we must begin over * ' Find them tubs I will. the farmers were not in their fields.WESSEX TALES But still these indefatigable excisemen discovered nothing more than the original tell-tale smell in the road opposite Lizzy's house. moment's hesitation. we shall do better without 'em. who heard this discussion from the gardenwhich he had been leaning. Why don't they come and help us ? There's not a man about the place I but the Methodist parson. Where the divil are the folk ' gone ? said Latimer. was not in his garden. ! demand ' We must assistance in the king's name find the jineral public afore ' ! we can demand that. . except three.' said Latimer. looked at their hands and knees.' said his lieutenant. the parson his forge. and he's an old woman. I'll tell ye what it is. and looking I'll have 'em up for this round. was rather alarmed.' to Owlett's orchard. whose power of smell had quite succumbed under the excessive wear and tear of the day. and I'll bear it in mind. and see what Stockdale. muddy with creeping on all fours so frequently. after a nearly as insensible as a flue.

above which a permanent ladder was 271 . in the church. and climbed over the churchyard wall at the same time that the ' him I'll preventive-men were ascending the road to the orchard. had been wondering for the last half-hour what could have become of them. They ought to be let know. Yes.' Will you Lizzy looked alarmed for the first time.' they She mostly are when cast her eyes to Up there. Lizzy. where are the men * ' ? they're Lizzy laughed.' ' * Well. and they are going to search the orchard over again. though and"' one and all. descended the garden.' Seeing his conscience struggling within ' ' ' and then every nook like a boiling pot. had apparently gone off for the day. never mind.' she said.Moynton church-tower was. seeing the direction of her heaven. Some labourers were of necessity engaged in distant fields.' She went out. Nether. but the master. No. Stockdale could do no less than follow her. and the only way to the top was by going up to the singers' gallery. as in many villages. What on the top of the church tower ? he asked. without a turret.' said he gravely. run so hard ' Where as this. like the completely out of the way. I expect they will soon have to ' come down. and they entered together. go myself.workmen should have been at home. after just showing themselves at their He went shops. and ' said. who sat at a back window sewing. go and tell our folk ? she said.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER thought it a mistake of the villagers to keep so He himself. and thence ascending by a ladder to a square trap-door in the floor of the bell-loft. excisemen. I have been listening to the officers. Stockdale looked up. she added. By the time that she reached the tower entrance he was at her side. ' — ' glance. in to Lizzy.

elevated on their hands and knees. as soon as they set foot on the flat. nothing but the trap-door and the five holes The ladder was gone. the same. I'll follow. were peeping Stockdale did through the embrasures of the parapet. leading towards the hole through which the pale sky appeared.' said Stockdale sadly. stomachs on the tower roof. at us at this moment through a knot-hole in that trap' O door. and presently found himself among consecrated bells for the first time in his life. When passing through the bells to a hole in the roof. moment.' The young man ascended. There's no getting up. and then they went on when they had clambered over the dusty bell-carriages. and into the open air. Lizzy and Stockdale reached the gallery and looked up. which. He eyed them uneasily. the crown of on their 272 . be you really one of us ? said the miller. holding the top of the ladder. and saw the village lying like a map below him. who overheard. Keep down your heads.' for nor against us. ' ' There's an eye looking yes.' said she.' said a ' voice. Owlett stood here. He'll do us no harm. Stockdale here beheld lying all the missing parishioners. If you'll go up. and the dark line of the ladder was seen descending against the whitewashed wall. and ' said.' said Lizzy.' And as she spoke the trap opened. for the bell-ropes appeared. What. over which moved the figures of the excisemen.WESSEX TALES fixed. to pull up the lower ladder. When it touched the bottom Lizzy dragged it to its place. nonconformity having been in the Stockdale blood for some generations.' said Stockdale. was of easy ascent. He's neither He's not. It seems so. ' ' ' ' ' She stepped up beside them. except a few who. each foreshortened to a crablike object. and looked round for Lizzy. there is. Owlett remained behind for a to the next stage.

