Part 5 out of 13
Jael soon found Mr. Raby, and told him about the magpie, and begged
him to come out and order them back.
But Mr. Raby smiled, and shook his head. "That won't do. Young
ladies and gentlemen of the present day don't believe in omens."
"But you do know better, sir. I have heard father say you were
going into Hillsborough with him one day, and a magpie flew across,
and father persuaded you to turn back."
"That is true; he was going in to buy some merino sheep, and I to
deposit my rents in Carrington's bank. Next day the bank broke.
And the merino sheep all died within the year. But how many
thousand times does a magpie cross us and nothing come of it? Come,
run away, my good girl, and don't keep them waiting."
Jael obeyed, with a sigh. She went back to her party--they were
gone. The carriage was just disappearing round a turn in the road.
She looked at it with amazement, and even with anger. It seemed to
her a brazen act of bad faith.
"I wouldn't have believed it of her," said she, and went back to the
house, mortified and grieved. She did not go to Mr. Raby again; but
he happened to catch sight of her about an hour afterward, and
called to her--"How is this, Jael? Have you let them go alone,
because of a magpie?" And he looked displeased.
"Nay, sir: she gave me the slip, while I went to speak to you for
her good; and I call it a dirty trick, saving your presence. I told
her I'd be back in a moment."
"Oh, it is not her doing, you may be sure; it is the young
gentleman. He saw a chance to get her alone, and of course he took
it. I am not very well pleased; but I suppose she knows her own
mind. It is to be a marriage, no doubt." He smoothed it over, but
was a little put out, and stalked away without another word: he had
said enough to put Jael's bosom in a flutter, and open a bright
prospect to her heart; Miss Carden once disposed of in marriage,
what might she not hope? She now reflected, with honest pride, that
she had merited Henry's love by rare unselfishness. She had advised
him loyally, had even co-operated with him as far as any poor girl,
with her feelings for him, could do; and now Mr. Coventry was going
to propose marriage to her rival, and she believed Miss Carden would
say "yes," though she could not in her heart believe that even Miss
Carden did not prefer the other. "Ay, lad," said she, "if I am to
win thee, I'll be able to say I won thee fair."
These sweet thoughts and hopes soon removed her temporary anger, and
nothing remained to dash the hopeful joy that warmed that large and
loyal heart this afternoon, except a gentle misgiving that Mr.
Coventry might make Grace a worse husband than she deserved. It was
thus she read the magpie, from three o'clock till six that afternoon.
When a man and a woman do any thing wrong, it is amusing to hear the
judgments of other men and women thereupon. The men all blame the
man, and the women all the woman. That is judgment, is it not?
But in some cases our pitch-farthing judgments must be either heads
or tails; so Mr. Raby, who had cried heads, when a Mrs. Raby would
have cried "woman," was right; it WAS Mr. Coventry, and not Miss
Carden, who leaned over to George, and whispered, "A sovereign, to
drive on without her! Make some excuse."
The cunning Yorkshire groom's eye twinkled at this, and he remained
passive a minute or two: then, said suddenly, with well-acted
fervor, "I can't keep the pony waiting in the cold, like this;"
applied the whip, and rattled off with such decision, that Grace did
not like to interfere, especially as George was known to be one of
those hard masters, an old servant.
So, by this little ruse, Mr. Coventry had got her all to himself for
the afternoon. And now she felt sure he would propose that very
She made no movement whatever either to advance or to avoid the
It is five miles from Raby Hall, through Cairnhope village, to the
eastern foot of Cairnhope; and while George rattles them over the
hard and frosty road, I will tell the reader something about this
young gentleman, who holds the winning cards.
Mr. Frederick Coventry was a man of the world. He began life with a
good estate, and a large fund accumulated during his minority.
He spent all the money in learning the world at home and abroad;
and, when it was all gone, he opened one eye.
But, as a man cannot see very clear with a single orb, he exchanged
rouge-et-noir, etc., for the share-market, and, in other respects,
lived as fast as ever, till he had mortgaged his estate rather
heavily. Then he began to open both eyes.
Next, he fell in love with Grace Carden; and upon that he opened
both eyes very wide, and wished very much he had his time to live
Nevertheless, he was not much to be pitied. He had still an estate
which, with due care, could pay off its incumbrances; and he had
gathered some valuable knowledge. He knew women better than most
men, and he knew whist profoundly. Above all, he had acquired what
Voltaire justly calls "le grand art de plaire;" he had studied this
art, as many women study it, and few men. Why, he even watched the
countenance, and smoothed the rising bristles of those he wished to
please, or did not wish to displease. This was the easier to him
that he had no strong convictions on any great topic. It is your
plaguy convictions that make men stubborn and disagreeable.
A character of this kind is very susceptible, either of good or evil
influences; and his attachment to Grace Carden was turning him the
Add to this a good figure and a distinguished air, and you have some
superficial idea of the gentleman toward whom Grace Carden found
herself drawn by circumstances, and not unwillingly, though not with
that sacred joy and thrill which marks a genuine passion.
They left George and the trap at the "Colley Dog," and ascended the
mountain. There were no serious difficulties on this side; but
still there were little occasional asperities, that gave the lover
an opportunity to offer his arm; and Mr. Coventry threw a graceful
devotion even into this slight act of homage. He wooed her with
perfect moderation at first; it was not his business to alarm her at
starting; he proceeded gradually; and, by the time they had reached
the summit, he had felt his way, and had every reason to hope she
would accept him.
At the summit the remarkable beauty of the view threw her into
raptures, and interrupted the more interesting topic on which he was
But the man of the world showed no impatience (I don't say he felt
none); he answered all Grace's questions, and told her what all the
But, by-and-by, the atmosphere thickened suddenly in that quarter,
and he then told her gently he had something to show her on the
other side of the knob.
He conducted her to a shed the shepherds had erected, and seated her
on a rude bench. "You must be a little tired," he said.
Then he showed her, in the valley, one of those delightful old red
brick houses, with white stone facings. "That is Bollinghope."
She looked at it with polite interest.
"Do you like it?"
"Very much. It warms the landscape so."
He expected a more prosaic answer; but he took her cue. "I wish it
was a great deal prettier than it is, and its owner a much better
"You are hard to please, Mr. Coventry."
"Miss Carden--Grace--may I call you Grace?"
"It seems to me you have done it."
"But I had no right."
"Then, of course, you will never do it again."
"I should be very unhappy if I thought that. Miss Carden, I think
you know how dear you are to me, and have been ever since I first
met you. I wish I had ten times more to offer you than I have. But
I am only a poor gentleman, of good descent, but moderate means, as
you see." Comedie! (Bollinghope was the sort of house that
generally goes with L5000 a year at least.)
"I don't care about your means, Mr. Coventry," said Grace, with a
lofty smile. "It is your amiable character that I esteem."
"You forgive me for loving you; for hoping that you will let me lead
you to my poor house there, as my adored wife?"
It had come; and, although she knew it was coming, yet her face was
dyed with blushes.
"I esteem you very much," she faltered. "I thank you for the honor
you do me; but I--oh, pray, let me think what I am doing." She
covered her face with her hands, and her bosom panted visibly.
Mr. Coventry loved her sincerely, and his own heart beat high at
this moment. He augured well from her agitation; but presently he
saw something that puzzled him, and gave a man of his experience a
A tear forced its way between her fingers; another, and another,
Coventry said to himself, "There's some other man." And he sighed
heavily; but even in this moment of true and strong feeling he was
on his guard, and said nothing.
It was his wisest course. She was left to herself, and an amazing
piece of female logic came to Mr. Coventry's aid. She found herself
crying, and got frightened at herself. That, which would have made
a man pause, had just the opposite effect on her. She felt that no
good could come to any body of those wild and weak regrets that made
her weep. She saw she had a weakness and a folly to cure herself
of; and the cure was at hand. There was a magic in marriage; a
gentleman could, somehow, MAKE a girl love him when once she had
married him. Mr. Coventry should be enabled to make her love him;
he should cure her of this trick of crying; it would be the best
thing for every body--for HIM, for Jael, for Mr. Coventry, and even
She dried her eyes, and said, in a low, tremulous voice: "Have you
spoken to papa of--of this?"
"No. I waited to be authorized by you. May I speak to him?"
"May I tell him--?"
"Oh I can't tell you what to tell him. How dark it is getting.
Please take me home." Another tear or two.
Then, if Coventry had not loved her sincerely, and also been a man
of the world, he would have lost his temper; and if he had lost his
temper, he would have lost the lady, for she would have seized the
first fair opportunity to quarrel. But no, he took her hand gently,
and set himself to comfort her. He poured out his love to her, and
promised her a life of wedded happiness. He drew so delightful a
picture of their wedded life, and in a voice so winning, that she
began to be consoled, and her tears ceased.
"I believe you love me," she murmured; "and I esteem you sincerely."
Mr. Coventry drew a family ring from his pocket. It was a sapphire
of uncommon beauty.
"This was my mother's," said he. "Will you do me the honor to wear
it, as a pledge?"
