Part 3 out of 13
grammatical, or thereabouts; but, under a feigned politeness, the
insolence of a vulgar mind shows itself pretty plainly, and the
master is reminded what he suffered on some former occasion when he
rebelled against the trades. This letter is sometimes anonymous,
"'If this reminder of the past and intimation of the future is
disregarded, the refractory master gets a missive, which begins with
an affectation of coarse familiarity, and then rises, with a
ludicrous bound, into brutal and contemptuous insolence. In this
letter, grammar is flung to the winds, along with good manners; but
spelling survives, by a miracle. Next comes a short letter, full of
sanguinary threats, and written in, what we beg leave to christen,
the Dash dialect, because, though used by at least three million
people in England, and three thousand in Hillsborough, it can only
be printed with blanks, the reason being simply this, that every
sentence is measled with oaths and indecencies. These letters are
also written phonetically, and, as the pronunciation, which directs
the spelling, is all wrong, the double result is prodigious.
Nevertheless, many of these pronunciations are ancient, and were
once universal. An antiquarian friend assures us the orthography of
these blackguards, the scum of the nineteenth century, is
wonderfully like that of a mediaeval monk or baron.
"'When the correspondence has once descended to the Dash dialect,
written phonetically, it never remounts toward grammar, spelling or
civilization; and the next in the business is rattening, or else
beating, or shooting, or blowing-up the obnoxious individual by
himself, or along with a houseful of people quite strange to the
quarrel. Now, it is manifest to common sense, that all this is one
piece of mosaic, and that the criminal act it all ends in is no more
to be disconnected from the last letter, than the last letter from
its predecessor, or letter three from letter two. Here is a crime
first gently foreshadowed, then grimly intimated, then directly
threatened, then threatened in words that smell of blood and
gunpowder, and then--done. The correspondence and the act reveal--
"The various talents, but the single mind."
"'In face of this evidence, furnished by themselves, the trades
Unions, some member of which has committed this crime, will do well
to drop the worn-out farce of offering a trumpery reward and to take
a direct and manly course. They ought to accept Mr.----'s
preposterously liberal offer, and admit him to the two Unions, and
thereby disown the criminal act in the form most consolatory to the
sufferer: or else they should face the situation, and say, "This act
was done under our banner, though not by our order, and we stand by
it." The Liberal will continue to watch the case.'"
"This will be a pill," said Mr. Carden, laying down the paper.
"Why, they call the Liberal the workman's advocate."
"Yes, papa," said Grace; "but how plainly he shows-- But Mr. Little
is a stranger, and even this terrible lesson has not-- So do pray
"I shall be very happy; but, when you are my age, you will know it
is of little use intruding advice upon people."
"Oh, Mr. Little will treat it with proper respect, coming from one
so much older than himself, and better acquainted with this wretched
town. Will you not, Mr. Little?" said she, with so cunning a
sweetness that the young fellow was entrapped, and assented, before
he knew what he was about; then colored high at finding himself
Mr. Carden reflected a moment. He then said, "I can't take upon
myself to tell any man to give up his livelihood. But one piece of
advice I can conscientiously give Mr. Little."
"And that is--TO INSURE HIS LIFE."
"Oh, papa!" cried Grace.
As for Henry he was rather amused, and his lip curled satirically.
But the next moment he happened to catch sight of Jael Dence's face;
her gray eyes were expanded with a look of uneasiness; and, directly
she caught his eye she fixed it, and made him a quick movement of
the head, directing him to assent.
There was something so clear and decided in the girl's manner that
it overpowered Henry who had no very clear idea to oppose to it, and
he actually obeyed the nod of this girl, whom he had hitherto looked
on as an amiable simpleton.
"I have no objection to that," said he, turning to Mr. Carden.
Then, after another look at Jael, he said, demurely, "Is there any
insurance office you could recommend?"
Mr. Carden smiled. "There is only one I have a right to recommend,
and that is the 'Gosshawk.' I am a director. But," said he, with
sudden stiffness, "I could furnish you with the names of many
Henry saw his way clear by this time. "No, sir, if I profit by your
advice, the least I can do is to choose the one you are a director
Grace, who had latterly betrayed uneasiness and irritation, now
rose, red as fire. "The conversation is taking a turn I did not at
all intend," said she, and swept out of the room with royal disdain.
Her father apologized carelessly for her tragical exit. "That is a
young lady who detests business; but she does not object to its
fruits--dresses, lace, footmen, diamonds, and a carriage to drive
about in. On the contrary, she would be miserable without them."
"I should hope she never will be without them, sir."
"I'll take care of that."
Mr. Carden said this rather dryly, and then retired for a minute;
and Grace who was not far off, with an ear like a hare, came back
But in the meantime Henry left his seat and went to Jael, and,
leaning over her as she worked, said, "There is more in that head of
yours than I thought."
"Oh, they all talk before me," said Jael, blushing faintly, and
avoiding his eye.
"Jael Dence," said the young man, warmly, "I'm truly obliged to
"For your good advice. I didn't see how good it was till after I
had taken it."
"I'm afeard Miss Grace gave you better."
"She advised me against my heart. What is the use of that?"
"Ay, young men are willful."
"Come, come, don't you go back. You are my friend and counselor."
"That is something," said Jael, in a low voice; and her hands
trembled at her side.
"Why, my dear girl, what's the matter?"
Grace came in, that moment, with a superb air. She settled herself
on the sofa.
"Now, it is my turn, if you please. Pray, sir, do you think your
life will be any safer for your insuring it? Insuring does not mean
that you are not to be killed; but that, when you ARE, for your
obstinacy, somebody else will get paid some money, to dance with
over your grave."
"I beg your pardon, Grace," said Mr. Carden, entering with some
printed papers in his hand. "That is not the only use of an
insurance. He may want to marry, or to borrow a sum of money to
begin business; and then a policy of insurance, with two or three
premiums paid, smooths the difficulty. Everybody should make a
will, and everybody should insure his life."
"Well then, sir, I will do both."
"Stop!" said Mr. Carden, who could now afford to be candid. "First
of all, you ought to satisfy yourself of the flourishing condition
of the company. He handed him a prospectus. "This will show you
our capital, and our disbursements last year, and the balance of
profit declared. And this gives the balance sheet of the 'Vulture'
and the 'Falcon,' which have assigned their business to us, and are
now incorporated in the 'Gosshawk.'"
"Oh, what a voracious bird!" observed Grace. "I hope these other
chickabiddies will not prove indigestible. Were they plucked first,
papa? or did the 'Gosshawk' swallow them feathers and all?"
Little laughed heartily at this pert sally, but Mr. Carden winced
Then Grace saw she was not quite weaponless, and added, "After such
a meal, as that, Mr. Little, you will go down like a crumb."
"Grace, that is enough," said Mr. Carden, rather severely.
Grace held her tongue directly, and the water came into her eyes.
Anything like serious remonstrance was a novelty to her.
When Henry had read the papers, Mr. Carden asked him, rather
carelessly, what sum he wished to be insured for.
Now Henry had so little wish about the matter, that he had not given
it a thought, and the question took him quite aback. He looked
helplessly at Jael. To his surprise, she decided on the sum for
him, without a moment's hesitation, and conveyed the figure with
that dexterity which the simplest of her sex can command whenever
telegraphy is wanted. She did it with two unbroken movements; she
put up all the fingers of her right hand to her brow, and that meant
five: then she turned her hand rapidly, so as to hide her mouth from
the others, who were both on her right hand, and she made the word
thousand clear, with her lips and tongue, especially the "th."
But the sum staggered Henry; and made him think he must be
He hesitated, to gain time. "Hum!" said he, "the sum?"
Jael repeated her pantomime as before.
Still Henry doubted, and, to feel his way, said, half interrogatively,
"Five thousand pounds," said Henry, as bold as brass.
"Five thousand pounds!" cried Mr. Carden. "A workman insure his
life for five thousand pounds!"
"Well, a man's life is worth five thousand pounds, or it is worth
nothing. And, sir, how long do you think I shall be a workman,
especially in Hillsborough, where from workman to master is no more
than hopping across a gutter?"
Mr. Carden smiled approval. "But five thousand pounds! The annual
premium will be considerable. May I ask about how much you make a
"Well, sir, Mr. Cheetham pays me L300 a year, at the rate of, and I
can make another L100 by carving at odd times. But, if you doubt my
ability, let us stay as we are, sir. It was your proposal, not
mine, you know."
"Young man," said Mr. Carden, "never be peppery in business." He
said this so solemnly and paternally, it sounded like the eleventh
To conclude, it was arranged Henry should take the higher class of
insurance, which provided for accidents, voyages, everything, and
should be insured for L5000, provided the physician appointed by the
company should pronounce him free from disease.
Henry then rose, and said, sorrowfully, to Grace, "You will not see
me here very often now; and never on Saturday afternoon or Monday
morning. I am not going to have some blackguard tracking me, and
flinging a can of gunpowder in at your window. When I do come, it
will be in the morning, and on a working day; and I shall perhaps go
ten miles round to get here. It must be diamond cut diamond, for
many a month to come, between the Trades and me." He uttered these
words with manly gravity, as one who did not underrate the peril he
was resolved to face; and left them with a respectful bow.
