Part 6 out of 13
gave a sort of shiver. "Who be you?"
"Henry Little; who advised you not to run that stone."
"Ah!" said Simmons, "I thought it was you." He seemed puzzled.
But, after a while, he said, "I wish I had hearkened thee, lad.
Give me some more of yonder stuff. What is it?"
"Port wine." Then he turned to the girl, and gave her a sovereign,
and sent her out for some mutton-chops. "Meat and wine are all the
physic you are to have, my poor fellow."
"It won't be for long, lad. And a good job too. For I'm a bad 'un.
I'm a bad 'un."
Henry then turned to the poor woman, and tried to say something to
console her, but the words stuck in his throat. She was evidently
near her confinement; and there lay her husband, worse than in his
grave. Little broke down himself, while trying to comfort her.
The sufferer heard him, and said, all of a sudden, "Hold a light
Henry took the candle, and held it over him.
"Nay, nay, it is thy face I want to see."
Henry was puzzled at the request, but did as he was asked.
Simmons gave a groan. "Ay," said he, "thou'st all right. And I lie
here. That seems queer."
The sister now returned, and Henry wrote her his address, and
conversed with her, and told her the whole story of the grindstone,
and said that, as he had hindered Simmons from being taken to the
infirmary, he felt bound to see he did not suffer by that
interference. He gave her his address, and said, if anything was
wanted, she must come to him, or to his mother if he should be out.
No doubt the women talked of his kindness by the sick bed, and
Simmons heard it.
Early in the morning Eliza Watney called at Little's house, with her
eyes very red, and said her brother-in-law wanted to speak to him.
He went with her directly; and, on the road, asked her what it was
"I'm ashamed to tell you," said she, and burst out crying. "But I
hope God will reward you; and forgive him: he is a very ignorant
"Here I am, Simmons."
"So I see."
"Anything I can do for you?"
"You sent for me."
"Did I? Well, I dare say I did. But gi' me time. Gi' me time.
It's noane so easy to look a man in the face, and tell him what I'm
to tell thee. But I can't die with it on me. It chokes me, ever
since you brought me yonder stuff, and the women set a-talking. I
say--old lad--'twas I did thee yon little job at Cheetham's. But I
knew no better."
There was a dead silence. And then Henry spoke.
"Who set you on?"
"Nay, that's their business."
"How did you do it?"
At this question--will it be believed?--the penitent's eye twinkled
with momentary vanity. "I fastened a tea-cup to an iron rake, and
filled the cup with powder; then I passed it in, and spilt the
powder out of cup, and raked it in to the smithy slack, and so on,
filling and raking in. But I did thee one good turn, lad; I put
powder as far from bellows as I could. Eh, but I was a bad 'un to
do the like to thee; and thou's a good 'un to come here. When I saw
thee lie there, all scorched and shaking, I didn't like my work; and
now I hate it. But I knew no better at the time. And, you see,
I've got it worse myself. And cheap served too."
"Oh, Mr. Little," said Eliza Watney; "TRY and forgive him."
"My girl," said Henry, solemnly, "I thought I never could forgive
the man who did that cruel deed to me, and I had never injured any
one. But it is hard to know one's own mind, let alone another
man's. Now I look at him lying pale and battered there, it seems
all wiped out. I forgive you, my poor fellow, and I hope God will
forgive you too."
"Nay. He is not so soft as thou. This is how He forgives me. But
I knew no better. Old gal, learn the young 'un to read, that's
coming just as I'm going; it is sore against a chap if he can't
read. Right and wrong d--n 'em, they are locked up in books, I
think: locked away from a chap like me. I know a little better now.
But, eh, dear, dear, it is come too late." And now the poor wretch
began to cry at a gleam of knowledge of right and wrong having come
to him only just when he could no longer profit by it.
Henry left him at last, with the tears in his eyes. He promised
them all to come every day.
He called on Dr. Amboyne, and said, "You are always right, doctor.
Simmons was the man, he has owned it, and I forgave him."
He then went and told Mr. Holdfast. That gentleman was much pleased
at the discovery, and said, "Ah, but who employed him? That is what
you must discover."
"I will try," said Henry. "The poor fellow had half a mind to make
a clean breast; but I didn't like to worry him over it."
Returning home he fell in with Grotait and Parkin. They were
talking earnestly at the door of a public-house, and the question
they were discussing was whether or not Little's affair should be
They were both a good deal staggered by the fate of Simmons, Parkin
especially, who was rather superstitious. He had changed sides, and
was now inclined to connive, or, at all events to temporize; to
abandon the matter till a more convenient time. Grotait, on the
other hand, whose vanity the young man had irritated, was bent on
dismounting his forge. But even he had cooled a little, and was now
disinclined to violence. He suggested that it must be easy to drive
a smith out of a church, by going to the parochial authorities; and
they could also send Little an anonymous letter, to tell him the
Trades had their eyes on him; by this double stroke, they would
probably bring him to some reasonable terms.
It certainly was a most unfortunate thing that Little passed that
way just then; unfortunate that Youth is so impetuous.
He crossed the street to speak to these two potentates, whom it was
his interest to let alone--if he could only have known it.
"Well, gentlemen, have you seen Simmons?"
"No," said Mr. Parkin.
"What, not been to see the poor fellow who owes his death to you?"
"He is not dead yet."
"No, thank Heaven! He has got a good work to do first; some
hypocrites, assassins, and cowards to expose."
Parkin turned pale; Grotait's eye glistened like a snake's: he made
Parkin a rapid signal to say nothing, but only listen.
"He has begun by telling me who it was that put gunpowder into my
forge, and how it was done. I have forgiven him. He was only the
tool of much worse villains; base, cowardly, sneaking villains.
Those I shall not forgive. Oh, I shall know all about it before
This information and threat, and the vindictive bitterness and
resolution with which the young man had delivered it, struck terror
into the gentle Parkin, and shook even Grotait. The latter,
however, soon recovered himself, and it became a battle for life or
death between him and Little.
He invited Parkin to his own place, and there the pair sat closeted.
Dan Tucker and Sam Cole were sent for.
Tucker came first. He was instantly dispatched to Simmons, with
money from the Saw Grinders' box. He was to ascertain how much
Simmons had let out, and to adjure him to be true to the Trade, and
split on no man but himself. When he had been gone about twenty
minutes, Sam Cole came in, and was instructed to get two other men
in place of Simmons, and be in readiness to do Little.
By-and-by Tucker returned with news. Simmons had at present split
only on himself; but the women were evidently in love with Little;
said he was their only friend; and he, Tucker, foresaw that, with
their co-operation, Simmons would be turned inside out by Little
before he died.
Grotait struck his hand on the table. "The Unions are in danger,"
said he. "There is but one way, Little must be made so that he
can't leave Cairnhope while Simmons is alive."
So important did the crisis appear to him, that he insisted on
Parkin going with him at once to Cairnhope, to reconnoiter the
Parkin had a gig and a fast horse: so, in ten minutes more, they
were on the road.
They reached Cairnhope, put up at the village inn, and soon
extracted some particulars about the church. They went up to it,
and examined it, and Grotait gave Parkin a leg up, to peer through
In this position they were nailed by old George.
"What be you at?"
"What is that to you?" said Grotait.
"It is plenty. You mustn't come trespassing here. Squire won't
"Trespassing in a churchyard! Why it belongs to all the world."
"Nay, this one belongs to the Lord o' the manor."
"Well, we won't hurt your church. Who keeps the key?"
Old George from this moment followed them about everywhere,
grumbling at their heels, like a mastiff.
Grotait, however, treated him with cool contempt, and proceeded to
make a sketch of the door, and a little map showing how the church
could be approached from Hillsborough on foot without passing
through Cairnhope village. This done, he went back with Parkin to
the inn, and thence to Hillsborough.
It was old Christmas Eve. Henry was working at his forge, little
dreaming of danger. Yet it was close at hand, and from two distinct
Four men, with crape masks, and provided with all manner of tools,
and armed with bludgeons, were creeping about the churchyard,
examining and listening. Their orders were to make Little so that
he should not leave Cairnhope for a month. And that, in plain
English, meant to beat him within an inch of his life, if not kill
At the same time, a body of nine men were stealing up the road, with
designs scarcely less hostile to Little.
These assailants were as yet at a considerable distance, but more
formidable in appearance than the others being most of them armed
with swords, and led by a man with a double-barreled gun.
Grotait's men, having well surveyed the ground, now crept softly up
to the porch, and examined the lock.
The key was inside, and they saw no means of forcing the lock
without making a noise, and putting their victim on his guard.
