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Lorna Doone, A Romance of Exmoor by R. D. Blackmore

Part 16 out of 17

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outs already. Therefore, I stood waiting steadily,
with one hand in my pocket feeling a sample of corn for
market; and the other against the rock, while I
wondered to see it so brown already.

Those men came back in a little while, with a sharp
short message that Captain Carver would come out and
speak to me by-and-by, when his pipe was finished.
Accordingly, I waited long, and we talked about the
signs of bloom for the coming apple season, and the
rain that had fallen last Wednesday night, and the
principal dearth of Devonshire, that it will not grow
many cowslips--which we quite agreed to be the
prettiest of spring flowers; and all the time I was
wondering how many black and deadly deeds these two
innocent youths had committed, even since last

At length, a heavy and haughty step sounded along the
stone roof of the way; and then the great Carver Doone
drew up, and looked at me rather scornfully. Not with
any spoken scorn, nor flash of strong contumely; but
with that air of thinking little, and praying not to be
troubled, which always vexes a man who feels that he
ought not to be despised so, and yet knows not how to
help it.

'What is it you want, young man?' he asked, as if he
had never seen me before.

In spite of that strong loathing which I always felt at
sight of him, I commanded my temper moderately, and
told him that I was come for his good, and that of his
worshipful company, far more than for my own. That a
general feeling of indignation had arisen among us at
the recent behaviour of certain young men, for which he
might not be answerable, and for which we would not
condemn him, without knowing the rights of the
question. But I begged him clearly to understand that
a vile and inhuman wrong had been done, and such as we
could not put up with; but that if he would make what
amends he could by restoring the poor woman, and giving
up that odious brute who had slain the harmless infant,
we would take no further motion; and things should go
on as usual. As I put this in the fewest words that
would meet my purpose, I was grieved to see a
disdainful smile spread on his sallow countenance.
Then he made me a bow of mock courtesy, and replied as

'Sir John, your new honours have turned your poor head,
as might have been expected. We are not in the habit
of deserting anything that belongs to us; far less our
sacred relatives. The insolence of your demand
well-nigh outdoes the ingratitude. If there be a man
upon Exmoor who has grossly ill-used us, kidnapped our
young women, and slain half a dozen of our young men,
you are that outrageous rogue, Sir John. And after all
this, how have we behaved? We have laid no hand upon
your farm, we have not carried off your women, we have
even allowed you to take our Queen, by creeping and
crawling treachery; and we have given you leave of
absence to help your cousin the highwayman, and to come
home with a title. And now, how do you requite us? By
inflaming the boorish indignation at a little frolic of
our young men; and by coming with insolent demands, to
yield to which would ruin us. Ah, you ungrateful

As he turned away in sorrow from me, shaking his head
at my badness, I became so overcome (never having been
quite assured, even by people's praises, about my own
goodness); moreover, the light which he threw upon
things differed so greatly from my own, that, in a
word--not to be too long--I feared that I was a
villain. And with many bitter pangs--for I have bad
things to repent of--I began at my leisure to ask
myself whether or not this bill of indictment against
John Ridd was true. Some of it I knew to be (however
much I condemned myself) altogether out of reason; for
instance, about my going away with Lorna very quietly,
over the snow, and to save my love from being starved
away from me. In this there was no creeping neither
crawling treachery; for all was done with sliding; and
yet I was so out of training for being charged by other
people beyond mine own conscience, that Carver Doone's
harsh words came on me, like prickly spinach sown with
raking. Therefore I replied, and said,--

'It is true that I owe you gratitude, sir, for a
certain time of forbearance; and it is to prove my
gratitude that I am come here now. I do not think that
my evil deeds can be set against your own; although I
cannot speak flowingly upon my good deeds as you can.
I took your Queen because you starved her, having
stolen her long before, and killed her mother and
brother. This is not for me to dwell upon now; any
more than I would say much about your murdering of my
father. But how the balance hangs between us, God
knows better than thou or I, thou low miscreant, Carver

I had worked myself up, as I always do, in the manner
of heavy men; growing hot like an ill-washered wheel
revolving, though I start with a cool axle; and I felt
ashamed of myself for heat, and ready to ask pardon.
But Carver Doone regarded me with a noble and fearless

'I have given thee thy choice, John Ridd,' he said in a
lofty manner, which made me drop away under him; 'I
always wish to do my best with the worst people who
come near me. And of all I have ever met with thou art
the very worst, Sir John, and the most dishonest.'

Now after all my labouring to pay every man to a penny,
and to allow the women over, when among the couch-grass
(which is a sad thing for their gowns), to be charged
like this, I say, so amazed me that I stood, with my
legs quite open, and ready for an earthquake. And the
scornful way in which he said 'Sir John,' went to my
very heart, reminding me of my littleness. But seeing
no use in bandying words, nay, rather the chance of
mischief, I did my best to look calmly at him, and to
say with a quiet voice, 'Farewell, Carver Doone, this
time, our day of reckoning is nigh.'

'Thou fool, it is come,' he cried, leaping aside into
the niche of rock by the doorway; 'Fire!'

Save for the quickness of spring, and readiness,
learned in many a wrestling bout, that knavish trick
must have ended me; but scarce was the word 'fire!' out
of his mouth ere I was out of fire, by a single bound
behind the rocky pillar of the opening. In this jump I
was so brisk, at impulse of the love of life (for I saw
the muzzles set upon me from the darkness of the
cavern), that the men who had trained their guns upon
me with goodwill and daintiness, could not check their
fingers crooked upon the heavy triggers; and the volley
sang with a roar behind it, down the avenue of crags.

With one thing and another, and most of all the
treachery of this dastard scheme, I was so amazed that
I turned and ran, at the very top of my speed, away
from these vile fellows; and luckily for me, they had
not another charge to send after me. And thus by good
fortune, I escaped; but with a bitter heart, and mind
at their treacherous usage.

Without any further hesitation; I agreed to take
command of the honest men who were burning to punish,
ay and destroy, those outlaws, as now beyond all
bearing. One condition, however, I made, namely, that
the Counsellor should be spared if possible; not
because he was less a villain than any of the others,
but that he seemed less violent; and above all, had
been good to Annie. And I found hard work to make
them listen to my wish upon this point; for of all the
Doones, Sir Counsellor had made himself most hated, by
his love of law and reason.

We arranged that all our men should come and fall into
order with pike and musket, over against our dung-hill,
and we settled early in the day, that their wives might
come and look at them. For most of these men had good
wives; quite different from sweethearts, such as the
militia had; women indeed who could hold to a man, and
see to him, and bury him--if his luck were evil--and
perhaps have no one afterwards. And all these women
pressed their rights upon their precious husbands, and
brought so many children with them, and made such a
fuss, and hugging, and racing after little legs, that
our farm-yard might be taken for an out-door school for
babies rather than a review ground.

I myself was to and fro among the children continually;
for if I love anything in the world, foremost I love
children. They warm, and yet they cool our hearts, as
we think of what we were, and what in young clothes we
hoped to be; and how many things have come across. And
to see our motives moving in the little things that
know not what their aim or object is, must almost or
ought at least, to lead us home, and soften us. For
either end of life is home; both source and issue being

Nevertheless, I must confess that the children were a
plague sometimes. They never could have enough of
me--being a hundred to one, you might say--but I had
more than enough of them; and yet was not contented.
For they had so many ways of talking, and of tugging at
my hair, and of sitting upon my neck (not even two with
their legs alike), and they forced me to jump so
vehemently, seeming to court the peril of my coming
down neck and crop with them, and urging me still to go
faster, however fast I might go with them; I assure you
that they were sometimes so hard and tyrannical over
me, that I might almost as well have been among the
very Doones themselves.

Nevertheless, the way in which the children made me
useful proved also of some use to me; for their mothers
were so pleased by the exertions of the 'great
Gee-gee'--as all the small ones entitled me--that they
gave me unlimited power and authority over their
husbands; moreover, they did their utmost among their
relatives round about, to fetch recruits for our little
band. And by such means, several of the yeomanry from
Barnstaple, and from Tiverton, were added to our
number; and inasmuch as these were armed with heavy
swords, and short carabines, their appearance was truly

Tom Faggus also joined us heartily, being now quite
healed of his wound, except at times when the wind was
easterly. He was made second in command to me; and I
would gladly have had him first, as more fertile in
expedients; but he declined such rank on the plea that
I knew most of the seat of war; besides that I might be
held in some measure to draw authority from the King.
Also Uncle Ben came over to help us with his advice and
presence, as well as with a band of stout warehousemen,
whom he brought from Dulverton. For he had never
forgiven the old outrage put upon him; and though it
had been to his interest to keep quiet during the last
attack, under Commander Stickles--for the sake of his
secret gold mine--yet now he was in a position to give
full vent to his feelings. For he and his partners
when fully-assured of the value of their diggings, had
obtained from the Crown a licence to adventure in
search of minerals, by payment of a heavy fine and a
yearly royalty. Therefore they had now no longer any
cause for secrecy, neither for dread of the outlaws;
having so added to their force as to be a match for
them. And although Uncle Ben was not the man to keep
his miners idle an hour more than might be helped, he
promised that when we had fixed the moment for an
assault on the valley, a score of them should come to
aid us, headed by Simon Carfax, and armed with the guns
which they always kept for the protection of their

Now whether it were Uncle Ben, or whether it were Tom
Faggus or even my own self--for all three of us claimed
the sole honour--is more than I think fair to settle
without allowing them a voice. But at any rate, a
clever thing was devised among us; and perhaps it would
be the fairest thing to say that this bright stratagem
(worthy of the great Duke himself) was contributed,
little by little, among the entire three of us, all
having pipes, and schnapps-and-water, in the
chimney-corner. However, the world, which always
judges according to reputation, vowed that so fine a
stroke of war could only come from a highwayman; and so
Tom Faggus got all the honour, at less perhaps than a
third of the cost.

