Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Recollections of Geoffrey Hamlyn by Henry Kingsley

Part 2 out of 12

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

But on the morrow they quarrelled about something or another, and her
advice was never asked. George was moody and captious all day; and at
evening, having drank hard, he slipped off, and, gun in hand, rode
away through the darkening woods towards the moor.

It was dark before he had got clear of the labyrinth of lanes through
which he took his way. His horse he turned out in a small croft close
to where the heather began; and, having hid the saddle and bridle in a
hedge, strode away over the moor with his gun on his shoulder.

He would not think; he would sooner whistle; distance seemed like
nothing to him; and he was surprised and frightened to find himself
already looking over the deep black gulf through which the river ran
before he thought he was half-way there.

He paused to look before he began to descend. A faint light still
lingered in the frosty sky to the southwest, and majestic Yestor rose
bold and black against it. Down far, far beneath his feet was the
river, dimly heard, but not seen; and, as he looked to where it should
be, he saw a little flickering star, which arrested his attention. That
must be Lee's fire--there he began to descend.

Boldly at first, but afterwards more stealthily, and now more silently
still, for the fire is close by, and it were well to give him no
notice. It is in the old place, and he can see it now, not ten yards
before him, between two rocks.

Nearer yet a little, with cat-like tread. There is Lee, close to the
fire, sitting on the ground, dimly visible, yet clearly enough for his
purpose. He rests the gun on a rock, and takes his aim.

He is pinioned from behind by a vigorous hand, and a voice he knows
cries in his ear--"Help, Bill, or you'll be shot!"

The gun goes off in the scuffle, but hurts nobody, and Lee running up,
George finds the tables completely turned, and himself lying, after a
few desperate struggles, helplessly pinioned on the ground.

Dick had merely blinded him by appearing to go to Exeter. They both
thought it likely that he would attack Lee, but neither supposed he
would have stolen on him so treacherously. Dick had just noticed him in
time, and sprung upon him, or Lee's troubles would have been over for

"You treacherous young sweep, you shall hang for this," were Lee's
first words. "Ten thousand pounds would not save you now. Dick, you're
a jewel. If I had listened to you, I shouldn't have trusted my life to
the murdering vagabond. I'll remember to-night, my boy, as long as I

Although it appeared at first that ten thousand pounds would not
prevent Lee handing George over to justice, yet, after a long and
stormy argument, it appeared that the lesser sum of five hundred
would be amply sufficient to stay any ulterior proceedings, provided
the money was forthcoming in a week. So that ultimately George found
himself at liberty again, and, to his great astonishment, in higher
spirits than he could have expected.

"At all events," said he to himself, as he limped back, lame and
bruised, "I have not got THAT on my mind. Even if this other thing was
found out, there is a chance of getting off. Surely my own father
wouldn't prosecute--though I wouldn't like to trust to it, unless I
got Madge on my side."

His father, I think I have mentioned, was too blind to read, and George
used to keep all his accounts; so that nothing would seem at first to
look more easy than to imitate his father's signature, and obtain what
money he wished. But George knew well that the old man was often in the
habit of looking through his banker's book, with the assistance of
Madge, so that he was quite unsafe without her. His former embezzlement
he had kept secret, by altering some figure in the banker's book; but
this next one, of such a much larger amount, he felt somewhat anxious
about. He, however, knew his woman well, and took his measures

On the day mentioned, he met Lee, and gave him the money agreed on; and
having received his assurances that he valued his life too much to
trouble him any more, saw him depart, fully expecting that he should
have another application at an early date; under which circumstances,
he thought he would take certain precautions which should be

But he saw Lee no more. No more for many, many years. But how and when
they met again, and who came off best in the end, this tale will truly
and sufficiently set forth hereafter.

Chapter VII


Spring had come again, after a long wet winter, and every orchard-hollow
blushed once more with appleblossoms. In warm sheltered
southern valleys hedges were already green, and even the tall
hedgerow-elms began, day after day, to grow more shady and dense.

It was a bright April morning, about ten o'clock, when Mary Thornton,
throwing up her father's studywindow from the outside, challenged him
to come out and take a walk; and John, getting his hat and stick,
immediately joined her in front of the house.

"Where is your aunt, my love?" said John.

"She is upstairs," said Mary. "I will call her."

She began throwing gravel at one of the upper windows, and crying out,
"Auntie! Auntie!"

The sash was immediately thrown (no, that is too violent a word--say
lifted) up, and a beautiful old lady's face appeared at the window.

"My love," it said, in a small, soft voice, "pray be careful of the
windows. Did you want anything, my dear?"

"I want you out for a walk, Auntie; so come along."

"Certainly, my love. Brother, have you got your thick kerchief in your

"No," said the Vicar, "I have not, and I don't mean to have."

Commencement of a sore-throat lecture from the window, cut short by the
Vicar, who says,--

"My dear, I shall be late if you don't come;" (jesuitically on his
part, for he was going nowhere.)

So she comes accordingly, as sweet-looking an old maid as ever you saw
in your life. People have no right to use up such beautiful women as
governesses. It's a sheer waste of material. Miss Thornton had been a
governess all her life; and now, at the age of five-and-forty, had come
to keep her brother's house for him, add her savings to his, and put
the finishingtouch on Mary's somewhat rough education.

"My love," said she, "I have brought you your gloves."

"Oh, indeed, Auntie, I won't wear them," said Mary. "I couldn't be
plagued with gloves. Nobody wears them here."

"Mrs. Buckley wears them, and it would relieve my mind if you were to
put them on, my dear. I fear my lady's end was accelerated by,
unfortunately, in her last illness, catching sight of Lady Kate's hands
after she had been assisting her brother to pick green walnuts."

Mary was always on the eve of laughing at these aristocratic
recollections of her aunt; and to her credit be it said, she always
restrained herself, though with great difficulty. She, so wildly
brought up, without rule or guidance in feminine matters, could not be
brought to comprehend that prim line-and-rule life, of which her aunt
was the very impersonation. Nevertheless, she heard what Miss
Thornton had to say with respect; and if ever she committed an extreme
GAUCHERIE, calculated to set her aunt's teeth on edge, she always
discovered what was the matter, and mended it as far as she was able.

They stood on the lawn while the glove controversy was going on, and
a glorious prospect there was that bright spring morning. In one
direction the eye was carried down a long, broad, and rich vale,
intersected by a gleaming river, and all the way down set thick with
hamlet, farm, and church. In the dim soft distance rose the two massive
towers of a cathedral, now filling all the countryside with the gentle
melody of their golden-toned bells, while beyond them, in the misty
south, there was a gleam in the horizon, showing where the sky

"Dipped down to sea and sands."

"It's as soft and quiet as a Sunday," said the Vicar; "and what a
fishing day! I have half a mind--Hallo! look here."

The exclamation was caused by the appearance on the walk of a very tall
and noble-looking man, about thirty, leading a grey pony, on which sat
a beautiful woman with a child in her arms. Our party immediately
moved forward to meet them, and a most friendly greeting took place on
both sides, Mary at once taking possession of the child.

This was Major Buckley and his wife Agnes. I mentioned before that,
after Clere was sold, the Major had taken a cottage in Drumston, and
was a constant visitor on the Vicar; generally calling for the old
gentleman to come fishing or shooting, and leaving his wife and his
little son Samuel in the company of Mary and Miss Thornton.

"I have come, Vicar, to take you out fishing," said he. "Get your rod
and come. A capital day. Why, here's the Doctor."

So there was, standing among them before any one had noticed him.

"I announce," said he, "that I shall accept the most agreeable
invitation that any one will give me. What are you going to do, Major?"

"Going fishing."

"Ah! and you, madam?" turning to Miss Thornton.

"I am going to see Mrs. Lee, who has a low fever, poor thing."

"Which Mrs. Lee, madam?"

"Mrs. Lee of Eyford."

"And which Mrs. Lee of Eyford, madam?"

"Mrs. James Lee."

"Junior or senior?" persevered the doctor.

"Junior," replied Miss Thornton, laughing.

"Ah!" said the Doctor, "now we have it. I would suggest that all the
Mrs. Lees in the parish should have a ticket with a number on it, like
the VOITURIERS. Buckley, lay it before the quarter-sessions. If you say
the idea came from a foreigner, they would adopt it immediately. Miss
Thornton, I will do myself the honour of accompanying you, and
examining the case."

So the ladies went off with the Doctor, while the Vicar and Major
Buckley turned to go fishing.

"I shall watch you, Major, instead of fishing myself," said the Vicar.
"Where do you propose going?"

"To the red water," said the Major. Accordingly they turn down a long,
deep lane, which looks certainly as if it would lead one to a red
brook, for the road and banks are of a brick-colour. And so it does,
for presently before them they discern a red mill, and a broad,
pleasant ford, where a crystal brook dimples and sparkles over a bed of
reddish-purple pebbles.

"It is very clear," says the Major. "What's the fly to be, Vicar?"

"That's a very hard question to answer," says the Vicar. "Your
Scotchman, eh? or a small blue dun?"

"We'll try both," says the Major; and in a very short time it becomes
apparent that the small dun is the man, for the trout seem to think
that it is the very thing they have been looking for all day, and rise
at it two at a time.

They fish downwards; and after killing half-a-dozen half-pound fish,
come to a place where another stream joins the first, making it double
its original size, and here there is a great oak-root jutting into a
large deep pool.

The Vicar stands back, intensely excited. This is a sure place for a
big fish. The Major, eager but cool, stoops down and puts his flies in
just above the root at once; not as a greenhorn would, taking a few
wide casts over the pool first, thereby standing a chance of hooking a
little fish, and ruining his chance for a big one; and at the second
trial a deep-bodied brown fellow, about two pounds, dashes at the
treacherous little blue, and gulps him down.