After a long whispered consultation, they resolved to unscrew the
These hinges were of great length, and were nailed upon the door,
but screwed into the door-post with four screws each.
Two men, with excellent tools, and masters of the business, went
softly to work. One stood, and worked on the upper screws; the
other kneeled, and unfastened the lower screws.
They made no more noise than a rat gnawing; yet, such was their
caution, and determination to surprise their victim, that they timed
all their work by Little's. Whenever the blows of his hammer
intermitted, they left off; and began again when he did.
When all the screws were out but two, one above, one below, they
beckoned the other two men, and these two drove large gimlets into
the door, and so held it that it might not fall forward when the
last screw should come out.
"Are all screws out?" whispered Cole, who was the leader.
"Ay," was the whispered reply.
"Then put in two more gimlets."
That was done.
"Now, men," whispered Cole. "Lay the door softly down outside:
then, up sticks--into church--and DO HIM!"
If Mr. Coventry, before he set all this mischief moving, could have
seen the INSIDE of Grace Carden's letter to Henry Little!
"DEAR MR. LITTLE,--I do not know whether I ought to write to you at
all, nor whether it is delicate of me to say what I am going; but
you have saved my life, and I do so want to do all I can to atone
for the pain I have given you, who have been so good to me. I am
afraid you will never know happiness, if you waste your invaluable
life longing after what is impossible. There is an impassable
barrier between you and me. But you might be happy if you would
condescend to take my advice, and let yourself see the beauty and
the goodness of another. The person who bears this letter comes
nearer to perfection than any other woman I ever saw. If you would
trust my judgment (and, believe me, I am not to be mistaken in one
of my own sex), if you could turn your heart toward her, she would
make you very happy. I am sure she could love you devotedly, if she
only heard those words from your lips, which every woman requires to
hear before she surrenders her affections. Pray do not be angry
with me; pray do not think it cost me little to give this strange
but honest advice to one I admire so. But I feel it would be so
weak and selfish in me to cling to that, which, sooner or later, I
must resign, and to make so many persons unhappy, when all might be
happy, except perhaps myself.
"Once more, forgive me. Do not think me blind; do not think me
heartless; but say, this is a poor girl, who is sadly perplexed, and
is trying very hard to be good and wise, and not selfish.
"One line, to say you will consider my advice, and never hate nor
despise your grateful and unhappy friend.
When she had dispatched this letter, she felt heroic.
The next day, she wished she had not written it, and awaited the
reply with anxiety.
The next day, she began to wonder at Little's silence: and by-and-by
she was offended at it. Surely what she had written with so great
an effort was worth a reply.
Finally, she got it into her head that Little despised her. Upon
this she was angry with him for not seeing what a sacrifice she had
made, and for despising her, instead of admiring her a little, and
pitying her ever so much. The old story in short--a girl vexed with
a man for letting her throw dust in his eyes.
And, if she was vexed with Little for not appreciating her
sacrifice, she was quite as angry with Coventry and Jael for being
the causes of that unappreciated sacrifice. So then she was
irritable and cross. But she could not be that long: so she fell
into a languid, listless state: and then she let herself drift. She
never sent Jael to the church again.
Mr. Coventry watched all her moods; and when she reached the
listless stage, he came softly on again, and began to recover his
On the fifth of January occurred a rather curious coincidence. In
Hillsborough Dr. Amboyne offered his services to Mrs. Little to
reconcile her and her brother. Mrs. Little feared the proposal came
too late: but showed an inclination to be reconciled for Henry's
sake. But Henry said he would never be reconciled to a man who had
insulted his mother. He then reminded her she had sent him
clandestinely into Raby Hall to see her picture. "And what did I
see? Your picture was turned with its face to the wall, and
insulting words written on the back--'Gone into trade.' I didn't
mean to tell yell, mother; but you see I have. And, after that, you
may be reconciled to the old scoundrel if you like; but don't ask
me." Mrs. Little was deeply wounded by this revelation. She tried
to make light of it, but failed. She had been a beauty, and the
affront was too bitter. Said she, "You mustn't judge him like other
people: he was always so very eccentric. Turn my picture to the
wall! My poor picture! Oh, Guy, Guy, could one mother have borne
you and me?" Amboyne had not a word more to say; he was indignant
Now that very afternoon, as if by the influence of what they call a
brain-wave, Grace Carden, who felt herself much stronger with Mr.
Raby than when she first came, was moved to ask him, with many
apologies, and no little inward tremor, whether she might see the
other side of that very picture before she went.
"Don't be angry, uncle dear. Curiosity."
"I do not like to refuse you anything, Grace. But-- Well, if I
lend you the key, will you satisfy your curiosity, and then replace
the picture as it is?"
"Yes, I will."
"And you shall do it when I am not in the room. It would only open
wounds that time has skinned. I'll bring you down the key at
dinner-time." Then, assuming a lighter tone, "Your curiosity will
be punished; you will see your rival in beauty. That will be new to
Grace was half frightened at her own success, and I doubt whether
she would ever have asked for the key again; but Raby's word was his
bond; he handed her the key at dinner-time.
Her eyes sparkled when she got it; but she was not to open it before
him; so she fell thinking: and she determined to get the gentlemen
into the drawing-room as soon as she could, and then slip back and
see this famous picture.
Accordingly she left the table rather earlier than usual, and sat
down to her piano in the drawing-room.
But, alas, her little maneuver was defeated. Instead of the
gentlemen leaving the dining-room, a servant was sent to recall her.
It was old Christmas Eve, and the Mummers were come.
Now, of all the old customs Mr. Raby had promised her, this was the
Accordingly, her curiosity took for the time another turn, and she
was soon seated in the dining-room, with Mr. Raby and Mr. Coventry,
awaiting the Mummers.
The servants then came in, and, when all was ready, the sound of a
fiddle was heard, and a fiddler, grotesquely dressed, entered along
with two clowns, one called the Tommy, dressed in chintz and a fox's
skin over his shoulders and a fox's head for a cap; and one, called
the Bessy, in a woman's gown and beaver hat.
This pair introduced the true dramatis personae, to the drollest
violin accompaniment, consisting of chords till the end of each
verse, and then a few notes of melody.
"Now the first that I call on
Is George, our noble king,
Long time he has been at war,
Good tidings back he'll bring.
Thereupon in came a man, with black breeches and red stripes at the
side, a white shirt decked with ribbons over his waistcoat, and a
little hat with streamers, and a sword.
The clown walked round in a ring, and King George followed him,
holding his sword upright.
Meantime the female clown chanted,--
"The next that we call on,
He is a squire's son;
He's like to lose his love,
Because he is so young.
The Squire's Son followed King George round the ring; and the
clowns, marching and singing at the head, introduced another, and
then another sword-dancer, all attired like the first, until there
were five marching round and round, each with his sword upright.
Then Foxey sang, to a violin accompaniment,
"Now, fiddler, then, take up thy fiddle,
Play the lads their hearts' desire,
Or else we'll break thy fiddle,
And fling thee a-back o' the fire."
On this the fiddler instantly played a dance-tune peculiar to this
occasion, and the five sword-dancers danced by themselves in a ring,
holding their swords out so as to form a cone.
Then a knot, prepared beforehand, was slipped over the swords, and
all the swords so knotted were held aloft by the first dancer; he
danced in the center awhile, under the connected swords, then deftly
drew his own sword out and handed it to the second dancer; the
second gave the third dancer his sword, and so on, in rotation, till
all the swords were resumed.
Raby's eyes sparkled with delight at all this, and he whispered his
comments on the verses and the dance.
"King George!" said he. "Bosh! This is the old story of St. George
and the Dragon, overburdened with modern additions." As to the
dance, he assured her that, though danced in honor of old Christmas,
it was older than Christianity, and came from the ancient Goths and
These comments were interrupted by a man, with a white face, who
burst into the assembly crying, "Will ye believe me now? Cairnhope
old church is all afire!"
"Ay, Squire," said Abel Eaves, for he was the bearer of this strange
news, "ye wouldn't believe ME, now come and see for yourself."
This announcement set all staring; and George the blacksmith did but
utter the general sentiment when, suddenly dropping his assumed
character of King George, he said, "Bless us and save us! True
Christmas Eve; and Cairnhope old church alight!"
Then there was a furious buzz of tongues, and, in the midst of it
Mr. Raby disappeared, and the sword-dancers returned to the kitchen,
talking over this strange matter as they went.
Grace retired to the drawing-room followed by Coventry.
She sat silent some time, and he watched her keenly.
"I wonder what has become of Mr. Raby?"
Mr. Coventry did not know.
"I hope he is not going out."
