Part 2 out of 2
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.
'And I'll hold the stakes, my dear--eh?'
'You dear old naughty Squire!--what do you mean?'
Rose laughed. But she had all the men surrounding her, and Mrs. Shorne
talked of departing.
Why did not Evan bravely march away? Why, he asked himself, had he come
on this cricket-field to be made thus miserable? What right had such as
he to look on Rose? Consider, however, the young man's excuses. He
could not possibly imagine that a damsel who rode one day to a match,
would return on the following day to see it finished: or absolutely know
that unseen damsel to be Rose Jocelyn. And if he waited, it was only to
hear her sweet voice once again, and go for ever. As far as he could
fathom his hopes, they were that Rose would not see him: but the hopes of
youth are deep.
Just then a toddling small rustic stopped in front of Evan, and set up a
howl for his 'fayther.' Evan lifted him high to look over people's heads,
and discover his wandering parent. The urchin, when he had settled to
his novel position, surveyed the field, and shouting, 'Fayther, fayther !
here I bes on top of a gentleman! made lusty signs, which attracted not
his father alone. Rose sang out, 'Who can lend me a penny?' Instantly
the curate and the squire had a race in their pockets. The curate was
first, but Rose favoured the squire, took his money with a nod and a
smile, and rode at the little lad, to whom she was saying: 'Here, bonny
boy, this will buy you--'
She stopped and coloured.
The child descended rapidly to the ground.
A bow and a few murmured words replied to her.
'Isn't this just like you, my dear Evan? Shouldn't I know that whenever
I met you, you would be doing something kind? How did you come here?
You were on your way to Beckley!'
'To London,' said Evan.
'To London! and not coming over to see me--us?'
Here the little fellow's father intervened to claim his offspring, and
thank the lady and the gentleman: and, with his penny firmly grasped, he
who had brought the lady and the gentleman together, was borne off a
wealthy human creature.
Before much further could be said between them, the Countess de Saldar
'My dearest Rose!' and 'My dear Countess!' and 'Not Louisa, then?' and,
'I am very glad to see you!' without attempting the endearing ' Louisa'-
The Countess de Saldar then admitted the presence of her brother.
'Think !' said Rose. 'He talks of going on straight from here to
'That pretty pout will alone suffice to make him deviate, then,' said the
Countess, with her sweetest open slyness. 'I am now on the point of
accepting your most kind invitation. Our foreign habits allow us to
visit thus early! He will come with me.'
Evan tried to look firm, and speak as he was trying to look. Rose fell
to entreaty, and from entreaty rose to command; and in both was utterly
fascinating to the poor youth. Luxuriously--while he hesitated and dwelt
on this and that faint objection--his spirit drank the delicious changes
of her face. To have her face before him but one day seemed so rich a
boon to deny himself, that he was beginning to wonder at his constancy in
refusal; and now that she spoke to him so pressingly, devoting her
guileless eyes to him alone, he forgot a certain envious feeling that had
possessed him while she was rattling among the other males--a doubt
whether she ever cast a thought on Mr. Evan Harrington.
'Yes; he will come,' cried Rose; 'and he shall ride home with me and my
friend Drummond; and he shall have my groom's horse, if he doesn't mind.
Bob can ride home in the cart with Polly, my maid; and he'll like that,
because Polly's always good fun--when they're not in love with her.
Then, of course, she torments them.'
'Naturally,' said the Countess.
Mr. Evan Harrington's final objection, based on his not having clothes,
and so forth, was met by his foreseeing sister.
'I have your portmanteau packed, in with me, my dear brother; Conning has
her feet on it. I divined that I should overtake you.'
Evan felt he was in the toils. After a struggle or two he yielded; and,
having yielded, did it with grace. In a moment, and with a power of
self-compression equal to that of the adept Countess, he threw off his
moodiness as easily as if it had been his Spanish mantle, and assumed a
gaiety that made the Countess's eyes beam rapturously upon him, and was
pleasing to Rose, apart from the lead in admiration the Countess had
given her--not for the first time. We mortals, the best of us, may be
silly sheep in our likes and dislikes: where there is no premeditated or
instinctive antagonism, we can be led into warm acknowledgement of merits
we have not sounded. This the Countess de Saldar knew right well.
Rose now intimated her wish to perform the ceremony of introduction
between her aunt and uncle present, and the visitors to Beckley Court.
The Countess smiled, and in the few paces that separated the two groups,
whispered to her brother: 'Miss Jocelyn, my dear.'
The eye-glasses of the Beckley group were dropped with one accord. The
ceremony was gone through. The softly-shadowed differences of a grand
manner addressed to ladies, and to males, were exquisitely accomplished
by the Countess de Saldar.
'Harrington? Harrington?' her quick ear caught on the mouth of Squire
Uplift, scanning Evan.
Her accent was very foreign, as she said aloud: 'We are entirely
strangers to your game--your creecket. My brother and myself are
scarcely English. Nothing save diplomacy are we adepts in!'
'You must be excessively dangerous, madam,' said Sir George, hat in air.
'Even in that, I fear, we are babes and sucklings, and might take many a
lesson from you. Will you instruct me in your creecket? What are they
doing now? It seems very unintelligible--indistinct--is it not?'
Inasmuch as Farmer Broadmead and Master Nat Hodges were surrounded by a
clamorous mob, shouting both sides of the case, as if the loudest and
longest-winded were sure to wrest a favourable judgement from those two
infallible authorities on the laws of cricket, the noble game was
certainly in a state of indistinctness.