Then what a to-do is there. The Vicar jumping about on the grass,
giving all sorts of contradictory advice. The Major, utterly despairing
of ever getting his fish ashore, fighting a losing battle with infinite
courage, determined that the trout shall remember him, at all events,
if he does get away. And the trout, furious and indignant, but not in
the least frightened, trying vainly to get back to the old root. Was
there ever such a fish?

But the Major is the best man, for after ten minutes troutie is towed
up on his side to a convenient shallow, and the Vicar puts on his
spectacles to see him brought ashore. He scientifically pokes him in
the flank, and spans him across the back, and pronounces EX CATHEDRA--

"You'll find, sir, there won't be a finer fish, take him all in all,
killed in the parish this season."

"Ah, it's a noble sport," says the Major. "I shan't get much more of
it, I'm afraid."

"Why shouldn't you?"

"Well, I'll tell you," says the Major. "Do you know how much property I
have got?"

"No, indeed."

"I have only ten thousand pounds; and how am I to bring up a family on
the interest of that?"

"I should fancy it was quite enough for you," said the Vicar; "you have
only one son."

"How many more am I likely to have, eh? And how should I look to find
myself at sixty with five boys grown up, and only 300L. a-year?"

"That is rather an extreme case," said the Vicar; "you would be poor
then, certainly."

"Just what I don't want to be. Besides wanting to make some money, I am
leading an idle life here, and am getting very tired of it. And so--"
he hesitated.

"And so?" said the Vicar.

"I am thinking of emigrating. To New South Wales. To go into the
sheep-farming line. There."

"There indeed," said the Vicar. "And what has put you up to it?"

"Why, my wife and I have been thinking of going to Canada for some
time, and so the idea is not altogether new. The other day Hamlyn (you
know him) showed me a letter from a cousin of his who is making a good
deal of money there. Having seen that letter, I was much struck with
it, and having made a great many other inquiries, I laid the whole
information before my wife, and begged her to give me her opinion."

"And she recommended you to stay at home in peace and comfort,"
interposed the Vicar.

"On the contrary, she said she thought we ought by all means to go,"
returned the Major.

"Wonderful, indeed. And when shall you go?"

"Not for some time, I think. Not for a year."

"I hope not. What a lonely old man I shall be when you are all gone."

"Nay, Vicar, I hope not," said the Major. "You will stay behind to see
your daughter happily married, and your grand-children about your

The Vicar sighed heavily, and the Major continued.

"By-the-bye, Miss Thornton seems to have made a conquest already. Young
Hawker seems desperately smitten; did it ever strike you?"

"Yes, it has struck me; very deep indeed," said the Vicar; "but what
can I do?"

"You surely would not allow her to marry him?"

"How can I prevent it? She is her own mistress, and I never could
control her yet. How can I control her when her whole heart and soul is
set on him?"

"Good God!" said the Major, "do you really think she cares for him?"

"Oh, she loves him with her whole heart. I have seen it a long while."

"My dear friend, you should take her away for a short time, and see if
she will forget him. Anything sooner than let her marry him."

"Why should she not marry him?" said the Vicar. "She is only a farmer's
grand-daughter. We are nobody, you know."

"But he is not of good character."

"Oh, there is nothing more against him than there is against most young
fellows. He will reform and be steady. Do you know anything special
against him?" asked the Vicar.

"Not actually against him; but just conceive, my dear friend, what a
family to marry into! His father, I speak the plain truth, is a most
disreputable, drunken old man, living in open sin with a gipsy woman of
the worst character, by whom George Hawker has been brought up. What an
atmosphere of vice! The young fellow himself is universally disliked,
and distrusted too, all over the village. Can you forgive me for
speaking so plain?"

"There is no forgiveness necessary, my good friend;" said the Vicar. "I
know how kind your intentions are. But I cannot bring myself to have a
useless quarrel with my daughter merely because I happen to dislike the
object of her choice. It would be quite a useless quarrel. She has
always had her own way, and always will."

"What does Miss Thornton say?" asked the Major.

"Nothing, she never does say anything. She regards Hawker as Mary's
accepted suitor; and though she may think him vulgar, she would sooner
die than commit herself so far as to say so. She has been so long under
others, and without an opinion save theirs, that she cannot form an
opinion at all."

They had turned and were walking home, when the Vicar, sticking his
walking-cane upright in the grass, began again.

"It is the most miserable and lamentable thing that ever took place in
this world. Look at my sister again: what a delicate old maid she is!
used to move and be respected, more than most governesses are, in the
highest society in the land. There'll be a home for her when I die.
Think of her living in the house with any of the Hawkers; and yet, sir,
that woman's sense of duty is such that she'd die sooner than leave her
niece. Sooner be burnt at the stake than go one inch out of the line of
conduct she has marked out for herself."

The Vicar judged his sister most rightly: we shall see that hereafter.

"A man of determination and strength of character could have prevented
it at the beginning, you would say. I dare say he might have; but I am
not a man of determination and strength of character. I never was, and
I never shall be."

"Do you consider it in the light of a settled question, then," said the
Major, "that your daughter should marry young Hawker?"

"God knows. She will please herself. I spoke to her at first about
encouraging him, and she began by laughing at me, and ended by making a
scene whenever I spoke against him. I was at one time in hopes that she
would have taken a fancy to young Stockbridge; but I fear I must have
set her against him by praising him too much. It wants a woman, you
know, to manage those sort of things."

"It does, indeed."

"You see, as I said before, I have no actual reason to urge against
Hawker, and he will be very rich. I shall raise my voice against her
living in the house with that woman Madge--in fact, I won't have it;
but take it all in all, I fear I shall have to make the best of it."

Major Buckley said no more, and soon after they got home. There was
Mrs. Buckley, queenly and beautiful, waiting for her husband; and there
was Mary, pretty, and full of fun; there also was the Doctor, smoking
and contemplating a new fern; and Miss Thornton, with her gloved-hands
folded, calculating uneasily what amount of detriment Mary's complexion
would sustain in consequence of walking about without her bonnet in an
April sun.

One and all cried out to know what sport; and little Sam tottered
forward demanding a fish for himself, which, having got, he at once put
into his mouth head foremost. The Doctor, taking off his spectacles,
examined the contents of the fish-basket, and then demanded:

"Now, my good friend, why do you give yourself the trouble to catch
trout in that round-about way, requiring so much skill and patience? In
Germany we catch them with a net--a far superior way, I assure you.
Get any one of the idle young fellows about the village to go down to
the stream with a net, and they will get more trout in a day than you
would in a week."

"What!" said the Major, indignantly; "put a net in my rented water?--
if I caught any audacious scoundrel carrying a net within half a mile
of it, I'd break his neck. You can't appreciate the delights of
fly-fishing, doctor--you are no sportsman."

"No, I ain't," said the Doctor; "you never said anything truer than
that, James Buckley. I am nothing of the sort. When I was a young man,
I had a sort of brute instinct, which made me take the same sort of
pleasure in killing a boar that a cat does in killing a mouse; but I
have outlived such barbarism."

"Ha! ha!" said the Vicar; "and yet he gave ten shillings for a snipe.
And he's hand-and-glove with every poacher in the parish."

"The snipe was a new species, sir," said the Doctor indignantly; "and
if I do employ the hunters to collect for me, I see no inconsistency in
that. But I consider this fly-fishing mania just of a piece with your
IDIOTIC, I repeat it, IDIOTIC institution of fox-hunting. Why, if you
laid baits poisoned with NUX VOMICA about the haunts of those animals,
you would get rid of them in two years."

The Doctor used to delight in aggravating the Major by attacking
English sports; but he had a great admiration for them nevertheless.

The Major got out his wife's pony; and setting her on it, and handing
up the son and heir, departed home to dinner. They were hardly inside
the gate when Mrs. Buckley began:

"My dear husband, did you bring him to speak of the subject we were
talking about?"

"He went into it himself, wife, tooth and nail."


"Well! indeed, my dear Agnes, do you know that, although I love the old
man dearly, I must say I think he is rather weak."

"So I fear," said Mrs. Buckley; "but he is surely not so weak as to
allow that young fellow to haunt the house, after he has had a hint
that he is making love to Mary?"

"My dear, he accepts him as her suitor. He says he has been aware of it
for some time, and that he has spoken to Mary about it, and made no
impression; so that now he considers it a settled thing."

"What culpable weakness! So Mary encourages him, then?"

"She adores him, and won't hear a word against him."

"Unfortunate girl," said Mrs. Buckley! "and with such a noble young
fellow as Stockbridge ready to cut off his head for her! It is
perfectly inconceivable."

"Young Hawker is very handsome, my dear, you must remember."

"Is he?" said Mrs. Buckley. "I call him one of the most evil-looking
men I ever saw."

"My dear Agnes, I think if you were to speak boldly to her, you might
do some good. You might begin to undermine this unlucky infatuation of
her's; and I am sure, if her eyes were once opened, that the more she
saw him, the less she would like him."

"I think, James," said Mrs. Buckley, "that it becomes the duty of us,
who have been so happy in our marriage, to prevent our good old vicar's
last days from being rendered miserable by such a mesalliance as this.
I am very fond of Mary; but the old Vicar, my dear, has taken the place
of your father to me."

"He is like a second father to me too," said the Major; "but he wants a
good many qualities that my own father had. He hasn't his energy or
determination. Why, if my father had been in his place, and such an
ill-looking young dog as that came hanging about the premises, my
father would have laid his stick about his back. And it would be a good
thing if somebody would do it now."