"That's a rising man," said Mr. Carden; "and may draw a hundred of
his class to the 'Gosshawk.' It was a good stroke of business,
quite out of the common."
Grace said not a word, but she shook her head and looked pained and
ill at ease. Jael watched her fixedly.
Henry called at the works that night, and examined the new defenses,
with Mr. Cheetham. He also bought a powerful magnifying-glass; and
next morning he came to the factory, examined the cinders, and
everything else, with the magnifier, lighted his forge, and resumed
At dinner-time he went out and had his chop, and read the Liberal;
it contained a letter from Jobson, in reply to the editor.
Jobson deplored the criminal act, admitted that the two Unions had
decided no individual could be a forger, a handler, and a cutler;
such an example was subversive of all the Unions in the city, based,
as they were, on subdivision of crafts. "But," said Mr Jobson, "we
were dealing with the matter in a spirit quite inconsistent with
outrages, and I am so anxious to convince the public of this, that I
have asked a very experienced gentleman to examine our minute-books,
and report accordingly."
This letter was supplemented by one from Mr. Grotait, secretary of
the Saw-Grinders, which ran thus:--"Messrs. Parkin and Jobson have
appealed to me to testify to certain facts. I was very reluctant to
interfere, for obvious reasons; but was, at last, prevailed on to
examine the minute-books of those two Unions, and they certainly do
prove that on the very evening before the explosion, those trades
had fully discussed Mr. ----'s case" (the real name was put, but
altered by the editor), "and had disposed of it as follows. They
agreed, and this is entered accordingly, to offer him his traveling
expenses (first class) to London, and one pound per week, from their
funds, until such time as he should obtain employment. I will only
add, that both these secretaries spoke kindly to me of Mr. ----;
and, believing them to be sincere, I ventured to advise them to mark
their disapproval of the criminal act, by offering him two pounds
per week, instead of one pound; which advice they have accepted very
Henry was utterly confounded by these letters.
Holdfast commented on them thus:
"Messrs. Jobson and Parkin virtually say that if A, for certain
reasons, pushes a man violently out of Hillsborough, and B draws him
gently out of Hillsborough for the same reasons, A and B can not
possibly be co-operating. Messrs. Parkin and Jobson had so little
confidence in this argument, which is equivalent to saying there is
no such thing as cunning in trade, that they employed a third party
to advance it with all the weight of his popularity and seeming
impartiality. But who is this candid person that objects to assume
the judge, and assumes the judge? He is the treasurer and secretary
of an Union that does not number three hundred persons; yet in that
small Union, of which he is dictator, there has been as much
rattening, and more shooting, and blowing-up wholesale and retail,
with the farcical accompaniment of public repudiation, than in all
the other Unions put together. We consider the entrance of this
ingenuous personage on the scene a bad omen, and shall watch all
future proceedings with increased suspicion."
Henry had hardly done reading this, when a man came into the works,
and brought him his fifteen pounds back from Mr. Jobson, and a line,
offering him his expenses to London, and two pounds per week, from
the Edge-Tool Forgers' box, till he should find employment. Henry
took his money, and sent back word that the proposal came too late;
after the dastardly attempt to assassinate him, he should defy the
Unions, until they accepted his terms. Jobson made no reply. And
Henry defied the Unions.
The Unions lay still, like some great fish at the bottom of a pool,
and gave no sign of life or animosity. This did not lull Henry into
a false security. He never relaxed a single precaution. He avoided
"Woodbine Villa;" he dodged and doubled like a hare, to hide his own
abode. But he forged, handled, and finished, in spite of the
The men were civil to him in the yard, and he had it all his own
He was examined by a surgeon, and reported healthy. He paid the
insurance premium, and obtained the policy. So now he felt secure,
under the aegis of the Press, and the wing of the" Gosshawk." By-
and-by, that great fish I have mentioned gave a turn of its tail,
and made his placid waters bubble a little.
A woman came into the yard, with a can of tea for her husband, and a
full apron. As she went out, she emptied a set of tools out of her
apron on to an old grindstone, and slipped out.
The news of this soon traveled into the office, and both Cheetham
and Bayne came out to look at them.
They were a set of carving-tools, well made, and highly polished;
and there was a scrap of paper with this distich:
"We are Hillsborough made,
Both haft and blade."
Cheetham examined them, and said, "Well, they are clever fellows. I
declare these come very near Little's: call him down and let us draw
Bayne called to Henry, and that brought him down, and several more,
who winded something.
"Just look at these," said Cheetham.
Little colored: he saw the finger of the Unions at once, and
bristled all over with caution and hostility.
"I see them, sir. They are very fair specimens of cutlery; and
there are only about twenty tools wanting to make a complete set;
but there is one defect in them as carving-tools."
"What is that?"
"They are useless. You can't carve wood with them. None but a
practical carver can design these tools, and then he must invent and
make the steel molds first. Try and sell them in London or Paris,
you'll soon find the difference. Mr. Bayne, I wonder you should
call me from my forge to examine 'prentice-work." And, with this,
he walked off disdainfully, but not quite easy in his mind, for he
had noticed a greedy twinkle in Cheetham's eye.
The next day all the grinders in Mr. Cheetham's employ, except the
scissors-grinders, rose, all of a sudden, like a flock of
partridges, and went out into the road.
"What is up now?" inquired Bayne. The answer was, their secretaries
had sent for them.
They buzzed in the road, for a few minutes, and then came back to
At night there was a great meeting at the "Cutlers' Arms," kept by
At noon the next day, all the grinders aforesaid in Mr. Cheetham's
employ walked into the office, and left, each of them, a signed
paper to this effect:
"This is to give you notice that I will leave your service a week
after the date thereof." (Meaning "hereof," I presume.)
Cheetham asked several of them what was up. Some replied civilly,
it was a trade matter. Others suggested Mr. Cheetham knew as much
about it as they did.
Not a single hot or uncivil word was spoken on either side. The
game had been played too often for that, and with results too
One or two even expressed a sort of dogged regret. The grinder
Reynolds, a very honest fellow, admitted, to Mr. Cheetham, that he
thought it a sorry trick, for a hundred men to strike against one
that had had a squeak for his life. "But no matter what I think or
what I say, I must do what the Union bids me, sir."
"I know that, my poor fellow," said Cheetham. "I quarrel with none
of you. I fight you all. The other masters, in this town, are
mice, but I'm a man."
This sentiment he repeated very often during the next six days.
The seventh came and the grinders never entered the works.
Cheetham looked grave. However, he said to Bayne, "Go and find out
where they are. Do it cleverly now. Don't be noticed."
Bayne soon ascertained they were all in the neighboring public-
"I thought so," said Cheetham. "They will come in, before night.
They sha'n't beat me, the vagabonds. I'm a man, I'm not a mouse."
"Orders pouring in, sir," sighed Bayne. "And the grinders are
rather behind the others in their work already."
"They must have known that: or why draw out the grinders? How could
they know it?"
"Sir," said Bayne, "they say old Smitem is in this one. Wherever he
is, the master's business is known, or guessed, heaven knows how;
and, if there is a hole in his coat, that hole is hit. Just look at
the cleverness of it, sir. Here we are, wrong with the forgers and
handlers. Yet they come into the works and take their day's wages.
But they draw out the grinders, and mutilate the business. They
hurt you as much as if they struck, and lost their wages. But no,
they want their wages to help pay the grinders on strike. Your only
chance was to discharge every man in the works, the moment the
grinders gave notice."
"Why didn't you tell me so, then?"
"Because I'm not old Smitem. He can see a thing beforehand. I can
see it afterward. I'm like the weatherwise man's pupil; as good as
my master, give me time. The master could tell you, at sunrise,
whether the day would be wet or dry, and the pupil he could tell you
at sunset: and that is just the odds between old Smitem and me."
"Well, if he is old Smitem, I'm old Fightem."
At night, he told Bayne he had private information, that the
grinders were grumbling at being made a cat's-paw of by the forgers
and the handlers. "Hold on," said he; "they will break up before
At ten o'clock next day he came down to the works, and some
peremptory orders had poured in. "They must wait," said he,
At twelve he said, "How queer the place seems, and not a grindstone
going. It seems as still as the grave. I'm a man; I'm not a
Mr. Cheetham repeated this last fact in zoology three times, to
leave no doubt of it in his own mind, I suppose.
At 1.00, he said he would shut up the works rather than be a slave.
At 1.15 he blustered.
At 1.20 he gave in: collapsed in a moment, like a punctured bladder.
"Bayne," said he, with a groan, "go to Jobson, and ask him to come
and talk this foolish business over."
"Excuse me, sir," said Bayne. "Don't be offended; but you are vexed
and worried, and whoever the Union sends to you will be as cool as
marble. I have just heard it is Redcar carries the conditions."
"What, the foreman of my own forgers! Is he to dictate to me?"
cried Cheetham, grinding his teeth with indignation.
"Well, sir, what does it matter?" said Bayne, soothingly. "He is no
more than a mouthpiece."
"Go for him," said Cheetham, sullenly.
