Part 3 out of 11
'There is but one. I do the cooking'; and the Countess, ever disposed to
flatter and be suave, even when stung by a fact or a phrase, added:
'And a beautiful cook you used to be, dear Mama!'
At the table, awaiting them, sat Mrs. Wishaw, Mrs. Fiske, and Mr. Goren,
who soon found themselves enveloped in the Countess's graciousness. Mr.
Goren would talk of trade, and compare Lymport business with London, and
the Countess, loftily interested in his remarks, drew him out to disgust
her brother. Mrs. Wishaw, in whom the Countess at once discovered a
frivolous pretentious woman of the moneyed trading class, she treated as
one who was alive to society, and surveyed matters from a station in the
world, leading her to think that she tolerated Mr. Goren, as a lady-
Christian of the highest rank should tolerate the insects that toil for
us. Mrs. Fiske was not so tractable, for Mrs. Fiske was hostile and
armed. Mrs. Fiske adored the great Mel, and she had never loved Louisa.
Hence, she scorned Louisa on account of her late behaviour toward her
dead parent. The Countess saw through her, and laboured to be friendly
with her, while she rendered her disagreeable in the eyes of Mrs. Wishaw,
and let Mrs. Wishaw perceive that sympathy was possible between them;
manoeuvring a trifle too delicate, perhaps, for the people present, but
sufficient to blind its keen-witted author to the something that was
being concealed from herself, of which something, nevertheless, her
senses apprehensively warned her: and they might have spoken to her wits,
but that mortals cannot, unaided, guess, or will not, unless struck in
the face by the fact, credit, what is to their minds the last horror.
'I came down in the coach, quite accidental, with this gentleman,' said
Mrs. Wishaw, fanning a cheek and nodding at Mr. Goren. 'I'm an old flame
of dear Mel's. I knew him when he was an apprentice in London. Now,
wasn't it odd? Your mother--I suppose I must call you "my lady"?'
The Countess breathed a tender 'Spare me,' with a smile that added,
Mrs. Wishaw resumed: 'Your mother was an old flame of this gentleman's,
I found out. So there were two old flames, and I couldn't help thinking!
But I was so glad to have seen dear Mel once more:
'Ah!' sighed the Countess.
'He was always a martial-looking man, and laid out, he was quite
imposing. I declare, I cried so, as it reminded me of when I couldn't
have him, for he had nothing but his legs and arms--and I married Wishaw.
But it's a comfort to think I have been of some service to dear, dear
Mel! for Wishaw 's a man of accounts and payments; and I knew Mel had
cloth from him, and, the lady suggested bills delayed, with two or three
nods, 'you know! and I'll do my best for his son.'
'You are kind,' said the Countess, smiling internally at the vulgar
creature's misconception of Evan's requirements.
'Did he ever talk much about Mary Fence?' asked Mrs. Wishaw. '"Polly
Fence," he used to say, "sweet Polly Fence!"'
'Oh! I think so. Frequently,' observed the Countess.
Mrs. Fiske primmed her mouth. She had never heard the great Mel allude
to the name of Fence.
The Goren-croak was heard
'Painters have painted out "Melchisedec" this afternoon. Yes,--ah!
In and out-as the saying goes.'
Here was an opportunity to mortify the Countess.
Mrs. Fiske placidly remarked: 'Have we the other put up in its stead?
It 's shorter.'
A twinge of weakness had made Evan request that the name of Evan
Harrington should not decorate the shopfront till he had turned his back
on it, for a time. Mrs. Mel crushed her venomous niece.
'What have you to do with such things? Shine in your own affairs first,
Ann, before you meddle with others.'
Relieved at hearing that ' Melchisedec' was painted out, and unsuspicious
of the announcement that should replace it, the Countess asked Mrs.
Wishaw if she thought Evan like her dear Papa.
'So like,' returned the lady, 'that I would not be alone with him yet,
for worlds. I should expect him to be making love to me: for, you know,
my dear--I must be familiar--Mel never could be alone with you, without!
It was his nature. I speak of him before marriage. But, if I can trust
myself with him, I shall take charge of Mr. Evan, and show him some
'That is indeed kind,' said the Countess, glad of a thick veil for the
utterance of her contempt. 'Evan, though--I fear--will be rather
engaged. His friends, the Jocelyns of Beckley Court, will--I fear--
hardly dispense with him and Lady Splenders--you know her? the
Marchioness of Splenders? No?--by repute, at least: a most beautiful and
most fascinating woman; report of him alone has induced her to say that
Evan must and shall form a part of her autumnal gathering at Splenders
Castle. And how he is to get out of it, I cannot tell. But I am sure
his multitudinous engagements will not prevent his paying due court to
As the Countess intended, Mistress Wishaw's vanity was reproved, and her
ambition excited: a pretty doublestroke, only possible to dexterous
The lady rejoined that she hoped so, she was sure; and forthwith (because
she suddenly seemed to possess him more than his son), launched upon
Mel's incomparable personal attractions. This caused the Countess to
enlarge upon Evan's vast personal prospects. They talked across each
other a little, till the Countess remembered her breeding, allowed Mrs.
Wishaw to run to an end in hollow exclamations, and put a finish to the
undeclared controversy, by a traverse of speech, as if she were taking up
the most important subject of their late colloquy. 'But Evan is not in
his own hands--he is in the hands of a lovely young woman, I must tell
you. He belongs to her, and not to us. You have heard of Rose Jocelyn,
the celebrated heiress?'
'Engaged?' Mrs. Wishaw whispered aloud.
The Countess, an adept in the lie implied--practised by her, that she
might not subject herself to future punishment (in which she was so
devout a believer, that she condemned whole hosts to it)--deeply smiled.
'Really !' said Mrs. Wishaw, and was about to inquire why Evan, with
these brilliant expectations, could think of trade and tailoring, when
the young man, whose forehead had been growing black, jumped up, and
quitted them; thus breaking the harmony of the table; and as the Countess
had said enough, she turned the conversation to the always welcome theme
of low society. She broached death and corpses; and became extremely
interesting, and very sympathetic: the only difference between the
ghostly anecdotes she related, and those of the other ladies, being that
her ghosts were all of them titled, and walked mostly under the burden of
a coronet. For instance, there was the Portuguese Marquis de Col. He had
married a Spanish wife, whose end was mysterious. Undressing, on the
night of the anniversary of her death, and on the point of getting into
bed, he beheld the dead woman lying on her back before him. All night
long he had to sleep with this freezing phantom! Regularly, every fresh
anniversary, he had to endure the same penance, no matter where he might
be, or in what strange bed. On one occasion, when he took the live for
the dead, a curious thing occurred, which the Countess scrupled less to
relate than would men to hint at. Ghosts were the one childish enjoyment
Mrs. Mel allowed herself, and she listened to her daughter intently,
ready to cap any narrative; but Mrs. Fiske stopped the flood.
'You have improved on Peter Smithers, Louisa,' she said.
The Countess turned to her mildly.
'You are certainly thinking of Peter Smithers,' Mrs. Fiske continued,
bracing her shoulders. 'Surely, you remember poor Peter, Louisa? An old
flame of your own! He was going to kill himself, but married a
Devonshire woman, and they had disagreeables, and SHE died, and he was
undressing, and saw her there in the bed, and wouldn't get into it, and
had the mattress, and the curtains, and the counterpanes, and everything
burnt. He told us it himself. You must remember it, Louisa?'
The Countess remembered nothing of the sort. No doubt could exist of its
having been the Portuguese Marquis de Col, because he had confided to her
the whole affair, and indeed come to her, as his habit was, to ask her
what he could possibly do, under the circumstances. If Mrs. Fiske's
friend, who married the Devonshire person, had seen the same thing, the
coincidence was yet more extraordinary than the case. Mrs. Fiske said it
assuredly was, and glanced at her aunt, who, as the Countess now rose,
declaring she must speak to Evan, chid Mrs. Fiske, and wished her and
Peter Smithers at the bottom of the sea.
'No, no, Mama,' said the Countess, laughing, 'that would hardly be
proper,' and before Mrs. Fiske could reply, escaped to complain to Evan
of the vulgarity of those women.
She was not prepared for the burst of wrath with which Evan met her.
'Louisa ,' said he, taking her wrist sternly, 'you have done a thing I
can't forgive. I find it hard to bear disgrace myself: I will not
consent to bring it upon others. Why did you dare to couple Miss
Jocelyn's name with mine?'
The Countess gave him out her arm's length. 'Speak on, Van,' she said,
admiring him with a bright gaze.
'Answer me, Louisa; and don't take me for a fool any more,' he pursued.
'You have coupled Miss Jocelyn's name with mine, in company, and I insist
now upon your giving me your promise to abstain from doing it anywhere,
'If she saw you at this instant, Van,' returned the incorrigible
Countess, 'would she desire it, think you? Oh! I must make you angry
before her, I see that! You have your father's frown. You surpass him,
for your delivery is more correct, and equally fluent. And if a woman is
momentarily melted by softness in a man, she is for ever subdued by
boldness and bravery of mien.'
Evan dropped her hand. 'Miss Jocelyn has done me the honour to call me
her friend. That was in other days.' His lip quivered. 'I shall not
see Miss Jocelyn again. Yes; I would lay down my life for her; but
that's idle talk. No such chance will ever come to me. But I can save
her from being spoken of in alliance with me, and what I am, and I tell
you, Louisa, I will not have it.' Saying which, and while he looked
harshly at her, wounded pride bled through his eyes.
She was touched. 'Sit down, dear; I must explain to you, and make you
happy against your will,' she said, in another voice, and an English
accent. 'The mischief is done, Van. If you do not want Rose Jocelyn to
love you, you must undo it in your own way. I am not easily deceived.
On the morning I went to her house in town, she took me aside, and spoke
to me. Not a confession in words. The blood in her cheeks, when I
mentioned you, did that for her. Everything about you she must know--how
you bore your grief, and all. And not in her usual free manner, but
timidly, as if she feared a surprise, or feared to be wakened to the
secret in her bosom she half suspects--"Tell him!" she said, "I hope he
will not forget me."'
The Countess was interrupted by a great sob; for the picture of frank
Rose Jocelyn changed, and soft, and, as it were, shadowed under a veil of
bashful regard for him, so filled the young man with sorrowful
tenderness, that he trembled, and was as a child.
Marking the impression she had produced on him, and having worn off that
which he had produced on her, the Countess resumed the art in her style
of speech, easier to her than nature.
'So the sweetest of Roses may be yours, dear Van; and you have her in a
gold setting, to wear on your heart. Are you not enviable? I will not--
no, I will not tell you she is perfect. I must fashion the sweet young
creature. Though I am very ready to admit that she is much improved by
this--shall I call it, desired consummation?'
