Part 2 out of 7
"I seed a maggotty-pie [Footnote: _Maggotty-pie_--Magpie.] comin'
along this marnin'," she said. "Wan's bad an' a sign o' sorrer; but if you
spits twice over your left shoulder it doan't matter so much. But I be
better off than many maidens, 'cause I be saint-protected like."
"That's interesting, Joan."
"Faither'd be mad if I let on 'bout it to him, so I doesn't. He doan't
b'lieve much in dead saints, though Carnwall's full of 'em. Have 'e heard
tell 'bout Saint Madern?"
"Ah, the saint of the well?"
"Iss, an' the brook as runs by the Madern chapel."
"I sketched the little ruin of the baptistery some time ago."
"'Twas tho't a deal of wance, an' the holy water theer was reckoned better
for childern than any doctor's traade as ever was. My mother weer a Madern
cheel; an' 'er ordained I should be as well, an' when faither was to sea,
as fell out just 'pon the right day, mother took me up theer. That was my
awn mother as is dead. More folks b'lieved in the spring then than what do
now, 'cause that was sebenteen year agone. An' from bein' a puny cheel I
grawed a bonny wan arter dipping. But some liked the crick-stone better for
lil baabies than even the Madern brook."
"Men-an-tol that stone is called?"
"So 'tis, awnly us knaws it as the crick-stone. Theer's a big hole in en,
an' if a cheel was passed through nine times runnin', gwaine 'gainst the
way of the sun every time, it made en as strong as a lion. An' 'tis good
for grawn people tu, awnly folks is afeared to try now 'cause t'others
laugh at en. But I reckon the Madern brook's holy water still. An' theer's
wonnerful things said 'bout the crick-stones an' long stones tu. A many of
'em stands round 'bout these paarts."
"D'you know Men Scryfa--the stone with the writing on it? That's a famous
long stone, up beyond Lanyon Farmhouse."
"I've seed en, 'pon the heath. 'Tis butivul an' solemn an' still, all aloan
out theer in a croft to itself. I trapsed up-long wan day an' got beside of
en an' ate a pasty wi' Joe. But Joe chid me, an' said 'tweer a heathenish
thing sticked theer by the Phoenicians, as comed for tin in Solomon's
"Don't you believe that, Joan. Men Scryfa marks the memory of a good
Briton--one who knew King Arthur, very likely. I love the old stones too.
You are right to love them. They are landmarks in time, books from which we
may read something of a far, fascinating past."
"Iss, but I ded'n tell 'e all 'bout the Madern waters. The best day for 'em
be the fust Sunday in May; an' come that, the mothers did use to gaw up to
the chapel--dozens of 'em--wi' poor lil baabies. They dipped 'em naked in
the brook, an' 'twas just a miracle for rashes and braggety legs and sich
like. An', arterward, the mothers made offerin's to the saint. 'Twas awnly
the thot like, but folks reckoned the saint 'ud take the will for the act,
'cause poor people couldn' give a saint nothin' worth namin'."
Barren had heard of the votive offerings left by the faithful in past days
at St. Madron's shrine, but felt somewhat surprised to find the practice
dated back to a time so recent as Joan's infancy. He let her talk on, for
the subject was evidently dear to the girl.
"And what did the mothers give the saint?"
"Why, rags mostly. Just a rag tored off a petticoat, or some sich thing.
They hanged 'em up around about on the thorn bushes to shaw as they'd a
done more for the good saint if they'd had the power. An' theer's another
marvelous thing as washin' in thicky waters done: it kep' the fairies
off--the bad fairies, I mean. 'Cause theer'm gude an' bad piskeys, same as
gude an' bad men folks."
"You believe in fairies, Joan?"
She looked at him shyly, but he had apparently asked for information and
was not in the least amused.
"I dunnaw. P'raps. Iss, I do, then! Many wiser'n me do b'lieve in 'em. You
arsk the tinners--them as works deep. They knaws; they've 'eard the
knackers an' gathorns many a time, an' some's seen 'em. But the mine
fairies be mostly wicked lil humpetty-backed twoads as'll do harm if they
can; an' the buccas is onkind to fishermen most times; an' 'tis said they
used to bide in the shape of a cat by day. But theer be land fairies as is
mighty good-hearted if a body behaves seemly."
"I believe in the fairies too," said Barren gravely, "but I've never seen
"Do 'e now, Mister Jan! Then I'm sure theer is sich things. I ne'er seed
wan neither; but I'd love to. Some maids has vanished away an' dwelt 'mong
'em for many days an' then comed home. Theer's Robin o' the Carn as had a
maiden to work for en. You may have heard the tale?"
"'Tis a fine tale; an' the gal had a braave time 'mongst the lil people
till she disobeyed 'em an' found herself back 'mongst men folk agin. But in
coorse some of them--the piskeys, I mean--works for men folk themselves. My
gran'mother Chirgwin, when she was very auld, seed 'em a threshin' corn in
a barn up Drift. They was tiny fellers wi' beards an' red faaces, an' they
handled the flails cruel clever. Then, arter a bit, they done the threshin'
an' was kickin' the short straw out the grain, which riz a gert dust; an'
the piskeys all beginned sneezin'. An' my gran'mother, as was peepin'
through the door unbeknown to 'em, forgot you must never speak to a piskey,
an' sez, 'God bless 'e, hi men!' 'cause that's what us allus sez if a body
sneezes. Then they all took fright an' vanished away in the twinkle of a
eye. Which must be true, 'cause my awn gran'mother tawld it. But they ded'n
leave the farm, though nobody seed 'em again, for arter that 'tis said as
the cows gived a wonnerful shower o' milk, better'n ever was knawn before.
An' I 'sure 'e I'd dearly like to be maiden to good piskeys if they'd let
me work for 'em."
"Ah, I'm certain you would suit them well, Joan; and they would be lucky to
get you, I think; but I hope they won't go and carry you off until I've
done with you, at any rate."
She laughed, and he bid her put down her hand from her eyes and rest. He
had brought some oranges for her, but judged the friendship had gone far
enough, and first decided not to produce them. Half an hour later, however,
when the sitting was ended, he changed his mind.
"Can you come to-morrow, Joan? I am entirely in your hands, remember, and
must consider your convenience always. In fact, I am your servant and shall
wait your pleasure at all times."
Joan felt proud and rather important.
"I'll come at 'leben o'clock to-morrow, but I doubt I caan't be here next
day, Mister Jan."
"Thank you very much. To-morrow at eleven will do splendidly. By the way, I
have an orange here--two, in fact. I thought we might be thirsty. Will you
take one to eat going home?"
He held out the fruit and she took it.
"My! What a butivul orange!"
"Good-by until to-morrow, Joan; and thank you for your great kindness to a
very friendless man. You'll never be sorry for it, I'm sure."
He bowed gravely and took off his cap, then turned to his easel; and she
blushed with a lively pleasure. She had seen gentlemen take off their hats
to ladies, but no man had ever paid her that respect until then, and it
seemed good to her. She marched off with her picture and her orange, but
did not eat the fruit until out of sight of Gorse Point.
The man painting there already began to fill a space in Joan's thoughts. He
knew so much and yet was glad to learn from her. He never laughed or talked
lightly. He put her in mind of her father for that reason, but then his
heart was soft, and he loved Nature and beautiful things, and believed in
fairies and spoke no ill of anybody. Joan speculated as to how these
meetings could be kept a secret and came to the conclusion it would not be
difficult to hide them. Then, reaching home, she hid her picture behind the
pig-sty until opportunity offered for taking it indoors to her own bedroom
As for John Barren, he felt kindly enough toward his model. He could hold
himself with an iron hand when he pleased, and proposed that the growing
friendship should ripen into a fine work of art and no more. But what might
go to the making of the picture could not be foretold. He would certainly
allow nothing to check inspiration or stand between him and the very best
he had power to achieve. No sacrifice could be too great for Art, and
Barron, who was now awake and alive for an achievement, would, according to
his rule, count nothing hard, nothing impossible that might add a grain of
value to the work. His own skill and Joan's beauty were brought in contact
and he meant to do everything a man might do to make the result immortal.
But the human instruments necessary to such work counted for nothing, and
their personal prosperity and welfare would weigh no more with him than the
future of the brushes which he might use, after he had done with them.
Joan's first announcement upon the following morning was a regret that the
sitting must be short.
"We'm mighty busy, come wan thing an' another," she said. "Mother's gwaine
to Penzance wi' my brother to buy his seafarin' kit; and Uncle Chirgwin, as
keeps a farm up Drift, be comin' to dinner, which he ain't done this long
time; an' faither may by chance be home tu, so like as not, for the first
bwoats be tackin' back from the islands a'ready."
"You shall stop just as short a time as you choose, Joan. It was very good
of you to come at all under these circumstances," declared the artist.
"Us be fine an' busy when uncle comes down-long, an' partickler this time,
'cause theer've bin a differ'nce of 'pinion 'bout--'bout a matter betwixt
him and faither, but now he's wrote through the post to say as he'm comin',
so 'tis all right, I s'pose, an' us'll have to give en a good dinner
"Of course you must," admitted Barren, working steadily the while.
"He'm a dear sawl, an' I likes en better'n anybody in the world, I think,
'cept faither. But he's easier to please than faither, an' so humble as a
beggar-man. An' I wants to make some cakes for en against tea-time, 'cause
when he comes, he bides till candle-lighting or later."
Presently the artist bid her rest for a short while, and her thoughts
reverted to him and the picture.
"I hope as you'm feelin' strong an' no worser, Mister Jan," she said
He was puzzled for a moment, then recollected that he had mentioned his
health to her.
"Thank you very much for asking, Joan. It was good and thoughtful. I am no
worse--rather better if anything, now I come to think about it. Your
Cornish air is kind to me, and when the sun shines I am happy."
"How be the picksher farin'?"
"I get on well, I think."
"'Tis cruel clever of 'e, Mister Jan. An' you'll paint me wi' the fuzz all
"That is what I hope to do; a harmony in brown and gold."
"You'll get my likeness tu, I s'pose, same as the photograph man done it
last winter to Penzance? Me an' Joe was took side by side, an' folks
reckoned 'twas the moral of us, specially when the gen'leman painted Joe's
hair black an' mine yeller for another shillin' cost."
"It must have been very excellent."
"Iss, 'twas for sartain."
"What did Mr. Tregenza say of it?"
"Well, faither, he'm contrary to sich things, as I tawld 'e, Mister Jan.
Faither said Joe'd better by a deal keep his money in his purse; but he let
me have the picksher, an' 'tis nailed up in a lil frame, what Joe made, at
home in the parlor."
She stopped a moment and sighed, then spoke again.
"Faither's a wonnerful God-fearin' man, sure 'nough."
"Is he a God-loving man too, Joan?"
"I dunnaw. That ed'n 'sackly the same, I s'pose?"
"As different as fear and love. I'm not an atom frightened of God
myself--no more than I am of you."
"Lard! Mister Jan."
"Why should I be? You are not frightened of the air you breathe--yet that
is part of God; you are not frightened of the gold gorse or the blue
sky--yet they are part of God too. God made you--you are part of God--a
deliberate manifestation of Him. What's the use of being frightened? You
and I can only know God by the shapes He takes--by the bluebells and the
ferns and the larks in the sky, and the rabbits and wild things."
His effort to inspire the girl with Nature-worship, though crudely cast in
a fashion most likely to attract her, yet failed just then, and failed
ludicrously. Her mind comprehended barely enough to accept his idea in a
sense suggested by her acquaintance with fable, and when he instanced a
rabbit as an earthly manifestation of the Everlasting, she felt she could
cap the example from her own store of knowledge.