But the actual fetter startled her, I think. She started up, and
said, "Oh, please take me home first! IT IS GOING TO SNOW."
Call her slippery, if you don't like her; call her unhappy and
wavering, if you do like her.
Mr. Coventry smiled now at this attempt to put off the inevitable,
and complied at once.
But, before they had gone a hundred yards, the snow did really fall,
and so heavily that the air was darkened.
"We had better go back to the shed till it is over," said Mr.
"Do you think so?" said Grace, doubtfully. "Well."
And they went back.
But the snow did not abate, and the air got darker. So, by-and-by,
Grace suggested that Mr. Coventry should run down the hill, and send
George up to her with an umbrella.
"What, and leave you alone?" said he.
"Well, then, we had better go together."
They started together.
By this time the whole ground was covered about three inches deep;
not enough to impede their progress; but it had the unfortunate
effect of effacing the distinct features of the ground; and, as the
declining sun could no longer struggle successfully through the
atmosphere, which was half air, half snow, they were almost in
darkness, and soon lost their way. They kept slanting unconsciously
to the left, till they got over one of the forks of the mountain and
into a ravine: they managed to get out of that, and continued to
descend; for the great thing they had to do was to reach the valley,
no matter where.
But, after a long laborious, and even dangerous descent, they found
themselves beginning to ascend. Another mountain or hill barred
their progress. Then they knew they must be all wrong, and began to
feel rather anxious. They wished they had stayed up on the hill.
They consulted together, and agreed to go on for the present; it
might be only a small rise in the ground.
And so it proved. After a while they found themselves descending
But now the path was full of pitfalls, hidden by the snow and the
Mr. Coventry insisted on going first.
In this order they moved cautiously on, often stumbling.
Suddenly Mr. Coventry disappeared with a sudden plunge, and rolled
down a ravine, with a loud cry.
Grace stood transfixed with terror.
Then she called to him.
There was no answer.
She called again.
A faint voice replied that he was not much hurt, and would try to
get back to her.
This, however, was impossible, and all he could do was to scramble
along the bottom of the ravine.
Grace kept on the high ground, and they called to each other every
moment. They seemed to be a long way from each other; yet they were
never sixty yards apart. At last the descent moderated, and Grace
Then they kept in the hollow for some time, but at last found
another acclivity to mount: they toiled up it, laden with snow, yet
perspiring profusely with the exertion of toiling uphill through
heather clogged with heavy snow.
They reached the summit, and began to descend again. But now their
hearts began to quake. Men had been lost on Cairnhope before to-
day, and never found alive: and they were lost on Cairnhope; buried
in the sinuosities of the mountain, and in a tremendous snowstorm.
They wandered and staggered, sick at heart; since each step might be
for the worse.
They wandered and staggered, miserably; and the man began to sigh,
and the woman to cry.
At last they were so exhausted, they sat down in despair: and, in a
few minutes, they were a couple of snow-heaps.
Mr. Coventry was the first to see all the danger they ran by this
"For God's sake, let us go on!" he said; "if we once get benumbed,
we are lost. We MUST keep moving, till help comes to us."
Then they staggered, and stumbled on again, till they both sank into
a deep snow-drift.
They extricated themselves, but, oh, when they felt that deep cold
snow all round them, it was a foretaste of the grave.
The sun had set, it was bitterly cold, and still the enormous flakes
fell, and doubled the darkness of the night.
They staggered and stumbled on, not now with any hope of extricating
themselves from the fatal mountain, but merely to keep the blood
alive in their veins. And, when they were exhausted, they sat down,
and soon were heaps of snow.
While they sat thus, side by side, thinking no more of love, or any
other thing but this: should they ever see the sun rise, or sit by a
fireside again? suddenly they heard a sound in the air behind them,
and, in a moment, what seemed a pack of hounds in full cry passed
close over their heads.
They uttered a loud cry.
"We are saved!" cried Grace. "Mr. Raby is hunting us with his dogs.
That was the echo."
Coventry groaned. "What scent would lie?" said he. "Those hounds
were in the air; a hundred strong."
Neither spoke for a moment, and then it was Grace who broke the
"THE GABRIEL HOUNDS!"
"The Gabriel hounds; that run before calamity! Mr. Coventry,
there's nothing to be done now, but to make our peace with God. For
you are a dead man, and I'm a dead woman. My poor papa! poor Mr.
She kneeled down on the snow, and prayed patiently, and prepared to
deliver up her innocent soul to Him who gave it.
Not so her companion. He writhed away from death. He groaned, he
sighed, he cursed, he complained. What was Raby thinking of, to let
Presently he shouted out--"I'll not die this dog's death, I will
not. I'll save myself, and come back for you."
The girl prayed on, and never heeded him.
But he was already on his feet, and set off to run: and he actually
did go blundering on for a furlong and more, and fell into a
mountain-stream, swollen by floods, which whirled him along with it
like a feather, it was not deep enough to drown him by submersion,
but it rolled him over and over again, and knocked him against rocks
and stones, and would infallibly have destroyed him, but that a
sudden sharp turn in the current drove him, at last, against a
projecting tree, which he clutched, and drew himself out with
infinite difficulty. But when he tried to walk, his limbs gave way;
and he sank fainting on the ground, and the remorseless snow soon
covered his prostrate body.
All this time, Grace Carden was kneeling on the snow, and was,
literally a heap of snow. She was patient and composed now, and
felt a gentle sleep stealing over.
That sleep would have been her death.
But, all of a sudden something heavy touched her clothes, and
startled her, and two dark objects passed her.
They were animals.
In a moment it darted through her mind that animals are wiser than
man in some things. She got up with difficulty, for her limbs were
stiffened, and followed them.
The dark forms struggled on before. They knew the ground, and soon
took her to the edge of that very stream into which Coventry had
They all three went within a yard of Mr. Coventry, and still they
pursued their way; and Grace hoped they were making for some
shelter. She now called aloud to Mr. Coventry, thinking he must be
on before her. But he had not recovered his senses.
Unfortunately, the cry startled the sheep, and they made a rush, and
she could not keep up with them: she toiled, she called, she prayed
for strength; but they left her behind, and she could see their very
forms no more. Then she cried out in agony, and still, with that
power of self-excitement, which her sex possess in an eminent
degree, she struggled on and on, beyond her strength till, at last,
she fell down from sheer exhaustion, and the snow fell fast upon her
But, even as she lay, she heard a tinkling. She took it for sheep-
bells, and started up once more, and once more cried to Mr.
Coventry; and this time he heard her, and shook off his deadly
lethargy, and tried to hobble toward her voice.
Meantime, Grace struggled toward the sound, and lo, a light was
before her, a light gleaming red and dullish in the laden
atmosphere. With her remnant of life and strength, she dashed at
it, and found a wall in her way. She got over it somehow, and saw
the light quite close, and heard the ringing of steel on steel.
She cried out for help, for she felt herself failing. She tottered
along the wall of the building, searching for a door. She found the
porch. She found the church door. But by this time she was quite
spent; her senses reeled; her cry was a moan.
She knocked once with her hands. She tried to knock again; but the
door flew suddenly open, and, in the vain endeavor to knock again,
her helpless body, like a pillar of snow, fell forward; but Henry
Little caught her directly, and then she clutched him feebly, by
He uttered a cry of love and alarm. She opened her filmy eyes, and
stared at him. Her cold neck and white cheek rested on his bare and
The moment he saw it was really Grace Carden that had fallen
inanimate into his arms, Henry Little uttered a loud cry of love and
terror, and, putting his other sinewy arm under her, carried her
swiftly off to his fires, uttering little moans of fear and pity as
he went; he laid her down by the fire, and darted to the forge, and
blew it to a white heat; and then darted back to her, and kissed her
cold hands with pretty moans of love; and then blew up the other
fires; and then back to her, and patted her hands, and kissed them
with all his soul, and drew them to his bosom to warm them; and drew
her head to his heart to warm her; and all with pretty moans of
love, and fear, and pity; and the tears rained out of his eyes at
sight of her helpless condition, and the tears fell upon her brow
and her hands; and all this vitality and love soon electrified her;
she opened her eyes, and smiled faintly, but such a smile, and
murmured, "It's you," and closed her eyes again.
Then he panted out, "Yes, it is I,--a friend. I won't hurt you--I
won't tell you how I love you any more--only live! Don't give way.
You shall marry who you like. You shall never be thwarted, nor
worried, nor made love to again; only be brave and live; don't rob
the world of the only angel that is in it. Have mercy, and live!
I'll never ask more of you than that. Oh, how pale! I am
frightened. Cursed fires, have you no warmth IN you?" And he was
at the bellows again. And the next moment back to her, imploring
her, and sighing over her, and saying the wildest, sweetest,
drollest things, such as only those who love can say, in moments
when hearts are bursting.
How now? Her cheek that was so white is pink--pinker--red--scarlet.
She is blushing.
She had closed her eyes at love's cries. Perhaps she was not
altogether unwilling to hear that divine music of the heart, so long
as she was not bound to reply and remonstrate--being insensible.