Evan could listen no more. Such a struggle was rising in his breast: the
effort to quench what the Countess had so shrewdly kindled; passionate
desire to look on Rose but for one lightning flash: desire to look on
her, and muffled sense of shame twin-born with it: wild love and leaden
misery mixed: dead hopelessness and vivid hope. Up to the neck in
Purgatory, but his soul saturated with visions of Bliss! The fair orb of
Love was all that was wanted to complete his planetary state, and aloft
it sprang, showing many faint, fair tracts to him, and piling huge
As if in search of something, he suddenly went from the room.
'I have intoxicated the poor boy,' said the Countess, and consulted an
attitude by the evening light in a mirror. Approving the result, she
rang for her mother, and sat with her till dark; telling her she could
not and would not leave her dear Mama that night. At the supper-table
Evan did not appear, and Mr. Goren, after taking counsel of Mrs. Mel,
dispersed the news that Evan was off to London. On the road again, with
a purse just as ill-furnished, and in his breast the light that sometimes
leads gentlemen, as well as ladies, astray.
MY GENTLEMAN ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Near a milestone, under the moonlight, crouched the figure of a woman,
huddled with her head against her knees, and careless hair falling to the
summer's dust. Evan came upon this sight within a few miles of
Fallowfield. At first he was rather startled, for he had inherited
superstitious emotions from his mother, and the road was lone, the moon
full. He went up to her and spoke a gentle word, which provoked no
reply. He ventured to put his hand on her shoulder, continuing softly to
address her. She was flesh and blood. Evan stooped his head to catch a
whisper from her mouth, but nothing save a heavier fall of the breath she
took, as of one painfully waking, was heard.
A misery beyond our own is a wholesome picture for youth, and though we
may not for the moment compare the deep with the lower deep, we, if we
have a heart for outer sorrows, can forget ourselves in it. Evan had
just been accusing the heavens of conspiracy to disgrace him. Those
patient heavens had listened, as is their wont. They had viewed and had
not been disordered by his mental frenzies. It is certainly hard that
they do not come down to us, and condescend to tell us what they mean,
and be dumb-foundered by the perspicuity of our arguments the argument,
for instance, that they have not fashioned us for the science of the
shears, and do yet impel us to wield them. Nevertheless, they to whom
mortal life has ceased to be a long matter perceive that our appeals for
conviction are answered, now and then very closely upon the call. When
we have cast off the scales of hope and fancy, and surrender our claims
on mad chance, it is given us to see that some plan is working out: that
the heavens, icy as they are to the pangs of our blood, have been
throughout speaking to our souls; and, according to the strength there
existing, we learn to comprehend them. But their language is an element
of Time, whom primarily we have to know.
Evan Harrington was young. He wished not to clothe the generation. What
was to the remainder of the exiled sons of Adam simply the brand of
expulsion from Paradise, was to him hell. In his agony, anything less
than an angel, soft-voiced in his path, would not have satisfied the poor
boy, and here was this wretched outcast, and instead of being relieved,
he was to act the reliever!
Striving to rouse the desolate creature, he shook her slightly. She now
raised her head with a slow, gradual motion, like that of a wax-work,
showing a white young face, tearless,-dreadfully drawn at the lips.
After gazing at him, she turned her head mechanically to her shoulder, as
to ask him why he touched her. He withdrew his hand, saying:
'Why are you here? Pardon me; I want, if possible, to help you.'
A light sprang in her eyes. She jumped from the stone, and ran forward a
step or two, with a gasp:
'Oh, my God! I want to go and drown myself.'
Evan lingered behind her till he saw her body sway, and in a fit of
trembling she half fell on his outstretched arm. He led her to the
stone, not knowing what on earth to do with her. There was no sign of a
house near; they were quite solitary; to all his questions she gave an
unintelligible moan. He had not the heart to leave her, so, taking a
sharp seat on a heap of flints, thus possibly furnishing future
occupation for one of his craftsmen, he waited, and amused himself by
marking out diagrams with his stick in the thick dust.
His thoughts were far away, when he heard, faintly uttered:
'Why do you stop here?'
'To help you.'
'Please don't. Let me be. I can't be helped.'
'My good creature,' said Evan, 'it 's quite impossible that I should
leave you in this state. Tell me where you were going when your illness
'I was going,' she commenced vacantly, 'to the sea--the water,'
she added, with a shivering lip.
The foolish youth asked her if she could be cold on such a night.
'No, I'm not cold,' she replied, drawing closer over her lap the ends of
a shawl which would in that period have been thought rather gaudy for her
'You were going to Lymport?'
'Yes,--Lymport's nearest, I think.'
'And why were you out travelling at this hour?'
She dropped her head, and began rocking to right and left.
While they talked the noise of waggon-wheels was heard approaching. Evan
went into the middle of the road, and beheld a covered waggon, and a
fellow whom he advanced to meet, plodding a little to the rear of the
horses. He proved kindly. He was a farmer's man, he said, and was at
that moment employed in removing the furniture of the farmer's son, who
had failed as a corn-chandler in Lymport, to Hillford, which he expected
to reach about morn. He answered Evan's request that he would afford the
young woman conveyance as far as Fallowfield:
'Tak' her in? That I will.
'She won't hurt the harses,' he pursued, pointing his whip at the
vehicle: 'there's my mate, Gearge Stoakes, he's in there, snorin' his
turn. Can't you hear 'n asnorin' thraugh the wheels? I can; I've been
laughin'! He do snore that loud-Gearge do!'
Proceeding to inform Evan how George Stokes had snored in that
characteristic manner from boyhood, ever since he and George had slept in
a hayloft together; and how he, kept wakeful and driven to distraction by
George Stokes' nose, had been occasionally compelled, in sheer self-
defence, madly to start up and hold that pertinacious alarum in tight
compression between thumb and forefinger; and how George Stokes, thus
severely handled, had burst his hold with a tremendous snort, as big as a
bull, and had invariably uttered the exclamation, 'Hulloa!--same to you,
my lad!' and rolled over to snore as fresh as ever;--all this with
singular rustic comparisons, racy of the soil, and in raw Hampshire
dialect, the waggoner came to a halt opposite the stone, and, while Evan
strode to assist the girl, addressed himself to the great task of
arousing the sturdy sleeper and quieting his trumpet, heard by all ears
now that the accompaniment of the wheels was at an end.
George, violently awakened, complained that it was before his time, to
which he was true; and was for going off again with exalted contentment,
though his heels had been tugged, and were dangling some length out of
the machine; but his comrade, with a determined blow of the lungs, gave
another valiant pull, and George Stokes was on his legs, marvelling at
the world and man. Evan had less difficulty with the girl. She rose to
meet him, put up her arms for him to clasp her waist, whispering sharply
in an inward breath: 'What are you going to do with me?' and indifferent
to his verbal response, trustingly yielded her limbs to his guidance. He
could see blood on her bitten underlip; as, with the help of the
waggoner, he lifted her on the mattress, backed by a portly bundle, which
the sagacity of Mr. Stokes had selected for his couch.
The waggoner cracked his whip, laughing at George Stokes, who yawned and
settled into a composed ploughswing, without asking questions; apparently
resolved to finish his nap on his legs.
'Warn't he like that Myzepper chap, I see at the circus, bound athert
gray mare!' chuckled the waggoner. 'So he 'd 'a gone on, had ye 'a let
'n. No wulves waddn't wake Gearge till he 'd slept it out. Then he 'd
say, "marnin'!" to 'm. Are ye 'wake now, Gearge?'
The admirable sleeper preferred to be a quiet butt, and the waggoner
leisurely exhausted the fun that was to be had out of him; returning to
it with a persistency that evinced more concentration than variety in his
mind. At last Evan said: 'Your pace is rather slow. They'll be shut up
in Fallowfield. I 'll go on ahead. You'll find me at one of the inns-
the Green Dragon.'
In return for this speech, the waggoner favoured him with a stare,
followed by the exclamation:
'Oh, no! dang that!'
'Why, what's the matter?' quoth Evan.
'You en't goin' to be off, for to leave me and Gearge in the lurch there,
with that ther' young woman, in that ther' pickle!' returned the
Evan made an appeal to his reason, but finding that impregnable, he
pulled out his scanty purse to guarantee his sincerity with an offer of
pledgemoney. The waggoner waved it aside. He wanted no money, he said.
'Look heer,' he went on; 'if you're for a start, I tells ye plain, I
chucks that ther' young woman int' the road.'
Evan bade him not to be a brute.
'Nark and crop!' the waggoner doggedly ejaculated.
Very much surprised that a fellow who appeared sound at heart, should
threaten to behave so basely, Evan asked an explanation: upon which the
waggoner demanded to know what he had eyes for: and as this query failed
to enlighten the youth, he let him understand that he was a man of family
experience, and that it was easy to tell at a glance that the complaint
the young woman laboured under was one common to the daughters of Eve.
He added that, should an emergency arise, he, though a family man, would
be useless: that he always vacated the premises while those incidental
scenes were being enacted at home; and that for him and George Stokes to
be left alone with the young woman, why they would be of no more service
to her than a couple of babies newborn themselves. He, for his part, he
assured Evan, should take to his heels, and relinquish waggon, and
horses, and all; while George probably would stand and gape; and the end
of it would be, they would all be had up for murder. He diverged from
the alarming prospect, by a renewal of the foregoing alternative to the
gentleman who had constituted himself the young woman's protector. If he
parted company with them, they would immediately part company with the
young woman, whose condition was evident.
'Why, couldn't you tall that?' said the waggoner, as Evan, tingling at
the ears, remained silent.
'I know nothing of such things,' he answered, hastily, like one hurt.
I have to repeat the statement, that he was a youth, and a modest one.
He felt unaccountably, unreasonably, but horridly, ashamed. The thought
of his actual position swamped the sickening disgust at tailordom.
Worse, then, might happen to us in this extraordinary world! There was
something more abhorrent than sitting with one's legs crossed, publicly
stitching, and scoffed at! He called vehemently to the waggoner to whip
the horses, and hurry ahead into Fallowfield; but that worthy, whatever
might be his dire alarms, had a regular pace, that was conscious of no
spur: the reply of 'All right!' satisfied him at least; and Evan's chaste
sighs for the appearance of an assistant petticoat round a turn of the
road, were offered up duly, to the measure of the waggoner's steps.
Suddenly the waggoner came to a halt, and said 'Blest if that Gearge
bain't a snorin' on his pins!'
Evan lingered by him with some curiosity, while the waggoner thumped his
thigh to, 'Yes he be! no he bain't!' several times, in eager hesitation.
'It's a fellow calling from the downs,' said Evan.
'Ay, so!' responded the waggoner. 'Dang'd if I didn't think 'twere that
Gearge of our'n. Hark awhile.'
At a repetition of the call, the waggoner stopped his team. After a few
minutes, a man appeared panting on the bank above them, down which he ran
precipitately, knocked against Evan, apologized with the little breath
that remained to him, and then held his hand as to entreat a hearing.
Evan thought him half-mad; the waggoner was about to imagine him the
victim of a midnight assault. He undeceived them by requesting, in
rather flowery terms, conveyance on the road and rest for his limbs. It
being explained to him that the waggon was already occupied, he comforted
himself aloud with the reflection that it was something to be on the road
again for one who had been belated, lost, and wandering over the downs
for the last six hours.