where a tree smaller than the rest was growing. of what's going on ' Where — and ' this young man likewise. and bent lower than ever upon the ground. 'a b'lieve. said Lizzy faintly. he has brought some news. who sprang to At and went towards the churchyard wall the same time those of the Government men who had 273 S . his Some ' \\'hat. as she peered O. He'd never buy a tub of us again.' said Jim Clarke. to be sure. exclamation was caused by his percei\4ng that of the searchers. 'twould be none the better for we. seeing how 'a do hate chapel-members.' 'Well. : as it their feet did also of the party in the orchard. Stockdale it ? ' said Matt Grey. that he mid see nothing where all good folks ought to be. They have got 'em. of the men had turned their heads when the young preacher's figure arose among them.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER hat forming a circular disc in the centre of him. can if we do anything ' they should find ' ? ' Yes. my tubs through the parapet at them.' said her cousin o'. and begun stooping and creeping hither and thither. They drew closer. having got into the orchard. ' Owlett That's what weVe be been talking dazed ! and we have settled our line. ' ' ! ' The interest in the movements of the officers was so keen that not a single eye was looking in any other but at that moment a shout from the church direction beneath them attracted the attention of the smugglers.' said Owlett.' said Lizzy. Mr. \^'ell. in a tone of surprise. were The some pausing in the middle. ' Pd as Uef that ' If the pa'son should see hadn't been. him a trespassing here in his tower. They are going to search the orchet and church . In his house. and he's as side o' Warm'lL' ' good a customer ' as we have got this is the pa'son ? said Lizzy.

WESSEX TALES aloud. one of the men rose. and ad- were vancing on apple-tree all in the fours as before. went anew round every The young tree in the middle again led them to pause. Only about thirty tubs had been secreted in the lumber of the tower. and soon these fated articles were brought one by one into the middle of the churchyard from their hiding-place under the ' gallery-stairs. entered the church unperceived by the smugglers cried Here be some of 'em at last. again peeping cautiously over the edge of the tower they learnt that tubs were the things descried . They spread themselves out round the field. and at length the whole company gathered there in a way which signified that a second chain of reasoning had led to the same results as the first. ran to a disused porch of the church where tools were kept. making up all that they had brought ashore as yet. but seventy were hidden in the orchard. and returned with the sexton's pickaxe and shovel. and when all were brought out from the tower. They they find the rest men had. they had examined the sod hereabouts for some minutes. the rest of the party again proceeding to the orchard. When 274 . the remainder of the cargo having been tied to a sinker and dropped The exciseoverboard for another night's operations. are going to put 'em on Hinton's vault till The excisesaid Lizzy hopelessly.' The smugglers remained in a blank silence. two or three of the men left standing by them. enclosure. The interest of the smugglers in the next manoeuvres of their enemies became painfully intense. in fact. ' ! begun to pile up the tubs on a large stone slab which was fixed there. with which they set to work. men. acted as if they were positive that here lay hidden the rest of the tubs. uncersome of 'em meant tubs or men but tain whether ' ' ' -. having re-entered the orchard. which they were determined to find before nightfall.

275 . to their chagrin.' The ladder was replaced. pink in. the men passing off one by one at the back of the church.' ' I'll be \nth ye as soon as daylight begins and screws . What can you have to do further in this unhallowed ' ' affair ? Only a little. and presently they saw. I don't mean on that account. and all but Owlett descended. and vanishing on their respective errands.' O. ' I am not going home. I have a little Martha Sarah will get thing to do before I go in. * your * ' tea. stooping and applying their hands to the soil. She knew from the words Mrs. Newberry ? he said. then go indoors and know nothing at all. they bodily lifted the tree and the turf around it. The apple-tree now showed itself to be growing in a ' ' sides. I had better bide here till dark.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER Ave they really buried there ? said the minister. Mrs.' she said. Lizzy walked boldly along the street. And now up now. the officers stand several on each side of the tree. The smugglers were too interested to reply.' she said. my to ground. all of ye and get down before they notice we are here be ready for our next move. as 'tis on revealed. ' And You I ? said Lizzy. Newberry that the division between them had widened yet another ' ' ' ' degree. and. followed closely by the minister.' said Owlett quietly. The chaps will do the rest. please look to the Hnch-pins ' You are going indoors. for the grass was so green and uninjured that it was difficult to believe it had been disturbed. shallow box. It is all ' .' said Stockdale. with handles for lifting at each of the four Under the site of the tree a square hole was ' and an exciseman went and looked down. or they may take me on suspicion.