"But, sir, I can't bear that your own workman should see you so
"Oh, I shall be all right the moment I see my man before me."
Bayne went off, and soon returned with Redcar. The man had his coat
on, but had not removed his leathern apron.
Cheetham received him as the representative of the Unions. "Sit
down, Redcar, and let us put an end to this little bother. What do
"Mr. Little's discharge, sir."
"Are you aware he is with me on a month's notice?"
"They make a point of his leaving the works at once, sir; and I was
to beg you to put other hands into his room."
"It is taking a great liberty to propose that."
"Nay. They only want to be satisfied. He has given a vast o'
"I'll give him a month's warning. If I discharge him on the spot,
he can sue me."
"That has been thought on. If he sues you, you can talk to the
Unions, and they will act with you. But the grinders are not to
come in till Little is out."
"Well, so be it, then."
"And his rooms occupied by Union men?"
"If I swallow the bolus, I may as well swallow the pills. Anything
"The grinders are not to lose their time; a day and a half."
"What! am I to pay them for not working?"
"Well, sir, if we had come to you, of course the forgers and
handlers would have paid the grinders for lost time; but, as you
have come to us, you will have to pay them."
Cheetham made a wry face; but acquiesced.
"And then, sir," said Redcar, "there's another little matter. The
incidental expenses of the strike."
"I don't know what you mean."
"The expenses incurred by the secretaries, and a little present to
another gentleman, who advised us. It comes to thirty pounds
"What!" cried Cheetham, struggling with his rising choler. "You
want me to pay men thirty pounds for organizing a strike, that will
cost me so dear, and rob me of a whole trade that was worth L300 a
year? Why not charge me for the gunpowder you blew up Little with,
and spoiled my forge? No, Bayne, no; this is too unjust and too
tyrannical. Flesh and blood won't bear it. I'll shut up the works,
and go back to my grindstone. Better live on bread and water than
live like a slave."
Redcar took a written paper out of his pocket. "There are the terms
written down," said he, "if you sign them, the strike ends; if you
don't, it continues--till you do."
Cheetham writhed under the pressure. Orders were pouring in; trade
brisk; hands scarce. Each day would add a further loss of many
pounds for wages, and doubtless raise fresh exactions. He gulped
down something very like a sob, and both his hand and his voice
shook with strong passion as he took the pen. "I'll sign it; but if
ever my turn comes, I'll remember this against you. This shows what
they really are, Bayne. Oh, if ever you workmen get power, GOD HELP
These words seemed to come in a great prophetic agony out of a
But the representative of the Unions was neither moved by them nor
"All right," said he, phlegmatically; "the winner takes his bite:
the loser gets his bark: that's reason."
Henry Little was in his handling-room, working away, with a bright
perspective before him, when Bayne knocked at the door, and entered
with Redcar. Bayne's face wore an expression so piteous, that Henry
divined mischief at once.
"Little, my poor fellow, it is all over. We are obliged to part
"Cheetham has thrown me over?"
"What could he do? I am to ask you to vacate these rooms, that we
may get our half-day out of the grinders."
Henry turned pale, but there was no help for it.
He got up in a very leisurely way; and, while he was putting on his
coat, he told Bayne, doggedly, he should expect his month's salary.
As he was leaving, Redcar spoke to him in rather a sheepish way.
"Shake hands, old lad," said he; "thou knows one or t'other must
win; and there's not a grain of spite against thee. It's just a
Henry stood with his arms akimbo, and looked at Redcar. "I was in
hopes," said he, grinding his teeth, "you were going to ask me to
take a turn with you in the yard, man to man. But I can't refuse my
hand to one of my own sort that asks it. There 'tis. After all,
you deserve to win, for you are true to each other; but a master
can't be true to a man, nor to anything on earth, but his pocket."
He then strolled out into the yard, with his hands in his pockets,
and whistled "The Harmonious Blacksmith" very sick at heart.
The strike was over, the grinders poured into the works, and the
grindstones revolved. Henry Little leaned against an angle of the
building, and listened with aching heart to their remorseless
thunder. He stood there disconsolate--the one workman out of work--
and sipped the bitter cup, defeat. Then he walked out at the gates,
and wandered languidly into the streets. He was miserable, and had
nobody to mourn to, for the main cause of his grief lay beneath the
surface of this defeat; and how could he reveal it, now that his
ambitious love looked utter madness? Young as he was, he had seen
there is no sympathy in the world for any man who loves out of his
sphere. Indeed, whatever cures or crushes such a passion, is hailed
by the by-standers as a sharp but wholesome medicine.
He sauntered about, and examined all the shops with lack-luster eye.
He looked in at everything, but observed nothing, scarcely saw
anything. All his senses were turned inward. It was such a
pitiable and galling result of a gallant fight. Even the insurance
office had got the better of him. It had taken one-third of his
savings, and the very next day his trade was gone, and his life in
no danger. The "Gosshawk" had plucked him, and the trade had tied
his hands. Rack his invention how he would, he could see no way of
becoming a master in Hillsborough, except by leaving Hillsborough,
and working hard and long in some other town. He felt in his own
heart the love and constancy to do this; but his reason told him
such constancy would be wasted; for while he was working at a
distance, the impression, if any, he had made on her would wear
away, and some man born with money, would step in and carry her
gayly off. This thought returned to him again and again, and
exasperated him so at last, that he resolved to go to "Woodbine
Villa," and tell her his heart before he left the place. Then he
should be rejected, no doubt, but perhaps pitied, and not so easily
forgotten as if he had melted silently away.
He walked up the hill, first rapidly, then slowly. He called at
The answer was "Not at home."
"Everything is against me," said he.
He wandered wearily down again, and just at the entrance of the town
he met a gentleman with a lady on each arm, and one of those ladies
was Miss Carden. The fortunate cavalier was Mr. Coventry, whom
Henry would have seen long before this, but he had been in Paris for
the last four months. He had come back fuller than ever of
agreeable gossip, and Grace was chatting away to him, and beaming
with pleasure, as innocent girls do, when out on a walk with a
companion they like. She was so absorbed she did not even see Henry
Little. He went off the pavement to make room for their tyrannical
crinolines, and passed unnoticed.
He had flushed with joy at first sight of her, but now a deadly
qualm seized him. The gentleman was handsome and commanding; Miss
Carden seemed very happy, hanging on his arm; none the less bright
and happy that he, her humble worshiper, was downcast and wretched.
It did not positively prove much; yet it indicated how little he
must be to her: and somehow it made him realize more clearly the
great disadvantage at which he lay, compared with an admirer
belonging to her own class. Hitherto his senses had always been
against his reason: but now for once they co-operated with his
judgment, and made him feel that, were he to toil for years in
London, or Birmingham, and amass a fortune, he should only be where
that gentleman was already; and while the workman, far away, was
slaving, that gentleman and others would be courting her. She might
refuse one or two. But she would not refuse them all.
Then, in his despair, he murmured, "Would to God I had never seen
He made a fierce resolve he would go home, and tell his mother she
could pack up.
He quickened his steps, for fear his poor sorrowful heart should
But, when he had settled on this course, lo! a fountain of universal
hatred seemed to bubble in his heart. He burned to inflict some
mortal injury upon Jobson, Parkin, Grotait, Cheetham, and all who
had taken a part, either active or passive, in goading him to
despair. Now Mr. Cheetham's works lay right in his way; and it
struck him he could make Cheetham smart a little. Cheetham's god
was money. Cheetham had thrown him over for money. He would go to
Cheetham, and drive a dagger into his pocket.
He walked into the office. Mr. Cheetham was not there: but he found
Bayne and Dr. Amboyne.
"Mr. Bayne," said he, abruptly, "I am come for my month's wages."
The tone was so aggressive, Bayne looked alarmed. "Why, Little,
poor Mr. Cheetham is gone home with a bad headache, and a sore
"All the better. I don't want to tell him to his face he is a
bragging cur; all I want out of him now is my money; and you can pay
The pacific Bayne cast a piteous glance at Dr. Amboyne. "I have
told you the whole business, sir. Oughtn't Mr. Little to wait till
to-morrow, and talk it over with Mr. Cheetham? I'm only a servant:
and a man of peace."
"Whether he ought or not, I think I can answer for him that he
"I can't, sir," said Henry, sturdily. "I leave the town to-morrow."
"Oh, that alters the case. But must you leave us so soon?"
"I am very sorry for that. Tell me your reason. I don't ask out of
Henry replied with less than his usual candor; "Is it not reason
enough for leaving a place, that my life has been attempted in it,
and now my livelihood is taken?"
"Those are strong reasons. But, on the other hand, your life is no
longer in danger; and your livelihood is not gone; for, to speak
plainly, I came over here the moment I heard you were discharged, to
ask if you would enter my service on the same terms as Mr. Cheetham
gave you, only guineas instead of pounds."
"What, turn doctor?"
"Oh dear, no; the doctors' Union would forbid that. No, Mr. Little,
I am going to ask you to pay me a compliment; to try my service
blindfold for one week. You can leave it if you don't like it; but
give me one week's trial."
"How can I refuse you that?" said Henry, hanging his head. "You
have been a good friend to me. But, sir, mark my words, this place
will be my destruction. Well, when am I to begin work?"