Such was Major Buckley's opinion.

Chapter VIII


"My dear," said old Miss Thornton, that evening, "I have consulted Mrs.
Buckley on the sleeves, and she is of opinion that they should be

"Do you think," said Mary, "that she thought much about the matter?"

"She promised to give the matter her earnest attention," said Miss
Thornton; "so I suppose she did. Mrs. Buckley would never speak at
random, if she once promised to give her real opinion."

"No, I don't think she would, Auntie, but she is not very particular in
her own dress."

"She always looks like a thorough lady, my dear: Mrs. Buckley is a
woman whom I could set before you as a model for imitation far sooner
than myself."

"She is a duck, at all events," said Mary; "and her husband is a darling."

Miss Thornton was too much shocked to say anything. To hear a young
lady speak of a handsome military man as a "darling," went quite beyond
her experience. She was considering how much bread and water and
backboard she would have felt it her duty to give Lady Kate, or Lady
Fanny, in old times, for such an expression, when the Vicar, who had
been dozing, woke up and said:--

"Bless us, what a night! The equinoctial gales come back again. This
rain will make up for the dry March with a vengeance; I am glad I am
safely housed before a good fire."

Unlucky words! he drew nearer to the fire, and began rubbing his knees;
he had given them about three rubs, when the door opened and the maid's
voice was heard ominous of evil.

"Thomas Jewel is worse, sir, and if you please his missis don't expect
he'll last the night; and could you just step up?"

"Just stepping up," was a pretty little euphemism for walking three
long miles dead in the teeth of a gale of wind, with a fierce rushing
tropical rain. One of the numerous tenders of the ship Jewel (74), had
just arrived before the wind under bare poles, an attempt to set a rag
of umbrella having ended in its being blown out of the bolt-ropes, and
the aforesaid tender Jewel was now in the vicarage harbour of refuge,
reflecting what an awful job it would have in beating back against the

"Who has come with this message?" said the Vicar, entering the kitchen
followed by Miss Thornton and Mary.

"Me, sir," says a voice from the doorway.

"Oh, come in, will you," said the Vicar; "it's a terrible night, is it

"Oh Loord!" said the voice in reply--intending that ejaculation for a
very strong affirmative. And advancing towards the light, displayed a
figure in a long brown great-coat, reaching to the ancles, and topped
by some sort of head-dress, resembling very closely a small black
carpet bag, tied on with a red cotton handkerchief. This was all that
was visible, and the good Vicar stood doubting whether it was male or
female, till catching sight of an immense pair of hobnail boots
peeping from the lower extremity of the coat, he made up his mind at
once, and began:--

"My good boy--"

There was a cackling laugh from under the carpet bag, and a harsh
grating voice replied:

"I be a gurl."

"Dear me," said the Vicar, "then what do you dress yourself in that
style for?--So old Jewel is worse."

"Us don't think a'll live the night."

"Is the doctor with him?" said the Vicar.

"The 'Talian's with un."

By which he understood her to mean Dr. Mulhaus, all foreigners being
considered to be Italians in Drumston. An idea they got, I take it,
from the wandering organ men being of that nation.

"Well," said the Vicar, "I will start at once, and come. It's a
terrible night."

The owner of the great-coat assented with a fiendish cackle, and
departed. The Vicar, having been well wrapped up by his sister and
daughter, departed also, with a last injunction from Miss Thornton to
take care of himself.

Easier said than done, such a night as this. A regular south-westerly
gale, accompanied by a stinging, cutting rain, which made it almost
impossible to look to windward. Earth and sky seemed mixed together,
and each twig and bough sent a separate plaint upon the gale, indignant
at seeing their fresh-acquired honours torn from them and scattered
before the blast.

The Vicar put his head down and sturdily walked against it. It was well
for him that he knew every inch of the road, for his knowledge was
needed now. There was no turn in the road after he had passed the
church, but it took straight away over the high ground up to Hawker's
farm on the woodlands.

Old Jewel, whom he was going to see, had been a hind of Hawker's for
many years; but about a twelvemonth before the present time he had
left his service, partly on account of increasing infirmity, and partly
in consequence of a violent quarrel with Madge. He was a man of
indifferent character. He had been married once in his life, but his
wife only lived a year, and left him with one son, who had likewise
married and given to the world seven as barbarous, neglected, young
savages as any in the parish. The old man, who was now lying on his
deathbed, had been a sort of confidential man to old Hawker, retained
in that capacity on account, the old man said once in his drink, of not
having any wife to worm family affairs out of him. So it was generally
believed by the village folks, that old Jewel was in possession of some
fearful secrets (such as a murder or two, for instance, or a brace of
forgeries), and that the Hawkers daren't turn him out of the cottage
where he lived for their lives.

Perhaps some of these idle rumours may have floated through the Vicar's
brain as he fought forwards against the storm; but if any did, they
were soon dismissed again, and the good man's thoughts carried into a
fresh channel. And he was thinking what a fearful night this would be
at sea, and how any ship could live against such a storm, when he came
to a white gate, which led into the deep woods surrounding Hawker's
house, and in a recess of which lived old Jewel and his family.

Now began the most difficult part of his journey. The broader road that
led from the gate up to the Hawkers' house was plainly perceptible, but
the little path which turned up to the cottage was not so easily found,
and when found, not easily kept on such a black wild night as this.
But, at length, having hit it, he began to follow it with some
difficulty, and soon beginning to descend rapidly, he caught sight of a
light, and, at the same moment, heard the rushing of water.

"Oh," said he to himself, "the water is come down, and I shall have a
nice job to get across it. Any people but the Jewels would have made
some sort of a bridge by now; but they have been content with a fallen
tree ever since the old bridge was carried away."

He scrambled down the steep hill side with great difficulty, and not
without one or two nasty slips, which, to a man of his age, was no
trifle, but at length stood trembling with exertion before a flooded
brook, across which lay a fallen tree, dimly seen in the dark against
the gleam of the rushing water.

"I must stand and steady my nerves a bit after that tumble," he said,
"before I venture over there. That's the 'Brig of Dread' with a
vengeance. However, I never came to harm yet when I was after duty,
so I'll chance it."

The cottage stood just across the brook, and he halloed aloud for some
one to come. After a short time the door opened, and a man appeared
with a lantern.

"Who is there?" demanded Dr. Mulhaus' wellknown voice. "Is it you,

"Aye," rejoined the other, "it's me at present; but it won't be me long
if I slip coming over that log. Here goes," he said, as he steadied
himself and crossed rapidly, while the Doctor held the light. "Ah," he
added, when he was safe across, "I knew I should get over all right."

"You did not seem very certain about it just now," said the Doctor.
"However, I am sincerely glad you are come. I knew no weather would
stop you."

"Thank you, old friend," said the Vicar; "and how is the patient?"

"Going fast. More in your line than mine. The man believes himself

"Not uncommon," said the Vicar, "in these parts; they are always
bothering me with some of that sort of nonsense."

They went in. Only an ordinary scene of poverty, dirt, and vice, such
as exists to some extent, in every parish, in every country on the
globe. Nothing more than that, and yet a sickening sight enough.

A squalid, damp, close room, with the earthen floor sunk in many places
and holding pools of water. The mother smoking in the chimney corner,
the eldest daughter nursing an illegitimate child, and quarrelling with
her mother in a coarse, angry tone. The children, ragged and hungry,
fighting for the fireside. The father away, at some unlawful occupation
probably, or sitting drinking his wages in an alehouse. That was what
they saw, and what any man may see to-day for himself in his own
village, whether in England or Australia, that working man's paradise.
Drink, dirt, and sloth, my friends of the working orders, will produce
the same effects all over the world.

As they came in the woman of the house rose and curtseyed to the Vicar,
but the eldest girl sat still and turned away her head. The Vicar,
after saluting her mother, went gently up to her, and patting the
baby's cheek, asked her kindly how she did. The girl tried to answer
him, but could only sob. She bent down her head again over the child,
and began rocking it to and fro.

"You must bring it to be christened," said the Vicar kindly. "Can you
come on Wednesday?"

"Yes, I'll come," she said with a sort of choke. And now the woman
having lit a fresh candle, ushered them into the sick man's room.

"Typhus and scarlatina!" said the Doctor. "How this place smells after
being in the air. He is sensible again, I think."

"Quite sensible," the sick man answered aloud. "So you've come, Mr.
Thornton; I'm glad of it; I've got a sad story to tell you; but I'll
have vengeance if you do your duty. You see the state I am in!"

"Ague!" said the Vicar.

"And who gave it me?"

"Why, God sent it to you," said the Vicar. "All people living in a
narrow wet valley among woodlands like this, must expect ague."

"I tell you she gave it to me. I tell you she has overlooked me; and
all this doctor's stuff is no use, unless you can say a charm as will
undo her devil's work."

"My good friend," said the Vicar, "you should banish such fancies from
your mind, for you are in a serious position, and ought not to die in
enmity with anyone."

"Not die in enmity with her? I'd never forgive her till she took off
the spell."

"Whom do you mean?" asked the Vicar.

"Why, that infernal witch, Madge, that lives with old Hawker," said the
man excitedly. "That's who I mean!"

"Why, what injury has she done you?"

"Bewitched me, I tell you! Given me these shaking fits. She told me
she would, when I left; and so she has, to prevent my speaking. I might
a spoke out anytime this year, only the old man kept me quiet with
money; but now it's nigh too late!"

"What might you have spoken about?" asked the Vicar.