But now she speaks, faintly, but clearly, "Don't he frightened. I
promise not to die. Pray don't cry so." Then she put out her hand
to him, and turned her head away, and cried herself, gently, but
Henry, kneeling by her, clasped the hand she lent him with both his,
and drew it to his panting heart in ecstasy.
Grace's cheeks were rosy red.
They remained so a little while in silence.
Henry's heart was too full of beatitude to speak. He drew her a
little nearer to the glowing fires, to revive her quite; but still
kneeled by her, and clasped her hand to his heart. She felt it
beat, and turned her blushing brow away, but made no resistance: she
was too weak.
"Halloo!" cried a new voice, that jarred with the whole scene; and
Mr. Coventry hobbled in sight. He gazed in utter amazement on the
picture before him.
Grace snatched her hand from Henry, and raised herself with a vigor
that contrasted with her late weakness. "Oh, it is Mr. Coventry.
How wicked of me to forget him for a moment. Thank Heaven you are
alive. Where have you been?"
"I fell into the mountain stream, and it rolled me down, nearly to
here. I think I must have fainted on the bank. I found myself
lying covered with snow; it was your beloved voice that recalled me
Henry turned yellow, and rose to his feet.
Grace observed him, and replied, "Oh, Mr. Coventry, this is too
high-flown. Let us both return thanks to the Almighty, who has
preserved us, and, in the next place, to Mr. Little: we should both
be dead but for him." Then, before he could reply, she turned to
Little, and said, beseechingly, "Mr. Coventry has been the companion
of my danger."
"Oh, I'll do the best I can for him," said Henry, doggedly. "Draw
nearer the fire, sir." He then put some coal on the forge, and blew
up an amazing fire: he also gave the hand-bellows to Mr. Coventry,
and set him to blow at the small grates in the mausoleum. He then
produced a pair of woolen stockings. "Now, Miss Carden," said he,
"just step into that pew, if you please, and make a dressing-room of
She demurred, faintly, but he insisted, and put her into the great
pew, and shut her in.
"And now, please take off your shoes and stockings, and hand them
over the pew to me."
"Oh, Mr. Little: you are giving yourself so much trouble."
"Nonsense. Do what you are bid." He said this a little roughly.
"I'll do whatever YOU bid me," said she, meekly: and instantly took
off her dripping shoes, and stockings, and handed them over the pew.
She received, in return, a nice warm pair of worsted stockings.
"Put on these directly," said he, "while I warm your shoes."
He dashed all the wet he could out of the shoes, and, taking them to
the forge, put hot cinders in: he shook the cinders up and down the
shoes so quickly, they had not time to burn, but only to warm and
dry them. He advised Coventry to do the same, and said he was sorry
he had only one pair of stockings to lend. And that was a lie: for
he was glad he had only one pair to lend. When he had quite dried
the shoes, he turned round, and found Grace was peeping over the
pew, and looking intolerably lovely in the firelight. He kissed the
shoes furtively, and gave them to her. She shook her head in a
remonstrating way, but her eyes filled.
He turned away, and, rousing all his generous manhood, said, "Now
you must both eat something, before you go." He produced a
Yorkshire pie, and some bread, and a bottle of wine. He gave Mr.
Coventry a saucepan, and set him to heat the wine; then turned up
his sleeves to the shoulder, blew his bellows, and, with his
pincers, took a lath of steel and placed it in the white embers. "I
have only got one knife, and you won't like to eat with that. I
must forge you one apiece."
Then Grace came out, and stood looking on, while he forged knives,
like magic, before the eyes of his astonished guests. Her feet were
now as warm as a toast, and her healthy young body could resist all
the rest. She stood, with her back to the nearest pew, and her
hands against the pew too, and looked with amazement, and dreamy
complacency, at the strange scene before her: a scene well worthy of
Salvator Rosa; though, in fact, that painter never had the luck to
hit on so variegated a subject.
Three broad bands of light shot from the fires, expanding in size,
but weakening in intensity. These lights, and the candles at the
west end, revealed in a strange combination the middle ages, the
nineteenth century, and eternal nature.
Nature first. Snow gleaming on the windows. Oh, it was cozy to see
it gleam and sparkle, and to think "Aha! you all but killed me; now
King Fire warms both thee and me." Snow-flakes, of enormous size,
softly descending, and each appearing a diamond brooch, as it passed
through the channels of fiery light.
The middle ages. Massive old arches, chipped, and stained; a
moldering altar-piece, dog's-eared (Henry had nailed it up again all
but the top corner, and in it still faintly gleamed the Virgin's
golden crown). Pulpit, richly carved, but moldering: gaunt walls,
streaked and stained by time. At the west end, one saint--the last
of many--lit by two candles, and glowing ruby red across the
intervening gulf of blackness: on the nearest wall an inscription,
that still told, in rusty letters, how Giles de la Beche had charged
his lands with six merks a year forever, to buy bread and white
watered herrings, the same to be brought into Cairnhope Church every
Sunday in Lent, and given to two poor men and four women; and the
same on Good Friday with a penny dole, and, on that day, the clerk
to toll the bell at three of the clock after noon, and read the
lamentation of a sinner, and receive one groat.
Ancient monuments, sculptures with here an arm gone, and here a
head, that yet looked half-alive in the weird and partial light.
And between one of those mediaeval sculptures, and that moldering
picture of the Virgin, stood a living horse, munching his corn; and
in the foreground was a portable forge, a mausoleum turned into
fires and hot plate, and a young man, type of his century, forging
table-knives amidst the wrecks of another age.
When Grace had taken in the whole scene with wonder, her eye was
absorbed by this one figure, a model of manly strength, and skill,
and grace. How lightly he stepped: how easily his left arm blew the
coals to a white heat, with blue flames rising from them. How
deftly he drew out the white steel. With what tremendous force his
first blows fell, and scattered hot steel around. Yet all that
force was regulated to a hair--he beat, he molded, he never broke.
Then came the lighter blows; and not one left the steel as it found
it. In less than a minute the bar was a blade, it was work
incredibly unlike his method in carving; yet, at a glance, Grace saw
it was also perfection, but in an opposite style. In carving, the
hand of a countess; in forging, a blacksmith's arm.
She gazed with secret wonder and admiration; and the comparison was
to the disadvantage of Mr. Coventry; for he sat shivering, and the
other seemed all power. And women adore power.
When Little had forged the knives and forks, and two deep saucers,
with magical celerity, he plunged them into water a minute, and they
hissed; he sawed off the rim of a pew, and fitted handles.
Then he washed his face and hands, and made himself dry and glowing;
let down his sleeves, and served them some Yorkshire pie, and bread,
and salt, and stirred a little sugar into the wine, and poured it
into the saucers.
"Now eat a bit, both of you, before you go."
Mr. Coventry responded at once to the invitation.
But Grace said, timidly, "Yes, if you will eat with us."
"No, no," said he. "I've not been perished with snow, nor rolled in
Grace hesitated still; but Coventry attacked the pie directly. It
was delicious. "By Jove, sir," said he, "you are the prince of
"Blacksmiths!" said Grace, coloring high. But Little only smiled
Grace, who was really faint with hunger, now ate a little; and then
the host made her sip some wine.
The food and wine did Mr. Coventry so much good, that he began to
recover his superiority, and expressed his obligations to Henry in a
tone which was natural, and not meant to be offensive; but yet, it
was so, under all the circumstances: there was an underlying tone of
condescension, it made Grace fear he would offer Henry his purse at
Henry himself writhed under it; but said nothing. Grace, however,
saw his ire, his mortification, and his jealousy in his face, and
that irritated her; but she did not choose to show either of the men
how much it angered her.
She was in a most trying situation, and all the woman's wit and tact
were keenly on their guard.
What she did was this; she did not utter one word of remonstrance,
but she addressed most of her remarks to Mr. Little; and, though the
remarks were nothing in themselves, she contrived to throw profound
respect into them. Indeed, she went beyond respect. She took the
tone of an inferior addressing a superior.
This was nicely calculated to soothe Henry, and also to make
Coventry, who was a man of tact, change his own manner.
Nor was it altogether without that effect. But then it annoyed
Coventry, and made him wish to end it.
After a while he said, "My dear Grace, it can't be far from Raby
Hall. I think you had better let me take you home at once."
Grace colored high, and bit her lip.
Henry was green with jealous anguish.
"Are you quite recovered yourself?" said Grace, demurely, to Mr.
"Quite; thanks to this good fellow's hospitality."
"Then WOULD you mind going to Raby, and sending some people for me?
I really feel hardly equal to fresh exertion just yet."
This proposal brought a flush of pleasure to Henry's cheek, and
mortified Mr. Coventry cruelly in his turn.
"What, go and leave you here? Surely you can not be serious."
"Oh, I don't wish you to leave me. Only you seemed in a hurry."
Henry was miserable again.
