Part 1 out of 3
Edited by Charles Aldarondo Aldarondo@yahoo.com
BY E. NESBIT
THESE tales are written in an English dialect--none the less a
dialect for that it lacks uniformity in the misplacement of
aspirates, and lacks, too, strange words misunderstanded of the
In South Kent villages with names ending in 'den,' and out away on
the Sussex downs where villages end in 'hurst,' live the plain
people who talk this plain speech--a speech that should be sweeter
in English ears than the implacable consonants of a northern
kail-yard, or the soft one-vowelled talk of western hillsides.
All through the summer nights the market carts creak along the
London road; to London go the wild young man and the steady young
man who 'betters' himself. To London goes the girl seeking a
'place.' The 'beano' comes very near to this land--so near that
across its marches you may hear the sackbut and shawm from the
breaks. Once a year come the hoppers. And so the cup of the hills
holds no untroubled pool of pastoral speech. This book therefore
is of no value to a Middle English scholar, and needs no glossary.
KENT, _March_ 1896.
THE BRISTOL BOWL 1
BARRING THE WAY 24
GRANDSIRE TRIPLES 38
A DEATH-BED CONFESSION 58
HER MARRIAGE LINES 75
ACTING FOR THE BEST 104
SON AND HEIR 146
ONE WAY OF LOVE 160
COALS OF FIRE 170
THE BRISTOL BOWL
MY cousin Sarah and me had only one aunt between us, and that was my
Aunt Maria, who lived in the little cottage up by the church.
Now my aunt had a tidy little bit of money laid by, which she
couldn't in reason expect to carry with her when her time came to
go, wherever it was she might go to, and a houseful of furniture,
old-fashioned, but strong and good still. So of course Sarah and I
were not behindhand in going up to see the old lady, and taking her
a pot or so of jam in fruiting season, or a turnover, maybe, on a
baking-day, if the oven had been steady and the baking turned out
well. And you couldn't have told from aunt's manner which of us she
liked best; and there were some folks who thought she might leave
half to me and half to Sarah, for she hadn't chick nor child of her
But aunt was of a having nature, and what she had once got together
she couldn't bear to see scattered. Even if it was only what she had
got in her rag-bag, she would give it to one person to make a big
quilt of, rather than give it to two persons to make two little
So Sarah and me, we knew that the money might come to either or
neither of us, but go to both it wouldn't.
Now, some people don't believe in special mercies, but I have always
thought there must have been something out of the common way for
things to happen as they did the day Aunt Maria sprained her ankle.
She sent over to the farm where we were living with my mother (who
was a sensible woman, and carried on the farm much better than most
men would have done, though that's neither here nor there) to ask if
Sarah or me could be spared to go and look after her a bit, for the
doctor said she couldn't put her foot to the ground for a week or
Now, the minister I sit under always warns us against superstition,
which, I take it, means believing more than you have any occasion
to. And I'm not more given to it than most folks, but still I always
have said, and I always shall say, that there's a special Providence
above us, and it wasn't for nothing that Sarah was laid up with a
quinsy that very morning. So I put a few things together--in Sarah's
hat-tin, I remember, which was handier to carry than my own--and I
went up to the cottage.
Aunt was in bed, and whether it was the sprained ankle or the hot
weather I don't know, but the old lady was cantankerous past all
'Good-morning, aunt,' I said, when I went in, 'and however did this
'Oh, you've come, have you?' she said, without answering my
question, 'and brought enough luggage to last you a year, I'll be
bound. When I was young, a girl could go to spend a week without
nonsense of boxes or the like. A clean shift and a change of
stockings done up in a cotton handkerchief--that was good enough for
us. But now, you girls must all be young ladies. I've no patience
I didn't answer back, for answering back is a poor sort of business
when the other person is able to make you pay for every idle word.
Of course, it's different if you haven't anything to lose by it. So
I just said--
'Never mind, aunt dear. I really haven't brought much; and what
would you like me to do first?'
'I should think you'd see for yourself,' says she, thumping her
pillows, 'that there's not a stick in the house been dusted yet--no,
nor a stair swep'.'
So I set to to clean the house, which was cleaner than most people's
already, and I got a nice bit of dinner and took it up on a tray.
But no, that wasn't right, for I'd put the best instead of the
second-best cloth on the tray.
'The workhouse is where you'll end,' says aunt.
But she ate up all the dinner, and after that she seemed to get a
little easier in her temper, and by-and-by fell off to sleep.
I finished the stairs and tidied up the kitchen, and then I went to
dust the parlour.
Now, my aunt's parlour was a perfect moral. I have never seen its
like before or since. The mantelpiece and the corner cupboard, and
the shelves behind the door, and the top of the chest of drawers and
the bureau were all covered up with a perfect litter and lurry of
old china. Not sets of anything, but different basins and jugs and
cups and plates and china spoons and the bust of John Wesley and
Elijah feeding the ravens in a red gown and standing on a green
crockery grass plot.
There was every kind of china uselessness that you could think of;
and Sarah and I used to think it hard that a girl had no chance of
getting on in life without she dusted all this rubbish once a week
at the least.
'Well, the sooner begun the sooner ended,' says I to myself So I
took the silk handkerchief that aunt kep' a purpose--an old one it
was that had belonged to uncle, and hemmed with aunt's own hair and
marked with his name in the corner. (Folks must have had a deal of
time in those days, I often think.) And I began to dust the things,
beginning with the big bowl on the chest of drawers, for aunt always
would have everything done just one way and no other.
You think, perhaps, that I might as well have sat down in the
arm-chair and had a quiet nap and told aunt afterwards that I had
dusted everything; but you must know she was quite equivalent to
asking any of the neighbours who might drop in whether that dratted
china of hers was dusted properly.
It was a hot afternoon, and I was tired and a bit cross.
'Aunts, and uncles, and grandmothers,' thinks I to myself. 'O what a
stupid old lot they must have been to have set such store by all
this gimcrackery! Oh, if only a bull or something could get in here
for five minutes and smash every precious--oh, my cats alive!'
I don't know how I did it, but just as I was saying that about the
bull, the big bowl slipped from my hands and broke in three pieces
on the floor at my feet, and at the same moment I heard aunt thump,
thump, thumping with the heel of her boot on the floor for me to go
up and tell her what I had broken. I tell you I wished from my heart
at that moment that it was me that had had the quinsy instead of
I was so knocked all of a heap that I couldn't move, and the boot
went on thump, thump, thumping overhead. I had to go, but I was
flustered to that degree that as I went up the stairs I couldn't for
the life of me think what I should say.
Aunt was sitting up in bed, and she shook her fist at me when I went
'Out with it!' she said. 'Speak the truth. Which of them is it? The
yallar china dish, or the big teapot, or the Wedgwood tobaccojar
that belonged to your grandfather?'
And then all in a minute I knew what to say. The words seemed to be
put into my mouth, like they were into the prophets of old.
'Lord, aunt!' I said, 'you give me quite a turn, battering on the
floor that way. What do you want? What is it?'
'What have you broken, you wicked, heartless girl? Out with it,
'Broken?' I says. 'Well, I hope you won't mind much, aunt, but I
have had a misfortune with the little cracked pie-dish that the
potatopie was baked in; but I can easy get you another down at
Aunt fell back on her pillows with a sort of groan.
'Thank them as be!' she said, and then she sat up again, bolt
upright all in a minute.
'You fetch me the pieces,' she says, short and sharp.
I hope it isn't boastful to say that I don't think many girls would
have had the sense to bring up that dish in their apron and to break
it on their knee as they came up the stairs, and take it in and show
it to her.
'Don't say another word about it,' says my aunt, as kind and hearty
as you please.
Things not being as bad as she expected, it made her quite willing
to put up with things being a bit worse than they had been five
minutes before. I've often noticed it is this way with people.
'You're a good girl, Jane,' she says, 'a very good girl, and I
shan't forget it, my dear. Go on down, now, and make haste with your
washing up, and get to work dusting the china.'
And it was such a weight off my mind to feel that she didn't know,
that I felt as if everything was all right until I got downstairs
and see those three pieces of that red and yellow and green and blue
basin lying on the carpet as I had left them. My heart beat fit to
knock me down, but I kept my wits about me, and I stuck it together
with white of egg, and put it back in its place on the wool mat with
the little teapot on top of it so that no one could have noticed
that there was anything wrong with it unless they took the thing up
in their hands.
The next three days I waited on aunt hand and foot, and did
everything she asked, and she was as pleased as pleased, till I felt
that Sarah hadn't a chance.
On the third day I told aunt that mother would want me, it being
Saturday, and she was quite willing for the Widow Gladish to come in
and do for her while I was away. I chose a Saturday because that and
Sunday were the only days the china wasn't dusted.
I went home as quick as I could, and I told mother all about it.
'And don't you, for any sake, tell Sarah a word about it, or quinsy
or no quinsy, she'll be up at aunt's before we know where we are, to
let the cat out of the bag.'
I took all the money out of my money-box that I had saved up for
starting housekeeping with in case aunt should leave her money to
Sarah, and I put it in my pocket, and I took the first train to
I asked the porter at the station to tell me the way to the best
china-shop in London; and he told me there was one in Queen Victoria
Street. So I went there.
It was a beautiful place, with velvet sofas for people to sit down
on while they looked at the china and glass and chose which pattern
they would have; and there were thousands of basins far more
beautiful than aunt's, but not one like hers, and when I had looked
over some fifty of them, the gentleman who was showing them to me
'Perhaps you could give me some idea of what it is you do want?'