"I should think not, it is a very cold night; clear, but frosty."
"Surely he would never go to see."
"Shall I inquire?"
"No; but that might put it into his head. But I wish I knew where
Presently a servant brought the tea in.
Miss Carden inquired after Mr. Raby.
"He is gone out, miss; but he won't be long, I was to tell you."
Grace felt terribly uneasy and restless! rang the bell and asked for
Jael Dence. The reply was that she had not been to the hall that
But, soon afterward, Jael came up from the village, and went into
the kitchen of Raby. There she heard news, which soon took her into
"Oh, miss," said she, "do you know where the squire is?"
"Gone to the church?" asked Grace, trembling.
"Ay, and all the sword-dancers at his back." And she stood there
and wrung her hands with dismay.
The ancients had a proverb, "Better is an army of stags with a lion
for their leader, than an army of lions with a stag for their
leader." The Cairnhope sword-dancers, though stout fellows and
strong against a mortal foe, were but stags against the
supernatural; yet, led by Guy Raby, they advanced upon the old
church with a pretty bold front, only they kept twenty yards in
their leader's rear. The order was to march in dead silence.
At the last turn in the road their leader suddenly halted, and,
kneeling on one knee, waved to his men to keep quiet: he had seen
several dark figures busy about the porch.
After many minutes of thrilling, yet chilling, expectation, he rose
and told his men, in a whisper, to follow him again.
The pace was now expedited greatly, and still Mr. Raby, with his
double-barreled gun in his hand, maintained a lead of some yards and
his men followed as noiselessly as they could, and made for the
church: sure enough it was lighted inside.
The young man who was thus beset by two distinct bands of enemies,
deserved a very different fate at the hands of his fellow-creatures.
For, at this moment, though any thing but happy himself, he was
working some hours every day for the good of mankind; and was every
day visiting as a friend the battered saw-grinder who had once put
his own life in mortal peril.
He had not fathomed the letter Grace had sent him. He was a young
man and a straightforward; he did not understand the amiable defects
of the female character. He studied every line of this letter, and
it angered and almost disgusted him. It was the letter of a lady;
but beneath the surface of gentleness and politeness lay a proposal
which he considered mean and cold-blooded. It lowered his esteem
His pride and indignation were roused, and battled with his love,
and they were aided by the healthy invigorating habits into which
Dr. Amboyne had at last inveigled him, and so he resisted: he wrote
more than one letter in reply to Grace Carden; but, when he came to
read them over and compare them with her gentle effusion, he was
ashamed of his harshness, and would not send the letter.
He fought on; philanthropy in Hillsborough, forging in Cairnhope
Church; and still he dreamed strange dreams now and then: for who
can work, both night and day, as this man did--with impunity?
One night he dreamed that he was working at his forge, when suddenly
the floor of the aisle burst, and a dead knight sprang from the
grave with a single bound, and stood erect before him, in rusty
armor: out of his helmet looked two eyes like black diamonds, and a
nose like a falcon's. Yet, by one of the droll contradictions of a
dream, this impetuous, warlike form no sooner opened its lips, than
out issued a lackadaisical whine. "See my breastplate, good sir,"
said he. "It was bright as silver when I made it--I was like you, I
forged my own weapons, forged them with these hands. But now the
damps of the grave have rusted it. Odsbodikins! is this a thing for
a good knight to appear in before his judge? And to-morrow is
doomsday, so they all say."
Then Henry pitied the poor simple knight (in his dream), and offered
his services to polish the corslet up a bit against that great
occasion. He pointed toward his forge, and the knight marched to
it, in three wide steps that savored strongly of theatrical
burlesque. But the moment he saw the specimens of Henry's work
lying about, he drew back, and wheeled upon the man of the day with
huge disdain. "What," said he, "do you forge toys! Learn that a
gentleman can only forge those weapons of war that gentlemen do use.
And I took you for a Raby!"
With these bitter words he vanished, with flashing eyes and a look
of magnificent scorn, and left his fiery, haughty features imprinted
clearly on Henry's memory.
One evening, as he plied his hammer, he heard a light sound at a
window, in an interval of his own noise. He looked hastily up, and
caught a momentary sight of a face disappearing from the window. It
was gone like a flash even as he caught sight of it.
Transient as the glance was, it shook him greatly. He heated a bar
of iron white hot at one end, and sallied out into the night. But
there was not a creature to be seen.
Then he called aloud, "Who's there?" No reply. "Jael, was it you?"
He returned to his work, and set the appearance down to an ocular
illusion. But his dreams had been so vivid, that this really seemed
only one step more into the realm of hallucination.
This was an unfortunate view of the matter.
On old Christmas Eve he lighted the fires in his mausoleum first,
and at last succeeded in writing a letter to Grace Carden. He got
out of the difficulty in the best way, by making it very short. He
put it in an envelope, and addressed it, intending to give it to
Jael Dence, from whom he was always expecting a second visit.
He then lighted his forge, and soon the old walls were ringing again
with the blows of his hammer.
It was ten o'clock at night; a clear frosty night; but he was heated
and perspiring with his ardent work, when, all of a sudden, a cold
air seemed to come in upon him from a new quarter--the door. He
left his forge, and took a few steps to where he could see the door.
Instead of the door, he saw the blue sky.
He uttered an exclamation, and rubbed his eyes.
It was no hallucination. The door lay flat on the ground, and the
stars glittered in the horizon.
Young Little ran toward the door; but, when he got near it, he
paused, and a dire misgiving quelled him. A workman soon recognizes
a workman's hand; and he saw Hillsborough cunning and skill in this
feat, and Hillsborough cunning and cruelty lurking in ambush at the
He went back to his forge, and, the truth must be told, his knees
felt weak under him with fears of what was to come.
He searched about for weapons, and could find nothing to protect him
against numbers. Pistols he had: but, from a wretched over-
security, he had never brought them to Cairnhope Church.
Oh, it was an era of agony that minute, in which, after avoiding the
ambuscade that he felt sure awaited him at the door, he had nothing
on earth he could do but wait and see what was to come next.
He knew that however small his chance of escape by fighting, it was
his only one; and he resolved to receive the attack where he was.
He blew his bellows and, cold at heart, affected to forge.
Dusky forms stole into the old church.
Little blew his coals to a white heat: then took his hammer into his
left hand, and his little iron shovel, a weapon about two feet long,
into his right.
Three assailants crept toward him, and his position was such that
two at least could assail him front and rear. He counted on that,
and measured their approach with pale cheek but glittering eye, and
thrust his shovel deep into the white coals.
They crept nearer and nearer, and, at last, made an almost
simultaneous rush on him back and front.
The man in the rear was a shade in advance of the other. Little,
whose whole soul was in arms, had calculated on this, and turning as
they came at him, sent a shovelful of fiery coals into that nearest
assailant's face, then stepped swiftly out of the way of the other,
who struck at him too immediately for him to parry; ere he could
recover the wasted blow, Little's hot shovel came down in his head
with tremendous force, and laid him senseless and bleeding on the
hearth, with blood running from his ears.
Little ladled the coals right and left on the other two assailants,
one of whom was already yelling with the pain of the first
shovelful; then, vaulting suddenly over a pew, he ran for the door.
There he was encountered by Sam Cole, an accomplished cudgel-player,
who parried his blows coolly, and gave him a severe rap on the head
that dazzled him. But he fought on, till he heard footsteps coming
behind him, and then rage and despair seized him, he drew back,
shifted his hammer into his right hand and hurled it with all his
force at Cole's breast, for he feared to miss his head. Had it
struck him on the breast, delivered as it was, it would probably
have smashed his breastbone, and killed him; but it struck him on
his throat, which was, in some degree, protected by a muffler: it
struck him and sent him flying like a feather: he fell on his back
in the porch, yards from where he received that prodigious blow.
Henry was bounding out after him, when he was seized from behind,
and the next moment another seized him too, and his right hand was
now disarmed by throwing away the hammer.
He struggled furiously with them, and twice he shook them off, and
struck them with his fist, and jobbed them with his shovel quick and
short, as a horse kicking.
But one was cunning enough to make a feint at his face, and then
fell down and lay hold of his knees: he was about to pulverize this
fellow with one blow of his shovel, when the other flung his arms
round him. It became a mere struggle. Such was his fury and his
vigor, however, that they could not master him. He played his head
like a snake, so that they could not seize him disadvantageously;
and at last he dropped his shovel and got them both by the throat,
and grasped them so fiercely that their faces were purple, and their
eyes beginning to fix, when to his dismay, he received a violent
blow on the right arm that nearly broke it: he let go, with a cry of
pain, and with his left hand twisted the other man round so quickly,
that he received the next blow of Cole's cudgel. Then he dashed his
left fist into Cole's eye, who staggered, but still barred the way;
so Little rushed upon him, and got him by the throat, and would soon
have settled him: but the others recovered themselves ere he could
squeeze all the wind out of Cole, and it became a struggle of three
He dragged them all three about with him; he kicked, he hit, he did
every thing that a man with one hand, and a lion's heart, could do.