"I reckon I sees what you'm meanin', Mister Jan. Theer's things us calls
witch-hares in these paarts up-long. The higher-quarter people have seed
'em 'fore now; nothin' but siller bullets will kill 'em. They goes
loppettin' about down lawnly lanes on moonlight nights, an' they draws
folks arter 'em. But if you could kill wan of 'em 'tis said as they'd turn
into witches theer an' then. So you means that God A'-mighty' takes shaapes
sometimes same as they witches do, doan't 'e?"
"Not quite that, Joan. What I want you to know is that the great Being you
call God is nearer to you here, on Gorse Point, than in the Luke Gospelers'
meeting-house, and He takes greater delight in a bird's song than in all
your father's prayers and sermons put together. That is because the great
Being taught the bird to sing Himself, but He never taught your father to
"I dunnaw 'sackly what you means, Mister Jan, but I judges you ban't so
religious like as what faither is."
"Religion came from God to man, Joan, because man wanted it and couldn't
get on comfortably without it; but theology--if you know what that
means--man invented for himself. Religion is the light; theology is the
candlestick. Never quarrel with any man's candlestick as long as you can
see his light burning bravely. Mr. Tregenza thinks all men are mistaken but
the Luke Gospelers--so you told me. But if that is the case, what becomes
of all your good Cornish saints? They were not Luke Gospelers--at least I
don't think they were."
Joan frowned over this tremendous problem, then dismissed it for the
pleasanter and simpler theme John Barron's last remark suggested.
"Them saints was righteous men anyhow, an' they worked miracles tu, so it
ban't no gude sayin' they wasn't godly in their ways, the whole boilin' of
'em. Theer's St. Piran, St. Michael, St. Austell, St. Blazey, St. Buryan,
St. Ives, St. Sennen, St. Levan, an' a many more, I could call home if I
was to think. Did 'e ever hear tell 'bout St. Neot, Mister Jan?"
"'No, Joan; I'm afraid I don't know much about him."
"Not 'bout they feesh?"
"Tell me, while you rest a minute or two."
"'Tis a holy story, an' true as any Bible tale, I should guess. St. Neot
had a well, an' wan day he seed three feesh a swimmin' in it an' he was
'mazed to knaw how they comed theer. So a angel flew down an' tawld en
that they was put theer for his eatin', but he must never draw out more'n
wan at a time. Then he'd all us find three when he comed again. An' so he
did; but wance he failed sick an' his servant had to look arter his vittles
meantime. He was a man by the name of Barius, an' he judged as maybe a
change of eatin' might do the saint good. So he goes an' takes two o' them
feesh 'stead o' wan as the angel said. An' he b'iled wan feesh, an' fried
t'other, an' took 'em to St. Neot; an' when he seed what his man been
'bout, he was flustered, I tell 'e. Then the saint up and done a marvelous
straange thing, for he flinged them feesh back in the well, just as they
was, and began praayin' to the Lard to forgive his man. An' the feesh
comed alive ag'in and swimmed around, though Barius had cleaned 'em, I
s'pose, an' took the guts out of 'em an' everything. Then the chap just
catched wan feesh proper, an' St. Neot ate en, an' grawed well by sundown.
So he was a saint anyways."
"You can't have a miracle without a saint, of course, Joan?"
"Or else the Lard. But I'll hold in mind what you sez 'bout Him bein' hid
in flowers an' birds an' sich like, 'cause that's a butivul thing to knaw."
"And in the stars and the sun and the moon, Joan; and in the winds and
clouds. See how I've got on to-day. I don't think I ever did so much work
in an hour before."
She looked and blushed to note her brown frock and shoes.
"You've done a deal more to them fuzzes than what you have to me,
seemin'ly," she said.
"That's because the gorse is always here and you are not. I work at the
gorse morning after morning, when the sun is up, until my fingers ache.
You'll see great changes in the picture of yourself soon though."
But she was not satisfied, of course misunderstanding the unfinished work.
"You mustn't say anything yet, you know, Joan," added the artist, seeing
her pouting lips.
"But--but you've drawed me as flat as a cheeld, an' I be round as a wummon,
ban't I?" she said, holding out her hands that he might see her slight
figure. Her blue eyes were clouded, for she deemed that he had put an
insult upon her budding womanhood. Barren showed no sign of his enjoyment,
but explained as clearly as possible that she was looking at a thing wholly
unfinished, indeed scarce begun.
"You might as well grumble with me for not painting your fingers or your
face, Joan. I told you I was a slow artist; only be patient; I'm going to
do all fitting honor to every scrap of you, if only you will let me."
"Warmer words had come to his lips, but he did not suffer them to pass.
Then the girl's beautiful face broke into a smile again.
"I be nigher eighteen than sebenteen, you knaw, Mister Jan. But, coorse, I
hadn't no bizness to talk like that to 'e, 'cause what do I knaw 'bout sich
"You shan't see the picture again till it is finished, Joan. It was my
fault for showing it to you like that, and you had every right to protest.
Now you must go, for it's long past twelve o'clock."
"I'm afeared I caan't come to-morrer."
"As you please. I shall be here every day, ready and only too glad to see
"An'--an' you ban't cross wi' me for speakin' so rude, Mister Jan?"
"Cross, Joan? No, I'm never cross with anybody but myself. I couldn't be
cross with my kind little friend if I tried to be."
He shook hands; it was the first occasion that he had done so, and she
blushed. His hand was cold and thin, and she heard one of the bones in it
give a little crack as he held her palm within his own for the briefest
space of time. Then, as usual, the moment after he had said "good-by," he
appeared to become absolutely unconscious of her presence, and returned to
Joan's mind dwelt much upon the artist after she had departed, and every
train of reflection came back to the last words Barron spoke that morning.
He had called her his kind little friend. It was very wonderful, Joan
thought, and a statement not to be explained at all. Her stepmother's voice
cut these pleasant memories sharply, and she returned home to find that
Uncle Chirgwin had already arrived--a fact his old gray horse, tethered in
the orchard, and his two-wheeled market cart, drawn up in the side-lane,
testified to before Mrs. Tregenza announced it.
"Out again, of coorse, just because you knawed I was to be drove off my
blessed legs to-day. I'll tell your faither of 'e, so I will. Gals like you
did ought to be chained 'longside theer work till 'tis done."
Uncle Chirgwin sat by the fireside with a placid if bored expression on his
round face. His hands were folded on his stomach; his short legs were stuck
out before him; his head was quite bald, his color high, his gray eyes
weak, though they had some laughter hidden in them. His double chin was
shaved, but a very white bristle of stubbly whisker surrounded it and
ascended to where all that remained of his hair stuck, like two patches of
cotton wool, above his ears. The old man wore a suit of gray tweed and
blinked benignly through a pair of spectacles. He had already heard enough
of Mrs. Tregenza's troubles to last some time, and turned with pleasure to
Joan as she entered. So hearty indeed was the greeting and a kiss which
accompanied it that his niece felt the displeasure which her uncle had
recorded by post upon the occasion of her engagement to Mary Chirgwin's
former sweetheart existed no more.
"My ivers! a braave, bowerly maid you'm grawin', sure 'nough! Joan'll be a
wummon 'fore us can look round, mother."
"Iss--an' a fine an' lazy wummon tu. I wish you could make her work like
what Mary does up Drift."
"Well, I dunnaw. You see there's all sorts of girls, same as plants an'
'osses an' cetera. Some's for work, some's for shaw. You 'specks a flower
to be purty, but you doan't blame a 'tater plant 'cause 'e ed'n particular
butivul. Same wi' 'osses, an' wi' gals. Joan's like that chinee plate 'pon
the bracket, wi' the pickshers o' Saltash Burdge 'pon en, an' gold writin'
under; an' Mary's like that pie-dish, what you put in the ubben a while
back. Wan's for shaw, t'other's for use--eh?"
"Gwan! you'm jokin', Uncle Thomas!" said Joan.
"An' a poor joke tu, so 'tis. You'd turn any gal's 'ead wi' your stuff,
Chirgwin. Wheer's the gude of a fuzz-pole o' yeller hair an' a pair o' blue
eyes stuck 'pon top of a idle, good-for-nothin' body? Maidens caan't live
by looks in these paarts, an' they'll find theerselves in trouble mighty
quick if they tries to."
Uncle Chirgwin instantly admitted that Mrs. Tregenza had the better of the
argument. He was a simple man with a soft heart and no brains worth naming.
Most people laughed at him and loved him. As sure as he went to Penzance on
market-day, he was cordially greeted and made much of, and robbed. People
suspected that his shrewd, black-eyed niece stood between him and absolute
misfortune. She never let him go to market without her if she could help
it; for, on those infrequent occasions when he jogged to town with his gray
horse and cart alone, he always went with a great trust of the world in his
heart and endeavored to conduct the sale of farm produce in the spirit of
Christianity, which was magnificent but not business. Mr. Chirgwin's simple
theories had kept him a poor man; yet the discovery, often repeated, that
his knowledge of human nature was bad, never imbittered him, and he mildly
persisted in his pernicious system of trusting everybody until he found he
could not; unlike his neighbors who trusted nobody until they found that
they could. The farmer had blazed with indignation when Joe Noy flung over
Mary Chirgwin because she would not become a Luke Gospeler. But the matter
was now blown over, for the jilted girl, though the secret bitterness of
her sorrow still bred much gall in her bosom, never paraded it or showed a
shadow of it in her dark face. Uncle Thomas greatly admired Mary and even
feared her; but he loved Joan, for she was like her dead mother outwardly
and like himself in character: a right Chirgwin, loving sunshine and
happiness, herself sunshiny and happy.
"'Pears I've comed the wrong day, Joan," he said presently, when Mrs.
Tregenza's back was turned, "but now I be here, you must do with me as you
"Mother's gwaine to town wi' Tom bimebye; then me an' you'll have a talk,
uncle, wi'out nothin' to let us. You'm lookin' braave, me auld dear."
He liked a compliment, and anticipated pleasure from a quiet afternoon with
his niece. She bustled about, as usual, to make up for lost time; and
presently, when the cloth was laid, walked to the cottage door to see if
her father's lugger was at its moorings or in sight. Meantime Mrs.
Tregenza, having brought forth dinner from the oven, called at the back
door to her son in a voice harsh and shrill beyond customary measure, as
became her exceptional tribulations.
"Come in, will 'e, an' ait your food, bwoy. Theer ed'n no call to kick out
they boots agin' the pig's 'ouse because I be gwaine to buy new wans for 'e
Fired by a word which she had heard from John Barron, that flowers became
the house as well as the garden, Joan plucked an early sprig of pink ribe
and the first buds of wall-flower before returning to the kitchen. These
she put in a jug of water and planted boldly upon the dinner-table as Mrs.
Tregenza brought out a pie.
"Butivul, sure 'nough," said Mr. Chirgwin, drawing in his chair. His eye
was on the pie-dish, but Joan thought he referred to her bouquet.
"Lard! what'll 'e do next? Take they things off the table to wance, Joan."
"But Uncle Thomas sez they'm butivul," she pleaded.
"They be pleasant," admitted Mr. Chirgwin, "but bloody-warriors [Footnote:
_Bloody-warrior_--Wall-flower.] be out o' plaace 'pon the
dinner-table. I was 'ludin' to this here. You do brown a 'tater to rights,
Mrs. Tregenza's shepherd's pies had a reputation, and anybody eating of one
without favorable comment was judged to have made a hole in his manners.