'Walcome to git in, when young woman gits out,' said the waggoner. 'I'll
gi' ye my sleep on t' Hillford.'
'Thanks, worthy friend,' returned the new comer. 'The state of the case
is this--I'm happy to take from humankind whatsoever I can get. If this
gentleman will accept of my company, and my legs hold out, all will yet
Though he did not wear a petticoat, Evan was not sorry to have him. Next
to the interposition of the Gods, we pray for human fellowship when we
are in a mess. So he mumbled politely, dropped with him a little to the
rear, and they all stepped out to the crack of the waggoner's whip.
'Rather a slow pace,' said Evan, feeling bound to converse.
'Six hours on the downs makes it extremely suitable to me,' rejoined the
'You lost your way?'
'I did, sir. Yes; one does not court those desolate regions wittingly.
I am for life and society. The embraces of Diana do not agree with my
constitution. If classics there be who differ from me, I beg them to
take six hours on the downs alone with the moon, and the last prospect of
bread and cheese, and a chaste bed, seemingly utterly extinguished. I am
cured of my romance. Of course, when I say bread and cheese, I speak
figuratively. Food is implied.'
Evan stole a glance at his companion.
'Besides,' the other continued, with an inflexion of grandeur, 'for a man
accustomed to his hunters, it is, you will confess, unpleasant--I speak'
hypothetically--to be reduced to his legs to that extent that it strikes
him shrewdly he will run them into stumps.'
The stranger laughed.
The fair lady of the night illumined his face, like one who recognized a
subject. Evan thought he knew the voice. A curious struggle therein
between native facetiousness and an attempt at dignity, appeared to Evan
not unfamiliar; and the egregious failure of ambition and triumph of the
instinct, helped him to join, the stranger in his mirth.
'Jack Raikes?' he said: 'surely?'
'The man!' it was answered to him. 'But you? and near our old school--
Viscount Harrington? These marvels occur, you see--we meet again by
Evan, with little gratification at the meeting, fell into their former
comradeship; tickled by a recollection of his old schoolfellow's India-
Mr. Raikes stood about a head under him. He had extremely mobile
features; thick, flexible eyebrows; a loose, voluble mouth; a ridiculous
figure on a dandified foot. He represented to you one who was rehearsing
a part he wished to act before the world, and was not aware that he took
the world into his confidence.
How he had come there his elastic tongue explained in tropes and puns and
lines of dramatic verse. His patrimony spent, he at once believed
himself an actor, and he was hissed off the stage of a provincial
'Ruined, the last ignominy endured, I fled from the gay vistas of the
Bench--for they live who would thither lead me! and determined, the day
before the yesterday--what think'st thou? why to go boldly, and offer
myself as Adlatus to blessed old Cudford! Yes! a little Latin is all
that remains to me, and I resolved, like the man I am, to turn, hic, hac,
hoc, into bread and cheese, and beer: Impute nought foreign to me, in the
matter of pride.'
'Usher in our old school--poor old Jack!' exclaimed Evan.
'Lieutenant in the Cudford Academy!' the latter rejoined. 'I walked the
distance from London. I had my interview with the respected principal.
He gave me of mutton nearest the bone, which, they say, is sweetest; and
on sweet things you should not regale in excess. Endymion watched the
sheep that bred that mutton! He gave me the thin beer of our boyhood,
that I might the more soberly state my mission. That beer, my friend,
was brewed by one who wished to form a study for pantomimic masks. He
listened with the gravity which is all his own to the recital of my
career; he pleasantly compared me to Phaethon, congratulated the river
Thames at my not setting it on fire in my rapid descent, and extended to
me the three fingers of affectionate farewell. "You an usher, a rearer
of youth, Mr. Raikes? Oh, no! Oh, no!" That was all I could get out of
him. 'Gad! he might have seen that I didn't joke with the mutton-bone.
If I winced at the beer it was imperceptible. Now a man who can do that
is what I call a man in earnest.'
'You've just come from Cudford?' said Evan.
'Short is the tale, though long the way, friend Harrington. From Bodley
is ten miles to Beckley. I walked them. From Beckley is fifteen miles
to Fallowfield. Them I was traversing, when, lo! near sweet eventide a
fair horsewoman riding with her groom at her horse's heels. "Lady," says
I, addressing her, as much out of the style of the needy as possible,
"will you condescend to direct me to Fallowfield?"--"Are you going to the
match?" says she. I answered boldly that I was. "Beckley's in," says
she, "and you'll be in time to see them out, if you cut across the downs
there." I lifted my hat--a desperate measure, for the brim won't bear
much--but honour to women though we perish. She bowed: I cut across the
downs. In fine, Harrington, old boy, I've been wandering among those
downs for the last seven or eight hours. I was on the point of turning
my back on the road for the twentieth time, I believe when I heard your
welcome vehicular music, and hailed you; and I ask you, isn't it luck for
a fellow who hasn't got a penny in his pocket, and is as hungry as five
hundred hunters, to drop on an old friend like this?'
Evan answered with the question:
'Where was it you said you met the young lady?'
'In the first place, O Amadis! I never said she was young. You're on
the scent, I see.'
Nursing the fresh image of his darling in his heart's recesses, Evan, as
they entered Fallowfield, laid the state of his purse before Jack, and
earned anew the epithet of Amadis, when it came to be told that the
occupant of the waggon was likewise one of its pensioners.
Sleep had long held its reign in Fallowfield. Nevertheless, Mr. Raikes,
though blind windows alone looked on him, and nought foreign was to be
imputed to him in the matter of pride, had become exceedingly solicitous
concerning his presentation to the inhabitants of that quiet little
country town; and while Evan and--the waggoner consulted the former with
regard to the chances of procuring beds and supper, the latter as to his
prospect of beer and a comfortable riddance of the feminine burden
weighing on them all--Mr. Raikes was engaged in persuading his hat to
assume something of the gentlemanly polish of its youth, and might have
been observed now and then furtively catching up a leg to be dusted. Ere
the wheels of the waggon stopped he had gained that ease of mind which
the knowledge that you have done all a man may do and circumstances
warrant, establishes. Capacities conscious of their limits may repose
even proudly when they reach them; and, if Mr. Raikes had not quite the
air of one come out of a bandbox, he at least proved to the discerning
intelligence that he knew what sort of manner befitted that happy
occasion, and was enabled by the pains he had taken to glance with a
challenge at the sign of the hostelry, under which they were now ranked,
and from which, though the hour was late, and Fallowfield a singularly
somnolent little town, there issued signs of life approaching to
DOINGS AT AN INN
What every traveller sighs to find, was palatably furnished by the Green
Dragon of Fallowfield--a famous inn, and a constellation for wandering
coachmen. There pleasant smiles seasoned plenty, and the bill was gilded
in a manner unknown to our days. Whoso drank of the ale of the Green
Dragon kept in his memory a place apart for it. The secret, that to give
a warm welcome is the breath of life to an inn, was one the Green Dragon
boasted, even then, not to share with many Red Lions, or Cocks of the
Morning, or Kings' Heads, or other fabulous monsters; and as if to show
that when you are in the right track you are sure to be seconded, there
was a friend of the Green Dragon, who, on a particular night of the year,
caused its renown to enlarge to the dimensions of a miracle. But that,
for the moment, is my secret.
Evan and Jack were met in the passage by a chambermaid. Before either of
them could speak, she had turned and fled, with the words:
'More coming!' which, with the addition of 'My goodness me!' were echoed
by the hostess in her recess. Hurried directions seemed to be
consequent, and then the hostess sallied out, and said, with a curtsey:
'Please to step in, gentlemen. This is the room, tonight.'
Evan lifted his hat; and bowing, requested to know whether they could
have a supper and beds.
'Beds, Sir!' cried the hostess. 'What am I to do for beds! Yes, beds
indeed you may have, but bed-rooms--if you ask for them, it really is
more than I can supply you with. I have given up my own. I sleep with
my maid Jane to-night.'
'Anything will do for us, madam,' replied Evan, renewing his foreign
courtesy. 'But there is a poor young woman outside.'
'Another!' The hostess instantly smiled down her inhospitable outcry.
'She,' said Evan, 'must have a room to herself. She is ill.'
'Must is must, sir,' returned the gracious hostess. 'But I really
haven't the means.'
'You have bed-rooms, madam?'
'Every one of them engaged, sir.'
'By ladies, madam?'
'Lord forbid, Sir!' she exclaimed with the honest energy of a woman who
knew her sex.
Evan bade Jack go and assist the waggoner to bring in the girl. Jack,
who had been all the time pulling at his wristbands, and settling his
coat-collar by the dim reflection of a window of the bar, departed,
after, on his own authority, assuring the hostess that fever was not the
young woman's malady, as she protested against admitting fever into her
house, seeing that she had to consider her guests.
'We're open to all the world to-night, except fever,' said the hostess.
'Yes,' she rejoined to Evan's order that the waggoner and his mate should
be supplied with ale, 'they shall have as much as they can drink,' which
is not a speech usual at inns, when one man gives an order for others,
but Evan passed it by, and politely begged to be shown in to one of the
gentlemen who had engaged bedrooms.
'Oh! if you can persuade any of them, sir, I'm sure I've nothing to say,'
observed the hostess. 'Pray, don't ask me to stand by and back it,
Had Evan been familiar with the Green Dragon, he would have noticed that
the landlady, its presiding genius, was stiffer than usual; the rosy
smile was more constrained, as if a great host had to be embraced, and
were trying it to the utmost stretch. There was, however, no asperity
about her, and when she had led him to the door he was to enter to prefer
his suit, and she had asked whether the young woman was quite common, and
he had replied that he had picked her up on the road, and that she was
certainly poor, the hostess said:
'I 'm sure you're a very good gentleman, sir, and if I could spare your
asking at all, I would.'
With that she went back to encounter Mr. Raikes and his charge, and prime
the waggoner and his mate.
A noise of laughter and talk was stilled gradually, as Evan made his bow
into a spacious room, wherein, as the tops of pines are seen swimming on
the morning mist, about a couple of dozen guests of divers conditions sat
partially revealed through wavy clouds of tobacco-smoke. By their
postures, which Evan's appearance by no means disconcerted, you read in a
glance men who had been at ease for so many hours that they had no
troubles in the world save the two ultimate perplexities of the British
Sybarite, whose bed of roses is harassed by the pair of problems: first,
what to do with his legs; secondly, how to imbibe liquor with the
slightest possible derangement of those members subordinate to his upper
structure. Of old the Sybarite complained. Not so our self-helpful
islanders. Since they could not, now that work was done and jollity the
game, take off their legs, they got away from them as far as they might,
in fashions original or imitative: some by thrusting them out at full
length; some by cramping them under their chairs: while some, taking
refuge in a mental effort, forgot them, a process to be recommended if it
did not involve occasional pangs of consciousness to the legs of their
neighbours. We see in our cousins West of the great water, who are said
to exaggerate our peculiarities, beings labouring under the same
difficulty, and intent on its solution. As to the second problem: that
of drinking without discomposure to the subservient limbs: the company
present worked out this republican principle ingeniously, but in a manner
beneath the attention of the Muse. Let Clio record that mugs and
glasses, tobacco and pipes, were strewn upon the table. But if the
guests had arrived at that stage when to reach the arm, or arrange the
person, for a sip of good stuff, causes moral debates, and presents to
the mind impediments equal to what would be raised in active men by the
prospect of a great excursion, it is not to be wondered at that the
presence of a stranger produced no immediate commotion. Two or three
heads were half turned; such as faced him imperceptibly lifted their
'Good evening, sir,' said one who sat as chairman, with a decisive nod.