Now, I had brought one of the pieces of the bowl up with me, the
piece at the back where it didn't show, and I pulled it out and
showed it to him.
'I want one like this,' I said.
'Oh!' said he, 'why didn't you say so at first? We don't keep that
sort of thing here, and it's a chance if you get it at all. You
might in Wardour Street, or at Mr. Aked's in Green Street, Leicester
Well, time was getting on and I did a thing I had never done before,
though I had often read of it in the novelettes. I waved my umbrella
and I got into a hansom cab.
'Young man,' I said, 'will you please drive to Mr. Aked's in Green
Street, Leicester Square? and drive careful, young man, for I have a
piece of china in my hands that's worth a fortune to me.'
So he grinned and I got in and the cab started. A hansom cab is
better than any carriage you ever rode in, with soft cushions to
lean against and little looking-glasses to look at yourself in, and,
somehow, you don't hear the wheels. I leaned back and looked at
myself and felt like a duchess, for I had my new hat and mantle on,
and I knew I looked nice by the way the young men on the tops of the
omnibuses looked at me and smiled. It was a lovely drive. When we
got to Mr. Aked's, which looked to me more like a rag-and-bone shop
than anything else, and very poor after the beautiful place in Queen
Victoria Street, I got out and went in.
An old gentleman came towards me and asked what he could do for me,
and he looked surprised, as though he wasn't used to see such smart
girls in his pokey old shop.
'Please, sir,' I said, 'I want a bowl like this, if you have got
such a thing among your old odds and ends.'
He took the piece of china and looked at it through his glasses for
a minute. Then he gave it back to me very carefully.
'There's not a piece of this ware in the market. The few specimens
extant are in private collections.'
'Oh dear,' I said; 'and can't I get another like it?'
'Not if you were to offer me a hundred pounds down,' said the old
I couldn't help it. I sat down on the nearest chair and began to
cry, for it seemed as if all my hopes of Aunt Maria's money were
fading away like the 'roseate hues of early dawn' in the hymn.
'Come, come,' said he, 'what's the matter? Cheer up. I suppose
you're in service and you've broken this bowl. Isn't that it? But
never mind--your mistress can't do anything to you. Servants can't
be made to replace valuable bowls like this.'
That dried my eyes pretty quick, I can tell you.
'Me in service!' I said. 'And my grandfather farming his own land
before you were picked out of the gutter, I'll be bound'--God
forgive me that I should say such a thing to an old man--'and my own
aunt with a better lot of fal-lals and trumpery in her parlour than
you've got in all your shop.'
With that he laughed, and I flounced out of the shop, my cheeks
flaming and my heart going like an eight-day clock. I was so
flustered I didn't notice that some one came out of the shop after
me, and I had walked a dozen yards down the street before I saw that
some one was alongside of me and saying something to me.
It was another old gentleman--at least, not so old as Mr. Aked,--and
I remembered now having seen him at the back of the shop. He was
taking off his hat, as polite as you please.
'You're quite overcome,' he said, 'and no wonder. Come and have a
little dinner with me quietly somewhere, and tell me all about it.'
'I don't want any dinner,' I said; 'I want to go and drown myself,
for it's all over, and I've nothing more to look for. My brother
Harry will have the farm, and I shan't get a penny of aunt's money.
Why couldn't they have made plenty of the ugly old basins while they
were about it?'
'Come and have some dinner,' the old gentleman said again, 'and
perhaps I can help you. I have a basin just like that.'
So I did. We went to some place where there were a lot of little
tables and waiters in black clothes; and we had a nice dinner, and I
did feel better for it, and when we had come to the cheese, I told
him exactly what had happened; and he leaned his head on his hands,
and he thought, and thought, and presently he said--
'Do you think your aunt would sell any of her china?'
'That I'm downright sure she wouldn't,' I said; 'so it's no good
'Well, you see, your aunt won't be down for three or four days yet.
You give me your address, and I'll write and tell you if I think of
And with that he paid the bill and had a cab called, and put me in
it and paid the driver, and I went along home.
I didn't sleep much that night, and next day I was thinking all
sermon-time of whatever I could do, for it wasn't in nature that my
aunt would not find me out before another two days was over my head;
and she had never been so nice and kind, and had even gone so far as
'Whoever my money's left to, Jane, will be bound not to part with my
china, nor my old chairs and presses. Don't you forget, my child.
It's all written in black and white, and if the person my money's
left to sells these old things, my money goes along too.'
There was no letter on Monday morning, and I was up to my elbows in
the suds, doing aunt's bit of washing for her, when I heard a step
on the brick path, and there was that old gentleman coming round by
the water-butt to the back-door.
'Well?' says he. 'Anything fresh happened?
'For any sake,' says I in a whisper, 'get out of this. She'll hear
if I say more than two words to you. If you've thought of anything
that's to be of any use, get along to the church porch, and I'll be
with you as soon as I can get these things through the rinse-water
and out on the line.'
'But,' he says in a whisper, 'just let me into the parlour for five
minutes, to have a look round and see what the rest of the bowl is
Then I thought of all the stories I had heard of pedlars' packs, and
a married lady taken unexpectedly, and tricks like that to get into
the house when no one was about. So I thought--
'Well, if you are to go in, I must go in with you,' and I squeezed
my hands out of the suds, and rolled them into my apron and went in,
and him after me.
You never see a man go on as he did. It's my belief he was hours in
that room, going round and round like a squirrel in a cage, picking
up first one bit of trumpery and then another, with two fingers and
a thumb, as carefully as if it had been a _tulle_ bonnet just home
from the draper's, and setting everything down on the very exact
spot he took them up from.
More than once I thought that I had entertained a loony unawares,
when I saw him turn up the cups and plates and look twice as long at
the bottoms of them as he had at the pretty parts that were meant to
show, and all the time he kept saying--'Unique, by Gad, perfectly
unique!' or 'Bristol, as I'm a sinner,' and when he came to the
large blue dish that stands at the back of the bureau, I thought he
would have gone down on his knees to it and worshipped it.
'Square-marked Worcester!' he said to himself in a whisper, speaking
very slowly, as if the words were pleasant in his mouth,
'Square-marked Worcester--an eighteen-inch dish!'
I had as much trouble getting him out of that parlour as you would
have getting a cow out of a clover-patch, and every minute I was
afraid aunt would hear him, or hear the china rattle or something;
but he never rattled a bit, bless you, but was as quiet as a mouse,
and as for carefulness he was like a woman with her first baby. I
didn't dare ask him anything for fear he should answer too loud, and
by-and-by he went up to the church porch and waited for me.
He had a brown-paper parcel with him, a big one, and I thought to
myself, 'Suppose he's brought his bowl and is wishful to sell it.' I
got those things through the blue-water pretty quick, I can tell
you. I often wish I could get a maid who would work as fast as I
used to when I was a girl. Then I ran up and asked aunt if she could
spare me to run down to the shop for some sago, and I put on my
sunbonnet and ran up, just as I was, to the church porch. The old
gentleman was skipping with impatience. I've heard of people
skipping with impatience, but I never saw any one do it before.
'Now, look here,' he said, 'I want you--I must--oh, I don't know
which way to begin, I have so many things to say. I want to see your
aunt, and ask her to let me buy her china.'
'You may save your trouble,' I said, 'for she'll never do it. She's
left her china to me in her will,' I said.
Not that I was quite sure of it, but still I was sure enough to say
so. The old gentleman put down his brown-paper parcel on the porch
seat as careful as if it had been a sick child, and said--
'But your aunt won't leave you anything if she knows you have broken
the bowl, will she?'
'No,' I said, 'she won't, that's true, and you can tell her if you
like.' For I knew very well he wouldn't.
'Well,' says he, speaking very slowly, 'if I lent you my bowl, you
could pretend it's hers and she'll never know the difference, for
they are as like as two peas. I can tell the difference, of course,
but then I'm a collector. If I lend you the bowl, will you promise
and vow in writing, and sign it with your name, to sell all that
china to me directly it comes into your possession? Good gracious,
girl, it will be hundreds of pounds in your pocket.'
That was a sad moment for me. I might have taken the bowl and
promised and vowed, and then when the china came to me I might have
told him I hadn't the power to sell it; but that wouldn't have
looked well if any one had come to know of it. So I just said
'The only condition of my having my aunt's money is, that I never
part with the china.'
He was silent a minute, looking out of the porch at the green trees
waving about in the sunshine over the gravestones, and then he
'Look here, you seem an honourable girl. I am a collector. I buy
china and keep it in cases and look at it, and it's more to me than
meat, or drink, or wife, or child, or fire--do you understand? And I
can no more bear to think of that china being lost to the world in a
cottage instead of being in my collection than you can bear to think
of your aunt's finding out about the bowl, and leaving the money to
your cousin Sarah.'
Of course, I knew by that that he had been gossiping in the village.
'Well?' I said, for I saw that he had something more on his mind.
'I'm an old man,' he went on, 'but that need not stand in the way.
Rather the contrary, for I shall be less trouble to you than a young
husband. Will you marry me out of hand? And then when your aunt dies
the china will be mine, and you will be well provided for.'
No one but a madman would have made such an offer, but that wasn't a
reason for me to refuse it. I pretended to think a bit, but my mind
was made up.
'And the bowl?' I said.
'Of course I'll lend you my bowl, and you shall give me the pieces
of the old one. Lord Worsley's specimen has twenty-five rivets in
'Well, sir,' I said, 'it seems to be a way out of it that might suit
both of us. So, if you'll speak to mother, and if your circumstances
is as you represent, I'll accept your offer, and I'll be your good
And then I went back to aunt and told her Wilkinses was out of sago,
but they would have some in on Wednesday.