Now she helped the steaming delicacy and sighed as she sat down before her
own ample share.
"Lard knaws how I done it to-day. 'Tis just a enstance how some things
comes nachrul to some people. You wants a light hand wi' herbs an' to knaw
your ubben. Get the brandy, Joan. Uncle allus likes the edge off drinkin'
The Tregenzas were teetotalers, but a bottle of brandy for medicinal
purposes occupied the corner of a certain cupboard.
"You puts it right, mother. 'Tis just the sharpness I takes off. I can't
drink no beer nowadays, though fond o' it, 'cause 'tis belly-vengeance
stuff arter you gets past a certain time o' life. But I'd as soon have
"That's bad to drink 'long wi' vlaish," said Mrs. Tregenza. "Tea turns
mayte leather-hard an' plagues the stomach cruel, as I knaws to my cost."
They ate in silence a while, then, having expressed and twice repeated a
wish that Mary could be taught to make shepherd's pies after the rare
fashion of his hostess, Mr. Chirgwin turned to Tom.
"So you'm off for a sailor bwoy, my lad?"
"Iss, uncle, an' mother gwaine to spend fi' puns o' money on my kit."
"By Golles! be she now? I lay you'll be smart an' vitty!"
"That he will!" said Joan, but Mrs. Tregenza shook her head.
"I did sadly want en to be a landsman an' 'prenticed to some good body in
bizness. It's runnin' 'gainst dreams as I had 'fore the bwoy was born, an'
the voice I heard speakin' by night arter I were churched by the Luke
Gosp'lers. But you knaw Michael. What's dreams to him, nor yet voices?"
"The worst paart 'bout 'em, if I may say it, is that they'm so uncommon
well acquainted like wi' theer awn virtues. I mean the Gosp'lers an' all
chapel-members likewise. It blunts my pleasure in a good man to find he
knaws how good he is. Same as wan doan't like to see a purty gal tossin'
her head tu high."
"You caan't say no sich thing o' Michael, I'm sure," remonstrated Mrs.
Tregenza instantly; "he'm that modest wi' his righteousness as can be. I've
knawn en say open in prayer, 'fore the whole chapel, as he's no better'n a
crawlin' worm. An' if he's a worm, what's common folks like you an' me?
Awnly Michael doan't seem to take 'count in voices an' dreams, but I knaws
they'm sent a purpose an' not for nort."
Mr. Chirgwin admitted his own ridiculous religious insignificance as
contrasted with Gray Michael. Indeed the comparison, so little in his
favor, amused him extremely. He sipped his brandy and water and enjoyed a
treacle-pudding which followed the pie. Then, when Joan was clearing up and
Mrs. Tregenza had departed to prepare for her visit to Penzance, Uncle
Thomas began to puff out his cheeks, and blow, and frown, and look uneasily
to the right and left--actions invariably performed when he contemplated
certain monetary achievements of which he was only too fond. The sight of
Mary's eyes upon him had often killed such indiscretions in the bud, but
she was not present just then, so, with further furtive glances, he brought
out his purse, opened it, and found a half-sovereign which reposed alone in
the splendor of a separate compartment. Uncle Chirgwin then beckoned to
Tom, who had gone into the garden till his mother should be ready to start.
"Good speed to 'e, bwoy," he said, "an' may the Lard watch over 'e by land
an' sea. Take you this lil piece o' money to buy what you've a mind to; an'
knaw you've got a auld man's blessin' 'long wi' it."
"Mother," said Tom, a minute later, "uncle have gived me a bit o' gawld!"
She took the coin from him and her eyes rested on it lovingly while the
outlines of her face grew softer and she moistened her lips.
"First gawld's ever I had," commented Tom.
"You'm 'mazin' generous wi' your moneys, uncle, an' I thank 'e hearty for
the bwoy. Mighty good of 'e--so much money to wance," said Thomasin,
showing more gratification than she knew.
"I wants en to be thrifty," answered the old man, very wisely. "You knaws
how hard it is to teach young people the worth o' money."
"Ay, an' some auld wans! Blest if I doan't think you'd give your head away
if 'e could. But I'll take this here half-suvrin' for Tom. 'Tis a nest-egg
as he shall add to as he may."
Tom did not foresee this arrangement, and had something to say as he
tramped off with his mother to town; but though he could do more with her
and get more out of her than anybody else in the world, money was a subject
concerning which Mrs. Tregenza always had her way. She understood it and
loved it and allowed no interference from anybody, Michael alone excepted.
But he cared not much for money and was well content to let his wife hold
the purse; yet when he did occasionally demand an account, it was always
forthcoming to the uttermost farthing, and he fully believed what other
people told him that Thomasin could make a sixpenny-piece go further than
any other woman in Newlyn.
Mother and son presently departed; while Mr. Chirgwin took off his coat,
lighted his pipe, and walked with Joan round about the orchard. He foretold
great things for the plums, now in full flower; he poked the pigs with his
stick and spoke encouragingly of their future also. Then he discussed
Joan's prospects and gladdened her heart by telling her the past must be
let alone and need never be reverted to again.
"Mary's gettin' over it tu," he said, "least-ways I think she is. Her knaws
wheer to look for comfort, bless her. Us must all keep friendly for life's
not long enough to do 'nough good in, I allus says, let alone the doin' o'
Then he discussed Joe Noy, and Joan was startled to find, when she came to
think seriously upon the subject, that though but a week and three days had
passed since she bid her lover "good-by," yet the picture of him in her
mind already grew a trifle dim, and the prospect of his absence for a year
held not the least sorrow in it for her.
Presently, after looking to his horse, Uncle Thomas hinted at forty winks,
if the same would be quite convenient, and Joan, settling him with some
approach to comfort upon n little horsehair sofa in the parlor, turned her
attention to the making of saffron cakes for tea.
THE MAKING OF PROGRESS
John Barron held strong theories about the importance of the mental
condition when work was in hand. Once fairly engaged upon a picture, he
painted very fast, labored without cessation, and separated himself as far
as might be from every outside influence. No new interests were suffered to
intrude upon his mind; no distractions of any sort, intellectual or
otherwise, were permitted to occupy even those leisure intervals which of
necessity lay between the periods of his work. On the present occasion he
merely fed and slept and dwelt solitary, shunning society of every sort and
spending as little time in Newlyn as possible. Fortunately for his
achievement the weather continued wonderfully fine and each successive day
brought like conditions of sunshine and color, light and air. This
circumstance enabled him to proceed rapidly, and another fact also
contributed to progress; the temperature kept high and the cow-byre,
wherein Barren stored his implements and growing picture, proved so
well-built and so snug withal that on more than one occasion he spent the
entire night there. Sweet brown bracken filled a manger, and of this he
pulled down sufficient quantities to make, with railway rugs, an ample bed.
The outdoor life appeared to suit his health well; some color had come to
his pale cheeks; he felt considerably stronger in body and mentally
invigorated by the strain of work now upon him.
But though he turned his back on his fellow-men they sought him out, and
rumors at length grew to a certainty that Barron was busy painting
somewhere on the cliffs beyond Mousehole. Everybody supposed he had
abandoned his ambition to get a portrait of Joan Tregenza; but one man was
in his confidence: Edmund Murdoch. The young artist had been useful to
Barron. On many occasions he tramped out from Newlyn with additions to the
scanty larder kept at the cow-byre. He would bring hard-boiled eggs,
sandwiches, bottles of soda-water and whisky; and once he arrived at six
o'clock in the morning with a pony cart in which was a little oil stove.
Barron had confided in Murdoch, but begged he would let it be known that he
courted no society for the present. As the work grew he spent more and more
time upon it. He explained to his friend quite seriously that he was
painting the gorse, but that Joan Tregenza had consented to fill a part of
the picture--a statement which amused the younger artist not a little.
"But the gorse is extraordinary, I'll admit. You must have worked without
ceasing. She will be exquisite. Where shall you get the blue for her eyes?"
"Out of the sky and the sea."
"Does the girl inspire you herself, John? I swear something has. This is
going to be great."
"It's going to be true, that's all. No, Joan is a dear child, but her
body's no more than a perfect casket to a commonplace little soul. She
talks a great deal and I like nothing better than to listen; for although
what she says is naught, yet her manner of saying it does not lack charm.
Her voice is wonderfully sweet--it comes from her throat like a
wood-pigeon's, and education has not ruined her diction."
"She's as shy as any wood-pigeon, too--we all know that; and you've done a
clever thing to tame her."
"God forbid that I should tame her. We met and grew friendly as wild things
both. She is a child of Nature, her mind is as pure as the sea. Moreover,
Joan walks saint-guided. Folklore and local twaddle does not appeal
overmuch to me, as you know, yet the stories drop prettily from her lips
and I find pleasure in listening."
"By Jove! I never heard you so enthusiastic, so positive, so personally
alive and awake and interested. Don't fall in love with the girl before you
To this warning Barron made a curious reply.
"Everything depends on my picture. You know my rule of life; to sacrifice
all things to mood. I shall do so here. The best I can do must be done
whatever the cost."
A shadow almost sinister lay behind the utterance, yet young Murdoch could
not fathom it. Barren spoke in his usual slow, unaffected tones, and
painted all the time; for the conversation took place on Gorse Point.
"Not sure if I quite understand you, old man," said Murdoch.
"It doesn't matter in the least if you don't, my dear fellow."
His words were hardly civil, but the tone in which Barren spoke robbed the
utterance of any offense.
"All you need do," he continued, "is to keep silent in the interests of art
and of Joan. I don't want her precious visits to me to get back to her
father's ears or they will cease, and I don't wish to do her a bad turn in
her home, for I owe her a great debt of gratitude. If men ask what I'm
doing, lie to them and beg them not to disturb me, for the sake of Art.
What a glint the east wind gives to color! Yet this is hardly to be called
an east wind, so soft and balmy does it keep."
"Well, you seem to be the better for your work, at any rate. You're getting
absolutely fat. If Newlyn brings you health as well as fame, I hope you'll
retract some of the many hard things you have said about it."
"It has brought me an interest, and for that at any rate I am grateful.
Good-by. I shall probably come down to-night, despite the fact that you
have replenished my stores so handsomely."
Murdoch started homeward and met Joan Tregenza upon the way. She had given
Barron one further sitting after Uncle Chirgwin's call at Newlyn, but since
the last occasion, and for a period of two days, chance prevented the girl
from paying him another visit. Now she arrived, however, as early as
half-past ten, and Murdoch, while he passed her on the hill from Mousehole,
envied his friend the morning's work before him.
Joan was very hot and very apologetic upon her arrival.
"I began to fear you had forgotten me," the artist said, but she was loud
in protestations to the contrary.
"No, no, Mister Jan. I've fretted 'bout not comin' up like anything; ay,
an' I've cried of a night 'cause I thot you'd be reckoning I waddun comin'
no more. But 'tweern't my doin' no ways."
"You hadn't forgotten me?"
"Indeed an' I hadn't. An' I'd be sorrerful if I thot you thot so."
She walked to the old position before the gorse and fell naturally into it,
speaking the while.
"Tis this way: mother's been bad wi' faace ache arter my brother Tom went
to sea wi' faither. An' mother grizzled an' worrited herself reg'lar ill
an' stopped in bed two days an' kep on whinin' 'bout what I was to do if
she died; cause she s'posed she was gwained to. But so soon as Tom comed
off his first trip, mother cheered wonnerful, an' riz up to see to en, an'
hear tell 'bout how he fared on the water."