But gradually they got the better of him; and at last it came to
this, that two were struggling on the ground with him, and Cole
standing over them all three, ready to strike.
"Now, hold him so, while I settle him," cried Cole, and raised his
It came down on Little's shoulder, and only just missed his head.
Again it came down, and with terrible force.
Up to this time he had fought as mute as a fox. But now that it had
come to mere butchery, he cried out, in his agony, "They'll kill me.
My mother! Help! Murder! Help!"
"Ay! thou'lt never forge no more!" roared Cole, and thwack came down
the crushing bludgeon.
"Help! Murder! Help!" screamed the victim, more faintly; and at
the next blow more faintly still.
But again the murderous cudgel was lifted high, to descend upon his
As the confederates held the now breathless and despairing victim to
receive the blow, and the butcher, with one eye closed by Henry's
fist, but the other gleaming savagely, raised the cudgel to finish
him, Henry saw a huge tongue of flame pour out at them all, from
outside the church, and a report, that sounded like a cannon, was
accompanied by the vicious ping of shot. Cole screamed and yelled,
and dropped his cudgel, and his face was covered with blood in a
moment; he yelled, and covered his face with his hands; and
instantly came another flash, another report, another cruel ping of
shot, and this time his hands were covered with blood.
The others rolled yelling out of the line of fire, and ran up the
aisle for their lives.
Cole, yelling, tried to follow; but Henry, though sick and weak with
the blows, caught him, and clung to his knees, and the next moment
the place was filled with men carrying torches and gleaming swords,
and led by a gentleman, who stood over Henry, in evening dress, but
with the haughty expanded nostrils, the brilliant black eyes, and
all the features of that knight in rusty armor who had come to him
in his dream and left him with scorn.
At this moment a crash was heard: two of the culprits, with
desperate agility, had leaped on to the vestry chest, and from that
on to the horse, and from him headlong out of the window.
Mr. Raby dispatched all his men but one in pursuit, with this brief
order--"Take them, alive or dead--doesn't matter which--they are
only cutlers; and cowards."
His next word was to Cole. "What, three blackguards to one!--that's
how Hillsborough fights, eh?"
"I'm not a blackguard," said Henry, faintly.
"That remains to be proved, sir," said Raby, grimly.
Henry made answer by fainting away.
When Henry Little came to himself, he was seated on men's hands, and
being carried through the keen refreshing air. Mr. Raby was
striding on in front; the horse's hoofs were clamping along on the
hard road behind; and he himself was surrounded by swordsmen in
He opened his eyes, and thought, of course, it was another vision.
But no, the man, with whose blows his body was sore, and his right
arm utterly numbed, walked close to him between two sword-dancers
with Raby-marks and Little-marks upon him, viz., a face spotted with
blood, and a black eye.
"Eh, that's music to me," said a friendly voice close to him. It
was the King George of the lyrical drama, and, out of poetry, George
"What, it is you, is it?" said Little.
"Ay, sir, and a joyful man to hear you speak again. The cowardly
varmint! And to think they have all got clear but this one! Are ye
sore hurt, sir?"
"I'm in awful pain, but no bones broken." Then, in a whisper--
"Where are you taking me, George?"
"To Raby Hall," was the whispered reply.
"Not for all the world! if you are my friend, put me down, and let
me slip away."
"Don't ask me, don't ask me," said George, in great distress. "How
could I look Squire in the face? He did put you in my charge."
"Then I'm a prisoner!" said Henry, sternly.
George hung his head, but made no reply.
Henry also maintained a sullen silence after that.
The lights of Raby came in sight.
That house contained two women, who awaited the result of the
nocturnal expedition with terrible anxiety.
Its fate, they both felt, had been determined before they even knew
that the expedition had started.
They had nothing to do but to wait, and pray that Henry had made his
escape, or else had not been so mad as to attempt resistance.
In this view of things, the number and even the arms of his
assailants were some comfort to them, as rendering resistance
As for Mr. Coventry, he was secretly delighted. His conscience was
relieved. Raby would now drive his rival out of the church and out
of the country without the help of the Trades, and his act of
treachery and bad faith would be harmless. Things had taken the
happiest possible turn for him.
For all that, this courtier affected sympathy, and even some
anxiety, to please Miss Carden, and divert all suspicion from
himself. But the true ring was wanting to his words, and both the
women felt them jar, and got away from him, and laid their heads
together, in agitated whispers. And the result was, they put shawls
over their heads, and went together out into the night.
They ran up the road, sighing and clasping their hands, but no
At the first turn they saw the whole body coming toward them.
"I'll soon know," said Jael, struggling with her agitation. "Don't
you be seen, miss; that might anger the Squire; and, oh, he will be
a wrathful man this night, if he caught him working in yonder
Grace then slipped back, and Jael ran on. But no sooner did she
come up with the party, than Raby ordered her back, in a tone she
dared not resist.
She ran back, and told Grace they were carrying him in, hurt, and
the Squire's eyes were like hot coals.
Grace slipped into the drawing-room and kept the door ajar.
Soon afterward, Raby, his men, and his prisoners, entered the hall,
and Grace heard Raby say, "Bring the prisoners into the dining-
Grace Carden sat down, and leaned her head upon her hand, and her
little foot beat the ground, all in a flutter.
But this ended in a spirited resolve. She rose, pale, but firm, and
said, "Come with me, Jael;" and she walked straight into the dining-
room. Coventry strolled in after her.
The room was still brilliantly lighted. Mr. Raby was seated at his
writing-table at the far end, and the prisoners, well guarded, stood
ready to be examined.
"You can't come in here," was Mr. Raby's first word to Grace.
But she was prepared for this, and stood her ground. "Excuse me,
dear uncle, but I wish to see you administer justice; and, besides,
I believe I can tell you something about one of the prisoners."
"Indeed! that alters the case. Somebody give Miss Carden a chair."
She sat down, and fixed her eyes upon Henry Little--eyes that said
plainly, "I shall defend you, if necessary:" his pale cheek was
flushing at sight of her.
Mr. Raby arranged his papers to make notes, and turned to Cole.
"The charge against you is, that you were seen this night by several
persons engaged in an assault of a cruel and aggravated character.
You, and two other men, attacked and overpowered an individual here
present; and, while he was helpless, and on the ground, you were
seen to raise a heavy cudgel (Got the cudgel, George?)--"
"Ay, your worship, here 'tis."
"--And to strike him several times on the head and limbs, with all
"Oh, cruel! cruel!"
"This won't do, Miss Carden; no observations, please. In
consequence of which blows he soon after swooned away, and was for
some time unconscious, and--"
"--For aught I know, may have received some permanent injury."
"Not he," said Cole; "he's all right. I'm the only man that is
hurt; and I've got it hot; he hit me with his hammer, and knocked me
down like a bullock. He's given me this black eye too."
"In self-defense, apparently. Which party attacked the other
"Why they attacked me, of course," said Henry. "Four of them."
"Four! I saw but three."
"Oh, I settled one at starting, up near the forge. Didn't you find
him?" (This to George.)
"Nay, we found none of the trash but this," indicating Cole, with a
contemptuous jerk of the thumb.
"Now, don't all speak at once," said Mr. Raby. "My advice to you is
to say nothing, or you'll probably make bad worse. But if you
choose to say anything, I'm bound to hear it."
"Well, sir," said Cole, in a carneying voice, "what I say is this:
what need we go to law over this? If you go against me for hitting
him with a stick, after he had hit me with a blacksmith's hammer, I
shall have to go against you for shooting me with a gun."
"That is between you and me, sir. You will find a bystander may
shoot a malefactor to save the life of a citizen. Confine your
defense, at present, to the point at issue. Have you any excuse, as
against this young man?" (To Henry.)--"You look pale. You can sit
down till your turn comes."
"Not in this house."
"And why not in this house, pray? Is your own house a better?"
No answer from Henry. A look of amazement and alarm from Grace.
But she was afraid to utter a word, after the admonition she had
"Well, sir," said Cole, "he was desecrating a church."