It was all right about the bowl. She never noticed the difference. I
was married to the old gentleman, whose name was Fytche, the next
week by special licence at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria
Street, which is very near that beautiful glass and china shop where
I had tried to match the bowl; and my aunt died three months later
and left me everything. Sarah married in quite a poor way. That
quinsy of hers cost her dear.
Mr. Fytche was very well off, and I should have liked living at his
house well enough if it hadn't been for the china. The house was
cram full of it, and he could think of nothing else. No more going
out to dinner; no amusements; nothing as a girl like me had a right
to look for. So one day I told him straight out I thought he had
better give up collecting and sell aunt's things, and we would buy a
nice little place in the country with the money.
'But, my dear,' he said, 'you can't sell your aunt's china. She left
it stated expressly in her will.'
And he rubbed his hands and chuckled, for he thought he had got me
'No, but you can,' I said, 'the china is yours now. I know enough
about law to know that; and you can sell it, and you shall.'
And so he did, whether it was law or not, for you can make a man do
anything if you only give your mind to it and take your time and
keep all on. It was called the great Fytche sale, and I made him pay
the money he got for it into the bank; and when he died I bought a
snug little farm with it, and married a young man that I had had in
my eye long before I had heard of Mr. Fytche.
And we are very comfortably off, and not a bit of china in the house
that's more than twenty years old, so that whatever's broke can be
As for his collection, which would have brought me in thousands of
pounds, they say, I have to own he had the better of me there, for
he left it by will to the South Kensington Museum.
BARRING THE WAY
I DON'T know how she could have done it. I couldn't have done it
myself. At least, I don't think so. But being lame and small, and
not noticeable anyhow, I had never any temptation, so I can't judge
those that have.
Ellen was tall and a slight figure, and as pretty as a picture in
her Sunday clothes, and prettier than any picture on a working day,
with her sleeves rolled up to her shoulder and the colour in her
face like a rose, and her brown, hair all twisted up rough anyhow;
and, of course, she was much sought after and flattered. But I
couldn't have done it myself, I think, even if I had been sought
after twice as much and twice as handsome. No, I couldn't, not after
the doctor had said that father's heart was weak, and any sudden
shock might bring an end to him.
But, oh! poor dear, she was my sister--my own only sister--and it's
not the time now to be hard on her, and she where she is.
She was walking regular with a steady young man, who worked through
the week at Hastings, and come home here on a Sunday, and she would
have married him and been as happy as a queen, I know; and all her
looking in the glass, and dressing herself pretty, would have come
to being proud of her babies and spending what bits she could get
together in making them look smart; but it was not to be.
Young Barber, the grocer's son, who had a situation in London, he
come down for his summer holiday, and then it was 'No, thank you
kindly,' to poor Arthur Simmons, that had loved her faithful and
true them two years, and she was all for walking with young Mr.
Barber, besides running into the shop twenty times a day when no
occasion was, just for a word across the counter.
And father wasn't the best pleased, but he was always a silent man,
very pious, and not saying much as he sat at his bench, for he had
been brought up to the shoemaking and was very respected among
Pevensey folks. He would hum a hymn or two at his work sometimes,
but he was never a man of words. When young Barber went back to
London, Ellen, she began to lose her pretty looks. I had never
thought much of young Barber. There was something common about
him--not like the labouring men, but a kind of town commonness,
which is twenty times worse to my thinking; and if I didn't like him
before, you may guess I didn't waste much love on him when I see
poor Ellen's looks.
Now, if I am to tell you this story at all, I must tell it very
steady and quiet, and not run on about what I thought or what I
felt, or I shan't never have the heart to go through it. The long
and short of it was that a month hadn't passed over our heads after
young Barber leaving, when one morning our Ellen wasn't there. And
she left a note, nailed to father's bench, to say she had gone off
with her true love, and father wasn't to mind, for she was going to
Father, he didn't say a word, but he turned a dreadful white, and
blue his lips were, and for one dreadful moment I thought that I had
lost him too. But he come round presently. I ran across to the Three
Swans to get a drop of brandy for him; and I looked at her letter
again, and I looked at him, and we both see that neither of us
believed that she was going to be married. There was something about
the very way of the words as she had written them which showed they
Father, he said nothing, only when next Sunday had come, and I had
laid out his Sunday things and his hat, all brushed as usual, he
'Put 'em away, my girl. I don't believe in Sunday. How can I believe
in all that, and my Ellen gone to shame?'
And, after that, Sundays was the same to him as weekdays, and the
folks looked shy at us, and I think they thought that, what with
Ellen's running away and father's working on Sundays, we was on the
high-road to the pit of destruction.
And so the time went on, and it was Christmas. The bells was ringing
for Christmas Eve, and I says to father: 'O father! come to church.
Happen it's all true, and Ellen's an honest woman, after all.'
And he lifted his head and looked at me, and at that moment there
come a soft little knock at the door. I knew who it was afore I had
time to stir a foot to go across the kitchen and open the door to
her. She blinked her eyes at the light as I opened the door to her.
Oh, pale and thin her face was that used to be so rosy-red, and--
'May I come in?' she said, as if it wasn't her own home. And father,
he looked at her like a man that sees nothing, and I was frightened
what he might do, like the fool I was, that ought to have known
'I'm very tired,' says Ellen, leaning against the door-post; 'I have
come from a very long way.'
And the next minute father makes two long steps to the door, and his
arms is round her, and she a-hanging on his neck, and they two
holding each other as if they would never let go. And so she come
home, and I shut the door.
And in all that time father and me, we couldn't make too much of
her, me being that thankful to the Lord that He had let our dear
come back to us; and never a word did she say to me of him that had
been her ruin. But one night when I asked her, silly-like, and
hardly thinking what I was doing, some question about him, father
down with his fist on the table, and says he--
'When you name that name, my girl, you light hell in me, and if ever
I see his damned face again, God help him and me too.'
And so I held my stupid tongue, and sat sewing with Ellen long days,
and it was a happy, sad time, if a time can be sad and happy both.
And it was about primrose-time that her time come, and we had kept
it quiet, and nobody knew but us and Mrs. Jarvis, that lived in the
cottage next to ours, and was Ellen's godmother, and loved her like
her own daughter; and when the baby come, Ellen says, 'Is it a boy
or a girl?' And we told her it was a boy.
Then, says she, 'Thank God for that! My baby won't live to know such
shame as mine.'
And there wasn't one of us dared tell her that God meant no shame or
pain or grief at all should come to her little baby, because it was
dead. But by-and-by she would have it to lie by her, and we said No:
it was asleep; and for all we said she guessed the truth somehow.
And she began to cry, the tears running down her cheeks and wetting
the linen about her, and she began to moan, 'I want my baby--oh,
bring me my little baby that I have never seen yet. I want to say
"good-bye" to it, for I shall never go where it is going.'
And father said, 'Bring her the child.'
I had dressed the poor little thing--a pretty boy, and would have
been a fine man--in one of the gowns I had taken a pleasure in
sewing for it to wear, and the little cap with the crimped border
that had been Ellen's own when she was a baby and her mother's
pride, and I brought it and put it in her arms, and it was clay-cold
in my hands as I carried it. And she laid its head on her breast as
well as she could for her weakness; and father, who was leaning over
her, nigh mad with love and being so anxious about her, he says--
'Let Lucy take the poor little thing away, Ellen,' he says, 'for you
must try to get well and strong for the sake of those that love
Then she says, turning her eyes on him, shining like stars out of
her pale face, and still holding her baby tight to her breast, 'I
know what's the best thing I can do for them as love me, and I'm
doing it fast. Kiss me, father, and kiss the baby too. Perhaps if I
hold it tight we'll go out into the dark together, and God won't
have the heart to part us.' And so she died.
And there was no one but me that touched her after she died, for all
I am a cripple, and I laid her out, my pretty, with my own hands,
and the baby in the hollow of her arm; and I put primroses all round
them, and I took father to look at them when all was done, and we
stood there, holding hands and looking at her lying there so sweet
and peaceful, and looking so good too, whatever you may think, with
all the trouble wiped off her face as if the Lord had washed it
already in His heavenly light.
Now, Ellen was buried in the churchyard, and Parson, who was always
a hard man, he would have her laid away to the north side, where no
sun gets to for the trees and the church, and where few folks like
to be buried. But father, he said, 'No; lay her beside her mother,
in the bit of ground I bought twenty years ago, where I mean to lie
myself, and Lucy too, when her time comes, so that if the talk of
rising again is true we shall be all together at the last, as
So they laid her there, and her name was cut under mother's on the
Father didn't grieve and take on as some men do, but he was quieter
than he used to be, and didn't seem to have that heart in his work
that he always had even after she had left us. It seemed as if the
spring of him was broken, somehow. Not but what he was goodness
itself to me then and always. But I wasn't his favourite child, nor
could I have looked to be, me being what I am and she so sweet and
pretty, and such a way with her.
And father went to church to the burying, but he wouldn't go to
service. 'I think maybe there's a God, and if there is, I have that
in my heart that's quite enough keeping in my own poor house,
without my daring to take it into His.'
And so I gave up going too. I wouldn't seem to be judging father,
not though I might be judged myself by all the village. But when I
heard the church-bells ringing, ringing, it was like as if some one
that loved me was calling to me and me not answering; and sometimes
when all the folk was in church, I used to hobble up on my crutches
to the gate and stand there and sometimes hear a bit of the singing
come through the open door.