"To-morrow, at ten."
"So be it," said Henry, wearily, then left the works and went home;
but, as he went, he said to himself. "It is not my doing." And his
double-faced heart glowed and exulted secretly.
He told his mother how the Trades had beaten him, and he was out of
Mrs. Little consoled him hypocritically. She was delighted. Then
he told her his departure had been delayed by Dr. Amboyne: that made
her look a little anxious.
"One question, dear: now the Union has beaten you, they will not be
so spiteful, will they?"
"Oh, no. That is all over. The conquerors can afford to be good-
natured. Confound them!"
"Then that is all I care about. Then do not leave Hillsborough.
Why should you? Wait here patiently. You do not know what may turn
"What, mother, do YOU want to stay here now?" said Henry, opening
his eyes with astonishment.
"Wherever my son is happy and safe from harm, there I wish to stay--
Next morning Henry called on Dr. Amboyne, and found him in his
study, teaching what looked a boy of sixteen, but was twenty-two, to
read monosyllables. On Little's entrance the pupil retired front
his uphill work, and glowered with vacillating eyes. The lad had a
fair feminine face, with three ill things in it: a want, a wildness,
and a weakness. To be sure Henry saw it at a disadvantage: for
vivid intelligence would come now and then across this mild, wild,
vacant face, like the breeze that sweeps a farm-yard pond.
"Good-morning, Little. This is your fellow-workman."
"He does not look up to much," said Henry, with all a workman's
"What, you have found him out! Never mind; he can beat the town at
one or two things, and it is for these we will use him. Some call
him an idiot. The expression is neat and vigorous, but not precise;
so I have christened him the Anomaly. Anomaly, this is Mr. Little;
go and shake hands with him, and admire him."
The Anomaly went directly, and gazed into Little's face for some
He then made his report. "He is beautiful and black."
"I've seen him blacker. Now leave off admiring him, and look at
these pictures while I prose. Two thousand philosophers are writing
us dead with 'Labor and Capital.' But I vary the bore. 'Life,
Labor, and Capital,' is my chant: and, whereas Life has hitherto
been banished from the discussion, I put Life in its true place, at
the head of the trio. (And Life I divide into long Life, and happy
Life.) The subject is too vast to be dealt with all at once; but
I'll give you a peep of it. The rustic laborer in the South sells
his labor for too little money to support life comfortably. That is
a foul wrong. The rustic laborer in the North has small wages,
compared with a pitman, or a cutler; but he has enough for health,
and he lives longer and more happily than either the pitman or the
cutler; so that account is square, in my view of things. But now
dive into the Hillsborough trades, and you will find this just
balance of Life, Labor, and Capital regarded in some, but defied in
others: a forger is paid as much or more than a dry-grinder, though
forging is a hard but tolerably healthy trade, and dry-grinding
means an early death after fifteen years of disease and misery. The
file-cutters are even more killed and less paid. What is to be done
then? Raise the wages of the more homicidal trades! But this could
only be done by all the Unions acting in concert. Now the rival
philosophers, who direct the Unions, are all against Democritus--
that's myself; they set no value on life. And indeed the most
intelligent one, Grotait, smiles blandly on Death, and would grind
his scythe for him--AT THE STATEMENT PRICE--because that scythe
thins the labor market, and so helps keep up prices."
"Then what can we do? I'm a proof one can't fight the Unions."
"Do? Why, lay hold of the stick at the other end. Let Pseudo-
Philosophy set the means above the end, and fix its shortsighted
eyes on Labor and Capital, omitting Life. (What does it profit a
file-cutter if he gains his master's whole capital and loses his own
life?) But you and I, Mr. Little, are true philosophers and the
work we are about to enter on is--saving cutlers' lives."
"I'd rather help take them."
"Of course; and that is why I made the pounds guineas."
"All right, sir," said Henry, coloring. "I don't expect to get six
guineas a week for whistling my own tune. How are we to do the
"By putting our heads together. You have, on the side of your
temple, a protuberance, which I have noticed in the crania of
inventors. So I want you to go round the works, and observe for
yourself how Life is thrown gayly away, in a moment, by needless
accident, and painfully gnawed away by steel-dust, stone grit,
sulphuret of lead, etc.; and then cudgel your brain for remedies."
"Sir," said Henry, "I am afraid I shall not earn my money. My heart
is not in the job."
"Revenge is what you would like to be at, not Philanthropy--eh?"
"Ay, doctor." And his black eye flashed fire.
"Well, well, that is natural. Humor my crotchet just now, and
perhaps I may humor yours a month or two hence. I think I could lay
my hand on the fellow who blew you up."
"What, sir! Ah! tell me that, and I'll do as much philanthropy as
"After you have punched your fellow-creature's head."
"But it is impossible, sir. How can you know? These acts are kept
as secret as the grave."
"And how often has the grave revealed its secrets to observant men?
Dr. Donne sauntered about among graves, and saw a sexton turn up a
skull. He examined it, found a nail in it, identified the skull,
and had the murderess hung. She was safe from the sexton and the
rest of the parish, but not from a stray observer. Well, the day
you were blown up, I observed something, and arrived at a
conclusion, by my art."
"Oh, dear, no; my other art, my art of arts, that I don't get paid
for; the art of putting myself in other people's places. I'll tell
you. While you lay on the ground, in Mr. Cheetham's yard, I scanned
the workmen's faces. They were full of pity and regret, and were
much alike in expression--all but one. That one looked a man
awakened from a dream. His face was wild, stupid, confused,
astonished. 'Hallo!' said I, 'why are your looks so unlike the
looks of your fellows?' Instantly I put myself in his place. I
ceased to be the Democritus, or laughing philosopher of
Hillsborough, and became a low uneducated brute of a workman. Then
I asked this brute, viz, myself, why I was staring and glaring in
that way, stupidly astonished, at the injured man? 'Were you
concerned in the criminal act, ye blackguard?' said I to myself.
The next step was to put myself in the place of the criminal. I did
so; and I realized that I, the criminal, had done the act to please
the Unions, and expecting the sympathy of all Union workmen to be
with me. Also that I, being an ignorant brute, had never pictured
to myself what suffering I should inflict. But what was the result?
I now saw the sufferer, and did not like my own act; and I found all
the sympathy of my fellows went with him, and that I was loathed and
execrated, and should be lynched on the spot were I to own my act.
I now whipped back to Dr. Amboyne with the theory thus obtained, and
compared it with that face; the two fitted each other, and I saw the
criminal before me."
"Good heavens! This is very deep."
"No slop-basin was ever deeper. So leave it for the present, and go
to work. Here are cards admitting you, as my commissioner, to all
the principal works. Begin with-- Stop a moment, while I put
myself in your place. Let me see, 'Cheetham's grinders think they
have turned me out of Hillsborough. That mortifies a young man of
merit like me. Confound 'em! I should like to show them they have
not the power to drive me out. Combine how they will, I rise
superior. I forge as they could not forge: that was my real crime.
Well, I'll be their superior still. I'm their inspector, and their
benefactor, at higher wages than they, poor devils, will ever earn
at inspecting and benefiting, or any thing else.' Ah! your color
rises. I've hit the right nail, isn't it an excellent and most
transmigratory art? Then begin with Cheetham. By-the-bye, the
Anomaly has spotted a defective grindstone there. Scrutinize all
his departments severely; for no man values his people's lives less
than my good friend John Cheetham. Away with you both; and God
Henry walked down the street with the Anomaly, and tried to gauge
"What's your real name, my man?"
"Oh, then I'm afraid you can't do much to help me."
"Oh yes, I can, because--"
"Because I like you."
"Well, that's lucky, any way."
"Billy can catch trout when nobody else can," said the youngster,
turning his eyes proudly up to Henry's.
"Oh, indeed! But you see that is not exactly what the doctor wants
"Nay; he's wrapped up in trout. If it wasn't for Billy and the
trout, he'd die right off."
Henry turned a look of silent pity on the boy, and left him in his
pleasing illusion. He wondered that Dr. Amboyne should have tacked
this biped on to him.
They entered Cheetham's works, and Henry marched grimly into the
office, and showed Mr. Bayne his credentials.
"Why, Little, you had no need of that."
"Oh, it is as well to have no misunderstanding with your employer's
masters. I visit these works for my present employer, Dr. Amboyne,
with the consent of Mr. Cheetham, here written."
"Very well, sir," said Bayne, obsequiously; "and I respectfully
solicit the honor of conducting our esteemed visitor."
A young man's ill-humor could not stand against this. "Come along,
old fellow," said Henry. "I'm a bear, with a sore heart; but who
could be such a brute as quarrel with you? Let us begin with the
chaps who drove me out--the grinders. I'm hired to philanthropize
They went among the dry-grinders first; and Henry made the following
observations. The workman's hair and clothes were powdered with
grit and dust from the grindstones. The very air was impregnated
with it, and soon irritated his own lungs perceptibly. Here was
early death, by bronchitis and lung diseases, reduced to a
certainty. But he also learned from the men that the quantity of
metal ground off was prodigious, and entered their bodies they
scarce knew how. A razor-grinder showed him his shirt: it was a
deep buff-color. "There, sir," said he, "that was clean on
yesterday. All the washerwomen in Hillsbro' can't make a shirt of
mine any other color but that." The effect on life, health, and
happiness was visible; a single glance revealed rounded shoulders
and narrow chests, caused partly by the grinder's position on his
horsing, a position very injurious to the organs of breathing, and
partly by the two devil's dusts that filled the air; cadaverous
faces, the muscles of which betrayed habitual suffering, coughs
short and dry, or with a frothy expectoration peculiar to the trade.