"So he was, and I shall talk to him in his turn. But you desecrated
it worse. He turned it into a blacksmith shop; you turned it into a
shambles. I shall commit you. You will be taken to Hillsborough
to-morrow; to-night you will remain in my strong-room. Fling him
down a mattress and some blankets, and give him plenty to eat and
drink; I wouldn't starve the devil on old Christmas Eve. There,
take him away. Stop; search his pockets before you leave him
Cole was taken away, and Henry's turn came.
Just before this examination commenced, Grace clasped her hands, and
cast a deprecating look on Henry, as much as to say, "Be moderate."
And then her eyes roved to and fro, and the whole woman was in arms,
and on the watch.
Mr. Raby began on him. "As for you, your offense is not so criminal
in the eye of the law; but it is bad enough; you have broken into a
church by unlawful means; you have turned it into a smithy, defiled
the graves of the dead, and turned the tomb of a good knight into an
oven, to the scandal of men and the dishonor of god. Have you any
excuse to offer?"
"Plenty. I was plying an honest trade, in a country where freedom
is the law. The Hillsborough Unions combined against me, and
restrained my freedom, and threatened my life, ay, and attempted my
life too, before to-day: and so the injustice and cruelty of men
drove me to a sanctuary, me and my livelihood. Blame the Trades,
blame the public laws, blame the useless police: but you can't blame
me; a man must live."
"Why not set up your shop in the village? Why wantonly desecrate a
"The church was more secret, and more safe: and nobody worships in
it. The wind and the weather are allowed to destroy it; you care so
little for it you let it molder; then why howl if a fellow uses it
and keeps it warm?"
At this sally there was a broad rustic laugh, which, however, Mr.
Raby quelled with one glance of his eye.
"Come, don't be impertinent," said he to Little.
"Then don't you provoke a fellow," cried Henry, raising his voice.
Grace clasped her hands in dismay.
Jael Dence said, in her gravest and most mellow voice, "You do
forget the good Squire saved your life this very night."
This was like oil on all the waters.
"Well, certainly I oughtn't to forget that," said Henry,
apologetically. Then he appealed piteously to Jael, whose power
over him struck every body directly, including Grace Carden. "Look
here, you mustn't think, because I don't keep howling, I'm all
right. My arm is disabled: my back is almost broken: my thigh is
cut. I'm in sharp pain, all this time: and that makes a fellow
impatient of being lectured on the back of it all. Why doesn't he
let me go? I don't want to affront him now. All I want is to go
and get nursed a bit somewhere."
"Now that is the first word of reason and common sense you have
uttered, young man. It decides me not to detain you. All I shall
do, under the circumstances, is to clear your rubbish out of that
holy building, and watch it by night as well as day. Your property,
however, shall be collected, and delivered to you uninjured: so
oblige me with your name and address."
Henry made no reply.
Raby turned his eye full upon him.
"Surely you do not object to tell me your name."
"What are you afraid of? Do you doubt my word, when I tell you I
shall not proceed against you?"
"No: it is not that at all. But this is no place for me to utter my
father's name. We all have our secrets, sir. You have got yours.
There's a picture, with its face to the wall. Suppose I was to ask
you to tell all the world whose face it is you insult and hide from
Raby turned red with wrath and surprise, at this sudden thrust.
"You insolent young scoundrel!" he cried. "What is that to you, and
what connection can there be between that portrait and a man in your
way of life?"
"There's a close connection," said Henry, trembling with anger, in
his turn: "and the proof is that, when that picture is turned to the
light, I'll tell you my name: and, till that picture is turned to
the light, I'll not tell you my name; and if any body here knows my
name, and tells it you, may that person's tongue be blistered at the
"Oh, how fearful!" cried Grace, turning very pale. "But I'll put an
end to it all. I've got the key, and I've his permission, and I'll--
oh, Mr. Raby, there's something more in this than we know." She
darted to the picture, and unlocked the padlock, and, with Jael's
assistance, began to turn the picture. Then Mr. Raby rose and
seemed to bend his mind inward, but he neither forbade, nor
encouraged, this impulsive act of Grace Carden's.
Now there was not a man nor a woman in the room whose curiosity had
not been more or less excited about this picture; so there was a
general movement toward it, of all but Mr. Raby, who stood quite
still, turning his eye inward, and evidently much moved, though
There happened to be a strong light upon the picture, and the lovely
olive face, the vivid features, and glorious black eyes and
eyebrows, seemed to flash out of the canvas into life.
Even the living faces, being blondes, paled before it, in the one
particular of color. They seemed fair glittering moons, and this a
Grace's first feelings were those of simple surprise and admiration.
But, as she gazed, Henry's words returned to her, and all manner of
ideas struck her pell-mell. "Oh, beautiful! beautiful!" she cried.
Then, turning to Henry, "You are right; it was not a face to hide
from the world--oh! the likeness! just look at HIM, and then at her!
can I be mistaken?"
This appeal was made to the company, and roused curiosity to a high
pitch; every eye began to compare the dark-skinned beauty on the
wall with the swarthy young man, who now stood there, and submitted
in haughty silence to the comparison.
The words caught Mr. Raby's attention. He made a start, and
elbowing them all out of his way, strode up to the picture.
"What do you say, Miss Carden? What likeness can there be between
my sister and a smith?" and he turned and frowned haughtily on Henry
Henry returned his look of defiance directly.
But that very exchange of defiance brought out another likeness,
which Grace's quick eye seized directly.
"Why, he is still liker you," she cried. "Look, good people! Look
at all three. Look at their great black eyes, and their brown hair.
Look at their dark skins, and their haughty noses. Oh, you needn't
blow your nostrils out at me, gentlemen; I am not a bit afraid of
either of you.--And then look at this lovely creature. She is a
Raby too, only softened down by her sweet womanliness. Look at them
all three, if they are not one flesh and blood, I have no eyes."
"Oh yes, miss; and this lady is his mother. For I have SEEN her;
and she is a sweet lady; and she told me I had a Cairnhope face, and
kissed me for it."
Upon this from Jael, the general conviction rose into a hum that
buzzed round the room.
Mr. Raby was struck with amazement. At last he turned slowly upon
Henry, and said, with stiff politeness, "Is your name Little, sir?"
"Little is my name, and I'm proud of it."
"Your name may be Little, but your face is Raby. All the better for
He then turned his back to the young man, and walked right in front
of the picture, and looked at it steadily and sadly.
It was a simple and natural action, yet somehow done in so imposing
a way, that the bystanders held their breath, to see what would
He gazed long and steadily on the picture, and his features worked
"Ay!" he said. "Nature makes no such faces nowadays. Poor
unfortunate girl!" And his voice faltered a moment.
He then began to utter, in a low grave voice, some things that took
every body by surprise, by the manner as well as the matter; for,
with his never once taking his eyes off the picture, and speaking in
a voice softened by the sudden presence of that womanly beauty, the
companion of his youth, it was just like a man speaking softly in a
"Thomas, this picture will remain as it is while I live."
"I find I can bear the sight of you. As we get older we get
tougher. You look as if you didn't want me to quarrel with your
son? Well, I will not: there has been quarreling enough. Any of
the loyal Dences here?" But he never even turned his head from the
picture to look for them.
"Only me, sir; Jael Dence, at your service. Father's not very
"Nathan, or Jael, it is all one, so that it is Dence. You'll take
that young gentleman home with you, and send him to bed. He'll want
nursing: for he got some ugly blows, and took them like a gentleman.
The young gentleman has a fancy for forging things--the Lord knows
what. He shall not forge things in a church, and defile the tombs
of his own forefathers; but" (with a groan) "he can forge in your
yard. All the snobs in Hillsborough sha'n't hinder him, if that is
his cursed hobby. Gentlemen are not to be dictated to by snobs.
Arm three men every night with guns; load the guns with ball, not
small shot, as I did; and if those ruffians molest him again, kill
them, and then come to me and complain of them. But, mind you kill
them first--complain afterward. And now take half-a-dozen of these
men with you, to carry him to the farm, if he needs it. THERE,
And still he never moved his eyes from the picture, and the words
seemed to drop out of him.
Henry stood bewildered, and, ere he could say anything that might
revive the dormant irritation of Mr. Raby against him, female tact
interposed. Grace clasped her hands to him, with tears in her eyes;
and as for Jael Dence, she assumed the authority with which she had
been invested and hurried him bodily away; and the sword-dancers all
gathered round him, and they carried him in triumphant procession,
with the fiddler playing, and George whistling, the favorite tune of
"Raby come home again," while every sturdy foot beat the hard and
ringing road in admirable keeping with that spirit-stirring march.
When he was gone, Grace crept up to Mr. Raby, who still stood before
the picture, and eyed it and thought of his youth. She took his arm
wondrous softly with her two hands, rested her sweet head against
his shoulder, and gazed at it along with him.