The squire came forward to explain, piteously entreated not to expect too
much from a woman's inapprehensive wits, which he plainly promised (under
eyes that had melted harder men) he would not. His forbearance and
bucolic gallantry were needed, for he had the Countess's radiant full
visage alone. Her senses were dancing in her right ear, which had heard
the name of Lady Racial pronounced, and a voice respond to it from the
Into what a pit had she suddenly plunged! You ask why she did not drive
away as fast as the horses would carry her, and fly the veiled head of
Demogorgon obscuring valley and hill and the shining firmament, and
threatening to glare destruction on her? You do not know an intriguer.
She relinquishes the joys of life for the joys of intrigue. This is her
element. The Countess did feel that the heavens were hard on her. She
resolved none the less to fight her way to her object; for where so much
had conspired to favour her--the decease of the generous Sir Abraham
Harrington, of Torquay, and the invitation to Beckley Court--could she
believe the heavens in league against her? Did she not nightly pray to
them, in all humbleness of body, for the safe issue of her cherished
schemes? And in this, how unlike she was to the rest of mankind! She
thought so; she relied on her devout observances; they gave her sweet
confidence, and the sense of being specially shielded even when specially
menaced. Moreover, tell a woman to put back, when she is once clearly
launched! Timid as she may be, her light bark bounds to meet the
tempest. I speak of women who do launch: they are not numerous, but,
to the wise, the minorities are the representatives.
'Indeed, it is an intricate game!' said the Countess, at the conclusion
of the squire's explanation, and leaned over to Mrs. Shorne to ask her if
she thoroughly understood it.
'Yes, I suppose I do,' was the reply; 'it--rather than the amusement they
find in it.' This lady had recovered Mr. Parsley from Rose, but had only
succeeded in making the curate unhappy, without satisfying herself.
The Countess gave her the shrug of secret sympathy.
'We must not say so,' she observed aloud--most artlessly, and fixed the
squire with a bewitching smile, under which her heart beat thickly. As
her eyes travelled from Mrs. Shorne to the squire, she had marked Lady
Racial looking singularly at Evan, who was mounting the horse of Bob the
'Fine young fellow, that,' said the squire to Lady Racial, as Evan rode
off with Rose.
'An extremely handsome, well-bred young man,' she answered. Her eyes met
the Countess's, and the Countess, after resting on their surface with an
ephemeral pause, murmured: 'I must not praise my brother,' and smiled a
smile which was meant to mean: 'I think with you, and thank you, and love
you for admiring him.'
Had Lady Racial joined the smile and spoken with animation afterwards,
the Countess would have shuddered and had chills of dread. As it was,
she was passably content. Lady Racial slightly dimpled her cheek, for
courtesy's sake, and then looked gravely on the ground. This was no
promise; it was even an indication (as the Countess read her), of
something beyond suspicion in the lady's mind; but it was a sign of
delicacy, and a sign that her feelings had been touched, from which a
truce might be reckoned on, and no betrayal feared.
She heard it said that the match was for honour and glory. A match of
two days' duration under a broiling sun, all for honour and glory! Was
it not enough to make her despise the games of men? For something better
she played. Her game was for one hundred thousand pounds, the happiness
of her brother, and the concealment of a horror. To win a game like that
was worth the trouble. Whether she would have continued her efforts,
had she known that the name of Evan Harrington was then blazing on a
shop-front in Lymport, I cannot tell. The possessor of the name was in
love, and did not reflect.
Smiling adieu to the ladies, bowing to the gentlemen, and apprehending
all the homage they would pour out to her condescending beauty when she
had left them, the Countess's graceful hand gave the signal for Beckley.
She stopped the coachman ere the wheels had rolled off the muffling turf,
to enjoy one glimpse of Evan and Rose riding together, with the little
maid on her pony in the rear. How suitable they seemed! how happy! She
had brought them together after many difficulties--might it not be? It
was surely a thing to be hoped for!
Rose, galloping freshly, was saying to Evan: 'Why did you cut off your
He, neck and neck with her, replied: 'You complained of it in Portugal.'
And she: 'Portugal's old times now to me--and I always love old times.
I'm sorry! And, oh, Evan! did you really do it for me?'
And really, just then, flying through the air, close to the darling of
his heart, he had not the courage to spoil that delicious question, but
dallying with the lie, he looked in her eyes lingeringly.
This picture the Countess contemplated. Close to her carriage two young
gentlemen-cricketers were strolling, while Fallow field gained breath to
decide which men to send in first to the wickets.
One of these stood suddenly on tiptoe, and pointing to the pair on
horseback, cried, with the vivacity of astonishment:
'Look there! do you see that? What the deuce is little Rosey doing with
The Countess, though her cheeks were blanched, gazed calmly in
Demogorgon's face, took a mental impression of the speaker, and again
signalled for Beckley.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Adept in the lie implied
Commencement of a speech proves that you have made the plunge
Forty seconds too fast, as if it were a capital offence
Friend he would not shake off, but could not well link with
Habit, what a sacred and admirable thing it is
He grunted that a lying clock was hateful to him
He had his character to maintain
I 'm a bachelor, and a person--you're married, and an object
I take off my hat, Nan, when I see a cobbler's stall
Incapable of putting the screw upon weak excited nature
It's a fool that hopes for peace anywhere
Men do not play truant from home at sixty years of age
No great harm done when you're silent
Taking oath, as it were, by their lower nature
Tears that dried as soon as they had served their end
That beautiful trust which habit gives
That plain confession of a lack of wit; he offered combat
The ass eats at my table, and treats me with contempt
The grey furniture of Time for his natural wear
You're the puppet of your women!
What's an eccentric? a child grown grey!