Not to attempt to rob him of it--for robbers, more than
any other, contend for rights of property--let me try
to describe this grand artifice. It was known that the
Doones were fond of money, as well as strong drink, and
other things; and more especially fond of gold, when
they could get it pure and fine. Therefore it was
agreed that in this way we should tempt them; for we
knew that they looked with ridicule upon our rustic
preparations; after repulsing King's troopers, and the
militia of two counties, was it likely that they should
yield their fortress to a set of ploughboys? We, for
our part, felt of course, the power of this reasoning,
and that where regular troops had failed, half-armed
countrymen must fail, except by superior judgment and
harmony of action. Though perhaps the militia would
have sufficed, if they had only fought against the foe,
instead of against each other. From these things we
took warning; having failed through over-confidence,
was it not possible now to make the enemy fail through
the selfsame cause?

Hence, what we devised was this; to delude from home a
part of the robbers, and fall by surprise on the other
part. We caused it to be spread abroad that a large
heap of gold was now collected at the mine of the
Wizard's Slough. And when this rumour must have
reached them, through women who came to and fro, as
some entirely faithful to them were allowed to do, we
sent Captain Simon Carfax, the father of little Gwenny,
to demand an interview with the Counsellor, by night,
and as it were secretly. Then he was to set forth a
list of imaginary grievances against the owners of the
mine; and to offer partly through resentment, partly
through the hope of gain, to betray into their hands,
upon the Friday night, by far the greatest weight of
gold as yet sent up for refining. He was to have one
quarter part, and they to take the residue. But
inasmuch as the convoy across the moors, under his
command, would be strong, and strongly armed, the
Doones must be sure to send not less than a score of
men, if possible. He himself, at a place agreed upon,
and fit for an ambuscade, would call a halt, and
contrive in the darkness to pour a little water into
the priming of his company's guns.

It cost us some trouble and a great deal of money to
bring the sturdy Cornishman into this deceitful part;
and perhaps he never would have consented but for his
obligation to me, and the wrongs (as he said) of his
daughter. However, as he was the man for the task,
both from his coolness and courage, and being known to
have charge of the mine, I pressed him, until he
undertook to tell all the lies we required. And right
well he did it too, having once made up his mind to it;
and perceiving that his own interests called for the
total destruction of the robbers.



Having resolved on a night-assault (as our
undisciplined men, three-fourths of whom had never been
shot at, could not fairly be expected to march up to
visible musket-mouths), we cared not much about
drilling our forces, only to teach them to hold a
musket, so far as we could supply that weapon to those
with the cleverest eyes; and to give them familiarity
with the noise it made in exploding. And we fixed upon
Friday night for our venture, because the moon would be
at the full; and our powder was coming from Dulverton
on the Friday afternoon.

Uncle Reuben did not mean to expose himself to
shooting, his time of life for risk of life being now
well over and the residue too valuable. But his
counsels, and his influence, and above all his
warehousemen, well practised in beating carpets, were
of true service to us. His miners also did great
wonders, having a grudge against the Doones; as indeed
who had not for thirty miles round their valley?

It was settled that the yeomen, having good horses
under them, should give account (with the miners' help)
of as many Doones as might be despatched to plunder the
pretended gold. And as soon as we knew that this party
of robbers, be it more or less, was out of hearing from
the valley, we were to fall to, ostensibly at the
Doone-gate (which was impregnable now), but in reality
upon their rear, by means of my old water-slide. For I
had chosen twenty young fellows, partly miners, and
partly warehousemen, and sheep farmers, and some of
other vocations, but all to be relied upon for spirit
and power of climbing. And with proper tools to aid
us, and myself to lead the way, I felt no doubt
whatever but that we could all attain the crest where
first I had met with Lorna.

Upon the whole, I rejoiced that Lorna was not present
now. It must have been irksome to her feelings to have
all her kindred and old associates (much as she kept
aloof from them) put to death without ceremony, or else
putting all of us to death. For all of us were
resolved this time to have no more shilly-shallying;
but to go through with a nasty business, in the style
of honest Englishmen, when the question comes to 'Your
life or mine.'

There was hardly a man among us who had not suffered
bitterly from the miscreants now before us. One had
lost his wife perhaps, another had lost a
daughter--according to their ages, another had lost his
favourite cow; in a word, there was scarcely any one
who had not to complain of a hayrick; and what
surprised me then, not now, was that the men least
injured made the greatest push concerning it. But be
the wrong too great to speak of, or too small to swear
about, from poor Kit Badcock to rich Master Huckaback,
there was not one but went heart and soul for stamping
out these firebrands.

The moon was lifting well above the shoulder of the
uplands, when we, the chosen band, set forth, having
the short cut along the valleys to foot of the
Bagworthy water; and therefore having allowed the rest
an hour, to fetch round the moors and hills; we were
not to begin our climb until we heard a musket fired
from the heights on the left-hand side, where John Fry
himself was stationed, upon his own and his wife's
request; so as to keep out of action. And that was the
place where I had been used to sit, and to watch for
Lorna. And John Fry was to fire his gun, with a ball
of wool inside it, so soon as he heard the hurly-burly
at the Doone-gate beginning; which we, by reason of
waterfall, could not hear, down in the meadows there.

We waited a very long time, with the moon marching up
heaven steadfastly, and the white fog trembling in
chords and columns, like a silver harp of the meadows.
And then the moon drew up the fogs, and scarfed herself
in white with them; and so being proud, gleamed upon
the water, like a bride at her looking-glass; and yet
there was no sound of either John Fry, or his

I began to think that the worthy John, being out of all
danger, and having brought a counterpane (according to
his wife's directions, because one of the children had
a cold), must veritably have gone to sleep; leaving
other people to kill, or be killed, as might be the
will of God; so that he were comfortable. But herein
I did wrong to John, and am ready to acknowledge it;
for suddenly the most awful noise that anything short
of thunder could make, came down among the rocks, and
went and hung upon the corners.

'The signal, my lads,' I cried, leaping up and rubbing
my eyes; for even now, while condemning John unjustly,
I was giving him right to be hard upon me. 'Now hold
on by the rope, and lay your quarter-staffs across, my
lads; and keep your guns pointing to heaven, lest haply
we shoot one another.'

'Us shan't never shutt one anoother, wi' our goons at
that mark, I reckon,' said an oldish chap, but as tough
as leather, and esteemed a wit for his dryness.

'You come next to me, old Ike; you be enough to dry up
the waters; now, remember, all lean well forward. If
any man throws his weight back, down he goes; and
perhaps he may never get up again; and most likely he
will shoot himself.'

I was still more afraid of their shooting me; for my
chief alarm in this steep ascent was neither of the
water nor of the rocks, but of the loaded guns we bore.
If any man slipped, off might go his gun, and however
good his meaning, I being first was most likely to take
far more than I fain would apprehend.

For this cause, I had debated with Uncle Ben and with
Cousin Tom as to the expediency of our climbing with
guns unloaded. But they, not being in the way
themselves, assured me that there was nothing to fear,
except through uncommon clumsiness; and that as for
charging our guns at the top, even veteran troops could
scarcely be trusted to perform it properly in the
hurry, and the darkness, and the noise of fighting
before them.

However, thank God, though a gun went off, no one was
any the worse for it, neither did the Doones notice it,
in the thick of the firing in front of them. For the
orders to those of the sham attack, conducted by Tom
Faggus, were to make the greatest possible noise,
without exposure of themselves; until we, in the rear,
had fallen to; which John Fry was again to give the
signal of.

Therefore we, of the chosen band, stole up the meadow
quietly, keeping in the blots of shade, and hollow of
the watercourse. And the earliest notice the
Counsellor had, or any one else, of our presence, was
the blazing of the log-wood house, where lived that
villain Carver. It was my especial privilege to set
this house on fire; upon which I had insisted,
exclusively and conclusively. No other hand but mine
should lay a brand, or strike steel on flint for it; I
had made all preparations carefully for a goodly blaze.
And I must confess that I rubbed my hands, with a
strong delight and comfort, when I saw the home of that
man, who had fired so many houses, having its turn of
smoke, and blaze, and of crackling fury.

We took good care, however, to burn no innocent women
or children in that most righteous destruction. For we
brought them all out beforehand; some were glad, and
some were sorry; according to their dispositions. For
Carver had ten or a dozen wives; and perhaps that had
something to do with his taking the loss of Lorna so
easily. One child I noticed, as I saved him; a fair
and handsome little fellow, whom (if Carver Doone could
love anything on earth beside his wretched self) he did
love. The boy climbed on my back and rode; and much as
I hated his father, it was not in my heart to say or do
a thing to vex him.

Leaving these poor injured people to behold their
burning home, we drew aside, by my directions, into the
covert beneath the cliff. But not before we had laid
our brands to three other houses, after calling the
women forth, and bidding them go for their husbands,
and to come and fight a hundred of us. In the smoke
and rush, and fire, they believed that we were a
hundred; and away they ran, in consternation, to the
battle at the Doone-gate.