When she had nestled to him some time in this delicate attitude, she
turned her eyes up to him, and murmured, "how good, how noble you
are: and how I love you." Then, all in a moment, she curled round
his neck, and kissed him with a tender violence, that took him quite
As for Mr. Coventry, he had been reduced to a nullity, and escaped
attention all this time: he sat in gloomy silence, and watched with
chilled and foreboding heart the strange turn events had taken, and
were taking; events which he, and no other man, had set rolling.
Frederick Coventry, being still unacquainted with the contents of
Grace's letter, was now almost desperate. Grace Carden,
inaccessible to an unknown workman, would she be inaccessible to a
workman whom Mr. Raby, proud as he was, had publicly recognized as
his nephew? This was not to be expected. But something was to be
expected, viz., that in a few days the door would be closed with
scorn in the face of Frederick Coventry, the miserable traitor, who
had broken his solemn pledge, and betrayed his benefactor to those
who had all but assassinated him. Little would be sure to suspect
him, and the prisoner, when he came to be examined, would furnish
A cold perspiration bedewed his very back, when he recollected that
the chief constable would be present at Cole's examination, and
supply the link, even if there should be one missing. He had
serious thoughts of leaving the country at once.
Finding himself unobserved, he walked out of the room, and paced up
and down the hall.
His thoughts now took a practical form. He must bribe the prisoner
to hold his tongue.
But how? and when? and where?
After to-night there might be no opportunity of saying a word to
While he was debating this in his mind, Knight the butler crossed
Coventry stopped him, and asked where the prisoner was.
"Where Squire told us to put him, sir."
"No chance of his escaping--I hope?"
"Not he, sir.
"I should like to take a look at him."
Knight demurred. "Well, sir, you see the orders are--but, of
course, master won't mind you. I'll speak to him."
"No, it is not worth while. I am only anxious the villain should be
secure." This of course was a feeler.
"Oh, there's no fear of that. Why, he is in the strong room. It's
right above yours. If you'll come with me, sir, I'll show you the
door." Coventry accompanied him, and Thomas Knight showed him a
strong door with two enormous bolts outside, both shot.
Coventry felt despair, and affected satisfaction.
Then, after a pause, he said, "But is the window equally secure?"
"Two iron bars almost as thick as these bolts: and, if it stood
open, what could he do but break his neck, and cheat the gallows?
He is all right, sir; never you fear. We sarched him from head to
foot, and found no eend o' tools in his pockets. He is a deep 'un.
But we are Yorkshire too, as the saying is. He goes to Hillsbro'
town-hall to-morrow; and glad to be shut on him."
Coventry complimented him, and agreed with him that escape was
He then got a light, and went to his own bedroom, and sat down, cold
at heart, before the fire.
He sat in that state, till two o'clock in the morning, distracting
his brain with schemes, that were invented only to be dismissed as
At last an idea came to him. He took his fishing-rod, and put the
thinner joints together, and laid them on the bed. He then opened
his window very cautiously. But as that made some noise, he
remained quite quiet for full ten minutes. Then he got upon the
window-seat, and passed the fishing rod out. After one or two
attempts he struck the window above, with the fine end.
Instantly he heard a movement above, and a window cautiously opened.
He gave a low "Hem!"
"Who's that?" whispered the prisoner, from above.
"A man who wants you to escape."
"Nay; but I have no tools."
"What do you require?"
"I think I could do summut with a screw-driver."
"I'll send you one up."
The next minute a couple of small screw-drivers were passed up--part
of the furniture of his gun.
Cole worked hard, but silently, for about an hour, and then he
whispered down that he should be able to get a bar out. But how
high was it from the ground?
"About forty feet."
Coventry heard the man actually groan at the intelligence.
"Let yourself down on my window-sill. I can find you rope enough
"What, d'ye take me for a bird, that can light of a gate?"
"But the sill is solid stone, and full a foot wide."
"Say ye so, lad? Then luck is o' my side. Send up rope."
The rope was sent up, and presently was fast to something above and
dangled down a little past the window-sill.
"Put out a light on sill," whispered the voice above.
Then there was a long silence, during which Coventry's blood ran
As nothing further occurred, he whispered, "What is the matter?"
"My stomach fails me. Send me up a drop of brandy, will ye? Eh,
man, but this is queer work."
"I can't get it up to you; you must drink it here. Come, think! It
will be five years' penal servitude if you don't."
"Is the rope long enough?"
"Plenty for that."
Then there was another awful silence.
By-and-by a man's legs came dangling down, and Cole landed on the
sill, still holding tight by the rope. He swung down on the sill,
and slid into the room, perspiring and white with fear.
Coventry gave him some brandy directly,--Cole's trembling hand sent
it flying down his throat, and the two men stared at each ether.
"Why, it is a gentleman!"
"And do you really mean to see me clear?"
"Drink a little more brandy, and recover yourself, and then I'll
When the man was fortified and ready for fresh exertions, Coventry
told him he must try and slip out of the house at the front door: he
would lend him a feather and some oil to apply to the bolts if
When the plan of operation was settled, Coventry asked him how long
it would take him to get to Hillsborough.
"I can run it in two hours."
"Then if I give the alarm in an hour and a half, it won't hurt."
"Give me that start and you may send bloodhounds on my heels,
they'll never catch me."
"Now take off your shoes."
While he was taking them off, Cole eyed his unexpected friend very
keenly, and took stock of all his features.
When he was ready, Coventry opened his door very carefully, and
placed a light so as to be of some use to the fugitive. Cole
descended the stairs like a cat, and soon found the heavy bolts and
drew them; then slipped out into the night, and away, with fleet
foot and wondering heart, to Hillsborough.
Coventry put out his light and slipped into bed.
About four o'clock in the morning the whole house was alarmed with
loud cries, followed by two pistol-shots: and all those who ran out
of their bedrooms at all promptly, found Coventry in his nightgown
and trowsers, with a smoking pistol in his hand, which he said he
had discharged at a robber. The account he gave was, that he had
been suddenly awakened by hearing his door shut, and found his
window open; had slipped on his trowsers, got to his pistols, and
run out just in time to see a man opening the great front door: had
fired twice at him, and thought he must have hit him the second
On examining the window the rope was found dangling.
Instantly there was a rush to the strong-room.
The bird was flown.
"Ah!" said Coventry. "I felt there ought to be some one with him,
but I didn't like to interfere."
George the groom and another were mounted on swift horses, and took
the road to Hillsborough.
But Cole, with his start of a hundred minutes, was safe in a back
slum before they got half way.
What puzzled the servants most was how Cole could have unscrewed the
bar, and where he could have obtained the cord. And while they were
twisting this matter every way in hot discussion, Coventry quaked,
for he feared his little gunscrews would be discovered. But no,
they were not in the room.
It was a great mystery; but Raby said they ought to have searched
the man's body as well as his pockets.
He locked the cord up, however, and remarked it was a new one, and
had probably been bought in Hillsborough. He would try and learn
At breakfast-time a bullet was found in the door. Coventry
"Your mistake was missing the man, not hitting the door," said Raby.
"One comfort, I tickled the fellow with small shot. It shall be
slugs next time. All we can do now is to lay the matter before the
police. I must go into Hillsborough, I suppose."
He went into Hillsborough accordingly, and told the chief constable
the whole story, and deposited the piece of cord with him. He found
that zealous officer already acquainted with the outline of the
business, and on his mettle to discover the authors and agents of
the outrage, if possible. And it occurred to his sagacity that
there was at this moment a workman in Hillsborough, who must know
many secrets of the Trades, and had now nothing to gain by
Thus the attempt to do Little was more successful than it looks.
Its object was to keep Little and Simmons apart, and sure enough
those two men never met again in life.
But, on the other hand, this new crime imbittered two able men
against the Union, and put Grotait in immediate peril. Mr. Ransome
conferred with Mr. Holdfast and they both visited Simmons, and urged
him to make a clean breast before he left the world.
Simmons hesitated. He said repeatedly, "Gi' me time! gi' me time!"
Grotait heard of these visits, and was greatly alarmed. He set Dan
Tucker and another to watch by turns and report
Messrs. Holdfast and Ransome had an ally inside the house. Eliza
Watney had come in from another town, and had no Hillsborough
prejudices. She was furious at this new outrage on Little, who had
won her regard, and she hoped her brother-in-law would reveal all he
knew. Such a confession, she thought, might remove the stigma from
himself to those better-educated persons, who had made a tool of her
poor ignorant relative.