"Well, I'll just relate the matter to you," said the man, speaking fast
and thick, "and I'll speak the truth. A twelvemonth agone, this Madge
and me had a fierce quarrel, and I miscalled her awful, and told her of
some things she wasn't aware I knew of; and then she said, 'If ever a
word of that escapes your lips, I'll put such a spell on ye that your
bones shall shake apart.' Then I says, if you do, your bastard son
shall swing."

"Who do you mean by her bastard son?"

"Young George Hawker. He is not the son of old Mrs. Hawker! Madge was
brought to bed of him a fortnight before her mistress; and when she
bore a still-born child, old Hawker and I buried it in the wood, and we
gave Madge's child to Mrs. Hawker, who never knew the difference before
she died."

"On the word of a dying man, is that true?" demanded the Vicar.

"On the word of a dying man that's true, and this also. I says to
Madge, 'Your boy shall swing, for I know enough to hang him.' And she
said, 'Where are your proofs?' and I--O Lord! O Lord! she's at me again."

He sank down again in a paroxysm of shivering, and they got no more
from him. Enough there was, however, to make the Vicar a very silent
and thoughtful man, as he sat watching the sick man in the close
stifling room.

"You had better go home, Vicar," said the Doctor; "you will make
yourself ill staying here. I do not expect another lucid interval."

"No," said the Vicar, "I feel it my duty to stay longer. For my own
sake too. What he has let out bears fearfully on my happiness, Doctor."

"Yes, I can understand that, my friend, from what I have heard of the
relations that exist between your daughter and that young man. You have
been saved from a terrible misfortune, though at the cost, perhaps, of
a few tears, and a little temporary uneasiness."

"I hope it may be as you say," said the Vicar. "Strange, only to-day
Major Buckley was urging me to stop that acquaintance."

"I should have ventured to do so too, Vicar, had I been as old a friend
of yours as Major Buckley."

"He is not such a very old friend," said the Vicar; "only of two years'
standing, yet I seem to have known him ten."

At daybreak the man died, and made no sign. So as soon as they had
satisfied themselves of the fact, they departed, and came out together
into the clear morning air. The rain-clouds had broken, though when
they had scrambled up out of the narrow little valley where the cottage
stood, they found that the wind was still high and fierce, and that the
sun was rising dimly through a yellow haze of driving scud.

They stepped out briskly, revived by the freshness of all around, and
had made about half the distance home, when they descried a horseman
coming slowly towards them. It seemed an early time for any one to be
abroad, and their surprise was increased at seeing that it was George
Hawker returning home.

"Where can he have been so early?" said the Doctor.

"So late, you mean," said the Vicar; "he has not been home all night.
Now I shall brace up my nerves and speak to him."

"My good wishes go with you, Vicar," said the Doctor, and walked on,
while the other stopped to speak with George Hawker.

"Good morning, Mr. Thornton. You are early a-foot, sir."

"Yes, I have been sitting up all night with old Jewel. He is dead."

"Is he indeed, sir," said Hawker. "He won't be much loss, sir, to the
parish. A sort of happy release, one may say, for every one but

"Can I have the pleasure of a few words with you, Mr. Hawker?"

"Surely, sir," said he, dismounting. "Allow me to walk a little on the
way back with you?"

"What I have to say, Mr. Hawker," said the Vicar, "is very short, and,
I fear, also very disagreeable to all parties. I am going to request
you to discontinue your visits to my house altogether, and, in fact,
drop our acquaintance."

"This is very sudden, sir," said Hawker. "Am I to understand, sir, that
you cannot be induced by any conduct of mine to reconsider this

"You are to understand that such is the case, sir."

"And this is final, Mr. Thornton?"

"Quite final, I assure you," said the Vicar; "nothing on earth should
make me flinch from my decision."

"This is very unfortunate, sir," said George. "For I had reason to
believe that you rather encouraged my visits than otherwise."

"I never encouraged them. It is true I permitted them. But since then
circumstances have come to my ears which render it imperative that you
should drop all communication with the members of my family, more
especially, to speak plainly, with my daughter."

"At least, sir," said George, "let me know what charge you bring
against me."

"I make no charges of any sort," replied the Vicar. "All I say is, that
I wish the intercourse between you and my daughter to cease; and I
consider, sir, that when I say that, it ought to be sufficient. I
conceive that I have the right to say so much without question."

"I think you are unjust, sir; I do, indeed," said George.

"I may have been unjust, and I may have been weak, in allowing an
intimacy (which I do not deny, mind you) to spring up between my
daughter and yourself. But I am not unjust now, when I require that it
should cease. I begin to be just."

"Do you forbid me your house, sir?"

"I forbid you my house, sir. Most distinctly. And I wish you good-day."

There was no more to be said on either side. George stood beside his
horse, after the Vicar had left him, till he was fairly out of earshot.
And then, with a fierce oath, he said,--

"You puritanical old humbug, I'll do you yet. You've heard about Nell
and her cursed brat. But the daughter ain't always the same way of
thinking with the father, old man."

The Vicar walked on, glad enough to have got the interview over, till
he overtook the Doctor, who was walking slowly till he came up. He felt
as though the battle was gained already, though he still rather dreaded
a scene with Mary.

"How have you sped, friend?" asked the Doctor. "Have you given the
young gentleman his CONGEE?"

"I have," he replied. "Doctor, now half the work is done, I feel what a
culpable coward I have been not to do it before. I have been deeply to
blame. I never should have allowed him to come near us. Surely, the
girl will not be such a fool as to regret the loss of such a man. I
shall tell her all I know about him, and after that I can do no more.
No more? I never had her confidence. She has always had a life apart
from mine. The people in the village, all so far below us in every way,
have been to me acquaintances, and only that; but they have been her
world, and she has seen no other. She is a kind, affectionate daughter,
but she would be as good a daughter to any of the farmers round as she
is to me. She is not a lady. That is the truth. God help the man who
brings up a daughter without a wife."

"You do her injustice, my friend," said the Doctor. "I understand what
you mean, but you do her injustice. All the female society she has
ever seen, before Mrs. Buckley and your sister came here, was of a rank
inferior to herself, and she has taken her impressions from that
society to a great extent. But still she is a lady; compare her to any
of the other girls in the parish, and you will see the difference."

"Yes, yes, that is true," said the Vicar. "You must think me a strange
man to speak so plainly about my own daughter, Doctor, and to you, too,
whom I have known so short a time. But one must confide in somebody,
and I have seen your discretion manifested so often that I trust you."

They had arrived opposite the Vicar's gate, but the Doctor, resisting
all the Vicar's offers of breakfast, declined to go in. He walked
homeward toward his cottage-lodgings, and as he went he mused to
himself somewhat in this style,--

"What a good old man that is. And yet how weak. I used to say to myself
when I first knew him, what a pity that a man with such a noble
intellect should be buried in a country village, a pastor to a lot of
ignorant hinds. And yet he is fit for nothing else, with all his
intelligence, and all his learning. He has no go in him,--no back to
his head. Contrast him with Buckley, and see the difference. Now
Buckley, without being a particularly clever man, sees the right thing,
and goes at it through fire and water. But our old Vicar sees the
right, and leaves it to take care of itself. He can't manage his own
family even. That girl is a fine girl, a very fine girl. A good deal of
character about her. But her animal passions are so strong that she
would be a Tartar for anyone to manage. She will be too much for the
Vicar. She will marry that man in the end. And if he don't use her
properly, she'll hate him as much as she loves him now. She is more
like an Italian than an English girl. Hi! there's a noble Rhamnea!"

The Vicar went into his house, and found no one up but the maids, who
were keeping that saturnalia among the household gods, which, I am
given to understand, goes on in every well-regulated household before
the lords of the creation rise from their downy beds. I have never seen
this process myself, but I am informed, by the friend of my heart, who
looked on it once for five minutes, and then fled, horror struck, that
the first act consists in turning all the furniture upside down, and
beating it with brooms. Further than this, I have no information. If
any male eye has penetrated these awful secrets beyond that, let the
owner of that eye preserve a decent silence. There are some things that
it is better not to know. Only let us hope, brother, that you and I may
always find ourselves in a position to lie in bed till it is all over.
In Australia, it may be worth while to remark, this custom, with many
other religious observances, has fallen into entire desuetude.

The Vicar was very cross this morning. He had been sitting up all
night, which was bad, and he had been thinking these last few minutes
that he had made a fool of himself, by talking so freely to the Doctor
about his private affairs, which was worse. Nothing irritated the
Vicar's temper more than the feeling of having been too free and
communicative with people who did not care about him, a thing he was
very apt to do. And, on this occasion, he could not disguise from
himself that he had been led into talking about his daughter to the
Doctor, in a way which he characterised in his own mind as being

As I said, he was cross. And anything in the way of clearing up or
disturbance always irritated him, though he generally concealed it. But
there was a point at which his vexation always took the form of a
protest, more or less violent. And that point was determined by anyone
meddling with his manuscript sermons.

So, on this unlucky morning, in spite of fresh-lit fires smoking in his
face, and fenders in dark passages throwing him headlong into lurking
coalscuttles, he kept his temper like a man, until coming into his
study, he found his favourite discourse on the sixth seal lying on the
floor by the window, his lectures on the 119th Psalm on the hearthrug,
and the maid fanning the fire with his CHEF D'OEUVRE, the Waterloo

Then, I am sorry to say, he lost his temper. Instead of calling the
girl by her proper name, he addressed her as a distinguished Jewish
lady, a near relation of King Ahab, and, snatching the sermon from her
hand, told her to go and call Miss Mary, or he'd lay his stick about
her back.

The girl was frightened--she had never seen her master in this state
of mind before. So she ran out of the room, and, having fetched Mary,
ensconced herself outside the door to hear what was the matter.