'Good night, ain't it?' a jolly-looking old fellow queried of the
speaker, in an under-voice.
'Gad, you don't expect me to be wishing the gentleman good-bye, do you?'
retorted the former.
'Ha! ha! No, to be sure,' answered the old boy; and the remark was
variously uttered, that 'Good night,' by a caprice of our language, did
sound like it.
'Good evening's "How d' ye do?"--"How are ye?" Good night's "Be off, and
be blowed to you,"' observed an interpreter with a positive mind; and
another, whose intelligence was not so clear, but whose perceptions had
seized the point, exclaimed: 'I never says it when I hails a chap; but,
dash my buttons, if I mightn't 'a done, one day or another! Queer!'
The chairman, warmed by his joke, added, with a sharp wink: 'Ay; it would
be queer, if you hailed "Good night" in the middle of the day!' and this
among a company soaked in ripe ale, could not fail to run the electric
circle, and persuaded several to change their positions; in the rumble of
which, Evan's reply, if he had made any, was lost. Few, however, were
there who could think of him, and ponder on that glimpse of fun, at the
same time; and he would have been passed over, had not the chairman said:
'Take a seat, sir; make yourself comfortable.'
'Before I have that pleasure,' replied Evan, 'I--'
'I see where 'tis,' burst out the old boy who had previously superinduced
a diversion: 'he's going to ax if he can't have a bed!'
A roar of laughter, and 'Don't you remember this day last year?' followed
the cunning guess. For awhile explication was impossible; and Evan
coloured, and smiled, and waited for them.
'I was going to ask--'
'Said so!' shouted the old boy, gleefully.
'--one of the gentlemen who has engaged a bed-room to do me the extreme
favour to step aside with me, and allow me a moment's speech with him.'
Long faces were drawn, and odd stares were directed toward him, in reply.
'I see where 'tis'; the old boy thumped his knee. 'Ain't it now? Speak
up, sir! There's a lady in the case?'
'I may tell you thus much,' answered Evan, 'that it is an unfortunate
young woman, very ill, who needs rest and quiet.'
'Didn't I say so?' shouted the old boy.
But this time, though his jolly red jowl turned all round to demand a
confirmation, it was not generally considered that he had divined so
correctly. Between a lady and an unfortunate young woman, there seemed
to be a strong distinction, in the minds of the company.
The chairman was the most affected by the communication. His bushy
eyebrows frowned at Evan, and he began tugging at the brass buttons of
his coat, like one preparing to arm for a conflict.
'Speak out, sir, if you please,' he said. 'Above board--no asides--no
taking advantages. You want me to give up my bed-room for the use of
your young woman, sir?'
Evan replied quietly: 'She is a stranger to me; and if you could see her,
sir, and know her situation, I think she would move your pity.'
'I don't doubt it, sir--I don't doubt it,' returned the chairman. 'They
all move our pity. That's how they get over us. She has diddled you,
and she would diddle me, and diddle us all-diddle the devil, I dare say,
when her time comes. I don't doubt it, sir.'
To confront a vehement old gentleman, sitting as president in an assembly
of satellites, requires command of countenance, and Evan was not
browbeaten: he held him, and the whole room, from where he stood, under a
serene and serious eye, for his feelings were too deeply stirred on
behalf of the girl to let him think of himself. That question of hers,
'What are you going to do with me?' implying such helplessness and trust,
was still sharp on his nerves.
'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I humbly beg your pardon for disturbing you as I
But with a sudden idea that a general address on behalf of a particular
demand must necessarily fail, he let his eyes rest on one there, whose
face was neither stupid nor repellent, and who, though he did not look
up, had an attentive, thoughtful cast about the mouth.
'May I entreat a word apart with you, sir?'
Evan was not mistaken in the index he had perused. The gentleman seemed
to feel that he was selected from the company, and slightly raising his
head, carelessly replied: 'My bed is entirely at your disposal,' resuming
his contemplative pose.
On the point of thanking him, Evan advanced a step, when up started the
'I don't permit it! I won't allow it!' And before Evan could ask his
reasons, he had rung the bell, muttering: 'They follow us to our inns,
now, the baggages! They must harry us at our inns! We can't have peace
and quiet at our inns!--'
In a state of combustion, he cried out to the waiter:
'Here, Mark, this gentleman has brought in a dirty wench: pack her up to
my bed-room, and lock her in lock her in, and bring down the key.'
Agreeably deceived in the old gentleman's intentions, Evan could not
refrain from joining the murmured hilarity created by the conclusion of
his order. The latter glared at him, and added: 'Now, sir, you've done
your worst. Sit down, and be merry.'
Replying that he had a friend outside, and would not fail to accept the
invitation, Evan retired. He was met by the hostess with the reproachful
declaration on her lips, that she was a widow woman, wise in appearances,
and that he had brought into her house that night work she did not
expect, or bargain for. Rather (since I must speak truth of my
gentleman) to silence her on the subject, and save his ears, than to
propitiate her favour towards the girl, Evan drew out his
constitutionally lean purse, and dropped it in her hand, praying
her to put every expense incurred to his charge. She exclaimed:
'If Dr. Pillie has his full sleep this night, I shall be astonished'; and
Evan hastily led Jack into the passage to impart to him, that the extent
of his resources was reduced to the smallest of sums in shillings.
'I can beat my friend at that reckoning,' said Mr. Raikes; and they
entered the room.
Eyes were on him. This had ever the effect of causing him to swell to
monstrous proportions in the histrionic line. Asking the waiter
carelessly for some light supper dish, he suggested the various French,
with 'not that?' and the affable naming of another. 'Nor that? Dear me,
we shall have to sup on chops, I believe!'
Evan saw the chairman scrutinizing Raikes, much as he himself might have
done, and he said: 'Bread and cheese for me.'
Raikes exclaimed: 'Really? Well, my lord, you lead, and your taste is
A second waiter scudded past, and stopped before the chairman to say:
'If you please, sir, the gentlemen upstairs send their compliments, and
will be happy to accept.'
'Ha!' was the answer. 'Thought better of it, have they! Lay for three
more, then. Five more, I guess.' He glanced at the pair of intruders.
Among a portion of the guests there had been a return to common talk, and
one had observed that he could not get that 'Good Evening,' and 'Good
Night,' out of his head which had caused a friend to explain the meaning
of these terms of salutation to him: while another, of a philosophic
turn, pursued the theme: 'You see, when we meets, we makes a night of it.
So, when we parts, it's Good Night--natural! ain't it?' A proposition
assented to, and considerably dilated on; but whether he was laughing at
that, or what had aroused the fit, the chairman did not say.
Gentle chuckles had succeeded his laughter by the time the bread and
In the rear of the provision came three young gentlemen, of whom the
foremost lumped in, singing to one behind him, 'And you shall have little
They were clad in cricketing costume, and exhibited the health and
manners of youthful Englishmen of station. Frolicsome young bulls
bursting on an assemblage of sheep, they might be compared to. The
chairman welcomed them a trifle snubbingly. The colour mounted to the
cheeks of Mr. Raikes as he made incision in the cheese, under their eyes,
knitting his brows fearfully, as if at hard work.
The chairman entreated Evan to desist from the cheese; and, pulling out
his watch, thundered: 'Time!'
The company generally jumped on their legs; and, in the midst of a hum of
talk and laughter, he informed Evan and Jack, that he invited them
cordially to a supper up-stairs, and would be pleased if they would
partake of it, and in a great rage if they would not.
Raikes was for condescending to accept.
Evan sprang up and cried: 'Gladly, sir,' and gladly would he have cast
his cockney schoolmate to the winds, in the presence of these young
cricketers; for he had a prognostication.
The door was open, and the company of jolly yeomen, tradesmen, farmers,
and the like, had become intent on observing all the ceremonies of
precedence: not one would broaden his back on the other; and there was
bowing, and scraping, and grimacing, till Farmer Broadmead was hailed
aloud, and the old boy stepped forth, and was summarily pushed through:
the chairman calling from the rear, 'Hulloa! no names to-night!' to
which was answered lustily: 'All right, Mr. Tom!' and the speaker was
reproved with, 'There you go! at it again!' and out and up they hustled.
The chairman said quietly to Evan, as they were ascending the stairs:
'We don't have names to-night; may as well drop titles.' Which presented
no peculiar meaning to Evan's mind, and he smiled the usual smile.
To Raikes, at the door of the supper-room, the chairman repeated the
same; and with extreme affability and alacrity of abnegation, the other
rejoined, 'Oh, certainly!'
No wonder that he rubbed his hands with more delight than aristocrats and
people with gentlemanly connections are in the habit of betraying at the
prospect of refection, for the release from bread and cheese was rendered
overpoweringly glorious, in his eyes, by the bountiful contrast exhibited
on the board before him.
IN WHICH ALE IS SHOWN TO HAVE ONE QUALITY OF WINE
To proclaim that yon ribs of beef and yonder ruddy Britons have met, is
to furnish matter for an hour's comfortable meditation.
Digest the fact. Here the Fates have put their seal to something Nature
clearly devised. It was intended; and it has come to pass. A thing has
come to pass which we feel to be right! The machinery of the world,
then, is not entirely dislocated: there is harmony, on one point, among
the mysterious powers who have to do with us.
Apart from its eloquent and consoling philosophy, the picture is
pleasant. You see two rows of shoulders resolutely set for action: heads
in divers degrees of proximity to their plates: eyes variously twinkling,
or hypocritically composed: chaps in vigorous exercise. Now leans a
fellow right back with his whole face to the firmament: Ale is his
adoration. He sighs not till he sees the end of the mug. Now from one a
laugh is sprung; but, as if too early tapped, he turns off the cock, and
primes himself anew. Occupied by their own requirements, these Britons
allow that their neighbours have rights: no cursing at waste of time is
heard when plates have to be passed: disagreeable, it is still duty.
Field-Marshal Duty, the Briton's chief star, shines here. If one usurps
more than his allowance of elbow-room, bring your charge against them
that fashioned him: work away to arrive at some compass yourself.
Now the mustard ceases to travel, and the salt: the guests have leisure
to contemplate their achievements. Laughs are more prolonged, and come
from the depths.