'All Doone-town is on fire, on fire!' we heard them
shrieking as they went; 'a hundred soldiers are burning
it, with a dreadful great man at the head of them!'

Presently, just as I expected, back came the warriors
of the Doones; leaving but two or three at the gate,
and burning with wrath to crush under foot the
presumptuous clowns in their valley. Just then the
waxing fire leaped above the red crest of the cliffs,
and danced on the pillars of the forest, and lapped
like a tide on the stones of the slope. All the valley
flowed with light, and the limpid waters reddened, and
the fair young women shone, and the naked children

But the finest sight of all was to see those haughty
men striding down the causeway darkly, reckless of
their end, but resolute to have two lives for every
one. A finer dozen of young men could not have been
found in the world perhaps, nor a braver, nor a viler

Seeing how few there were of them, I was very loath to
fire, although I covered the leader, who appeared to be
dashing Charley; for they were at easy distance now,
brightly shone by the fire-light, yet ignorant where
to look for us. I thought that we might take them
prisoners--though what good that could be God knows, as
they must have been hanged thereafter--anyhow I was
loath to shoot, or to give the word to my followers.

But my followers waited for no word; they saw a fair
shot at the men they abhorred, the men who had robbed
them of home or of love, and the chance was too much
for their charity. At a signal from old Ikey, who
levelled his own gun first, a dozen muskets were
discharged, and half of the Doones dropped lifeless,
like so many logs of firewood, or chopping-blocks
rolled over.

Although I had seen a great battle before, and a
hundred times the carnage, this appeared to me to be
horrible; and I was at first inclined to fall upon our
men for behaving so. But one instant showed me that
they were right; for while the valley was filled with
howling, and with shrieks of women, and the beams of
the blazing houses fell, and hissed in the bubbling
river; all the rest of the Doones leaped at us, like so
many demons. They fired wildly, not seeing us well
among the hazel bushes; and then they clubbed their
muskets, or drew their swords, as might be; and
furiously drove at us.

For a moment, although we were twice their number, we
fell back before their valorous fame, and the power of
their onset. For my part, admiring their courage
greatly, and counting it slur upon manliness that two
should be down upon one so, I withheld my hand awhile;
for I cared to meet none but Carver; and he was not
among them. The whirl and hurry of this fight, and the
hard blows raining down--for now all guns were
empty--took away my power of seeing, or reasoning upon
anything. Yet one thing I saw, which dwelled long with
me; and that was Christopher Badcock spending his life
to get Charley's.

How he had found out, none may tell; both being dead so
long ago; but, at any rate, he had found out that
Charley was the man who had robbed him of his wife and
honour. It was Carver Doone who took her away, but
Charleworth Doone was beside him; and, according to
cast of dice, she fell to Charley's share. All this
Kit Badcock (who was mad, according to our measures)
had discovered, and treasured up; and now was his

He had come into the conflict without a weapon of any
kind; only begging me to let him be in the very thick
of it. For him, he said, life was no matter, after the
loss of his wife and child; but death was matter to
him, and he meant to make the most of it. Such a face
I never saw, and never hope to see again, as when poor
Kit Badcock spied Charley coming towards us.

We had thought this man a patient fool, a philosopher
of a little sort, or one who could feel nothing. And
his quiet manner of going about, and the gentleness of
his answers (when some brutes asked him where his wife
was, and whether his baby had been well-trussed),
these had misled us to think that the man would turn
the mild cheek to everything. But I, in the loneliness
of our barn, had listened, and had wept with him.

Therefore was I not surprised, so much as all the rest
of us, when, in the foremost of red light, Kit went up
to Charleworth Doone, as if to some inheritance; and
took his seisin of right upon him, being himself a
powerful man; and begged a word aside with him. What
they said aside, I know not; all I know is that without
weapon, each man killed the other. And Margery Badcock
came, and wept, and hung upon her poor husband; and
died, that summer, of heart-disease.

Now for these and other things (whereof I could tell a
thousand) was the reckoning come that night; and not a
line we missed of it; soon as our bad blood was up. I
like not to tell of slaughter, though it might be of
wolves and tigers; and that was a night of fire and
slaughter, and of very long-harboured revenge. Enough
that ere the daylight broke upon that wan March
morning, the only Doones still left alive were the
Counsellor and Carver. And of all the dwellings of the
Doones (inhabited with luxury, and luscious taste, and
licentiousness) not even one was left, but all made
potash in the river.

This may seem a violent and unholy revenge upon them.
And I (who led the heart of it) have in these my latter
years doubted how I shall be judged, not of men--for
God only knows the errors of man's judgments--but by
that great God Himself, the front of whose forehead is



From that great confusion--for nothing can be broken
up, whether lawful or unlawful, without a vast amount
of dust, and many people grumbling, and mourning for
the good old times, when all the world was happiness,
and every man a gentleman, and the sun himself far
brighter than since the brassy idol upon which he shone
was broken--from all this loss of ancient landmarks (as
unrobbed men began to call our clearance of those
murderers) we returned on the following day, almost as
full of anxiety as we were of triumph. In the first
place, what could we possibly do with all these women
and children, thrown on our hands as one might say,
with none to protect and care for them? Again how
should we answer to the justices of the peace, or
perhaps even to Lord Jeffreys, for having, without even
a warrant, taken the law into our own hands, and abated
our nuisance so forcibly? And then, what was to be
done with the spoil, which was of great value; though
the diamond necklace came not to public light? For we
saw a mighty host of claimants already leaping up for
booty. Every man who had ever been robbed, expected
usury on his loss; the lords of the manors demanded the
whole; and so did the King's Commissioner of revenue at
Porlock; and so did the men who had fought our battle;
while even the parsons, both Bowden and Powell, and
another who had no parish in it, threatened us with the
just wrath of the Church, unless each had tithes of the
whole of it.

Now this was not as it ought to be; and it seemed as if
by burning the nest of robbers, we had but hatched
their eggs; until being made sole guardian of the
captured treasure (by reason of my known honesty) I hit
upon a plan, which gave very little satisfaction; yet
carried this advantage, that the grumblers argued
against one another and for the most part came to
blows; which renewed their goodwill to me, as being
abused by the adversary.

And my plan was no more than this--not to pay a
farthing to lord of manor, parson, or even King's
Commissioner, but after making good some of the recent
and proven losses--where the men could not afford to
lose--to pay the residue (which might be worth some
fifty thousand pounds) into the Exchequer at
Westminster; and then let all the claimants file what
wills they pleased in Chancery.

Now this was a very noble device, for the mere name of
Chancery, and the high repute of the fees therein, and
low repute of the lawyers, and the comfortable
knowledge that the woolsack itself is the golden
fleece, absorbing gold for ever, if the standard be but
pure; consideration of these things staved off at once
the lords of the manors, and all the little farmers,
and even those whom most I feared; videlicet, the
parsons. And the King's Commissioner was compelled to
profess himself contented, although of all he was most
aggrieved; for his pickings would have been goodly.

Moreover, by this plan I made--although I never thought
of that--a mighty friend worth all the enemies, whom
the loss of money moved. The first man now in the
kingdom (by virtue perhaps of energy, rather than of
excellence) was the great Lord Jeffreys, appointed the
head of the Equity, as well as the law of the realm,
for his kindness in hanging five hundred people,
without the mere brief of trial. Nine out of ten of
these people were innocent, it was true; but that
proved the merit of the Lord Chief Justice so much the
greater for hanging them, as showing what might be
expected of him, when he truly got hold of a guilty
man. Now the King had seen the force of this argument;
and not being without gratitude for a high-seasoned
dish of cruelty, had promoted the only man in England,
combining the gifts of both butcher and cook.

Nevertheless, I do beg you all to believe of me--and I
think that, after following me so long, you must
believe it--that I did not even know at the time of
Lord Jeffreys's high promotion. Not that my knowledge
of this would have led me to act otherwise in the
matter; for my object was to pay into an office, and
not to any official; neither if I had known the fact,
could I have seen its bearing upon the receipt of my
money. For the King's Exchequer is, meseemeth, of the
Common Law; while Chancery is of Equity, and well named
for its many chances. But the true result of the thing
was this--Lord Jeffreys being now head of the law, and
almost head of the kingdom, got possession of that
money, and was kindly pleased with it.

And this met our second difficulty; for the law having
won and laughed over the spoil, must have injured its
own title by impugning our legality.

Next, with regard to the women and children, we were
long in a state of perplexity. We did our very best at
the farm, and so did many others to provide for them,
until they should manage about their own subsistence.
And after a while this trouble went, as nearly all
troubles go with time. Some of the women were taken
back by their parents, or their husbands, or it may be
their sweethearts; and those who failed of this, went
forth, some upon their own account to the New World
plantations, where the fairer sex is valuable; and some
to English cities; and the plainer ones to field work.
And most of the children went with their mothers, or
were bound apprentices; only Carver Doone's handsome
child had lost his mother and stayed with me.

This boy went about with me everywhere. He had taken
as much of liking to me--first shown in his eyes by the
firelight--as his father had of hatred; and I,
perceiving his noble courage, scorn of lies, and high
spirit, became almost as fond of Ensie as he was of me.
He told us that his name was 'Ensie,' meant for
'Ensor,' I suppose, from his father's grandfather, the
old Sir Ensor Doone. And this boy appeared to be
Carver's heir, having been born in wedlock, contrary to
the general manner and custom of the Doones.