In answer to questions, many complained of a fearful tightness
across the chest, of inability to eat or to digest. One said it
took him five minutes to get up the factory stairs, and he had to
lean against the wall several times.
A razor-grinder of twenty-two, with death in his face, told Henry he
had come into that room when he was eleven. "It soon takes hold of
boys," said he. "I've got what I shall never get shut on."
Another, who looked ill, but not dying, received Henry's sympathy
with a terrible apathy. "I'm twenty-eight," said he; "and a fork-
grinder is an old cock at thirty. I must look to drop off my perch
in a year or two, like the rest."
Only one, of all these victims, seemed to trouble his head about
whether death and disease could be averted. This one complained
that some employers provided fans to drive the dust from the
grinder, but Cheetham would not go to the expense.
The rest that Henry spoke to accepted their fate doggedly. They
were ready to complain, but not to move a finger in self-defense.
Their fathers had been ground out young, and why not they?
Indifferent to life, health, and happiness, they could nevertheless
be inflamed about sixpence a week. In other words, the money-price
of their labor was every thing to them, the blood-price nothing.
Henry found this out, and it gave him a glimpse into the mind of
He felt quite confused, and began to waver between hate, contempt,
and pity. Was it really these poor doomed wretches who had robbed
him of his livelihood? Could men so miscalculate the size of
things, as to strike because an inoffensive individual was making
complete caring-tools all by himself, and yet not strike, nor even
stipulate for fans, to carry disease and death away from their own
vitals? Why it seemed wasting hate, to bestow it on these blind
He went on to the wet-grinders, and he found their trade much
healthier than dry-grinding: yet there were drawbacks. They
suffered from the grit whenever a new stone was hung and raced.
They were also subject to a canker of the hands, and to colds,
coughs, and inflammations, from perspiration checked by cold
draughts and drenched floors. These floors were often of mud, and
so the wet stagnated and chilled their feet, while their bodies were
very hot. Excellent recipe for filling graves.
Here Bayne retired to his books, and Henry proceeded to the saw-
grinders, and entered their rooms with no little interest, for they
were an envied trade. They had been for many years governed by
Grotait, than whom no man in England saw clearer; though such men as
Amboyne saw further. Grotait, by a system of Machiavellian policy,
ingeniously devised and carried out, nobly, basely, craftily,
forcibly, benevolently, ruthlessly, whichever way best suited the
particular occasion, had built a model Union; and still, with
unremitting zeal and vigilance, contrived to keep numbers down and
prices up--which is the great Union problem.
The work was hard, but it was done in a position favorable to the
lungs, and the men were healthy, brawny fellows; one or two were of
Up to this moment Silly Billy had fully justified that title. He
had stuck to Henry's side like a dog, but with no more interest in
the inquiry than a calf, indeed, his wandering eye and vacant face
had indicated that his scanty wits were wool-gathering miles from
the place that contained his body.
But, as soon as he entered the saw-grinders' room, his features
lighted up, and his eye kindled. He now took up a commanding
position in the center, and appeared to be listening keenly. And he
had not listened many seconds before he cried out, "There's the bad
music! there! there!" And he pointed to a grindstone that was
turning and doing its work exactly like the others. "Oh, the bad
music!" cried Billy. "It is out of tune. It says, 'Murder! murder!
Out of tune!'"
Henry thought it his duty to inspect the grindstone so vigorously
denounced, and, naturally enough, went in front of the grinder. But
Billy pulled him violently to the side. "You musn't stand there,"
said he. "That is the way they fly when they break, and kill the
poor father, and then the mother lets down her hair, and the boy
By this time the men were attracted by the Anomaly's gestures and
exclamations, and several left their work, and came round him.
"What is amiss, Billy? a flawed stone, eh? which is it?"
"Here! here!" said the boy. "This is the wheel of death. Kill it,
break it, smash it, before it kills another father."
Henry spoke to the grinder, and asked him if there was anything
amiss with the stone.
The man seemed singularly uneasy at being spoken to: however he made
answer sullenly that he had seen better ones, and worse ones, and
Henry was, however, aware, that the breaking of a large grindstone,
while revolving by steam power, was a serious, and often a fatal
thing; he therefore made a private mark upon the wall opposite the
grindstone, and took his excited companion to Bayne. "This poor lad
says he has found a defective grindstone. It is impossible for me
to test it while it is running. Will you let us into the works when
the saw-grinders have left?"
Bayne hem'd and haw'd a little, but consented. He would remain
behind half an-hour to oblige Little.
Henry gave the Anomaly his dinner, and then inspected the file-
cutters in two great works. Here he found suicide reduced to a
system. Whereof anon.
Returning, to keep his appointment with Bayne he met a well-dressed
man, who stopped Billy, and accosted him kindly.
Henry strolled on.
He heard their voices behind him all the way, and the man stopped at
Cheetham's gate, which rather surprised him. "Has Billy told you
what we are at?" said he.
"Yes. But the very look of him was enough. I know Billy and his
ways, better than you do."
"Very likely. What, are you coming in with us?"
"If you have no objection."
The door was opened by Bayne in person. He started at the sight of
the companion his friend had picked up, and asked him, with marked
civility, if there was anything amiss. "Not that I know of," was
the reply. "I merely thought that my experience might be of some
little service to you in an inquiry of this kind."
"Not a doubt of it, sir," said Bayne, and led the way with his
lantern, for it was past sunset. On the road, the visitor asked if
anybody had marked the accused stone. Henry said he should know it
again. "That is right," said the other.
On entering the room, this personage took Billy by the arm, and held
him. "Let us have no false alarms," he said, and blindfolded the
boy with his handkerchief in a moment.
And now an examination commenced, which the time and the place
rendered curious and striking.
It was a long, lofty room; the back part mainly occupied by the
drums that were turned by the driving-power. The power was on the
floor above, and acted by means of huge bands that came down through
holes in the ceiling and turned the drums. From each of these drums
came two leather bands, each of which turned a pulley-wheel, and
each pulley-wheel a grindstone, to whose axle it was attached; but
now the grindstones rested in the troughs, and the great wheel-bands
hung limp, and the other bands lay along loose and serpentine. In
the dim light of a single lamp, it all looked like a gigantic
polypus with its limbs extended lazily, and its fingers holding
semi-circular claws: for of the grindstones less than half is
Billy was a timid creature, and this blindfolding business rather
scared him: he had almost to be dragged within reach of these gaunt
antennae. But each time they got him to touch a grindstone, his
body changed its character from shrinking and doubtful, to erect and
energetic, and he applied his test. This boy carried with him,
night and day, a little wooden hammer, like an auctioneer's, and
with this he now tapped each stone several times, searching for the
one he had denounced: and, at each experiment, he begged the others
to keep away from him and leave him alone with the subject of his
experiment; which they did, and held up the lamp and threw the light
Six heavy grindstones he tapped, and approved, three he even praised
and called "good music."
"The seventh he struck twice, first gently, then hard and drew back
from it, screaming "Oh, the bad music! Oh, the wheel of death!" and
tried to tear the handkerchief from his eyes.
"Be quiet, Billy," said the visitor, calmly; and, putting his arm
round the boy's neck, drew him to his side, and detached the
handkerchief, all in a certain paternal way that seemed to betoken a
kindly disposition. But, whilst he was doing this, he said to
Henry, "Now--you marked a stone in daylight; which was it?"
"No, no, I didn't mark the stone, but I wrote on the wall just
opposite. Lend us the light, Bayne. By George! here is my mark
right opposite this stone."
"Then Billy's right. Well done, Billy." He put his hand in his
pocket and gave him a new shilling. He then inquired of Bayne, with
the air of a pupil seeking advice from a master, whether this
discovery ought not to be acted upon.
"What would you suggest, sir?" asked Bayne, with equal deference.
"Oh, if I was sure I should not be considered presumptuous in
offering my advice, I would say, Turn the stone into the yard, and
bang a new one. You have got three excellent ones outside; from
Buckhurst quarry, by the look of them."
"It shall be done, sir."
This effective co-operation, on the part of a stranger, was
naturally gratifying to Henry, and he said to him: "I should be glad
to ask you a question. You seem to know a good deal about this
A low chuckle burst out of Bayne, but he instantly suppressed it,
for fear of giving offense--"
"Are serious accidents really common with these grindstones?"
"No, no," said Bayne, "not common. Heaven forbid."