"Your head a wee bit higher, Joan. Well, I'm thankful to see you again. I
was getting very, very lonely, I promise you. And the more I thought about
the picture the more unhappy I became. There's such a lot to do and only
such a clumsy hand to do it. The better I know you, Joan, the harder become
the problems you set me. How am I going to get your soul looking out of
your eyes, d'you think? How am I to make those who may see my picture some
day--years after you and I are both dead and gone, Joan--fall in love with
"La! I dunnaw, Mister Jan."
"Nor do I. How shall I make the picture so true that generations unborn
will delight in the portrait and deem it great and fine?"
"And yet you deserve it, Joan, for I don't think God ever made anything
She blushed and looked softly at him, but took no alarm; for though such a
compliment had never before been paid her, yet, as Barron spoke the words,
slowly, critically, without enthusiasm or any expression of pleasure on his
face, they had little power to alarm. He merely stated what he seemed to
regard as a fact. There was almost a suggestion of irritation in his
utterance, as though his model's rare beauty only increased his own
artistic difficulties; and, perhaps fearing from her smile that she found
undue pleasure in his statement, he added to it:
"I don't say that to natter you, Joan. I hate compliments and never pay
them. I told you, remember, that your wrists were a thought too big."
"You needn't be sayin' it over an' over, Mister Jan," she answered, her
smile changing to a pout.
"But you wouldn't like me any more if I stopped telling you the truth. We
have agreed to love what is true and to worship Mother Nature because she
always speaks the truth."
The girl made no answer, and he went on working for a few moments, then
"I'm selfish, Joan, and think more of my picture than I do of my little
model. Put down your arm and take a good rest. I tried holding my hand over
my eyes yesterday to see how long I could do so without wearying myself. I
found that three minutes was quite enough, but I have often kept you posed
"It hurted my arm 'tween the shoulder an' elbow a lil bit at first, but
I've grawed used to it now."
"How ever shall I repay you, kind Joan, for all your trouble and your long
walks and pretty stories?"
"I doan't need no pay. If 'twas a matter o' payin', 'twould be a wrong
thing to do, I reckon. Theer's auld Bascombe up Paul--him wi' curls o' long
hair an' gawld rings in's ears. Gents pays en to take his likeness; an'
theer's gals make money so, more'n wan; but faither says 'tis a heathenish
way of livin' an' not honest. An'--an' I'd never let nobody paint me else
but you, Mister Jan, 'cause you'm different."
"Well, you make me a proud man, Joan. I'm afraid I must be a poor
substitute for Joe."
He noticed she had never mentioned her sweetheart since their early
interviews, and wanted to ascertain of what nature was Joan's affection for
the sailor. He did not yet dream how faint a thing poor Joe had shrunk to
be in Joan's mind, or how the present episode in her life was dwarfing and
dominating all others, present and past.
Nor did the girl's answer to his remark enlighten him.
"In coorse you an' Joe's differ'nt as can be. You knaws everything
seemin'ly an' be a gen'le-man; Joe's only a seafarin' man, an' 'e doan't
knaw much 'cept what he's larned from faither. But Joe used to say a sight
more'n what you do, for all that."
"I like to hear you talk, Joan; perhaps Joe liked to hear himself talk.
Most men do. But, you see, the things you have told me are pleasant to me
and they were not to Joe, because he didn't believe in them. Don't look at
me, Joan; look right away to the edge of the sea."
"You'm surprised like as I talks to ye, Mister Jan. Doan't ladies talk so
free as what I do?"
"Other women talk, but they are very seldom in earnest like you are, Joan.
They don't believe half they say, they pretend and make believe; they've
got to do so, poor things, because the world they live in is all built up
on ancient foundations of great festering lies. The lies are carefully
coated over and disinfected as much as possible and quite hidden out of
sight, but everybody knows they are there--everybody knows the quaking
foundations they tread upon. Civilization means universal civility, I
suppose, Joan; and to be civil to everybody argues a great power of telling
lies. People call it tact. But I don't like polite society myself, because
my nose is sensitive and I smell the stinking basis through all the pretty
paint. You and I, Joan, belong to Nature. She is not always civil, but you
can trust her; she is seldom polite, but she never says what is not true."
"You talk as though 'e ded'n much like ladies an' gen'lemen, same as you
"I don't, and I'm not what you understand by 'a gentleman,' Joan. Gentlemen
and ladies let me go among them and mix with them, because I happen to have
a great deal of money--thousands and thousands of pounds. That opens the
door to their drawing-rooms, if I wanted to open it, but I don't. I've seen
them and gone about among them, and I'm sick of them. If a man wishes to
know what polite society is let him go into it as a very wealthy bachelor.
I'm not 'a gentleman,' you know, Joan, fortunately."
"Surely, Mister Jan!"
"No more than you're a lady. But I can try to be gentle and manly, which is
better. You and I come from the same class, Joan; from the people. The only
difference is that my father happened to make a huge fortune in London.
Guess what he sold?"
"Fish--just plaice and flounders and herrings and so forth. He sold them by
tens of thousands. Your father sells them too. But what d'you think was the
difference? Why, your father is an honest man; mine wasn't. The fishermen
sold their fish, after they had had the trouble and danger of catching
them, to my father; and then my father sold them again to the public; and
the fishermen got too little and the public paid too much, and so--I'm a
very rich man to-day--the son of a thief."
"Nobody ever called him a thief but me. He was a great star in this same
polite society I speak of. He fed hundreds of fat people on the money that
ought to have gone into the fishermen's pockets; and he died after eating
too much salmon and cucumber at his own table. Poetic justice, you know.
There are stained glass windows up to his memory in two churches and tons
of good white marble were wasted when they made his grave. But he was a
thief, just as surely as your father is an honest man; so you have the
advantage of me, Joan. I really doubt if I'm respectable enough for you to
know and trust."
"I'd trust 'e with anything, Mister Jan, 'cause you'm plain-spoken an'
"Don't be too sure--the son of a thief may have wrong ideas and lax
principles. Many things not to be bought can easily be stolen."
Again he struck a sinister note, but this time on an ear wholly unable to
appreciate or suspect it. Joan was occupied with Barron's startling scraps
of biography, and, as usual, when he began talking in a way she could not
understand, turned to her own thoughts. This sudden alteration of his
position she took literally. It struck her in a happy light.
"If you'm not a gen'leman then you wouldn' look down 'pon me, would 'e?"
"God forbid! I look up to you, Joan."
She was silent, trying to master this remarkable assertion. The artist
stood no longer upon that lofty pedestal where she had placed him; but the
change of attitude seemed to bring him a little closer, and Joan forgot the
fall in contemplating the nearer approach.
"That's why I asked you not to call me 'Mister Jan,"' Barron added after a
pause. "We are, you see, only different because I'm a man and you're a
woman. Money merely makes a difference to outside things, like houses and
clothes. But you've got possessions which no money can bring to me: a happy
home and a lover coming back to you from the sea. Think what it must be to
have nobody in the world to care whether you live or die. Why, I haven't a
relation near enough to be even interested in all my money--there's
loneliness for you!"
Joan felt full of a great pity, but could not tell how to express it. Even
her dull brains were not slow enough to credit his frank assertion that he
and she were equals; but she accepted the statement in some degree, and
now, with her mind wandering in his lonely existence, wondered if she might
presume to express sympathy for him and proclaim herself his friend. She
hesitated, for such friendship as hers, though it came hot from her little
heart, seemed a ludicrous thing to offer this man. Every day of intercourse
with him filled her more with wonder and with admiration; every day he
occupied a wider place in her thoughts; and at that moment his utterances
and his declaration of a want in life made him more human than ever to her,
more easily to be comprehended, more within the reach of her understanding.
And that was not a circumstance calculated to lessen her regard for him by
any means. Until that day he had appeared a being far apart, whose
interests and main threads of life belonged to another sphere; now he had
deliberately come into her world and declared it his own.
The silence became painful to Joan, but she could not pluck up courage
enough to tell the artist that she at least was a friend. Finally she
spoke, feeling that he waited for her to do so, and her words led to the
point, for she found, in his answer to them, that he took her goodwill for
"Ain't you got no uncles nor nothin' o' that even, Mister Jan?"
He laughed and shook his head.
"Not one, Joan--not anybody in all the world to think twice about me but
Her heart beat hard and her breath quickened, but she did not speak. Then
Barron, putting down his brushes and beginning to load a pipe, that his
next remark might not seem too serious, proceeded:
"I call you 'friend,' Joan, because I know you are one. And I want you to
think of me sometimes when I am gone, will you?"
He went on filling his pipe, and then, looking suddenly into her eyes, saw
there a light that was strange--a light that he would have given his soul
to put into paint--a light that Joe's name never had kindled and never
could. Joan wiped her hand across her mouth uneasily; then she twisted her
hands behind her back, like a schoolgirl standing in class, and made answer
with her eyes on the ground.
"Iss, I will, then, Mister Jan; an' maybe I couldn't help it if I would."
He lighted his pipe carefully before answering.
"Then I shall be happy, Joan."
But while she grew rose-red at the boldness of her sudden announcement, he
took care neither to look at her nor to let her know that he had realized
the earnestness with which she spoke. And when, ten minutes later, she had
departed, he mused speculatively on the course of their conversation,
asking himself what whim had led him to pretend to so much human feeling
and to lament his loneliness. This condition of his life he loved above all
others. No man, woman or child had the right to interfere with his selfish,
impersonal existence, and he gloried in the fact. But to the scraps of his
life's history, which he had spread before Joan in their absolute truth, he
had added this fiction of friendless loneliness, and it had worked a
wonder. He saw that he was growing to be much to her, and the problem lying
in his path rose again, as it had for a moment when Murdoch warned him in
jest against falling in love with Joan Tregenza. Dim suspicions crossed his
mind with greater frequency, and being now a mere remorseless savage,
hunting to its completion a fine picture, he made no effort to shut their
shadows from his calculation. Everything which bore even indirectly upon
his work received its share of attention; to mood must all sacrifices be
made; and now a new mood began to dawn in him. He knew it, he accepted it.
He had not sought it, but the thing was there, and Nature had sent it to
him. To shun it and fly from it meant a lie to his art; to open his arms to
it promised the destruction of a human unit. Barron was not the man to
hesitate between two such courses. If any action could heighten his
inspiration, add a glimmer of glory to his picture, or get a shadow more
soul into the painted blue eyes of the subject, he held such action
justified. For the present his mind was chaos on the subject, and he left
the future to work itself out as chance might determine.
His painting was all he concerned himself with, and should Nature
ultimately indicate that greater perfection might be achieved through
worship and even sacrifice at her shrine, neither worship nor sacrifice
would be withheld.
Joan Tregenza went home in a dream that day. She did not know where to
begin thinking. "Mister Jan" had told her so many astounding things; and
her own heart, too, had made bold utterances--concerning matters which she
had crushed out of sight with some shame and many secret blushes until now.
But, seen in the light of John Barron's revelations, this emotion which she
had thrust so resolutely to the back of her mind could remain there no
more. It arose strong, rampant and ridiculous; only from her point of view
no humor distinguished it. This man, then, was like herself, made of the
same flesh and blood, sprung from the people. That fact, though possessing
absolutely no significance whatever in reality, struck Joan with great
force. Her highly primitive instincts stretched a wide gulf between the
thing called "gentleman" and other men; which was the result of training
from parents of the old-fashioned sort, whose world lay outside and behind
the modern spirit; who had reached the highest development of their
intelligence and formed their opinions before the passing of the Education
Act. Gray Michael naturally held the great ones of the earth as objects of
pity from an eternal standpoint, but birth weighed with him, and, in
temporal concerns, he treated his superiors with all respect and civility
when rare chance brought him into contact with them. He viewed uneasily the
last outcome of progress and the vastly increased facilities for
instruction of the juvenile population. The age was sufficiently godless,
in his judgment; and he had found that a Board School education was the
first nail in the coffin of every young man's faith.