Now Ale, which is to Beef what Eve was to Adam, threatens to take
possession of the field. Happy they who, following Nature's direction,
admitted not bright ale into their Paradise till their manhood was
strengthened with beef. Some, impatient, had thirsted; had satisfied
their thirst; and the ale, the light though lovely spirit, with nothing
to hold it down, had mounted to their heads; just as Eve will do when
Adam is not mature: just as she did--Alas!
Now, the ruins of the feast being removed, and a clear course left for
the flow of ale, Farmer Broadmead, facing the chairman, rises. He stands
in an attitude of midway. He speaks:
'Gentlemen! 'Taint fust time you and I be met here, to salbrate this
here occasion. I say, not fust time, not by many a time, 'taint. Well,
gentlemen, I ain't much of a speaker, gentlemen, as you know. Howsever,
here I be. No denyin' that. I'm on my legs. This here's a strange
enough world, and a man 's a gentleman, I say, we ought for to be glad
when we got 'm. You know: I'm coming to it shortly. I ain't much of a
speaker, and if you wants somethin' new, you must ax elsewhere: but what
I say is--Bang it! here's good health and long life to Mr. Tom, up
'No names !' shouts the chairman, in the midst of a tremendous clatter.
Farmer Broadmead moderately disengages his breadth from the seat. He
humbly axes pardon, which is accorded him with a blunt nod.
Ale (to Beef what Eve was to Adam) circulates beneath a dazzling foam,
fair as the first woman.
Mr. Tom (for the breach of the rules in mentioning whose name on a night
when identities are merged, we offer sincere apologies every other
minute), Mr. Tom is toasted. His parents, who selected that day sixty
years ago, for his bow to be made to the world, are alluded to with
encomiums, and float down to posterity on floods of liquid amber.
But to see all the subtle merits that now begin to bud out from Mr. Tom,
the chairman and giver of the feast; and also rightly to appreciate the
speeches, we require to be enormously charged with Ale. Mr. Raikes did
his best to keep his head above the surface of the rapid flood. He
conceived the chairman in brilliant colours, and probably owing to the
energy called for by his brain, the legs of the young man failed him
twice, as he tried them. Attention was demanded. Mr. Raikes addressed
The three young gentlemen-cricketers had hitherto behaved with a certain
propriety. It did not offend Mr. Raikes to see them conduct themselves
as if they were at a play, and the rest of the company paid actors. He
had likewise taken a position, and had been the first to laugh aloud at a
particular slip of grammar; while his shrugs at the aspirates transposed
and the pronunciation prevalent, had almost established a free-masonry
between him and one of the three young gentlemen-cricketers-a fair-haired
youth, with a handsome, reckless face, who leaned on the table,
humorously eyeing the several speakers, and exchanging by-words and
laughs with his friends on each side of him.
But Mr. Raikes had the disadvantage of having come to the table empty in
stomach--thirsty exceedingly; and, I repeat, that as, without experience,
you are the victim of divinely given Eve, so, with no foundation to
receive it upon, are you the victim of good sound Ale. He very soon lost
his head. He would otherwise have seen that he must produce a
wonderfully-telling speech if he was to keep the position he had taken,
and had better not attempt one. The three young cricketers were hostile
from the beginning. All of them leant forward, calling attention loudly
laughing for the fun to come.
'Gentlemen!' he said: and said it twice. The gap was wide, and he said,
This commencement of a speech proves that you have made the plunge, but
not that you can swim. At a repetition of 'Gentlemen!' expectancy
resolved into cynicism.
'Gie'n a help,' sang out a son of the plough to a neighbour of the
'Hang it!' murmured another, 'we ain't such gentlemen as that comes to.'
Mr. Raikes was politely requested to 'tune his pipe.'
With a gloomy curiosity as to the results of Jack's adventurous
undertaking, and a touch of anger at the three whose bearing throughout
had displeased him, Evan regarded his friend. He, too, had drunk, and
upon emptiness. Bright ale had mounted to his brain. A hero should be
held as sacred as the Grand Llama: so let no more be said than that he
drank still, nor marked the replenishing of his glass.
Raikes cleared his throat for a final assault: he had got an image, and
was dashing off; but, unhappily, as if to make the start seem fair, he
was guilty of his reiteration, 'Gentlemen.'
Everybody knew that it was a real start this time, and indeed he had made
an advance, and had run straight through half a sentence. It was
therefore manifestly unfair, inimical, contemptuous, overbearing, and
base, for one of the three young cricketers at this period to fling back
weariedly and exclaim: 'By the Lord; too many gentlemen here!'
Evan heard him across the table. Lacking the key of the speaker's
previous conduct, the words might have passed. As it was, they, to the
ale-invaded head of a young hero, feeling himself the world's equal, and
condemned nevertheless to bear through life the insignia of Tailordom,
not unnaturally struck with peculiar offence. There was arrogance, too,
in the young man who had interposed. He was long in the body, and, when
he was not refreshing his sight by a careless contemplation of his
finger-nails, looked down on his company at table, as one may do who
comes from loftier studies. He had what is popularly known as the nose
of our aristocracy: a nose that much culture of the external graces, and
affectation of suavity, are required to soften. Thereto were joined thin
lips and arched brows. Birth it was possible he could boast, hardly
brains. He sat to the right of the fair-haired youth, who, with his
remaining comrade, a quiet smiling fellow, appeared to be better liked by
the guests, and had been hailed once or twice, under correction of the
chairman, as Mr. Harry. The three had distinguished one there by a few
friendly passages; and this was he who had offered his bed to Evan for
the service of the girl. The recognition they extended to him did not
affect him deeply. He was called Drummond, and had his place near the
chairmen, whose humours he seemed to relish.
The ears of Mr. Raikes were less keen at the moment than Evan's, but his
openness to ridicule was that of a man on his legs solus, amid a company
sitting, and his sense of the same--when he saw himself the victim of it
--acute. His face was rather comic, and, under the shadow of
embarrassment, twitching and working for ideas--might excuse a want of
steadiness and absolute gravity in the countenances of others.
The chairman's neighbour, Drummond, whispered him 'Laxley will get up a
row with that fellow.'
'It 's young Jocelyn egging him on,' said the chairman.
'Um!' added Drummond: 'it's the friend of that talkative rascal that 's
dangerous, if it comes to anything.'
Mr. Raikes perceived that his host desired him to conclude. So, lifting
his voice and swinging his arm, he ended: 'Allow me to propose to you the
Fly in Amber. In other words, our excellent host embalmed in brilliant
ale! Drink him! and so let him live in our memories for ever!'
He sat down very well contented with himself, very little comprehended,
and applauded loudly.
'The Flyin' Number!' echoed Farmer Broadmead, confidently and with
clamour; adding to a friend, when both had drunk the toast to the dregs,
'But what number that be, or how many 'tis of 'em, dishes me! But that
's ne'ther here nor there.'
The chairman and host of the evening stood up to reply, welcomed by
thunders--'There ye be, Mr. Tom! glad I lives to see ye!' and ' No
names!' and 'Long life to him!'
This having subsided, the chairman spoke, first nodding. 'You don't want
many words, and if you do, you won't get 'em from me.'
Cries of 'Got something better!' took up the blunt address.
'You've been true to it, most of you. I like men not to forget a
'Good reason so to be,' and 'A jolly good custom,' replied to both
'As to the beef, I hope you didn't find it tough: as to the ale--I know
all about THAT!'
'Aha! good!' rang the verdict.
'All I can say is, that this day next year it will be on the table, and I
hope that every one of you will meet Tom--will meet me here punctually.
I'm not a Parliament man, so that 'll do.'
The chairman's breach of his own rules drowned the termination of his
speech in an uproar.
Re-seating himself, he lifted his glass, and proposed:
Farmer Broadmead echoed: 'The Antediloovians !' appending, as a private
sentiment, 'And dam rum chaps they were!'
The Antediluvians, undoubtedly the toast of the evening, were
enthusiastically drunk, and in an ale of treble brew.
When they had quite gone down, Mr. Raikes ventured to ask for the reason
of their receiving such honour from a posterity they had so little to do
with. He put the question mildly, but was impetuously snapped at by the
'You respect men for their luck, sir, don't you? Don't be a hypocrite,
and say you don't--you do. Very well: so do I. That's why I drink "The
'Our worthy host here' (Drummond, gravely smiling, undertook to elucidate
the case) 'has a theory that the constitutions of the Postdiluvians have
been deranged, and their lives shortened, by the miasmas of the Deluge.
I believe he carries it so far as to say that Noah, in the light of a
progenitor, is inferior to Adam, owing to the shaking he had to endure in
the ark, and which he conceives to have damaged the patriarch and the
nervous systems of his sons. It's a theory, you know.'
'They lived close on a thousand years, hale, hearty--and no water!' said
'Well!' exclaimed one, some way down the table, a young farmer, red as a
cock's comb: 'no fools they, eh, master? Where there's ale, would you
drink water, my hearty?' and back he leaned to enjoy the tribute to his
wit; a wit not remarkable, but nevertheless sufficient in the noise it
created to excite the envy of Mr. Raikes, who, inveterately silly when
not engaged in a contest, now began to play on the names of the sons of
The chairman lanced a keen light at him from beneath his bushy eyebrows.
Before long he had again to call two parties to order. To Raikes, Laxley
was a puppy: to Laxley, Mr. Raikes was a snob. The antagonism was
natural: ale did but put the match to the magazine. But previous to an
explosion, Laxley, who had observed Evan's disgust at Jack's exhibition
of himself, and had been led to think, by his conduct and clothes in
conjunction, that Evan was his own equal; a gentleman condescending to
the society of a low-born acquaintance;--had sought with sundry
propitiations, intelligent glances, light shrugs, and such like, to
divide Evan from Jack. He did this, doubtless, because he partly
sympathized with Evan, and to assure him that he took a separate view of
him. Probably Evan was already offended, or he held to Jack, as a
comrade should, or else it was that Tailordom and the pride of his
accepted humiliation bellowed in his ears, every fresh minute: 'Nothing
assume!' I incline to think that the more ale he drank the fiercer rebel
he grew against conventional ideas of rank, and those class-barriers
which we scorn so vehemently when we find ourselves kicking at them.
Whatsoever the reason that prompted him, he did not respond to Laxley's
advances; and Laxley, disregarding him, dealt with Raikes alone.
In a tone plainly directed at him, he said: 'Well, Harry, tired of this?
The agriculturals are good fun, but I can't stand much of the small
cockney. A blackguard who tries to make jokes out of the Scriptures
ought to be kicked!'
Harry rejoined, with wet lips: 'Wopping stuff, this ale! Who's that you
want to kick?'
'Somebody who objects to his bray, I suppose,' Mr. Raikes struck in,
across the table, negligently thrusting out his elbow to support his
'Did you allude to me, sir?' Laxley inquired.
'I alluded to a donkey, sir.' Raikes lifted his eyelids to the same level
as Laxley's: 'a passing remark on that interesting animal.'
His friend Harry now came into the ring to try a fall.
'Are you an usher in a school?' he asked, meaning by his looks what men
of science in fisticuffs call business.