wvas side to side about a foot under the ground. But the the air. all Stockdale's fair and thinking him above went on with their work again. a depression in the greensward marking the spot to this day. the secret cellar. the till the cellar was wholly dismantled and shapeless. turf. None whatever —worth mentioning. pulling out the timbers. and went down towards the Cross. and grassed over. orchard. it looking on. of unaware.' answered she. either then or afterwards. he was tempted to enter. and at Stockdale entered the garden gate. and evidently suspicion. As soon as the tubs were taken out. lying with its roots high to apple-tree hole which had in its time held so much contraband merchandize was never completely filled up.' said are not going to run any danger. ? ' I shall doors ' You I'll go with you. and watch he came closer he found that whose existence he had been totally formed by timbers placed across from last When The excisemen looked up at downy countenance. I shall be there in less than an hour. they began tearing up the and breaking in the sides.WESSEX TALES ' What No. . ' his tenderness reasserting itself. Lizzy ? is that ? ' the young man.' Will you please go ingo by myself. and stood behind The excisemen were still busy in the their proceedings.

who had had enough thoughtful turned Stockdale. and the minister went away and attempted to read . though she had not yet She looked tired. Lizzy was already there. of the scene. indoors and depressed. marking broad-arrows so vigorously on every vehicle and set of harness that he came across. that it seemed as if he would chalk broad-arrows on the very hedges and roads. was not much brighter than his own. almost before the sad lovers 277 . thither with a lump of chalk in his hand. the excisemen's next object and carts for the journey. and her mood taken off her bonnet. and they went about the Latimer strode hither and village for that purpose. and he shook the little bell for tea. Lizzy herself brought in the tray. However. too full of excitement at the proceedings to remember her state of life. The owner of every conveyance so marked was bound to give it up for Government purposes. They had but little to say to each other. the girl having run off into the village during the afternoon. having come in at the back. but at this he could not succeed.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER THE WALK TO WARM' ELL CROSS AND AFTERWARDS VII As the goods had all to be carried to Budmouth that was to find horses night.

shan't be off before nightfall upon my soul we — shan't. and William Rogers's. and there's no What with that.WESSEX TALES had said anything to each other.' He's an idle man. and went out of the room. Stockdale The king's excisem. But before they had got through the passage there was a rap at the front door. . and down fell the and they found there was no linch-pins in the arms and then they tried Samuel Shane's waggon. found Stockdale looked at Lizzy. Mr Latimer. that you've ! got about you here. Newberry. and Stephen Sprake's carts into and off came the w^heels. we bother about every set of harness being out of order. this who had turned back. and at last they looked at the dairyman's cart. and he's got none neither! They have gone now to the blacksmith's to get some made.en can't get the carts ! ready nohow at all! They pulled Thomas Ballam's. and some have only two. but they'll play at this game once too often. where he ought to be. carts. and the linch-pins to the carts. we'd e'en of his head to his anvil. Newberry and Mr. Newberry. but he's nowhere to be the road. followed by Martha Sarah. mark my words they will There's not a man in the parish that don't deserve to be whipped. ' What do you w^ant him for ? ' ' ' way? If we could a'most drag him by the hair up Why. and Stockdale recognized ! ' Latimer's voice addressing Mrs. and found that the screws were gone from he. who blushed very slightly.' said Lizzy archly. Mrs.' 278 . Martha came in in a steaming state. there isn't a horse in the place that has got more than three shoes on. have you seen Hardman the blacksmith get hold of him. * For God's sake. 'Tis a rough lot. 'O. Mrs. Mrs. The waggon-wheels be without strakes. Newberr>'. there's such a stoor.