Joan, therefore, allowing nothing for the value of riches, of education, of
intellect, was content to accept Barron's own cynical statement in a spirit
widely different from the speaker's. He had sneered at himself, just as he
had sneered at his own dead father. But Joan missed all the bitterness of
his speech. To her he was simply a wondrously honest man who loved truth
for itself, who could never utter anything not true, who held it no offense
to speak truth even of the dead. Gentle or simple, he seemed infinitely
superior to all men whom she had met with. And yet this beautiful nature
walked through the world quite alone. He had asked her to remember him when
he was gone; he had said that she was his friend. And he cared little for
women--there was perhaps no other woman in the world he had called a
friend. Then the girl's heart fluttered at the presumption of her silly,
soaring thoughts, and she glanced nervously to the right and to the left of
the lonely road, as though fearful that some hidden eavesdropper might peep
into her open mind. The magic spell was upon her. This little, pale, clever
man, so quiet, so strange, so unlike anything else within her seventeen
years of experience, had wrought Nature's vital miracle, and Joan, who,
until then, believed herself in love with her sailor sweetheart, now stood
aghast before the truth, stood bewildered between the tame and bloodless
fantasy of her affection for Joe Noy and this wild, live reality. She
looked far back into a past already dim and remembered that she had told
Joe many times how she loved him with all her heart. But the words were
spoken before she knew that she possessed a heart at all. Yet Joe then
formed no inconsiderable figure in life. She had looked forward to marriage
with him as a comfortable and sufficient background for present existence;
she had viewed Joe as a handsome, solid figure--a man well thought of, one
who would give her a home with bigger rooms and better furniture in it than
most fishermen's daughters might reasonably hope for. But this new blinding
light was more than the memory of Joe could face uninjured. He shriveled
and shrank in it. Like St. Michael's Mount, seen afar, through curtains of
rain, Joe had once bulked large, towering, even grand, but under noonday
sun the great mass dwindles as a whole though every detail becomes more
apparent; and so with poor Joe Noy. Removed to a distance of a thousand
miles though he was, Joan had never known him better, never realized the
height, breadth, depth of him so acutely as now she did. The former
ignorance in such a case had been bliss indeed, for whereunto her present
acquired wisdom might point even she dared not consider. Any other girl
must have remained sufficiently alive to the enormous disparity every way
between herself and the artist; and Joan grasped the difference, but from
the wrong point of view. The man's delicacy of discernment, his wisdom, his
love of the things which she loved, his fine feeling, his humility--all
combined in Joan's judgment to place him far above herself, though she had
not words to name the qualities; but whereas another lowly woman, reaching
this point, must, if she possessed any mother-wit or knowledge of the
world, have awakened to the danger and grown guarded, Joan, claiming little
wit to speak of, and being an empty vessel so far as knowledge of the world
was concerned, saw no danger and allowed her thoughts to run away with her
in a wholly insane direction. This she did for two reasons: because she
felt absolutely safe, and because she suspected that Nature, who was
"Mister Jan's" God, had now come to be her God also. The man was very wise,
and he hated everything which lacked truth: therefore he would always do
what was right, and he would not be less true to her than he was to the
world. Truth was his guiding star, and he had always found Nature true.
Therefore, why should not Joan find it true? Nature was talking to her now
and teaching her rapidly. She must be content to wait and learn. The two
men, Noy and Barren, fairly represented the opposite views of life each
entertained, and Joan felt the new music wake a thousand sleeping echoes in
her heart while the old grew more harsh and unlovely as she considered it.
Joe had so many opinions and so little information; "Mister Jan" knew
everything and asserted nothing save what Nature had taught him. Joe was so
self-righteous and overbearing, so like her father, so convinced that Luke
Gospeldom was the only gate to glory; "Mister Jan" had said there was more
of the Everlasting God in a bluebell than in the whole of the Old
Testament; he had declared that the smell of the gorse and the sunshine on
the deep sea were better things than the incense and banners at St.
Peter's; he had asserted that the purring of kittens was sweeter to the
Father of all than the thunder of a mighty organ played in the noblest
cathedral ever made with hands. All these foolish and inconsequent
comparisons, uttered thoughtlessly by Barron's lips while his mind was on
his picture, seemed very fine to Joan; and the finer because she did not
understand them. Again, Joe rarely listened to her; this man always did,
and he liked to hear her talk: he had declared as much.
Her brains almost hurt Joan on her way back to the white cottage that
morning. They seemed so loaded; they lifted her up high above the
working-day world and made her feel many years older. Such reflections and
ideas came to grown women doubtless, she thought. A great unrest arose from
the shadows of these varied speculations--a great unrest and disquiet--a
feeling of coming change, like the note in the air when the swallows meet
together in autumn, like the whisper of the leaves on the high tops of the
forest before rain. Her heart was very full. She walked more slowly as the
thoughts weighed heavier; she went back to her home round-eyed and solemn,
wondering at many things, at the extension of the horizon of life, at the
mental picture of Joe standing clearly out of the mists, viewed from a
That day much serving awaited her; but, at every turn and pause in the
small affairs of her duty, Joan's mind swooped back like a hawk to the
easel on Gorse Point; and when it did, her cheeks flushed and she turned to
bend over sink or pig's trough to hide the new fire that burned in her
heart and lighted her eyes.
Mrs. Tregenza, who had suffered from neuralgia and profound depression of
spirit upon Tom's departure to the sea, but who comforted herself even in
her darkest hour by reflection that no lugger boy ever joined the fishing
fleet with such an equipment of new clothes as her son, was somewhat better
and more cheerful now that the lad had made his first trip and survived it.
Moreover, Tom would be home again that night in all probability, and, since
Michael was last ashore, the butcher from Paul had called and offered three
shillings and sixpence more for the next pig to be killed than ever a
Tregenza pig had fetched until that day. Life therefore held some
prosperity in it, even for Thomasin.
After their dinner both women, the elder with a shawl muffled about her
face, went down the road to Newlyn to see a sight. They stopped at George
Trevennick's little house. It had a garden in front of it with a short
flagstaff erected thereon, and all looked neat, trim and ship-shape as
became the home of a retired Royal Navy man. A wedding was afoot, and Mr.
Trevennick, who never lost an opportunity to display his rare store of
bunting, had plentifully shaken out bright reds and yellows, blues and
greens. The little flags fluttered in four streamers from the head of the
flagstaff, and their colors looked harsh and crude until associated with
the human interests they marked.
Already many children gazed with awe from the road, while a favored few,
including the Tregenzas, stood in Mr. Trevennick's garden, which was raised
above the causeway. Great good-humor prevailed, together with some
questionable jesting, and Joan heard the merriment with a sense of
discomfort. They would talk like this when Joe came back to marry her; but
the great day of a maid's life had lost its greatness for her now. The
rough, good-natured fun grated on her nerves as it had never grated before;
because, though she only guessed at the sly jokes of her elders, something
told her that "Mister Jan" would have found no pleasure in such merriment.
Mrs. Tregenza talked, Mr. Trevennick smoked, and Sally Trevennick, the old
sailor's daughter, entertained the party and had a word for all. She was
not young, and not well-favored, and unduly plump, but a sweet-hearted
woman nevertheless, with a great love for the little children. This indeed
presently appeared, for while the party waited there happened a tragedy in
the street which brought extreme sorrow to a pair of very small people.
They had a big crabshell full of dirt off the road which they drew after
them by a string, and in which they took no small pride and pleasure; but a
young sailor, coming hastily round a corner, trampled upon the shell,
smashed it, and passed laughing on. The infants, overwhelmed by this sudden
disaster to their most cherished earthly possession, crushed to the earth
by this blotting out of the sunshine of the day, lifted up their voices and
wept before the shattered ruins. One, the biggest, dropped the useless
string and put his face against the wall, that his extreme grief might be
hidden; but the smaller hesitated not to make his sorrows widely known. He
bawled, then took a deep breath and bawled again. As the full extent of his
loss was borne in upon him, he absolutely danced with access of frenzied
grief; and everybody laughed but fat Sally Trevennick. Her black eyes grew
clouded, and she went down into the road to bring comfort to the sufferers.
"Never mind, then; never mind, you bwoys; us'll get 'e another braave
shell, so us will. Theer, theer, give over an' come 'long wi' me an' see
the flags. Theer's many bigger auld crabshells wheer that comed from, I
lay. Your faither'll get 'e another."
She took a hand of each babe and brought them into the garden, from which
they could look down upon their fellows. Such exaltation naturally soothed
their sufferings, and amid many gasps and gurgles they found a return to
peace in the close contemplation of Mr. Trevennick's flagstaff and the
discussion of a big saffron pasty.
Presently the bridegroom and his young brother passed on the way to church.
Both looked the reverse of happy; both wore their Sunday broadcloth, and
both swung along as fast as their legs would carry them. They were red hot
and going five miles an hour; but, though Mousehole men, everybody in
Newlyn knew them, and they were forced to run the gauntlet of much chaff.
"Time was when they did use to thrash a new-married couple to bed," said
Mr. Trevennick. "'Twas an amoosin' carcumstance an' I've 'elped at many,
but them good auld doin's is dyin' out fast."
Mrs. Tregenza was discussing the bridegroom's family.
"He be a poor Billy-be-damned sort o' feller, I've allus heard, an' awnly a
common tinner, though his faither were a grass cap'n at Levant Mine."
"But he's a steady chap," said Sally; "an' them in his awn station sez he's
reg'lar at church-goin' an' well thot 'pon by everybody. 'Tedn' all young
pairs as parson'll ax out, I can tell 'e. He wants to knaw a bit 'fore
'e'll marry bwoys an' gals; but theer weren't no trouble 'bout Mark
"Sure I'm glad to hear it, Sally, 'cause if he caan't do everything,
everything won't be done. They Penns be a pauper lot--him a fish-jouster as
ain't so much as his awn donkey an' cart, an' lame tu. Not that 'twas his
awn fault, I s'pose, but they do say a lame chap's never caught in a good
"Here comes the weddeners!" said Joan, "but 'tedn' a very braave shaw," she
added. "They'm all a-foot, I do b'lieve."
"Aw, my dear sawl! look at that now!" cried Mrs. Tregenza. "Walkin',
ackshally walkin'. Well--well!"
The little bride advanced between her father and mother, while relations
and friends marched two and two behind. A vision it was of age and youth,
of bright spring flowers, of spotless cotton and black broadcloth. A matron
or two marched in flaming colors; a few fishermen wore their blue jerseys
under their reefer jackets; the smaller children were led by hand; and the
whole party numbered twelve all told. Mr. Penn looked up at the flags as he
limped along, and a great delight broke out upon his face; the bride's
mother beamed with satisfaction at a compliment not by any means expected,
for the Penns were a humble folk; and the bride blushed and stole a nervous
peep at the display. Mr. Penn touched his hat to the party in the garden,
and Mr. Trevennick, feeling the eye of the multitude upon him, loudly
wished the wedding party well as it passed by.
"Good speed to 'e an' to the maid, Bill Penn. May she live 'appy an' be a
credit to all parties consarned."