However, although I loved the poor child, I could not
help feeling very uneasy about the escape of his
father, the savage and brutal Carver. This man was
left to roam the country, homeless, foodless, and
desperate, with his giant strength, and great skill in
arms, and the whole world to be revenged upon. For his
escape the miners, as I shall show, were answerable;
but of the Counsellor's safe departure the burden lay
on myself alone. And inasmuch as there are people who
consider themselves ill-used, unless one tells them
everything, straitened though I am for space, I will
glance at this transaction.

After the desperate charge of young Doones had been met
by us, and broken, and just as Poor Kit Badcock died in
the arms of the dead Charley, I happened to descry a
patch of white on the grass of the meadow, like the
head of a sheep after washing-day. Observing with some
curiosity how carefully this white thing moved along
the bars of darkness betwixt the panels of firelight, I
ran up to intercept it, before it reached the little
postern which we used to call Gwenny's door.
Perceiving me, the white thing stopped, and was for
making back again; but I ran up at full speed; and lo,
it was the flowing silvery hair of that sage the
Counsellor, who was scuttling away upon all fours; but
now rose and confronted me.

'John,' he said, 'Sir John, you will not play falsely
with your ancient friend, among these violent fellows,
I look to you to protect me, John.'

'Honoured sir, you are right,' I replied; 'but surely
that posture was unworthy of yourself, and your many
resources. It is my intention to let you go free.'

'I knew it. I could have sworn to it. You are a noble
fellow, John. I said so, from the very first; you are
a noble fellow, and an ornament to any rank.'

'But upon two conditions,' I added, gently taking him
by the arm; for instead of displaying any desire to
commune with my nobility, he was edging away toward the
postern; 'the first is that you tell me truly (for now
it can matter to none of you) who it was that slew my

'I will tell you truly and frankly, John; however
painful to me to confess it. It was my son, Carver.'

'I thought as much, or I felt as much all along,' I
answered; 'but the fault was none of yours, sir; for
you were not even present.'

'If I had been there, it would not have happened. I am
always opposed to violence. Therefore, let me haste
away; this scene is against my nature.'

'You shall go directly, Sir Counsellor, after meeting
my other condition; which is, that you place in my
hands Lady Lorna's diamond necklace.'

'Ah, how often I have wished,' said the old man with a
heavy sigh, 'that it might yet be in my power to ease
my mind in that respect, and to do a thoroughly good
deed by lawful restitution.'

'Then try to have it in your power, sir. Surely, with
my encouragement, you might summon resolution.'

'Alas, John, the resolution has been ready long ago.
But the thing is not in my possession. Carver, my son,
who slew your father, upon him you will find the
necklace. What are jewels to me, young man, at my time
of life? Baubles and trash,--I detest them, from the
sins they have led me to answer for. When you come to
my age, good Sir John, you will scorn all jewels, and
care only for a pure and bright conscience. Ah! ah!
Let me go. I have made my peace with God.'

He looked so hoary, and so silvery, and serene in the
moonlight, that verily I must have believed him, if he
had not drawn in his breast. But I happened to have
noticed that when an honest man gives vent to noble and
great sentiments, he spreads his breast, and throws it
out, as if his heart were swelling; whereas I had seen
this old gentleman draw in his breast more than once,
as if it happened to contain better goods than

'Will you applaud me, kind sir,' I said, keeping him
very tight, all the while, 'if I place it in your power
to ratify your peace with God? The pledge is upon your
heart, no doubt, for there it lies at this moment.'

With these words, and some apology for having recourse
to strong measures, I thrust my hand inside his
waistcoat, and drew forth Lorna's necklace, purely
sparkling in the moonlight, like the dancing of new
stars. The old man made a stab at me, with a knife
which I had not espied; but the vicious onset failed;
and then he knelt, and clasped his hands.

'Oh, for God's sake, John, my son, rob me not in that
manner. They belong to me; and I love them so; I
would give almost my life for them. There is one jewel
I can look at for hours, and see all the lights of
heaven in it; which I never shall see elsewhere. All
my wretched, wicked life--oh, John, I am a sad
hypocrite--but give me back my jewels. Or else kill me
here; I am a babe in your hands; but I must have back
my jewels.'

As his beautiful white hair fell away from his noble
forehead, like a silver wreath of glory, and his
powerful face, for once, was moved with real emotion, I
was so amazed and overcome by the grand contradictions
of nature, that verily I was on the point of giving him
back the necklace. But honesty, which is said to be
the first instinct of all the Ridds (though I myself
never found it so), happened here to occur to me, and
so I said, without more haste than might be expected,--

'Sir Counsellor, I cannot give you what does not belong
to me. But if you will show me that particular
diamond which is heaven to you, I will take upon myself
the risk and the folly of cutting it out for you. And
with that you must go contented; and I beseech you not
to starve with that jewel upon your lips.'

Seeing no hope of better terms, he showed me his pet
love of a jewel; and I thought of what Lorna was to me,
as I cut it out (with the hinge of my knife severing
the snakes of gold) and placed it in his careful hand.
Another moment, and he was gone, and away through
Gwenny's postern; and God knows what became of him.

Now as to Carver, the thing was this--so far as I could
ascertain from the valiant miners, no two of whom told
the same story, any more than one of them told it
twice. The band of Doones which sallied forth for the
robbery of the pretended convoy was met by Simon
Carfax, according to arrangement, at the ruined house
called The Warren, in that part of Bagworthy Forest
where the river Exe (as yet a very small stream) runs
through it. The Warren, as all our people know, had
belonged to a fine old gentleman, whom every one called
'The Squire,' who had retreated from active life to
pass the rest of his days in fishing, and shooting, and
helping his neighbours. For he was a man of some
substance; and no poor man ever left The Warren without
a bag of good victuals, and a few shillings put in his
pocket. However, this poor Squire never made a greater
mistake, than in hoping to end his life peacefully upon
the banks of a trout-stream, and in the green forest of
Bagworthy. For as he came home from the brook at
dusk, with his fly-rod over his shoulder, the Doones
fell upon him, and murdered him, and then sacked his
house, and burned it.

Now this had made honest people timid about going past
The Warren at night; for, of course, it was said that
the old Squire 'walked,' upon certain nights of the
moon, in and out of the trunks of trees, on the green
path from the river. On his shoulder he bore a
fishing-rod, and his book of trout-flies, in one hand,
and on his back a wicker-creel; and now and then he
would burst out laughing to think of his coming so near
the Doones.

And now that one turns to consider it, this seems a
strangely righteous thing, that the scene of one of the
greatest crimes even by Doones committed should, after
twenty years, become the scene of vengeance falling
(like hail from heaven) upon them. For although The
Warren lies well away to the westward of the mine; and
the gold, under escort to Bristowe, or London, would
have gone in the other direction; Captain Carfax,
finding this place best suited for working of his
design, had persuaded the Doones, that for reasons of
Government, the ore must go first to Barnstaple for
inspection, or something of that sort. And as every
one knows that our Government sends all things westward
when eastward bound, this had won the more faith for
Simon, as being according to nature.

Now Simon, having met these flowers of the flock of
villainy, where the rising moonlight flowed through the
weir-work of the wood, begged them to dismount; and led
them with an air of mystery into the Squire's ruined
hall, black with fire, and green with weeds.

'Captain, I have found a thing,' he said to Carver
Doone, himself, 'which may help to pass the hour, ere
the lump of gold comes by. The smugglers are a noble
race; but a miner's eyes are a match for them. There
lies a puncheon of rare spirit, with the Dutchman's
brand upon it, hidden behind the broken hearth. Set a
man to watch outside; and let us see what this be

With one accord they agreed to this, and Carver pledged
Master Carfax, and all the Doones grew merry. But
Simon being bound, as he said, to see to their strict
sobriety, drew a bucket of water from the well into
which they had thrown the dead owner, and begged them
to mingle it with their drink; which some of them did,
and some refused.

But the water from that well was poured, while they
were carousing, into the priming-pan of every gun of
theirs; even as Simon had promised to do with the guns
of the men they were come to kill. Then just as the
giant Carver arose, with a glass of pure hollands in
his hand, and by the light of the torch they had
struck, proposed the good health of the Squire's
ghost--in the broken doorway stood a press of men, with
pointed muskets, covering every drunken Doone. How it
fared upon that I know not, having none to tell me; for
each man wrought, neither thought of telling, nor
whether he might be alive to tell. The Doones rushed
to their guns at once, and pointed them, and pulled at
them; but the Squire's well had drowned their fire; and
then they knew that they were betrayed, but resolved to
fight like men for it. Upon fighting I can never
dwell; it breeds such savage delight in me; of which I
would fain have less. Enough that all the Doones
fought bravely; and like men (though bad ones) died in
the hall of the man they had murdered. And with them
died poor young De Whichehalse, who, in spite of his
good father's prayers, had cast in his lot with the
robbers. Carver Doone alone escaped. Partly through
his fearful strength, and his yet more fearful face;
but mainly perhaps through his perfect coolness, and
his mode of taking things.