Accordingly no sooner did the nurse Little had provided inform her,
in a low voice, that there was A CHANGE, than she put on her bonnet,
and went in all haste to Mr. Holdfast, and also to the chief
constable, as she had promised them to do.
But of course she could not go without talking. She met an
acquaintance not far from the door, and told her Ned was near his
end, and she was going to tell the gentlemen.
Dan Tucker stepped up to this woman, and she was as open-mouthed to
him as Eliza had been to her. Dan went directly with the news to
Grotait came all in a hurry, but Holdfast was there before him, and
was actually exhorting Simmons to do a good action in his last
moments, and reveal those greater culprits who had employed him,
when Grotait, ill at ease, walked in, sat down at the foot of the
bed, and fixed his eye on Simmons.
Simmons caught sight of him and stared, but said nothing to him.
Yet, when Holdfast had done, Simmons was observed to look at
Grotait, though he replied to the other. "If you was a Hillsbro'
man, you'd know we tell on dead folk, but not on quick. I told on
Ned Simmons, because he was as good as dead; but to tell on Trade,
"And I think, my poor fellow," suggested Grotait, smoothly, "you
might spend your last moments better in telling US what you would
wish the Trade to do for your wife, and the child if it lives."
"Well, I think ye might make the old gal an allowance till she
"Oh, Ned! Ned!" cried the poor woman. "I'll have no man after thee."
And a violent burst of grief followed.
"Thou'll do like the rest," said the dying man. "Hold thy
bellering, and let me speak, that's got no time to lose. How much
will ye allow her, old lad?"
"Six shillings a week, Ned."
"And what is to come of young 'un?"
"We'll apprentice him."
"To my trade?"
"You know better than that, Ned. You are a freeman; but he won't be
a freeman's son by our law, thou knowst. But there's plenty of
outside trades in Hillsbro'. We'll bind him to one of those, and
keep an eye on him, for thy sake."
"Well, I must take what I can get."
"And little enough too," said Eliza Watney. "Now do you know that
they have set upon Mr. Little and beaten him within an inch of his
life? Oh, Ned, you can't approve that, and him our best friend."
"Who says I approve it, thou fool?"
"Then tell the gentleman who the villain was; for I believe you
"I'll tell 'em summut about it."
Grotait turned pale; but still kept his glittering eye fixed on the
"The job was offered to me; but I wouldn't be in it. I know that
much. Says I, 'He has had his squeak.'"
"Who offered you the job?" asked Mr. Holdfast. And at this moment
Ransome came in.
"What, another black coat!" said Simmons. "----, if you are not
like so many crows over a dead horse." He then began to wander, and
Holdfast's question remained unanswered.
This aberration continued so long, and accompanied with such
interruptions of the breathing, that both Holdfast and Ransome
despaired of ever hearing another rational word from the man's lips.
They lingered on, however, and still Grotait sat at the foot of the
bed, with his glittering eye fixed on the dying man.
Presently Simmons became silent, and reflected.
"Who offered me the job to do Little?" said he, in a clear rational
"Yes," said Mr. Holdfast. "And who paid you to blow up the forge?"
Simmons made no reply. His fast fleeting powers appeared unable now
to hold an idea for above a second or two.
Yet, after another short interval, he seemed to go back a second
time to the subject as intelligibly as ever.
"Master Editor!" said he, with a sort of start.
"Yes." And Holdfast stepped close to his bedside.
"Can you keep a secret?"
Grotait started up.
"Yes!" said Holdfast, eagerly.
"THEN SO CAN I."
These were the last words of Ned Simmons. He died, false to
himself, but true to his fellows, and faithful to a terrible
confederacy, which, in England and the nineteenth century, was
Venice and the middle ages over again.
Mr. Coventry, relieved of a great and immediate anxiety, could now
turn his whole attention to Grace Carden; and she puzzled him. He
expected to see her come down beaming with satisfaction at the great
event of last night. Instead of that she appeared late, with cheeks
rather pale, and signs of trouble under her fair eyes.
As the day wore on, she showed positive distress of mind, irritable
and dejected by turns, and quite unable to settle to anything.
Mr. Coventry, with all his skill, was quite at fault. He could
understand her being in anxiety for news about Little; but why not
relieve her anxiety by sending a servant to inquire? Above all, why
this irritation? this positive suffering?
A mystery to him, there is no reason why it should be one to my
readers. Grace Carden, for the first time in her life, was in the
clutches of a fiend, a torturing fiend, called jealousy.
The thought that another woman was nursing Henry Little all this
time distracted her. It would have been such heaven to her to tend
him, after those cruel men had hurt him so; but that pure joy was
given to another, and that other loved him, and could now indulge
and show her love. Show it? Why, she had herself opened his eyes
to Jael's love, and advised him to reward it.
And now she could do nothing to defend herself. The very
improvement in Henry's circumstances held her back. She could not
write to him and say, "Now I know you are Mr. Raby's nephew, that
makes all the difference." That would only give him fresh offense,
and misrepresent herself; for in truth she had repented her letter
long before the relationship was discovered.
No; all she could do was to wait till Jael Dence came up, and then
charge her with some subtle message, that might make Henry Little
pause if he still loved her.
She detected Coventry watching her. She fled directly to her own
room, and there sat on thorns, waiting for her rival to come and
give her an opportunity.
But afternoon came, and no Jael; evening came, and no Jael.
"Ah!" thought Grace, bitterly, "she is better employed than to come
near me. She is not a self-sacrificing fool like me. When I had
the advantage, I gave it up; now she has got it, she uses it without
mercy, decency, or gratitude. And that is the way to love. Oh! if
my turn could but come again. But it never will."
Having arrived at this conclusion, she lay on the couch in her own
room, and was thoroughly miserable.
She came down to dinner, and managed to take a share in the
conversation, but was very languid; and Coventry detected that she
had been crying.
After dinner, Knight brought in a verbal message from Jael to Mr.
Raby, to the effect that the young gentleman was stiff and sore, and
she had sent into Hillsborough for Dr. Amboyne.
"Quite right of her," said the squire. "You needn't look so
alarmed, Grace; there are no bones broken; and he is in capital
hands: he couldn't have a tenderer nurse than that great strapping
lass, nor a better doctor than my friend and maniac, Amboyne."
Next morning, soon after breakfast, Raby addressed his guests as
follows:--"I was obliged to go into Hillsborough yesterday, and
postpone the purification of that sacred building. But I set a
watch on it; and this day I devote to a pious purpose; I'm going to
un-Little the church of my forefathers; and you can come with me, if
you choose." This invitation, however, was given in a tone so
gloomy, and so little cordial, that Coventry, courtier-like, said in
reply, he felt it would be a painful sight to his host, and the
fewer witnesses the better. Raby nodded assent, and seemed pleased.
Not so Miss Carden. She said: "If that is your feeling, you had
better stay at home. I shall go. I have something to tell Mr. Raby
when we get there; and I'm vain enough to think it will make him not
quite so angry about the poor dear old church."
"Then come, by all means," said Raby; "for I'm angry enough at
Before they got half way to the church, they were hailed from
behind: and turning round, saw the burly figure of Dr. Amboyne
coming after them.
They waited for him, and he came up with them. He had heard the
whole business from Little, and was warm in the praises of his
To a dry inquiry from Raby, whether he approved of his patient
desecrating a church, he said, with delicious coolness, he thought
there was not much harm in that, the church not being used for
At this, Raby uttered an inarticulate but savage growl; and Grace,
to avert a hot discussion, begged the doctor not to go into that
question, but to tell her how Mr. Little was.
"Oh, he has received some severe contusions, but there is nothing
serious. He is in good hands, I assure you. I met him out walking
with his nurse; and I must say I never saw a handsomer couple. He
is dark; she is fair. She is like the ancient statues of Venus,
massive and grand, but not clumsy; he is lean and sinewy, as a man
ought to be."
"Oh, doctor, this from you?" said Grace, with undisguised spite.
"Well, it WAS a concession. He was leaning on her shoulder, and her
face and downcast eyes were turned toward him so sweetly--said I to
"What!" said Raby. "Would you marry him to a farmer's daughter?"
"No; I'd let him marry whom he likes; only, having seen him and his
nurse together, it struck me that, between two such fine creatures
of the same age, the tender relation of patient and nurse,
sanctioned, as I hear it is, by a benevolent uncle--"
"Confound your impudence!"
"--Would hardly stop there. What do you think, Miss Carden?"
"I'll tell you, if you will promise, on your honor, never to repeat
what I say." And she slackened her pace, and lingered behind Mr.
He promised her.
"Then," she whispered in his ear, "I HATE YOU!"
And her eyes flashed blue fire at him, and startled him.