"Thank 'e, thank 'e, kindly, Mr. Trevennick. An' us takes it mighty
favorable to see your butivul flags a hangin' out--mighty favorable, I
So the party tramped on and ugly Sally looked after them with dim eyes; but
Mrs. Tregenza's thin voice dried them.
"A bad come-along o't for a gal to walk 'pon sich a day. They did ought to
a got her a lift to her weddin', come what might."
"Maybe 'tis all wan to them poor dears. A coach an' four 'orses wouldn'
make that cheel no better pleased. God bless her, did 'e look 'ow she
flickered up when she seed faither's flags a flyin'?"
"Theer's a right way an' a wrong o' doin' weddin's, Sarah, an' 'tedn' a
question whether a gal's better pleased or no. It's all wan to a dead
corpse whether 'tis took to the yard in a black hearse wi' plumes, same as
what us shall be, or whether 'tis borne 'pon wan o' them four 'anded
stretchers used for carryin' fishin' nets, same as poor Albert Vallack was
a while back--but wan way's proper an' t'other 'edn'."
"They'm savin' the money for the feed. Theer's gwaine to be a deal o' clome
liftin' at Perm's cottage bimebye," said another of the party.
"No honeymoon neither, so I hear tell," added Mrs. Tregenza.
"But Taskes have bought flam-new furniture for his parlor, they sez,"
declared the former speaker.
"Of coorse. Still no honeymoon 'tall! Who ever heard tell of sich a thing
nowadays? I wonder they ban't 'shamed."
"Less shame, Mrs. Tregenza, than trapsing off to Truro or somewheers an'
wastin' their time an' spendin' money they'll be wanting back agin 'fore
Christmas," retorted Sally, with some warmth.
But Mrs. Tregenza only shook her head and sighed.
"You speaks as a onmarried wummon, Sarah; but if you comed to be a bride
you'd sing dif-fer'nt. No honeymoon's wrong, an' your faither'll tell the
Mr. Trevennick admitted that no honeymoon was bad. He went further and
declared the omission of such an institution to be unprincipled. He even
said that had he known of this serious defect in the ceremonies he should
certainly have abstained from lending the brightness of his bunting to
them. Then he went to eye the flags from different points of view, while
Sally, in a minority of one, turned to Joan.
"And what do you say?" she asked. "You'm 'mazin' quiet an' tongue-tied for
you. I s'pose you'm thinkin' of the time when Joe Noy comes home. I lay
you'll have a honeymoon anyways."
"Iss, that you may depend 'pon," said Mrs. Tregenza.
And Joan, who had in truth been thinking of her sweetheart's return, grew
red, whereat they all laughed. But she felt secretly superior to every one
of them, for the shrinking process began to extend beyond Joe now. A
fortnight before, she had been much gratified by allusions to the future
and felt herself an important individual enough. Then, she must have shared
her stepmother's pity at the poverty of the pageant which had just passed
by. But now the world had changed. Matrimony with Joe Noy was not a subject
which brought present delight to her, but the little bride who had just
gone to her wedding filled Joan's thoughts. What was in that girl's heart,
she greatly wondered. Did Milly Penn feel for long-legged Mark Taskes what
Joan felt for "Mister Jan"? Was it possible that any other woman had ever
experienced similar mysterious splendors of mind? She could not tell, but
it seemed unlikely to her; it appeared improbable that an ordinary man had
power to inspire another heart with such golden magic as glorified her own.
Presently she departed with her stepmother, whereupon Sally Trevennick
relieved her pent-up feelings.
"Thank the Lard that chitter-faaced wummon edn' gwaine to the weddin' any
ways! Us knaws she's a dear good sawl 'nough; but what wi' her sour voice,
an' her sour way o' talkin', an' her sour 'pinions, she'm enough to set a
rat-trap's teeth on edge."
That evening Thomasin had another spasm of face-ache and went to bed soon
after drinking tea. Michael was due at home about ten o'clock or earlier,
and Joan--having set out supper, made all ready, and ascertained that her
stepmother had gone to sleep--walked out to the pierhead, there to wait for
Mr. Tregenza and Tom. Under moonlight, the returning luggers crept
homeward, like inky silhouettes on a background of dull silver. Every
moment added to the forest of masts anchored at the moorings outside the
harbor; every minute another rowing-boat shot between the granite piers,
slid silently into the darkness under shore, leaving moonlit rings widening
out behind at each dip of the oars. Joan sat down under the lighthouse and
waited in the stillness for her father's boat. Yellow flashes, like
fireflies, twinkled along through Newlyn, and above them the moon brought
out square patches of silver-bright roof seen through a blue night. Now and
then a bell rang in the harbor, and lights leaped here and there, mingling
red snakes and streamers of fire with the white moonbeams where they lay on
still water. Then Joan knew the fish were being sold by auction, and she
grew anxious for her father's return, fearing prices might have fallen
before he arrived. Great periods of silence lay between the ringings of the
bell, and at such times only faint laughter floated out from shore, or
blocks chipped and rattled as a sail came down or a concertina squeaked
fitfully where it was played on a Norwegian iceboat at the harbor quay. The
tide ran high, and Joan watched the lights reflected in the harbor and
wondered why the gold of them contrasted so ill with the silver from the
Presently two men came along to the pierhead. They smoked, looked at the
sea, and did not notice her where she sat in shadow. One, the larger, wore
knickerbockers, talked loudly, and looked a giant in the vague light; the
other was muffled up in a big ulster, and Joan would not have recognized
Barron had he not spoken. But he answered his friend, and then the girl's
heart leaped to hear that quiet, unimpassioned voice. He spoke of matters
which she did not understand, of pictures and light and all manner of
puzzles set by Nature for the solution of art; but though for the most part
his remarks conveyed no meaning to her, yet he closed a sentence with words
that made her happy, and warmed her heart and left a precious memory behind
"Moonlight is a problem only less difficult than sunshine," he said to his
friend. "Where are you going to get that?" and he pointed to the sea.
"It's been jolly well done all the same."
"Never. It is not to be done. You can suggest by a trick, but God defend us
from tricks and sleight-of-hand in connection with the solemn business of
painting pictures. Let us be true or nothing."
They walked away together, and Joan pondered over the last words. Truth
seemed an eternal, abiding passion with John Barron, and the contemplation
of this idea gave her considerable pleasure. She did not know that a man
may be at once true to his art and a liar to his fellows.
Presently her father returned with Tom, and the three walked home together.
Gray Michael appeared quietly satisfied that his son was shaping well and
showing courage and nerve. But he silenced the lad quickly enough when Tom
began to talk with some gasconade concerning greet deeds done westward of
the Scilly Islands.
"'Let another man praise thee an' not thine awn mouth,' my bwoy," said Mr.
Tregenza. "It ban't the wave as makes most splash what gaws highest up the
beach, mind. You get Joan to teach 'e how to peel 'taties, 'cause 'tis a
job you made a tidy bawk of, not to mention no other. Keep your weather-eye
liftin' an' your tongue still. Then you'll do. An' mind--the bwoat's clean
as a smelt by five o'clock to-morrow marnin', an' no later."
Tom, dashed by these base details, answered seaman fashion:
"Ay, ay, faither."
Then they all tramped home, and the boy enjoyed the glories of a late
supper, though he was half asleep before he had finished it.
By half-past five o'clock, Mr. Tregenza's black lugger was off again in a
gray dawn all tangled with gold on the eastern horizon.
His mother had given Tom an early breakfast at half-past four, and the
youngster, agape and dim-eyed at first, speedily brightened up, for he had
a willing listener, in the candle-light and poured a tale of moving
incidents into Thomasin's proud but uneasy mind.
"Them Pritchards sez as they'll make a busker [Footnote: _Busker_--A
rare good fisherman.] of me, 'cause it blawed a bit issterday marnin', but
'twas all wan to me; an' you abbun no call to fret yourself, nohow, mother,
'cause faither's 'lowed to be the best sailor in the fleet an' theer ban't
a better foul-weather boat sails from Newlyn than ourn."
He chattered on, larding his discourse with new words picked up aboard, and
presently rolled off to get things shipshape just as his father came down
When the men had gone, little remained to be done that day, and, by
half-past seven, about which hour Mrs. Tregenza went into the village that
she might whine with a widow who had two boys in the fleet, Joan found
herself free until the afternoon. She determined therefore to reach Gorse
Point before the artist should arrive there, and set off accordingly.
Early though she was, she had but a short time to wait, for Barron appeared
with his big canvas by nine o'clock. She thought he showed more pleasure
than usual at the sight of her. Certainly he shook hands and congratulated
her upon such early hours.
"This is an unexpected pleasure, Joan. You must have been up betimes
"Iss fay, us took breakfus' by five, an' faither sailed 'fore half-past.
'Tis busy times for fishin' folk when the mackerl begins shoalin'."
"I'm glad I came back to my den in the fields yonder and didn't stop in
Newlyn last night. You must see my little cow-byre some day or other, Joan.
I've made it wonderfully snug. Farmer Ford is good enough to let me take
possession of it for the present; and I've got food and drink stowed away,
and a beautiful bed of sweet, withered bracken. I sleep well there, and the
dawn comes in and wakens me."
"You ban't feared o' piskeys nor nothin' in a lawnsome plaace like thicky
"No, no--the rats are rather intrusive, though."
"But they'm piskeys or spriggans so like's not! You see, the lil people
takes all manner o' shaapes, Mister Jan; an' they chaanges 'em tu, but
every time they chaanges they've got to alter into somethin' smaller than
what they was before. An' so, in coorse of time, they do say they comes
down into muryans an' such like insects."
"Piskeys or no piskeys, I've caught several in a trap and killed them."
"They'm gashly things, rats, an' I shouldn't think as no good piskeys would
turn into varmints like them."
"More should I. But something better than rats came to see me last night,
Joan. Guess who it was."
"Why, you came!"
"Me, Mister Jan! You must a bin dreamin'!"
"Yes, of course I was; but such a lovely dream, Joan! You see, men who
paint pictures and love what is beautiful and dream about beautiful things
and beautiful people see all sorts of visions sometimes. I have pictures in
my head a thousand times more splendid than any I shall ever put upon
canvas, because mere paint-brushes cannot do much, even when they are in
the cleverest hands; but a man's brain is not bound down by material,
mechanical matters. My brain made a picture of you last night--a picture
that came and looked at me on my fern bed--a picture so real, so alive that
I could see it move and hear it laugh. You think that wonderful. It isn't
really, because my brain has done nothing but think of you now for nearly
six weeks. My eye studies you and stamps you upon my brain; then, when
night comes, and no man works, and the world is dark and silent, my brain
sets off on its own account and raises up a magic vision just to show me
what you really are--how different to this poor daub here."
"Lard, Mister Jan! I never heard tell of sich a coorious thing as that."
"And the pretty dream-Joan can talk almost as well as you can! Why, last
night, while I was half awake and half asleep, she put her hand upon my
shoulder and said kind things, but I dared not move or kiss her hand at
first for fear she would vanish if I did."
"That is a funny story, sure 'nough," she said. "I 'specs 'twas awnly
another fairy body, arter all."
"No, it wasn't. She had your voice and your spirit in her; and that picture
which my brain painted for me was so much better than the thing my hand has
painted that, in the morning, I was almost tempted to destroy this
altogether. But I didn't."
"An' what did this here misty sort o' maid say to 'e?"
"Strange things, strange things. Things I would give a great deal to hear
you say. It seemed that you had come, Joan, it seemed that you had
purposely come from your little cottage on the cliff through the darkness
before dawn. Why? To share my loneliness, to brighten my poor shadowy life.
