Part 9 out of 13
"Bad news, gentlemen; the Machine Brickmaking Company retires from
business, driven out of trade by their repeated losses from
"All the worse for the nation," said Bolt; "houses are a fancy
article--got to be. But it doesn't matter to us. We have got
bricks enough to go on with."
"Plenty, sir; but that is not where the shoe pinches now. The
Brickmakers' Union has made it right with the Bricklayers' Union,
and the Bricklayers' Union orders us to cart back every one of those
machine-made bricks to the yard."
"See them ---- first," said Bolt.
"Well, sir, have you considered the alternative?"
"Not I. What is it?"
"Not a bricklayer in Hillsboro', or for fifty miles round, will set
a brick for us; and if we get men from a distance they will be
talked away, or driven away, directly. The place is picketed on
every side at this moment."
Even Bolt was staggered now. "What is to be done, I wonder?"
"There's nothing to be done but submit. When two such powerful
Unions amalgamate, resistance is useless, and the law of the land a
dead letter. Mr. Bolt, I'm not a rich man; I've got a large family;
let me beg of you to release me from the contract."
"White, you are a cur. Release you? never!"
"Then, sir, I'll go through the court and release myself."
Henry Little was much dejected by this monstrous and unforeseen
obstacle arising at the very threshold of his hopes. He felt so
sad, that he determined to revive himself with a sight of Grace
Carden. He pined for her face and voice. So he went up to Woodbine
Villa, though it was not his day. As he drew near that Paradise,
the door opened, and Mr. Frederick Coventry came out. The two men
nearly met at the gate. The rejected lover came out looking bright
and happy, and saw the accepted lover arrive, looking depressed and
careworn; he saw in a moment something was going wrong, and turned
on his heel with a glance of triumph.
Henry Little caught that glance, and stood at the gate black with
rage. he stood there about a minute, and then walked slowly home
again: he felt he should quarrel with Grace if he went in, and, by a
violent effort of self-restraint, he retraced his steps; but he went
home sick at heart.
The mother's eye read his worn face in a moment, and soon she had it
all out of him. It cost her a struggle not to vent her maternal
spleen on Grace; but she knew that would only make her son more
unhappy. She advised him minutely what to say to the young lady
about Mr. Coventry: and, as to the other matters she said, "You have
found Mr. Bolt not so bad to beat as he tells you: for he is beaten,
and there's an end of him. Now let ME try."
"Why, what on earth can you do in a case of this kind?"
"Have I ever failed when you have accepted my assistance?"
"No: that's true. Well, I shall be glad of your assistance now,
heaven knows; only I can't imagine--"
"Never mind: will you take Grace Carden if I throw her into your
"Oh, mother, can you ask me?"
Mrs. Little rang the bell, and ordered a fly. Henry offered to
accompany her. She declined. "Go to bed early," said she, "and
trust to your mother. We are harder to beat sometimes than a good
many Mr. Bolts."
She drove to Dr. Amboyne's house, and sent in her name. She was
ushered into the doctor's study, and found him shivering over an
enormous fire. "Influenza."
"Oh dear," said she, "I'm afraid you are very ill."
"Never mind that. Sit down. You will not make me any worse, you
may be sure of that." And he smiled affectionately on her.
"But I came to intrude my own troubles on you."
"All the better. That will help me forget mine."
Mrs. Little seated herself, and, after a slight hesitation, opened
her battery thus:--"Well, my good friend, I am come to ask you a
favor. It is to try and reconcile my brother and me. If any one
can do it, you can."
"Praise the method, not the man. If one could only persuade you to
put yourself in his place, and him to put himself in yours, you
would be both reconciled in five minutes."
"You forget we have been estranged this five-and-twenty years."
"No I don't. The only question is, whether you can and will deviate
from the practice of the world into an obese lunatic's system, both
"Try ME, to begin."
The doctor's eyes sparkled with satisfaction. "Well, then," said
he, "first you must recollect all the differences you have seen
between the male and female mind, and imagine yourself a man."
"Oh, dear! that is so hard. But I have studied Henry. Well, there--
I have unsexed myself--in imagination."
"You are not only a man but a single-minded man, with a high and
clear sense of obligation. You are a trustee, bound by honor to
protect the interests of a certain woman and a certain child. The
lady, under influence, wishes to borrow her son's money, and risk it
on rotten security. You decline, and the lady's husband affronts
you. In spite of that affront, being a high-minded man not to be
warped by petty irritation, you hurry to your lawyers to get two
thousand pounds of your own, for the man who had affronted you."
"Is that so?" said Mrs. Little. "I was not aware of that."
"I have just learned it, accidentally, from the son of the solicitor
Raby went to that fatal night."
A tear stole down Mrs. Little's cheek.
"Now, remember, you are not a woman, but a brave, high-minded man.
In that character you pity poor Mr. Little, but you blame him a
little because he fled from trouble, and left his wife and child in
it. To you, who are Guy Raby--mind that, please--it seems
egotistical and weak to desert your wife and child even for the
grave." (The widow buried her face and wept. Twenty-five years do
something to withdraw the veil the heart has cast over the
judgment.) "But, whatever you feel, you utter only regret, and open
your arms to your sister. She writes back in an agony, for which,
being a man, you can not make all the allowance you would if you
were a woman, and denounces you as her husband's murderer, and bids
you speak to her and write to her no more, and with that she goes to
the Littles. Can you blame yourself that, after all this, you wait
for her to review your conduct more soberly, and to invite a
Mrs. Little gave Dr. Amboyne her hand, "Bitter, but wholesome
medicine!" she murmured, and then was too overcome to speak for a
"Ah, my good, wise friend!" said she at last, "thick clouds seem
clearing from my mind; I begin to see I was the one to blame."
"Yes; and if Raby will be as docile as you, and put himself in your
place, he will tell me he was the one to blame. There's no such
thing as 'the one to blame;' there very seldom is. You judged him
as if he was a woman, he judged you as if you were a man. Enter an
obese maniac, and applies the art of arts; the misunderstanding
dissolves under it, and you are in each other's arms. But, stop"--
and his countenance fell again a little: "I am afraid there is a new
difficulty. Henry's refusal to take the name of Raby and be his
heir. Raby was bitterly mortified, and I fear he blames me and my
crotchets; for he has never been near me since. To be sure you are
not responsible for Henry's act."
"No, indeed; for, between you and me, it mortified me cruelly. And
now things have taken a turn--in short, what with his love, and his
jealousy, and this hopeless failure to make a fortune by inventing,
I feel I can bring him to his senses. I am not pleased with Grace
Carden about something; but no matter, I shall call on her and show
her she must side with me in earnest. You will let my brother know
I was always on his side in THAT matter, whatever other offense I
may have given him years ago."
"And I am on your side, too. Your son has achieved a small
independence. Bayne can carry on the little factory, and Henry can
sell or lease his patents; he can never sink to a mere dependent.
There, I throw my crotchets to the wind, and we will Raby your son,
and marry him to Grace Carden."
"God bless you, my good and true friend! How can I ever thank you?"
Her cheek flushed, and her great maternal eye sparkled, and half the
beauty of her youth came back. Her gratitude gave a turn to the
conversation which she neither expected nor desired.
"Mrs. Little," said Dr. Amboyne, "this is the first time you have
entered my den, and the place seems transformed by your presence.
My youth comes back to me with the feelings I thought time had
blunted; but no, I feel that, when you leave my den again, it will
be darker than ever, if you do not leave me a hope that you will one
day enter it for good."
"For shame! At our age!--" said the widow.
But she spoilt the remonstrance by blushing like a girl of eighteen.
"You are not old in my eyes; and, as for me, let my years plead for
me, since all those years I have lived single for your sake."
This last appeal shook Mrs. Little. She said she could not
entertain any such thoughts whilst her son was unhappy. "But marry
him to his Grace, and then--I don't know what folly I might not be
The doctor was quite content with that. He said he would go to
Raby, as soon as he could make the journey with safety, and her
troubles and her son's should end.
Mrs. Little drove home, a happy mother. As for the promise she had
made her old friend, it vexed her a little, she was so used to look
at him in another light; but she shrugged her maternal shoulders, as
much as to say, "When once my Henry leaves me--why not?"
She knew she must play the politician a little with Henry, so she
opened the battery cautiously. "My dear," said she, at breakfast,
"good news! Dr. Amboyne undertakes to reconcile us both to your
"All the better. Mr. Raby is a wrong-headed man, but he is a noble-
minded one, that is certain."
"Yes, and I have done him injustice. Dr. Amboyne has shown me
She said no more. One step at a time.
Henry went up to Woodbine Villa and Grace received him a little
coldly. He asked what was the matter. She said, "They tell me you
were at the very door the other day, and did not come in."
"It is true," said he. "Another had just come out--Mr. Coventry."
"And you punished ME because that poor man had called on me. Have
you not faith in me? or what is it? I shall be angry one of these
"No, you will not, if I can make you understand my feelings. Put
yourself in my place, dearest. Here am I, fighting the good fight
for you, against long odds; and, at last, the brickmakers and
bricklayers have beat us. Now you know that is a bitter cup for me
to drink. Well, I come up here for my one drop of comfort; and out
walks my declared rival, looks into my face, sees my trouble there,
and turns off with a glance of insolent triumph." (Grace flushed.)