"They are not common--in the newspapers," replied the other. "But"
(to Bayne), "will you permit me to light these two gaslights for a
"Well, sir, it is contrary to our rules,--but--"
"All the more obliging of you," said the visitor, coolly, and
lighted them, with his own match, in a twinkling. He then drew out
of his waistcoat pocket a double eyeglass, gold-mounted, and
examining the ceiling with it, soon directed Henry's attention to
two deep dents and a brown splash. "Every one of those marks," said
he, "is a history, and was written by a flying grindstone. Where
you see the dents the stone struck the ceiling;" he added very
gravely, "and, when it came down again, ask yourself, did it ALWAYS
fall right? These histories are written only on the ceiling and the
walls. The floor could tell its tales too; but a crushed workman is
soon swept off it, and the wheels go on again."
"That is too true," said Henry. "And it does a chap's heart good to
hear a gentleman like you--"
"I'm not a gentleman. I'm an old Saw."
"Excuse me, sir, you look like a gentleman, and talk like one."
"And I try to conduct myself like one: but I AM an old Saw."
"What! and carry a gold eyeglass?"
"The Trade gave it me. I'm an old Saw."
"Well, then, all the better, for you can tell me, and please do:
have you ever actually known fatal accidents from this cause?"
"I have known the light grinders very much shaken by a breaking
stone, and away from work a month after it. And, working among saw-
grinders, who use heavy stones, and stand over them in working, I've
seen-- Billy, go and look at thy shilling, in the yard, and see
which is brightest, it or the moon. Is he gone? I've seen three
men die within a few yards of me. One, the stone flew in two
pieces; a fragment, weighing about four hundredweight I should say,
struck him on the breast, and killed him on place; he never spoke.
I've forgotten his very name. Another; the stone went clean out of
window, but it kicked the grinder backward among the machinery, and
his head was crushed like an eggshell. But the worst of all was
poor Billy's father. He had been warned against his stone; but he
said he would run it out. Well, his little boy, that is Billy, had
just brought him in his tea, and was standing beside him, when the
stone went like a pistol-shot, and snapped the horsing chains like a
thread; a piece struck the wall, and did no harm, only made a hole;
but the bigger half went clean up to the ceiling, and then fell
plump down again; the grinder he was knocked stupid like, and had
fallen forward on his broken horsing; the grindstone fell right on
him, and, ah--I saw the son covered with the father's blood."
He shuddered visibly, at the recollection. "Ay," said he, "the man
a corpse, and the lad an idiot. One faulty stone did that, within
four yards of me, in a moment of time."
"I was grinding at the next stone but one. He was taken, and I was
left. It might just as well have been the other way. No saw-
grinder can make sure, when he gets on his horsing, that he will
come off it alive."
The visitor left Henry to think of this while he drew Bayne aside,
and spoke on another matter.
Afterward, all three left the works together; and Henry was so
pleased with his new ally, that he told him, at the gate, he should
be glad if he might be allowed to make his acquaintance.
"By all means," said the other. "I am quite at your service. You
will find me at the 'Cutlers' Arms.'"
"Who shall I ask for?"
"Grotait. The devil!"
"No, no. Not quite so bad as that."
"What," said Henry, roughly, "do you mean to say you are old
"That is a name FOOLS give me."
Henry had no reply ready, and so the sturdy old secretary got the
better of him again, and went his way unruffled.
Henry scolded Bayne for not telling him. Bayne excused himself on
the ground that he thought everybody knew Grotait. He added, "He
knew you, and told me if he could serve you, without being unjust to
the Trades, I was to tell him."
Henry replied to this only by a snort of defiance, and bade him
The next day and the next were spent in other works, and then Henry,
having no more facts to learn, fell into deep dejection again. He
saw he must either cheat Dr. Amboyne, by shamming work, or else must
He had the honesty to go to the doctor and say that he had mastered
the whole matter, and didn't see his way to take any more wages from
"You mean you have mastered the broad facts."
"I have, sir, and they are beyond belief; especially the file-
cutters. They are the most numerous of all the Trades, and die like
sheep. If your notion about Life, Labor, and Capital is right, the
Trades are upside down; for the deadliest are the worst paid."
"And are you prepared with the remedies?"
"Yet you fancy you are at the end of your work. Why, you are only
beginning. Now comes the real brain work; invention. Now are
craniology and you upon your trial. But you are quite right about
weekly salary. Invention must not be so degraded, but paid by the
piece. Life, Labor, and Capital are upside down in this place, are
they? Then you shall be the man to set them on their legs."
Henry shook his head. "Never, sir, unless I could give the masters
bowels, and the men brains."
"Well, and why not? To invention all things are possible. You
carry a note-book?"
"Got it in your pocket?"
"No; on my shoulders."
"Haw! haw! haw! Then write this down in it--'THERE'S A KEY TO EVERY
"It's down, sir."
"Now you must go out trout-fishing with Billy. He will take you on
the hills, where the air is pure, and favorable to invention. You
will divert your mind from all external subjects, especially Billy,
who is a fool, and his trout-killing inhumane, and I a merciless
glutton for eating them; and you will think, and think, and think,
and forge the required key to this lock with three wards--Life,
Labor, Capital. And, when forged, the Philanthropic Society shall
pay you a good price for it. Meantime, don't dream of leaving
Hillsborough, or I shall give you a stirrup-cup that will waft you
much further than London; for it shall be 'of prussic acid all
composed,' or 'juice of cursed Hebenon in a vial.' Come, away with
"Good-by, doctor. God bless you. You have found 'the key to my
heart' somehow. I come to you a miserable broken-hearted dog, and
you put life and hope into me directly. I declare talking with you
it's like drinking sunshine. I'll try all I know to please you."
He went down the street with his old elastic tread, and muttered to
himself, "There's no lock without a key."
Next day he went out on the hills with Billy, and saw him tickle
trout, and catch them under stones, and do many strange things, and
all the time he thought of Grace Carden, and bemoaned his sad fate.
He could not command his mind, and direct it to philanthropy. His
heart would not let him, and his personal wrongs were too recent.
After a short struggle, these got so thoroughly the better, that he
found himself stealing the doctor's words for his own purposes. "No
lock without a key." Then there must be some way of outwitting
these cursed Trades, and so making money enough to set up as a
master, and then court her, and woo her, and marry her. Heaven
seemed to open on him at this prospect, and he fell into a deep
reverie. By-and-by, as he pondered, it seemed to him as if the
shadow of a coming idea was projected in advance of the idea itself.
He knew somehow there was a way to baffle his enemies, and resume
his business, and yet he could not see the way; but still he was
absolutely conscious it existed.
This conviction took such hold of him, that he became restless, and
asked Billy to leave off and come away. The youth consented, and
they returned to the town with a basket of trout. Henry sent Billy
on to the doctor with half of them, and took the other half to his
On what a trifle things turn. Bayne was very much pleased with his
little attention, and asked him to take them to his lodging, and beg
the landlady to cook them for dinner. "Tell her you dine with me,
"Oh, hang it, I wasn't fishing for a dinner."
"As if I didn't know that. But you must. Then I shall enjoy your
company in peace. I shall be there in an hour."
And so he was: but in that one hour events had occurred that I shall
leave Mr. Bayne to relate.
During dinner neither of the friends wasted much time in talk; but
after dinner, Bayne produced a bottle of port, notwithstanding
Henry's remonstrances at being treated like a stranger, and it soon
became apparent that the host himself was not in the habit of
drinking that generous mixture every day. At the second glass he so
far forgot himself as to utter the phrase "Eternal friendship," and,
soon after, he began to writhe in his chair, and, at last, could no
longer refrain himself, but told Henry that Miss Carden had been
canvassing customers. She had just sent in six orders for sets of
carving-tools, all for friends of her own.
Henry colored to the temples at this unexpected proof that she he
loved thought of him too.
"Oh, Bayne," cried the poor young man, almost choking, "I little
thought--God bless her!"
"Let us drink her health," said Bayne, excitedly.
"Ah, that I will!" and this was the first glass Henry drank honestly.
"Now, Little, I'm not doing quite right, you know; but I MUST tell
you. When we lost you--you know that set of tools the Union dropped
in our yard--well, he sent them to London for yours."
"That is just like him," said Henry, bitterly.
"And I'll tell you a good joke; they were in the place when you
called, only not unpacked till just before I came away. Returned,
sir! with a severe reprimand. 'Wonder you should send us such
things as these for carving-tools by Little. If the error is not
repaired shall consider ourselves at liberty to communicate direct
with that workman.' A regular sugar-plum."
"Oh, thank you, my kind friend, for telling me. The world isn't all
bitterness, after all: a poor fellow gets a sweet drop of friendship
now and then."
"Yes, and a good drop of port now and then, though I say it that
shouldn't. Fill up. Well, my boy, Cheetham is in a fine way. I
left him walking about the office like a hyena. So now is your
time. You can't fight the Trades; but, if Cheetham will go in with
you, and I know he will, for he is sorer than you are, you can trick
the Trades yet."
"Ah! tell me how, that is all."
"Oh, I can't tell you exactly. I'll try, though. I say, what a
glorious thing the Ruby is: it inspires us, and fires us, et cetera,
and gives us ideas beyond our sphere. Did you ever see one of these
new portable forges?"
"No; never heard of them."