It was the end of August that Mr. Barber at the shop fell off a
ladder leading to his wareroom, and was killed on the spot; and Mrs.
Jarvis, she says to me, 'If that young Barber comes home, as I
suppose he will, to take what's his by right in the eyes of the law,
he might as well go and put his head into an oven on a baking-day,
and get his worst friend to shove his legs in after him and shut the
'He won't come back,' says I. 'How could he face it, when every one
in the village knows it?'
For when Ellen died it could not be kept secret any longer, and a
heap of folks that would have drawn their skirts aside rather than
brush against her if she had been there alive and well, with her
baby at her breast, had a tear and a kind word for her now that she
was gone where no tears and no words could get at her for good or
I see once a bit of poetry in a book, and it said when a woman had
done what she had done, the only way to get forgiven is to die, and
I believe that's true. But it isn't true of fathers and sisters.
It was Sunday morning, and father, he was working away at his
bench--not that it ever seemed to make him any happier to work, only
he was more miserable if he didn't,--and I had crept up to the
churchyard to lean against the wall and listen to the psalms being
sung inside, when, looking down the village street, I saw Barber's
shop open, and out came young Barber himself. Oh, if God forgets any
one in His mercy, it will be him and his like!
He come out all smart and neat in his new black, and he was
whistling a hymn tune softly. Our house was betwixt Barber's shop
and the church, not a stone's-throw off, anyway; and I prayed to God
that Barber would turn the other way and not come by our house,
where father he was sitting at his bench with the door open.
But he did turn, and come walking towards me; and I had laid my
crutches on the ground, and I stooped to pick them up to go home--to
stop words; for what were words, and she in her grave?--when I heard
young Barber's voice, and I looked over the wall, and see he had
stopped, in his madness and folly and the wickedness of his heart,
right opposite the house he had brought shame to, and he was
speaking to father through the door.
I couldn't hear what he said, but he seemed to expect an answer,
and, when none came, he called out a little louder, 'Oh, well,
you've no call to hold your head so high, anyhow!' And for the way
he said it I could have killed him myself, but for having been
brought up to know that two wrongs don't make a right, and
'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.'
They was at prayers in the church, and there was no sound in the
street but the cooing of the pigeons on the roofs, and young Barber,
he stood there looking in at our door with that little sneering
smile on his face, and the next minute he was running for his life
for the church, where all the folks were, and father after him like
a madman, with his long knife in his hand that he used to cut the
leather with. It all happened in a flash.
Barber come running up the dusty road in his black, and passed me as
I stood by the churchyard gate, and up towards the church; but
sudden in the path he stopped short, his eyes seeming starting out
of his head as he looked at Ellen's grave--not that he could see her
name, the headstone being turned the other way,--and he put his
hands before his eyes and stood still a-trembling, like a rabbit
when the dogs are on it, and it can't find no way out. Then he cried
out, 'No, no, cover her face, for God's sake!' and crouched down
against the footstone, and father, coming swift behind him, passed
me at the gate, and he ran his knife through Barber's back twice as
he crouched, and they rolled on the path together.
Then all the folks in church that had heard the scream, they come
out like ants when you walk through an ant-heap. Young Barber was
holding on to the headstone, the blood running out through his new
broadcloth, and death written on his face in big letters.
I ran to lift up father, who had fallen with his face on the grave,
and as I stooped over him, young Barber he turned his head towards
me, and he says in a voice I could hardly catch, such a whisper it
was, 'Was there a child? I didn't know there was a child--a little
child in her arm, and flowers all round.'
'Your child,' says I; 'and may God forgive you!'
And I knew that he had seen her as I see her when my hands had
dressed her for her sleep through the long night.
I never have believed in ghosts, but there is no knowing what the
good Lord will allow.
So vengeance overtook him, and they carried him away to die with the
blood dropping on the gravel; and he never spoke a word again.
And when they lifted father up with the red knife still fast in his
hand, they found that he was dead, and his face was white and his
lips were blue, like as I had seen them before. And they all said
father must have been mad; and so he lies where he wished to lie,
and there's a place there where I shall lie some day, where father
lies, and mother, and my dear with her little baby in the hollow of
I WAS promised to William, in a manner of speaking, close upon seven
year. What I mean to say is, when he was nigh upon fourteen, and was
to go away to his uncle in Somerset to learn farming, he gave me a
kiss and half of a broken sixpence, and said--
'Kate, I shall never think of any girl but you, and you must never
think of any chap but me.'
And the Lord in His goodness knows that I never did.
Father and mother laughed a bit, and called it child's nonsense; but
they was willing enough for all that, for William was a likely chap,
and would be well-to-do when his good father died, which I am sure I
never wished nor prayed for. All the trouble come from his going to
Somerset to learn farming, for his uncle that was there was a Roman,
and he taught William a good deal more than he set out to learn, so
that presently nothing would do but William must turn Roman Catholic
himself. I didn't mind, bless you. I never could see what there was
to make such a fuss about betwixt the two lots of them. Lord love
us! we're all Christians, I should hope. But father and mother was
dreadful put out when the letter come saying William had been
'received' (like as if he was a parcel come by carrier). Father, he
'Well, Kate, least said soonest mended. But I had rather see you
laid out on the best bed upstairs than I'd see you married to
William, a son of the Scarlet Woman.'
In my silly innocence I couldn't think what he meant, for William's
mother was a decent body, who wore a lilac print on week-days and a
plain black gown on Sunday for all she was a well-to-do farmer's
wife, and might have gone smart as a cock pheasant.
It was at tea-time, and I was a-crying on to my bread-and-butter,
and mother sniffing a little for company behind the tea-tray, and
father, he bangs down his fist in a way to make the cups rattle
again, and he says--
'You've got to give him up, my girl. You write and tell him so, and
I'll take the letter as I go down to the church to-night to
practice. I've been a good father to you, and you must be a good
girl to me; and if you was to marry him, him being what he is, I'd
never speak to you again in this world or the next.'
'You wouldn't have any chance in the next, I'm afraid, James,' said
my mother gently, 'for her poor soul, it couldn't hope to go to the
blessed place after that.'
'I should hope not,' said my father, and with that he got up and
went out, half his tea not drunk left in the mug.
Well, I wrote that letter, and I told William right enough that him
and me could never be anything but friends, and that he must think
of me as a sister, and that was what father told me to say. But I
hope it wasn't very wrong of me to put in a little bit of my own,
and this is what I said after I had told him about the friend and
'But, dear William,' says I, 'I shall never love anybody but you,
that you may rely, and I will live an old maid to the end of my days
rather than take up with any other chap; and I should like to see
you once, if convenient, before we part for ever, to tell you all
this, and to say "Good-bye" and "God bless you." So you must find
out a way to let me know quiet when you come home from learning the
farming in Somerset.'
And may I be forgiven the deceitfulness, and what I may call the
impudence of it! I really did give father that same letter to post,
and him believing me to be a better girl than I was, to my shame,
posted it, not doubting that I had only wrote what he told me.
That was the saddest summer ever I had. The roses was nothing to me,
nor the lavender neither, that I had always been so fond of; and as
for the raspberries, I don't believe I should have cared if there
hadn't been one on the canes; and even the little chickens, I
thought them a bother, and--it goes to my heart to say it--a whole
sitting was eaten by the rats in consequence. Everything seemed to
go wrong. The butter was twice as long a-coming as ever I knowed it,
and the broad beans got black fly, and father lost half his hay with
the weather. If it had been me that had done something unkind,
father would have said it was a Providence on me. But, of course, I
knew better than to speak up to my own father, with his hay lying
rotting and smoking in the ten-acre, and telling him he was a-being
Well, the harvest was got in. It was neither here nor there. I have
seen better years and I have seen worse. And October come. I was
getting to bed one night; at least, I hadn't begun to undress, for I
was sitting there with William's letters, as he had wrote me from
time to time while he was in Somerset, and I was reading them over
and thinking of William, silly fashion, as a young girl will, and
wishing it had been me was a Roman Catholic and him a Protestant,
because then I could have gone into a convent like the wicked people
in father's story-books. I was in that state of silliness, you see,
that I would have liked to do something for William, even if it was
only going into a convent--to be bricked up alive, perhaps. And then
I hears a scratch, scratch, scratching, and 'Drat the mice,' says I;
but I didn't take any notice, and then there was a little tap,
tapping, like a bird would make with its beak on the window-pane,
and I went and opened it, thinking it was a bird that had lost its
way and was coming foolish-like, as they will, to the light. So I
drew the curtain and opened the window, and it was--William!
'Oh, go away, do,' says I; 'father will hear you.'
He had climbed up by the pear-tree that grew right and left up the
'I ask your pardon,' says he, 'my pretty sweetheart, for making so
free as to come to your window this time of night, but there didn't
seem any other way.'
'Oh, go, dear William, do go,' says I. I expected every moment to
see the door open and father put his head in.
'I'm not going,' said William, 'till you tell me where you'll meet
me to say "Good-bye" and "God bless you," like you said in the
Though I knew the whole parish better than I know the palm of my
hand, if you'll believe me, I couldn't for the life of me for the
moment think of any place where I could meet William, and I stood
like a fool, trembling. Oh, what a jump I gave when I heard a noise
like a heavy foot in the garden outside!
'Oh! it's father got round. Oh! he'll kill you, William. Oh!
whatever shall we do?'
'Nonsense!' said William, and he caught hold of my shoulder and gave
me a gentle little shake. 'It was only one of these pears as I
kicked off. They must be as hard as iron to fall like that.'