"And then consider: I am your choice, yet I am only allowed to visit
you once a week."
"That is papa's doing."
"No matter; so it is. Yet my rival can come when he pleases: and no
doubt he does come every other day."
"You fancy that."
"It is not all fancy; for--by heaven! there he is at the gate. Two
visits to my one; there. Well, all the better, I'll talk to HIM."
He rose from his seat black with wrath.
Grace turned pale, and rang the bell in a moment.
The servant entered the room, just as Mr. Coventry knocked at the
"Not at home to anybody," said she.
Mr. Coventry's voice was heard to say incredulously, "Not at home?"
Then he retired slowly, and did not leave the neighborhood. He had
called at an hour when Grace was always at home.
Henry sat down, and said, "Thank you, Grace." But he looked very
gloomy and disturbed.
She sat down too, and then they looked at each other.
Henry was the first to speak. "We are both pupils of the good
doctor. Put yourself in my place. That man troubles our love, and
makes my heavy heart a sore heart."
The tears were in Grace's eyes. "Dearest," said she, "I will not
put myself in your place; you would lose by that, for I love you
better than myself. Yes, it is unjust that you should be allowed to
visit me but once a week, and he should visit me when he chooses. I
assure you I have permitted his visits out of pure good-nature; and
now I will put an end to them."
She drew her desk toward her, and wrote to Mr. Coventry. It took
her some little time. She handed Henry the letter to read. He took
it in his hand; but hesitated. He inquired what would be the effect
"That he will never visit me again till you and I are married, or
engaged, and that is the same thing. Why don't you read it?"
"I don't know: it goes against me, somehow. Seems unmanly. I'll
take your word for it."
This charmed Grace. "Ah," said she, "I have chosen right."
Then he kissed her hands, and blessed her: and then she told him it
was nothing; he was a goose, and had no idea what she would do for
him; "more than you would do for me, I know," said she.
That he denied, and then she said she might perhaps put him to the
proof some day.
They were so happy together, time slipped away unheeded. It was
full three hours before Henry could tear himself away, though he
knew he was wanted at the works; and he went out at the gate,
glowing with happiness: and Coventry, who was ready to drop with the
fatigue of walking and watching just above, saw him come out
Then it was his turn to feel a deadly qualm. However, he waited a
little longer, and then made his call.
"Not at home."
Henry, on his way to the works, looked in on his mother, and told
her how nobly Grace had behaved.
Mrs. Little was pleased, and it smoothed down her maternal bristles,
and made it much easier for her to carry out her design. For the
first time since Mr. Carden had offended her by his cold-blooded
treatment of her son, she called at Woodbine Villa.
Grace was at home to see her, and met her with a blushing timidity,
and piteous, wistful looks, not easy to misunderstand nor to resist.
They soon came to an understanding, and Mrs. Little told Grace what
Dr. Amboyne had promised to do, and represented to her how much
better it would be for Henry to fall into his uncle Raby's views,
than to engage in hopeless struggles like that in which Mr. Bolt and
he had just been so signally defeated. "And then, you know, my
dear, you could marry next month--you two; that is to say, if YOU
felt disposed: I will answer for Henry."
Grace's red face and swimming eyes told how this shaft went home.
In short, she made a coy promise that she would co-operate with Mrs.
Little "and," said she, "how lucky! he has almost promised to grant
me the first favor I ask him. Well, I shall entreat him to be a
good nephew, and do whatever dear Mr. Raby asks him. But of course
I shall not say, and then if you do, you and I"--here the young lady
cut her sentence very short.
"Of course not," said Mrs. Little. "THAT will follow as a matter of
course. Now, my dear, you and I are conspirators--for his good: and
we must write often and let each other know all we do."
With this understanding, and a good many pretty speeches and kisses,
Dr. Amboyne did not recover so quickly as they could have wished;
but they employed the interval. Feelers were adroitly applied to
Henry by both ladies, and they were pleased to find that he rather
admired his wrong-headed uncle, and had been deeply touched by the
old gentleman's address to his mother's picture.
Bolt never came near him, and the grass was beginning to grow on the
condemned bricks. In short, every thing seemed to incline in one
There was, however, something very serious going on out of their
"Not at home!" That white lie made Mr. Coventry feel sick at heart.
He went home disconsolate. The same evening he received Miss
The writer treated him like a gentleman, said a few words about her
own peculiar position, and begged him to consider that position, and
to be very generous; to cease his visits entirely for the present,
and so give himself one more title to her esteem, which was all she
had to give him. This was the purport, and the manner was simply
perfect, so gentle yet firm; and then she flattered his amour propre
by asking that from his generosity which she could have taken as a
right: she did all she could to soften the blow. But she failed.
The letter was posted too soon after Henry's visit. Behind the
velvet paw that struck him, Coventry saw the claws of the jealous
lover. He boiled with rage and agony, and cursed them both in his
After an hour or two of frenzy, he sat down and wrote back a letter
full of bitter reproaches and sneers. He reflected. He lighted a
cigar and smoked it, biting it almost through, now and then. He
burned his letter. He lay awake all night, raging and reflecting
alternately, as passion or judgment got the upper hand.
In the morning he saw clearer. "Don't quarrel with HER. Destroy
HIM." He saw this as plainly as if it was written.
He wrote Grace a few sad lines, to say that of course he submitted
to her will. The letter ended thus: "Since I can do nothing to
please you, let me suffer to please you: even that is something."
(This letter brought the tears to Grace's eyes, and she pitied and
esteemed the writer.)
He put on a plain suit, and drove into Hillsborough, burning with
wild ideas of vengeance. He had no idea what he should do; but he
was resolved to do something. He felt capable of assassinating
Little with his own hand.
I should be sorry to gain any sympathy for him; but it is only fair
the reader should understand that he felt deeply aggrieved, and that
we should all feel aggrieved under similar circumstances. Priority
is a title, all the world over; and he had been the lady's lover
first, had been encouraged, and supplanted.
Longing to wound, but not knowing how to strike, he wandered about
the town, and went into several factories, and talked to some of the
men, and contrived to bring the conversation round to Little, and
learn what he was doing. But he gathered no information of any use
to him. Then he went to Grotait's place, and tried to pump him.
That sagacious man thought this odd, and immediately coupled this
with his previous denunciation of Little, and drew him on.
Coventry was too much under the influence of passion to be quite
master of himself that day; and he betrayed to this other Machiavel
that he wished ill to Henry Little. As soon as he had thoroughly
ascertained this, Grotrait turned coolly on him, and said, "I am
sorry Mr. Little has got enemies; for he and his partner talk of
building a new factory, and that will be a good thing for us: take a
score of saw-grinders off the box." Then Coventry saw he had made a
mistake, and left "The Cutlers' Arms" abruptly.
Next day he took a lodging in the town, and went about groping for
information, and hunting for a man whose face he knew, but not his
name. He learned all about Bolt and Little's vain endeavor to
build, and went and saw the place, and the condemned bricks. The
sight gratified him. He visited every saw-grinder's place he could
hear of; and, at last, he fell in with Sam Cole, and recognized him
at once. That worthy affected not to know him, and went on grinding
a big saw. Coventry stepped up to him, and said in his ear, "I want
to speak with you. Make an appointment."
Cole looked rather sulky and reluctant at being drawn from his
obscurity. However, he named a low public-house in a back slum, and
there these two met that night, and for greater privacy were soon
seated in a place bigger than a box and smaller than a room with
discolored walls, and a rough wooden table before them splashed with
beer. It looked the very den to hatch villainy in, and drink poison
to its success.
Coventry, pale and red alternately, as fear and shame predominated,
began to beat about the bush.
"You and I have reason to hate the same man. You know who I mean."
"I can guess. Begins with a Hel."
"He has wronged me deeply; and he hurt you."
"That is true, sir. I think he broke my windpipe, for I'm as hoarse
as a raven ever since: and I've got one or two of the shot in my
"Well, then, now is your time to be revenged."
"Well, I don't know about that. What he done was in self-defense;
and if I play bowls I must look for rubs."
Coventry bit his lip with impatience. After a pause, he said, "What
were you paid for that job?"
"Not half enough."
"Nor nothing like it."
"I'll give you a hundred to do it again, only more effectually." He
turned very pale when he had made this offer.
"Ah," said Cole, "anybody could tell you was a gentleman."
"You accept my offer, then?"
"Nay, I mean it is easy to see you don't know trades. I musn't
meddle with Mr. Little now; he is right with the Trade."
"What, not if I pay you five times as much? say ten times then; two
"Nay, we Union chaps are not malefactors. You can't buy us to
injure an unoffending man. We have got our laws, and they are just
ones, and, if a man will break them, after due warning, the order is
given to 'do' him, and the men are named for the job, and get paid a
trifle for their risk; and the risk is not much, the Trade stand by
one another too true, and in so many ways. But if a man is right
with the Trade, it is treason to harm him. No, I mustn't move a
finger against Little."
"You have set up a conscience!" said Coventry bitterly.
"You dropped yours, and I picked it up," was the Yorkshireman's
ready reply. He was nettled now.