Mr. Raikes started in amazement. He recovered as quickly.
'No, sir, not quite; but I have no doubt I should be able to instruct you
upon a point or two.'
'Good manners, for instance?' remarked the third young cricketer, without
disturbing his habitual smile.
'Or what comes from not observing them,' said Evan, unwilling to have
'Perhaps you'll give me a lesson now?' Harry indicated a readiness to
rise for either of them.
At this juncture the chairman interposed.
'Harmony, my lads!--harmony to-night.'
Farmer Broadmead, imagining it to be the signal for a song, returned:
'All right, Mr.--- Mr. Chair! but we an't got pipes in yet. Pipes
before harmony, you know, to-night.'
The pipes were summoned forthwith. System appeared to regulate the
proceedings of this particular night at the Green Dragon. The pipes
charged, and those of the guests who smoked, well fixed behind them,
celestial Harmony was invoked through the slowly curling clouds. In
Britain the Goddess is coy. She demands pressure to appear, and great
gulps of ale. Vastly does she swell the chests of her island children,
but with the modesty of a maid at the commencement. Precedence again
disturbed the minds of the company. At last the red-faced young farmer
led off with 'The Rose and the Thorn.' In that day Chloe still lived; nor
were the amorous transports of Strephon quenched. Mountainous inflation
--mouse-like issue characterized the young farmer's first verse.
Encouraged by manifest approbation he now told Chloe that he 'by Heaven!
never would plant in that bosom a thorn,' with such a volume of sound as
did indeed show how a lover's oath should be uttered in the ear of a
British damsel to subdue her.
'Good!' cried Mr. Raikes, anxious to be convivial.
Subsiding into impertinence, he asked Laxley, 'Could you tip us a
Strephonade, sir? Rejoiced to listen to you, I'm sure! Promise you my
Harry replied hotly: 'Will you step out of the room with me a minute?'
'Have you a confession to make?' quoth Jack, unmoved. 'Have you planted
a thorn in the feminine flower-garden? Make a clean breast of it at the
table. Confess openly and be absolved.'
While Evan spoke a word of angry reproof to Raikes, Harry had to be
restrained by his two friends. The rest of the company looked on with
curiosity; the mouth of the chairman was bunched. Drummond had his eyes
on Evan, who was gazing steadily at the three. Suddenly 'The fellow
isn't a gentleman!' struck the attention of Mr. Raikes with alarming
Raikes--and it may be because he knew he could do more than Evan in this
respect--vociferated: 'I'm the son of a gentleman!'
Drummond, from the head of the table, saw that a diversion was
imperative. He leaned forward, and with a look of great interest said:
'Are you? Pray, never disgrace your origin, then.'
'If the choice were offered me, I think I would rather have known his
father,' said the smiling fellow, yawning, and rocking on his chair.
'You would, possibly, have been exceedingly intimate--with his right
foot,' said Raikes.
The other merely remarked: 'Oh! that is the language of the son of a
The tumult of irony, abuse, and retort, went on despite the efforts of
Drummond and the chairman. It was odd; for at Farmer Broadmead's end of
the table, friendship had grown maudlin: two were seen in a drowsy
embrace, with crossed pipes; and others were vowing deep amity, and
offering to fight the man that might desire it.
'Are ye a friend? or are ye a foe?' was heard repeatedly, and
consequences to the career of the respondent, on his choice of
affirmatives to either of these two interrogations, emphatically
It was likewise asked, in reference to the row at the gentlemen's end:
'Why doan' they stand up and have 't out?'
'They talks, they speechifies--why doan' they fight for 't, and then be
'Where's the yarmony, Mr. Chair, I axes--so please ye?' sang out Farmer
'Ay, ay! Silence!' the chairman called.
Mr. Raikes begged permission to pronounce his excuses, but lapsed into a
lamentation for the squandering of property bequeathed to him by his
respected uncle, and for which--as far as he was intelligible--he
persisted in calling the three offensive young cricketers opposite to
Before he could desist, Harmony, no longer coy, burst on the assembly
from three different sources. 'A Man who is given to Liquor,' soared
aloft with 'The Maid of sweet Seventeen,' who participated in the
adventures of 'Young Molly and the Kicking Cow'; while the guests
selected the chorus of the song that first demanded it.
Evan probably thought that Harmony was herself only when she came single,
or he was wearied of his fellows, and wished to gaze a moment on the
skies whose arms were over and around his young beloved. He went to the
window and threw it up, and feasted his sight on the moon standing on the
downs. He could have wept at the bitter ignominy that severed him from
Rose. And again he gathered his pride as a cloak, and defied the world,
and gloried in the sacrifice that degraded him. The beauty of the night
touched him, and mixed these feelings with mournfulness. He quite forgot
the bellow and clatter behind. The beauty of the night, and heaven knows
what treacherous hope in the depths of his soul, coloured existence
He was roused from his reverie by an altercation unmistakeably fierce.
Raikes had been touched on a tender point. In reply to a bantering
remark of his, Laxley had hummed over bits of his oration, amid the
chuckles of his comrades. Unfortunately at a loss for a biting retort,
Raikes was reduced to that plain confession of a lack of wit; he offered
'I 'll tell you what,' said Laxley, 'I never soil my hands with a
blackguard; and a fellow who tries to make fun of Scripture, in my
opinion is one. A blackguard--do you hear? But, if you'll give me
satisfactory proofs that you really are what I have some difficulty in
believing the son of a gentleman--I 'll meet you when and where you
'Fight him, anyhow,' said Harry. 'I 'll take him myself after we finish
the match to-morrow.'
Laxley rejoined that Mr. Raikes must be left to him.
'Then I'll take the other,' said Harry. 'Where is he?'
Evan walked round to his place.
'I am here,' he answered, 'and at your service.'
'Will you fight?' cried Harry.
There was a disdainful smile on Evan's mouth, as he replied: 'I must
first enlighten you. I have no pretensions to your blue blood, or
yellow. If, sir, you will deign to challenge a man who is not the son of
a gentleman, and consider the expression of his thorough contempt for
your conduct sufficient to enable you to overlook that fact, you may
dispose of me. My friend here has, it seems, reason to be proud of his
connections. That you may not subsequently bring the charge against me
of having led you to "soil your hands"--as your friend there terms it--
I, with all the willingness in the world to chastise you or him for your
impertinence, must first give you a fair chance of escape, by telling you
that my father was a tailor.'
The countenance of Mr. Raikes at the conclusion of this speech was a
painful picture. He knocked the table passionately, exclaiming:
'Who'd have thought it?'
Yet he had known it. But he could not have thought it possible for a man
to own it publicly.
Indeed, Evan could not have mentioned it, but for hot fury and the ale.
It was the ale in him expelling truth; and certainly, to look at him,
none would have thought it.
'That will do,' said Laxley, lacking the magnanimity to despise the
advantage given him, 'you have chosen the very best means of saving your
'We 'll come to you when our supply of clothes runs short,' added Harry.
'Pardon me !' said Evan, with his eyes slightly widening, 'but if you
come to me, I shall no longer give you a choice of behaviour. I wish you
good-night, gentlemen. I shall be in this house, and am to be found
here, till ten o'clock to-morrow morning. Sir,' he addressed the
chairman, 'I must apologize to you for this interruption to your
kindness, for which I thank you very sincerely. It 's "good-night," now,
sir,' he pursued, bowing, and holding out his hand, with a smile.
The chairman grasped it: 'You're a hot-headed young fool, sir: you're an
ill-tempered ferocious young ass. Can't you see another young donkey
without joining company in kicks-eh? Sit down, and don't dare to spoil
the fun any more. You a tailor! Who'll believe it? You're a nobleman
in disguise. Didn't your friend say so?--ha! ha! Sit down.' He pulled
out his watch, and proclaiming that he was born into this world at the
hour about to strike, called for a bumper all round.
While such of the company as had yet legs and eyes unvanquished by the
potency of the ale, stood up to drink and cheer, Mark, the waiter,
scurried into the room, and, to the immense stupefaction of the chairman,
and amusement of his guests, spread the news of the immediate birth of a
little stranger on the premises, who was declared by Dr. Pillie to be a
lusty boy, and for whom the kindly landlady solicited good luck to be
THE MATCH OF FALLOW FIELD AGAINST BECKLEY
The dramatic proportions to which ale will exalt the sentiments within
us, and our delivery of them, are apt to dwindle and shrink even below
the natural elevation when we look back on them from the hither shore of
the river of sleep--in other words, wake in the morning: and it was with
no very self-satisfied emotions that Evan, dressing by the full light of
day, reviewed his share in the events of the preceding night. Why, since
he had accepted his fate, should he pretend to judge the conduct of
people his superiors in rank? And where was the necessity for him to
thrust the fact of his being that abhorred social pariah down the throats
of an assembly of worthy good fellows? The answer was, that he had not
accepted his fate: that he considered himself as good a gentleman as any
man living, and was in absolute hostility with the prejudices of society.
That was the state of the case: but the evaporation of ale in his brain
caused him to view his actions from the humble extreme of that delightful
liquor, of which the spirit had flown and the corpse remained.
Having revived his system with soda-water, and finding no sign of his
antagonist below, Mr. Raikes, to disperse the sceptical dimples on his
friend's face, alluded during breakfast to a determination he had formed
to go forth and show on the cricket-field.
'For, you know,' he observed, 'they can't have any objection to fight
Evan, slightly colouring, answered: 'Why, you said up-stairs, you thought
fighting duels disgraceful folly.'
'So it is, so it is; everybody knows that,' returned Jack; 'but what can
a gentleman do?'
'Be a disgraceful fool, I suppose,' said Evan: and Raikes went on with
his breakfast, as if to be such occasionally was the distinguished fate
of a gentleman, of which others, not so happy in their birth, might well
He could not help betraying that he bore in mind the main incidents of
the festival over-night; for when he had inquired who it might be that
had reduced his friend to wear mourning, and heard that it was his father
(spoken by Evan with a quiet sigh), Mr. Raikes tapped an egg, and his
flexible brows exhibited a whole Bar of contending arguments within.
More than for the love of pleasure, he had spent his money to be taken
for a gentleman. He naturally thought highly of the position, having
bought it. But Raikes appreciated a capital fellow, and felt warmly to
Evan, who, moreover, was feeding him.
If not born a gentleman, this Harrington had the look of one, and was
pleasing in female eyes, as the landlady, now present, bore witness,
wishing them good morning, and hoping they had slept well. She handed to
Evan his purse, telling him she had taken it last night, thinking it
safer for the time being in her pocket; and that the chairman of the
feast paid for all in the Green Dragon up to twelve that day, he having
been born between the hours, and liking to make certain: and that every
year he did the same; and was a seemingly rough old gentleman, but as
soft-hearted as a chicken. His name must positively not be inquired, she
said; to be thankful to him was to depart, asking no questions.
'And with a dart in the bosom from those eyes--those eyes!' cried Jack,
shaking his head at the landlady's resistless charms.