Then he gave me a kiss, and I said: 'Then I'll meet you by the
Parson's Shave to-morrow at half-past five, and do go. My heart's
a-beating so I can hardly hear myself speak.'
'Poor little bird!' says William. Then he kissed me again and off he
went; and considering how quiet he came, so that even I couldn't
hear him, you would not believe the noise he made getting down that
pear-tree. I thought every minute some one would be coming in to see
what was happening.
Well, the next day I went about my work as frightened as a rabbit,
and my heart beating fit to choke me, trying not to think of what I
had promised to do. At tea-time father says, looking straight before
'William Birt has come home, Kate. You remember I've got your
promise not to pass no words with him, him being where he is,
without the fold, among the dogs and things.'
And I didn't answer back, though I knew well enough it wasn't
honest; but he hadn't got my word. Father had brought me up careful
and kind, and I knew my duty to my parents, and I meant to do it,
too. But I couldn't help thinking I owed a little bit of a duty to
William, and I meant doing that, so far as keeping my promise to
meet him that afternoon went. So after tea I says, and I do think it
is almost the only lie I ever told--
'Mother,' I says, 'I've got the jumping toothache, and it's that bad
I can hardly see to thread my needle.'
Then she says, as I knew she would, her being as kind an old soul as
ever trod: 'Go and lie down a bit and put the old sheepskin coat
over your head, and I'll get on with the darning.'
So I went upstairs trembling all over. I took the bolster and pillow
and put them under the covers, to look as like me as I could, and I
put the old sheepskin coat at the top of all; and as you come into
the room any one would have thought it was me lying there with the
toothache. Then I took my hat and shawl and I went out, quiet as a
mouse, through the dairy. When I got to the Parson's Shave there was
William, and I was so glad to see him, I didn't think of nothing
else for full half a minute. Then William said--
'It's only one field to the church. Why not go up there and sit in
the porch? See, it's coming on to rain.'
So he took my arm, and we started across the field, where all the
days of the year but one you would not meet a soul. We went up
through the churchyard. It was 'most dark, but I wasn't a bit afraid
with William's arm round me. But when we got to the porch and had
sat down, I was sorry I'd come, for I heard feet on the road below,
and they stopped outside the lychgate.
'Come, quick,' says I, 'or we're caught like rats in a trap. If I am
going to give you up to please father, I may as well please him all
round. There's no reason why he should know I've seen you.'
'So we stole on our tiptoes round to the little door that is hardly
ever fastened, and so through to the tower. Father being one of the
bellringers, I knew every step. There's a stone seat cut out of the
wall in the bellringers' loft, and there we sat down again, and I
was just going to tell him again what I had said in the letter about
being his sister and a friend, which seemed to comfort me somehow,
though William has told me since it never would have him, when
William, he gripped my hand like iron, and ''S-sh!' says he,
'listen.' And I listened, and oh! what I felt when I heard footsteps
coming up the tower. I didn't dare speak a word to him, and only
kept tight hold of his hand, and pulled him along till we got to the
tower steps, and went on up. But I says to myself, 'Oh, what's my
head made of, to forget that it's practising night? and Him the
church was built for only knows how long they won't be here
practising!' We went on up the twisted cobwebby stairs, with bits of
broken birds' nests that crackled under our feet that loud I thought
for sure the folks below must hear us; and we got into the belfry,
and there William was for staying, but I whispered to him--
'If you hear them bells when they're all a-going, you won't never
hear much else. We must get on up out of it unless we want to be
deaf the rest of our lives.'
And it was pitch dark in the belfry, except for the little grey
slits where the shuttered windows are. The owls and starlings were
frightened, I suppose, at hearing us, though why they should have
been, I don't know, being used to the bells; and they flew about
round us liker ghosts than anything feathered, and one great owl
flopped out right into my face, till I nearly screamed again. It was
all very, very dusty, and not being able to see, and being afraid to
strike a light, we had to feel along the big beams for our way
between the bells, I going first, because I knew the way, and
reaching back a hand every now and then to see that William was
coming after me safe and sound. On hands and knees we had to go for
safety, and all the while I was dreading they would start the bells
a-going and, maybe, shake William, who wasn't as used to it as I
was, off the beams, and him perhaps be smashed to pieces by the
bells as they swung.
I don't know how long it took us to get across the belfry to the
corner where the ladder is that leads up to the tower-top. William
says it must have been about a couple of minutes, but I think it was
much more like half an hour. I thought we should never get there,
and oh! what it was to me when I came to the end of the last beam,
and got my foot down on the firm floor again, and the ladder in my
hand, and William behind me! So up we went, me first again, because
I knew the way and the fastenings of the door. And that part of it
wasn't so bad, for I will say, if you've got to go up a long ladder,
it's better to go up in the dark, when you can't see what's below
you if you happen to slip; and I got up and opened the door, and it
was light out of doors and fresh with the rain--though that had
Then William would take his coat off, and put it round me, for all I
begged him not, and presently the tower began to shake and the bells
began, and directly they began I knew what they was up to.
'O William,' I says, 'it's Grandsire Triples, and there's five
thousand and fifty changes to 'em, and it's a matter of three
But he couldn't hear a word I said for the bells. So then I took his
coat and my shawl, and we wrapped them round both our heads to shut
the bells out, and then we could hear each other speak inside.
I'm not going to write down all I said nor all he said, which was
only foolishness--and besides, it come to nothing after all. But
somehow the time wasn't long; and it's a funny thing, but unhappy
and happy you can be at the same time when you are with one you love
and are going to leave. William, he begged and prayed of me not to
give him up. But I said I knew my duty, and he said he hoped I would
think better of it, and I said, 'No, never,' and then we kissed each
other again, and the bells went on, and on, and on, clingle,
clangle, clingle, chim, chime, chim, chime, till I was 'most dazed,
and felt as if I had lived up there all my life, and was going to
live up there twenty lives longer.
'I'll wait for you all my life long,' says William. 'Not that I wish
the old man any harm, but it's not in the nature of things your
father can live for ever, and then--'
'It ain't no use thinking of that, William,' said I. 'Father is sure
to make me promise never to have you--when he's dying, and I can't
refuse him anything. It's just the kind of thing he'd think of.'
Perhaps you will think William ought to have made more stand, for
everybody likes a masterful man; but what stand can you make when
you are up in a belfry with the bells shouting and yelling at you,
and when the girl you are with won't listen to reason? And you have
no idea what them bells were. Often and often since then I have
started up in the bed thinking I heard them again. It was enough to
drive one distracted.
'Well,' says William, 'you'll give me up, but I'll never give you
up; and you mark my words, you and me will be man and wife some
And as he said it, the bells stopped sudden in the middle of a
change. The rain had come on again. It was very chill up there. My
teeth was chattering, and so was William's, though he pretended he
did it for the joke.
'Let's get inside again,' says he. 'Perhaps they are going home, and
if they are not, we can stay there till they begin it again.'
So we opened the door and crept down the ladder. There was light now
coming up from the bellringers' loft through the holes in the floor,
and we got down to the belfry easy, and as we got to the bottom of
the ladder I heard my father's voice in the loft below--
'I don't believe it,' he was shouting. 'It can't be true. She's a
And then I heard my mother. 'Come home, James,' she said, 'come
home--it's true. I told you you was too hard on them. Young folks
will be young folks, and now, perhaps, our little girl has come to
shame instead of being married decent, as she might have been,
Then there was silence for a bit, and then my father says, speaking
softer, 'Tell me again. I can't think but what I'm dreaming.'
Then mother says--'Don't I tell you she said she'd got the
toothache, and she was going to lie down a bit, and I went to take
her up some camomiles I'd been hotting, and she wasn't there, and
her bolsters and pillows, poor lamb, made up to pretend she was, and
Johnson's Ben, he see her along of William Birt by the Parson's
Shave with his arm round her--God forgive them both!'
Then says my father, 'Here's an end on't. She's no daughter o' mine.
If she was to come back to me, I'd turn her out of doors. Don't let
any one name her name to me never no more. I hain't got no
daughter,' he said, 'and may the Lord--'
I think my mother put her hands afore his mouth, for he stopped
short, and mother, she said--
'Don't curse them, James. You'll be sorry for it, and they'll have
trouble enough without that.'
And with that father and mother must have gone away, and the other
ringers stood talking a bit.
'She'd best not come back,' said the leader, John Evans. 'Out
a-gallivanting with a young chap from five to eight as I understand!
What's the good of coming back? She's lost her character, and a gal
without a character, she's like--like--'
'Like a public-house without a licence,' said the second ringer.
'Or a cart without a horse,' said the treble.
There was only one man spoke up for me--that was Jim Piper at the
general shop. 'I don't believe no harm of that gal,' says he, 'no
more nor I would of my own missus, nor yet of him.'
'Well, let's hope for the best,' said the others. But I had a sort
of feeling they was hoping for the worst, because when things goes
wrong, it's always more amusing for the lookers-on than when
everything goes right. Presently they went clattering down the
steps, and all was dark, and there was me and William among the
cobwebs and the owls, holding each other's hands, and as cold as
stone, both of us.
'Well?' says William, when everything was quiet again.
'Well!' says I. 'Good-bye, William. He won't be as hard as his word,
and if I couldn't give you all my life to be a good wife to you, I
have given you my character, it seems; not willing, it's true; but
there's nothing I should grudge you, William, and I don't regret it,
But he held my hands tight.
'Good-bye, William,' I says again. 'I'm going. I'm going home.'