Mary tripped into the room looking pretty and fresh. "Why, father," she
said, "you have been up all night. I have ordered you a cup of coffee.
How is old Jewel?"

"Dead," said the Vicar. "Never mind him. Mary, I want to speak to you,
seriously, about something that concerns the happiness of your whole

"Father," she said, "you frighten me. Let me get you your coffee before
you begin, at all events."

"Stay where you are, I order you," said the father. "I will have no
temporizing until the matter grows cold. I will speak now; do you hear.
Now, listen."

She was subdued, and knew what was coming. She sat down, and waited.
Had he looked in her face, instead of in the fire, he would have seen
an expression there which he would little have liked--a smile of
obstinacy and self-will.

"I am not going to mince matters, and beat about the bush, Mary," he
began. "What I say I mean, and will have it attended to. You are very
intimate with young Hawker, and that intimacy is very displeasing to

"Well?" she said.

"Well," he answered. "I say it is not well. I will not have him here."

"You are rather late, father," she said. "He has had the run of this
house these six months. You should have spoken before."

"I speak now, miss," said the Vicar, succeeding in working himself into
a passion, "and that is enough. I forbid him the house, now!"

"You had better tell him so, father. I won't."

"I daresay you won't," said the Vicar. "But I have told him so already
this morning."

"You have!" she cried. "Father, you had no right to do that. You
encouraged him here. And now my love is given, you turn round and try
to break my heart."

"I never encouraged him. You all throw that in my face. You have no
natural affection, girl. I always hated the man. And now I have heard
things about him sufficient to bar him from any honest man's house."

"Unjust!" she said. "I will never believe it."

"I daresay you won't," said the Vicar. "Because you don't want to. You
are determined to make my life miserable. There was Jim Stockbridge.
Such a noble, handsome, gentlemanly young fellow, and nothing would
please you but to drive him wild, till he left the country. Now, go
away, and mind what I have said. You mean to break my heart, I see."

She turned as she was going out. "Father," she said, "is James
Stockbridge gone?"

"Yes; gone. Sailed a fortnight ago. And all your doing. Poor boy, I
wonder where he is now."

Where is he now? Under the cliffs of Madeira. Standing on the deck of a
brave ship, beneath a rustling cloud of canvas, watching awe-struck
that noble island, like an aerial temple, brown in the lights, blue in
the shadows, floating between a sapphire sea and an azure sky. Far
aloft in the air is Ruivo, five thousand feet overhead, father of the
great ridges and sierras that run down jagged and abrupt, till they end
in wild surf-washed promontories. He is watching a mighty glen that
pierces the mountain, dark with misty shadows. He is watching the
waterfalls that stream from among the vineyards into the sea below, and
one long white monastery, perched up among the crags above the highway
of the world.

Borne upon the full north wind, the manhood and intelligence of Europe
goes past, day by day, in white winged ships. And above all, unheeding,
century after century, the old monks have vegetated there, saying their
masses, and ringing their chapel bells, high on the windy cliff.

Chapter IX


And when Mary had left the room, the Vicar sat musing before the fire
in his study. "Well," said he to himself, "she took it quieter than I
thought she would. Now, I can't blame myself. I think I have shown her
that I am determined, and she seems inclined to be dutiful. Poor dear
girl, I am very sorry for her. There is no doubt she has taken a fancy
to this handsome young scamp. But she must get over it. It can't be
so very serious as yet. At all events I have done my duty, though I
can't help saying that I wish I had spoken before things went so far."

The maid looked in timidly, and told him that breakfast was ready. He
went into the front parlour, and there he found his sister making tea.
She looked rather disturbed, and, as the Vicar kissed her, he asked her
"where was Mary?"

"She is not well, brother," she answered. "She is going to stay upstairs;
I fear something has gone wrong with her."

"She and I had some words this morning," answered he, "and that happens
so seldom, that she is a little upset, that is all."

"I hope there is nothing serious, brother," said Miss Thornton.

"No; I have only been telling her that she must give up receiving
George Hawker here. And she seems to have taken a sort of fancy to his
society, which might have grown to something more serious. So I am glad
I spoke in time."

"My dear brother, do you think you have spoken in time? I have always
imagined that you had determined, for some reason which I was not
master of, that she should look on Mr. Hawker as her future husband. I
am afraid you will have trouble. Mary is selfwilled."

Mary was very self-willed. She refused to come down-stairs all day,
and, when he was sitting down to dinner, he sent up for her. She sent
him for an answer, that she did not want any dinner, and that she was
going to stay where she was.

The Vicar ate his dinner notwithstanding. He was vexed, but, on the
whole, felt satisfied with himself. This sort of thing, he said to
himself, was to be expected. She would get over it in time. He hoped
that the poor girl would not neglect her meals, and get thin. He might
have made himself comfortable if he had seen her at the cold chicken in
the back kitchen.

She could not quite make the matter out. She rather fancied that her
father and Hawker had had some quarrel, the effects of which would wear
off, and that all would come back to its old course. She thought it
strange too that her father should be so different from his usual self,
and this made her uneasy. One thing she was determined on, not to give
up her lover, come what would. So far in life she had always had her
own way, and she would have it now. All things considered, she
thought that sulks would be her game. So sulks it was. To be carried on
until the Vicar relented.

She sat up in her room till it was evening. Twice during the day her
aunt had come up, and the first time she had got rid of her under
pretence of headache, but the second time she was forced in decency to
admit her, and listen entirely unedified to a long discourse, proving,
beyond power of contradiction, that it was the duty of every young
Englishwoman to be guided entirely by her parents in the choice of a
partner for life. And how that Lady Kate, as a fearful judgment on her
for marrying a captain of artillery against the wishes of her noble
relatives, was now expiating her crimes on 400L. a-year, and when she
might have married a duke.

Lady Kate was Miss Thornton's "awful example," her "naughty girl." She
served to point many a moral of the old lady's. But Lady Fanny, her
sister, was always represented as the pattern of all Christian virtues
who had crowned the hopes of her family and well-wishers by marrying
a gouty marquis of sixty-three, with fifty thousand a-year. On this
occasion, Mary struck the old lady dumb--"knocked her cold," our
American cousins would say--by announcing that she considered Lady
Emily to be a fool, but that Lady Kate seemed to be a girl of some
spirit. So Miss Thornton left her to her own evil thoughts, and, as
evening began to fall, Mary put on her bonnet, and went out for a walk.

Out by the back door, and round through the shrubbery, so that she
gained the front gate unperceived from the windows; but ere she
reached it she heard the latch go, and found herself face to face with
a man.

He was an immensely tall man, six foot at least. His long heavy limbs
loosely hung together, and his immense broad shoulders slightly
rounded. In features he was hardly handsome, but a kindly pleasant
looking face made ample atonement for want of beauty. He was dressed in
knee-breeches, and a great blue coat, with brass buttons, too large
even for him, was topped by a broad-brimmed beaver hat, with fur on it
half-aninch long. In age, this man was about five-and-twenty, and
well known he was to all the young fellows round there for skill in all
sporting matters, as well as for his kind-heartedness and generosity.

When he saw Mary pop out of the little side walk right upon him, he
leaned back against the gate and burst out laughing. No, hardly "burst
out." His laughter seemed to begin internally and silently, till, after
one or two rounds, it shook the vast fabric of his chest beyond
endurance, and broke out into so loud and joyous a peal that the
blackbird fled, screeching indignantly, from the ivy-tree behind him.

"What! Thomas Troubridge," said Mary. "My dear cousin, how are you?
Now, don't stand laughing there like a great gaby, but come and shake
hands. What on earth do you see to laugh at in me?"

"Nothing, my cousin Poll, nothing," he replied. "You know that is my
way of expressing approval. And you look so pretty standing there in
the shade, that I would break any man's neck who didn't applaud. Shake
hands, says you, I'll shake hands with a vengeance." So saying, he
caught her in his arms, and covered her face with kisses.

"You audacious," she exclaimed, when she writhed herself free. "I'll
never come within arm's-length of you again. How dare you?"

"Only cousinly affection, I assure you, Poll. Rather more violent than
usual at finding myself back in Drumston. But entirely cousinly."

"Where have you been then, Tom?" she asked.

"Why, to London, to be sure. Give us ano--"

"You keep off, sir, or you'll catch it. What took you there?"

"Went to see Stockbridge and Hamlyn off."

"Then, they are gone?" she asked.

"Gone, sure enough. I was the last friend they'll see for many a long

"How did Stockbridge look? Was he pretty brave?"

"Pretty well. Braver than I was. Mary, my girl, why didn't ye marry him?"

"What--you are at me with the rest, are you?" she answered. "Why,
because he was a gaby, and you're another; and I wouldn't marry either
of you to save your lives--now then!"

"Do you mean to say you would not have me, if I asked you? Pooh! pooh!
I know better than that, you know." And again the shrubbery rang with
his laughter.

"Now, go in, Tom, and let me get out," said Mary. "I say Tom dear,
don't say you saw me. I am going out for a turn, and I don't want them
to know it."

Tom twisted up his great face into a mixture of mystery, admiration,
wonder, and acquiescence, and, having opened the gate for her, went in.

But Mary walked quickly down a deep narrow lane, overarched with oak,
and melodious with the full rich notes of the thrush, till she saw down
the long vista, growing now momentarily darker, the gleaming of a ford
where the road crossed a brook.

Not the brook where the Vicar and the Major went fishing. Quite a
different sort of stream, although they were scarcely half a mile
apart, and joined just below. Here all the soil was yellow clay, and,
being less fertile, was far more densely wooded than any of the red
country. The hills were very abrupt, and the fields but sparely
scattered among the forest land. The stream itself, where it crossed
the road, flowed murmuring over a bed of loose blue slate pebbles, but
both above and below this place forced its way, almost invisible,
through a dense oak wood, deeply tangled with undergrowth.