At this moment the door was opened and shut very swiftly, and a
whisper came in through the momentary aperture, "Mind your eye, Sam
Coventry rushed to the door and looked out; there was nobody to be
"You needn't trouble yourself," said Cole. "You might as well run
after the wind. That was a friendly warning. I know the voice, and
Grotait must be on to us. Now, sir, if you offered me a thousand
pounds, I wouldn't touch a hair of Mr. Little: he is right with the
Trade, and we should have Grotait and all the Trade as bitter as
death against us. I'll tell you a secret, sir, that I've kept from
my wife"--(he lowered his voice to a whisper)--"Grotait could hang
me any day he chose. You must chink your brass in some other ear,
as the saying is: only mind, you did me a good turn once, and I'll
do you one now; you have been talking to somebody else besides me,
and blown yourself: so now drop your little game, and let Little
alone, or the Trade will make it their job to LAY YOU."
Coventry's face betrayed so much alarm, that the man added, "And
penal servitude wouldn't suit the likes of you. Keep out of it."
With this rough advice the conference ended, and Mr. Coventry went
home thoroughly shaken in his purpose, and indeed not a little
anxious on his own account. Suppose he had been overheard! his
offer to Cole was an offense within reach of the criminal law. What
a mysterious labyrinth was this Trade confederacy, into which he had
put his foot so rashly, and shown his game, like a novice, to the
subtle and crafty Grotait. He now collected all his powers, not to
injure Little, but to slip out of his own blunder.
He seized this opportunity to carry out a coup he had long
meditated: he went round to a dozen timber-merchants, and contracted
with them for the sale of every tree, old or young, on his estate;
and, while the trees were falling like grain, and the agents on both
sides measuring the fallen, he vanished entirely from Hillsborough
Dr. Amboyne's influenza was obstinate, and it was nearly a fortnight
before he was strong enough to go to Cairnhope; but at last Mrs.
Little received a line from him, to say he was just starting, and
would come straight to her on his return: perhaps she would give him
a cup of tea.
This letter came very opportunely. Bolt had never shown his face
again; and Henry had given up all hopes of working his patents, and
had said more than once he should have to cross the water and sell
As for Mrs. Little, she had for some time maintained a politic
silence. But now she prepared for the doctor's visit as follows:
"So, then, you have no more hopes from the invincible Mr. Bolt?"
"None whatever. He must have left the town in disgust."
"He is a wise man. I want you to imitate his example. Henry, my
dear, what is the great object of your life at present? Is it not
to marry Grace Carden?"
"You know it is."
"Then take her from my hands. Why do you look so astonished? Have
you forgotten my little boast?" Then, in a very different tone,
"You will love your poor mother still, when you are married? You
will say, 'I owe her my wife,' will you not?"
Henry was so puzzled he could not reply even to this touching
appeal, made with eyes full of tears at the thought of parting with
Mrs. Little proceeded to explain: "Let me begin at the beginning.
Dr. Amboyne has shown me I was more to blame than your uncle, was.
Would you believe it? although he refused your poor father the
trust-money, he went that moment to get L2000 of his own, and lend
it to us. Oh, Henry, when Dr Amboyne told me that, and opened my
eyes, I could have thrown myself at poor Guy's feet. I have been
the most to blame in our unhappy quarrel; and I have sent Dr.
Amboyne to say so. Now, Henry, my brother will forgive me, the
doctor says; and, oh, my heart yearns to be reconciled. You will
not stand in my way, dearest?"
"Not likely. Why, I am under obligations to him, for my part."
"Yes, but Dr. Amboyne says dear Guy is deeply mortified by your
refusal to be his heir. For my sake, for your own sake, and for
Grace Carden's sake; change your mind now."
"What, go into his house, and wait for dead men's shoes! Find
myself some day wishing in my heart that noble old fellow would die!
Such a life turns a man's stomach even to think of it."
"No, no. Dr. Amboyne says that Mr. Bayne can conduct your business
here, and hand you a little income, without your meddling."
"That is true."
"And, as for your patents, gentlemen can sell them to traders, or
lease them out. My brother would make a settlement on Grace and
you--she is his goddaughter--now that is all Mr. Carden demands.
Then you could marry, and, on your small present income, make a
little tour together; and dispose of your patents in other places."
"I could do great things with them in the United States."
"That is a long way."
"Why, it is only twelve days."
"Well, marry first," said the politic mother.
Henry flushed all over. "Ah!" said he, "you tempt me. Heaven seems
to open its gates as you speak. But you can not be in earnest; he
made it an express condition I should drop my father's name, and
take his. Disown my poor dead father? No, no, no!"
Now in reality this condition was wormwood to Mrs. Little; but she
knew that if she let her son see her feeling, all was over. She was
all the mother now, and fighting for her son's happiness: so she
sacrificed truth to love with an effort, but without a scruple. "It
is not as if it was a strange name. Henry, you compel me to say
things that tear my heart to say, but--which has been your best
friend, your mother, or your poor dear father?"
Henry was grieved at the question: but he was a man who turned his
back on nothing. "My father loved me," said he: "I can remember
that; but he deserted me, and you, in trouble; but you--you have
been friend, parent, lover, and guardian angel to me. And, oh, how
little I have done to deserve it all!"
"Well, dear, the mother you value so highly, her name was Raby.
Yes, love; and, forgive me, I honor and love my mother's name even
more than I do the name of Little"--(the tears ran out of her eyes
at this falsehood)--"pray take it, to oblige me, and reconcile me to
my dear brother, and end our troubles forever." Then she wept on
his neck, and he cried with her.
After a while, he said, "I feel my manhood all melting away
together. I am quite confused. It is hard to give up a noble game.
It is hard to refuse such a mother as you. Don't cry any more, for
mercy's sake! I'm like to choke. Mind, crying is work I'm not used
to. What does SHE say? I am afraid I shall win her, but lose her
"She says she admires your pride; but you have shown enough. If you
refuse any longer, she will begin to fear you don't love her as well
as she loves you."
This master-stroke virtually ended the battle. Henry said nothing,
but the signs of giving way were manifest in him, so manifest that
Mrs. Little became quite impatient for the doctor's arrival to crown
He drove up to the door at last, and Henry ran out and brought him
in. He looked pale, and sat down exhausted.
Mrs. Little restrained her impatience, and said, "We are selfish
creatures to send you on our business before you are half well."
"I am well enough in health," said he, "but I am quite upset."
"What is the matter? Surely you have not failed? Guy does not
refuse his forgiveness?"
"No, it is not that. Perhaps, if I had been in time--but the fact
is, Guy Raby has left England."
"What, for good? Impossible!"
"Who can tell? All I know is that he has sold his horses,
discharged his servants all but one, and gone abroad without a word.
I was the friend of his youth--his college chum; be must be bitterly
wounded to go away like that, and not even let me know."
Mrs. Little lifted up her hands. "What have we done? what have we
done? Wounded! no wonder. Oh, my poor, wronged, insulted brother!"
She wept bitterly, and took it to heart so, it preyed on her health
and spirits. She was never the same woman from that hour.
While her son and her friend were saying all they could to console
her, there appeared at the gate the last man any of them ever
expected to see--Mr. Bolt.
Henry saw him first, and said so.
"Keep him out," cried the doctor, directly. "Don't let that
bragging fool in to disturb our sorrow." He opened the door and
told the servant-girl to say "Not at home."
"Not at home," said the girl.
"That's a lie!" shouted Bolt, and shoved her aside and burst into
the room. "None of your tricks on travelers," said he, in his
obstreperous way. "I saw your heads through the window. Good news,
my boy! I've done the trick. I wouldn't say a word till it was all
settled, for Brag's a good dog, but Holdfast's a better. I've sold
my building-site to some gents that want to speculate in a church,
and I've made five hundred pounds profit by the sale. I'm always
right, soon or late. And I've bought a factory ready made--the Star
Works; bought 'em, sir, with all the gear and plant, and working
"The Star Works? The largest but one in Hillsborough!"
"Ay, lad. Money and pluck together, they'll beat the world. We
have got a noble place, with every convenience. All we have got to
do now is to go in and win."
Young Little's eyes sparkled. "All right," said he, "I like this
way the best."
Mrs. Little sighed.
In that part of London called "the City" are shady little streets,
that look like pleasant retreats from the busy, noisy world; yet are
strongholds of business.
One of these contained, and perhaps still contains, a public office
full of secrets, some droll, some sad, some terrible. The building
had a narrow, insignificant front, but was of great depth, and its
south side lighted by large bay windows all stone and plate-glass;
and these were open to the sun and air, thanks to a singular
neighbor. Here, in the heart of the City, was wedged a little
rustic church, with its church-yard, whose bright-green grass first
startled, then soothed and refreshed the eye, in that wilderness of
stone--an emerald set in granite. The grass flowed up to the south
wall of the "office;" those massive stone windows hung over the
graves; the plumed clerks could not look out of window and doubt
that all men are mortal: and the article the office sold was
It was the Gosshawk Life Insurance.
On a certain afternoon anterior to the Hillsborough scenes last
presented, the plumed clerks were all at the south windows, looking
at a funeral in the little church-yard, and passing some curious
remarks; for know that the deceased was insured in the Gosshawk for
nine hundred pounds, and had paid but one premium.