'Yes, my girl,' says he, 'you are going home; you're going home with
me to my mother.' And he was masterful enough then, I can tell you.
'If your father would throw you off without knowing the rights or
wrongs of the story, it's not for him you should be giving up your
happiness and mine, my girl. Come home to my mother, and let me see
the man who dares to say anything against my wife.'
And whether it was father's being so hard and saying what he did
about me before all those men, or whether it was me knowing that
mother had stood up for us secret all the time, or whether it was
because I loved William so much, or because he loved me so much, I
don't know. But I didn't say another word, only began to cry, and we
got downstairs and straight home to William's mother, and we told
her all about it; and we was cried in church next Sunday, and I
stayed with the old lady until we was married, and many a year
after; and a good mother she was to me, though only in law, and a
good granny to our children when they come. And I wasn't so unhappy
as you may think, because mother come to see me directly, and she
was at our wedding; and father, he didn't say anything to prevent
When I was churched after my first, and the boy was christened--in
our own church, for I had made William promise it should be so if
ever we had any--mother was there, and she said to me: 'Take the
child,' she said, 'and go to your father at home; and when he sees
the child, he'll come round, I'll lay a crown; for his bark,' she
says, 'was allus worse than his bite.'
And I did so, and the pears was hard and red on the wall as they was
the night William climbed up to my window, and I went into the
kitchen, and there was father sitting in his big chair, and the
Bible on the table in front of him, with his spectacles; but he
wasn't reading, and if it had been any one else but father, I should
have said he had been crying. And so I went in, and I showed him the
baby, and I said--
'Look, father, here's our little baby; and he's named James, for
you, father, and christened in church the same as I was. And now I
have got a child of my own,' says I, for he didn't speak, 'dear
father, I know what it is to have a child of your own go against
your wishes, and please God mine never will--or against yours
either. But I couldn't help it, and O father, do forgive me!'
And he didn't say anything, but he kissed the boy, and he kissed him
again. And presently he says--
'It's 'most time your mother was home from church. Won't you be
setting the tea, Kate?'
So I give him the baby to hold, for I knew everything was all right
And all the children have been christened in the church. But I think
when father is taken from us--which in the nature of things he must
be, though long may it be first!--I think I shall be a Roman
Catholic too; for it doesn't seem to me to matter much one way or
the other, and it would please William very much, and I am sure it
wouldn't hurt me. And what's the good of being married to the best
man in the world if you can't do a little thing like that to please
A DEATH-BED CONFESSION
AND so you think I shall go to heaven when I die, sir! And why?
Because I have spent my time and what bits of money I've had in
looking after the poor in this parish! And I would do it again if I
had my time to come over again; but it will take more than that to
wipe out my sins, and God forgive me if I can't always believe that
even His mercy will be equal to it. You're a clergyman, and you
ought to know. I think sometimes the black heart in me, that started
me on that deed, must have come from the devil, and that I am his
child after all, and shall go back to him at the last. Don't look so
shocked, sir. That's not what I really believe; it's only what I
sometimes fear I ought to believe, when I wake up in the chill night
and think things over, lying here alone.
To see me old and prim, with my cap and little checked shawl, you'd
never think that I was once one of the two prettiest girls on all
the South Downs. But I was, and my cousin Lilian was the other. We
lived at Whitecroft together at our uncle's. He was a well-to-do
farmer, as well-to-do as a farmer could be in such times as those,
and on such land as that.
Whenever I hear people say 'home,' it's Whitecroft I think of, with
its narrow windows and thatch roof and the farm-buildings about it,
and the bits of trees all bent one way with the wind from the sea.
Whitecroft stands on a shoulder of the Downs, and on a clear day you
can see right out to sea and over the hollow where Felscombe lies
cuddled down close and warm, with its elms and its church, and its
bright bits of gardens. They are sheltered from the sea wind down
there, but there's nothing to break the wing of it as it rolls
across the Downs on to Whitecroft; and of a night Lilian and I used
to lie and listen to the wind banging the windows, and know that the
chimneys were rocking over our heads, and feel the house move to and
fro with the strength of the wind like as if it was the swing of a
Lilian and I had come there, little things, and uncle had brought us
up together, and we loved each other like sisters until that
happened, and this is the first time I have told a human soul about
it; and if being sorry can pay for things--well, but I'm afraid
there are some things nothing can pay for.
It was one wild windy night, when, if you should open the door an
inch, everything in the house jarred and rattled. We were sitting
round the fire, uncle and Lilian and me, us with our knitting and
him asleep in his newspaper, and nobody could have gone to sleep
with a wind like that but a man who has been bred and born at sea,
or on the South Downs.
Lilian and I were talking over our new winter dresses, when there
come a knock at the side door, not nigh so loud as some of the
noises the wind made, but not being used to it, uncle sat up, wide
awake, and said, 'Hark!' In a minute it come again, and then I went
to the door and opened it a bit. There was some one outside who
began to speak as soon as he saw the light, but I could not hear
what he said for the roaring of the wind, and the cracking of the
'Shut that door!' uncle shouted from the parlour. 'Let the dog in,
whatever he is, and let him tell his tale this side the oak.'
So I let him in and shut the door after him, and I had better have
shut to the lid of my own coffin after me.
Him that I let in was dripping wet, and all spent with fighting the
wind on these Downs, where it is like a lion roaring for its prey,
and will go nigh to kill you, if you fight it long enough. He leaned
against the wall and said--
'I have lost my way, and I have had a nasty fall. I think there is
something wrong with my arm--hollow--slip--light--hospitality beg
your pardon, I'm sure,' and with that he fainted dead off on the
cocoanut matting at my feet.
Uncle came out when I screamed, and we got the stranger in and put
him on the big couch by the fire. Uncle was nursing up with one of
his bad attacks of bronchitis, the same thing that carried him off
in the end, and the first thing he said when he'd felt the poor
chap's arm down was--
'This is a bad break. Which of you girls will go and wake one of the
waggoners to fetch Doctor from Felscombe?'
'I will,' I said.
But before I went I got out the port wine and the brandy, and bade
Lilian rub his hands a bit, and be sure she didn't let him see her
looking frightened when he come to.
Why did I do that? Because the Lord made me to be a fool--giving him
her pretty face to be the first thing he looked at when he come to
after that long, dreary spell on the Downs, and that black journey
into the strange place where people go to when they faint.
But everything that there was of me ached to be of some use to him.
So I went, and once outside the door it seemed easier to take Brown
Bess and go myself to Felscombe than to rouse the waggoners, who
were but sleepy and slow-headed at the best of times. So I saddled
Brown Bess myself and started.
It was but a small way across the Downs that I had to lead her, it
being almost as much as both of us could do to keep our feet in the
fury of the wind. Then you go down the steep hill into the village,
and as soon as we had passed the brow, it was easy and I mounted. I
was down there in less time than it would have taken to rouse one of
those heavy-headed carters; and Doctor, he come back with me,
walking beside Brown Bess with his hand on her bridle, he not being
by any means loth to come out such a night, because, forsooth, it
was me that fetched him. Oh yes! I might have married him if I had
wanted to, and more than one better man than him; but that's neither
here nor there.
When we got in, we found Lilian kneeling by the sofa rubbing the
young man's hands as I had told her to, and his eyes were open, and
there was a bit of colour in his cheek, and he was looking at her
like as any one but a fool might have known he would look; and the
Doctor, he saw it too, and looked at me and grinned; and if I had
been God, that grin should have been his last. No, I don't mean to
be irreverent, but it's true, all the same.
Well, the arm was set, and when he was a bit easier we settled round
the fire, and he told us that his name was Edgar Linley, and he was
an artist, and had been painting the angry sunset that had come
before that night's storm, and got caught in the dusk and so lost
his way, as many do on our Downs at home, some not so lucky as him
to see a light and get to it.
This Mr. Linley had a way with him like no other man I ever see; not
only a way to please women with, but men too. I never saw my uncle
so taken up with anybody; and the long and the short of it was that
he stayed there a month, and we nursed him; and at the end of the
month I knew no more than I had known that evening when I had seen
him looking at Lilian; but he and Lilian, they had learned a deal in
And one evening I was at my bedroom window, and I see them coming up
the path in the red light of the evening, walking very close
together, and I went down very quick to the parlour, where uncle was
just come in to his tea and taking his big boots off, and I sat down
there, for I wanted to hear how they'd say it, though I knew well
enough what they had got to say. And they came in and he says, very
frank and cheery--
'Mr. Verinder,' he says, 'Lilian and I have made up our minds to
take each other, with your consent, for better, for worse.'
And uncle was as pleased as Punch; and as for me, I didn't believe
in God then, or I should have prayed Him to strike them both down
dead as they stood.
Why did I hate them so? And you call yourself a man and a parson,
and one that knows the heart of man! Why did I hate them? Because I
loved him as no woman will ever love you, sir, if you'll pardon me
being so bold, if you live to be a thousand.
He would have understood all about everything with half what I have
been telling you. As it is, I sometimes think that he understood,
for he was very gentle with me and kind, not making too much of
Lilian when I was by, yet never with a look or a word that wasn't
the look and the word of her good, true lover; and she was very
happy, for she loved him as much as that blue-and-white teacup kind
of woman can love; and that's more than I thought for at the time.
He was an orphan, and well off, and there was nothing to wait for,
so the wedding was fixed for early in the new year; and I sewed at
her new clothes with a marrow of lead in every bone of my fingers.