"No wonder; they are just out. Well, buy one of them--they were
invented here--and carry it to some dismal cavern, where the foot of
man never treads: make Cheetham grind your blades in another county:
and who will ever know? Go to him, and don't say a word, but just
ask him for your month's salary. Then he will open the door of
business himself--safe. I'll drink his health. He's not a bad
sort, Cheetham: only he'd sell his soul for money. I hate such
rubbish. Here's 'Perdition to the lot; and no heel-taps.'"
These words of fire set Henry pondering deeply; and, as he pondered,
Bayne stuck to the port, and so effectually, that, at last, after an
interval of silence, he came out in a new character. He disturbed
his companion's reverie by informing him, in a loud, aggressive
tone, that it had long been his secret wish to encounter the
Hillsborough Trades, in the persons of their secretaries, under the
following conditions: a twenty-four feet ring, an experienced
referee, and a kingdom looking on. As to the order of the
pugilistic events, he was not unreasonably fastidious; must
stipulate to begin with old Smitem; but, after that, they might
encounter their fate in any order they chose, one down t'other come
on. He let him know that this ardent desire for single combats, in
an interminable series, arose from their treatment of his friend--
"the best friend--the best heart--oh!--the best company--oh! oh!--
the best--oh! oh! oh!" Whereupon he wept, the bellicose Bayne.
And, after weeping the usual quantity, he twaddled, and, after
twaddling, he became as pacific as ever, for he went to sleep in his
And, while he snoozed, the words he had uttered set his friend's
brain boiling and bubbling.
When the time came at which Bayne ought to return to the works,
Henry called the landlady, and said, "Mr. Bayne is not very well. I
am going to make his excuses. I wouldn't disturb him till five, if
I was you, and then I'd give him a strong cup of tea."
Henry then went direct to the office, and found Mr. Cheetham there.
"Well?" said Mr. Cheetham, rather surlily.
"I am come to ask for my month, sir."
"So I guessed. Do you really mean to exact that?"
"Why not, sir?"
"Haven't you heard how they ground me down?"
"Yes, sir. But why did you give in? I was true to you, but you
failed me. I'd have shut up the works for three months, rather than
be made a slave of, and go from my word."
"Ay, ay; that's bachelor's talk. I've got a wife and children, and
they make a man a mouse."
"Well, sir, I forgive you: but as to my month's wages--now all I say
is--PUT YOURSELF IN MY PLACE!"
"You are me. You are brought from London, under an agreement, a
month's notice on either side. You work, and give satisfaction.
You are threatened, but you don't run from your employer. You are
blown up, and nearly killed. You lose a fortnight, but you don't
charge for it; 'twasn't your employer's fault. You come back to
him, and face the music again. You work with the sword hanging over
you. But your employer gives in, and sacks you in a minute.
Oughtn't you to have your month? Come now, man to man, oughtn't
"I ought, and that's the truth. I didn't look at it that way. I
saw my own side. There--no more about it--I'll draw the check--with
a good heart."
He drew his check-book to him, with a face as if vultures were
tearing his vitals.
When Henry found him Amboynable, and saw his piteous look, he felt a
little softened toward him, and he said, very impressively, "Wait
one moment, sir, I've got an idea. I'm not the sort that likes to
be beat. Are YOU?" The men looked steadily at each other.
Cheetham lowered his voice. "I've had hell inside me ever since. I
thought I was a man, but they made a mouse of me. If you know any
way to beat them, I'll go in with you."
"Well, sir, there is a key to every lock."
"That is well said, and I believe it; but one can't always find the
"I almost think I have, sir."
"See nobody is listening. Where is Bayne? He is due."
"Oh, he is not very well, sir; and I was to ask you for an hour's
"Let him have the whole afternoon. I'll not have a soul in this but
us two. Now come close, and tell me."
They sat opposite each other, and put their heads together over the
table, and the following dialogue passed almost in a whisper. To
see them, you would have thought they were conspiring against the
law, instead of combining to hide a lawful act from the violaters of
"I can forge the blades a dozen miles from Hillsborough."
"Not you; you will be told of. That won't do."
"I shall not be told of; for nobody will know but you. I shall only
forge at night; and the building is out of the world, and wedged in,
out of sight, between two bleak hills. Sir, it is a deserted
"What, forge blades in a church?"
"A deserted church; why not?"
"Little, you are A 1. Go on."
"I can get the blades ground by a friend at Birmingham; and my
mother and I can put them together at home. The complete articles
will come to you in parcels of a certain colored paper, invoiced in
cipher outside, so that they need not be opened; you can trust the
invoice, and dispatch them to your London agent."
"The steel you must supply me at the current price, and charge it
"Certainly. But your price per gross? For this work can't be done
"Of course not." And Henry named a price per gross at which
Cheetham lifted up his hands. "Why, you'll take nine pounds a week
"Ay, and more," said Henry, coolly. "But I sha'n't make it. Why,
this scheme entails no end of expenses. A house, and stables with
back entrance. A swift horse, to gallop to the forge at sunset, and
back by noon. A cart to take the things to the railway and back,
and to the parcel delivery for you. And, besides that, I must risk
my neck, riding over broken ground at night: and working night and
day shortens life. You can't reduce these things to Labor and
Capital. It's Life, Labor, and Capital."
"Hallo! There's a new cry. I tell ye what; you know too much for
me. You read the Beehive. I take you at your price."
Then he had a misgiving. "That old Smitem's as crafty as a fox. If
he finds you stay here, with no visible employment, he will soon be
down on us."
"Ay; but in the day-time I shall appear as a carver of wood, and
also an inspector of factories for Dr. Amboyne. Who will suspect me
of a night trade, as well as two day trades?"
Cheetham slapped the table triumphantly: but, recovering his
caution, he whispered, "It's planned first-rate."
"And now, sir, there is one difficulty you must help me in, if you
please. It is to set up the forge unobserved."
"What, am I to find the forge?"
"There's a question, sir! Of course you are. One of these new
Cheetham reflected for some little time. He then said it was a
ticklish thing, and he saw but one way. "The forge must come here,
after closing hours, and you and I must fetch it away in the dead of
night, and take it down to the old church, and set it up."
"Well, but, sir, we shall want assistance."
"Nay, nay. I've got the last suit of moleskin I ever worked in laid
away. I'll air 'em, and put 'em on again; and, when I've got em on
once more, I shall feel a man again. I'll have neither fool nor spy
in it: the thing is too serious. I might bring some country fellow,
that can't read or write; but no, these portables are small things,
and I'm one of the strongest men in Hillsborough. Best keep it to
ourselves. When is it to be?"
"Say next Wednesday, two hours after midnight."
"Then that is settled. And now I'll square the old account agreed."
He drew his check-book toward him again.
But Henry slopped him. "Fair play's a jewel," said he smiling.
"The moment you sacked me--"
"Say the Trades, not me."
"Dr. Amboyne hired me, at six guineas a week, to inspect the works.
So you owe me nothing; but to be true to me."
This trait, though it was one of simple probity, astonished and
gratified Mr. Cheetham. He looked on the young man with marked
respect. "You are hard; but you are very square. I'll be true as
steel to you, and we'll outwit our tyrants together, till I get a
chance to put my foot on them. Yes, I'll be open with you; there
are plenty of orders from London and the Continent, and one for six
sets from swells in Hillsborough."
"Might I see that order?"
"Why not? There, run your eye over it. I want to go into the
packing-room for a minute."
He then tossed Henry the order, as if it was nothing more than an
But it was a great deal more than that to Henry. It was Grace
Carden's handwriting, the first specimen he had ever seen.
He took the paper in his hand, and a slight perfume came from it
that went to his heart. He devoured the delicately formed letters,
and they went to his heart too: he thrilled all over. And the words
were as like her as the perfume. She gave the order, and the
addresses of her friends, with a pretty little attempt at the
businesslike; but, this done, she burst out, "and we all entreat you
to be good to poor Mr. Little, and protect him against the wicked,
cruel, abominable Unions."
These sweet words made his heart beat violently, and brought the
tears of tenderness into his eyes. He kissed the words again and
again. He put them into his bosom, and took them out again, and
gloated over them till they danced before his manly eyes. Then his
love took another turn: he started up, and marched and strutted,
like a young stag, about the room, with one hand pressing the paper
to his bosom. Why had he said Wednesday? It could all have been
got ready on Tuesday. No matter, he would make up for that lost
day. He was on the road, once more, the road to fortune, and to
Cheetham came in, and found him walking excitedly, with the paper in
his hand, and of course took the vulgar view of his emotion.
"Ay, lad," said he, "and they are all swells, I promise you.
There's Miss Laura Craske. That's the mayor's daughter. Lady Betty
Tyrone. She's a visitor. Miss Castleton! Her father is the county
"And who is this Mr. Coventry?" asked Henry.
"Oh, he is a landed gentleman, but spends his tin in Hillsborough;
and you can't blame him. Mr. Coventry? Why, that is Miss Carden's
"Her intended!" gasped Henry.
"I mean her beau. The gentleman she is going to marry, they say."
Henry Little turned cold, and a tremor ran through him; but he did
not speak a word; and, with Spartan fortitude, suppressed all
outward sign of emotion. He laid the paper down patiently, and went
Loyal to his friend even in this bitter moment, he called at Bayne's
place and left word with the landlady that Mr. Bayne was not wanted
at the works any more that day.