The facts, as far as known, were these. Mr. Richard Martin, a
Londoner by birth, but residing in Wales, went up to London to visit
his brother. Toward the end of the visit the two Martins went up
the river in a boat, with three more friends, and dined at Richmond.
They rowed back in the cool of the evening. At starting they were
merely jovial; but they stopped at nearly all the public-houses by
the water-side, and, by visible gradations, became jolly--
uproarious--sang songs--caught crabs. At Vauxhall they got a
friendly warning, and laughed at it: under Southwark bridge they ran
against an abutment, and were upset in a moment: it was now dusk,
and, according to their own account, they all lost sight of each
other in the water. One swam ashore in Middlesex, another in
Surrey, a third got to the chains of a barge, and was taken up much
exhausted, and Robert Martin laid hold of the buttress itself, and
cried loudly for assistance. They asked anxiously after each other,
but their anxiety appeared to subside in an hour or two, when they
found there was nobody missing but Richard Martin. Robert told the
police it was all right, Dick could swim like a cork. However, next
morning he came with a sorrowful face to say his brother had not
reappeared, and begged them to drag the river. This was done, and a
body found, which the survivors and Mrs. Richard Martin disowned.
The insurance office was informed, and looked into the matter; and
Mrs. Martin told their agent, with a flood of tears, she believed
her husband had taken that opportunity to desert her, and was not
drowned at all. Of course this went to the office directly.
But a fortnight afterward a body was found in the water down at
Woolwich, entangled in some rushes by the water-side.
Notice was given to all the survivors.
The friends of Robert Martin came, and said the clothes resembled
those worn by Richard Martin; but beyond that they could not be
But, when the wife came, she recognized the body at once.
The brother agreed with her, but, on account of the bloated and
discolored condition of the face, asked to have the teeth examined:
his poor brother, he said, had a front tooth broken short in two.
This broken tooth was soon found; also a pencil-case, and a key, in
the pocket of the deceased. These completed the identification.
Up to this moment the conduct of Richard Martin's relatives and
friends had been singularly apathetic; but now all was changed; they
broke into loud lamentations, and he became the best of husbands,
best of men: his lightest words were sacred. Robert Martin now
remembered that "poor Dick" had stood and looked into that little
church-yard and said, "If you outlive me, Bob, bury me in this spot;
father lies here." So Robert Martin went to the church-warden, for
leave to do this last sad office. The church-warden refused, very
properly, but the brother's entreaties, the widow's tears, the
tragedy itself, and other influences, extorted at last a reluctant
consent, coupled with certain sanatory conditions.
The funeral was conducted unobtrusively, and the grave dug out of
sight of Gosshawk. But of course it could not long escape
observation; that is to say, it was seen by the clerks; but the
directors and manager were all seated round a great table upstairs
absorbed in a vital question, viz., whether or not the Gosshawk
should imitate some other companies, and insure against fire as well
as death. It was the third and last discussion; the minority
against this new operation was small, but obstinate and warm, and
the majority so absorbed in bringing them to reason, that nobody
went to the window until the vote had passed, and the Gosshawk was a
Life and Fire Insurance. Then some of the gentlemen rose and
stretched their legs, and detected the lugubrious enormity.
"Hallo!" cried Mr. Carden, and rang a bell. Edwards, an old clerk,
appeared, and, in reply to Mr. Carden, told him it was one of their
losses being buried--Richard Martin.
Mr. Carden said this was an insult to the office, and sent Edwards
out to remonstrate.
Edwards soon reappeared with Robert Martin, who represented, with
the utmost humility, that it was the wish of the deceased, and they
had buried him, as ordered, in three feet of charcoal.
"What, is the ceremony performed?"
"Yes, sir, all but filling in the grave. Come and see the
"Hang the charcoal!"
"Well," said the humane but somewhat pompous director, "if the
ceremony has gone so far--but, Mr. Martin, this must never recur,
charcoal or no charcoal."
Mr. Martin promised it never should: and was soon after observed in
the church-yard urging expedition.
The sad company speedily dispersed, and left nothing to offend nor
disgust the Life and Fire Insurance, except a new grave, and a debt
of nine hundred pounds to the heirs or assigns of Richard Martin.
Not very far from this church-yard was a public-house; and in that
public-house a small parlor upstairs, and in that parlor a man, who
watched the funeral rites with great interest; but not in a becoming
spirit; for his eyes twinkled with the intensest merriment all the
time, and at each fresh stage of the mournful business he burst into
peals of laughter. Never was any man so thoroughly amused in the
City before, at all events in business hours.
Richard Martin's executor waited a decent time, and then presented
his claim to the Gosshawk. His brother proved a lien on it for L300
and the rest went by will to his wife. The Gosshawk paid the money
after the delay accorded by law.
Messrs. Bolt and Little put their heads together, and played a
prudent game. They kept the works going for a month, without doing
anything novel, except what tended to the health and comfort of
But, meantime, they cleared out two adjacent rooms: one was called
the studio, the other the experiment-room.
In due course they hired a couple of single men from Birmingham to
work the machine under lock and key.
Little with his own hands, affected an aperture in the party-wall,
and thus conveyed long saws from his studio to the machine, and
received them back ground.
Then men were lodged three miles off, were always kept at work half
an hour later than the others, and received six pounds per week
apiece, on pain of instant dismissal should they breathe a syllable.
They did the work of twenty-four men; so even at that high rate of
wages, the profit was surprising. It actually went beyond the
inventor's calculation, and he saw himself at last on the road to
rapid fortune, and, above all, to Grace Carden.
This success excited Bolt's cupidity, and he refused to contract the
operation any longer.
Then the partners had a quarrel, and nearly dissolved. However, it
ended in Little dismissing his Birmingham hands and locking up his
"experiment-room," and in Bolt openly devoting another room to the
machines: two long, two circular.
These machines coined money, and Bolt chuckled and laughed at his
partner's apprehensions for the space of twenty-one days.
On the twenty-second day, the Saw-grinders' Union, which had been
stupefied at first, but had now realized the situation, sent Messrs.
Bolt and Little a letter, civil and even humble; it spoke of the new
invention as one that, if adopted, would destroy their handicraft,
and starve the craftsmen and their families, and expressed an
earnest hope that a firm which had shown so much regard for the
health and comfort of the workmen would not persist in a fatal
course, on which they had entered innocently and for want of
The partners read this note differently. Bolt saw timidity in it.
Little saw a conviction, and a quiet resolution, that foreboded a
No reply was sent, and the machines went on coining.
Then came a warning to Little, not violent, but short, and rather
grim. Little took it to Bolt, and he treated it with contempt.
Two days afterward the wheel-bands vanished, and the obnoxious
machines stood still.
Little was for going to Grotait, to try and come to terms. Bolt
declined. He bought new bands, and next day the machines went on
This pertinacity soon elicited a curious epistle:
"MESSRS. BOLT AND LITTLE,--When the blood is in an impure state,
brimstone and treacle is applied as a mild purgative; our taking the
bands was the mild remedy; but, should the seat of disease not be
reached, we shall take away the treacle, and add to the brimstone a
necessary quantity of saltpetre and charcoal.
On receipt of this, Little, who had tasted the last-mentioned drugs,
showed such undisguised anxiety that Bolt sent for Ransome. He came
directly, and was closeted with the firm. Bolt handed him the
letters, told him the case, and begged leave to put him a question.
"Is the police worth any thing, or nothing, in this here town?"
"It is worth something, I hope, gentlemen."
"How much, I wonder? Of all the bands that have been stolen, and
all the people that have been blown up, and scorched and vitrioled,
and shot at, and shot, by Union men, did ever you and your bobbies
nail a single malefactor?"
Now Mr. Ransome was a very tall man, with a handsome, dignified
head, a long black beard, and pleasant, dignified manners. When
short, round, vulgar Mr. Bolt addressed him thus, it really was like
a terrier snapping at a Newfoundland dog. Little felt ashamed, and
said Mr. Ransome had been only a few months in office in the place.
"Thank you, Mr. Little," said the chief constable. "Mr Bolt, I'll
ask you a favor. Meet me at a certain place this evening, and let
me reply to your question then and there."
This singular proposal excited some curiosity, and the partners
accepted the rendezvous. Ransome came to the minute, and took the
partners into the most squalid part of this foul city. At the
corner of a narrow street he stepped and gave a low whistle. A
policeman in plain clothes came to him directly.
"They are both in the 'Spotted Dog,' sir, with half a dozen more."
"Follow me, and guard the door. Will you come, too, gentlemen?"
The "Spotted Dog" was a low public, with one large room and a sanded
floor. Mr. Ransome walked in and left the door open, so that his
three companions heard and saw all that passed.
"Holland and Cheetham, you are wanted."
"Wilde's affair. He has come to himself, and given us your names."
On this the two men started up and were making for the door.
Ransome whipped before it. "That won't do."
Then there was a loud clatter of rising feet, oaths, threats, and
even a knife or two drawn; and, in the midst of it all, the ominous
click of a pistol, and then dead silence; for it was Ransome who had
produced that weapon. "Come, no nonsense," said he. "Door's
guarded, street's guarded, and I'm not to be trifled with."