the only person clearly implicated by the discovery of the cave. smoking his pipe behind a When Latimer had done speaking he went holly-bush. which they knew to have been sunk somewhere between Ringsworth and Lulstead Cove. I've been out Sorry to hear that.' said Latimer. for a stroll. Women and children stood at the doors as the carts. some considerable number of miles distant. and have been all day walk along with me down to your shop. to deliver 'em up ' ' ! ' ' to Gover'ment. we know ' it. and as they stood they looked 279 . There was nothing left for him to do but to come forward with unconcern. Hardman.' They went down the lane together. ants. with three of his assistdrove slowly out of the village in the direction of the port of Budmouth. and Latimer. the other excisemen being left to watch for the remainder of the cargo. but it was not until after the clock had struck six.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER happened that Hardman was at that moment a further up the lane.' ' O to yes. hearing the exciseIt little man's steps.' said Hardman. The smuggled tubs were soon packed into the vehicles. found curiosity too strong for prudence. and kindly let me hire ye in the king's name. and Hardman. passed in the increasing twilight . I've been looking for you for the last hour said Latimer with a glare in his eye. and to unearth Owlett. and presently there resounded from the smithy the ring of a hammer not very briskly swung. the carts and horses were got into some sort of travelling condition. each chalked with the Government pitchfork. However. on in this direction. up Gover'ment. when the muddy roads were glistening under the horizontal light of the fading day. with withering sarcasm. We know We know that you'll deliver 'em that all the parish is ! Now you please helping us. He peeped out from the bush at the very moment that Latimer's glance was on it. to look for more hid tubs.

when you know to save you from such practices ? Come of course I will. not there.' horrid shore again ? he said blankly. ' ' that ? ' ' I only want to the neighbourhood. When they reached the turnpike-road she turned to the right. and he soon perceived that they were followHe ing the direction of the excisemen and their load. Something is hapAnd Now. come pening. I hear them ahead don't you ? I hear the wheels. This is a fit finish to your adventure.WESSEX TALES at the confiscated property with a melancholy expression that told only too plainly the relation which they bore to the trade. the door slowly. they went into the dusk together. ' ' back. Lizzy.' he said . ' did not answer to if this. as waiting for and she moved towards him to say something You don't offer to that's ' I suppose ' come with me. had given her his arm. when the crackle of the wheels had nearly died away. to signify that he was to halt They had walked rather quickly quarter of a mile. and every now and then she ! only want with you I — ' ' ' ! suddenly pulled a moment and — along the first third time of standing still she said. But I must go out now. because you hate me after all this ? ' Can you say it. I am only going to see the end of No. But what of Yes. Lizzy/ said Stockdale. and on the second or it listen. But why will you go out again ? Because I cannot rest indoors.' He more. I am truly thankful that you have got off without suspicion. Well.' know if they get clear away from 280 . * ' this day's business. and I must know what.' Not to that ' she said. Will you sit down and let me talk to you ? ' ' ' ' * By and by. if it is only to take care of you. and the loss only of the liquor.' she added at last.

she said anxiously. Hark wheels had stopped. Why exclaimed Stockdale . and given place to another sort of sound. a light breaking upon him.' Stockdale did not stop to ' argue the matter.' said he. ^^'hy ' ' ' ' men who the others paid thirty shillings for every one of the tubs before they were put on board at Cherbourg. and you may meet with a hard blow But Let us see first what is going on. Lizzy keepDon't you interfere. should you side ' break the laws like this ? should you side with men who take from country traders what they have honestly bought wi' their own money in France ? said she firmly.' she said. went quickly in the direction of the noise. dear ing at his side. and not even a broken Our men are thirty to four of them head.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER 'Some'Ah. Richard ? 'tis at Warm'ell Cross Don't let us go any closer where they are seizing 'em.' said he. and now I rething desperate is to be attempted member there was not a man about the village when ! — we left. and Stockdale soon found that In another minute they were coming towards him. and if a king who is nothing to us sends his people to steal our property. let go my arm . we have a right to steal it back but again. You can do no good.' ' ! Then there 'and you knew with ' an attack was to be. I am going on.' she contradicted. 'There'll be "Tis a scuffle!' said Stockdale. On ' ! conscience. They are not honestly bought. murder ! Lizzy.' he said. I and Ovvlett and They are. will you. my ' : no harm ' will be done at is it all. before they had got much further the noise of the cartwheels began again.' ' ' 1 The noise of the cartshe murmured. as they drew near. 281 ' * : ' ! ' . I must not stay here and do nothing 'There'll be no murder.