'I hope you was not one of the gentlemen who came and disturbed us last
night, Sir?' she turned on him sharply.
Jack dallied with the imputation, but denied his guilt.
'No; it wasn't your voice,' continued the landlady. 'A parcel of young
puppies calling themselves gentlemen! I know him. It's that young Mr.
Laxley: and he the nephew of a Bishop, and one of the Honourables! and
then the poor gals get the blame. I call it a shame, I do. There's that
poor young creature up-stairs-somebody's victim she is: and nobody's to
suffer but herself, the little fool!'
'Yes,' said Raikes. 'Ah! we regret these things in after life!' and he
looked as if he had many gentlemanly burdens of the kind on his
'It 's a wonder, to my mind,' remarked the landlady, when she had
placidly surveyed Mr. Raikes, 'how young gals can let some of you men-
folk mislead 'em.'
She turned from him huffily, and addressed Evan:
'The old gentleman is gone, sir. He slept on a chair, breakfasted, and
was off before eight. He left word, as the child was born on his
birthright, he'd provide for it, and pay the mother's bill, unless you
claimed the right. I'm afraid he suspected--what I never, never-no! but
by what I've seen of you--never will believe. For you, I'd say, must be
a gentleman, whatever your company. She asks one favour of you, sir:--
for you to go and let her speak to you once before you go away for good.
She's asleep now, and mustn't be disturbed. Will you do it, by-and-by?
Please to comfort the poor creature, sir.'
Evan consented. I am afraid also it was the landlady's flattering speech
made him, without reckoning his means, add that the young mother and her
child must be considered under his care, and their expenses charged to
him. The landlady was obliged to think him a wealthy as well as a noble
youth, and admiringly curtsied.
Mr. John Raikes and Mr. Evan Harrington then strolled into the air, and
through a long courtyard, with brewhouse and dairy on each side, and a
pleasant smell of baking bread, and dogs winking in the sun, cats at the
corners of doors, satisfied with life, and turkeys parading, and fowls,
strutting cocks, that overset the dignity of Mr. Raikes by awakening his
imitative propensities. Certain white-capped women, who were washing in
a tub, laughed, and one observed: 'He's for all the world like the little
bantam cock stickin' 'self up in a crow against the Spaniar'.' And this,
and the landlady's marked deference to Evan, induced Mr. Raikes
contemptuously to glance at our national blindness to the true diamond,
and worship of the mere plumes in which a person is dressed.
They passed a pretty flower-garden, and entering a smooth-shorn meadow,
beheld the downs beautifully clear under sunlight and slowly-sailing
images of cloud. At the foot of the downs, on a plain of grass, stood a
white booth topped by a flag, which signalled that on that spot Fallow
field and Beckley were contending.
'A singular old gentleman! A very singular old gentleman, that!' Raikes
observed, following an idea that had been occupying him. 'We did wrong
to miss him. We ought to have waylaid him in the morning. Never miss a
'What chance?' Evan inquired.
'Those old gentlemen are very odd,' Jack pursued, 'very strange. He
wouldn't have judged me by my attire. Admetus' flocks I guard, yet am a
God! Dress is nothing to those old cocks. He's an eccentric. I know
it; I can see it. He 's a corrective of Cudford, who is abhorrent to my
soul. To give you an instance, now, of what those old boys will do--I
remember my father taking me, when I was quite a youngster, to a tavern
he frequented, and we met one night just such an old fellow as this;
and the waiter told us afterwards that he noticed me particularly.
He thought me a very remarkable boy--predicted great things. For some
reason or other my father never took me there again. I remember our
having a Welsh rarebit there for supper, and when the waiter last night
mentioned a rarebit, 'gad he started up before me. I gave chase into my
early youth. However, my father never took me to meet the old fellow
again. I believe it lost me a fortune.'
Evan's thoughts were leaping to the cricket-field, or he would have
condoled with Mr. Raikes for a loss that evidently afflicted him still.
Now, it must be told that the lady's-maid of Mrs. Andrew Cogglesby,
borrowed temporarily by the Countess de Saldar for service at Beckley
Court, had slept in charge of the Countess's boxes at the Green Dragon:
the Countess having told her, with the candour of high-born dames to
their attendants, that it would save expense; and that, besides, Admiral
Combleman, whom she was going to see, or Sir Perkins Ripley (her father's
old friend), whom she should visit if Admiral Combleman was not at his
mansion-both were likely to have full houses, and she could not take them
by storm. An arrangement which left her upwards of twelve hours'
liberty, seemed highly proper to Maria Conning, this lady's-maid, a very
demure young person. She was at her bed-room window, as Evan passed up
the courtyard of the inn, and recognized him immediately. 'Can it be him
they mean that's the low tradesman?' was Maria's mysterious exclamation.
She examined the pair, and added: 'Oh, no. It must be the tall one they
mistook for the small one. But Mr. Harrington ought not to demean
himself by keeping company with such, and my lady should know of it.'
My lady, alighting from the Lymport coach, did know of it, within a few
minutes after Evan had quitted the Green Dragon, and turned pale, as
high-born dames naturally do when they hear of a relative's disregard of
the company he keeps.
'A tailor, my lady!' said scornful Maria; and the Countess jumped and
complained of a pin.
'How did you hear of this, Conning?' she presently asked with composure.
'Oh, my lady, he was tipsy last night, and kept swearing out loud he was
'Tipsy!' the Countess murmured in terror. She had heard of inaccessible
truths brought to light by the magic wand of alcohol. Was Evan
intoxicated, and his dreadful secret unlocked last night?
'And who may have told you of this, Conning?' she asked.
Maria plunged into one of the boxes, and was understood to say that
nobody in particular had told her, but that among other flying matters it
had come to her ears.
'My brother is Charity itself,' sighed the Countess. 'He welcomes high
'Yes, but, my lady, a, tailor!' Maria repeated, and the Countess,
agreeing with her scorn as she did, could have killed her. At least she
would have liked to run a bodkin into her, and make her scream. In her
position she could not always be Charity itself: nor is this the required
character for a high-born dame: so she rarely affected it.
'Order a fly: discover the direction Mr. Harrington has taken; spare me
further remarks,' she said; and Maria humbly flitted from her presence.
When she was gone, the Countess covered her face with her hands. 'Even
this creature would despise us!' she exclaimed.
The young lady encountered by Mr. Raikes on the road to Fallow field, was
wrong in saying that Beckley would be seen out before the shades of
evening caught up the ball. Not one, but two men of Beckley--the last
two--carried out their bats, cheered handsomely by both parties. The
wickets pitched in the morning, they carried them in again, and plaudits
renewed proved that their fame had not slumbered. To stand before a
field, thoroughly aware that every successful stroke you make is adding
to the hoards of applause in store for you is a joy to your friends, an
exasperation to your foes; I call this an exciting situation, and one as
proud as a man may desire. Then, again, the two last men of an eleven
are twins: they hold one life between them; so that he who dies
extinguishes the other. Your faculties are stirred to their depths. You
become engaged in the noblest of rivalries: in defending your own, you
fight for your comrade's existence. You are assured that the dread of
shame, if not emulation, is making him equally wary and alert.
Behold, then, the two bold men of Beckley fighting to preserve one life.
Under the shadow of the downs they stand, beneath a glorious day, and
before a gallant company. For there are ladies in carriages here, there
are cavaliers; good county names may be pointed out. The sons of first-
rate families are in the two elevens, mingled with the yeomen and whoever
can best do the business. Fallow field and Beckley, without regard to
rank, have drawn upon their muscle and science. One of the bold men of
Beckley at the wickets is Nick Frim, son of the gamekeeper at Beckley
Court; the other is young Tom Copping, son of Squire Copping, of Dox
Hall, in the parish of Beckley. Last year, you must know, Fallow field
beat. That is why Nick Frim, a renowned out-hitter, good to finish a
score brilliantly with a pair of threes, has taken to blocking, and Mr.
Tom cuts with caution, though he loves to steal his runs, and is usually
dismissed by his remarkable cunning.
The field was ringing at a stroke of Nick Frim's, who had lashed out in
his old familiar style at last, and the heavens heard of it, when Evan
came into the circle of spectators. Nick and Tom were stretching from
post to post, might and main. A splendid four was scored. The field
took breath with the heroes; and presume not to doubt that heroes they
are. It is good to win glory for your country; it is also good to win
glory for your village. A Member of Parliament, Sir George Lowton, notes
this emphatically, from the statesman's eminence, to a group of gentlemen
on horseback round a carriage wherein a couple of fair ladies reclined.
'They didn't shout more at the news of the Battle of Waterloo. Now this
is our peculiarity, this absence of extreme centralization. It must be
encouraged. Local jealousies, local rivalries, local triumphs--these are
the strength of the kingdom.'
'If you mean to say that cricket's a ----' the old squire speaking
(Squire Uplift of Fallow field) remembered the saving presences, and
coughed--'good thing, I'm one with ye, Sir George. Encouraged, egad!
They don't want much of that here. Give some of your lean London straws
a strip o' clean grass and a bit o' liberty, and you'll do 'em a
'What a beautiful hit!' exclaimed one of the ladies, languidly watching
the ascent of the ball.
'Beautiful, d' ye call it?' muttered the squire.
The ball, indeed, was dropping straight into the hands of the long-hit-
off. Instantly a thunder rolled. But it was Beckley that took the
joyful treble--Fallow field the deeply--cursing bass. The long-hit-off,
he who never was known to miss a catch-butter-fingered beast!--he has let
the ball slip through his fingers.
Are there Gods in the air? Fred Linnington, the unfortunate of Fallow
field, with a whole year of unhappy recollection haunting him in
prospect, ere he can retrieve his character--Fred, if he does not accuse
the powers of the sky, protests that he cannot understand it, which means
Fallow field's defeat--should such be the result of the contest--
he knows now will be laid at his door. Five men who have bowled at the
indomitable Beckleyans think the same. Albeit they are Britons, it
abashes them. They are not the men they were. Their bowling is as the
bowling of babies; and see! Nick, who gave the catch, and pretends he
did it out of commiseration for Fallow field, the ball has flown from his
bat sheer over the booth. If they don't add six to the score, it will be
the fault of their legs. But no: they rest content with a fiver and
cherish their wind.
Yet more they mean to do, Success does not turn the heads of these
Britons, as it would of your frivolous foreigners.
And now small boys (who represent the Press here) spread out from the
marking-booth, announcing foremost, and in larger type, as it were, quite
in Press style, their opinion--which is, that Fallow field will get a
jolly good hiding; and vociferating that Beckley is seventy-nine ahead,
and that Nick Frim, the favourite of the field, has scored fifty-one to
his own cheek. The boys are boys of both villages: but they are British
boys--they adore prowess. The Fallow field boys wish that Nick Frim
would come and live on their side; the boys of Beckley rejoice in
possessing him. Nick is the wicketkeeper of the Beckley eleven; long-
limbed, wiry, keen of eye. His fault as a batsman is, that he will be a
slashing hitter. He is too sensible of the joys of a grand spanking hit.