He then handed his pistol to the officer outside with an order, and,
stepping back suddenly, collared Messrs. Holland and Cheetham with
one movement, and, with a powerful rush, carried them out of the
house in his clutches. Meantime the policeman had whistled, there
was a conflux of bobbies, and the culprits were handcuffed and
marched off to the Town Hall.
"Five years' penal servitude for that little lot," said Ransome.
"And now, Mr. Bolt, I have answered your question to the best of my
"You have answered it like a man. Will you do as much for us?"
"I'll do my best. Let me examine the place now that none of them
Bolt and Ransome went together, but Little went home: he had an
anxiety even more pressing, his mother's declining health. She had
taken to pining and fretting ever since Dr. Amboyne brought the bad
news from Cairnhope; and now, instead of soothing and consoling her
son, she needed those kind offices from him; and, I am happy to say,
she received them. He never spent an evening away from her.
Unfortunately he did not succeed in keeping up her spirits, and the
sight of her lowered his own.
At this period Grace Carden was unmixed comfort to him; she
encouraged him to encroach a little, and visit her twice a week
instead of once, and she coaxed him to confide all his troubles to
her. He did so; he concealed from his mother that he was at war
with the trade again, but he told Grace everything, and her tender
sympathy was the balm of his life. She used to put on cheerfulness
for his sake, even when she felt it least.
One day, however, he found her less bright than usual, and she
showed him an advertisement--Bollinghope house and park for sale;
and she was not old enough nor wise enough to disguise from him that
this pained her. Some expressions of regret and pity fell from her;
that annoyed Henry, and he said, "What is that to us?"
"Nothing to you: but I feel I am the cause. I have not used him
well, that's certain."
Henry said, rather cavalierly, that Mr. Coventry was probably
selling his house for money, not for love, and (getting angry) that
he hoped never to hear the man's name mentioned again.
Grace Carden was a little mortified by his tone, but she governed
herself and said sadly, "My idea of love was to be able to tell you
every thought of my heart, even where my conscience reproaches me a
little. But if you prefer to exclude one topic--and have no fear
that it may lead to the exclusion of others--"
They were on the borders of a tiff; but Henry recovered himself and
said firmly, "I hope we shall not have a thought unshared one day;
but, just for the present, it will be kinder to spare me that one
"Very well, dearest," said Grace. "And, if it had not been for the
advertisement--" she said no more, and the thing passed like a dark
cloud between the lovers.
Bollinghope house and park were actually sold that very week; they
were purchased, at more than their value, by a wealthy manufacturer:
and the proceeds of this sale and the timber cleared off all
Coventry's mortgages, and left him with a few hundred pounds in
cash, and an estate which had not a tree on it, but also had not a
debt upon it.
Of course he forfeited, by this stroke, his position as a country
gentleman; but that he did not care about, since it was all done
with one view, to live comfortably in Paris far from the intolerable
sight of his rival's happiness with the lady he loved.
He bought in at the sale a few heirlooms and articles of furniture--
who does not cling, at the last moment, to something of this kind?--
and rented a couple of unfurnished rooms in Hillsborough to keep
them in. He fixed the day of his departure, arranged his goods, and
packed his clothes. Then he got a letter of credit on Paris, and
went about the town buying numerous articles of cutlery.
But this last simple act led to strange consequences. He was seen
and followed; and in the dead of the evening, as he was cording with
his own hands a box containing a few valuables, a heavy step mounted
the stair, and there was a rude knock at the door.
Mr. Coventry felt rather uncomfortable, but he said, "Come in."
The door was opened, and there stood Sam Cole.
Coventry received him ill. He looked up from his packing and said,
"What on earth do you want, sir?"
But it was not Cole's business to be offended. "Well, sir," said
he, "I've been looking out for you some time, and I saw you at our
place; so I thought I'd come and tell you a bit o' news."
"What is that?"
"It is about him you know of; begins with a hel."
"Curse him! I don't want to hear about him. I'm leaving the
country. Well, what is it?"
"He is wrong with the trade again."
"What is that to me?--Ah! sit down, Cole, and tell me."
Cole let him know the case, and assured him that, sooner or later,
if threats did not prevail, the Union would go any length.
"Should you be employed?"
"If it was a dangerous job, they'd prefer me."
Mr. Coventry looked at his trunks, and then at Sam Cole. A small
voice whispered "Fly." He stifled that warning voice, and told Cole
he would stay and watch this affair, and Cole was to report to him
whenever any thing fresh occurred. From that hour this gentleman
led the life of a malefactor, dressed like a workman, and never went
out except at night.
Messrs. Bolt and Little were rattened again, and never knew it till
morning. This time it was not the bands, but certain axle-nuts and
screws that vanished. The obnoxious machines came to a standstill,
and Bolt fumed and cursed. However, at ten o'clock, he and the
foreman were invited to the Town hall, and there they found the
missing gear, and the culprit, one of the very workmen employed at
high wages on the obnoxious machines.
Ransome had bored a small hole in the ceiling, by means of which
this room was watched from above; the man was observed, followed,
and nabbed. The property found on him was identified and the
magistrate offered the prisoner a jury, which he declined; then the
magistrate dealt with the case summarily, refused to recognize
rattening, called the offense "petty larceny," and gave the man six
Now as Ransome, for obvious reasons, concealed the means by which
this man had been detected, a conviction so mysterious shook that
sense of security which ratteners had enjoyed for many years, and
the trades began to find that craft had entered the lists with
Unfortunately, those who directed the Saw-grinders' Union thought
the existence of the trade at stake, and this minor defeat merely
Little received a letter telling him he was acting worse than
Brinsley, who had been shot in the Briggate; and asking him, as a
practical man, which he thought was likely to die first, he or the
Union? "You won't let us live; why should we let you?"
Bolt was threatened in similar style, but he merely handed the
missives to Ransome; he never flinched.
Not so Little. He got nervous; and, in a weak moment, let his
mother worm out of him that he was at war with the trades again.
This added anxiety to her grief, and she became worse every day.
Then Dr. Amboyne interfered, and, after a certain degree of fencing--
which seems inseparable from the practice of medicine--told Henry
plainly he feared the very worst if this went on; Mrs. Little was on
the brink of jaundice. By his advice Henry took her to Aberystwith
in Wales, and, when he had settled her there, went back to his
To those was now added a desolate home; gone was the noble face, the
maternal eye, the soothing voice, the unfathomable love. He never
knew all her value till now.
One night, as he sat by himself sad and disconsolate, his servant
came to tell him there was a young woman inquiring for Mrs. Little.
Henry went out to her, and it was Jael Dence. He invited her in,
and told her what had happened. Jael saw his distress, and gave him
her womanly sympathy. "And I came to tell her my own trouble," said
she; "fie on me!"
"Then tell it me, Jael. There, take off your shawl and sit down.
They shall make you a cup of tea."
Jael complied, with a slight blush; but as to her trouble, she said
it was not worth speaking of in that house.
Henry insisted, however, and she said, "Mine all comes of my sister
marrying that Phil Davis. To tell you the truth, I went to church
with a heavy heart on account of their both beginning with a D--
Dence and Davis; for 'tis an old saying--
"'If you change the name, and not the letter,
You change for the worse, and not for the better.'
Well, sir, it all went wrong somehow. Parson, he was South country;
and when his time came to kiss the bride, he stood and looked ever
so helpless, and I had to tell him he must kiss her; and even then
he stared foolish-like a bit before he kissed her, and the poor
lass's face getting up and the tear in her eye at being slighted.
And that put Patty out for one thing: and then she wouldn't give
away the ribbon to the fastest runner--the lads run a hundred yards
to the bride, for ribbon and kiss, you know;--wasn't the ribbon she
grudged, poor wench; but the fastest runner in Cairnhope town is
that Will Gibbon, a nasty, ugly, slobbering chap, that was always
after her, and Philip jealous of him; so she did for the best, and
Will Gibbon safe to win it. But the village lads they didn't see
the reason, and took it all to themselves. Was she better than
their granddam? and were they worse than their grandsires? They ran
on before, and fired the anvil when she passed: just fancy! an
affront close to her own door: and, sir, she walked in a doors
crying. There was a wedding for you! George the blacksmith was
that hurt at their making free with his smithy to affront her, he
lifted his arm for the first time, and pretty near killed a couple
of them, poor thoughtless bodies. Well, sir, Phil Davis always took
a drop, you know, and, instead of mending, he got worse; they live
with father, and of course he has only to go to the barrel; old-
fashioned farmers like us don't think to spy on the ale. He was so
often in liquor, I checked him; but Patty indulged him in every
thing. By-and-by my lord gets ever so civil to me; 'What next?'
said I to myself. One fine evening we are set upstairs at our tea;
in he comes drunk, and says many things we had to look at one
another and excuse. Presently he tells us all that he has made a
mistake; he has wedded Patty, and I'm the one he likes the best.
But I thought the fool was in jest; but Patty she gave a cry as if a
knife had gone through her heart. Then my blood got up in a moment.