A stone foot-bridge spanned the stream, and having reached this, it
seemed as if she had come to her journey's end. For leaning on the rail
she began looking into the water below, though starting and looking
round at every sound.

She was waiting for some one. A pleasant place this to wait in. So
dark, so hemmed in with trees, and the road so little used; spring was
early here, and the boughs were getting quite dense already. How
pleasant to see the broad red moon go up behind the feathery branches,
and listen to the evensong of the thrush, just departing to roost, and
leaving the field clear for the woodlark all night. There were a few
sounds from the village, a lowing of cows, and the noise of the boys at
play; but they were so tempered down by the distance, that they only
added to the evening harmony.

There is another sound now. Horses' feet approaching rapidly from the
side opposite to that by which she had come; and soon a horseman comes
in sight, coming quickly down the hill. When he sees her he breaks into
a gallop, and only pulls up when he is at the side of the brook below

This is the man she was expecting--George Hawker. Ah, Vicar! how
useless is your authority when lovers have such intelligence as this.
It were better they should meet in your parlour, under your own eye,
than here, in the budding spring-time, in this quiet spot under the
darkening oaks.

Hawker spoke first. "I guessed," he said, "that it was just possible
you might come out to-night. Come down off the bridge, my love, and let
us talk together while I hang up the horse."

So as he tied the horse to a gate, she came down off the bridge. He
took her in his arms and kissed her. "Now, my Poll," said he, "I know
what you are going to begin talking about."

"I daresay you do, George," she answered. "You and my father have

"The quarrel has been all on one side, my love," he said; "he has got
some nonsense into his head, and he told me when I met him this
morning, that he would never see me in his house again."

"What has he heard, George? it must be something very shocking to
change him like that. Do you know what it is?"

"Perhaps I do," he said; "but he has no right to visit my father's sins
on me. He hates me, and he always did; and he has been racking his
brains to find out something against me. That rascally German doctor
has found him an excuse, and so he throws in my teeth, as fresh
discovered, what he must have known years ago."

"I don't think that, George. I don't think he would be so deceitful."

"Not naturally he wouldn't, I know; but he is under the thumb of that
doctor; and you know how HE hates me--If you don't I do."

"I don't know why Dr. Mulhaus should hate you, George."

"I do though; that sleeky dog Stockbridge, who is such a favourite with
him, has poisoned his mind, and all because he wanted you and your
money, and because you took up with me instead of him."

"Well now," said Mary; "don't go on about him--he is gone, at all
events; but you must tell me what this is that my father has got
against you."

"I don't like to. I tell you it is against my father, not me."

"Well!" she answered; "if it was anyone but me, perhaps, you ought not
to tell it; but you ought to have no secrets from me, George--I have
kept none from you."

"Well, my darling, I will tell you then: you know Madge, at our place?"

"Yes; I have seen her."

"Well, it's about her. She and my father live together like man and
wife, though they ain't married; and the Vicar must have known that
these years, and yet now he makes it an excuse for getting rid of me."

"I always thought she was a bad woman," said Mary; "but you are wrong
about my father. He never knew it till now I am certain; and of course,
you know, he naturally won't have me go and live in the house with a
bad woman."

"Does he think then, or do you think," replied George, with virtuous
indignation, "that I would have thought of taking you there? No, I'd
sooner have taken you to America!"

"Well, so I believe, George."

"This won't make any difference in you, Mary? No, I needn't ask it, you
wouldn't have come here to meet me to-night if that had been the case."

"It ought to make a difference, George," she replied; "I am afraid I
oughtn't to come out here and see you, when my father don't approve of

"But you will come, my little darling, for all that;" he said. "Not
here though--the devil only knows who may be loitering round here.
Half a dozen pair of lovers a night perhaps--no, meet me up in the
croft of a night. I am often in at Gosford's of an evening, and I can
see your window from there, you put a candle in the right-hand corner
when you want to see me, and I'll be down in a very few minutes. I
shall come every evening and watch."

"Indeed," she said, "I won't do anything of the sort; at least, unless
I have something very particular to say. Then, indeed, I might do such
a thing. Now I must go home or they will be missing me."

"Stay a minute, Mary," said he; "you just listen to me. They will, some
of them, be trying to take my character away. You won't throw me off
without hearing my defence, dear Mary, I know you won't. Let me hear
what lies they tell of me, and don't you condemn me unheard because I
come from a bad house? Tell me that you'll give me a chance of clearing
myself with you, my girl, and I'll go home in peace and wait."

What girl could resist the man she loved so truly, when he pleaded so
well? With his arm about her waist, and his handsome face bent over
her, lit up with what she took to be love. Not she, at all events. She
drew the handsome face down towards her, and as she kissed him
fervently, said:

"I will never believe what they say of you, love. I should die if I
lost you. I will stay by you through evil report and good report. What
is all the world to me without you?"

And she felt what she said, and meant it. What though the words in
which she spoke were borrowed from the trashy novels she was always
reading--they were true enough for all that. George saw that they were
true, and saw also that now was the time to speak about what he had
been pondering over all day.

"And suppose, my own love," he said; "that your father should stay in
his present mind, and not come round?"

"Well!" she said.

"What are we to do?" he asked; "are we to be always content with
meeting here and there, when we dare? Is there nothing further?"

"What do you mean?" she said in a whisper. "What shall we do?"

"Can't you answer that?" he said softly. "Try."

"No, I can't answer. You tell me what."

"Fly!" he said in her ear. "Fly, and get married, that's what I mean."

"Oh! that's what you mean," she replied. "Oh, George, I should not have
courage for that."

"I think you will, my darling, when the time comes. Go home and think
about it."

He kissed her once more, and then she ran away homeward through the
dark. But she did not run far before she began to walk slower and

"Fly with him," she thought. Run away and get married. What a
delightfully wild idea. Not to be entertained for a moment, of course,
but still what a pleasant notion. She meant to marry George in the end;
why not that way as well as any other? She thought about it again and
again, and the idea grew more familiar. At all events, if her father
should continue obstinate, here was a way out of the difficulty. He
would be angry at first, but when he found he could not help himself he
would come round, and then they would all be happy. She would shut her
ears to anything they said against George. She could not believe it.
She would not. He should be her husband, come what might. She would
dissemble, and keep her father's suspicions quiet. More, she would
speak lightly of George, and make them believe she did not care for
him. But most of all, she would worm from her father everything she
could about him. Her curiosity was aroused, and she fancied, perhaps,
George had not told her all the truth. Perhaps he might be entangled
with some other woman. She would find it all out if she could.

So confusedly thinking she reached home, and approaching the door,
heard the noise of many voices in the parlour. There was evidently
company, and in her present excited state nothing would suit her
better; so sliding up to her room, and changing her dress a little, she
came down and entered the parlour.

"Behold," cried the Doctor, as she entered the room, "the evening-star
has arisen at last. My dear young lady, we have been loudly lamenting
your absence and indisposition."

"I have been listening to your lamentations, Doctor," she replied.
"They were certainly loud, and from the frequent bursts of laughter, I
judged they were getting hysterical, so I came down."

There was quite a party assembled. The Vicar and Major Buckley were
talking earnestly together. Troubridge and the Doctor were side by
side, while next the fire was Mrs. Buckley, with young Sam asleep on
her lap, and Miss Thornton sitting quietly beside her.

Having saluted them all, Mary sat down by Mrs. Buckley, and began
talking to her. Then the conversation flowed back into the channel it
had been following before her arrival.

"I mean to say, Vicar," said the Major, "that it would be better to
throw the four packs into two. Then you would have less squabbling and
bickering about the different boundaries, and you would kill the same
number of hares with half the dogs."

"And you would throw a dozen men out of work, sir," replied the Vicar,
"in this parish and the next, and that is to be considered; and about
half the quantity of meat and horseflesh would be consumed, which is
another consideration. I tell you I believe things are better as they

"I hear they got a large stern-cabin; did they, Mr. Troubridge?" said
the Doctor. "I hope they'll be comfortable. They should have got more
amidships if they could. They will be sick the longer in their

"Poor boys!" said Troubridge; "they'll be more heart-sick than
stomach-sick, I expect. They'd halfrepented before they sailed."

Mary sat down by Mrs. Buckley, and had half an hour's agreeable
conversation with her, till they all rose to go. Mrs. Buckley was
surprised at her sprightliness and good spirits, for she had expected
to find her in tears. The Doctor had met the Major in the morning, and
told him what had passed the night before, so Mrs. Buckley had come in
to cheer Mary up for the loss of her lover, and to her surprise found
her rather more merry than usual. This made the good lady suspect at
once that Mary did not treat the matter very seriously, or else was
determined to defy her father, which, as Mrs. Buckley reflected, she
was perfectly able to do, being rich in her own right, and of age. So
when she was putting on her shawl to go home, she kissed Mary, and said

"My love, I hope you will always honour and obey your father, and I am
sure you will always, under all circumstances, remember that I am your
true friend. Good night."

And having bidden her good night, Mary went in. The Doctor was gone
with the Major, but Tom Troubridge sat still before the fire, and as
she came in was just finishing off one of his thundering fits of
laughter at something that the Vicar had said.

"My love," said the Vicar, "I am so sorry you have been poorly, though
you look better to-night. Your dear aunt has been to Tom's room, so
there is nothing to do, but to sit down and talk to us."

"Why, cousin Tom," she said, laughing, "I had quite forgot you; at
least, quite forgot you were going to stay here. Why, what a time it is
since I saw you."