A truly understanding person might get some meaning out of my words
when I say that I loved her in my heart all the time that I was
hating her; and the devil himself must have sent out my soul and
made use of the rest of me on that night I shall tell you about
It was in the sharp, short, frosty days that brought in Christmas
that uncle came home one day from Lewes, looking thunder black, with
an eye like fire and a mouth like stone. And he walked straight into
the kitchen where we three were making toast for tea, for Edgar was
one of us by this time, and lent a hand at all such little things as
young folks can be merry over together. And uncle says--
'Leave my house, young man; it's an honest house and a clean, and no
fit place for a sinful swine. Get out,' he says, '"For without are
With that he went on with a long text of Revelation that I won't
repeat to you, sir, for I know your ears are nice, and it's out of
one of the plainest-spoken parts of the Bible. Edgar turned as white
as a sheet.
'I swear to God,' he said, 'I wasn't to blame. I know what you have
heard, but if I can't whiten myself without blacking a woman
I'll live and die as black as hell,' he says. 'But I don't need
whitening with those that love me,' he says, looking at Lilian and
then at me--oh! yes, he looked at me then.
I said, 'No, indeed,' and so did Lilian; but she began to cry, and
before we had time to think what it was all about, he had taken his
hat and kissed Lilian and was gone. But he turned back at the door
'I'll write to you,' he says to Lilian, 'but I don't cross this door
again till those words are unsaid,' and so he was gone.
Him being gone, uncle told us what he had heard in Lewes, and what
all folks there believed to be the truth; how young Edgar had
carried on, as men may not, with a young married woman, the grocer's
wife where he lodged, the end of it being that she drowned herself
in a pond near by, leaving as her last word that he was the cause of
it; and so he may have been, but not the way my uncle and the folk
at Lewes thought, I'll stake my soul. God makes His troubles in
dozens; He don't make a new patterned one for every back. I wasn't
the only woman who ever loved Edgar Linley without encouragement and
without hope, and risked her soul because she was mad with loving
But when uncle had told us all this with a black look on his face I
never had seen before, he said--
'Girls, I have always been a clean liver, and I have brought you up
in the fear of the Lord. I don't want to judge any man, and Lilian
is of age and her own mistress. It's not for me to say what she
shall or shan't do, but if she marries that scoundrel, she has my
curse here and hereafter, and not one penny of my money, if it was
to save her from the workhouse.'
After that we were sad enough at Whitecroft. But in two days come a
letter from Edgar to Lilian; and when she had read it, she looked at
me and said, 'O Isabel, whatever shall I do? I never can marry
without dear uncle's consent,' and I turned and went from her
without a word, because I couldn't bear to see her arguing and
considering what to do, when the best thing in the world was to her
hand for the taking.
All the next week she cried all day and most of the night. Then
uncle went to London, my belief being it was to alter his will, so
that if Lilian married Edgar, she should feel it in her pocket,
anyhow, and he was to stay all night, and the farm servants slept
out of the house, and we were without a maid at the time. So Lilian
and me were left alone at Whitecroft.
Lilian and I didn't sleep in one room now. I had made some excuse to
sleep on the other side of the house, because I couldn't bear to
wake up of mornings and see her lying there so pretty, looking like
a lily in her white nightgown and her fair hair all tumbled about
her face. It was more than any woman could have borne to see her
lying there, and think that early in the new year it was him that
would see her lying like that of a morning.
And that night the place seemed very quiet and empty, as if there
was more room in it for being unhappy in. When Lilian had taken her
candle and gone up to bed, I walked through all the rooms below, as
uncle's habit was, to see that all was fast for the night. It was as
I set the bolt on the door of the little lean-to shed, where the
faggots were kept, that the devil entered into me all in a breath;
and I thought of Lilian upstairs in her white bed, and of how the
day must come, when he would see how pretty she looked and white,
and I said to myself, 'No, it never shall, not if I burn for it
I hope you are understanding me. I sometimes think there is
something done to folks when they are learning to be parsons as
takes out of them a part of a natural person's understandingness;
and I would rather have told the doctor, but then he couldn't have
told me whether these are the kind of things Christ died to make His
Father forgive, and I suppose you can.
What I did was this. I clean forgot all about uncle and how fond I
was of Whitecroft, and how much I had always loved Lilian (and I
loved her then, though I know you can't understand me when I say
so), and I took all them faggots, dragging them across the sanded
floor of the kitchen, and I put them in the parlour in the little
wing to the left, and just under Lilian's bedroom, and I laid them
under the wooden corner cupboard where the best china is, and then I
poured oil and brandy all over, and set it alight.
Then I put on my hat and jacket, buttoning it all the way down, as
quiet as if I was going down to the village for a pound of candles.
And I made sure all was burning free, and out of the front door I
went and up on to the Downs, and there I set me down under the wall
where I could see Whitecroft.
And I watched to see the old place burn down; and at first there was
no light to be seen.
But presently I see the parlour windows get redder and redder, and
soon I knew the curtains had caught, and then there was a light in
Lilian's bedroom. I see the bars of the window as you do in the
ruined mill when the sun is setting behind it; and the light got
more and more, till I see the stone above the front door that tells
how it was builded by one of our name this long time since; and at
that, as sudden as he had come, the devil left me, and I knew all in
a minute that I was crouched against a wall, very cold, and my hands
hooked into my hair over my ears, and my knees drawn up under my
chin; and there was the old house on fire, the dear old house, with
Lilian inside it in her little white bed, being burnt to death, and
me her murderer! And with that I got up, and I remember I was stiff,
as if I had been screwing myself all close together to keep from
knowing what it was I had been a-doing. I ran down the meadow to our
house faster than I ever ran in my life, in at the door, and up the
stairs, all blue and black, and hidden up with coppery-coloured
I don't know how I got up them stairs, for they were beginning to
burn too. I opened her door--all red and glowing it was inside! like
an oven when you open it to rake out the ashes on a baking-day. And
I tried to get in, because all I wanted then was to save her--to get
her out safe and sound, if I had to roast myself for it, because we
had been brought up together from little things, and I loved her
like a sister. And while I was trying to get my jacket off and round
my head, something gave way right under my feet, and I seemed to
fall straight into hell!
I was badly burnt, and what handsomeness there was about my face was
pretty well scorched out of it by that night's work; and I didn't
know anything for a bit.
When I come to myself, they had got me into bed bound up with
cotton-wool and oil and things. And the first thing I did was to sit
up and try to tear them off.
'You'll kill yourself,' says the nurse.
'Thank you,' says I, 'that's the best thing I can do, now Lilian is
And with that the nurse gives a laugh. 'Oh, that's what's on your
mind, is it?' says she. 'Doctor said there was something. Miss
Lilian had run away that night to her young man. Lucky for her!
She's luckier than you, poor thing! And they're married and living
in lodgings at Brighton, and she's been over to see you every day.'
That day she came again. I lay still and let her thank me for having
tried to save her; for the farm men had seen the fire, and had come
up in time to see me go up the staircase to her room, and they had
pulled me out. She believes to this day the fire was an accident,
and that I would have sacrificed my life for her. And so I would;
she's right there.
I wasn't going to make her unhappy by telling her the real truth,
because she was as fond of me as I was of her; and she has been as
happy as the day is long, all her life long, and so she deserves.
And as for me, I stayed on with uncle at the farm until he died of
that bronchitis I told you of, and the little wing was built up
again, and the lichen has grown on it, so that now you could hardly
tell it is only forty years old; and he left me all his money, and
when he died, and Whitecroft went to a distant relation, I came here
to do what bits of good I could.
And I have never told the truth about this to any one but you. I
couldn't have told it to any one as cared, but I know you don't. So
that makes it easy.
HER MARRIAGE LINES
I HAD never been out to service before, and I thought it a grand
thing when I got a place at Charleston Farm. Old Mr. Alderton was
close-fisted enough, and while he had the management of the farm it
was a place no girl need have wished to come to; but now Mr.
Alderton had given up farming this year or two, and young Master
Harry, he had the management of everything. Mr. Alderton, he stuck
in one room with his books, which he was always fond of above a bit,
and must needs be waited on hand and foot, only driving over to
Lewes every now and then.
Six pounds a year I was to have, and a little something extra at
Christmas, according as I behaved myself. It was Master Harry who
engaged me. He rode up to our cottage one fine May morning, looking
as grand on his big grey horse, and says he, through the stamping
clatter of his horse's hoofs on the paved causeway--
'Are you Deresby's Poll?' says he.
And I says, 'Yes; what might you be wanting?'
'We want a good maid up at the farm,' says he, patting his horse's
neck--'Steady, old boy--and they tell me you're a good girl that
wants a good place, and ours is a good place that wants a good girl.
So if our wages suit you, when can you come?'
And I said, 'Tuesday, if that would be convenient.'
And he took off his hat to me as if I was a queen, though I was
floury up to the elbows, being baking-day, and rode off down the
lane between the green trees, and no king could have looked
Charleston is a lonesome kind of house. It's bare and white, with
the farm buildings all round it, except on one side where the big
pond is; and lying as it does, in the cup of the hill, it seems to
shut loneliness in and good company out.
I was to be under Mrs. Blake, who had been housekeeper there since
the old mistress died. No one knew where she came from, or what had
become of Mr. Blake, if ever there had been one. For my part I never
thought she was a widow, and always expected some day to see Mr.
Blake walk in and ask for his wife. But as a widow she came, and as
a widow she passed.
She had just that kind of handsome, black, scowling looks that
always seem to need a lot of black jet and crape to set them
off--the kind of complexion that seems to be playing up for the
widow's weeds from the very cradle. I have heard it said she was
handsome, and so she may have been; and she took a deal of care of
her face, always wearing a veil when there was a wind, and her hands
to have gloves, if you please, for every bit of dirty work.