'That's an affront to all three,' said I: 'and take your answer, ye
drunken sow,' said I. I took him by the scruff of the neck and just
turned him out of the room and sent him to the bottom of the stairs
headforemost. Then Patty she quarreled with me, and father he sided
with her. And so I gave them my blessing, and told them to send for
me in trouble; and I left the house I was born in. It all comes of
her changing her name, and not her letter." Here a few tears
interrupted further comment.
Henry consoled her, and asked her what she was going to do.
She said she did not know; but she had a good bit of money put by,
and was not afraid of work, and, in truth, she had come there to ask
Mrs. Little's advice, "poor lady. Now don't you mind me, Mr. Henry,
your trouble is a deal worse than mine."
"Jael," said he, "you must come here and keep my house till my poor
mother is better."
Jael colored and said, "Nay, that will not do. But if you could
find me something to do in your great factory--and I hear you have
enemies there; you might as well have a friend right in the middle
of them. Eh, but I'd keep my eyes and ears open for you."
Henry appreciated this proposal, and said there were plenty of
things she could do; she could hone, she could pack, she could
superintend, and keep the girls from gabbling; "That," said he, "is
the real thing that keeps them behind the men at work."
So Jael Dence lodged with a female cousin in Hillsborough, and
filled a position of trust in the factory of Bolt and Little: she
packed, and superintended, and the foreman paid her thirty shillings
a week. The first time this was tendered her she said severely, "Is
this right, young man?" meaning, "Is it not too much?"
"Oh, you will be raised if you stay with us three months."
"Raised?" said the virtuous rustic! Then, looking loftily round on
the other women, "What ever do these factory folk find to grumble
Henry told Grace all about this, and she said, rather eagerly, "Ah,
I am glad of that. You'll have a good watch-dog."
It was a shrewd speech. The young woman soon found out that Little
was really in danger, and she was all eyes and ears, and no tongue.
Yet neither her watchfulness, nor Ransome's, prevailed entirely
against the deviltries of the offended Union. Machinery was always
breaking down by pure accident; so everybody swore, and nobody
believed: the water was all let out of the boiler, and the boiler
burst. Bands were no longer taken but they were cut. And, in
short, the works seemed to be under a curse.
And, lest the true origin of all these mishaps should be doubted,
each annoyance was followed by an anonymous letter. These were
generally sent to Little. A single sentence will indicate the
general tone of each.
1. "All these are but friendly warnings, to save your life if
2. "I never give in. I fight to death, and with more craft and
duplicity than Bolt and Ransome. They will never save you from me,
if you persist. Ask others whether I ever failed to keep my word."
3. "If I but move my finger, you are sent into eternity."
Henry Little's nerve began to give way more and more.
Meantime Cole met Mr. Coventry, and told him what was going on
beneath the surface: at the same time he expressed his surprise at
the extraordinary forbearance shown by the Union. "Grotait is
turning soft, I think. He will not give the word to burn
"Then do it without him."
Cole shook his head, and said he daren't. But, after some
reflection, he said there was a mate of his who was not so dependent
on Grotait: he might be tempted perhaps to do something on his own
hook, Little being wrong with the trade, and threatened. "How much
would you stand?"
"How far would your friend go?"
"I'll ask him."
Next day Cole walked coolly into the factory at dinner-time and had
a conversation with Hill, one of the workmen, who he knew was acting
for the Union, and a traitor in his employers' camp. He made Hill a
proposal. Hill said it was a very serious thing; he would think of
it, and meet him at a certain safe place and tell him.
Cole strolled out of the works, but not unobserved. Jael Dence had
made it her business to know every man in the factory by sight, and
observing, from a window, a stranger in conversation with Hill, she
came down and met Cole at the gate. She started at sight of him: he
did not exactly recognize her; but, seeing danger in her eye, took
to his heels, and ran for it like a deer: but Jael called to some of
the men to follow him, but nobody moved. They guessed it was a
Union matter. Jael ran to Little, and told him that villain, who
had escaped from Raby Hall, had been in the works colloguing with
one of the men.
Ransome was sent for, and Cole described to him.
As for Hill, Jael watched him like a cat from that hour, since a man
is known by his friends. She went so far as to follow him home
Cole got fifty pounds out of Coventry for Hill, and promised him
twenty. For this sum Hill agreed to do Little. But he demanded
some time to become proficient in the weapon he meant to use.
During the interval events were not idle. A policeman saw a cutter
and a disguised gentleman talking together, and told Ransome. He
set spies to discover, if possible, what that might mean.
One day the obnoxious machines were stopped by an ACCIDENT to the
machinery, and Little told Jael this, and said, "Have you a mind to
earn five pound a week?"
"Ay, if I could do it honestly?"
"Let us see the arm that flung Phil Davis down-stairs."
Jael colored a little, but bared her left arm at command.
"Good heavens!" cried Little. "What a limb! Why mine is a shrimp
compared with it."
"Ay, mine has the bulk, but yours the pith."
"Oh, come; if your left arm did that, what must your right be?"
"Oh," said Jael, "you men do every thing with your right hand; but
we lasses know no odds. My left is as strong as my right, and both
at your service."
"Then come along with me."
He took her into the "Experiment Room," explained the machine to
her, gave her a lesson or two; and so simple was the business that
she soon mastered her part of it; and Little with his coat off, and
Jael, with her noble arms bare, ground long saws together secretly;
and Little, with Bolt's consent, charged the firm by the gross. He
received twenty-four pounds per week, out of which he paid Jael six,
in spite of her "How can a lass's work be worth all that?" and
Being now once more a workman, and working with this loyal lass so
many hours a day, his spirits rose a little, and his nerves began to
recover their tone.
But meantime Hill was maturing his dark design.
In going home, Little passed through one place he never much liked,
it was a longish close, with two sharp rectangular turns.
Since he was threatened by the trade, he never entered this close
without looking behind him. He did not much fear an attack in
front, being always armed with pistols now.
On a certain night he came to this place as usual, went as far as
the first turn, then looked sharply round to see if he was followed;
but there was nobody behind except a woman, who was just entering
the court. So he went on.
But a little way down this close was a small public-house, and the
passage-door was ajar, and a man watching. No sooner was Little out
of sight than he emerged, and followed him swiftly on tiptoe.
The man had in his hand a weapon that none but a Hillsborough cutler
would have thought of; yet, as usual, it was very fit for the
purpose, being noiseless and dangerous, though old-fashioned. It
was a long strong bow, all made of yew-tree. The man fitted an
arrow to this, and running lightly to the first turn, obtained a
full view of Little's retiring figure, not fifteen yards distant.
So well was the place chosen, that he had only to discharge his
weapon and then run back. His victim could never see him.
He took a deliberate aim at Little's back, drew the arrow to the
head, and was about to loose it, when a woman's arm was flung round
Coventry and Cole met that night near a little church.
Hill was to join them, and tell them the result.
Now, as it happens, Little went home rather late that night; so
these confederates waited, alternately hoping and fearing, a
Presently, something mysterious occurred that gave them a chill. An
arrow descended, as if from the clouds, and stuck quivering on a
grave not ten yards from them. The black and white feathers shone
clear in the moonlight.
To Coventry it seemed as if Heaven was retaliating on him.
The more prosaic but quick-witted cutler, after the first
stupefaction, suspected it was the very arrow destined for Little,
and said so.
"And Heaven flings it back to us," said Coventry, and trembled in
"Heaven has naught to do in it. The fool has got drunk, and shot it
in the air. Anyway, it mustn't stick there to tell tales."
Cole vaulted over the church-yard wall, drew it out of the grave,
and told Coventry to hide it.
"Go you home," said he. "I'll find out what this means."
Hill's unexpected assailant dragged him back so suddenly and
violently that the arrow went up at an angle of forty-five, and, as
the man loosed the string to defend himself, flew up into the sky,
and came down full a hundred yards from the place.
Hill twisted violently round and, dropping the bow, struck the woman
in the face with his fist; he had not room to use all his force; yet
the blow covered her face with blood. She cried out, but gripped
him so tight by both shoulders that he could not strike again but he
kicked her savagely. She screamed, but slipped her arms down and
got him tight round the waist. Then he was done for; with one
mighty whirl she tore him off his feet in a moment, then dashed
herself and him under her to the ground with such ponderous violence
that his head rang loud on the pavement and he was stunned for a few
seconds. Ere he quite recovered she had him turned on his face, and
her weighty knee grinding down his shoulders, while her nimble hands
whipped off her kerchief and tied his hands behind him in a
So quickly was it all done, that by the time Little heard the
scrimmage, ascertained it was behind him, and came back to see, she
was seated on her prisoner, trembling and crying after her athletic
feat, and very little fit to cope with the man if he had not been
Little took her by the hands. "Oh, my poor Jael! What is the
matter? Has the blackguard been insulting you?" And, not waiting
for an answer, gave him a kick that made him howl again.
"Yes, kill him, the villain! he wanted to murder you. Oh, oh, oh!"
She could say no more, but became hysterical.
Henry supported her tenderly, and wiped the blood from her face; and
as several people came up, and a policeman, he gave the man in
charge, on Jael's authority, and he was conveyed to the station
accordingly, he and his bow.
They took Jael Dence to a chemist's shop, and gave her cold water
and salts: the first thing she did, when she was quite herself, was
to seize Henry Little's hand and kiss it with such a look of joy as
brought tears into his eyes.