A short life and a merry one, has hitherto been his motto.
But there were reasons for Nick's rare display of skill. That woman may
have the credit due to her (and, as there never was a contest of which
she did not sit at the springs, so is she the source of all superhuman
efforts exhibited by men), be it told that Polly Wheedle is on the field;
Polly, one of the upper housemaids of Beckley Court; Polly, eagerly
courted by Fred Linnington, humbly desired by Nick Frim--a pert and
blooming maiden--who, while her suitors combat hotly for an undivided
smile, improves her holiday by instilling similar unselfish aspirations
into the breasts of others.
Between his enjoyment of society and the melancholy it engendered in his
mind by reflecting on him the age and decrepitude of his hat, Mr. John
Raikes was doubtful of his happiness for some time. But as his taste for
happiness was sharp, he, with a great instinct amounting almost to genius
in its pursuit, resolved to extinguish his suspicion by acting the
perfectly happy man. To do this, it was necessary that he should have
listeners: Evan was not enough, and was besides unsympathetic; he had not
responded to Jack's cordial assurances of his friendship 'in spite of
anything,' uttered before they came into the field.
Heat and lustre were now poured from the sky, on whose soft blue a fleet
of clouds sailed heavily. Nick Frim was very wonderful, no doubt. He
deserved that the Gods should recline on those gold-edged cushions above,
and lean over to observe him. Nevertheless, the ladies were beginning to
ask when Nick Frim would be out. The small boys alone preserved their
enthusiasm for Nick. As usual, the men took a middle position. Theirs
was the pleasure of critics, which, being founded on the judgement, lasts
long, and is without disappointment at the close. It was sufficient that
the ladies should lend the inspiration of their bonnets to this fine
match. Their presence on the field is another beautiful instance of the
generous yielding of the sex simply to grace our amusement, and their
acute perception of the part they have to play.
Mr. Raikes was rather shy of them at first. But his acting rarely
failing to deceive himself, he began to feel himself the perfectly happy
man he impersonated, and where there were ladies he went, and talked of
days when he had creditably handled a bat, and of a renown in the annals
of Cricket cut short by mysterious calamity. The foolish fellow did not
know that they care not a straw for cricketing fame. His gaiety
presently forsook him as quickly as it had come. Instead of
remonstrating at Evan's restlessness, it was he who now dragged Evan from
spot to spot. He spoke low and nervously.
'We're watched !'
There was indeed a man lurking near and moving as they moved, with a
speculative air. Writs were out against Raikes. He slipped from his
'Never mind me. That old amphitryon's birthday hangs on till the
meridian; you understand. His table invites. He is not unlikely to
enjoy my conversation. What mayn't that lead to? Seek me there.'
Evan strolled on, relieved by the voluntary departure of the weariful
funny friend he would not shake off, but could not well link with.
A long success is better when seen at a distance of time, and Nick Frim
was beginning to suffer from the monotony of his luck. Fallow field
could do nothing with him. He no longer blocked. He lashed out at every
ball, and far flew every ball that was bowled. The critics saw, in this
return to his old practices, promise of Nick's approaching extinction.
The ladies were growing hot and weary. The little boys gasped on the
grass, but like cunning circulators of excitement, spread a report to
keep it up, that Nick, on going to his wickets the previous day, had
sworn an oath that he would not lay down his bat till he had scored a
So they had still matter to agitate their youthful breasts, and Nick's
gradual building up of tens, and prophecies and speculations as to his
chances of completing the hundred, were still vehemently confided to the
field, amid a general mopping of faces.
Evan did become aware that a man was following him. The man had not the
look of a dreaded official. His countenance was sun-burnt and open, and
he was dressed in a countryman's holiday suit. When Evan met his eyes,
they showed perplexity. Evan felt he was being examined from head to
heel, but by one unaccustomed to his part, and without the courage to
decide what he ought consequently to do while a doubt remained, though
his inspection was verging towards a certainty in his mind.
At last, somewhat annoyed that the man should continue to dog him
wherever he moved, he turned on him and asked him what he wanted?
'Be you a Muster Eav'n Harrington, Esquire?' the man drawled out in the
rustic music of inquiry.
'That is my name,' said Evan.
'Ay,' returned the man, 'it's somebody lookin' like a lord, and has a
small friend wi' shockin' old hat, and I see ye come out o' the Green
Drag'n this mornin'--I don't reck'n there's e'er a mistaak, but I likes
to make cock sure. Be you been to Poortigal, sir?'
'Yes,' answered Evan, 'I have been to Poortigal.'
'What's the name o' the capital o' Portugal, sir?' The man looked
immensely shrewd, and nodding his consent at the laughing reply, added:
'And there you was born, sir? You'll excuse my boldness, but I only does
Evan said he was not born there.
'No, not born there. That's good. Now, sir, did you happen to be born
anywheres within smell o' salt water?'
'Yes,' answered Evan, 'I was born by the sea.'
'Not far beyond fifty mile from Fall'field here, sir?'
'All right. Now I'm cock sure,' said the man. 'Now, if you'll have the
kindness just to oblige me by--'he sped the words and the instrument
jointly at Evan, takin' that there letter, I'll say good-bye, sir, and my
work's done for the day.'
Saying which, he left Evan with the letter in his hands. Evan turned it
over curiously. It was addressed to 'Evan Harrington, Esquire, T---- of
A voice paralyzed his fingers: the clear ringing voice of a young
horsewoman, accompanied by a little maid on a pony, who galloped up to
the carriage upon which Squire Uplift, Sir George Lowton, Hamilton
Jocelyn, and other cavaliers, were in attendance.
'Here I am at last, and Beckley's in still! How d' ye do, Lady Racial?
How d' ye do, Sir George. How d' ye do, everybody. Your servant,
Squire! We shall beat you. Harry says we shall soon be a hundred a-head
of you. Fancy those boys! they would sleep at Fallow field last night.
How I wish you had made a bet with me, Squire.'
'Well, my lass, it's not too late,' said the Squire, detaining her hand.
'Oh, but it wouldn't be fair now. And I'm not going to be kissed on the
field, if you please, Squire. Here, Dorry will do instead. Dorry !
come and be kissed by the Squire.'
It was Rose, living and glowing; Rose, who was the brilliant young
Amazon, smoothing the neck of a mettlesome gray cob. Evan's heart
bounded up to her, but his limbs were motionless.
The Squire caught her smaller companion in his arms, and sounded a kiss
upon both her cheeks; then settled her in the saddle, and she went to
answer some questions of the ladies. She had the same lively eyes as
Rose; quick saucy lips, red, and open for prattle. Rolls of auburn hair
fell down her back, for being a child she was allowed privileges. To
talk as her thoughts came, as well as to wear her hair as it grew, was a
special privilege of this young person, on horseback or elsewhere.
'Now, I know what you want to ask me, Aunt Shorne. Isn't it about my
Papa? He's not come, and he won't be able to come for a week.--Glad to
be with Cousin Rosey? I should think I am! She's the nicest girl I ever
could suppose. She isn't a bit spoiled by Portugal; only browned; and
she doesn't care for that; no more do I. I rather like the sun when it
doesn't freckle you. I can't bear freckles, and I don't believe in milk
for them. People who have them are such a figure. Drummond Forth has
them, but he's a man, and it doesn't matter for a man to have freckles.
How's my uncle Mel? Oh, he's quite well. I mean he has the gout in one
of his fingers, and it's swollen so, it's just like a great fat fir cone!
He can't write a bit, and rests his hand on a table. He wants to have me
made to write with my left hand as well as my right. As if I was ever
going to have the gout in one of my fingers!'
Sir George Lowton observed to Hamilton Jocelyn, that Melville must take
to his tongue now.
'I fancy he will,' said Hamilton. 'My father won't give up his nominee;
so I fancy he'll try Fallow field. Of course, we go in for the
agricultural interest; but there's a cantankerous old ruffian down here--
a brewer, or something--he's got half the votes at his bidding. We shall
'Dorothy, my dear child, are you not tired?' said Lady Racial. 'You are
'Yes, that's because Rose would tear along the road to get here in time,
after we had left those tiresome Copping people, where she had to make a
call. "What a slow little beast your pony is, Dorry!"--she said that at
least twenty times.'
'Oh, you naughty puss!' cried Rose. 'Wasn't it, "Rosey, Rosey, I'm sure
we shall be too late, and shan't see a thing: do come along as hard as
'I 'm sure it was not,' Miss Dorothy retorted, with the large eyes of
innocence. 'You said you wanted to see Nick Frim keeping the wicket, and
Ferdinand Laxley bowl. And, oh! you know something you said about
'Now, shall I tell upon you?' said Rose.
'No, don't!' hastily replied the little woman, blushing. And the
cavaliers laughed out, and the ladies smiled, and Dorothy added: 'It
isn't much, after all.'
'Then, come; let's have it, or I shall be jealous,' said the Squire.
'Shall I tell?' Rose asked slily.
'It 's unfair to betray one of your sex, Rose,' remarked the sweetly-
'Yes, Lady Racial--mayn't a woman have secrets?' Dorothy put it with
great natural earnestness, and they all laughed aloud. 'But I know a
secret of Rosey's,' continued Miss Dorothy, 'and if she tells upon me,
I shall tell upon her.'
'They're out!' cried Rose, pointing her whip at the wickets. 'Good night
to Beckley! Tom Copping 's run out.'
Questions as to how it was done passed from mouth to mouth. Questions as
to whether it was fair sprang from Tom's friends, and that a doubt
existed was certain: the whole field was seen converging toward the two
Farmer Broadmead for Fallow field, Master Nat Hodges for Beckley.
It really is a mercy there's some change in the game,' said Mrs. Shorne,
waving her parasol. 'It 's a charming game, but it wants variety a
little. When do you return, Rose?'
'Not for some time,' said Rose, primly. 'I like variety very well, but I
don't seek it by running away the moment I've come.'
'No, but, my dear,' Mrs. Shorne negligently fanned her face, 'you will
have to come with us, I fear, when we go. Your uncle accompanies us.
I really think the Squire will, too; and Mr. Forth is no chaperon. Even
you understand that.'
'Oh, I can get an old man--don't be afraid, said Rose. 'Or must I have
and old woman, aunt?'
The lady raised her eyelids slowly on Rose, and thought: ' If you were
soundly whipped, my little madam, what a good thing it would be for you.'
And that good thing Mrs. Shorne was willing to do for Rose. She turned
aside, and received the salute of and unmistakable curate on foot.
'Ah, Mr. Parsley, you lend your countenance to the game, then?'
The curate observed that sound Churchmen unanimously supported the game.
'Bravo!' cried Rose. 'How I like to hear you talk like that, Mr.
Parsley. I didn't think you had so much sense. You and I will have a
game together--single wicket. We must play for something--what shall it
'Oh--for nothing,' the curate vacuously remarked.
'That's for love, you rogue!' exclaimed the Squire. 'Come, come, none o'
that, sir--ha! ha!'
'Oh, very well; we'll play for love,' said Rose.