Coventry did not let well alone, he alluded delicately but tenderly
to what had passed between them, and said he could not bear her out
of his sight until she was safe at Raby. The words and the tone
were those of a lover, and Henry was in agony: thereupon Grace
laughed it off, "Not bear me out of your sight!" said she. "Why,
you ran away from me, and tumbled into the river. Ha! ha! ha! And"
(very seriously) "we should both be in another world but for Mr.
"You are very cruel," said Mr. Coventry. "When you gave up in
despair, I ran for help. You punish me for failure; punish me
"Yes, I was ungenerous," said Grace. "Forgive me." But she said it
rather coolly, and not with a very penitent air.
She added an explanation more calculated to please Henry than him.
"Your gallantry is always graceful; and it is charming, in a
drawing-room; but in this wild place, and just after escaping the
grave, let us talk like sensible people. If you and I set out for
Raby Hall alone, we shall lose our way again, and perish, to a
certainty. But I think Mr. Little must know the way to Raby Hall."
"Oh, then," said Coventry, catching at her idea, "perhaps Mr. Little
would add to the great obligation, under which he has laid us both,
by going to Raby Hall and sending assistance hither."
"I can't do that," said Henry, roughly.
"And that is not at all what I was going to propose," said Grace,
quietly. "But perhaps you would be so good as to go with us to Raby
Hall? Then I should feel safe; and I want Mr. Raby to thank you,
for I feel how cold and unmeaning all I have said to you is; I seem
to have no words." Her voice faltered, and her sweet eyes filled.
"Miss Carden," said the young man, gravely, "I can't do that. Mr.
Raby is no friend of mine, and he is a bigoted old man, who would
turn me out of this place if he knew. Come, now, when you talk
about gratitude to me for not letting you be starved to death, you
make me blush. Is there a man in the world that wouldn't? But this
I do say; it would be rather hard if you two were to go away, and
cut my throat in return; and, if you open your mouths ever so
little, either of you, you WILL cut my throat. Why, ask yourselves,
have I set up my workshop in such a place as this--by choice? It
takes a stout heart to work here, I can tell you, and a stout heart
to sleep here over dead bones."
"I see it all. The Trades Unions!"
"That is it. So, now, there are only two ways. You must promise me
never to breathe a word to any living soul, or I must give up my
livelihood, and leave the country."
"What can not you trust me? Oh, Mr. Little!"
"No, no; it's this gentleman. He is a stranger to me, you know;
and, you see, my life may be at stake, as well as my means."
"Mr. Coventry is a gentleman, and a man of honor. He is incapable
of betraying you."
"I should hope so," said Coventry. "I pledge you the word of a
gentleman I will never let any human creature know that you are
"Give me your hand on that, if you please."
Coventry gave him his hand with warmth and evident sincerity.
Young Little was reassured. "Come," said he, "I feel I can trust
you both. And, sir, Miss Carden will tell you what happened to me
in Cheetham's works; and then you will understand what I risk upon
"I accept the responsibility; and I thank you for giving me this
opportunity to show you how deeply I feel indebted to you."
"That is square enough. Well, now my mind is at ease about that,
I'll tell you what I'll do; I won't take you quite to Raby Hall; but
I'll take you so near to it, you can't miss it; and then I'll go
back to my work."
He sighed deeply at the lonely prospect, and Grace heard him.
"Come," said he, almost violently, and led the way out of church.
But he stayed behind to lock the door, and then joined them.
They all three went together, Grace in the middle.
There was now but little snow falling, and the air was not so thick;
but it was most laborious walking, and soon Mr. Coventry, who was
stiff and in pain, fell a little behind, and groaned as he hobbled
Grace whispered to Henry: "Be generous. He has hurt himself so."
This made Henry groan in return. But he said nothing. He just
turned back to Coventry--"You can't get on without help, sir; lean
The act was friendly, the tone surly. Coventry accepted the act,
and noted the tone in his memory.
When Grace had done this, she saw Henry misunderstood it, and she
was sorry, and waited an opportunity to restore the balance; but,
ere one came, a bell was heard in the air; the great alarm-bell of
Then faint voices were heard of people calling to each other here
and there in the distance.
"What is it?" asked Grace.
Henry replied, "What should it be? The whole country is out after
you. Mr Raby has sense enough for that."
"Oh, I hope they will not see the light in the church, and find you
"You are very good to think of that. Ah! There's a bonfire: and
here comes a torch. I must go and quench my fires. Good-by, Miss
Carden. Good-evening, sir."
With this, he retired: but, as he went, he sighed.
Grace said to Coventry, "Oh, I forgot to ask him a question;" and
ran after him. "Mr. Little!"
He heard and came back to her.
She was violently agitated. "I can't leave you so," she said.
"Give me your hand."
He gave it to her.
"I mortified you; and you have saved me." She took his hand, and,
holding it gently in both her little palms, sobbed out,--"Oh, think
of something I can do, to show my gratitude, my esteem. Pray, pray,
"Wait two years for me."
"Oh, not that. I don't mean that."
"That or nothing. In two years, I'll be as good a gentleman as HE
is. I'm not risking my life in that church, for nothing. If you
have one grain of pity or esteem for me, wait two years."
"Incurable!" she murmured: but he was gone.
Coventry heard the prayer. That was loud and earnest enough. Her
reply he could not bear.
She rejoined him, and the torch came rapidly forward.
It was carried by a lass, with her gown pinned nearly to her knees,
and displaying grand and powerful limbs; she was crying, like the
tenderest woman, and striding through the snow, like a young giant.
When the snow first came down, Mr. Raby merely ordered large fires
to be lighted and fed in his guests' bedrooms; he feared nothing
worse for them than a good wetting.
When dinner-time came, without them, he began to be anxious, and
sent a servant to the little public-house, to inquire if they were
The servant had to walk through the snow, and had been gone about an
hour, and Mr. Raby was walking nervously up and down the hall, when
Jael Dence burst in at the front door, as white as a sheet, and
gasped out in his face: "THE GABRIEL HOUNDS!!"
Raby ran out directly, and sure enough, that strange pack were
passing in full cry over the very house. It was appalling. He was
dumb with awe for a moment. Then he darted into the kitchen and
ordered them to ring the great alarm-bell incessantly; then into the
yard, and sent messengers to the village, and to all his tenants,
and in about an hour there were fifty torches, and as many sheep-
bells, directed upon Cairnhope hill; and, as men and boys came in
from every quarter, to know why Raby's great alarm-bell was ringing,
they were armed with torches and sent up Cairnhope.
At last the servant returned from "The Colley Dog," with the
alarming tidings that Miss Carden and Mr. Coventry had gone up the
hill, and never returned. This, however, was hardly news. The
Gabriel hounds always ran before calamity.
At about eleven o'clock, there being still no news of them, Jael
Dence came to Mr. Raby wringing her hands. "Why do all the men go
east for them?"
"Because they are on the east side."
"How can ye tell that? They have lost their way."
"I am afraid so," groaned Raby.
"Then why do you send all the men as if they hadn't lost their way?
East side of Cairnhope! why that is where they ought to be, but it
is not where they are, man."
"You are a good girl, and I'm a fool," cried Raby. "Whoever comes
in after this, I'll send them up by the old church."
"Give me a torch, and I'll run myself."
"Ay, do, and I'll put on my boots, and after you."
Then Jael got a torch, and kilted her gown to her knees, and went
striding through the snow with desperate vigor, crying as she went,
for her fear was great and her hope was small, from the moment she
heard the Gabriel hounds."
Owing to the torch, Grace saw her first, and uttered a little
scream; a loud scream of rapture replied: the torch went anywhere,
and gentle and simple were locked in each other's arms, Jael sobbing
for very joy after terror, and Grace for sympathy, and also because
she wanted to cry, on more accounts than one.
Another torch came on, and Jael cried triumphantly, "This way,
Squire. She is here!" and kissed her violently again.
Mr. Raby came up, and took her in his arms, without a word, being
broken with emotion: and, after he had shaken Coventry by both
hands, they all turned homeward, and went so fast that Coventry gave
in with a groan.
Then Grace told Jael what had befallen him, and just then another
torch came in, held by George the blacksmith, who, at sight of the
party, uttered a stentorian cheer, and danced upon the snow.
"Behave, now," said Jael, "and here's the gentleman sore hurt in the
river; Geordie, come and make a chair with me."
George obeyed and put out his hands, with the fingers upward, Jael
did the same, with the fingers downward: they took hands, and,
putting their stalwart arms under Coventry, told him to fling an arm
round each of their necks: he did so, and up he went; he was no more
than a feather to this pair, the strongest man and woman in
As they went along, he told them his adventure in the stream, and,
when they heard it, they ejaculated to each other, and condoled with
him kindly, and assured him he was alive by a miracle.
They reached Raby, and, in the great hall, the Squire collected his
people and gave his orders. "Stop the bell. Broach a barrel of
ale, and keep open house, so long as malt, and bacon, and cheese
last. Turn neither body nor beast from my door this night, or may
God shut His gate in your faces. Here are two guineas, George, to
ring the church-bells, you and your fellows; but sup here first.