Then she told her story, and was taken in a cab to the police-
office, and repeated her story there.
Then Henry took her to Woodbine Villa, and Grace Carden turned very
pale at Henry's danger, though passed: she wept over Jael, and
kissed her; and nobody could make enough of her.
Grace Carden looked wistfully at Henry and said, "Oh that I had a
strong arm to defend you!"
"Oh, Miss Grace," said Jael, "don't you envy me. Go away with him
from this wicked, murdering place. That will be a deal better than
any thing I can do for him."
"Ah, would to Heaven I could this minute!" said Grace, clinging
tenderly to his shoulder. She insisted on going home with him and
sharing his peril for once.
Hill was locked up for the night.
In the morning a paper was slipped into his hand. "Say there was no
He took this hint, and said that he was innocent as a babe of any
harm. He had got a bow to repair for a friend, and he went home
twanging it, was attacked by a woman, and, in his confusion, struck
her once, but did not repeat the blow.
Per contra, Jael Dence distinctly swore there was an arrow, with two
white feathers and one black one, and that the prisoner was shooting
at Mr. Little. She also swore that she had seen him colloguing with
another man, who had been concerned in a former attempt on Mr.
Little, and captured, but had escaped from Raby Hall.
On this the magistrate declined to discharge the prisoner; but, as
no arrow could be found at present, admitted him to bail, two
securities fifty pounds each, which was an indirect way of
imprisoning him until the Assizes.
This attempt, though unsuccessful in one way, was very effective in
another. It shook Henry Little terribly; and the effect was
enhanced by an anonymous letter he received, reminding him there
were plenty of noiseless weapons. Brinsley had been shot twice, and
no sound heard. "When your time comes, you'll never know what hurt
you." The sense of a noiseless assassin eternally dogging him
preyed on Little's mind and spirits, and at last this life on the
brink of the grave became so intolerable that he resolved to leave
Hillsborough, but not alone.
He called on Grace Carden, pale and agitated.
"Grace," said he, "do you really love me?"
"Oh, Henry! Do I love you?"
"Then save me from this horrible existence. Oh, my love, if you
knew what it is to have been a brave man, and to find your courage
all oozing away under freezing threats, that you know, by
experience, will be followed by some dark, subtle, bloody deed or
other. There, they have brought me down to this, that I never go
ten steps without looking behind me, and, when I go round a corner,
I turn short and run back, and wait at the corner to see if an
assassin is following me. I tremble at the wind. I start at my own
Grace threw her arms round his neck, and stopped him with tears and
"Ah, bless you, my love!" he cried, and kissed her fondly. "You
pity me--you will save me from this miserable, degrading life?"
"Ah, that I will, if I can, my own."
"Then tell me how."
"Be my wife--let us go to the United States together. Dearest, my
patents are a great success. We are making our fortune, though we
risk our lives. In America I could sell these inventions for a
large sum, or work them myself at an enormous profit. Be my wife,
and let us fly this hellish place together."
"And so I would in a moment; but" (with a deep sigh) "papa would
never consent to that."
"Dispense with his consent."
"Oh, Henry; and marry under my father's curse!"
"He could not curse you, if he love you half as well as I do; and if
he does not, why sacrifice me, and perhaps my life, to him?"
"Henry, for pity's sake, think of some other way. Why this violent
haste to get rich? Have a little patience. Mr. Raby will not
always be abroad. Oh, pray give up Mr. Bolt, and go quietly on at
peace with these dreadful Trades. You know I'll wait all my life
for you. I will implore papa to let you visit me oftener. I will
do all a faithful, loving girl can do to comfort you."
"Ay," said Henry, bitterly, "you will do anything but the one thing
"Yes, anything but defy my father. He is father and mother both to
me. How unfortunate we both are! If you knew what it costs me to
deny you anything, if you knew how I long to follow you round the
She choked with emotion, and seemed on the point of yielding, after
But he said, bitterly, "You long to follow me round the world, and
you won't go a twelve-days' voyage with me to save my life. Ah, it
is always so. You don't love me as poor Jael Dence loves me. She
saved my life without my asking her; but you won't do it when I
"Henry, my own darling, if any woman on earth loves you better than
I do, for God's sake marry her, and let me die to prove I loved you
"Very well," said he, grinding his teeth. "Next week I leave this
place with a wife. I give you the first offer, because I love you.
I shall give Jael the second, because she loves me."
So then he flung out of the room, and left Grace Carden half
fainting on the sofa, and drowned in tears.
But before he got back to the works he repented his violence, and
his heart yearned for her more than ever.
With that fine sense of justice which belongs to love, he spoke
roughly to Jael Dence.
She stared, and said nothing, but watched him furtively, and saw his
eyes fill with tears at the picture memory recalled of Grace's pale
face and streaming eyes.
She put a few shrewd questions, and his heart was so full he could
not conceal the main facts, though he suppressed all that bore
reference to Jael herself. She took Grace's part, and told him he
was all in the wrong; why could not he go to America alone, and sell
his patents, and then come back and marry Grace with the money?
"Why drag her across the water, to make her quarrel with her
"Why, indeed?" said Henry: "because I'm not the man I was. I have
no manhood left. I have not the courage to fight the Trades, nor
yet the courage to leave the girl I love so dearly."
"Eh, poor lad," said Jael, "thou hast courage enough; but it has
been too sore tried, first and last. You have gone through enough
to break a man of steel."
She advised him to go and make his submission at once.
He told her she was his guardian angel, and kissed her, in the
warmth of his gratitude; and he went back to Woodbine Villa, and
asked Grace's forgiveness, and said he would go alone to the States
and come back with plenty of money to satisfy Mr. Carden's prudence,
Grace clutched him gently with both hands, as if to hinder from
leaving her. She turned very pale, and said, "Oh my heart!"
Then she laid her head on his shoulder, and wept piteously.
He comforted her, and said, "What is it? a voyage of twelve days!
And yet I shall never have the courage to bid you good-by."
"Nor I you, my own darling."
Having come to this resolution, he was now seized with a fear that
he would be assassinated before he could carry it out; to diminish
the chances, he took up his quarters at the factory, and never went
out at night. Attached to the works was a small building near the
water-side. Jael Dence occupied the second floor of it. He had a
camp-bed set up on the first floor, and established a wire
communication with the police office. At the slightest alarm he
could ring a bell in Ransome's ear. He also clandestinely unscrewed
a little postern door that his predecessors had closed, and made a
key to the lock, so that if he should ever be compelled to go out at
night he might baffle his foes, who would naturally watch the great
gate for his exit.
With all this he became very depressed and moody, and alarmed Doctor
Amboyne, who remembered his father's end.
The doctor advised him to go and see his mother for a day or two;
but he shook his head, and declined.
A prisoner detained for want of bail is allowed to communicate with
his friends, and Grotait soon let Hill know he was very angry with
him for undertaking to do Little without orders. Hill said that the
job was given him by Cole, who was Grotait's right-hand man, and
Grotait had better bail him, otherwise he might be induced to tell
Grotait let him stay in prison three days, and then sent two
householders with the bail.
Hill was discharged, and went home. At dusk he turned out to find
Cole, and tracing him from one public-house to another, at last
lighted on him in company with Mr. Coventry.
This set him thinking; however, he held aloof till they parted; and
then following Cole, dunned him for his twenty pounds.
Cole gave him five pounds on account. Hill grumbled, and
Grotait sent for both men, and went into a passion, and threatened
to hang them both if they presumed to attack Little's person again
in any way. "It is the place I mean to destroy," said Grotait, "not
Cole conveyed this to Coventry, and it discouraged him mightily, and
he told Cole he should give it up and go abroad.
But soon after this some pressure or other was brought to bear on
Grotait, and Cole, knowing this, went to him, and asked him whether
Bolt and Little were to be done or not.
"It is a painful subject," said Grotait.
"It is a matter of life and death to us," said Cole.
"That is true. But mind--the place, and not the man." Cole
assented, and then Grotait took him on to a certain bridge, and
pointed out the one weak side of Bob and Little's fortress, and
showed him how the engine-chimney could be got at and blown down,
and so the works stopped entirely: "And I'll tell you something,"
said he; "that chimney is built on a bad foundation, and was never
very safe; so you have every chance."
Then they chaffered about the price, and at last Grotait agreed to
give him L20.
Cole went to Coventry, and told how far Grotait would allow him to
go: "But," said he, "L20 is not enough. I run an even chance of
being hung or lagged."
"Go a step beyond your instructions, and I'll give you a hundred
"I daren't," said Cole: "unless there was a chance to blow up the
place with the man in it." Then, after a moment's reflection, he
said: "I hear he sleeps in the works. I must find out where."
Accordingly, he talked over one of the women in the factory, and
gained the following information, which he imparted to Mr. Coventry:
Little lived and slept in a detached building recently erected, and
the young woman who had overpowered Hill slept in a room above him.
She passed in the works for his sweetheart, and the pair were often
locked up together for hours at a time in a room called the
This information took Coventry quite by surprise, and imbittered his
hatred of Little. While Cole was felicitating him on the situation
of the building, he was meditating how to deal his hated rival a
stab of another kind.