I am happy to say that no more than eight of the
gallant miners were killed in that combat, or died of
their wounds afterwards; and adding to these the eight
we had lost in our assault on the valley (and two of
them excellent warehousemen), it cost no more than
sixteen lives to be rid of nearly forty Doones, each of
whom would most likely have killed three men in the
course of a year or two. Therefore, as I said at the
time, a great work was done very reasonably; here were
nigh upon forty Doones destroyed (in the valley, and up
at The Warrens) despite their extraordinary strength
and high skill in gunnery; whereas of us ignorant
rustics there were only sixteen to be counted
dead--though others might be lamed, or so,--and of
those sixteen only two had left wives, and their wives
did not happen to care for them.

Yet, for Lorna' s sake, I was vexed at the bold escape
of Carver. Not that I sought for Carver's life, any
more than I did for the Counsellor's; but that for us
it was no light thing, to have a man of such power, and
resource, and desperation, left at large and furious,
like a famished wolf round the sheepfold. Yet greatly
as I blamed the yeomen, who were posted on their
horses, just out of shot from the Doone-gate, for the
very purpose of intercepting those who escaped the
miners, I could not get them to admit that any blame
attached to them.

But lo, he had dashed through the whole of them, with
his horse at full gallop; and was nearly out of shot
before they began to think of shooting him. Then it
appears from what a boy said--for boys manage to be
everywhere--that Captain Carver rode through the
Doone-gate, and so to the head of the valley. There,
of course, he beheld all the houses, and his own among
the number, flaming with a handsome blaze, and throwing
a fine light around such as he often had revelled in,
when of other people's property. But he swore the
deadliest of all oaths, and seeing himself to be
vanquished (so far as the luck of the moment went),
spurred his great black horse away, and passed into the



Things at this time so befell me, that I cannot tell
one half; but am like a boy who has left his lesson (to
the master's very footfall) unready, except with false
excuses. And as this makes no good work, so I lament
upon my lingering, in the times when I might have got
through a good page, but went astray after trifles.
However, every man must do according to his intellect;
and looking at the easy manner of my constitution, I
think that most men will regard me with pity and
goodwill for trying, more than with contempt and wrath
for having tried unworthily. Even as in the wrestling
ring, whatever man did his best, and made an honest
conflict, I always laid him down with softness, easing
off his dusty fall.

But the thing which next betided me was not a fall of
any sort; but rather a most glorious rise to the summit
of all fortune. For in good truth it was no less than
the return of Lorna--my Lorna, my own darling; in
wonderful health and spirits, and as glad as a bird to
get back again. It would have done any one good for a
twelve-month to behold her face and doings, and her
beaming eyes and smile (not to mention blushes also at
my salutation), when this Queen of every heart ran
about our rooms again. She did love this, and she must
see that, and where was our old friend the cat? All
the house was full of brightness, as if the sun had
come over the hill, and Lorna were his mirror.

My mother sat in an ancient chair, and wiped her
cheeks, and looked at her; and even Lizzie's eyes must
dance to the freshness and joy of her beauty. As for
me, you might call me mad; for I ran out and flung my
best hat on the barn, and kissed mother Fry, till she
made at me with the sugar-nippers.

What a quantity of things Lorna had to tell us! And yet
how often we stopped her mouth--at least mother, I
mean, and Lizzie--and she quite as often would stop her
own, running up in her joy to some one of us! And then
there arose the eating business--which people now call
'refreshment,' in these dandyfied days of our
language--for how was it possible that our Lorna could
have come all that way, and to her own Exmoor, without
being terribly hungry?

'Oh, I do love it all so much,' said Lorna, now for the
fiftieth time, and not meaning only the victuals: 'the
scent of the gorse on the moors drove me wild, and the
primroses under the hedges. I am sure I was meant for
a farmer's--I mean for a farm-house life, dear
Lizzie'--for Lizzie was looking saucily--'just as you
were meant for a soldier's bride, and for writing
despatches of victory. And now, since you will not ask
me, dear mother, in the excellence of your manners, and
even John has not the impudence, in spite of all his
coat of arms--I must tell you a thing, which I vowed to
keep until tomorrow morning; but my resolution fails
me. I am my own mistress--what think you of that,
mother? I am my own mistress!'

'Then you shall not be so long,' cried I; for mother
seemed not to understand her, and sought about for her
glasses: 'darling, you shall be mistress of me; and I
will be your master.'

'A frank announcement of your intent, and beyond doubt
a true one; but surely unusual at this stage, and a
little premature, John. However, what must be, must
be.' And with tears springing out of smiles, she fell
on my breast, and cried a bit.

When I came to smoke a pipe over it (after the rest
were gone to bed), I could hardly believe in my good
luck. For here was I, without any merit, except of
bodily power, and the absence of any falsehood (which
surely is no commendation), so placed that the noblest
man in England might envy me, and be vexed with me.
For the noblest lady in all the land, and the purest,
and the sweetest--hung upon my heart, as if there was
none to equal it.

I dwelled upon this matter, long and very severely,
while I smoked a new tobacco, brought by my own Lorna
for me, and next to herself most delicious; and as the
smoke curled away, I thought, 'Surely this is too fine
to last, for a man who never deserved it.'

Seeing no way out of this, I resolved to place my faith
in God; and so went to bed and dreamed of it. And
having no presence of mind to pray for anything, under
the circumstances, I thought it best to fall asleep,
and trust myself to the future. Yet ere I fell asleep
the roof above me swarmed with angels, having Lorna
under it.

In the morning Lorna was ready to tell her story, and
we to hearken; and she wore a dress of most simple
stuff; and yet perfectly wonderful, by means of the
shape and her figure. Lizzie was wild with jealousy,
as might be expected (though never would Annie have
been so, but have praised it, and craved for the
pattern), and mother not understanding it, looked
forth, to be taught about it. For it was strange to
note that lately my dear mother had lost her quickness,
and was never quite brisk, unless the question were
about myself. She had seen a great deal of trouble;
and grief begins to close on people, as their power of
life declines. We said that she was hard of hearing;
but my opinion was, that seeing me inclined for
marriage made her think of my father, and so perhaps a
little too much, to dwell on the courting of thirty
years agone. Anyhow, she was the very best of mothers;
and would smile and command herself; and be (or try to
believe herself) as happy as could be, in the doings of
the younger folk, and her own skill in detecting them.
Yet, with the wisdom of age, renouncing any opinion
upon the matter; since none could see the end of it.

But Lorna in her bright young beauty, and her knowledge
of my heart, was not to be checked by any thoughts of
haply coming evil. In the morning she was up, even
sooner than I was, and through all the corners of the
hens, remembering every one of them. I caught her and
saluted her with such warmth (being now none to look at
us), that she vowed she would never come out again; and
yet she came the next morning.

These things ought not to be chronicled. Yet I am of
such nature, that finding many parts of life adverse to
our wishes, I must now and then draw pleasure from the
blessed portions. And what portion can be more blessed
than with youth, and health, and strength, to be loved
by a virtuous maid, and to love her with all one's
heart? Neither was my pride diminished, when I found
what she had done, only from her love of me.

Earl Brandir's ancient steward, in whose charge she had
travelled, with a proper escort, looked upon her as a
lovely maniac; and the mixture of pity and admiration
wherewith he regarded her, was a strange thing to
observe; especially after he had seen our simple house
and manners. On the other hand, Lorna considered him a
worthy but foolish old gentleman; to whom true
happiness meant no more than money and high position.

These two last she had been ready to abandon wholly,
and had in part escaped from them, as the enemies of
her happiness. And she took advantage of the times, in
a truly clever manner. For that happened to be a
time--as indeed all times hitherto (so far as my
knowledge extends), have, somehow, or other, happened
to be--when everybody was only too glad to take money
for doing anything. And the greatest money-taker in
the kingdom (next to the King and Queen, of course, who
had due pre-eminence, and had taught the maids of
honour) was generally acknowledged to be the Lord Chief
Justice Jeffreys.

Upon his return from the bloody assizes, with triumph
and great glory, after hanging every man who was too
poor to help it, he pleased his Gracious Majesty so
purely with the description of their delightful
agonies, that the King exclaimed, 'This man alone is
worthy to be at the head of the law.' Accordingly in
his hand was placed the Great Seal of England.

So it came to pass that Lorna's destiny hung upon Lord
Jeffreys; for at this time Earl Brandir died, being
taken with gout in the heart, soon after I left London.
Lorna was very sorry for him; but as he had never been
able to hear one tone of her sweet silvery voice, it is
not to be supposed that she wept without consolation.
She grieved for him as we ought to grieve for any good
man going; and yet with a comforting sense of the
benefit which the blessed exchange must bring to him.

Now the Lady Lorna Dugal appeared to Lord Chancellor
Jeffreys so exceeding wealthy a ward that the lock
would pay for turning. Therefore he came, of his own
accord, to visit her, and to treat with her; having
heard (for the man was as big a gossip as never cared
for anybody, yet loved to know all about everybody)
that this wealthy and beautiful maiden would not listen
to any young lord, having pledged her faith to the
plain John Ridd.

Thereupon, our Lorna managed so to hold out golden
hopes to the Lord High Chancellor, that he, being not
more than three parts drunk, saw his way to a heap of
money. And there and then (for he was not the man to
daily long about anything) upon surety of a certain
round sum--the amount of which I will not mention,
because of his kindness towards me--he gave to his fair
ward permission, under sign and seal, to marry that
loyal knight, John Ridd; upon condition only that the
King's consent should be obtained.