Cans of hot water upstairs, for us. Lay supper, instead of dinner;
brew a bowl of punch. Light all the Yule candles, as if it was
Christmas eve. But first down on your knees, all of ye, whilst I
thank God, who has baffled those Gabriel Hell-hounds for once, and
saved a good man and a bonny lass from a dog's death."
They all went down on their knees, on the marble floor, directly,
and the Squire uttered a few words of hearty thanksgiving, and there
was scarcely a dry eye.
Then the guests went upstairs, and had their hot baths, and changed
their clothes, and came down to supper in the blazing room.
Whilst they were at supper, the old servant who waited on them said
something in a low voice to his master. He replied that he would
speak to the man in the hall.
As soon as he was gone, Miss Carden said in French, "Did you hear
"Well, I did. Now, mind your promise. We shall have to fib. You
had better say nothing. Let me speak for you; ladies fib so much
better than gentlemen."
Mr. Raby came back, and Grace waited to see if he would tell her. I
don't think he intended to, at first: but he observed her eyes
inquiring, and said, "One of the men, who was out after you tonight,
has brought in word there is a light in Cairnhope old church."
"Do you believe it?"
"No. But it is a curious thing; a fortnight ago (I think, I told
you) a shepherd brought me the same story. He had seen the church
on fire; at least he said so. But mark the paralyzing effect of
superstition. My present informant no sooner saw this light--
probably a reflection from one of the distant torches--than he
coolly gave up searching for you. 'They are dead,' says he, 'and
the spirits in the old church are saying mass for their souls. I'll
go to supper.' So he came here to drink my ale, and tell his cock-
Grace put in her word with a sweet, candid face. "Sir, if there had
been a light in that church, should we not have seen it?"
"Why, of course you would: you must have been within a hundred yards
of it in your wanderings. I never thought of that."
Grace breathed again.
"However, we shall soon know. I have sent George and another man
right up to the church to look. It is quite clear now."
Grace felt very anxious, but she forced on a careless air. "And
suppose, after all, there should be a light?"
"Then George has his orders to come back and tell me; if there is a
light, it is no ghost nor spirit, but some smuggler, or poacher, or
vagrant, who is desecrating that sacred place; and I shall turn out
with fifty men, and surround the church, and capture the scoundrel,
and make an example of him."
Grace turned cold and looked at Mr. Coventry. She surprised a
twinkle of satisfaction in his eye. She never forgot it.
She sat on thorns, and was so distraite she could hardly answer the
At last, after an hour of cruel suspense, the servant came in, and
said, "George is come back, sir."
"Oh, please let him come in here, and tell us."
"By all means. Send him in."
George appeared, the next moment, in the doorway. "Well?" said Mr.
"Well?" said Grace, pale, but self-possessed.
"Well," said George, sulkily, "it is all a lie. Th' old church is
as black as my hat."
"I thought as much," said Mr. Raby. "There, go and get your
Soon after this Grace went up to bed, and Jael came to her, and they
talked by the fire while she was curling her hair. She was in high
spirits, and Jael eyed her with wonder and curiosity.
"But, miss," said Jael, "the magpie was right. Oh, the foul bird!
That's the only bird that wouldn't go into the ark with Noah and his
"Indeed! I was not aware of the circumstance."
"'Twas so, miss; and I know the reason. A very old woman told me."
"She must have been very old indeed, to be an authority on that
subject. Well, what was the reason?"
"She liked better to perch on the roof of th' ark, and jabber over
the drowning world; that was why. So, ever after that, when a
magpie flies across, turn back, or look to meet ill-luck."
"That is to say the worst creatures are stronger than their Creator,
and can bring us bad luck against His will. And you call yourself a
Christian? Why this is Paganism. They were frightened at ravens,
and you at magpies. A fig for your magpies! and another for your
Gabriel hounds! God is high above them all."
"Ay, sure; but these are signs of His will. Trouble and all comes
from God. And so, whenever you see a magpie, or hear those terrible
"Then tremble! for it is all to end in a bowl of punch, and a
roaring fire; and Mr. Raby, that passes for a Tartar, being so kind
to me; and me being in better spirits than I have been for ever so
"And oh, miss, to you. Why, what is the matter? I have been in
danger! Very well; am I the first? I have had an adventure! All
the better. Besides, it has shown me what good hearts there are in
the world, yours amongst the rest." (Kissing her.) "Now don't
interrupt, but listen to the words of the wise and their dark
sayings. Excitement is a blessing. Young ladies need it more than
anybody. Half the foolish things we do, it is because the old
people are so stupid and don't provide us enough innocent
excitement. Dancing till five is a good thing now and then; only
that is too bodily, and ends in a headache, and feeling stupider
than before. But to-night, what glorious excitement! Too late for
dinner--drenched with snow--lost on a mountain--anxiety--fear--the
Gabriel hounds--terror--despair--resignation--sudden relief--warm
stockings--delightful sympathy--petted on every side--hungry--happy--
fires--punch! I never lived till to-night--I never relished life
till now. How could I? I never saw Death nor Danger near enough to
be worth a straw."
Jael made no attempt to arrest this flow of spirits. She waited
quietly for a single pause, and then she laid her hand on the young
lady's, and, fastening her eyes on her, she said quietly,--
"You have seen HIM."
Grace Carden's face was scarlet in a moment, and she looked with a
rueful imploring glance, into those great gray searching eyes of
Her fine silvery tones of eloquence went off into a little piteous
whine "You are very cunning--to believe in a magpie." And she hid
her blushing face in her hands. She took an early opportunity of
sending this too sagacious rustic to bed.
Next day Mr. Coventry was so stiff and sore he did not come down to
breakfast. But Grace Carden, though very sleepy, made her
appearance, and had a most affectionate conversation with Mr. Raby.
She asked leave to christen him again. I must call you something,
you know, after all this. Mr. Raby is cold. Godpapa is childish.
What do you say to--'Uncle'?"
He said he should be delighted. Then she dipped her forefinger in
water. He drew back with horror.
"Come, young lady," said he, "I know it is an age of burlesque. But
let us spare the sacraments, and the altar, and such trifles."
"I am not half so wicked as you think," said Grace. Then she wrote
"Uncle" on his brow, and so settled that matter.
Mr. Coventry came down about noon, and resumed his courtship. He
was very tender, spoke of the perils they had endured together as an
additional tie, and pressed his suit with ardor.
But he found a great change in the lady.
Yesterday, on Cairnhope Peak, she was passive, but soft and
complying. To-day she was polite, but cool, and as slippery as an
eel. There was no pinning her.
And, at last, she said, "The fact is I'm thinking of our great
preservation, and more inclined to pray than flirt, for once."
"And so am I," said the man of tact; "but what I offer is a sacred
and life-long affection."
"Oh, of course."
"A few hours ago you did me the honor to listen to me. You even
hinted I might speak to your father."
"No, no. I only asked if you HAD spoken to him."
"I will not contradict you. I will trust to your own candor. Dear
Grace, tell me, have I been so unfortunate as to offend you since
"Have I lost your respect?"
"Have I forfeited your good opinion?"
"Dear me, no." (A little pettishly.)
"Then how is it that I love you better, if possible, than yesterday,
and you seem not to like me so well as yesterday?"
"One is not always in the same humor."
"Then you don't like me to-day?"
"Oh yes, but I do. And I shall always like you: if you don't tease
me, and urge me too much. It is hardly fair to hurry me so; I am
only a girl, and girls make such mistakes sometimes."
"That is true; they marry on too short an acquaintance. But you
have known me more than two years, and, in all that time, have I
once given you reason to think that you had a rival in my
admiration, my love?"
"I never watched you to see. But all that time you have certainly
honored me with your attention, and I do believe you love me more
than I deserve. Please do not be angry: do not be mortified. There
is no occasion; I am resolved not to marry until I am of age; that
is all; and where's the harm of that?"
"I will wait your pleasure; all I ask you, at present, is to relieve
me of my fears, by engaging yourself to me."
"Ah! but I have always been warned against long engagements."
"Long engagements! Why, how old are you, may I ask?"
"Only nineteen. Give me a little time to think."
"If I wait till you are of age, THAT WILL BE TWO YEARS."
"Just about. I was nineteen on the 12th of December. What is the
"Oh, nothing. A sudden twinge. A man does not get rolled over
sharp rocks, by a mountain torrent, for nothing."
"Never mind that, if I'm not to be punished in my heart as well.
This resolution, not to marry for two years, is it your own idea? or
has somebody put it into your head since we stood on Cairnhope, and
looked at Bollinghope?"
"Please give me credit for it," said Grace, turning very red: "it is
the only sensible one I have had for a long time."
Mr. Coventry groaned aloud, and turned very pale.
Grace said she wanted to go upstairs for her work, and so got away
She turned at the door, and saw him sink into a chair, with an agony
in his face that was quite new to him.
She fled to her own room, to think it all over, and she entered it
so rapidly that she caught Jael crying, and rocking herself before
The moment she came in Jael got up, and affected to be very busy,
arranging things; but always kept her back turned to Grace.