Cole, however, was single-minded in the matter; and the next day he
took a boat and drifted slowly down the river, and scanned the place
He came at night to Coventry, and told him he thought he might
perhaps be able to do the trick without seeming to defy Grotait's
instructions. "But," said he, "it is a very dangerous job.
Premises are watched: and, what do you think? they have got wires up
now that run over the street to the police office, and Little can
ring a bell in Ransome's room, and bring the bobbies across with a
rush in a moment. It isn't as it was under the old chief constable;
this one's not to be bought nor blinded. I must risk a halter."
"You shall have fifty pounds more."
"You are a gentleman, sir. I should like to have it in hard
sovereigns. I'm afraid of notes. They get traced somehow."
"You shall have it all in sovereigns."
"I want a little in advance, to buy the materials. They are costly,
especially the fulminating silver."
Coventry gave him ten sovereigns, and they parted with the
understanding that Cole should endeavor to blow up the premises on
some night when Little was in them, and special arrangements were
made to secure this.
Henry Little and Grace Carden received each of them, an anonymous
letter, on the same day.
Grace Carden's ran thus:--
"I can't abide to see a young lady made a fool of by a villain. Mr.
Little have got his miss here: they dote on each other. She lives
in the works, and so do he, ever since she came, which he usen't
afore. They are in one room, as many as eight hours at a stretch,
and that room always locked. It is the talk of all the girls. It
is nought to me, but I thought it right you should know, for it is
quite a scandal. She is a strapping country lass, with a queerish
name. This comes from a strange, but a well-wisher.
The letter to Henry Little was as follows:--
"The reason of so many warnings and ne'er a blow, you had friends in
the trade. But you have worn them out. You are a doomed man.
Prepare to meet your God.
"[Drawing of coffin.]"
This was the last straw on the camel's back, as the saying is.
He just ground it in his hand, and then he began to act.
He set to work, packed up models, and dispatched them by train;
clothes ditto, and wrote a long letter to his mother.
Next day he was busy writing and arranging papers till the
afternoon. Then he called on Grace, as related, and returned to the
works about six o'clock: he ordered a cup of tea at seven, which
Jael brought him. She found him busy writing letters, and one of
these was addressed to Grace Carden.
That was all she saw of him that night; for she went to bed early,
and she was a sound sleeper.
It was nine o'clock of this same evening.
Mr. Coventry, disguised in a beard, was walking up and down a
certain street opposite the great door of the works.
He had already walked and lounged about two hours. At last Cole
joined him for a moment and whispered in a tone full of meaning,
"Will it do now?"
Coventry's teeth chattered together as he replied, "Yes; now is the
"Got the money ready?"
"Let us see it."
"When you have done what you promised me."
"That very moment?"
"That very moment."
"Then I'll tell you what you must do. In about an hour go on the
new bridge, and I'll come to you; and, before I've come to you many
minutes, you'll see summut and hear summut that will make a noise in
Hillsbro', and, perhaps, get us both into trouble."
"Not if you are as dexterous as others have been."
"Others! I was in all those jobs. But this is the queerest. I go
to it as if I was going to a halter. No matter, a man can but die
And, with these words, he left him and went softly down to the
water-side. There, in the shadow of the new bridge, lay a little
boat, and in it a light-jointed ladder, a small hamper, and a basket
of tools. The rowlocks were covered with tow, and the oars made no
noise whatever, except the scarce audible dip in the dark stream.
It soon emerged below the bridge like a black spider crawling down
the stream, and melted out of sight the more rapidly that a slight
fog was rising.
Cole rowed softly past the works, and observed a very faint light in
Little's room. He thought it prudent to wait till this should be
extinguished, but it was not extinguished. Here was an unexpected
However, the fog thickened a little, and this encouraged him to
venture; he beached the boat very gently on the muddy shore, and
began his work, looking up every now and then at that pale light,
and ready to fly at the first alarm.
He took out of the boat a large varnish-can, which he had filled
with gunpowder, and wrapped tightly round with wire, and also with a
sash-line; this can was perforated at the side, and a strong tube
screwed tightly into it; the tube protruded twelve inches from the
can in shape of an S: by means of this a slow-burning fuse was
connected with the powder; some yards of this fuse were wrapt
loosely round the can.
Cole crept softly to the engine-chimney, and, groping about for the
right place, laid the can in the engine bottom and uncoiled the
fuse. He took out of his pocket some small pieces of tile, and laid
the fuse dry on these.
Then he gave a sigh of relief, and crept back to the boat.
Horrible as the action was, he had done all this without much fear,
and with no remorse, for he was used to this sort of work; but now
he had to commit a new crime, and with new and terrible materials,
which he had never handled in the way of crime before.
He had in his boat a substance so dangerous that he had made a nest
of soft cotton for the receptacle which held it; and when the boat
touched the shore, light as the contact was, he quaked lest his
imprisoned giant-devil should go off and blow him to atoms.
He put off touching it till the last moment. He got his jointed
ladder, set it very softly underneath the window where the feeble
gas-light was, and felt about with his hands for the grating he had
observed when he first reconnoitered the premises from the river.
He found it, but it was so high that he had to reach a little, and
the position was awkward for working.
The problem was how to remove one of those bars, and so admit his
infernal machine; it was about the shape and size of an ostrich's
It must be done without noise, for the room above him was Little's,
and Little, he knew, had a wire by means of which he could summon
Ransome and the police in the turn of a hand.
The cold of the night, and the now present danger, made Cole shiver
all over, and he paused.
But he began again, and, taking out a fine steel saw highly
tempered, proceeded to saw the iron slowly and gently, ready at the
first alarm to spring from his ladder and run away.
With all his caution, steel grated against steel, and made too much
noise in the stilly night. He desisted. He felt about, and found
the grating was let into wood, not stone; he oiled the saw, and it
cut the wood like butter; he made two cuts like a capital V, and a
bar of the grating came loose; he did the same thing above, and the
bar came out.
Cole now descended the ladder, and prepared for the greatest danger
of all. He took from its receptacle the little metal box lined with
glazed paper, which contained the fulminating silver and its fuse;
and, holding it as gently as possible, went and mounted the ladder
again, putting his foot down as softly as a cat.
But he was getting colder and colder, and at this unfortunate moment
he remembered that, when he was a lad, a man had been destroyed by
fulminating silver--quite a small quantity--in a plate over which he
was leaning; yet the poor wretch's limbs had been found in different
places, and he himself had seen the head; it had been torn from the
trunk and hurled to an incredible distance.
That trunkless head he now fancied he saw, in the middle of the fog;
and his body began to sweat cold, and his hands to shake so that he
could hardly told the box. But if he let it fall--
He came hastily down the ladder and sat down on the dirty ground,
with the infernal engine beside him.
By-and-by he got up and tried to warm his hands and feet by motion,
and at last he recovered his fortitude, and went softly and cat-like
up the steps again, in spite of the various dangers he incurred.
Of what was this man's mind composed, whom neither a mere bribe
could buy to do this deed, nor pure fanaticism without a bribe; but,
where both inducements met, neither the risk of immediate death, nor
of imprisonment for life, nor both dangers united, could divert him
from his deadly purpose, though his limbs shook, and his body was
bedewed with a cold perspiration?
He reached the top of the ladder, he put his hand inside the grate;
there was an aperture, but he could not find the bottom. He
Here was a fresh danger: if he let the box fall it might explode at
once and send him to eternity.
Once more he came softly down, and collected all the tow and wool he
could find. He went up the ladder and put these things through the
grating; they formed a bed.
Then he went back for the fatal box, took it up the ladder with
beating heart, laid it softly in its bed, uncoiled the fuse and let
it hang down.
So now these two fiendish things were placed, and their devilish
tails hanging out behind them. The fuses had been cut with the
utmost nicety to burn the same length of time--twelve minutes.
But Cole was too thoughtful and wary to light the fuses until
everything was prepared for his escape. He put the ladder on board
the boat, disposed the oars so that he could use them at once; then
crept to the engine-chimney, kneeled down beside the fuse, looked up
at the faint light glimmering above, and took off his hat.
With singular cunning and forethought he had pasted a piece of
sandpaper into his hat. By this means he lighted a lucifer at once,
and kept it out of sight from the windows, and also safe from the
weather; he drew the end of the fuse into the hat, applied the match
to it out of sight, then blew the match out and darted to his other
infernal machine. In less than ten seconds he lighted that fuse
too; then stepped into the boat, and left those two devilish sparks
creeping each on its fatal errand. He pulled away with exulting
bosom, beating heart, and creeping flesh. He pulled swiftly up
stream, landed at the bridge, staggered up the steps, and found
Coventry at his post, but almost frozen, and sick of waiting.
He staggered up to him and gasped out, "I've done the trick, give me
the brass, and let me go. I see a halter in the air." His teeth
But Coventry, after hoping and fearing for two hours and a half, had
lost all confidence in his associate, and he said, "How am I to know
you've done anything?"
"You'll see and you'll hear," said Cole. "Give me the brass."
"Wait till I see and hear," was the reply.
"What, wait to be nabbed? Another minute, and all the town will be
out after me. Give it me, or I'll take it."