His Majesty, well-disposed towards me for my previous
service, and regarding me as a good Catholic, being
moved moreover by the Queen, who desired to please
Lorna, consented, without much hesitation, upon the
understanding that Lorna, when she became of full age,
and the mistress of her property (which was still under
guardianship), should pay a heavy fine to the Crown,
and devote a fixed portion of her estate to the
promotion of the holy Catholic faith, in a manner to be
dictated by the King himself. Inasmuch, however, as
King James was driven out of his kingdom before this
arrangement could take effect, and another king
succeeded, who desired not the promotion of the
Catholic religion, neither hankered after subsidies,
whether French or English), that agreement was
pronounced invalid, improper, and contemptible.
However, there was no getting back the money once paid
to Lord Chancellor Jeffreys.

But what thought we of money at this present moment; or
of position, or anything else, except indeed one
another? Lorna told me, with the sweetest smile, that
if I were minded to take her at all, I must take her
without anything; inasmuch as she meant, upon coming of
age, to make over the residue of her estates to the
next-of-kin, as being unfit for a farmer's wife. And I
replied with the greatest warmth and a readiness to
worship her, that this was exactly what I longed for,
but had never dared to propose it. But dear mother
looked most exceeding grave; and said that to be sure
her opinion could not be expected to count for much,
but she really hoped that in three years' time we
should both he a little wiser, and have more regard for
our interests, and perhaps those of others by that
time; and Master Snowe having daughters only, and
nobody coming to marry them, if anything happened to
the good old man--and who could tell in three years'
time what might happen to all or any of us?--why
perhaps his farm would be for sale, and perhaps Lady
Lorna's estates in Scotland would fetch enough money to
buy it, and so throw the two farms into one, and save
all the trouble about the brook, as my poor father had
longed to do many and many a time, but not having a
title could not do all quite as he wanted. And then if
we young people grew tired of the old mother, as seemed
only too likely, and was according to nature, why we
could send her over there, and Lizzie to keep her

When mother had finished, and wiped her eyes, Lorna,
who had been blushing rosily at some portions of this
great speech, flung her fair arms around mother's neck,
and kissed her very heartily, and scolded her (as she
well deserved) for her want of confidence in us. My
mother replied that if anybody could deserve her John,
it was Lorna; but that she could not hold with the
rashness of giving up money so easily; while her
next-of-kin would be John himself, and who could tell
what others, by the time she was one-and-twenty?

Hereupon, I felt that after all my mother had common
sense on her side; for if Master Snowe's farm should be
for sale, it would be far more to the purpose than my
coat of arms, to get it; for there was a different
pasture there, just suited for change of diet to our
sheep as well as large cattle. And beside this, even
with all Annie's skill (and of course yet more now she
was gone), their butter would always command in the
market from one to three farthings a pound more than we
could get for ours. And few things vexed us more than
this. Whereas, if we got possession of the farm, we
might, without breach of the market-laws, or any harm
done to any one (the price being but a prejudice), sell
all our butter as Snowe butter, and do good to all our

Thinking thus, yet remembering that Farmer Nicholas
might hold out for another score of years--as I
heartily hoped he might--or that one, if not all, of
his comely daughters might marry a good young farmer
(or farmers, if the case were so)--or that, even
without that, the farm might never be put up for sale;
I begged my Lorna to do as she liked; or rather to wait
and think of it; for as yet she could do nothing.



[Also known as BLOOD UPON THE ALTAR in other editions]

Everything was settled smoothly, and without any fear
or fuss, that Lorna might find end of troubles, and
myself of eager waiting, with the help of Parson
Bowden, and the good wishes of two counties. I could
scarce believe my fortune, when I looked upon her
beauty, gentleness, and sweetness, mingled with enough
of humour and warm woman's feeling, never to be dull or
tiring; never themselves to be weary.

For she might be called a woman now; although a very
young one, and as full of playful ways, or perhaps I
may say ten times as full, as if she had known no
trouble. To wit, the spirit of bright childhood,
having been so curbed and straitened, ere its time was
over, now broke forth, enriched and varied with the
garb of conscious maidenhood. And the sense of
steadfast love, and eager love enfolding her, coloured
with so many tinges all her looks, and words, and
thoughts, that to me it was the noblest vision even to
think about her.

But this was far too bright to last, without bitter
break, and the plunging of happiness in horror, and of
passionate joy in agony. My darling in her softest
moments, when she was alone with me, when the spark of
defiant eyes was veiled beneath dark lashes, and the
challenge of gay beauty passed into sweetest
invitation; at such times of her purest love and
warmest faith in me, a deep abiding fear would flutter
in her bounding heart, as of deadly fate's approach.
She would cling to me, and nestle to me, being scared
of coyishness, and lay one arm around my neck, and ask
if I could do without her.

Hence, as all emotions haply, of those who are more to
us than ourselves, find within us stronger echo, and
more perfect answer, so I could not be regardless of
some hidden evil; and my dark misgivings deepened as
the time drew nearer. I kept a steadfast watch on
Lorna, neglecting a field of beans entirely, as well as
a litter of young pigs, and a cow somewhat given to
jaundice. And I let Jem Slocombe go to sleep in the
tallat, all one afternoon, and Bill Dadds draw off a
bucket of cider, without so much as a 'by your leave.'
For these men knew that my knighthood, and my coat of
arms, and (most of all) my love, were greatly against
good farming; the sense of our country being--and
perhaps it may be sensible--that a man who sticks up to
be anything, must allow himself to be cheated.

But I never did stick up, nor would, though all the
parish bade me; and I whistled the same tunes to my
horses, and held my plough-tree, just the same as if no
King, nor Queen, had ever come to spoil my tune or
hand. For this thing, nearly all the men around our
parts upbraided me; but the women praised me: and for
the most part these are right, when themselves are not

However humble I might be, no one knowing anything of
our part of the country, would for a moment doubt that
now here was a great to do and talk of John Ridd and
his wedding. The fierce fight with the Doones so
lately, and my leading of the combat (though I fought
not more than need be), and the vanishing of Sir
Counsellor, and the galloping madness of Carver, and
the religious fear of the women that this last was gone
to hell--for he himself had declared that his aim,
while he cut through the yeomanry--also their remorse,
that he should have been made to go thither with all
his children left behind--these things, I say (if ever
I can again contrive to say anything), had led to the
broadest excitement about my wedding of Lorna. We
heard that people meant to come from more than thirty
miles around, upon excuse of seeing my stature and
Lorna's beauty; but in good truth out of sheer
curiosity, and the love of meddling.

Our clerk had given notice, that not a man should come
inside the door of his church without shilling-fee; and
women (as sure to see twice as much) must every one pay
two shillings. I thought this wrong; and as
church-warden, begged that the money might be paid into
mine own hands, when taken. But the clerk said that
was against all law; and he had orders from the parson
to pay it to him without any delay. So as I always
obey the parson, when I care not much about a thing, I
let them have it their own way; though feeling inclined
to believe, sometimes, that I ought to have some of the

Dear mother arranged all the ins and outs of the way in
which it was to be done; and Annie and Lizzie, and all
the Snowes, and even Ruth Huckaback (who was there,
after great persuasion), made such a sweeping of
dresses that I scarcely knew where to place my feet,
and longed for a staff, to put by their gowns. Then
Lorna came out of a pew half-way, in a manner which
quite astonished me, and took my left hand in her
right, and I prayed God that it were done with.

My darling looked so glorious, that I was afraid of
glancing at her, yet took in all her beauty. She was
in a fright, no doubt; but nobody should see it;
whereas I said (to myself at least), 'I will go through
it like a grave-digger.'

Lorna's dress was of pure white, clouded with faint
lavender (for the sake of the old Earl Brandir), and as
simple as need be, except for perfect loveliness. I
was afraid to look at her, as I said before, except
when each of us said, 'I will,' and then each dwelled
upon the other.

It is impossible for any who have not loved as I have
to conceive my joy and pride, when after ring and all
was done, and the parson had blessed us, Lorna turned
to look at me with her glances of subtle fun subdued by
this great act.

Her eyes, which none on earth may ever equal, or
compare with, told me such a depth of comfort, yet
awaiting further commune, that I was almost amazed,
thoroughly as I knew them. Darling eyes, the sweetest
eyes, the loveliest, the most loving eyes--the sound of
a shot rang through the church, and those eyes were
filled with death.

Lorna fell across my knees when I was going to kiss
her, as the bridegroom is allowed to do, and
encouraged, if he needs it; a flood of blood came out
upon the yellow wood of the altar steps, and at my feet
lay Lorna, trying to tell me some last message out of
her faithful eyes. I lifted her up, and petted her,
and coaxed her, but it was no good; the only sign of
life remaining was a spirt of bright red blood.

Some men know what things befall them in the supreme
time of their life--far above the time of death--but to
me comes back as a hazy dream, without any knowledge in
it, what I did, or felt, or thought, with my wife's
arms flagging, flagging, around my neck, as I raised
her up, and softly put them there. She sighed a long
sigh on my breast, for her last farewell to life, and
then she grew so cold, and cold, that I asked the time
of year.

It was Whit-Tuesday, and the lilacs all in blossom; and
why I thought of the time of year, with the young death
in my arms, God or His angels, may decide, having so
strangely given us. Enough that so I did, and looked;
and our white lilacs were beautiful. Then I laid my
wife in my mother's arms, and begging that no one would
make a noise, went forth for my revenge.

Of course, I knew who had done it. There was but one
man in the world, or at any rate, in our part of it,
who could have done such a thing--such a thing. I use
no harsher word about it, while I leaped upon our best
horse, with bridle but no saddle, and set the head of
Kickums towards the course now pointed out to me. Who
showed me the course, I cannot tell. I only know that
I took it. And the men fell back before me.