The young lady sat down, and leaned her cheek on her hand, and
reflected very sadly and seriously on the misery she had left in the
drawing-room, and the tears she had found here.
Accustomed to make others bright and happy by her bare presence,
this beautiful and unselfish young creature was shocked at the
misery she was sowing around her, and all for something her judgment
told her would prove a chimera. And again she asked herself was she
brave enough, and selfish enough, to defy her father and her
godfather, whose mind was written so clearly in that terrible
She sat there, cold at heart, a long time, and at last came to a
"Give me my writing-desk."
Jael brought it her.
"Sit down there where I can see you; and don't hide your tears from
me. I want to see you cry. I want every help. I wasn't born to
make everybody miserable: I am going to end it."
She wrote a little, and then she stopped, and sighed; then she wrote
a little more, and stopped, and sighed. Then she burned the letter,
and began again; and as she wrote, she sighed; and as she wrote on,
And, as she wrote on, the tears began to fall upon the paper.
It was piteous to see the struggle of this lovely girl, and the
patient fortitude that could sigh, and moan, and weep, yet go on
doing the brave act that made her sigh, and moan, and weep.
At last, the letter was finished, and directed; and Grace put it in
her bosom, and dismissed Jael abruptly, almost harshly, and sat
down, cold and miserable, before the fire.
At dinner-time her eyes were so red she would not appear. She
pleaded headache, and dined in her own room.
Meantime Mr. Coventry passed a bitter time.
He had heard young Little say, "Wait two years." And now Grace was
evading and procrastinating, and so, literally, obeying that young
man, with all manner of false pretenses. This was a revelation, and
cast back a bright light on many suspicious things he had observed
in the church.
He was tortured with jealous agony. And it added to his misery that
he could not see his way to any hostilities.
Little could easily be driven out of the country, for that matter;
he had himself told them both how certainly that would befall him if
he was betrayed to the Unions. But honor and gratitude forbade this
line; and Coventry, in the midst of his jealous agony, resisted that
temptation fiercely, would not allow his mind even to dwell upon it
for a moment.
He recalled all his experiences; and, after a sore struggle of
passion, he came to some such conclusion as this: that Grace would
have married him if she had not unexpectedly fallen in with Little,
under very peculiar and moving circumstances; that an accident of
this kind would never occur again, and he must patiently wear out
the effect of it.
He had observed that in playing an uphill game of love the lover
must constantly ask himself, "What should I do, were I to listen to
my heart?" and having ascertained that, must do the opposite. So
now Mr. Coventry grimly resolved to control his wishes for a time,
to hide his jealousy, to hide his knowledge of her deceit, to hide
his own anger. He would wait some months before he again asked her
to marry him, unless he saw a change in her; and, meantime, he would
lay himself out to please her, trusting to this, that there could be
no intercourse by letter between her and a workman, and they were
not likely to meet again in a hurry.
It required considerable fortitude to curb his love and jealousy,
and settle on this course. But he did conquer after a hard
struggle, and prepared to meet Miss Carden at dinner with artificial
But she did not appear; and that set Mr. Coventry thinking again.
Why should she have a headache? He had a rooted disbelief in
women's headaches. His own head had far more reason to ache, and
his heart too. He puzzled himself all dinner-time about this
headache, and was very bad company.
Soon after dinner he took a leaf out of her book, pretended
headache, and said he should like to take a turn by himself in the
What he really wanted to do was to watch Miss Carden's windows, for
he had all manner of ugly suspicions.
There seemed to be a strong light in the room. He could see no
He walked moodily up and down, very little satisfied with himself,
and at last he got ashamed of his own thoughts.
"Oh, no!" he said, "she is in her room, sure enough."
He turned his back, and strolled out into the road.
Presently he heard the rustle of a woman's dress. He stepped into
the shade of the firs directly, and his heart began to beat hard.
But it was only Jael Dence. She came out within a few yards of him.
She had something white in her hand, which, however, she
instinctively conveyed into her bosom the moment she found herself
in the moonlight. Coventry saw her do it though.
She turned to the left, and walked swiftly up the road.
Now Coventry knew nothing about this girl, except that she belonged
to a class with whom money generally goes a long way. And he now
asked himself whether it might not be well worth his while to enlist
her sympathies on his side.
While he was coming to this conclusion, Jael, who was gliding along
at a great pace, reached a turn in the road, and Mr. Coventry had to
run after her to catch her.
When he got to the turn in the road, she was just going round
another turn, having quickened her pace.
Coventry followed more leisurely. She might be going to meet her
sweetheart; and, if so, he had better talk to her on her return.
He walked on till he saw at some distance a building, with light
shining though it in a peculiar way; and now the path became very
rugged and difficult. He came to a standstill, and eyed the place
where his rival was working at that moment. He eyed it with a
strange mixture of feelings. It had saved his life and hers, after
all. He fell into another mood, and began to laugh at himself for
allowing himself to be disturbed by such a rival.
But what is this? Jael Dence comes in sight again: she is making
for the old church.
Coventry watched her unseen. She went to the porch, and, after she
had been there some time, the door was opened just a little, then
wide, and she entered the building. He saw it all in a moment: the
girl was already bought by the other side, and had carried his rival
a letter before his eyes.
A clandestine correspondence!
All his plans and his resolutions melted away before this discovery.
There was nothing to be done but to save the poor girl from this
miserable and degrading attachment, and its inevitable consequences.
He went home, pale with fury, and never once closed his eyes all
Next day he ordered his dog-cart early; and told Mr. Raby and Grace
he was going to Hillsborough for medical advice: had a pain in his
back he could not get rid of.
He called on the chief constable of Hillsborough, and asked him,
confidentially, if he knew any thing about a workman called Little.
"What; a Londoner, sir? the young man that is at odds with the
"I shouldn't wonder. Yes; I think he is. A friend of mine takes an
interest in him."
"And so do I. His case was a disgrace to the country, and to the
constabulary of the place. It occurred just ten days before I came
here, and it seems to me that nothing was done which ought to have
Mr. Coventry put in a question or two, which elicited from Mr.
Ransome all he knew about the matter.
"Where does this Little live?" was the next inquiry.
"I don't know; but I think you could learn at Mr. Cheetham's. The
only time I ever saw Little, he was walking with the foreman of
those works. He was pointed out to me. A dark young man; carries
himself remarkably well--doesn't look like a workman. If they don't
know at Cheetham's, I'll find him out for you in twenty-four hours."
"But this Grotait. Do you know him?"
"Oh, he is a public character. Keeps 'The Cutlers' Arms,' in Black
"I understand he repudiates all these outrages."
"He does. But the workmen themselves are behind the scenes; and
what do they call him? Why, 'Old Smitem.'"
"Ah! You are one of those who look below the surface," said the
He then turned the conversation, and, soon after, went away. He had
been adroit enough to put his questions in the languid way of a man
who had no personal curiosity, and was merely discharging a
Mr. Ransome, as a matter of form, took a short note of the
conversation; but attached no importance to it. However, he used
the means at his command to find out Little's abode. Not that Mr.
Coventry had positively asked him to do it; but, his attention being
thus unexpectedly called to the subject, he felt desirous to talk to
Little on his own account.
Mr. Coventry went straight to "The Cutlers' Arms," but he went
slowly. A powerful contest was now going on within him; jealousy
and rage urged him onward, honor and gratitude held him back. Then
came his self-deceiving heart, and suggested that Miss Carden had
been the first to break her promise (she had let Jael Dence into
Little's secret), and that he himself was being undermined by
cunning and deceit: strict notions of honor would be out of place in
such a combat. Lastly, he felt it his DUTY to save Miss Carden from
a degrading connection.
All these considerations, taken together, proved too strong for his
good faith; and so stifled the voice of conscience, that it could
only keep whispering against the deed, but not prevent it.
He went direct to "The Cutlers' Arms." He walked into the parlor
and ordered a glass of brandy-and-water, and asked if he could see
Mr. Grotait, privately. Mr. Grotait came in.
"Sit down, Mr. Grotait. Will you have any thing?"
"A glass of ale, sir, if you please."
When this had been brought, and left, and the parties were alone,
Coventry asked him whether he could receive a communication under a
strict promise of secrecy.
"If it is a trade matter, sir, you can trust me. A good many have."
"Well then, I can tell you something about a workman called Little.
But before I say a word, I must make two express conditions. One
is, that no violence shall be used toward him; the other, that you
never reveal to any human creature, it was I who told you."
"What, is he working still?"
"My conditions, Mr. Grotait?"
"I promise you absolute secrecy, sir, as far as you are concerned.
As to your other condition, the matter will work thus: if your
communication should be as important as you think, I can do nothing--
the man is not in the saw-trade--I shall carry the information to
two other secretaries, and shall not tell them I had it from Mr.
Coventry, of Bollinghope." (Mr. Coventry started at finding himself
known.) "Those gentlemen will be sure to advise with me, and I
shall suggest to them to take effectual measures, but to keep it, if
possible, from the knowledge of all those persons who discredit us
by their violent acts."
"Well then, on that understanding--the man works all night in a
deserted church at Cairnhope; it is all up among the hills."