But she was a capable woman, and she soon put me in the way of my
work; and me and Betty, who was a little girl of fourteen from
Alfreston, had most of the housework to do, for Mrs. Blake would let
none of us do a hand's-turn for the old master. It was she must do
everything, and as he got more and more took up with his books there
come to be more and more waiting on him in his own room; and after a
bit Mrs. Blake used even to sit and write for him by the hour
I have heard tell old Mr. Alderton wasn't brought up to be a farmer,
but was a scholar when he was young, and had to go into farming when
he married Hakes's daughter as brought the farm with her; and now he
had gone back to his books he was more than ever took up with the
idea of finding something out--making something new that no one had
ever made before--his invention, he called it, but I never
understood what it was all about--and indeed Mrs. Blake took very
good care I shouldn't.
She wanted no one to know anything about the master except
herself--at least that was my opinion--and if that was her wish she
certainly got it.
It was hard work, but I'm not one to grudge a hand's-turn here or a
hand's-turn there, and I was happy enough; and when the men came in
for their meals I always had everything smoking hot, and just as I
should wish to sit down to it myself: And when the men come in,
Master Harry always come in with them, and he'd say, 'Bacon and
greens again, Polly, and done to a turn, I'll wager. You're the girl
for my money!' and sit down laughing to a smoking plateful.
And so I was quite happy, and with my first six months' money I got
father a new pipe and a comforter agin the winter, and as pretty a
shepherd's plaid shawl as ever you see for mother, and a knitted
waistcoat for my brother Jim, as had wanted one this two year, and
had enough left to buy myself a bonnet and gown that I didn't feel
ashamed to sit in church in under Master Harry's own blue eye. Mrs.
Blake looked very sour when she saw my new things.
'You think to catch a young man with those,' says she. 'You gells is
all alike. But it isn't fine feathers as catches a husband, as they
say. Don't you believe it.'
And I said, 'No; a husband as was caught so easy might be as easy
got rid of, which was convenient sometimes.'
And we come nigh to having words about it.
That was the day before old master went off to London unexpected.
When Mrs. Blake heard he was going, she said she would take the
opportunity of his being away to make so bold as to ask him for a
day's holiday to go and visit her friends in Ashford. So she and
master went in the trap to the station together, and off by the same
train; and curious enough, it was by the same train in the evening
they come back, and I thought to myself, 'That's like your
artfulness, Mrs. Blake, getting a lift both ways.'
And I wondered to myself whether her friends in Ashford, supposing
she had any, was as glad to see her as we was glad to get rid of
That's a day I shall always remember, for other things than her and
master going away.
That was the day Betty and I got done early, and she wanted to run
home to her mother to see about her clean changes for Sunday, which
hadn't come according to expectations.
So I said, 'Off you go, child, and mind you're back by tea,' and I
sat down in the clean kitchen to do up my old Sunday bonnet and make
it fit for everyday.
And as I was sitting there, with the bits of ribbons and things in
my lap, unpicking the lining of the bonnet, I heard the back door
open, and thinking it was one of the men bringing in wood, maybe, I
didn't turn my head, and next minute there was Master Harry had got
his hand under my chin and holding my head back, and was kissing me
as if he never meant to stop.
'Lor bless you, Master Harry,' says I, as soon as I could push him
away, dropping all the ribbons and scissors and things in my flurry,
'how could you fashion to behave so? And me alone in the house! I
thought you had better sense.'
'Don't be cross, Polly,' says he, smiling at me till I could have
forgiven him much more than that, and going down on his knees to
pick up my bits of rubbish. 'You know well enough who my choice is.
I haven't lived in the house with you six months without finding out
there's only one girl as I should like to keep my house to the end
of the chapter.'
He had that took me by surprise that I give you my word that for a
minute or two I couldn't say anything, but sat looking like a fool
and taking the ribbons and things from his hands as he picked them
When I come to my senses I said, 'I don't know what maggot has bit
you, sir, to think of such nonsense. What would the master say, and
Mrs. Blake and all?'
Well, he got up off his knees and walked up and down the kitchen
twice in a pretty fume, and he said a bad word about what Mrs. Blake
might say that I'm not going to write down here.
'And as for my father,' says he, 'I know he's ideas above what's
fitting for farmer folk, but I know best what's the right choice for
me, and if you won't mind me not telling him, and will wait for me
patient, and will give me a kind word and a kiss on a Sunday, so to
say, you and me will be happy together, and you shall be mistress of
the farm when the poor old dad's time comes to go. Not that I wish
his time nearer by an hour, for all I love you so dear, Polly.'
And I hope I did what was right, though it was with a sore heart,
for I said--
'I couldn't stay on in your folks' house to have secret
understandings with you, Master Harry. That ain't to be thought of.
But I do say this--'tain't likely that I shall marry any other chap;
and if, when you come to be master of Charleston, you are in the
same mind, why you can speak your mind to me again, and I'll listen
to you then with a freer heart, maybe, than I can to-day.'
And with that I bundled all my odds and ends into the dresser
drawer, and took the kettle off, which was a-boiling over.
'And now,' I says, 'no more of this talk, if you and me is to keep
'Shake hands on it,' says he; 'you're a good girl, Polly, and I see
more than ever what a lucky man I shall be the day I go to church
with you; and I'll not say another word till I can say it afore all
the world, with you to answer "Yes" for all the world to hear.'
So that was settled, and, of course, from that time I kept myself
more than ever to myself, not even passing the time of day with a
young man if I could help it, because I wanted to keep all my
thoughts and all my words for Master Harry, if he should ever want
Well, as I said, old Master and Mrs. Blake come back together from
the station, and from that day forward Mrs. Blake was unbearabler
than ever. And one day when Mr. Sigglesfield, the lawyer from Lewes,
was in the parlour, she a-talking to him after he'd been up to see
master (about his will, no doubt), she opened the parlour door sharp
and sudden just as I was bringing the tea for her to have it with
him like a lady--she opened the door sudden, as I say, and boxed my
ears as I stood, and I should have dropped the tea-tray but for me
being brought up a careful girl, and taught always to hold on to the
tea-tray with all my fingers.
I'm proud to say I didn't say a word, but I put down that tea-tray
and walked into the kitchen with my ear as hot as fire and my temper
to match, which was no wonder and no disgrace. Then she come into
'You go this day month, Miss,' she says, 'a-listening at doors when
your betters is a-talking. I'll teach you!' says she, and back she
goes into the parlour.
But I took no notice of what she said, for Master Harry, he hired
me, and I would take no notice from any one but him.
Mr. Sigglesfield was a-coming pretty often just then, and Harry he
come to me one day, and he says--
'It's all right, Polly, and I must tell you because you're the same
as myself, though I don't like to talk as if we was waiting for dead
men's shoes. Long may he wear them! But father's told me he has left
everything to me, right and safe, though I am the second son. My
brother John never did get on with father, but when all's mine,
we'll see that John don't starve.'
And that day week old master was a corpse.
He was found dead in his bed, and the doctor said it was old age and
a sudden breaking up.
Mrs. Blake she cried and took on fearful, more than was right or
natural, and when the will was to be read in the parlour after the
funeral she come into the kitchen where I was sitting crying
too--not that I was fond of old master, but the kind of crying there
is at funerals is catching, I think, and besides, I was sorry for
Master Harry, who was a good son, and quite broken down.
'You can come and hear the will read,' she says, 'for all your
impudence, you hussy!'
And I don't know why I went in after her impudence, but I did. Mr.
Sigglesfield was there, and some of the relations, who had come a
long way to hear if they was to pull anything out of the fire; and
Master Harry was there, looking very pale through all his
sun-brownness. And says he, 'I suppose the will's got to be read,
but my father, he told me what I was to expect. It's all to me, and
one hundred to Mrs. Blake, and five pounds apiece to the servants.'
And Mr. Sigglesfield looks at him out of his ferret eyes, and says
very quietly, 'I think the will had better be read, Mr. Alderton.'
'So I think,' says Mrs. Blake, tossing her head and rubbing her red
eyes with her handkerchief at the same minute almost.
And read it was, and all us people sat still as mice, listening to
the wonderful tale of it. For wonderful it was, though folded up
very curious and careful in a pack of lawyer's talk. And when it was
finished, Master Harry stood up on his feet, and he said--
'I don't understand your cursed lawyer's lingo. Does this mean that
my father has left me fifty pounds, and has left the rest, stock,
lock and barrel, to his wife Martha. Who in hell,' he says, 'is his
And at that Mrs. Blake stood up and fetched a curtsy to the company.
'That's me,' she said, 'by your leave; married two months come
Tuesday, and here's my lines.'
And there they were. There was no getting over them. Married at St.
Mary Woolnoth, in London, by special licence.
'O you wicked old Jezebel!' says Master Harry, shaking his fist at
her; 'here's a fine end for a young man's hopes! Is it true?' says
he, turning to the lawyer. And Mr. Sigglesfield shakes his head and
'I am afraid so, my poor fellow.'
'Jezebel, indeed!' cries Mrs. Blake. 'Out of my house, my young
gamecock! Get out and crow on your own dunghill, if you can find
And Harry turned and went without a word. Then I slipped out too,
and I snatched my old bonnet and shawl off their peg in the kitchen,
and I ran down the lane after him.
'Harry,' says I, and he turned and looked at me like something
that's hunted looks when it gets in a corner and turns on you. Then
I got up with him and caught hold of his arm with both my hands.