Dreams are funny things, are they not? What d'you think you said?"
"Sure I dunnaw."
"Why, you said that you were not going to leave me any more; that you
believed in me and that you had come to me because it was bad for a man to
live all alone in the world. You said that you felt alone too--without me.
And it made me feel happy to hear you say that, though I knew, all the
time, that it was not the real beautiful Joan who spoke to me."
Thereupon the girl asked a question which seemed to argue some sharpening
of intelligence within her.
"An' when I spoke that, what did you say, Mister Jan?"
"I didn't say anything at all. I just took that sweet Joan-of-dreams into
my arms and kissed her."
He was looking listlessly out over the sea as he spoke, and Joan felt
thankful his eyes were turned away from her, for this wonderful dream
incident made her grow hot all over. He seemed to divine by her silence
that his answer to her question had not added to her happiness.
"I shouldn't have told you that, Joan, only you asked me. You see, in
dreams, we are real in some senses, though unreal in others. In dreams the
savage part of us comes to the top and Nature can whisper to us. She
chooses night to do so and often speaks to men in visions, because by day
the voice of the world is in their ears and they have no attention for any
other. It was strange, too, that I should fancy such a thing--should
imagine I was kissing you--because I never kissed a woman in my life."
But from her point of view this falsehood was not so alluring as he meant
to make it sound.
"'Twould be wrong to kiss any maiden, I reckon, onless you was tokened to
her or she were your awn sister."
"But, as we look at life, we're all brothers and sisters, Joan--with Nature
for our mother. We agreed about that long ago."
He turned to his easel, and she went and stood where her feet had already
made a brown mark on the grass.
"I seen you last night, but you dedn' see me," she said, changing the
conversation with abruptness.
"Yes, I did," he answered, "sitting under the shadow of the lighthouse,
waiting for Mr. Tregenza, I expect."
"An' you never took no note o' me!"
He flung down his brushes, turned away from the picture before he had
touched it, and went and lay near the edge of the cliff.
"Come here, Joan, and I will tell you why I didn't notice you, though I
longed to do so. Come and sit down by me and I'll explain why I seemed so
She came slowly and sat down some distance from him, putting her elbows on
her knees and looking away to sea.
"'Tweern't kind," she said, "but when you'm with other folks, I s'pose
you'm ashamed o' me 'spite what you tawld me 'bout yourself."
"You mustn't say that, Joan, or you'll make me unhappy. Ashamed of you! Is
it likely I'm ashamed of the only friend I've got in the world? No, I'm
frightened of losing you; I'm selfish; I couldn't make you known to any
other man because I should be afraid you'd like him better than me, and
then I should have no friend at all. So I wouldn't speak and reveal my
treasure to anybody else. I'm very fond of my friend, and very proud of
her, and as greedy as a miser over his gold."
Joan took a long breath before this tremendous assertion. He had told her
in so many words that he was fond of her; and he had mentioned it most
casually as a point long since decided. Here was the question which she had
asked herself so often answered once for all. Her heart leaped at tidings
of great joy, and as she looked up into his face the man saw infinite
wonder and delight in her own. Mind was adding beauty to flesh, and he,
fast losing the artist's instinct before another, thought she had never
looked so lovely as then.
"Oh, Mister Jan, you'm fond o' me!"
"Why, didn't you know it, Joan? Did it want my words to tell you so? Hadn't
you guessed it?"
He rose slowly and approached his picture.
"Oh, how I wish this was a little more like my dream and like reality! I
need inspiration, Joan; I have reached a point beyond which I cannot go. My
colors are dead; my soul is dead. Something must happen to me or I shall
never finish this."
"Ban't you so well as you was?"
"No, Joan, I'm not. A thing has come between me and my happiness, between
me and my picture. I know not what to call it. Nature has sent it."
"Then 'tis right an' proper, I s'pose?"
"I suppose so, but it stops work. It makes my hand shake and my heart throb
fast and my brains grow hot."
"Can't 'e take no physic for't?"
"Why, yes, but I hesitate."
He turned to her and went close to her.
"Let me look at you, Joan--close--very close--so close that I can feel your
breath. It was so easy to learn the furze; it is so hard to learn you."
"Sure I've comed out butivul in the picksher."
"Not yet, not yet."
He put his hands on her shoulders and looked into her eyes until she grew
nervous and brushed her hand across her cheek. Then, without a second's
warning, he bent down and kissed her on the mouth.
"Mister Jan! How could 'e! 'Tis wrong--wrong of 'e! I'd never a thot--"
She started from him, wild, alarmed, blushing hotly; and he shook his head
at her dismay and answered very calmly, very seriously:
"It was not wrong, Joan, or I should not have done it. You heard me ask to
whom I should pray for inspiration, and Nature told me I must seek it from
you. And I have."
"You shouldn't never a done it. I trusted 'e so!"
"But I had to do it. Nature said 'Kiss her, and you will find what you
want.' Do you understand that? I have touched you and I am awake and alive
again; I have touched you, Joan, and I am not hopeless and sad, but happy.
Nature thought of me, Joan, when she made you and brought you into the
world; and she thought of sweet Joan when she fashioned Jan. Believe
it--you must believe it."
"You did ought to a arsked me."
"Listen. Nature let you live quiet in the country--for me, Joan. She let me
live all lonely in the world--for you. Only for you. Can't you understand?"
"You did ought to a arsked me. Kissing be wrong 'tween us. You knaws it,
"It is right and proper and fair and beautiful," he said quietly. "My heart
sang when I kissed you, Joan, and so did yours. D'you know why? Because we
are two halves of a whole. Because the sunshine of your life would go out
without me; because my life, which never had any sunshine in it until now,
has been full of sunshine since I knew Joan."
"I dunnaw. 'Twadden a proper thing to do, seein' how I trusted 'e."
"We are children of Nature, Joan. I always do what she tells me. I can't
help it. I have obeyed her all my life. She tells me to love you, Joan, and
I do. I'm very sorry. I thought she had told you to love me, but I suppose
I was wrong. Never mind this once. Forgive me, Joan. I'll even fight Nature
rather than make you angry with me. Let me finish my picture and go away.
Come. I've no business to waste your precious time, though you have been so
kind and generous with it. Only I was tired and hopeless and you came like
a drink of wine to me, Joan; and I drank too much, I suppose."
He picked up his brushes, spoke in a sad minor key, and seemed crushed and
weary. The flash died from his face and he looked older again. Joan, the
mistress of the situation, found it wholly bitter. She was bewildered, for
affairs had proceeded with such rapidity. He had declared frankly that he
loved her, and yet had stopped there. To her ideas it was impossible that a
man should say as much as that to a woman and no more. Love invariably
meant ultimate union for life, Joan thought. She could not understand any
other end to it. The man talked about Nature as a little child talks of its
mother. He had deemed himself entirely in the right; yet something--not
Nature, she supposed--had told her that he was wrong. But who was she to
judge him? Who was she to say where his conduct erred? He loved truth. It
was not a lie to kiss a girl. He promised nothing. How could he promise
anything or propose anything? Was she not another man's sweetheart? That
doubtless had been the reason why he had said no more than that he loved
her. To love her could be no sin. Nature had told him to; and God knew how
she loved him now.
But she could not make it up with him. A cold curtain seemed to have fallen
between them. The old reserve which had only melted after many meetings,
was upon him again. He stood, as it seemed, on the former pedestal. A
strange, surging sensation filled her head--a sense of helpless fighting
against a flood of unhappy affairs. All the new glory of life was suddenly
tarnished through her own act, and she felt that things could never be the
She thought and thought. Then John Barron saw Joan's blue eyes begin to
wink ominously, the corners of her bonny mouth drag down and something
bright twinkle over her cheek. He took no notice, and when he looked up
again, she had moved away and was sitting on the grass crying bitterly with
her hands over her face. The sun was bright, a lark sang overhead; from
adjacent inland fields came the jolt and clank of a plow with a man's voice
calling to his horses at the turns. The artist put down his palette and
walked over to Joan.
"My dear, my dear," he said, "d'you know what's making you so unhappy?"
She sobbed on and did not answer.
"I can tell you, I think. You don't quite know whether to believe me or
not, Joan. That is very natural. Why should you believe me? And yet if you
She sat up, swallowed some of her tears, and smudged her face with her
knuckles. He took a clean handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to
her. It was cool and pleasant, and she went on crying a while, but tears
which were comforting and different to the first stinging drops bred from a
sudden, forlorn survey of life. He talked on, and his voice soothed her. He
kept his distance, and presently, as her ruffled spirit grew calmer, his
remarks assumed a brighter note.
"Has my poor little Lady of the Gorse forgiven me at last? She won't punish
me any more, I know, and it is a very terrible punishment to see tears in
Then she found her tongue again and words to answer him, together with
fluttering sighs that told the tears were ended.
"I dunnaw why for I cried, Mr. Jan, but I seemed 'mazed like. I'm a stupid
fule of a maid, I reckon, an' I s'pose 'tis auld-fashioned notions as I've
got 'bout what be right an' wrong. But, coorse, you knaws better'n what I
can; an' you'd do me no hurt 'cause you loves me--you've said it;
an'--an'--I love 'e tu, Mister Jan, I 'sure 'e--better'n anything in all
"Why, that's good, sweet news, Joan; and Nature told me the truth after
all! We're bound to love one another. She made us for that very reason!"
He knew that her mind was full of the tangles of life and that she wanted
him to solve some of the riddles just then uppermost in her own existence.
He felt that Joe was in her thoughts, and he easily divined her unuttered
question as to why Nature had sent Joe before she had sent him. But, though
answers and explanations of her troubles were not likely to be difficult,
he had no wish to make them or to pursue the subject just then. Indeed, he
bid Joan depart an hour before she need have done so. Her face was spoiled
for that sitting, and matters had progressed up to the threshold of the
barrier. Before that could be broken down, she must be made to feel that
she was necessary to the happiness of his life; as he already felt that she
was necessary to the completion of his picture. She loved him very dearly,
and he, though love was not possible to his nature, could feel the
substitute. He had fairly stepped out of his impersonal shell into reality.
Presently he would return to his shell again. For a moment a model had
grown more to him than a picture; and he told himself that he must obey
Nature in order adequately to serve Art.
He picked up the handkerchief he had lent Joan, looked at the dampness of
the tear-stains, and then spread it in the sun to dry.
JOAN WALKS HOME
While John Barren determined that a space of time extending over some days
should now separate him from Joan, she, for her part, had scarce left Gorse
Point after the conversation just chronicled when there came a great
longing in her heart to return thither. As she walked home she viewed
wearily the hours which lay between her and the following morning when she
might go back to him and see his face again. Time promised to drag for the
next day and night. Already she framed in her mind the things her mouth
should say to-morrow; and that almost before she was beyond sight of the
man's easel. Her fears had vanished with her tears. The future was entirely
in his hand now, for she had accepted his teaching, endeavored to look at
life with his eyes, made his God her own, so far as she had wit to gather
what his God was. She accepted the situation with trust, and felt
responsibility shifted on to "Mister Jan's" shoulders with infinite relief.
He was very wise and knew everything and loved the truth. It is desirable
to harp and harp upon this ever-recurring thought: the artist's grand love
for truth; because all channels of Joan's mind flowed into this lake. His
sincerity begat absolute trust. And, as John Barren and his words and
thoughts filled the foreground of life for her, so, correspondingly, did
the affairs of her home, with all the circumstances of existence in the old
environment, peak and dwindle toward shadowy insignificance. Her father
lost his majestic proportions; the Luke Gospelers became mere objects for
compassion; the petty, temporal interests and concerns of the passing hour
appeared mere worthless affairs for the occupation and waste of time.