Grotait turned red. "Are you sure of this?"
"You have seen him?"
"Has he a forge?"
"Yes; and bellows, and quantities of molds, and strips of steel. He
is working on a large scale."
"It shall be looked into, sir, by the proper persons. Indeed, the
sooner they are informed, the better."
"Yes, but mind, no violence. You are strong enough to drive him out
of the country without that."
"I should hope so."
Coventry then rose, and left the place; but he had no sooner got
into the street, than a sort of horror fell on him; horror of
himself, distrust and dread of the consequences, to his rival but
Almost at the door he was met by Mr. Ransome, who stopped him and
gave him Little's address; he had obtained it without difficulty
"I am glad you reminded me, sir," said he; "I shall call on him
myself, one of these days."
These words rang in Coventry's ears, and put him in a cold
perspiration. "Fool!" thought he, "to go and ask a public officer,
a man who hears every body in turn."
What he had done disinclined him to return to Cairnhope. He made a
call or two first, and loitered about, and then at last back to
Raby, gnawed with misgivings and incipient remorse.
Mr. Grotait sent immediately for Mr. Parkin, Mr. Jobson, and Mr.
Potter, and told them the secret information he had just received.
They could hardly believe it at first; Jobson, especially, was
incredulous. He said he had kept his eye on Little, and assured
them the man had gone into woodcarving, and was to be seen in the
town all day.
"Ay," said Parkin, "but this is at night; and, now I think of it, I
met him t'other day, about dusk, galloping east, as hard as he could
"My information is from a sure source," said Grotait, stiffly.
Parkin.--"What is to be done?"
Jobson.--"Is he worth another strike?"
Potter.--"The time is unfavorable: here's a slap of dull trade."
The three then put their heads together, and various plans were
suggested and discussed, and, as the parties were not now before the
public, that horror of gunpowder, vitriol, and life-preservers,
which figured in their notices and resolutions, did not appear in
their conversation. Grotait alone was silent and doubtful. This
Grotait was the greatest fanatic of the four, and, like all
fanatics, capable of vast cruelty: but his cruelty lay in his head,
rather than in his heart. Out of Trade questions, the man, though
vain and arrogant, was of a genial and rather a kindly nature; and,
even in Trade questions, being more intelligent than his fellows, he
was sometimes infested with a gleam of humanity.
His bigotry was, at this moment, disturbed by a visitation of that
"I'm perplexed," said he: "I don't often hesitate on a Trade
question neither. But the men we have done were always low-lived
blackguards, who would have destroyed us, if we had not disabled
them. Now this Little is a decent young chap. He struck at the
root of our Trades, so long as he wrought openly. But on the sly,
and nobody knowing but ourselves, mightn't it be as well to shut our
eyes a bit? My informant is not in trade."
The other three took a more personal view of the matter. Little was
outwitting, and resisting them. They saw nothing for it but to stop
him, by hook or by crook.
While they sat debating his case in whispers, and with their heads
so close you might have covered them all with a tea-tray, a clear
musical voice was heard to speak to the barmaid, and, by her
direction, in walked into the council-chamber--Mr. Henry Little.
This visit greatly surprised Messrs. Parkin, Jobson, and Potter, and
made them stare, and look at one another uneasily. But it did not
surprise Grotait so much, and it came about in the simplest way.
That morning, at about eleven o'clock, Dr. Amboyne had called on
Mrs. Little, and had asked Henry, rather stiffly, whether he was
quite forgetting Life, Labor and Capital. Now the young man could
not but feel that, for some time past, he had used the good doctor
ill; had neglected and almost forgotten his benevolent hobby; so the
doctor's gentle reproach went to his heart, and he said, "Give me a
day or two, sir, and I'll show you how ashamed I am of my selfish
behavior." True to his pledge, he collected all his notes together,
and prepared a report, to be illustrated with drawings. He then
went to Cheetham's, more as a matter of form than any thing, to see
if the condemned grindstone had been changed. To his infinite
surprise he found it had not, and Bayne told him the reason. Henry
was angry, and went direct to Grotait about it.
But as soon as he saw Jobson, and Parkin, and Potter, he started,
and they started. "Oh!" said he, "I didn't expect to find so much
good company. Why, here's the whole quorum."
"We will retire, sir, if you wish it."
"Not at all. My orders are to convert you all to Life, Labor, and
Capital (Grotait pricked up his ears directly); and, if I succeed,
the Devil will be the next to come round, no doubt. Well, Mr.
Grotait, Simmons is on that same grindstone you and I condemned.
And all for a matter of four shillings. I find that, in your trade,
the master provides the stone, but the grinder hangs and races it,
which, in one sense, is time lost. Well, Simmons declines the new
stone, unless Cheetham will pay him by time for hanging and racing
it; Cheetham refuses; and so, between them, that idiot works on a
faulty stone. Will you use your influence with the grinder?"
"Well, Mr. Little, now, between ourselves don't you think it rather
hard that the poor workman should have to hang and race the master's
grindstone for nothing?"
"Why, they share the loss between them. The stone costs the master
three pounds; and hanging it costs the workman only four or five
shillings. Where's the grievance?"
"Hanging and racing a stone shortens the grinder's life; fills his
lungs with grit. Is the workman to give Life and Labor for a
forenoon, and is Capital to contribute nothing? Is that your view
of Life, Labor, and Capital, young man?"
Henry was staggered a moment. "That is smart," said he. "But a rule
of trade is a rule, till it is altered by consent of the parties
that made it. Now, right or wrong, it is the rule of trade here
that the small grinders find their own stones, and pay for power;
but the saw-grinders are better off, for they have not to find
stones, nor power, and their only drawback is that they must hang
and race a new stone, which costs the master sixty shillings.
Cheetham is smarting under your rules, and you can't expect him to
go against any rule, that saves him a shilling."
"What does the grinder think?"
"You might as well ask what the grindstone thinks."
"Well, what does the grinder say, then?"
"Says he'd rather run the stone out, than lose a forenoon."
"Well, sir, it is his business."
"It may be a man's business to hang himself; but it is the
bystanders' to hinder him."
"You mistake me. I mean that the grinder is the only man who knows
whether a stone is safe."
"Well, but this grinder does not pretend his stone is safe. All he
says is, safe or not, he'll run it out. So now the question is,
will you pay four shillings from your box for this blockhead's loss
of time in hanging and racing a new stone?"
All the four secretaries opened their eyes with surprise at this.
But Grotait merely said he had no authority to do that; the funds of
the Union were set apart for specified purposes.
"Very likely," said Henry, getting warm: "but, when there's life to
be TAKEN, your Union can find money irregularly; so why grudge it,
when there's life to be saved perhaps, and ten times cheaper than
you pay for blood?"
"Young man," said Grotait, severely, "did you come here to insult us
with these worn-out slanders?"
"No, but I came to see whether you secretaries, who can find pounds
to assassinate men, and blow up women and children with gunpowder,
can find shillings to secure the life of one of your own members; he
risks it every time he mounts his horsing."
"Well, sir, the application is without precedent, and I must decline
it; but this I beg to do as courteously, as the application has been
"Oh, it is easy to be polite, when you've got no heart."
"You are the first ever brought that charge against me."
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself," said Potter, warmly. "No
heart! Mr. Grotait is known for a good husband, a tender father,
and the truest friend in Hillsborough."
The others echoed these sentiments warmly and sincerely; for, as
strange as it may appear to those who have not studied human nature
at first hand, every word of this eulogy was strictly true.
"Thank you, gentlemen," said Grotait. "But we must make allowances.
Mr. Little is smarting under a gross and dastardly outrage, and also
under a fair defeat; and thinks his opponents must be monsters. Now
I should like to show him the contrary. Let Simmons take care of
himself. You have given him good advice, and much to your credit:
now have you nothing to say to us, on your own account?"
"Not a word," said Henry, steadily
"But suppose I could suggest a way by which you could carry on your
trade in Hillsborough, and offend nobody?"
"I should decline to hear it even. You and I are at war on that.
You have done your worst, and I shall do my best to make you all
smart for it, the moment I get a chance."
Grotait's cheek reddened with anger at this rebuff, and it cost him
an effort to retain his friendly intentions. "Come, come," said he,
rather surlily, "don't be in a hurry till you have heard the nature
of my proposal. Here, Jess, a quart of the best ale. Now, to
begin, let us drink and be comfortable together."
He passed the glass to Little first. But the young man's blood was
boiling with his wrongs, and this patronizing air irritated him to
boot. He took the glass in his hand, "Here's quick exposure--sudden
death--and sure damnation--to all hypocrites and assassins!" He
drained the glass to this toast, flung sixpence on the table, and
strode out, white with passion himself, and leaving startled faces
"So be it," said Grotait; and his wicked little eye glittered
That same evening, a signal, well known to certain workmen in
Hillsborough, peeped in the window of "The Cutlers' Arms." And, in
consequence, six or seven ill-conditioned fellows gathered about the
doors and waited patiently for further information.