But he could not bear to talk to Bayne about his plans. They had
lost their relish. He walked listlessly away, and thought it all
For the first time he saw his infatuation clearly. Was ever folly
like his? If she had been a girl in humble life, would he not have
asked whether she had a sweetheart? Yet he must go and give his
heart to a lady without inquiry. There, where wisdom and prudence
were most needed, he had speculated like an idiot. He saw it, and
said to himself, "I have acted like a boy playing at pitch-farthing,
not like a man who knew the value of his heart."
And so he passed a miserable time, bemoaning the treasure that was
now quite inaccessible instead of nearly, and the treasure of his
own heart he had thrown away.
He awoke with a sense of misery and deep depression, and could not
eat; and that was a novelty in his young and healthy life. He drank
a cup of tea, however, and then went out, to avoid his mother's
tender looks of anxious inquiry. He meant to tell her all one day;
but to-day he was not strong enough. He must wait till he was
cured; for cured he must be, cured he would be.
He now tried to give his mind to the task Amboyne had set him; but
it was too hard: he gave it up, with rage and despair.
Then he made a desperate resolve, which will not surprise those who
know the human heart. He would harden himself. He would see more
of Miss Carden than ever; only it should be in quite a new light.
He would look at her, and keep saying to himself all the time, "You
are another man's wife."
With this determination, he called at "Woodbine Villa."
Miss Carden was not at home.
"Are you sure she is not at home?"
"Not at home," replied the man stiffly.
"But you needn't to keep him at the door," said a mellow female
"No, miss," said the man, with a sudden change of manner, for he was
a desperate and forlorn admirer of the last speaker. "Come in,
sir." And he ushered him in to Jael Dence. She was in her bonnet,
and just going out. They shook hands, and she told him Miss Carden
was out walking.
"Walking with her beau?" said Henry, affecting a jaunty air, but
"That's more than I can say," replied Jael.
"You know nothing about it, of course," said Henry, roughly.
Jael looked surprised at the uncalled-for tone, and turned a mild
glance of inquiry and reproach upon him.
The young man was ashamed of himself, and at that moment, too, he
remembered he had already been rather ungrateful to her. So, to
make amends, he said, "Didn't I promise to take you to Cairnhope?"
"Ay," said Jael; and she beamed and blushed in a moment.
"Well, I must go there, Sunday at the latest. So I will come for
you, if you like. Will you be ready at ten o'clock?"
"I'll bring a gig, and take you like a lady."
"Anyway you please. I'd as lieve walk as ride."
"I prefer riding. Ten o'clock, the day after to-morrow. Good-by."
And he hurried away, provoked, not pleased, at the manifest pleasure
he had given. The woman he loved--inaccessible! The woman he only
liked--he could spend the whole day with her. So the reasonable
youth was cross with her for that, and for being so pleased, when he
That feeling soon wore off, however, and, being a man of business,
he wrote a line to Martha Dence, and told her he should visit her on
Sunday. He added, with a gleam of good-humor, "and look out, for I
shall bring my lass," intending to give them all an agreeable
surprise; for Jael, he knew, was an immense favorite.
Next day he went on the hills with Billy, and, instead of thinking
for the benefit of his enemies, as agreed with Amboyne, he set
himself to hate every body, especially Miss Carden's lover, and the
Hillsborough Unions. The grinders and file-cutters might die like
sheep. What did he care? As much as they cared for him. Dr.
Amboyne was too good for this world, and should keep his money to
himself. He (Henry Little) would earn none of it, would take none
of it. What invention he had should all go to outwit the Trades,
and turn that old ruffian's church into his own smithy. This double
master-stroke, by which he was to defeat one enemy, and secretly
affront another, did make him chuckle one or twice, not with joy,
but with bitterness.
He awoke in a similar mood next morning: but there was eight o'clock
service near, and the silver-toned bell awakened better thoughts.
He dressed hurriedly, and went to church.
He came back sadder, but rather less hot, less bitter: he had his
breakfast, improved his toilet, went to the livery stable, and drove
to "Woodbine Villa."
Mr. and Miss Carden had just finished breakfast, when he drove up to
"Who is this?" said Mr. Carden.
"What, have you forgotten Mr. Little?"
"Indeed! Why, how he is dressed. I took him for a gentleman."
"You were not very far wrong, papa. He is a gentleman at heart."
Jael came in equipped for the ride. She was neatly dressed, and had
a plain shepherd's-plaid shawl, that suited her noble bust. She
looked a picture of health and happiness.
"If you please, miss, he is come to take me to Cairnhope."
"Oh! is it for that? And I declare you expected him, too."
"Yes," said Jael, and blushed.
"You never told me," said Grace, with a light touch of asperity.
"I didn't feel very sure he would keep his word."
"Then you don't know him as well as I do."
"I haven't the chance. He speaks a deal more to you than he do to
"Well, Jael, you needn't snub me, because you are going with Mr.
As a bone, put between two friendly dogs, causes a growl, so when a
handsome young man enters on the scene, I have seen young women lose
a little of that unmitigated sweetness which marked them a moment
With Grace, however, to snap and to repent generally followed in a
breath. "I hope you will have a happy day, dear, as happy as you
deserve." She then went to kiss her, but gave her cheek, instead of
her lips. "There," said she, in rather a flurried way, "don't keep
Mr. Little waiting."
Just as they drove off, Grace came to the window, after a slight
irresolution, and kissed her hand to them enchantingly; at which a
sudden flood of rapture rushed through Little's heart, and flushed
his cheek, and fired his dark eye; Grace caught its flash full in
hers, and instinctively retired a step. They were off.
"How bright and happy they look," said she to her father. And no
She sat down, and, somehow, she felt singularly dull and lonely.
Then she dressed for church, languidly. Then she went to church.
By-and-by she came back from church.
Then she sat down, in her bonnet, and felt alone in the world, and
sad; and at last she found herself quietly crying, as young ladies
will sometimes, without any visible cause.
Then she asked herself what on earth she was crying about, and
herself told her she was a little hysterical fool, and wanted a good
Then she plucked up spirit, and dried her eyes. Then she took to
yawning, and said Sunday was a dull day, and life itself rather a
Then a servant came to inquire if she was at home.
"What, on Sunday? Of course not. Who is it?"
"Mr. Coventry, miss."
"I am at home."
People that met Jael Dence and Henry Little driving to Cairnhope
were struck with their faces; his so dark, hers so fair, and both so
handsome: but the woman's lit up with lively delight, the man's
clouded and sorrowful, and his brow knit with care. This very day
he must take the lock off Cairnhope old church, in spite of his
Uncle Raby. He had got the requisite tools with him hidden in the
gig; but, even should he succeed, it was but the first step of a
difficult and, perhaps, dangerous enterprise; and he was entering on
it all with a heart no longer buoyed by hopeful love. But for his
pledge to Mr. Cheetham he could hardly have persisted in the
As for Jael Dence, she had no great reason to be happy either: the
man she loved loved another. Still he was kind to HER, and they
belonged to the same class; she had a chance, and gleams of hope.
And, after all, the future was uncertain, but the present certain:
she had him to herself for the day. She was close to him--so close,
that she could feel him--and he was driving her out, and to those
who loved her: she basked in the present delight, and looked as if
she was being taken to heaven by an angel, instead of driving to
Cairnhope by a gloomy young man, whom the passers-by envied, and
wondered at his good luck in having such a companion. She talked to
him, and got the short answers of an absent man. But she continued
to make her little remarks occasionally, and, ere they reached
Cairnhope, he found himself somehow soothed by her sex, her beauty,
and her mellow, kindly voice.
As they drove up to the farm-house, he told her to hide her face a
moment, for they didn't know who it was.
Martha ran out. "Y'are welcome, y'are welcome; and so is your--
Eh! Why it's our Jael. 'Tis no avail to hide thy face, thou jade;
I know every bit o' thee." And Patty had her out of the gig in a
moment, and there was a cuddling match it did one good to see.
Henry perked up for a moment and offered a suggestion. "Some of
that ought to come my way, for bringing her here."
"Oh, you'll get enough o' that fun before you die," said Patty.
"Now come you in; the carter's boy will take the horse."
They went in and greeted the old farmer; and soon the bell began to
ring for church, and Nathan Dence told Martha to put on her bonnet.
"La, father!" said she, piteously.
"She prefers to stay at home and chat with Jael," said Henry. The
fact is, he wanted to be rid of them both.
Old Dence shook his head. He was one of those simple, grand, old
rustic Christians, who have somehow picked out the marrow of
religion, and left the devil the bone, yclept theology. "What?"
said he, "my lasses! can't ye spare God a slice out of his own day?"
"Nay, it is not that, father."
The old man continued his remonstrance. "To be sure our Jael is a
cordial. But she'll dine and sup with us. Take my word for 't, all
lawful pleasures are sweeter on the Lord's day after a bit o'
"And so they are, father; but dear heart! to think of you
forgetting. Will nobody tell him? They're sworn to give me a red
face, Jael and all."