282 . Stockdale her companion four or five fell back.. one of the gaunt women.' the ' Now Methodist ! — ! on and joined his Stockdale and Lizzy also turned back. I shall go as far as Warm'ell Cross to see. Instead of being conducted by four men. who wore curls a foot dangling down fashion of the time. all of whom. ' Why not ' ? said Stockdale. O. tlie tubs. Those four poor excisemen may be murdered for all I know. without wishing her safe .' Stockdale was not paying much attention to her words. walked six or eight huge female figures. had blackened faces. ' The com' I said with been for the next month or two. 'tis what. Lizzy. their Among them whom.' said Owlett. half the people in the parish would have miller then hastened rades. the sides of her face.' said Stockdale decisively Well. There is no walking up this way for the present. guessed to be men in As soon as the party discerned Lizzy and strides.' We don't do Murdered said Lizzy impatiently. and he said. and when the carts had passed. and Mrs. ' This is the public ' highway. as Stockdale perceived to his astonishment.' look here. came close to the pair. as had happened when they went out of the village. the horses and carts were now accompanied by a body of from twenty to thirty.' and.' she But if those excisemen had got off regretfully. youngster. Newberry parson Well.' ' said long. WESSEX TALES the three carts in the ditch to let came up. in want ' ' ' ' ! murder * here. in the Stockdale recognized this lady's voice as Owlett's. and folks have got their own again. They've all run off. wish all this hadn't been forced upon us. you'd better not go up that way. I don't think I can go back like this. from wide disguise. and Stockdale and Lizzy stood them pass.

We ! ' Who Poor are ' you ' ? * Will Latimer the exciseman cut ' ! said one plaintively. reached the point of intersection he heard voices from the thicket. first though he had seemed quite meek when Stockdale came ' ' up.' said another of 'em spoke.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER home or anything else. she went in the direction of Nether-Moynton. and in due time he passed beneath the trees of the plantation which Before he had surrounded the Warm'cU Cross-road. there's a good man. Stockdale pursued his way without hearing a sound beyond that of his own footsteps. to When he got among the trees use in case of need. to-nigh*. getting now I into a rage. What's the matter where are you ? he shouted Here. he came near the objects they were — ' — ? ' ' of his search. 'Tis the same set of fellows. but Stockdale had no unmistakably anxious. and then. with sadness. Just come and these cords. and before plunging into the pitchy darkness of the plantation he pulled a stake from the hedge. ' Hoi-hoi-hoi ' ! Help. pushing through the brambles in that direction. weapon. and after nightfall at this time of the year there was often not a passer for hours. ' ' ^^^ly don't you come forward ' be tied to the trees ' said Stockdale.' answered the voices .izzy stood looking at him till his form was absorbed in the shades .' But we can't swear to 'em. and. help ! The voices were not at all feeble or despairing. 'The rascals said Latimer.' Not one 283 . The road was lonely. the minister turned back. upon which they stretched their limbs and stood at their ease.' We soon ' ! were afraid nobody would pass by loosened Stockdale them. know ' they were Moynton chaps to a man. I.