Amongst these was a sturdy fellow of about nine-and-twenty, whose
existence was a puzzle to his neighbors. During the last seven
years he had worked only eighteen months all together. The rest of
the time he had been on the Saw-Grinders' box, receiving relief,
viz.: seven shillings and sixpence for his wife, and two shillings
for each child; and every now and then he would be seen with three
or four sovereigns in his possession.
The name of this masterful beggar, of this invalid in theory, who,
in fact, could eat three pounds of steak at a sitting, was Biggs;
but it is a peculiarity of Hillsborough to defy baptismal names, and
substitute others deemed spicier. Out of the parish register and
the records of the police courts, the scamp was only known as Dan
This Dan stood, with others, loitering about "The Cutlers' Arms."
Presently out came Grotait, and surveyed the rascally lot. He
beckoned to Dan, and retired.
Dan went in after him.
"Drat his luck!" said one of the rejected candidates, "he always
gets the job." The rest then dispersed.
Tucker was shown into a pitch-dark room, and there a bargain was
struck between him and men unseen. He and two more were to go to
Cairnhope, and DO Little. He was to avoid all those men who had
lately stood at the door with him, and was to choose for his
companions Simmons the grinder, and one Sam Cole, a smooth,
plausible fellow, that had been in many a dark job, unsuspected even
by his wife and family, who were respectable.
Thus instructed, Tucker went to the other men, and soon reported to
Grotait that he had got Cole all right, but that Simmons looked
coldly on the job. He was in full work, for one thing, and said
Little had had his squeak already, and he didn't see following him
eleven miles off; he had, however, asked him whether Little had a
wife and children, which question he, Tucker, could not answer.
"But I can," said Grotait. "He is a bachelor. You can tell Simmons
so. There are reasons why Ned Simmons must be in this. Try him to-
morrow at dinner-time. Bid two pounds more; and--his wife is near
her time--tell him this job will help him buy her wine and things,"
said the kind, parental, diabolical Grotait.
Next morning Henry worked with the pen for Dr. Amboyne till twelve
o'clock. He then, still carrying out his friend's views, went down
to Mr Cheetham's words to talk to Simmons.
But he found an ill-looking fellow standing by the man's side, and
close at his ear. This was no other than Dan Tucker, who by a neat
coincidence was tempting him to DO Little.
Yesterday's conversation had unsettled Simmons, and he did not come
to work till twelve o'clock. He then fixed a small pulley-wheel to
his grindstone, to make up for lost time.
He was still resisting the tempter, but more faintly than yesterday,
when Little came in, and spoke to him. Both he and Dan were amazed
at his appearance on the scene at that particular moment. They
glared stupidly but said nothing.
"Look here, Simmons," said Little. "I have been to your friend
Grotait, and asked him to pay you for what you call time lost in
hanging and racing a new stone. He won't do it. That's your
FRIEND. Now I'm your ENEMY; so the Union says. Well, enemy or not,
I'll do what Grotait won't. I'll pay you the four shillings for
lost time, if you will stop that stone at once, and hang another."
"Why, what's wrong with the stone?"
"The best judge in Hillsborough condemned it; and now, if you are
not running it with an undersized pulley-wheel, to try it worse!"
Simmons got stupid and irritated between the two. His bit of
manhood revolted against Little's offer, made whilst he was half
lending his ear to Tucker's proposal; and, on the other hand, that
very offer irritated him with Tucker, for coming and tempting him to
DO this very Little, who was a good sort.
"---- you both!" said the rough fellow. "I wish you'd let me alone.
Here I've lost my morning's work already." Then to Little, "Mind
thyself, old lad. Happen thou's in more danger than I am."
"What d'ye mean by that?" said Little, very sharply.
But Simmons saw he had gone too far, and now maintained a sullen
Henry turned to Tucker. "I don't know who you are, but I call you
witness that I have done all I can for this idiot. Now, if he comes
to harm, his blood be upon his own head."
Then Henry went off in dudgeon, and, meeting Bayne in the yard, had
a long discussion with him on the subject.
The tempter took advantage of Little's angry departure, and steadily
resumed his temptation.
But he was interrupted in his turn.
The defect in this grindstone was not so serious but that the stone
might perhaps have been ground out with fair treatment: but, by
fixing a small pulley-wheel, Simmons had caused it to rotate at
furious speed. This tried it too hard, and it flew in two pieces,
just as the grinder was pressing down a heavy saw on it with all his
One piece, weighing about five hundredweight, tore the horsing
chains out of the floor, and went clean through the window (smashing
the wood-work), out into the yard, and was descending on Little's
head; but he heard the crash and saw it coming; he ran yelling out
of the way, and dragged Bayne with him. The other fragment went
straight up to the ceiling, and broke a heavy joist as if it had
been a cane; then fell down again plump, and would have destroyed
the grinder on the spot, had he been there; but the tremendous shock
had sent him flying clean over the squatter board, and he fell on
his stomach on the wheel-band of the next grindstone, and so close
to the drum, that, before any one could recover the shock and seize
him, the band drew him on to the drum, and the drum, which was
drawing away from the window, pounded him against the wall with
One ran and screamed to stop the power, another to cut the big
wheel-bands. All this took several seconds; and here seconds were
torn flesh and broken bones. Just as Little darted into the room,
pale with his own narrow escape, and awe-stricken at the cries of
horror within, the other grinders succeeded in dragging out, from
between the wall and the drum, a bag of broken bones and blood and
grease, which a minute before was Ned Simmons, and was talking over
a deed of violence to be done.
The others carried him and laid him on a horsing; and there they
still supported his head and his broken limbs, sick with horror.
The man's face was white, and his eyes stared, and his body
quivered. They sprinkled him with water.
Then he muttered, "All right. I am not much hurt.--Ay, but I am
though. I'm done for."
After the first terror of the scene had passed, the men were for
taking him to the infirmary. But Little interposed, eagerly, "No,
no. I'll pay the doctor myself sooner. He shall be nursed at home,
and have all that skill can do to save him. Oh, why, why would he
not listen to me?"
A stretcher was got, and a mattress put on it, and they carried him
through the streets, while one ran before to tell the unhappy wife,
and Little took her address, and ran to Dr. Amboyne. The doctor
went instantly to the sufferer.
Tucker assisted to carry the victim home. He then returned to
Grotait, and told him the news. Dan was not so hardened but what he
blubbered in telling it, and Grotait's eyes were moist with
They neither of them spoke out, and said, "This upsets our design on
Little." Each waited to see whether that job was to go on. Each
was ashamed to mention it now. So it came to a standstill.
As for Little, he was so shocked by this tragedy and so anxious
about its victim, that he would not go out to Cairnhope. He came,
in the evening to Dr. Amboyne, to inquire, "Can he live?"
"I can't say yet. He will never work again."
Then, after a silence, he fixed his eyes on young Little, and said,
"I am going to make a trial of your disposition. This is the man I
suspected of blowing you up; and I'm of the same opinion still."
"Then he has got his deserts," were Henry's first words, after a
pause of astonishment.
"Does that mean you forgive him, or you don't forgive him?"
"I dare say I should forgive the poor wretch, if he was to ask me."
"And not without?"
"No. I might try and put it out of my head; but that is all I could
"Is it true that you are the cause of his not being taken to the
"Yes, I said I'd pay out of my own pocket sooner; and I'm not the
sort to go from my word. The man shall want for nothing, sir. But
please don't ask me to love my enemies, and all that Rot. I scorn
hypocrisy. Every man hates his enemies; he may hate 'em out like a
man, or palaver 'em, and beg God to forgive 'em (and that means damn
'em), and hate 'em like a sneak; but he always hates 'em."
The doctor laughed heartily. "Oh, how refreshing a thing it is to
fall in with a fellow who speaks his real mind. However, I am not
your enemy, am I?"
"No. You are the best friend I ever had--except my mother."
"I am glad you think so; because I have a favor to ask you."
"Granted, before ever you speak."
"I want to know, for certain, whether Simmons was the man who blew
you up; and I see but one way of learning it. You must visit him
and be kind to him; and then my art tells me, he won't leave the
world without telling you. Oblige me by taking him this bottle of
wine, at once, and also this sedative, which you can administer if
he is in violent pain, but not otherwise."
"Doctor," said the young man, "you always get your own way with me.
And so you ought."
Little stood by Simmons's bedside.
The man's eye was set, his cheek streaked with red, and his head was
bandaged. He labored in breathing.
Young Little looked at him gravely, and wondered whether this
battered figure was really the man who had so nearly destroyed him.
After some minutes of this contemplation, he said gravely "Simmons,
I have brought you some wine."
The man stared at him, and seemed confused. He made no reply.
"Give me a spoon," said Henry.
Mrs. Simmons sat by the bedside rocking herself; she was stupefied
with grief; but her sister, a handy girl, had come to her in her
trouble: she brought Henry a spoon directly.
He poured out a little wine, and put it to the sufferer's lips. He
drank it, and said it was rare good stuff. Henry gave him a little
Simmons then looked at him more intelligently and attentively, and