"Isn't it?" he replied; "such a very long time. If I remember right, we
met last out at the gate. Let's see. How long was that ago?"

"You ought to remember," she replied; "you're big enough. Well, good
night. I'm going to bed."

She went to her room, but not to bed. She sat in the window, looking at
the stars, pale in the full moonlight, wondering. Wondering what George
was doing. Wondering whether she would listen to his audacious
proposal. And wondering, lastly, what on earth her father would say if
she did.

Chapter X


A month went on, and May was well advanced. The lanes had grown dark
and shadowy with their summer bravery; the banks were a rich mass of
verdure once more, starred with wild-rose and eglantine; and on the
lesser woodland stream, the king fern was again concealing the channel
with brilliant golden fronds; while brown bare thorn-thickets, through
which the wind had whistled savagely all winter, were now changed into
pleasant bowers, where birds might build and sing.

A busy month this had been for the Major. Fishing every day, and pretty
near all day, determined, as he said, to make the most of it, for fear
it should be his last year. There was a beaten path worn through the
growing grass all down the side of the stream by his sole exertions;
and now the May-fly was coming, and there would be no more fishing in
another week, so he worked harder than ever. Mrs. Buckley used to bring
down her son and heir, and sit under an oak by the river-side, sewing.
Pleasant, long days they were when dinner would be brought down to the
old tree, and she would spend the day there, among the long meadow-grass,
purple and yellow with flowers, bending under the soft west
wind. Pleasant to hear the corncrake by the hedge-side, or the
moorhen in the water. But pleasantest of all was the time when her
husband, tired of fishing, would come and sit beside her, and the boy,
throwing his lately-petted flowers to the wind, would run crowing to
the spotted beauties which his father had laid out for him on the

The Vicar was busy in his garden, and the Doctor was often helping him,
although the most of his time was spent in natural history, to which he
seemed entirely devoted. One evening they had been employed rather
later than usual, and the Doctor was just gone, when the Vicar turned
round and saw that his sister was come out, with her basket and
scissors, to gather a fresh bouquet for the drawing-room.

So he went to join her, and as he approached her he admired her with an
affectionate admiration. Such a neat, trim figure, with the snow-white
handkerchief over her head, and her white garden gloves; what a
contrast to Mary, he thought; "Both good of their sort, though," he

"Good evening, brother," began Miss Thornton. "Was not that Dr. Mulhaus
went from you just now?"

"Yes, my dear."

"You had letters of introduction to Dr. Mulhaus, when he came to reside
in this village?" asked Miss Thornton.

"Yes; Lord C----, whom I knew at Oxford, recommended me to him."

"His real name, I daresay, is not Mulhaus. Do you know what his real
name is, brother?"

How very awkward plain plump questions of this kind are. The Vicar
would have liked to answer "No," but he could not tell a lie. He was
also a very bad hand at prevaricating; so with a stammer, he said

"So do I!" said Miss Thornton.

"Good Lord, my dear, how did you find it out?"

"I recognised him the first instant I saw him, and was struck dumb. I
was very discreet, and have never said a word even to you till now;
and, lately, I have been thinking that you might know, and so I thought
I would sound you."

"I suppose you saw him when you were with her ladyship in Paris, in

"Yes; often," said Miss Thornton. "He came to the house several times.
How well I remember the last. The dear girls and I were in the
conservatory in the morning, and all of a sudden we heard the door
thrown open, and two men coming towards us talking from the
breakfast-room. We could not see them for the plants, but when we heard
the voice of one of them, the girls got into a terrible flutter, and I was
very much frightened myself. However, there was no escape, so we came
round the corner on them as bold as we could, and there was this Dr.
Mulhaus, as we call him, walking with him."

"With him?--with who?"

"The Emperor Alexander, my dear, whose voice we had recognised; I
thought you would have known whom I meant."

"My dear love," said the Vicar, "I hope you reflect how sacred that is,
and what a good friend I should lose if the slightest hint as to who he
was, were to get among the gentry round. You don't think he has
recognised you?"

"How is it likely, brother, that he would remember an English
governess, whom he never saw but three times, and never looked at once?
I have often wondered whether the Major recognised him."

"No; Buckley is a Peninsular man, and although at Waterloo, never went
to Paris. Lans--Mulhaus, I mean, was not present at Waterloo. So they
never could have met. My dear discreet old sister, what tact you have!
I have often said to myself, when I have seen you and he together, 'If
she only knew who he was;'--and to think of your knowing all the time.
Ha! ha! ha! That's very good."

"I have lived long where tact is required, my dear brother. See, there
goes young Mr. Hawker!"

"I'd sooner see him going home than coming here. Now, I'd go out for a
turn in the lanes, but I know I should meet half a dozen couples
courting, as they call it. Bah! So I'll stay in the garden."

The Vicar was right about the lanes being full of lovers. Never a vista
that you looked down but what you saw a ghostly pair, walking along
side by side. Not arm in arm, you know. The man has his hands in his
pockets, and walks a few feet off the woman. They never speak to one
another--I think I don't go too far in saying that. I have met them
and overtaken them, and come sharp round corners on to them, but I
never heard them speak to one another. I have asked the young men
themselves whether they ever said anything to their sweethearts, and
those young men have answered, "No; that they didn't know as they did."
So that I am inclined to believe that they are contented with that
silent utterance of the heart which is so superior to the silly
whisperings one hears on dark ottomans in drawing-rooms.

But the Vicar had a strong dislike to lovers' walks. He was a practical
man, and had studied parish statistics for some years, so that his
opinion is entitled to respect. He used to ask, why an honest girl
should not receive her lover at her father's house, or in broad
daylight, and many other impertinent questions which we won't go into,
but which many a west-country parson has asked before, and never got an
answer to.

Of all pleasant places in the parish, surely one of the pleasantest for
a meeting of this kind was the old oak at the end of Hawker's
plantation, where George met Nelly a night we know of. So quiet and
lonely, and such pleasant glimpses down long oaken glades, with a
bright carpet of springing fern. Surely there will be a couple here
this sweet May evening.

So there is! Walking this way too! George Hawker is one of them; but we
can't see who the other is. Who should it be but Mary, though, with
whom he should walk, with his arm round her waist talking so
affectionately. But see, she raises her head. Why! that is not Mary.
That is old Jewel's dowdy, handsome, brazen-faced grandaughter.

"Now I'm going home to supper, Miss Jenny," he says. "So you pack off,
or you'll have your amiable mother asking after you. By-the-bye, your
sister's going to be married, ain't she?"

He referred to her eldest sister--the one that the Vicar and the
Doctor saw nursing a baby the night that old Jewel died.

"Yes," replied the girl. "Her man's going to have her at last; that's
his baby she's got, you know; and it seems he'll sooner make her work
for keeping it, than pay for it hisself. So they're going to be
married; better late than never."

George left her and went in; into the gloomy old kitchen, now darkening
rapidly. There sat Madge before the fire, in her favourite attitude,
with her chin on her hand and her elbow on her knee.

"Well, old woman," said he, "where's the old man?"

"Away to Colyton fair," she answered.

"I hope he'll have the sense to stay there to-night, then," said
George. "He'll fall off his horse in a fit coming home drunk some of
these nights, and be found dead in a ditch!"

"Good thing for you if he was!"

"May be," said George; "but I'd be sorry for him, too!"

"You would," she said laughing. "Why, you young fool, you'd be better
off in fifty ways!"

"Why, you unnatural old vixen," said he indignantly, "do you miscall
a man for caring for his own father? Aye, and not such a bad 'un
either; and that's a thing I'm best judge of!"

"He's been a good father to you, George, and I like you the better,
lad, for speaking up for him. He's an awful old rascal, my boy, but
you'll be a worse if you live!"

"Now, stop that talk of yours, Madge, and don't go on like a mad woman,
or else we shall quarrel; and that I don't want, for I've got something
to tell you. I want your help, old girl!"

"Aye, and you'll get it, my pretty boy; though you never tell me aught
till you are forced."

"Well, I'm going to tell you something now; so keep your ears open.
Madge, where is the girl?"


"Where's the man?"

"Outside, in the stable, doing down your horse. Bend over the fire, and
whisper in my ear, lad!"

"Madge, old girl," he whispered, as they bent their heads together,--
"I've wrote the old man's name where I oughtn't to have done."

"What! again!" she answered. "Three times! For God's sake, mind what
you're at, George."

"Why," said he, astonished, "did you know I'd done it before?"

"Twice I know of," she said. "Once last year, and once last month. How
do you think he'd have been so long without finding it out if it hadn't
been for me? And what a fool you were not to tell me before. Why, you
must be mad. I as near let the cat out of the bag coming over that last
business in the book without being ready for it, as anything could be.
However, it's all right at present. But what's this last?"

"Why, the five hundred. I only did it twice."

"You mustn't do it again, George. You were a fool ever to do it without
me. We are hardly safe now, if he should get talking to the bank
people. However, he never goes there, and you must take care he don't."

"I say, Madge," said George, "what would he do if he found it out?"

"I couldn't answer for him," said she. "He likes you best of anything
next his money; and sometimes I am afraid he wouldn't spare even you if
he knew he had been robbed. You might make yourself safe for any storm,
if you liked."


"Marry that little doll Thornton, and get her money. Then, if it came
to a row, you could square it up."

"Well," said George, "I am pushing that on. The old man won't come
round, and I want her to go off with me, but she can't get her courage
up yet."