' we won't do nothing at all. and have ' ! ' at 'em again ' ' said Latimer. as thing. arms are burning like fire from the cords those two ' And therefore Latimer. I have seen nothing 'Who? I don't know. she looked up from her still on. with misgiving in her eye. women tied round 'em. he advanced to the door of the little back parlour in which Lizzy He found her there alone. said his ' ! men. now have had time to think o't. My opinion is. please strapping I God.' The other officers agreed heartily to this course . usually sat with her mother. go back to Moynton. and. During that walk the minister was lost in reverie As soon as he got into the of the most painful kind.WESSEX TALES ' What I'd ' ! are ' fain you going to do ? said Stockdale. we don't hiotv that these chaps with black faces were Moynton men ? And proof is a hard ' But. here's for home-along. Stockdale went forward. ' ' — of them since. taking themselves the western road. and. So would we Fight till said his comrades. house. Where are they gone ? he then said listlessly. thanking Stockdale for his timely assistance. ' ! ' We will. and.' said For my with complete dispassionateness. and Stockdale going back to Nether-Moynton. we die we will ' said Latimer. like a man in a dream. they parted from him at the Cross. chair at him.' 284 .' said Latimer.' ' So it is. that you may serve your For these two nights Gover'ment at too high a price.' said the rest. they came out of the plantation. more frigidly. The ditches of my part. I'd sooner be them than we. I came straight in here. and days I have not had an hour's rest. looked down upon the table that stood between him and the young woman. and before entering his own rooms. who had her bonnet and cloak As he did not speak.

' I did not dream of such a He was astonished.' She reserved her answer till the next day. What I make by that trade is all I have not to do it. I must tell you. What is money compared with a clear ' ' conscience ? My conscience is clear.' I would do you .' he went on slowly. to keep my mother and myself with. ' ' I know my mother. I will keep your mother. answer now. and a share divided amongst the men who helped us. the king I have never seen. I cannot go against my principles Lizzy. and promise to give it up. whole Hfe ha' been passed in this way. but he spoke quietly. though I meant what you are asking. we must part. and I cannot make my profession a ' mockery. and put 'You don't know 'Don't ask that. ' ' you wished to ask. I suppose ? share will be mine. but this one thing 285 cannot .' ' A And you still think.' she whispered.' she said. I should live. I would rather have swept the streets. in this matter. a share my cousin Owlett's. I would rather not <Let me think of it by myself. and that the contention had been strong. thing. and came I cannot do what into his room with a solemn face. ' ' that you will not give this business up ? her hand upon his shoulder.' It is good of you. Stockdale turned pale.' ' Her words and manner showed that before entering she had been struggling with herself in private. You know how for I love you.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER « If your men can manage to get off with those tubs. l. I and what do. Then. ' ! My It is too much she said passionately.' he said.izzy rose. had I been you.' ' His dues are nothing to a great deal to me that my mother and Marry me. but But it is me. ' it will ' be a great profit to you. trembling a little. a share to each of the two farmers.

and I wish you could only see it as I do ! We only carry it on in winter : in summer it is never done It stirs up one's dull life at this time o' at all. instead of being dull and stupid. and only make us a bit nimble. and not noticing whether it do blow or not. I have got this large house .' he said. I little thought there was anything so hopeless and Well. you cannot think what and how sharp you try me when you put me between this and my love for 'ee Stockdale was leaning with his elbow on the mantelWe ought never to piece. it is too impossible in our engagement as this. I nmst go on as I have I was born to it. * who are too stupid ever to really frighten us. and know your way about as well by night as by day. I and see I dissent from she said. anyhow and I would advise you to drop it before it is worse. the year. No. and have hairbreadth escapes from old Latimer and his . even if you are not afield yourself. Richard. well matched. your mind is afield. it is no harm. : ' can't a hard thing you have asked. It is in my blood. I have late now to regret consequences in this way.' She shook her head.' And don't why we are not 286 . when the wind blows. which I have got so used to now that 'ithout it. and gives excitement. Lizzy. Richard. It was an ill day for us have met. and live here with us. and not be a Methodist preacher any more ? I assure you. and I begun. I should hardly know how to do At nights.' ' You dissent from ' Church. fellows. why can't you marry me. and you are wondering how the chaps and you walk up and down the room. are getting on and look out o' window. O. be cured. and then you go out yourself. ' ! ' ' ! had the happiness of seeing you and knowing you at least. his hands over his eyes.' State.WESSEX TALES ' But why should you belong ' to that profession ' ? she burst out.' He frightened you a little last night.

: Thus uncertainly the week passed on . all That he had this ' ' ! ' ' . who was a church-goer on Sunday mornings. It became known that Stockdale was going to leave.' Gone ? said she blankly. sermon on the day before I go. without coming weak and faltering in my course. stay bejust heard of an arrangement by which the other minister can arrive here in about a week and let me go elsewhere. You never loved me she said bitterly. But Lizzy.' he said. I Yes. . ing Stockdale said to her ' : I must ' ' call ' you that till I am gone. and she promised. The intervening days flew rapidly away. That was an unhappy evening for both of them. till one mornI have had a letter. I couldn't what has happened. JJoth she and he went mechanically about their employments. and the days that followed were unhappy days. Lizzy.' Lizzy. frequently attended Stockdale's chapel in the evening with the rest of the double-minded .THE DISTRACTED PREACHER * He smiled sadly. and on the evening of the Sunday which preceded the morning of his departure Lizzy sat in the chapel to hear 2S7 .' he returned Come and hear my last not. and his depression was marked in the village by more than one of his denomination with whom he came in contact. I have stay after here. Grant me one favour. was unsuspected of being the cause for it was generally understood that a quiet engagement to marry existed between her and her cousin Owlett.' time continued so firmly fixed in his resolution came upon her as a grievous surprise. ' felt I am going from this place. while Lizzy remained looking down. but I will I might say the same. her eyes beginning to overflow. it would be better for us both that I should not In fact. and had existed for some time. and a good many people outside his own sect were sorry to hear it. who passed her days indoors. and look on you from day to day.

to mount the van which was to carry him away. His hearers. and shortly afterwards followed her home. ' will part friends. 'I shall not see you again. ' ' ' ! said hurriedly. forth into the grey morning light. 'We will. TALES The Uttle building was full to overflowing. he arose do you say we and took her hand. with a forced smile on his part.' she said solemnly.WESSEX. lives. and the indifferent conversation could no longer be continued. her mother having. and never alluding to the sermon reticence which rather disappointed him.' he said. He hardly knew how he ended. did not perceive that they were most particularly directed against Lizzy. Lizzy. that of the contraband trade so extensively him for the last time. till the sermon waxed warm.' he involuntarily returned his kiss.' he said. and he took up the subject which all had expected. must part do you ? I can say no You do. turn and go away with the rest of the congregation. in laying his practised among them. and she 'I shall go early. as was usual with her on Sunday nights. was the together in their would so share. words to their own hearts. and Stockdale nearly broke down In truth his own earnestness.' If that is your answer. gone to bed early. and her with emotion. that he saw a face between And he did leave He 388 . bye Stockdale bent over her and kissed her. ' ' — ' ' ' more.' said he. sad eyes looking up at him. won't we ? said Lizzy. goodNor I. were too much for the young man's equanimity. ' : We and they It sat down. when stepping early.' fancied. as through a mist. with a forced gaiety. and they sat down alone. first meal that they had ever shared and probably the last that they When it was over. She invited him to supper. He saw Lizzy.

' said Stockdale. but you did not say when. and the same time of year as when he had left . Lizzy. and was . two years after the parting. taking her hand. but the light was and the panes glistened with wet . she drew herself back. so he could not be sure. . Stockdale. came into Nether-Moynton by carrier in the original way. and you would not listen to me. But I had been brought up to that life .' ' ' I Yes. The officers have . the ground was damp and glistening. However. now. the parted curtains of Lizzy's window. Stockdale mounted the vehicle. But what's all this that has happened ? I told you how it would be. and Lizzy's snowdrops were raising their heads in the border under the wall. that is the fact . ' ' 289 T . but I have often thought I should like to come on purpose to see you. it is all over now. settled in a ' ' ! ' Vou knew it was. : One day. . It was about six o'clock in the evening. I was not quite sure when my business to these parts.' would lead me ' You ' only came because business brought you near? ' Well. Stockdale sa}'ing with some constraint. the west was bright. Mr. « I wrote to say I should call. and the answers that he received interested the minister The result of them was that he went without deeply. too. Lizzy must have caught sight of him from the window. gone and on the following Sunday the new minister preached in the chapel of the Moynton Wesleyans. Jogging along in the van that afternoon he had put questions to the driver. and it was second nature to me.THE DISTRACTED PREACHER ft- faint. now midland town. as if she had not sufficiently considered her act of coming out.' she answered. the least hesitation to the door of his former lodi-uncr.' she said sadly. for by the time that he reached the door she was there holding it open and then. did not.' I would not.

looking on It bled terribly. We would not let him be ball. where she studied her duties as a minister's wife with praiseworthy assiduity.WESSEX TALES blood-money trade rats. and he's settled in Wisconsin. ' for a fortnight later they came to an understanding.' He was shot in the back .' is 'Yes. but I got home without know how he fainting suffered and healed after a time. ' to Kingsbere. He took her away from her old haunts to the home that he had made for himself in his native county. and after that a wedding at a chapel in a neighbouring town. the shot was really meant hand.' said Stockdale. escaped with his life. and it I was shot in the is a wonder that I was not killed. It is a perfect miracle that he lived through it . ' But .' 'What do you think of smuggling now?' ' minister gravely. I own that we were wrong. won't you come in. I hear. He in America. is We were hunted down Owlett quite gone. and it is to be supposed that . but a rib turned the He was badly hurt. Mr. . It was not by aim. You ? 'I only heard that he just 'No. We had a dreadful time. The men carried him all night across the meads took. I I am very poor now. It is said that in after years she 290 . and hid him till in a barn. ' as usual. and at last He had gied up his mill for some he got to Bristol. there was a sale of Lizzy's furniture. But mother has been dead these twelve months. be able to get about. it . when they tried to take him. he was so far recovered as to time . Stockdale ? Stockdale went in.' ' for taking a man dead or alive.' said she. but I was behind. struggle that last for my cousin bullet . and the like is going to nothing. dressing his wound as well as they could. and took a passage said the to America. and my have suffered for it. and the came to me.

i Stockdale got printed. The Repentant Villagers. THE END .THE DISTRACTED PREACHER 4- wrote an excellent tract called Render unto CcBsar . in which her own experience was anonymously it used as the introductory story. or. after making some corrections. and many hundreds of copies were distributed by the couple in the course of their married April 1879. own . and putting in a few powerful sentences of his life.

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edition the Poems are in two vols. Livip Leather. 6d. THE WOODLANDERS. TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES. and Edition. 4s. s^. LONDON . A LAODICEAN. In the Pocket Edition they form one complete vol. LIFE'S LITTLE IRONIES. Zvonet. * THE RETURN OF THE NATIVE. Ltd. A PAIR OF BLUE EYES. *JUDE THE OBSCURE. POEMS OF THE PAST AND THE PRESENT the y. TWO ON A TOWER. 4s. bd. net. Second Crown Svo. each- Limp Cloth. Crown 8vo. Crown TIME'S LAUGHINGSTOCKS. *THE HAND OF ETHELBERTA. In three Parts. 6d. SATIRES OF CIRCUMSTANCE. 2S. WESSEX TALES. Gilt top. 6d. one vol. Fcap. 4s. ^s. Crown 8vo. 6d. * Printed on India Paper. 8vo. Pocket Edition. Drama. WESSEX POEMS. net. A 8vo. FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. net eachcan also be obtained in (he earlier edition The volumes marked of the IVorks. each. A CHANGED MAN. and other Verses. 6d.. DESPERATE REMEDIES. Lyrics and Reveries. THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE. THE DYNASTS.. Cloth extra. 6d. MACMILLAN AND CO. *A GROUP OF NOBLE DAMES. ds. Also in net each. THE TRUMPET-MAJOR. 6d. Crown Zvo. THE In WELL-BELOVED. Crown 7s. UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE. other Verses.THE WORKS OF THOMAS HARDY Uniform Edition.

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