Weapon of no sort had I. Unarmed, and wondering at my
strange attire (with a bridal vest, wrought by our
Annie, and red with the blood of the bride), I went
forth just to find out this; whether in this world
there be or be not God of justice.

With my vicious horse at a furious speed, I came upon
Black Barrow Down, directed by some shout of men, which
seemed to me but a whisper. And there, about a furlong
before me, rode a man on a great black horse, and I
knew that the man was Carver Doone.

'Your life or mine,' I said to myself; 'as the will of
God may be. But we two live not upon this earth, one
more hour together.'

I knew the strength of this great man; and I knew that
he was armed with a gun--if he had time to load again,
after shooting my Lorna--or at any rate with pistols,
and a horseman's sword as well. Nevertheless, I had no
more doubt of killing the man before me than a cook has
of spitting a headless fowl.

Sometimes seeing no ground beneath me, and sometimes
heeding every leaf, and the crossing of the
grass-blades, I followed over the long moor, reckless
whether seen or not. But only once the other man
turned round and looked back again, and then I was
beside a rock, with a reedy swamp behind me.

Although he was so far before me, and riding as hard as
ride he might, I saw that he had something on the horse
in front of him; something which needed care, and
stopped him from looking backward. In the whirling of
my wits, I fancied first that this was Lorna; until the
scene I had been through fell across hot brain and
heart, like the drop at the close of a tragedy.
Rushing there through crag and quag, at utmost speed of
a maddened horse, I saw, as of another's fate, calmly
(as on canvas laid), the brutal deed, the piteous
anguish, and the cold despair.

The man turned up the gully leading from the moor to
Cloven Rocks, through which John Fry had tracked Uncle
Ben, as of old related. But as Carver entered it, he
turned round, and beheld me not a hundred yards behind;
and I saw that he was bearing his child, little Ensie,
before him. Ensie also descried me, and stretched his
hands and cried to me; for the face of his father
frightened him.

Carver Doone, with a vile oath, thrust spurs into his
flagging horse, and laid one hand on a pistol-stock;
whence I knew that his slung carbine had received no
bullet since the one that had pierced Lorna. And a cry
of triumph rose from the black depths of my heart.
What cared I for pistols? I had no spurs, neither was
my horse one to need the rowel; I rather held him in
than urged him, for he was fresh as ever; and I knew
that the black steed in front, if he breasted the steep
ascent, where the track divided, must be in our reach
at once.

His rider knew this; and, having no room in the rocky
channel to turn and fire, drew rein at the crossways
sharply, and plunged into the black ravine leading to
the Wizard's Slough. 'Is it so?' I said to myself with
a brain and head cold as iron; 'though the foul fiend
come from the slough, to save thee; thou shalt carve
it, Carver.'

I followed my enemy carefully, steadily, even
leisurely; for I had him, as in a pitfall, whence no
escape might be. He thought that I feared to approach
him, for he knew not where he was: and his low
disdainful laugh came back. 'Laugh he who wins,'
thought I.

A gnarled and half-starved oak, as stubborn as my own
resolve, and smitten by some storm of old, hung from
the crag above me. Rising from my horse's back,
although I had no stirrups, I caught a limb, and tore
it (like a mere wheat-awn) from the socket. Men show
the rent even now, with wonder; none with more wonder
than myself.

Carver Doone turned the corner suddenly on the black
and bottomless bog; with a start of fear he reined back
his horse, and I thought he would have turned upon me.
But instead of that, he again rode on; hoping to find a
way round the side.

Now there is a way between cliff and slough for those
who know the ground thoroughly, or have time enough to
search it; but for him there was no road, and he lost
some time in seeking it. Upon this he made up his
mind; and wheeling, fired, and then rode at me.

His bullet struck me somewhere, but I took no heed of
that. Fearing only his escape, I laid my horse across
the way, and with the limb of the oak struck full on
the forehead his charging steed. Ere the slash of the
sword came nigh me, man and horse rolled over, and
wellnigh bore my own horse down, with the power of
their onset.

Carver Doone was somewhat stunned, and could not arise
for a moment. Meanwhile I leaped on the ground and
awaited, smoothing my hair back, and baring my arms, as
though in the ring for wrestling. Then the little boy
ran to me, clasped my leg, and looked up at me, and the
terror in his eyes made me almost fear myself.

'Ensie, dear,' I said quite gently, grieving that he
should see his wicked father killed, 'run up yonder
round the corner and try to find a pretty bunch of
bluebells for the lady.' The child obeyed me, hanging
back, and looking back, and then laughing, while I
prepared for business. There and then I might have
killed mine enemy, with a single blow, while he lay
unconscious; but it would have been foul play.

With a sullen and black scowl, the Carver gathered his
mighty limbs, and arose, and looked round for his
weapons; but I had put them well away. Then he came to
me and gazed; being wont to frighten thus young men.

'I would not harm you, lad,' he said, with a lofty
style of sneering: 'I have punished you enough, for
most of your impertinence. For the rest I forgive you;
because you have been good and gracious to my little
son. Go, and be contented.'

For answer, I smote him on the cheek, lightly, and not
to hurt him: but to make his blood leap up. I would
not sully my tongue by speaking to a man like this.

There was a level space of sward between us and the
slough. With the courtesy derived from London, and the
processions I had seen, to this place I led him. And
that he might breathe himself, and have every fibre
cool, and every muscle ready, my hold upon his coat I
loosed, and left him to begin with me, whenever he
thought proper.

I think that he felt that his time was come. I think
he knew from my knitted muscles, and the firm arch of
my breast, and the way in which I stood; but most of
all from my stern blue eyes; that he had found his
master. At any rate a paleness came, an ashy paleness
on his cheeks, and the vast calves of his legs bowed
in, as if he were out of training.

Seeing this, villain as he was, I offered him first
chance. I stretched forth my left hand, as I do to a
weaker antagonist, and I let him have the hug of me.
But in this I was too generous; having forgotten my
pistol-wound, and the cracking of one of my short lower
ribs. Carver Doone caught me round the waist, with
such a grip as never yet had been laid upon me.

I heard my rib go; I grasped his arm, and tore the
muscle out of it* (as the string comes out of an
orange); then I took him by the throat, which is not
allowed in wrestling; but he had snatched at mine; and
now was no time of dalliance. In vain he tugged, and
strained, and writhed, dashed his bleeding fist into my
face, and flung himself on me with gnashing jaws.
Beneath the iron of my strength--for God that day was
with me--I had him helpless in two minutes, and his
fiery eyes lolled out.

* A far more terrible clutch than this is handed down,
to weaker ages, of the great John Ridd.--Ed.

'I will not harm thee any more,' I cried, so far as I
could for panting, the work being very furious: 'Carver
Doone, thou art beaten: own it, and thank God for it;
and go thy way, and repent thyself.'

It was all too late. Even if he had yielded in his
ravening frenzy--for his beard was like a mad dog's
jowl--even if he would have owned that, for the first
time in his life, he had found his master; it was all
too late.

The black bog had him by the feet; the sucking of the
ground drew on him, like the thirsty lips of death. In
our fury, we had heeded neither wet nor dry; nor
thought of earth beneath us. I myself might scarcely
leap, with the last spring of o'er-laboured legs, from
the engulfing grave of slime. He fell back, with his
swarthy breast (from which my gripe had rent all
clothing), like a hummock of bog-oak, standing out the
quagmire; and then he tossed his arms to heaven, and
they were black to the elbow, and the glare of his eyes
was ghastly. I could only gaze and pant; for my
strength was no more than an infant's, from the fury
and the horror. Scarcely could I turn away, while,
joint by joint, he sank from sight.



When the little boy came back with the bluebells,
which he had managed to find--as children always do
find flowers, when older eyes see none--the only sign
of his father left was a dark brown bubble, upon a
newly formed patch of blackness. But to the center of
its pulpy gorge the greedy slough was heaving, and
sullenly grinding its weltering jaws among the flags
and the sedges.

With pain, and ache, both of mind and body, and shame
at my own fury, I heavily mounted my horse again, and,
looked down at the innocent Ensie. Would this playful,
loving child grow up like his cruel father, and end a
godless life of hatred with a death of violence? He
lifted his noble forehead towards me, as if to answer,
"Nay, I will not": but the words he spoke were these:--

'Don,'--for he could never say 'John'--'oh, Don, I am
so glad that nasty naughty man is gone away. Take me
home, Don. Take me home.'

It has been said of the wicked, 'not even their own
children love them.' And I could easily believe that
Carver Doone's cold-hearted ways had scared from him
even his favorite child. No man would I call truly
wicked, unless his heart be cold.

It hurt me, more than I can tell, even through all
other grief, to take into my arms the child of the man
just slain by me. The feeling was a foolish one, and a
wrong one, as the thing has been --for I would fain
have saved that man, after he was conquered--
nevertheless my arms went coldly round that little
fellow; neither would they have gone at all, if there
had been any help for it. But I could not leave him
there, till some one else might fetch him; on account
of the cruel slough, and the ravens which had come
hovering over the dead horse; neither could I, with my
wound, tie him on my horse and walk.

For now I had spent a great deal of blood, and was
rather faint and weary. And it was lucky for me that
Kickums had lost spirit, like his master, and went home
as mildly as a lamb. For, when we came towards the
farm, I seemed to be riding in a dream almost; and the
voices both of man and women (who had hurried forth
upon my track), as they met me, seemed to wander from a
distant muffling cloud. Only the thought of Lorna's
death, like a heavy knell, was tolling in the belfry of
my brain.

When we came to the stable door, I rather fell from my
horse than got off; and John Fry, with a look of wonder
took Kickum's head, and led him in. Into the old
farmhouse I tottered, like a weanling child, with
mother in her common clothes, helping me along, yet
fearing, except by stealth, to look at me.

'I have killed him,' was all I said; 'even as he killed
Lorna. Now let me see my wife, mother. She belongs
to me none the less, though dead.'

'You cannot see her now, dear John,' said Ruth
Huckaback, coming forward; since no one else had the
courage. 'Annie is with her now, John.'

'What has that to do with it? Let me see my dead one;
and pray myself to die.'

All the women fell away, and whispered, and looked at
me, with side glances, and some sobbing; for my face
was hard as flint. Ruth alone stood by me, and
dropped her eyes, and trembled. Then one little hand
of hers stole into my great shaking palm, and the other
was laid on my tattered coat: yet with her clothes she
shunned my blood, while she whispered gently,--

'John, she is not your dead one. She may even be your
living one yet, your wife, your home, and your
happiness. But you must not see her now.'

'Is there any chance for her? For me, I mean; for me,
I mean?'

'God in heaven knows, dear John. But the sight of you,
and in this sad plight, would be certain death to her.
Now come first, and be healed yourself.'

I obeyed her, like a child, whispering only as I went,
for none but myself knew her goodness--'Almighty God
will bless you, darling, for the good you are doing

Tenfold, ay and a thousandfold, I prayed and I believed
it, when I came to know the truth. If it had not been
for this little maid, Lorna must have died at once, as
in my arms she lay for dead, from the dastard and
murderous cruelty. But the moment I left her Ruth came
forward and took the command of every one, in right of
her firmness and readiness.

She made them bear her home at once upon the door of
the pulpit, with the cushion under the drooping head.
With her own little hands she cut off, as tenderly as a
pear is peeled, the bridal-dress, so steeped and
stained, and then with her dainty transparent fingers
(no larger than a pencil) she probed the vile wound in
the side, and fetched the reeking bullet forth; and
then with the coldest water stanched the flowing of the
life-blood. All this while my darling lay insensible,
and white as death; and needed nothing but her maiden

But Ruth still sponged the poor side and forehead, and
watched the long eyelashes flat upon the marble cheek;
and laid her pure face on the faint heart, and bade
them fetch her Spanish wine. Then she parted the
pearly teeth (feebly clenched on the hovering breath),
and poured in wine from a christening spoon, and raised
the graceful neck and breast, and stroked the delicate
throat, and waited; and then poured in a little more.

Annie all the while looked on with horror and
amazement, counting herself no second-rate nurse, and
this as against all theory. But the quiet lifting of
Ruth's hand, and one glance from her dark bright eyes,
told Annie just to stand away, and not intercept the
air so. And at the very moment when all the rest had
settled that Ruth was a simple idiot, but could not
harm the dead much, a little flutter in the throat,
followed by a short low sigh, made them pause, and look
and hope.

For hours, however, and days, she lay at the very verge
of death, kept alive by nothing but the care, the
skill, the tenderness, and the perpetual watchfulness
of Ruth. Luckily Annie was not there very often, so as
to meddle; for kind and clever nurse as she was, she
must have done more harm than good. But my broken rib,
which was set by a doctor, who chanced to be at the
wedding, was allotted to Annie's care; and great
inflammation ensuing, it was quite enough to content
her. This doctor had pronounced poor Lorna dead;
wherefore Ruth refused most firmly to have aught to do
with him. She took the whole case on herself; and with
God's help she bore it through.

Now whether it were the light and brightness of my
Lorna's nature; or the freedom from anxiety--for she
knew not of my hurt;--or, as some people said, her
birthright among wounds and violence, or her manner of
not drinking beer--I leave that doctor to determine who
pronounced her dead. But anyhow, one thing is certain;
sure as stars of hope above us; Lorna recovered, long
ere I did.

For the grief was on me still of having lost my love
and lover at the moment she was mine. With the power
of fate upon me, and the black cauldron of the wizard's
death boiling in my heated brain, I had no faith in the
tales they told. I believed that Lorna was in the
churchyard, while these rogues were lying to me. For
with strength of blood like mine, and power of heart
behind it, a broken bone must burn itself.

Mine went hard with fires of pain, being of such size
and thickness; and I was ashamed of him for breaking by
reason of a pistol-ball, and the mere hug of a man.
And it fetched me down in conceit of strength; so that
I was careful afterwards.

All this was a lesson to me. All this made me very
humble; illness being a thing, as yet, altogether
unknown to me. Not that I cried small, or skulked, or
feared the death which some foretold; shaking their
heads about mortification, and a green appearance.
Only that I seemed quite fit to go to heaven, and
Lorna. For in my sick distracted mind (stirred with
many tossings), like the bead in the spread of
frog-spawn carried by the current, hung the black and
central essence of my future life. A life without
Lorna; a tadpole life. All stupid head; and no body.

Many men may like such life; anchorites, fakirs,
high-priests, and so on; but to my mind, it is not the
native thing God meant for us. My dearest mother was a
show, with crying and with fretting. The Doones, as
she thought, were born to destroy us. Scarce had she
come to some liveliness (though sprinkled with tears,
every now and then) after her great bereavement, and
ten years' time to dwell on it--when lo, here was her
husband's son, the pet child of her own good John,
murdered like his father! Well, the ways of God were

So they were, and so they are; and so they ever will
be. Let us debate them as we will, are ways are His,
and much the same; only second-hand from Him. And I
expected something from Him, even in my worst of times,
knowing that I had done my best.

This is not edifying talk--as our Nonconformist parson
says, when he can get no more to drink--therefore let
me only tell what became of Lorna. One day, I was
sitting in my bedroom, for I could not get downstairs,
and there was no one strong enough to carry me, even if
I would have allowed it.

Though it cost me sore trouble and weariness, I had put
on all my Sunday clothes, out of respect for the
doctor, who was coming to bleed me again (as he always
did twice a week); and it struck me that he had seemed
hurt in his mind, because I wore my worst clothes to be
bled in--for lie in bed I would not, after six o'clock;
and even that was great laziness.

I looked at my right hand, whose grasp had been like
that of a blacksmith's vice; and it seemed to myself
impossible that this could be John Ridd's. The great
frame of the hand was there, as well as the muscles,
standing forth like the guttering of a candle, and the
broad blue veins, going up the back, and crossing every
finger. But as for colour, even Lorna's could scarcely
have been whiter; and as for strength, little Ensie
Doone might have come and held it fast. I laughed as I
tried in vain to lift the basin set for bleeding me.

Then I thought of all the lovely things going on
out-of-doors just now, concerning which the drowsy song
of the bees came to me. These must be among the
thyme, by the sound of their great content. Therefore
the roses must be in blossom, and the woodbine, and
clove-gilly-flower; the cherries on the wall must be
turning red, the yellow Sally must be on the brook,
wheat must be callow with quavering bloom, and the
early meadows swathed with hay.

Yet here was I, a helpless creature quite unfit to stir
among them, gifted with no sight, no scent of all the
changes that move our love, and lead our hearts, from
month to month, along the quiet path of life. And what
was worse, I had no hope of caring ever for them more.

Presently a little knock sounded through my gloomy
room, and supposing it to be the doctor, I tried to
rise and make my bow. But to my surprise it was
little Ruth, who had never once come to visit me, since
I was placed under the doctor's hands. Ruth was
dressed so gaily, with rosettes, and flowers, and what
not, that I was sorry for her bad manners; and thought
she was come to conquer me, now that Lorna was done

Ruth ran towards me with sparkling eyes, being rather
short of sight; then suddenly she stopped, and I saw
entire amazement in her face.

'Can you receive visitors, Cousin Ridd?--why, they
never told me of this!' she cried: 'I knew that you
were weak, dear John; but not that you were dying.
Whatever is that basin for?'

'I have no intention of dying, Ruth; and I like not to
talk about it. But that basin, if you must know, is
for the doctor's purpose.'

'What, do you mean bleeding you? You poor weak cousin!
Is it possible that he does that still?'

'Twice a week for the last six weeks, dear. Nothing
else has kept me alive.'

'Nothing else has killed you, nearly. There!' and she
set her little boot across the basin, and crushed it.
'Not another drop shall they have from you. Is Annie
such a fool as that? And Lizzie, like a zany, at her
books! And killing her brother, between them!'

I was surprised to see Ruth excited; her character
being so calm and quiet. And I tried to soothe her
with my feeble hand, as now she knelt before me.

'Dear cousin, the doctor must know best. Annie says
so, every day. What has he been brought up for?'

'Brought up for slaying and murdering. Twenty doctors
killed King Charles, in spite of all the women. Will
you leave it to me, John? I have a little will of my
own; and I am not afraid of doctors. Will you leave it
to me, dear John? I have saved your Lorna's life. And
now I will save yours; which is a far, far easier

'You have saved my Lorna's life! What do you mean by
talking so?'

'Only what I say, Cousin John. Though perhaps I
overprize my work. But at any rate she says so.'

'I do not understand,' I said, falling back with
bewilderment; 'all women are such liars.'

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