"Mister Jan" loved her, and she loved him, and what else mattered? Past
hours of unrest and wakefulness were forgotten; her tears washed the dead
anxieties clean away; and the kiss which had caused them, though it
scorched her lip when it fell there, was now set as a seal and a crowning
glory to her life. He never kissed any other woman. That pledge of this
rare man's affection had been won by the magic of love, and Joan welcomed
Nature gladly and called it God with a warm heart and thankful soul; for
Nature had brought about this miracle. Her former religion worked no
wonders; it had only conveyed terror to her and a comprehensive knowledge
of hell. "Mister Jan" smiled at hell and she could laugh at her old fears.
How was it possible to hesitate between two such creeds? She did not do so,
and, with final acceptation of the new, and secret rejection of the old,
came a great peace to Joan's heart with the whisper of many voices telling
her that she had done rightly.
So the storm gave place to periods of delicious calm and content only
clouded by a longing to be back with the artist again. He loved her; the
voice of his love was the song of the spring weather, and the thrush echoed
it and the early flowers wrote it on the hedgerows. God was everywhere to
her open eyes. Everything that was beautiful, everything that was good,
seemed to have been created for her delight during that homeward walk. She
was mightily lifted up. Nature seemed so strong, so kind, such a guardian
angel for a maiden. And the birds sang out that "Mister Jan" was Nature's
priest and could do no wrong; and that to obey Nature was the highest good.
From which reflection rose a hazy happiness--dim, beautiful and indefinable
as the twinkling gold upon the sea under the throne of the sun. Joan dwelt
on the memory of the day which was now over for her, and on the thought of
morning hours which to-morrow would bring. But she looked no further; and
backward she did not gaze at all. No thought of Joe Noy dimmed her mental
delight; no shadowy cloud darkened the horizon then. All was bright, all
perfect. Her mind seemed to be breaking its little case, as the butterfly
bursts the chrysalis. Her life till then had been mere grub existence; now
she could fly and had seen the sun drawing the scent from flowers. Great
ideas filled her soul; new emotions awoke; she was like a baby trying to
utter the thing he has no word for; her vocabulary broke down under the
strain, and as she walked she gave thanks to Nature in a mere wordless
song, like the lark, because she could not put her acknowledgment into
language. But the great Mother, to whom Life is all in all, the living
individual nothing, looked on at a world wakening from sleep and viewed the
loves of the flowers and the loves of the birds and beasts and fishes with
concern as keen as the love in the blue eyes of Joan upon her homeward way.
Busy indeed at this vernal season was the mysterious Nurse of God's little
world. Her hands rested not from her labors. She worked strange wonders on
the waste, by magic of a million breaking buds, by burying of the dead, by
wafting of subtle pollen-life from blossom to blossom. And in cliffs above
the green waters the nests of her wild-fowl were already lined with wool
and feather; neither were her samphires forgotten in their dizzy
habitations; and salt spray sprinkled her uncurling sea ferns in caves and
crannies where they grew. She laughed at the porpoises rolling their fat
sides into sunshine; she brought the sea-otter where it should find fish
for its young; she led giant congers to drowned men; she patted the sleek
head of the sad-eyed seal. Elsewhere she showed the father-hawk a leveret
crouching in his form; she took young rabbits to the new spring grass; the
fox to the fowl, the fly to the spider, the blight to the bud. Her weakly
nestlings fell from tree and cliff to die, but she beheld unmoved; her
weasel sucked the gray-bird's egg, yet no hand was raised against the
thief, no voice comforted the screaming agony of the mother. With the van
of her legions she moved, and the suffering stragglers cried in vain, for
her concerns were not with them. She did no right, she worked no evil; she
was not cruel, neither shall we call her kind. The servant of God was she,
then as always, heedful of His utterances, obedient to His laws. Which
laws, when man better divines, he shall learn thy secret too, Nurse of the
world, but not sooner.
Having already learned from experience that hard work quickens the flight
of time, Joan, returning in happy mood to her home and with no trace of the
past tears upon her cheeks, surprised Mrs. Tregenza by a display of most
unusual energy and activity. She helped the butcher to get the pig into a
low cart built expressly for the conveyance of such unwieldy animals; she
looked mournfully at her departing companion, knowing that the morrow had
nothing for him but a knife, that he had eaten his last meal. And while
Joan listened to the farewell grunts of the fattest pig which had ever
adorned her father's sty, Mrs. Tregenza counted the money and bit a piece
here and there, and wondered if she could get the next young pig from Uncle
Chirgwin for even a lower figure than the last.
The day which had wrought such wonders for Joan's inner life, and brought
to her eyes a sort of tears unshed till then, ended at last, and for her a
sleepless night followed upon it. Not until long past one o'clock in the
morning did she lose consciousness, and then the thoughts of the day broke
loose again in visions, taking upon themselves fantastic shapes and moving
amid dream scenery of strange splendor. Now it was her turn to conjure
brain pictures out of fevered thoughts, and she woke at last with a start
in the dawn, to see a faint light painting the square of her bedroom
window. Looking out, she found the world dimly visible, a darker shadow
through the gloom where the fishing-boats were gathering in the bay, the
lighthouse lamp still shining, stars twinkling overhead, absolute silence
everywhere, and a cold bite about the air. The girl went back to bed again,
but slept no more and anon arose, dressed, set about morning duties, and,
much to Mrs. Tregenza's astonishment, had the fire burning and breakfast
ready by the time her stepmother appeared.
"Aw jimmery!" Thomasin exclaimed, as Joan came in from the outhouse to find
her warming cold hands at the fire, "I couldn't b'lieve my eyes at first
an' thot the piskey men had come to do us a turn spite o' what faither sez.
You've turned over a leaf seemin'ly. Workin' out o' core be a new game for
"I couldn' sleep for thinkin' 'bout--'bout the pig an' wan thing an'
"He's pork now, or nearly. You heard butcher promise me some nattlins,
dedn' 'e? You'd best walk up to Paul bimebye an' fetch, 'em. 'Tis easier to
call to mind other folk's promises than our awn. He said the same last
pig-killin' an' it comed to nort."
Joan escaped soon after breakfast and set off eagerly enough. She took a
basket with her and designed to call at Paul on the way home again.
Moreover, she chose a longer route to Gorse Point than that through
Mousehole, for her very regular habits of late had caused some comment in
that village, and more than one acquaintance had asked her, half in jest,
half in earnest, who it was she went to see up Mousehole hill. This had
frightened Joan twice already, and to-day, for the first time, she took the
longer route above Paul Church-town. It brought her over fields near the
cow-byre where Barren spent much of his time and kept his picture; and when
she saw her footpath must pass the door of the little house, a flutter
quickened her pulses and she branched away over the field and proceeded to
the cliffs through a gap in the hedge some distance from the byre.
But as Joan came out upon the sward through the furzes her heart sank in
sight of loneliness. She was not early to-day, but she had come earlier
than "Mister Jan." The gray figure was invisible. There were the marks on
the turf where his easel and camp-stool stood; there was the spot his feet
were wont to press, and her own standing-point against the glimmering
gorse; but that was all. She knew of no reason for his delay. The weather
was splendid, the day was warm, and he had never been so late before within
her recollection. Joan, much wondering, sat down to wait with her eyes upon
the sea, her ears alert for the first footstep, and her mind listening
also. Time passed, and indefinite uneasiness grew into a fear; then that
expanded and multiplied as her mind approached the problem of "Mister
Jan's" non-appearance from a dozen different standpoints. Hope declared
some private concern had kept him and he would not be long in coming; fear
inquired what unforeseen incident was likely to have risen since
yesterday--asked the question and answered it a dozen ways. The girl
waited, walked here and there, scanned the footpath and the road, returned,
sat down in patience, ate a cake she had brought, and so whiled the long
minutes away. The fears grew as hour and half-hour passed--fears for him,
not herself. The crowning despair did not touch her mind till later, and
her first sorrow was a simple terror that harm had fallen upon the man. He
had told her that he valued life but little, that at best no great length
of days awaited him; and now she thought that wandering about the cliffs by
night he might have met the death he did not fear. Then she remembered he
was but a sick man always, with frail breathing parts; and her thoughts
turned to the shed, and she pictured him lying ill there, unable to
communicate with friends, perhaps waiting and praying long hours for her
footfall as she had been waiting and praying for his. Upon this most
plausible possibility striking Joan, her heart beat at her breast and her
cheeks grew white. She rose from her seat upon the cliff, turned her face
to the cow-byre and made a few quick steps in that direction. Then a vague
flutter of sense, as of warning where no danger is visible, slowed her
speed for a moment; but her heart was strung to action, and the strange new
voice did not sound like Nature's, so she put it aside and let it drown
into silence before the clamor of fear for "Mister Jan's" well-being.
Indeed, that dim premonitory whisper excited a moment's anger in the girl
that any distrust could shadow her love for such a one at such a time. She
hated herself, held the thought a sin of her own commission, and sped
onward until she stood upon the northern side of the byre in a shadow cast
from it by the sun. The place was padlocked, and at that sight Joan's
spirits, though they rose in one direction, yet fell in another. One fear
vanished, a second loomed the larger; for the padlock, while it indicated
that the artist had left his lonely habitation for the time, did not
explain his absence now or dispel the possibilities of an accident or
disaster. The tar-pitched double door of the shed was fast and offered no
peep-hole; but Joan went round to the south side, where an aperture
appeared and where a little glass window had taken the place of the wooden
shutters. Sunshine lighted the shed inside; she could see every detail of
the chamber, and she photographed it on her mind with a quick glance. A big
easel with the life-size picture of herself upon it stood in the middle of
the shed, and a smaller easel appeared hard by. The artist's palettes,
brushes and colors littered a bench, and bottles and tumblers were
scattered among them. Two pipes which she had seen in his mouth lay
together upon a box on the floor, and beside them stood a tin of tobacco
wrapped in yellow paper. A white umbrella and some sticks stood in one
corner, and another she saw was filled by some railway rugs spread over
dried bracken. Two coats hung on nails in the wall, and above one was
suspended a Panama hat which Barren often wore when painting. Something
moved suddenly, and, looking upon the stone floor, she saw a rat-trap with
a live rat in it. The beast was running as far as it could this way and
that, poking its nose up and trying the roof of its prison. She noticed its
snout was raw from thrusting between the wire, and she wished she could get
in to kill it. She did not know that it was a mother rat with young ones
outside squeaking faintly in the stack of mangel-wurzels; she did not know,
as it hopped round and round, that its beady eyes were glittering with a
great agony, and that the Mother of all was powerless to break down a mere
wire or two and save it.
Presently, worn and weary, Joan trudged home again, with no very happy
mind. She found food for comfort in one reflection alone: the artist had
made no special appointment for that day, and it might be that business or
an engagement at Newlyn, Penzance or elsewhere was occupying his time. She
felt it must be so, and tried hard to convince herself that he would surely
be at the usual spot upon the morrow.
So she walked home unhappy; and time, which had dragged yesterday, to-day
stood still. Before night she had lived an age; the hours of darkness were
endless, but her father's return furnished excuse for another morning of
early rising; and when Gray Michael and Tom had eaten, donned clean raiment
and returned to the sea, Joan, having seen them to the pierhead, did not go
home, but hastened straight away for Gorse Point, and arrived there earlier
than ever she had done before. There was something soothing to her troubled