Then she darted forward, and took Mr. Raby's arm, with a scarlet
face, and a piteous deprecating glance shot back at the sagacious
personage she had defied.
Dr. Amboyne proceeded instantly to put himself in this young lady's
place, and so divine what was the matter. The familiar process soon
brought a knowing smile to his sly lip.
They entered the church, and went straight to the forge.
Raby stood with folded arms, and contemplated the various acts of
sacrilege with a silent distress that was really touching.
Amboyne took more interest in the traces of the combat. "Ah!" said
he, "this is where he threw the hot coals in their faces--he has
told me all about it. And look at this pool of blood on the floor!
Here he felled one of them with his shovel. What is this? traces of
blood leading up to this chest!"
He opened the chest, and found plain proofs inside that the wounded
man had hid himself in it for some time. He pointed this out to
Raby; and gave it as his opinion that the man's confederates had
come back for him, and carried him away. "These fellows are very
true to one another. I have often admired them for that."
Raby examined the blood-stained interior of the chest, and could not
help agreeing with the sagacious doctor.
"Yes," said he, sadly; "if we had been sharp, we might have caught
the blackguard. But I was in a hurry to leave the scene of
sacrilege. Look here; the tomb of a good knight defiled into an
oven, and the pews mutilated--and all for the base uses of trade."
And in this strain he continued for a long time so eloquently that,
at last, he roused Grace Carden's ire.
"Mr. Raby," said she, firmly, "please add to those base uses one
more. One dismal night, two poor creatures, a man and a woman, lost
their way in the snow; and, after many a hard struggle, the cold and
the snow overpowered them, and death was upon them. But, just at
her last gasp, the girl saw a light, and heard the tinkling of a
hammer. She tottered toward it; and it was a church. She just
managed to strike the door with her benumbed hands, and then fell
insensible. When she came to herself, gentle hands had laid her
before two glorious fires in that cold tomb there. Then the same
gentle hands gave her food and wine, and words of comfort, and did
everything for her that brave men do for poor weak suffering women.
Yes, sir, it was my life he saved, and Mr. Coventry's too; and I
can't bear to hear a word against him, especially while I stand
looking at his poor forge, and his grates, that you abuse; but I
adore them, and bless them; and so would you, if they had saved your
life, as they did mine. You don't love me one bit; and it is very
Raby stood astonished and silent. At last he said, in a very
altered tone, quite mild and deprecating, "Why did you not tell me
"Because he made us promise not. Would you have had me betray my
"No. You are a brave girl, an honest girl. I love you more than a
bit, and, for your sake, I forgive him the whole thing. I will
never call it sacrilege again, since its effect was to save an
angel's life. Come, now, you have shown a proper spirit, and stood
up for the absent, and brought me to submission by your impetuosity,
so don't spoil it all by crying."
"No, I won't," said Grace, with a gulp. But her tears would not
cease all in a moment. She had evoked that tender scene, in which
words and tears of true and passionate love had rained upon her.
They were an era in her life; had swept forever out of her heart all
the puny voices that had prattled what they called love to her; and
that divine music, should she ever hear it again? She had resigned
it, had bidden it shine upon another. For this, in reality, her
tears were trickling.
Mr. Raby took a much lighter view of it, and, to divert attention
from her, he said, "Hallo! why this inscription has become legible.
It used to be only legible in parts. Is that his doing?"
"Not a doubt of it," said Amboyne.
"Set that against his sacrilege."
"Miss Carden and I are both agreed it was not sacrilege. What is
here in this pew? A brass! Why this is the brass we could none of
us decipher. Hang me, if he has not read it, and restored it!"
"So he has. And where's the wonder? We live in a glorious age"
(Raby smiled) "that has read the written mountains of the East, and
the Abyssinian monuments: and he is a man of the age, and your
mediaeval brasses are no more to him than cuneiform letters to
Rawlinson. Let me read this resuscitated record. 'Edith Little,
daughter of Robert Raby, by Leah Dence his wife:' why here's a
hodge-podge! What! have the noble Rabys intermarried with the
"So it seems. A younger son."
"And a Raby, daughter of Dence, married a Little three hundred years
"So it seems."
"Then what a pity this brass was not deciphered thirty years ago!
But never mind that. All I demand is tardy justice to my protege.
Is not this a remarkable man? By day he carves wood, and carries
out a philanthropic scheme (which I mean to communicate to you this
very day, together with this young man's report); at night he forges
tools that all Hillsborough can't rival; in an interval of his work
he saves a valuable life or two; in another odd moment he fights
like a lion, one to four; even in his moments of downright leisure,
when he is neither saving life nor taking it, he practices honorable
arts, restores the fading letters of a charitable bequest, and
deciphers brasses, and vastly improves his uncle's genealogical
knowledge, who, nevertheless, passed for an authority, till my
Crichton stepped upon the scene."
Raby bore all this admirably. "You may add," said he, "that he
nevertheless finds time to correspond with his friends. Here is a
letter, addressed to Miss Carden, I declare!"
"A letter to me!" said Grace, faintly.
Raby handed it over the pew to her, and turned the address, so that
she could judge for herself.
She took it very slowly and feebly, and her color came and went.
"You seemed surprised; and so am I. It must have been written two
"Why, what on earth could he have to say to you?"
"I suppose it is the reply to mine," stammered Grace.
Mr. Raby looked amazement, and something more.
Grace faltered out an explanation. "When he had saved my life, I
was so grateful I wanted to make him a return. I believed Jael
Dence and he--I have so high an opinion of her--I ventured to give
him a hint that he might find happiness there."
Raby bit his lip. "A most singular interference on the part of a
young lady," said he, stiffly. "You are right, doctor; this age
resembles no other. I suppose you meant it kindly; but I am very
sorry you felt called upon, at your age, to put any such idea into
the young man's head."
"So am I," said poor Grace. "Oh, pray forgive me. I am so
unhappy." And she hid her face in her hands.
"Of course I forgive you," said Raby. "But, unfortunately, I knew
nothing of all this, and went and put him under her charge; and here
he has found a precedent for marrying a Dence--found it on this
confounded brass! Well, no matter. Life is one long disappointment.
What does he say? Where is the letter gone to? It has vanished."
"I have got it safe," said Grace, deprecatingly.
"Then please let me know what he says."
"What, read his letter to you?"
"Why not, pray? I'm his uncle. He is my heir-at-law. I agree with
Amboyne, he has some fine qualities. It is foolish of me, no doubt,
but I am very anxious to know what he says about marrying my
tenant's daughter." Then, with amazing dignity, "Can I be mistaken
in thinking I have a right to know who my nephew intends to marry?"
And he began to get very red.
Grace hung her head, and, trembling a little, drew the letter very
slowly out of her bosom.
It just flashed through her mind how cruel it was to make her read
out the death-warrant of her heart before two men; but she summoned
all a woman's fortitude and self-defense, prepared to hide her
anguish under a marble demeanor, and quietly opened the letter.
"You advise me to marry one, when I love another; and this, you
think, is the way to be happy. It has seldom proved so, and I
should despise happiness if I could only get it in that way.
"Yours, sadly but devotedly,
"Will you wait two years?"
Grace, being on her defense, read this letter very slowly, and as if
she had to decipher it. That gave her time to say, "Yours, et
cetera," instead of "sadly and devotedly." (Why be needlessly
precise?) As for the postscript, she didn't trouble them with that
She then hurried the letter into her pocket, that it might not be
asked for, and said, with all the nonchalance she could manage to
assume, "Oh, if he loves somebody else!"
"No; that is worse still," said Mr. Raby. "In his own rank of life,
it is ten to one if he finds anything as modest, as good, and as
loyal as Dence's daughter. It's some factory-girl, I suppose."
"Let us hope not," said Grace, demurely; but Amboyne noticed that
her cheek was now flushed, and her eyes sparkling like diamonds.
Soon afterward she strolled apart, and took a wonderful interest in
the monuments and things, until she found an opportunity to slip out
into the church-yard. There she took the letter out, and kissed it
again and again, as if she would devour it; and all the way home she
was as gay as a lark. Amboyne put himself in her place.
When they got home, he said to her, "My dear Miss Carden, I have a
favor to ask you. I want an hour's conversation with Mr. Raby.
Will you be so very kind as to see that I am not interrupted?"
"Oh yes. No; you must tell me, first, what you are going to talk
about. I can't have gentlemen talking nonsense together
"You ladies claim to monopolize nonsense, eh? Well, I am going to
talk about my friend, Mr. Little. Is he nonsense?"
"That depends. What are you going to say about him?"
"Going to advance his interests--and my own hobby. Such is man."