"Well, at all events," said Madge, "you should look sharp. There's a
regular tight-laced mob about her, and they all hate you. There's that
Mrs. Buckley. Her conversation will be very different from yours, and
she'll see the difference, and get too proud for the like of you. That
woman's a real lady, and that's very dangerous, for she treats her like
an equal. Just let that girl get over her first fancy for you, and
she'll care no more about you than nothing. Get hold of her before
she's got tired of you."

"And there's another thing," said George. "That Tom Troubridge is
staying there again."

"That's very bad," said Madge. "She is very likely to take a fancy to
him. He's a fine young fellow. You get her to go off with you. I'll
find the money, somehow. Here comes the old man."

Old Hawker came in half-drunk and sulky.

"Why, George," he said; "you at home. I thought you'd have been down,
hanging about the parson's. You don't get on very fast with that girl,
lad. I thought you'd have had her by now. You're a fool, boy."

He reeled up to bed, and left the other two in the kitchen.

"George," said Madge, "tell us what you did with that last money."

"I ain't going to tell you," he answered.

"Ha, ha!" she said; "you hadn't need to hide anything from me now."

"Well, I like to tell you this least of all," he said. "That last money
went to hush up the first matter."

"Did any one know of the first matter, then?" said Madge aghast.

"Yes; the man who put me up to it."

"Who was that?"

"No one you know. William Lee of Belston."

"No one I know," she answered sarcastically. "Not know my old
sweetheart, Bill Lee of Belston. And I the only one that knew him when
he came back. Well, I've kept that to myself, because no good was to be
got by peaching on him, and a secret's always worth money. Why, lad, I
could have sent that man abroad again quicker than he come, if I had
a-wanted. Why hadn't you trusted me at first? You'd a-saved five hundred
pound. You'll have him back as soon as that's gone."

"He'd better mind himself, then," said George vindictively.

"None o' that now," said Madge; "that's what you were after the other
night with your gun. But nothing came of it; I saw that in your face
when you came home. Now get off to bed; and if Bill Lee gives you any
more trouble, send him to me."

He went to bed, but instead of sleeping lay thinking.

"It would be a fine thing," he thought, "to get her and her money. I am
very fond of her for her own sake, but then the money would be the
making of me. I ought to strike while the iron is hot. Who knows but
what Nell might come gandering back in one of her tantrums, and spoil
everything. Or some of the other girls might get talking. And this
cursed cheque, too; that ought to be provided against. What a fool I
was not to tell Madge about it before. I wonder whether she is game to
come, though. I think she is; she has been very tender lately. It don't
look as if she was getting tired of me, though she might take a fancy
into her head about Troubridge. I daresay her father is putting him up
to it; though, indeed, that would be sure to set her against him. If he
hadn't done that with Stockbridge, she'd have married him, I believe.
Well, I'll see her to-morrow night, and carry on like mad. Terribly
awkward it will be, though, if she won't. However, we'll see. There's a
way to make her;" and so he fell asleep.

As Somebody would have it, the very next day the Vicar and Mary had a
serious quarrel. Whether his digestion was out of order; whether the
sight of so many love-couples passing his gate the night before had
ruffled him and made him bilious; or whether some one was behind hand
with his tithe, we shall never know. Only we know, that shortly after
dinner they disagreed about some trifle, and Mary remained sulky all
the afternoon; and that at tea-time, driven on by pitiless fate, little
thinking what was hanging over him, he made some harsh remark, which
brought down a flood of tears. Whereat, getting into a passion, he told
Mary, somewhat unjustly, that she was always sulking, and was making
his life miserable. That it was time that she was married. That Tom
Troubridge was an excellent young fellow, and that he considered it was
her duty to turn her attention immediately to gaining his affections.

Mary said, with tearful indignation, that it was notorious that he was
making love to Miss Burrit of Paiskow. And that if he wasn't, she'd
never, never, think of him, for that he was a great, lumbering, stupid,
stupid fool. There now.

Then the Vicar got into an unholy frame of mind, and maddened by Mary's
tears, and the sight of his sister wiping her frightened face with her
handkerchief, said, with something like an asseveration, that she was
always at it. That she was moping about, and colloquing with that
infamous young scoundrel, Hawker. That he would not have it. That if he
found him lurking about his premises, he'd either break his neck
himself, or find some one who could; and a great deal more frantic
nonsense, such as weak men generally indulge in when they get in a
passion; much better left unsaid at any time, but which on this occasion,
as the reader knows, was calculated to be ruinous.

Mary left the room, and went to her own. She was in a furious passion
against her father, against all the world. She sat on the bed for a
time, and cried herself quiet. It grew dark, and she lit a candle, and
put it in the right corner of the window, and soon after, wrapping a
shawl around her, she slipped down the back-stairs, and went into the

Not long before she heard a low whistle, to which she replied, and in a
very few minutes felt George's arm round her waist, and his cheek
against hers.

"I knew you would not disappoint me to-night, my love," he began. "I
have got something particular to say to you. You seem out of sorts
to-night, my dear. It's not my fault, is it?"

"Not yours, George. Oh no," she said. "My father has been very cruel
and unjust to me, and I have been in a great passion and very
miserable. I am so glad you came to-night, that I might tell you how
very unhappy I was."

"Tell me everything, my love. Don't keep back any secrets from me."

"I won't indeed, George. I'll tell you everything. Though some of it
will make you very angry. My father broke out about you at tea-time,
and said that you were hanging about the place, and that he wouldn't
have it. And then he said that I ought to marry Tom Troubridge, and
that I said I'd never do. And then he went on worse again. He's quite
changed lately, George. I ain't at all happy with him."

"The cure is in your own hands, Mary. Come off with me. I can get a
licence, and we could be married in a week or so, or two. Then, what
follows? Why, your father is very angry. He is that at present. But
he'll of course make believe he is in a terrible way. Well, in a few
weeks he'd see it was no use carrying on. That his daughter had married
a young man of property, who was very fond of her, and as she was very
fond of. And that matters might be a deal worse. That a bird in hand is
worth two in the bush. And so he'll write a kind affectionate letter to
his only child, and say that he forgives her husband for her sake.
That's how the matter will end, depend upon it."

"Oh, George, George! if I could only think so."

"Can you doubt it? Use your reason, my dear, and ask yourself what he
would gain by holding out. You say he's so fond of you."

"Oh, I know he is."

"Well, my darling, he wouldn't show it much if he was angry very long.
You don't know what a change it will make when the thing's once done.
When I am his son-in-law he'll be as anxious to find out that I'm a
saint as he is now to make me out a sinner. Say yes, my girl."

"I am afraid, George."

"Of nothing. Come, you are going to say yes, now."

"But when, George? Not yet?"

"To-morrow night."

"Impossible! Sunday evening?"

"The better the day the better the deed. Come, no refusal now, it is
too late, my darling. At ten o'clock I shall be here, under your
window. One kiss more, my own, and good night."

Chapter XI

WHO has not seen the misery and despair often caused in a family by the
senseless selfishness of one of its members? Who has not felt enraged
at such times, to think that a man or woman should presume on the
affection and kindheartedness of their relatives, and yet act as if
they were wholly without those affections themselves? And, lastly, who
of us all is guiltless of doing this? Let him that is without sin among
us cast the first stone.

The Spring sun rose on the Sabbath morning, as if no trouble were in
store for any mortal that day. The Vicar rose with the sun, for he had
certain arrears of the day's sermons to get through, and he was in the
habit of saying that his best and clearest passages were written with
his window open, in the brisk morning air.

But although the air was brisk and pleasant this morning, and all
nature was in full glory, the inspiration did not come to the Vicar
quite so readily as usual. In fact, he could not write at all, and at
one time was thinking of pleading ill health, and not preaching, but
afterwards changed his mind, and patched the sermons up somehow, making
both morning and afternoon five minutes shorter than usual.

He felt queer and dull in the head this morning. And, after breakfast,
he walked to church with his sister and daughter, not speaking a word.
Miss Thornton was rather alarmed, he looked so dull and stupid. But
Mary set it all down to his displeasure at her.

She was so busy with far other thoughts at church that she did not
notice the strange halting way in which her father read the service--
sometimes lisping, sometimes trying twice before he could pronounce a
word at all. But, after church, Miss Thornton noticed it to her; and
she also noticed, as they stood waiting for him under the lychgate,
that he passed through the crowd of neighbours, who stood as usual
round the porch to receive him, without a word, merely raising his hat
in salutation. Conduct so strange that Miss Thornton began to cry, and
said she was sure her brother was very ill. But Mary said it was
because he was still angry with her that he spoke to no one, and that
when he had forgotten his cause of offence he would be the same again.

At lunch, the Vicar drank several glasses of wine, which seemed to do
him good; and by the time he had, to Miss Thornton's great
astonishment, drunk half a bottle, he was quite himself again. Mary was
all this time in her room, and the Vicar asked for her. But Miss
Thornton said she was not very well.

"Oh, I remember," said the Vicar, "I quarrelled with her last night. I
was quite in the wrong, but, my dear sister, all yesterday and to-day I
have been so nervous, I have not known what I said or did. I shall keep
myself up to the afternoon service with wine, and to-morrow we will see
the Doctor. Don't tell Mary I am ill. She will think she is the cause,
poor girl."

Afternoon service went off well enough. When Mary heard his old
familiar voice strong, clear, and harmonious, filling the aisles and
chapels of the beautiful old church, she was quite re-assured. He
seemed stronger than usual even, and never did the congregation
listen to a nobler or better sermon from his lips, than the one they
heard that spring afternoon; the last, alas, they ever had from their
kind old Vicar.

Mary could not listen to it. The old innocent interest she used to have
in her father's success in preaching was gone. As of old, sitting
beneath the carved oak screen, she heard the sweet simple harmony of

Book of the day: